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Posted by on in Family of God

Natural Law

 

God’s Law of Love

Define:  

Natural law is an unchangeable rule, principle, or power in nature, by which all things operate--animate and inanimate, visible and invisible--apart from which nothing exists. Because of the broad range of interest governed by natural law we categorize it into various specific areas of study. Thus we now speak of natural laws governing philosophy, science, ethics, physiology, etc. Interestingly, just as there is no demonstrable explanation for the origin of our universe, there is no explanation for the origin of natural law other than that of their eternal existence along with that of an omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent, eternally self-existent, God that created and established all things, just as claimed by the Holy Bible.

Claimed, Astrophysicist, Neil deGrasse Tyson, in a 2014, American Science Documentary television series entitled, “A Space-time Odyssey,” when describing the laws of science that have made it possible to explore the heavens, included the above claim that “all natural laws are unchangeable.”

All Natural Law is Unchangeable

It is interesting to note that of all categories of natural law, only the natural law governing morality is often treated as an exception to the unchangeable rule. It has, accordingly, been a source of serious contention in the religious world throughout the centuries.

One might wonder why this should be so!

In contemplating this idiosyncrasy, it is interesting to note that all life, of any sort, is dependent upon natural law, and life cannot exist in its absence. In fact, ignorance of, or disregard for any natural law of any category, always, and without exception, is incompatible with life.

Please consider for example just this one simple example. Pretend that the law of gravity does not exist—or that it is subject to change. Now, jump off from the roof of some tall building without applying any anti-gravity laws or protective measures. What will happen? Always! And so it is with all natural law. Respect and obey, or die!--Sooner or later! There is no other possible outcome.  There are no exceptions!

Oh Yes! There is one exception that many claim. It is the Moral law of Love as codified by the Ten Commandments, and summarized by Jesus in His discussions with the religious elite of His day. Yet, even most religious authorities of our times claim the power to change the Moral law--add to it, subtract from it, etc., and assume there will be no untoward consequences to life. Of all categories of natural law, only the moral law is excepted!

only the moral law is excepted!

AMAZING!

OR IS IT?

 

Let us take a look at the ten precepts of Law of Love, the great Moral Law of the universe

You shall worship the Lord, your God, and Him only shall you serve.

You shall not have any kind of other things (gods) that may claim your love and attention.

You shall not make light of the name of God in any way.

You shall remember the Seventh-day Sabbath to keep it holy—set apart as special time to be with me, permitting nothing else to interfere.

And you shall love your neighbor as yourself.

You shall honor your parents.

You shall not kill.

You shall not commit adultery.

You shall not steal.

You shall not deceive.

You shall not covet anything of anyone.

 

In these ten precepts are summed up ALL possible moral relationships between God and man and between man with man.

Yes! Unquestionably! Such obedience, if inspired and driven by true self-renouncing, unconditional, love, and if universally practiced from the day of creation--would have maintained a perfectly united human world community free of sorrow, pain, and death without end. Unfortunately, Satan’s victory over Adam and Eve in their Garden home began a tragic moral slide that during the next six millennia has brought us to the disgraceful place to which we find ourselves today.

We might wonder why this should be!

The answer to this question goes back to God and His all-encompassing Moral law of Love. God is not God, and Love is not Love, that does not include freedom—freedom to comply or to reject, and to accept the natural consequence, whether life or death.

Herein is the dilemma

The Bible tells us that long before the creation of man, Lucifer, one of the highest angels of heaven chose to challenge God and His Moral Law of Love. In time his rebellion spread throughout heaven, capturing the support of one third of the angelic host who then declared war against God and His governance of Love. Rejecting that love, they were cast from heaven (Revelation 12:3-9; Isaiah 14:12-14; Ezekiel 28:12-18).

  Though having been warned by God very soon after creation to refrain from eating fruit of one tree in their garden home, the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and of Evil on pain of death, Adam and Eve chose to yield to the Serpent’s (devil’s) deception, and ate of the fruit of that forbidden Tree. Ever since, we, their descendants of all ages, have been subject to his irresistible dominion over our lives, reaping the death that then naturally occurs.

Thanks to God and that same all-encompassing Moral Law of Love, even before creation He made provision whereby through the infinite, sacrificial, death of His Unique Son, Jesus, we might each escape the natural consequences of the devil’s selfish rule.

 

There is no greater love than this--and no greater law than the great Moral Law of Love

Amazing Grace!

 

Crucial to any discussion about the Ten Commandment Law of Love is the fact, that though most of the commands are written in the negative (indicating their intent to serve as barriers whereby we might avoid the dangers of life in a sin-infested world), in doing so they reveal what sin is so that we might recognize and avoid it, (Romans 7:7). Thus in recognizing our vulnerability, we see our need to confess our sin and turn to Jesus, earnestly seeking transformation from the power of evil to the governance of Godly Love in every aspect of our lives.

Sin is no longer appealing

If and when, then, true Godly love governs every aspect of our lives, sin is no longer appealing in any way. In fact, this is exactly what Jesus promised would be possible as a result of His sacrifice on the Cross and by the work of the Holy Spirit that He promised to send when He returned to be with His father (John 14:15-17—chapters 15, 16 as well). Accordingly, all of heaven is available and desirous of restoring us to full faith and fellowship with Him and His faithful followers everywhere around the world. Our role is merely to choose Him and, by faith, to accept His love.

Moral compass for Universe

Furthermore, the moral law serves as the moral compass for the entire universe, without which none of the other natural laws have any meaning or purpose, either for the earth or the universe. Even more importantly, without a God, who is Love personified, life would never have been created, and even if it had been, would have self-destructed—even as we are witnessing in our world today after only about six thousand years of our rejection of Love’s control over our collective human existence.

God has not

Fortunately, though we humans have to a large extent ignored the Moral Law of love, God has not! In fact, that Love is so powerful that it was willing to take the infinite risk of offering Jesus, Christ, the unique Son, and One equal with God the Father and the Holy Spirit, to enter into conflict with the devil, Satan, to defeat opposition and save the world and His own Sovereignty over all things In the process.

 

Call to repentance

Certainly, this calls upon every one of us to acknowledge our rebellion, and confess our sin--humbly and fully submitting to God, Creator, redeemer and sustainer--earnestly pleading with Him to restore (establish) His Law of Love in our hearts, minds, and entire beings.

When transformed

When transformed and governed by the Law of Love, it will reveal itself in similar Love, respect, and honor, not only for God and our fellow men, but for God’s entire creation, both animate and inanimate—now and throughout the entire universe for all eternity. That is just the nature of Love!

The adventure of discovering of the Moral Law of Love

In an effort to help His listeners understand the process by which it is possible for one to enjoy the full benefits provided by the Moral Law of Love, Jesus told a parable about a man that happened upon a hidden treasure as he was walking through a field one day. Whereupon, sensing the value of his discovery, he sold everything that he had and purchased the field. Again, Jesus told a parable about a man that traveled around the entire world in search of a choice pearl. When he found what he was looking for, he was so thrilled by his find that he sold everything he owned to purchase it.

Two valuable truths

These parables teach us two valuable truths, i.e. 1) Jesus loved(s) us so much that He gave up everything, even heaven itself in His bid to free us humans, deceptively trapped, and maliciously held captive by Satan in this sin-infested world, and 2) when we catch even a tiny glimpse of the benefits provided by the great Moral Law of Love, we, like the men in Jesus’ parable, will rush to sell all that we have to experience the privilege of living and walking with Jesus day by day in this world here and now as we travel on the road to glory with Him in heaven, and the newly, recreated world when at last we come to the end of the way.

When we awaken

Put another way, when we finally awaken to the awful cost of living in sin and catch even a taste of the benefits provided by the Law of Love, we, like the those in the parables Jesus told, will yearn so earnestly for a way of escape, that we will pay any price to live and walk with Jesus in the Way of Love. Then, it will not be a sacrifice to give up the “Pleasures” and pursuits of this world, but a great joy and privilege. In fact, having once tasted the joy of pouring out our hearts to God (Jesus) in prayer (simply speaking to Him as one speaks as friend with a friend), discovering precious promises and lessons in the Holy Scriptures, and fellowshipping with Him and The Family of God (His other believers) on God’s Holy Sabbath day according to the Commandment, we will soon find it difficult and even very uncomfortable to be long in the presence of sin and the devil’s deceptions in this world.

uncomfortable in sin

Love originates with God who is Himself, love, impersonated. Any hope of ourselves becoming governed by the moral law of love depends completely upon frequent and close connections with Him, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit through Bible study, frequent meditation, prayer and unselfish service to others.

 

The teachings of Jesus regarding the Commandments, the great Moral Law of Love

“But when the Pharisees heard that He (Jesus) had silenced the Sadducees, they gathered together. Then one of them, a lawyer, asked Him a question, testing Him, and saying, ‘Teacher, which is the great commandment of the law?’ Jesus said to him, ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the Prophets.’” Matthew 22:34-40. NKJV

Truly, Jesus recognized that all of the ten precepts of the great Moral Law of Love were merely expressions of love for both God and fellow man.

I did not come to destroy but to fulfill

“Do not think that I came to destroy the law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill. For assuredly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one title will by no means pass from the law till all is fulfilled,” Matthew 5:17, 18. NKJV

“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” John 13:34, 35. NKJV

is not something new

 

Again, this “new commandment” is not something new, but merely a summary reminder of the application of the great Moral Law of Love that has been eternally existent.

“In this the love of God was manifested toward us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through Him. In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to bethe propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loves us, we also ought to love one another,” 1 John 4:9-11. NKJV

We are the children of God

“By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and keep His commandments. For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments. And His commandments are not burdensome,” 1 John 5:2, 3. NKJV

“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life,” John 3:16. NKJV

The Sabbath was made for man

 “And He said to them, ‘The Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath. Therefore the Son of Man is also Lord of the Sabbath,” Mark 2:27, 28. NKJV

Obviously, this is but an application of the Moral Law.

Jesus recognized

Note: These selected Bible texts clearly indicate that Jesus recognized the eternal nature of the Ten Commandments (including the Sabbath), the great Moral Law of the universe that was given to Moses more than fourteen hundred years before, engraved on tablets of stone by God Himself.

Origin of the Moral Law of Love

as far back as human history exists

From as far back in time as recorded human history exists, (in addition to the story of Adam and Eve in the Holy Bible and their fall to the deception of the serpent, Satan), there is evidence in both the religious and secular world of the existence and knowledge of the Moral Law of Love. For example, we may find in ancient Chinese characters inscribed upon pottery shards dating back about five thousand years, descriptions of God, of creation, of the seventh-day Sabbath, the flood of Noah’s day, and the use of animal sacrifices. (It is interesting parenthetically, that a few years ago, a Korean Anesthesiologist who often administered anesthesia to my surgical patients, was studying the original Chinese language. On one occasion he showed me a drawing of a very holy Chinese character depicting an animal sacrifice that he told me symbolized the concept of Righteousness.)

In fact, this use of animal sacrifices dates back to the very beginning of many cultures around the world confirming the knowledge of good (Love) and of evil (anti-love). Perhaps the most significant of these is now known to us as the Signs of the Zodiac. Each of the 12 (24) constellations (signs) symbolize one important aspect of God’s plan for saving us from our sin. Interestingly, even the names of many of the stars composing those constellations have ancient names related to this plan of God. Many other ancient societies, too, have legends referring to the conflict between Good and evil, creation, and evidences of God’s rule of love.

There is no lack of evidence

No! There is no lack of evidence for the existence of the Moral Law of Love from the very day of creation and the beginning of history--including the Seventh-day Sabbath, sanctified, and set apart as holy time by God Himself.

Long before God handed the Ten Commandments, graven upon tablets of stone to Moses while on the top of Mount Sinai, both biblical and secular history confirm the knowledge of, not only the Sabbath, but of the other Commandments--by Abraham and his descendants as well (Genesis 26:4, 5; Acts 13: 22).

Summary

While most of the world refuses to examine the evidence of the unchangeable nature of the great Moral Law of Love, preferring, rather to choose the transient “pleasures of sin” (Hebrews 11:25) under the devil’s captivity. This fact does not disallow the Moral Law nor prevent all of its benefits here on earth.

Ultimate, eternal benefits

More importantly, the ultimate, eternal benefits of that unchangeable law only await the completion of judgment and eternal eradication of sin and its adherents--of demons and men.  When in time the resolution of the sin problem has been achieved, Jesus will establish His eternal reign as King of Kings and Lord of Lords, never again to be subject to challenge by any evil power. Then, and only then will the full benefits of the Kingdom of God and the Moral Law of Love become available to all for all eternity.

The Bible describes this state

The Bible describes this state as one of never-ending life of peace, joy, happiness, with meaning and purpose that will never cease to exist throughout eternity—for the Moral Law of Love, like all of the other natural laws guarantees the unlimited benefits of love.

My response to this Good News may be well expressed in the lyrics of such following songs as, Who Am I; My Tribute; I Want to Spend My whole life healing broken People, etc.

Yet, my heart thrills as I contemplate joining with the saved of all ages gathered around the Throne of God in heaven as described by John the Revelator in the Book of Revelation, chapter five below, singing praises to Him.

 “Then I saw in the right hand of him who sat on the throne a scroll with writing on both sides and sealed with seven seals. 2) And I saw a mighty angel proclaiming in a loud voice, ‘who is worthy to break the seals and open the scroll?’ 3) But no one in heaven or in earth or under the earth could open the scroll or look inside. 4) I wept and wept because no one was found who was worthy to open the scroll or look inside. 5) Then one of the elders said to me, ‘Do not weep! See, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has won the victory. He is worthy to open the scroll and its seven seals.”

6) Then I saw a Lamb that looked as if it had been slaughtered, but it was now standing between the throne and the four living beings and among the twenty-four elders. He had seven horns and seven eyes which represent the sevenfold Spirit of God that is sent out into every part of the earth. 7) He stepped forward and took the scroll from the right hand of the one sitting on the throne. 8) And when he took the scroll, the four living beings and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb. Each one had a harp, and they held gold bowls filled with incense, which are the prayers of God’s people. 9) And they sang a new song with these words:

“You are worthy to take the scroll and open it. For you were slaughtered, and your blood has ransomed people for God from every tribe and people and nation.

10) And you have caused them to become

a Kingdom of priests for our God.

And they will reign on earth.”

11) Then I looked again, and I heard the voices of thousands and millions of angels around the throne and of the living beings and the elders. 12) And they sang in a mighty chorus:

“Worthy is the Lamb who was slaughtered—

To receive power and riches

And wisdom and strength

and honor and glory and blessing.”

13) And then I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and in the sea. They sang:

“Blessing and honor and glory and power

Belong to the one sitting on the throne

And to the Lamb forever and ever.”

14) And the four living beings said, ‘Amen!’ And the twenty-four elders fell down and worshiped the Lamb.

 

This is the proof we need to know that the great Moral Law of Love is, like all other natural law, unchangeable and universally necessary for the creation and eternal sustenance of life, and even the very existence of the universe itself. Such love expressed by the Sovereign of the Universe, omnipotent, omnipresent, and omniscient cannot be resisted—resulting in universal, never-ending peace, joy, happiness, and meaning.

Such is the desire and plan of God as assured by His victory over Satan and all evil at Calvary.

Praise His Holy Name!

AMEN!

 

 

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Posted by on in Family of God

That They Might Be One”

Unity in Jesus, John 17:11

WWJD

During Jesus’ last recorded prayer on the evening before His arrest and subsequent crucifixion Jesus prayed to His Father for the unity of His disciples and His faithful followers after them until the time of His return in glory at the end of time. It is interesting that He specified that His prayer for unity was NOT for the world, but for “those You (Father) have given me out of the world that they may be one as we are one,” John 17:9, 11. Yet, this Prayer of Jesus is the very text that is being used by Pope Frances to promote unity of all religions and peoples of the world today—not just faithful followers of Jesus and the Holy Scriptures.  (Note: this prayer of Jesus is quoted below at the end of the discussion.)

Knowing the times in which we are living, how should Bible believing Christians respond to this call to unity that is flooding the world today?

The Bible tells of a time when this world will come to an end in the greatest universal battle that it has ever experienced (Daniel 12:1; Matthew 24:21, 22).

By it, good and evil--God and His faithful ones, will be eternally separated from Satan and all that have given their allegiance to him (Matthew 25:31-46; Revelation 7:9-17).

Typical of our God and His governance by love, the Bible describes many signs by which every inhabitant living upon the earth may know and be prepared for the destiny they have chosen, either to meet their Lord in glory at His coming to be taken to heaven with Him (Matthew 24:29-31), or to be destroyed by the brightness of that divine event (2 Thessalonians: 8-10).  

 

The warning signs

Perilous times and social conditions (2 Timothy 3:1-8).

Increase in knowledge (Daniel 12:4).

Wars and rumors of war (Matthew 24:6).

Natural disasters (Luke 21:11).

Signs in sun, moon and stars (Luke 21:25).

Gospel taken to entire earth (Matthew 24:14; 28:18-20).

False Christ’s and false prophets performing great signs and wonders (Matthew 24:24).

People terrified over what they are seeing occurring on the earth (Luke 21:26, 27).

Rise of the antichrist and universal religious unity movement enforced by persecution (Luke 21:12) and decree of death (Daniel 7:21-28; Matthew 24:15; Revelation 12:17; 13:1-18; 2 Thessalonians 2:1-10).

Destruction of the earth (Jeremiah 51:25; Revelation 11:18).

The Bible says, “When you see all these things taking place, you can know that the Kingdom of God is near. I tell you the truth, this generation will not pass from the scene until all these things have taken place. Heaven and earth will disappear, but my words will never disappear. But take heed to yourselves, lest your hearts be weighed down with carousing, drunkenness, and the cares of this life, and that day come on you unexpectedly. For it will come as a snare on all those who dwell on the face of the whole earth, Luke 21:31-35. NKJV

God’s faithful ones will be united with Him (John 17:1-26; Hebrews 11:38-40; Revelation 20:4).

 

Where we stand in relation to the fulfilment of the warning signs

 

Perilous times and social conditions (2 Timothy 3:1-8)

Never before in history has the entire world experienced such disregard for sexual fidelity, integrity, honesty, humility, and love for God and our fellow men as exists today at every level of society--resulting in near anarchy in much of the world.

Increase in knowledge (Daniel 12:4)

Today we have the knowledge to understand and manipulate the most basic structure and function of living things, to harness the atom, to look billions of light years distance into space and even send men to the moon and planets, and to communicate with one another around the world instantaneously by word and image—as examples of the knowledge at our hands today.

Wars and rumors of war (Matthew 24:6)

Wars are nothing new to our world, but there is not a place in our world today where the threat (or reality) of war with weapons capable of destroying all life from the face of the earth do not exist, and be immediately accessible.

Natural disasters (Luke 21:11)

Except for the universal flood on Noah’s day, never have the severity, and extent of floods, famines, winds, fires, earthquakes and other freaks of nature been as frequent as today.

Signs in sun, moon and stars (Luke 21:25)

We are too sophisticated today to be phased by the “signs” in the heavens as understood by former generations, and indeed often denying the least significance of such “superstitions.” Yet, we have reliable evidence that throughout history, significant world events have been correctly predicted by eclipses and arrangement of the heavenly bodies.

Viewed from a different perspective, we are today, by the use of modern technology, able to directly view the relationship between the things occurring in the heavens to the events occurring here on earth—weather, floods, drought, famines, etc.

Gospel proclaimed to entire earth (Matthew 24:14; 28:18-20)

Thanks to the technology available today it is possible to preach the everlasting gospel to nearly every place on earth in the local language of the people—with promise of early completion.

False Christ’s and false prophets performing great signs and wonders (Matthew 24:24)

Our world has never been free from witchcraft, sorcery, magic, divination, and all other manner of demonic deceptions, including false prophets and false messiah’s, but in recent times there has been a proliferation of such practices at all levels of society—even by world political leaders.

People terrified over what they are seeing occurring on the earth (Luke 21:26, 27)

Never before in history have we humans had the knowledge and technology to destroy the world be live in—nor the will do so. That is no longer true, and we are very much aware to the risk—and eventual certainty! That combined with the rapid increase in severity of natural disasters, it is very difficult to ignore the significance of our times.

Destruction of the earth (Jeremiah 51:25; Revelation 11:18).

Evidence is everywhere present of the rapid destruction of our physical world by every natural and man-made means.

Rise of the antichrist and universal religious unity movement enforced by persecution (Luke 21:12) and decree of death (Daniel 7:21-28; Matthew 24:15; Revelation 12:17; 13:1-18; 2 Thessalonians 2:1-10)

 

Though the antichrist has been active for the past few centuries, only in recent decades are we witnessing his rapid ascent.

 

Biblical prophetic description of the antichrist in symbols

 

Note: The end time truths of God hidden in the following quotations from the biblical books of Daniel and Revelation may be understood only by diligent study and searching of the entire Holy Scriptures under the divine guidance of the Holy Spirit. What may be concluded by the casual reader is that Satan, the devil, and his agents of angels and men is at war against God and those faithful to Him--and is determined to destroy both the cause of God on earth and those that have chosen to believe and serve Him.

 

“Then another king will arise, different from the other ten, who will subdue three of them. He will defy the Most High (God) and oppress the holy people (faithful believers) of the Most High. He (the king) will try to change their sacred festivals and laws, and they will be placed under his control for a time, times, and half a time (1,260 literal years),” Daniel 7:24-26. NLT

 

“At the end of their rule, when their sin is at its height, a fierce king, a master of intrigue, will rise to power. He will become very strong, but not by his own power. He will cause a shocking amount of destruction and succeed in everything he does. He will destroy powerful leaders and devastate the holy people. He will be a master of deception and will become arrogant; he will destroy many without warning. He will even take on the Prince of princes (Jesus, Son of God) in battle, but he will be broken, though not by human power,” Daniel 8:23-25. NLT

 

“The day is coming when you will see what Daniel the prophet spoke about--the sacrilegious object that causes desecration standing in the Holy Place.” (Reader, pay attention!) Matthew 24:15. NLT (Note: Jesus said this in response to a question asked by His disciples about how they would know when He would return to earth to claim His own.)

 

Revelation 13:3) “I saw that one of the heads of the beast seemed wounded beyond recovery—but the fatal wound was healed! The whole world marveled at this miracle and gave allegiance to the beast. 4) They worshiped the dragon (Satan) for giving the beast such power, and they also worshiped the beast. ‘Who is as great as the beast?’ They exclaimed. ‘Who is able to fight against him?’”

5) “Then the beast was allowed to speak great blasphemies against God. And he was given authority to do whatever he wanted for forty-two months. 6) And he spoke terrible words of blasphemy against God, slandering his name and his dwelling—that is, those who dwell in heaven. 7) And the beast was allowed to wage war against God’s holy people and to conquer them. And he was given authority to rule over every tribe and people and language and nation. 8) And all the people who belong to this world worshiped the beast. They are the ones whose names were not written in the Book of Life that belongs to the Lamb who was slaughtered before the world was made. 9) Anyone with ears to hear should listen and understand. 10) Anyone who is destined for prison will be taken to prison. Anyone destined to die by the sword will die by the sword.

“This means that God’s holy people must endure persecution patiently and remain faithful,” Revelation 13:3-10. NLT

 

11) “Then I saw another beast come up out of the earth. He had two horns like those of a lamb, but he spoke with the voice of a dragon. 12) He exercised all the authority of the first beast. And he required all the earth and its people to worship the first beast, whose fatal wound had been healed. 13) He did astounding miracles, even making fire flash down to earth from the sky while everyone was watching. 14) And with all the miracles he was allowed to perform on behalf of the first beast, he deceived all the people who belong to this world. He ordered the people to make a great statue of the first beast, who was fatally wounded and then came back to life. 15) He was then permitted to give life to this statue so that it could speak. Then the statue of the beast commanded that anyone refusing to worship it must die.

16) “He required everyone—small and great, rich and poor, free and slave—to be given a mark on the right hand or on the forehead. 17) And no one could buy or sell anything without that mark, which was either the name of the beast or the number representing his name. 18) Wisdom is needed here. Let the one with understanding solve the meaning of the number of the beast, for it is the number of a man. His number is 666,” Revelation 13:11-18. NLT

 

Bible definition of Sabbath as God’s Holy day- evidence

 

(Note: The Bible clearly identifies God’s holy Sabbath as the seventh day of the week as noted in the following texts—this in marked contrast to the enemies of God who claim Sunday as holy time.)

“But if someone claims to be a prophet and does not acknowledge the truth about Jesus, that person is not from God. Such a person has the spirit of the Antichrist, which you heard is coming into the world and indeed is already here,” 1 John 4:3. NLT

“Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ has become a child of God. And everyone who loves the Father loves his children, too. We know we love God’s children if we love God and obey his commandments. Loving God means keeping his commandments, and his commandments are not burdensome. For every child of God defeats this evil world, and we achieve this victory through our faith,” 1 John 5:1-4. NLT

“Here is the patience of the saints; here are those who keep the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus,” Revelation 14:12. NKJV

“Then one of them, a lawyer, asked Him (Jesus) a question, testing Him, and saying, ‘Teacher, which is the great commandment in the law?’ Jesus said to him, ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself,’” Matthew 22:35-40. NKJV

“Thus the heavens and the earth, and all the host of them, were finished. And on the seventh day God ended His work which He had done, and He rested on the seventh day from all His work which He had done. Then God blessed the seventh day and sanctified it, because in it He rested from all His work which God had created and made,” Genesis 2:1-3. NKJV

“Remember the Sabbath day, to the keep it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord your God. In it you shall do no work: you, nor your son, nor your daughter, nor your male servant, nor your female servant, nor your cattle, nor your stranger who is within your gates. For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and hallowed it,” Exodus 20:8-11. NKJV

“I was in the Spirit on the Lord’s Day, and I heard behind me a loud voice as of a trumpet, saying, ‘I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last,’” Revelation 1:10. NKJV (Note: The Lord’s Day is the seventh-day Sabbath, and has ever been. Sunday is now and has ever been a day established by the Traditions and prerogative of the Christian Church alone apart from the Bible.)

“And He said to them, ‘The Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath. Therefore the Son of Man is also Lord of the Sabbath.’” Mark 2:27, 28. NKJV (Please note that the Sabbath was established for all men, not just for Israel.)

“Blessed are all those who are careful to do this. Blessed are

those who honor my Sabbath days of rest and keep themselves from doing wrong. Don’t let foreigners who commit themselves to the Lord say, ‘The Lord will never let me be part of his people.’ ‘I will bless the foreigners who commit themselves to the Lord, who serve him and love his name, who worship him and do not desecrate the Sabbath day of rest, and who hold fast to my covenant,” Isaiah 56: 2, 3, 6. NLT

 

The Bible is clear that there is only one God and all worship, honor, and praise are to go to Him.

    “I am the Lord your God, who rescued you from the land of Egypt, the place of your slavery. You must not have any other god but me. You must not make for yourself an idol of any kind or an image of anything in the heavens or on the earth or in the sea. You must not bow down to them or worship them,” Exodus 20:2-5. NLT

“You must not misuse the name of the Lord your God. The Lord will not let you go unpunished if you misuse his name,” Exodus 20:7. NLT

There is a time of trouble coming that will be unimaginably worse than anything that has ever before occurred in our world until then. (See Daniel 12:1; Matthew 24:1-50; Mark 13:1-37)

There is a time of persecution and a death decree coming for all that resist this call based upon a universal day of worship—Sabbath vs Sunday (There will be a faithful remnant that will exist until the return of Jesus (Matthew 24:12-14; Romans 11:5; Revelation 12:14; 14:12; Ezra 9:24, 15; Isaiah 10:21, 22).

 

Any discussion regarding religious unity must take place in the setting of the war between good and evil, between God and Satan if it is to have any real validity. It is Satan and his demon associates that provide the power behind the present Sunday-centered unity movement.

It is interesting that from the most ancient historic records, we see the devil prompting worship of the sun and heavenly bodies in opposition to the God of heaven as worshiped on the seventh day Sabbath by the descendants of Seth all the way down to the patriarch, Abraham, and onward. Again, we see this conflict between God and Satan being played out between the Children of Israel and the pagan nations of the Middle East all through Old Testament times. Nor did the conflict lesson with the birth of Jesus, His life, or His sacrificial death of the Cross of Calvary.

In fact, all through history it has been the Seventh-day Sabbath, the heart of the Law of God, identifying God as divine sovereign of the universe, that Satan has continued to suppress by the exaltation of Sunday in his attempt to sit on the throne of God in His place (See Isaiah 14:12-14).

It should certainly be no surprise therefore, that Sunday should be so exalted during these end time of earth history.

 

Our present status

Pope Frances is actively engaged in an intensive attempt to draw peoples of all faiths, Christian and other, into one great united fellowship—citing Jesus’ prayer for unity in the Bible as his directive. Interestingly, Francis speaks a very Christ-like language of love, mercy, holiness, etc., to the world, and exemplifies many of these Christ-like practices in his public witness—such that it sometimes seems difficult to fault either his speech or behavior. He even claims to endorse the Ten Commandments and the Law of Moses.

Yet, ignoring the first three of the Ten Commandments and failing to recognize the God of heaven as the only legitimate God, the Church claims that its ability to change the Sabbath from the 7th day of the week to Sunday, the first, proves the pope’s authority to alter the other prerogatives of God as well. Amazing!

At the same time He is reaching out to Israel, Islam, and other world religions—all giving honor to Sunday, the first day of the week as the holy day of rest and worship in honor of the family.

 

All other signs:

All other signs of the times noted above are now either already fulfilled or in place for immediate implementation--having the potential to self-destruct the entire world and all living things upon it.

God has a small faithful remnant rapidly fulling the gospel commission, taking the everlasting gospel to the entire world in preparation for the final battle between God and Satan in preparation for Jesus’ return.

“And this Good News about the Kingdom will be preached throughout the whole world, so that all nations will hear it; and then the end will come,” Matthew 24:14. NLT

 

The Question!

How should I direct my life in such a way as to glorify the God that created, redeemed, and sustains me up to, and through the time during which these foretold events transpire?

What is my role in encouraging and supporting fellow believers that have been blessed with this end-time Bible-based message?

What is my role in influencing other honest people of other faiths, Christian and all other?

What is my role in exposing the plans and actions of the devil and his human agents of all stripes?

How do I most effectively prepare to defend the Cause of God against the Antichrist who comes posing as one with the characteristics of the true Christ—doing good and godly appearing acts—in my daily witness—and, or, in the court of law?

What does love demand of me?

There can only be one answer! It is summarized in the following hymn,

 

Sound the Battle Cry

Sound the battle cry! See, the foe is night:

Raise the standard high for the Lord;

Gird your armor on, stand firm every one;

Rest your cause upon His holy Word.

 

Refrain:

Rouse, then soldiers, rally round the banner,

Ready, steady, pass the word along;

Onward, forward, shout aloud, “Hosanna!”

Christ is Captain of the mighty throng.

 

Strong to meet the foe, marching on we go,

While our cause we know must prevail;

Rouse, then, soldiers, rally round the banner,

Shield and banner bright, gleaming in the light,

Battling for the right we ne’er can fail.

 

O Thou God of all, hear us when we call,

Help us one and all by thy grace;

When the battle’s done, and the vict’ry’s won,

May we wear the crown before Thy face.

 

Scripture: Isaiah 59:19; 1 Timothy 6:12

William F. Sherwin, pub. 1869 (Public Domain)

 

 

Principles of action

Aggressive love in all battles. This is the Lord’s battle. His only weapons are gilded in golden LOVE. It is our responsibility as soldiers of the Cross to proclaim the truth, warn the innocent (see Isaiah 1:10 and Zephaniah 1:14-18; 2:1, 2), and invite everyone to share in the victory of the Crown.

There is NO place for condemnation or degrading any other person, group, or people of any kind. That is the sole work of Jesus working through the Holy Spirit and the powers of heaven. Our role is to present truth in as inviting, thoughtful, and kind way as possible.

No bashing! Only pertinent facts!

 

How does one prepare for the final conflict ahead?

One must choose to follow Jesus, whatever it may cost. It is a choice everyone must make—to die to self, and to be born again into the family of God. It is symbolized by being buried in water (baptism), and rising to new life--Christ dwelling within—united with the true family of God having the Faith of Jesus and keeping the Commandments of God (Revelation 12:17; 14:12; 22:1-21; Colossians 1:26-28 ).

Note: When Christ, who is LOVE, dwells within, Faith and the expression of love are not something one does for merit, but what naturally occurs in a person when Jesus dwells within. Such a one is changed by close association with Jesus in prayer, bible study, ministering to others, and by singing and praising God in unified worship with fellow believers when possible. It is a process that brings ever greater happiness and depth of joy throughout one’s entire life time.

Characteristics of the true unity in Jesus, founded upon the Bible in contrast to the present unity movement presently captivating the world

By this shall men know that you are my disciples, if you love one another as I have loved you, (John 13:34, 35; Matthew 23:35-40).

It is often said, “I’d rather see a sermon any day than to hear one!”

Recognition of who God is, of who Jesus is, of who the Holy Spirit is, and the role of each in relation to man and the plan of salvation.

Recognition of the sovereign, unchangeable nature of all of the laws that govern our universe, and more specifically, the moral law of God, (to be distinguished from the ceremonial laws of the Old Testament).

The test of love – true vs fake love – the only valid test–Ten Commandments including love to God as manifest by exalting Him exclusive of any other idols or Gods, faithfulness to His Holy Sabbath day, and by experiencing true godly love for every human being.

Recognize the mortal nature of all living earth creatures, including man.

Recognize the reality of the war between God and Satan, between good and evil as they exist here on earth

Recognize the role of spiritualism in the war between good and evil and how it impacts the unity movement issue?

 

Why the concern?

 

For one’s own personal preparedness and salvation, for the unity with fellow believers, for the name and glory of God, and for the witness to those many in the valley of decision of ALL faiths and NO faith. It is not for us to judge upon whom the Spirit of God may be working.

For He has promised to be with us anywhere and under any circumstances. HE IS FAITHFUL.

Please read, test, and memorize Psalms 46 and 91.

Being carefully mindful of this one thing, not in MAKING PROMISES to God in times like these, but in BELIEVING THE PROMISES of God—which is the faith of Jesus!

            The following words of the Apostle Paul to the Church of Colossus describe so very well the words of encouragement the faithful followers of Jesus need in this our day as we prepare to meet Jesus when He returns. It is Christ living within that is our hope in glory.

“God has given me the responsibility of serving his church by proclaiming his entire message to you. This message was kept secret for centuries and generations past, but now it has been revealed to God’s people. For God wanted them to know that the riches and glory of Christ are for you Gentiles, too. And this is the secret: Christ lives in you. This gives you assurance of sharing his glory. So we tell others about Christ, warning everyone and teaching everyone with all the wisdom God has given us. We want to present them to God, perfect in their relationship to Christ. That’s why I work and struggle so hard, depending on Christ’s mighty power that works within me,” Colossians 1:25-29. NLT

The following texts describe the signs by which to recognize our place in history in relation to the return of Jesus in glory.

The Time of Trouble - Daniel 12:1

“At that time Michael (Christ) shall stand up, the great prince who stands watch over the sons of your people; and there shall be a time of trouble, such as never was since there was a nation, even to that time. And at that time your people shall be delivered, every one who is found written in the book. Daniel 12:1 NKJV.

Predictions of end-time events - Jude 17-25

“But you, beloved, remember the words which were spoken before by the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ: how they told you that there would be mockers in the last time who walk according to their own ungodly lusts. These are sensual persons, who cause divisions, not having the Spirit. But you, beloved, building yourselves up on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Spirit, keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life. And on some have compassion, making a distinction, but others save with fear, pulling them out of the fire, hating even the garment defiled by the flesh. Now to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling, and to present you faultless before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy, to God our Savior, who alone is wise, be glory and majesty, dominion and power both now and forever. Amen.”  Jude 17-25 NKJV.

Jesus predictions of end-time events - Matthew 24:3-39

3) “Later, Jesus sat on the Mount of Olives. His disciples came to him privately and said, ‘Tell us, when all this will happen? What sign will signal your return and the end of the world?” 4) Jesus told them, “Don’t let anyone mislead you, 5) for many will come in my name, claiming, ‘I am the Messiah.’ They will deceive many. 6) And you will hear of wars and threats of wars, but don’t panic. Yes, these things must take place, but the end won’t follow immediately. 7) Nation will go to war against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be famines and earthquakes in many parts of the world. 8) But all this is only the first of the birth pains, with more to come.

9) Then you will be arrested, persecuted, and killed. You will be hated all over the world because you are my followers. 10) And many will turn away from me and betray and hate each other. 11) And many false prophets will appear and will deceive many people. 12) Sin will be rampant everywhere, and the love of many will grow cold. 13) But the one who endures to the end will be saved. 14) And the Good News about the Kingdom will be preached throughout the whole world, so that all nations will hear it; and then the end will come.

15) The day is coming when you will see what Daniel the prophet spoke about—the sacrilegious object that causes desecration standing in the Holy Place. (Reader, pay attention!) 16) Then those in Judea must flee to the hills. 17) A person out on the deck of a roof must not go down into the house to pack. 18) A person out in the field must not return even to get a coat. 19) How terrible it will be for pregnant women and for nursing mothers in those days. 20) And pray that your flight will not be in winter or on the Sabbath. 21) For there will be greater anguish than at any time since the world began. And it will never be so great again. 22) In fact, unless that time of calamity is shortened, not a single person will survive. But it will be shortened for the sake of God’s chosen ones.

23) Then if anyone tells you, ‘Look, here is the Messiah,’ or ‘there he is,’ don’t believe it. 24) For false messiahs and false prophets will rise up and perform great signs and wonders so as to deceive, if possible, even God’s chosen ones. 25) See, I have warned you about this ahead of time. 26) So if someone tells you, ‘Look, the Messiah is out in the desert,’ don’t bother to go and look. Or, ‘Look, he is hiding here,’ don’t believe it! 27) For as the lightning flashes in the east and shines to the west, so it will be when the Son of Man comes. 28) Just as the gathering of vultures shows there is a carcass nearby, so these signs indicate that the end is near.

29) Immediately after the anguish of those days, the sun will be darkened, the moon will give no light, the stars will fall from the sky, and the powers in the heavens will be shaken. 30) And then at last, the sign that the Son of Man is coming will appear in the heavens, and there will be deep mourning among all the peoples of the earth. And they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. 31) And he will send out his angels with the mighty blast of a trumpet, and they will gather his chosen ones from all over the world—from the farthest ends of the earth and heaven.

32) Now learn a lesson from the fig tree. When its branches bud and its leaves begin to sprout, you know that summer is near. 33) In the same way, when you see all these thing, you can know his return is very near, right at the door. 34) I tell you the truth, this generation will not pass from the scene until all these things take place. 35) Heaven and earth will disappear, but my words will never disappear. 36) However, no one knows the day or hour when these things will happen, not even the angels in heaven or the Son himself. Only the Father knows. 37) When the Son of Man returns, it will be like it was in Noah’s day. 38) In those days before the flood, the people were enjoying banquets and parties and weddings right up to the time Noah entered his boat. 38) People didn’t realize what was going to happen until the flood came and swept them all away. That is the way it will be when the Son of Man comes.” NLT.

Jesus’ prayer for unity among believers - John 17  

“Jesus spoke these words, lifted up His eyes to heaven, and said: “Father, the hour has come. Glorify You Son, that Your Son also may glorify You, 2) as You have given Him authority over all flesh, that He should give eternal life to as many as You have given Him. 3) And this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent. 4) I have glorified You on earth. I have finished the work which You have given Me to do. 5) And now, O Father, glorify Me together with Yourself, with the glory which I had with You before the world was. 6) I have manifested Your name to the men whom You have given Me out of the world. They were Yours, You gave them to Me, and they have kept You word. 7) Now they have known that all things which You have given Me are from You. 8) For I have given to them the words which You have given Me; and they have received them, and have known surely that I came forth from You; and they have believed that You sent Me. 9) I pray for them. I do not pray for the world but for those whom You have given Me, for they are Yours. 10) And all Mine are Yours, and Yours are Mine, and I am glorified in them. 11) Now I am no longer in the world, but these are in the world, and I come to You, Holy Father, keep through Your name those whom You have given Me, that they may be one as We are. 12) While I was with them in the world, I kept them in Your name. Those whom You gave Me I have kept, and none of them is lost except the son of perdition, that the Scripture might be fulfilled. 13) But now I come to You, and these things I speak in the world, that they may have My joy fulfilled in themselves. 14) I have given them Your word; and the world has hated them because they are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. 15) I do not pray that You should take them out of the world, but that You should keep them from the evil one. 16) They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. 17) Sanctify them by Your truth. Your word is truth. 18) As You sent Me into the world, I also have sent them into the world. 19) And for their sakes I sanctify Myself, that they also may be sanctified by the truth. 20) I do not pray for these alone, but also for those who will believe in Me through their word; 21) that they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me. 22) And the glory which You gave Me I have given them, that they may be one just as We are one. 23) I in them, and You in Me, that they may be made perfect in one, and that the world may know that You have sent Me, and have loved them as You have loved Me. 24) Father, I desire that they also whom You gave Me may be with Me where I am, that they may behold My glory which You have given Me; for You loved me before the foundation of the world. 25) O righteous Father! The world has not known You, but I have known You; and these have known that You sent Me. 26) And I have declared to them Your name, and will declare it, that the love with which You loved Me may be in them, and I in them.” John 17:1-26 KNJV.

Characteristics of Christians, as opposed to the Antichrist - 1 John 2:1-29 NLT  

“My dear children, I am writing this to you so that you will not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate who pleads our case before the Father. He is Jesus Christ, the one who is truly righteous. 2) He himself is the sacrifice that atones for our sins—and not only our sins but the sins of all the world.”

3) “And we can be sure that we know him if we obey his commandments. 4) If someone claims, ‘I know God,’ but doesn’t obey God’s commandments, that person is a liar and is not living in the truth. 5) But those who obey God’s word truly show how completely they love him. That is how we know we are living in him. 6) Those who say they live in God should live their lives as Jesus did.”

7) “Dear friends, I am not writing a new commandment for you; rather it is an old one you have had from the very beginning. This old commandment—to love one another—is the same message you have heard before. 8) Yet it is also new. Jesus lived the truth of this commandment, and you also are living it. For the darkness is disappearing, and the true light is already shining. 9) If anyone claims, ‘I am living in the light,’ but hates a fellow believer, that person is still living in darkness. 10) Anyone who loves a fellow believer, that person is living in the light and does not cause others to stumble. 11)  But anyone who hates a fellow believer is still living and walking in darkness. Such a person does not know the way to go, having been blinded by the darkness.”

12) “I am writing to you who are God’s children because your sins have been forgiven through Jesus. 13) I am writing to you who are mature in the faith because you know Christ, who existed from the beginning. I am writing to you who are young in the faith because you have won your battle with the evil one. 14) I have written to you who are God’s children because you know the Father. I have written to you who are mature in the faith because you know Christ, who existed from the beginning. I have written to you who are young in the faith because you are strong. God’s word lives in your hearts, and you have won your battle with the evil one.”

15) “Do not love this world not the things it offers you, for when you love the world, you do not have the love of the Father in you. 16) For the world offers only a craving for physical pleasure, a craving for everything we see, and pride in our achievements and possessions. These are not from the Father, but are from this world. 17) And this world is fading away, along with everything that people crave. But anyone who does what pleases God will live forever.”

18 “Dear children, the last hour is here. You have heard that the Antichrist is coming, and already many such antichrists have appeared. From this we know that the last hour has come. 19) These people left our churches, but they never really truly belonged to us; otherwise they would have stayed with us. When they left, it proved that they did not belong to us.” 

20) “But you are not like that, for the Holy One has given you his Spirit, and all of you know the truth. 21) So I am writing to you not because you don’t know the truth but because you know the difference between truth and lies. 22) And who is a liar? Anyone who says that Jesus is not the Christ. Anyone who denies the Father and the Son is an antichrist. 23) Anyone who denies the Son doesn’t have the Father, either. But anyone who acknowledges the son has the Father also.”

 24) “So you must remain faithful to what you have been taught from the beginning. If you do, you will remain in fellowship with the Son and with the Father. And in this fellowship we enjoy the eternal life he promised us.”

26) “I am writing these things to warn you about those who want do lead you astray. 27) But you have received the Holy Spirit, and he lives within you, so you don’t need anyone to teach you what is true. For the Spirit teaches you everything you need to know, and what he teaches is true--it is not a lie. So just as he has taught you, remain in fellowship wisth Christ.”

28) “And now, dear children, remain in fellowship with Christ so that when he returns, you will be full of courage and not shrink back from him in shame.”

29) “Since we know that Christ is righteous, we also know that all who do what is right are God’s children.” 1 John 2:1-29, NLT

My Response

There is no other source of universal truth than the Holy Bible, and no other One than Jesus Christ that guarantees a life of meaning, joy, happiness, and love for all eternity—this in contrast to the example of the Antichrist that can promise none.

Jesus is my hero and best friend! I will love and serve Him forever.

 

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Time, Space, Science

And the quest to conquer space and the throne of God

 

In our attempt to conquer space, we are joining the devil, Satan, in one last thrust to take the place of God on His throne. “I will be like the Most High!” (Isaiah 14:12-14)

            Human beings are, today, gaining a working knowledge of time, space and science as never before in history. We are now able to identify, describe, experiment with, understand, and utilize many of the smallest items and some of the most expansive things of the universe and those natural (divine) laws that govern them all.

In fact, while there remain many areas of interest for research, until now everything we know about the natural observable universe is governed by unchangeable laws (ref. Astrophysicist, Neil deGrasse Tyson). Whether understood or not, they are all intertwined with one another and functioning as one unit to sustain this universe we are living in.

Yes, there is a great divide between the teachings of modern science and the Biblical account, but there are certain incontrovertible facts that cannot be ignored or denied. Truth, if it is true, can pass any valid test.

Natural laws are unchangeable, whether found described in the Bible or in Science. Like all truth, laws are proven only by valid test.

Everything in the universe is governed by law though not every law has been identified and examined by valid test.

God exists and identifies Himself by the universal law of love. Life exists only where love exists.  

Stories, though they may be true, are subject to interpretation by both the teller and the hearer. Confirmation is always dependent upon evidential proof-- provided by the storyteller--or accepted by faith.

Science is itself subject to interpretation by the scientist based upon the observable, but incomplete, evidence (suppositions).

 

The Bible claims to be the truth about God, the truth about His personification of love, the truth about His eternal existence, His omnipotence, His omnipresence, His omniscience, and His governance by the law of love. He has invited us to test all things, and to choose what we will believe and whom we will trust and serve.

The Bible also claims that there is a devil, Satan that is intent on deceiving the world, and upon capturing the throne of God.

Science claims that there is no God, and, of course no Satan--or if there is, they are thought to be irrelevant.  

Faith and reason—wise twins

 

            Science and the wisdom of men has proven itself very capable of many great feats. During the past couple of generations it has expanded its horizons exponentially. Yet, the vast treasures of the universe have hardly been touched. By all indications, the universe extends out into space billions of light years beyond that which is observable—and science knows virtually nothing about it—nor about the wisdom, the wonder, the virtue, the power,  and the extent of and the claims of love, portrayed in the Holy Bible.

Shouldn’t this fact be amusing to the sublime—that men claiming to be wise should ignore such a vast treasure house of wisdom and knowledge? And this at the very time we are bending every effort to move bodily into the heavens to escape the earth as it crumbles and burns at our very own hands, and by our very own selfish folly?  

What is even more amazing is the fact that this scenario foretelling the destruction of the earth and our transition into the heavens is wisely and carefully hidden within the pages of that Holy book, the Bible!

Isn’t such a thing incomprehensible beyond reason?

 

I wonder what might happen in the scientific world if renowned scientists of every branch of wisdom and expertise, should sit down and diligently seek that wisdom, knowledge, and faith described in the Holy Bible!

 

We now have the opportunity to use science to confirm many biblical questions that have arisen through the ages, and for the Bible to confirm many questionable scientific propositions. Truth is truth. The evidence is overwhelming to the serious student of Holy Scripture that the Bible is the only original source of life and love. Likewise, serious scientists have discovered the truth of many natural laws not even dreamed of by the writers of the Bible.

For examples: 1.) Apart from the presence of the moral law of Love of which the scientific community knows little about, intelligent life could not even exist. 2.) Apart from the law of gravity, the universe could not exist.

When considering life on earth today, it seems clear that except we find a way to escape from the planet soon, we are doomed to extinction since all other attempts to change the course of events have failed with no satisfactory solution is even hinted at. While we have “dreams” and are developing plans to set up colonies in space, we have nothing developed to accomplish such a thing during the limited time that it appears we have before we self-destruct.

On the other hand, the Bible has a clearly developed plan and promise of divine rescue into the heavens before disaster strikes—undoubtedly by utilizing advanced applications of the natural laws of science that govern the universe that are completely unknown to science today.

Wouldn’t it prove wise and prudent to study and consider the Bible wisdom together with modern science?

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Death, if the Bible is not true!

National Geographic, April, 2016

From as far back as history reaches death has interrupted the life of every person even to the present time—and thinking people often wonder what happens after death! The Bible gives the answer, but most are slow to believe!

It says that God created man from the dust of the earth and breathed life into him and he became a living being (Genesis 2:7). After Adam and Eve ate of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, God reminded them of what He had said before, that as the consequence of eating of the fruit of the forbidden tree, they would die and return to the dust of the earth from which they were taken (Genesis 3:19)—adding the promise that He had already made arrangements for them to live again (Genesis 3:15). It is interesting that God then removed them from their garden home so that, now knowing evil, they would not be able to eat of the Tree of Life and live forever in that fallen state (Genesis 3:23, 24). It says nothing about a soul as some entity distinct from the body--only that they were made from dust and would return to the dust from which they were taken! Death is the end of life, the body returning to the dust of the earth (Genesis 3:19).

The following Bible texts are pertinent to one’s understanding of death and the significance of it.

Genesis 2:7: God made man from the dust of the earth and man became a living being (being, NKJV; soul, KJV; person, NLT).

Genesis 2:16, 17: Adam and Eve were told that they would die if they ate of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.

Genesis 3:1-5: Satan said you will not die, but will become like God (gods).

Psalms 115:17: It is not the dead that praise the Lord, not those that go down into silence.

Psalms 146:4: He returns to the dust. In that same hour all his thinking ends.

Ecclesiastes 9:5, 6: The dead know nothing. Their love, hate, ambition now over. Never again will they have any part in what is done under the sun.

John 11:11: Jesus said after Lazarus, his friend died, “Lazarus has fallen asleep, and I am going to waken him up.”

Mark 5:39: On another occasion Jesus raised the daughter of the ruler of the synagogue to life after saying, “The child is not dead, but is sleeping.”

Daniel 12:2: Multitudes who sleep in the dust of the earth will awake, some to everlasting life and some to shame and everlasting contempt.”

Act 13:36: Speaking of King David, “he fell asleep and was buried with his fathers and his body decayed.”

1 Thessalonians 4:14-16, “We believe that Jesus died and rose again, and so it will be for those who died as Christians, God will bring them to life with Jesus…. At the sound of the archangel’s voice and God’s trumpet call, the Lord Himself shall descend from heaven; first the Christian dead will arise…”NEB.

1 Thessalonians 4:17, 18: “Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord. Wherefore comfort one another with these words.” KJV.

Ezekiel 18:4: “For all people are mine to judge—both parents and children alike. And this is my rule: The person who sins is the one who will die.” NLT

Romans 6:23: “The wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus, our Lord.”

John 3:15: “That whosoever believes in him should not perish but have everlasting life.”

1 Corinthians 15:52: “For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will rise immortal, and we shall be changed. This perishable being must be clothed with the imperishable, and what is mortal must be clothed with immortality.” NEB

“Hebrews 11:13-16: These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off were assured of them, embraced them and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth. For those who say such things declare plainly that they seek a homeland. And truly if they had called to mind that country from which they had come out, they would have had opportunity to return. But now they desire a better, that is, a heavenly country. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for He has prepared a city for them.”

John 5:28, 29: “For as the Father has life in Himself, so He has granted the Son to have life in Himself, and has given Him authority to execute judgment also, because He is the Son of Man. Do not marvel at this; for the hour is coming in which all who are in the graves will hear his voice and come forth—those who have done good to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil, to the resurrection of condemnation,” NKJV.

Ephesians 6:12: “For we are not fighting against flesh and blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in heavenly places,” NLT.

Revelation 12:7-9, 12: “And there was war in heaven: Michael and his angels fought against the dragon; and the dragon fought and his angels, and prevailed not; neither was their place found any more in heaven. And the great dragon was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him. Then I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, ‘Now is salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of His Christ has come, for the accuser of our brethren, who accused them before our God day and night, has been cast down. And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, and they did not love their lives to the death. Therefore rejoice, O heavens, and you who dwell in them! Woe to the inhabitants of the earth and the sea! For the devil has come down to you, having great wrath, because he knows that he has a short time.” NKJV.

Leviticus 26:6, 7: “I will also turn against those who commit spiritual prostitution by putting their trust in mediums or in those who consult the spirits of the dead. I will cut them off from the community. So set yourselves apart to be holy, for I am the Lord your God,” NLT.

2 Corinthians 11:13-15: “For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into apostles of Christ. And no wonder! For Satan himself transforms himself into an angel of light. Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also transform themselves into ministers of righteousness, whose end will be according to their works.

1 Samuel 28:1-25: This is the story of King Saul consulting with the witch of Endor and God’s response.

Isaiah 8:19, 20: “And when they shall say unto you, ‘Seek unto them that have familiar spirits, and unto wizards that peep, and that mutter: should not a people seek unto their God? For the living to the dead? To the law and to the testimony: if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them.”

Deuteronomy. 18:11 “Do not let your people practice fortune-telling, or use sorcery, or interpret omens, or engage in witchcraft, or cast spells, or function as mediums or psychics, or call forth the spirits of the dead.

 

But what if the Bible is not right?

I have always believed the Bible description that life is a gift of God and that God is the only source of life. In fact, I have often concluded as I have learned of the scientific research about life and about death, that however close man comes to creation of life, he will never be able to enter into this domain of God—until now! Just yesterday I read news headlines announcing that human researchers are now in the process of synthetically creating a living cell and organism from scratch--and anticipating once that project is mastered, it will just be a matter of time before they will be able to create other living things.

At the other end of the spectrum, scientists are ardently studying the nature of death in anticipation of preventing it and/or reconstituting life after death.  Even now there exist “banks” holding the frozen remains of people that have died, expecting to be brought back to life when the reversal process has been worked out. We already have the ability to put people to sleep with anesthetic chemicals and to awaken them. Researchers are now studying techniques for initiating hibernation (deep sleep) and even suspended animation (essentially all systems “shut down”) whereby life continues in the presence of very low oxygen levels. If we are going to master the heavens and send men and women to the planets and beyond it would seem we will need to be able to develop some form of suspended animation.

Interestingly, none of this research takes into consideration the false belief that many people of various faiths have about the “soul” as a separate entity from the body. If such a thing as a real entity as something separate from the body exists, perhaps we should, rather, be working on ways to send the soul to worlds afar instead of the bodies of people—if there should be such an entity as a soul!

The Holy Bible teaches that life began on earth during Creation week six thousand years ago, with man being the crowning act of that creation. That life has been passed down from generation to generation in all life species since that time. That life ceases at the time of death and the body gradually decays and returns to the dust of the earth from which it was created—the resurrected body to be restored to life upon the return of Jesus in either one of two resurrections a thousand years apart, the first to eternal life that will never cease, and the other to a second death from which there will never be another resurrection (See Revelation 20:5-8).

In previous times, death, too, was quite easy to determine—with the cessation of breathing. No longer is determination so easy since we have learned how to keep organs alive with artificial means long after the natural cessation of breathing. In fact, we are able to, and often do, keep entire bodies “alive,” though perhaps in an unconscious state for days, weeks of months. To make it even more complicated, tissues or organs removed from a dying body may be kept alive and functioning normally in another individual for days, weeks, months, and years—or alive in cold-storage for months and years for some tissues like bone. So the question is, when is one dead? When one stops breathing, or when the last drop of blood or the last bone cell ceases to function years later?

For those choosing to believe is such an entity as a soul apart from the body, my question must be, when organs are removed from a dying (dead) person, when does the “soul” depart? When the last heart, or kidney, or blood cell dies? Or when?

The Bible has very little to say about this prolonging of the life of tissues and organs of persons who have ceased to breath, stating only that we must not eat the blood of animals. Some people interpret this to mean that we should not have blood transfusions either. The Bible does cite a small number of people that have been raised to life from death, but says nothing more about our modern dilemma of tissue or organ transplants.

So, what are we to make of the apparent ability to create life, however simple, that we have until now believed to be an act of God, only?

What is man that he can manipulate, transplant, and apparently create life?

Some time following Noah’s flood people began to build a tower in their effort to avert catastrophe in another flood. As this was occurring the Bible makes an interesting comment, “But the Lord came down to look at the city and the tower the people were building. ‘Look!’ he said, ‘The people are united and they all speak the same language. After this, nothing they set out to do will be impossible for them!’” Genesis 11:6 NLT.  Even a few decades ago this comment by the Lord seemed like a bit of hyperbole to me. Not anymore! Today we have telescopes that see out into space billions of light years distance, and we are in the process of sending man made instruments out beyond our solar system, with dreams of sending men and women on to other worlds. Is it possible that this text in Genesis 11:6 may indicate that man will also even be able to create life as present researchers intend to do?

Or, as in Noah’s day--or as in the days of the Tower of Babel, is it possible that God will step in again at the last moment and show who is the real sovereign of the universe as He did then by destroying the wicked before they destroy themselves? The Bible is clear that the saints, His faithful followers of the living and the dead, will be rescued before that will happen. In fact we already have the ability to destroy life on the planet. Is it possible God will accomplish His purposes through our own folly?

And then, what will happen to the souls of the wicked? Of the souls of the just? If such entities exist apart from their bodies?

Biblical description of life after the resurrection of the faithful:

Revelation 21:1-7: “Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the old heaven and the old heath disappeared. And the sea was also gone. And I saw the holy city, the New Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven like a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. I heard a loud shout from the throne, saying, ‘Look, God’s home is now among his people! God himself will be with them. He will wipe every tear from their eyes, and there will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain. All these things are done forever.’ And the one sitting on the throne said, ‘Look, I am making everything new!’ And then he said to me, ‘Write this down, for what I tell you is trustworthy and true.’ And he also said, ‘It is finished! I am the Alpha and the Omega—the Beginning and the End. To all who are thirsty I will give freely from the springs of the water of life. All who are victorious will inherit all these blessings, and I will be their God, and they will be my children.’” NLT.

Revelation 22:1-5: “Then the angel showed me a river with the water of life, clear as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb. It flowed down the center of the main street. On each side of the river grew the tree of life, bearing twelve manner of fruit, with a fresh crop each month. The leaves were used for medicine to heal the nations. No longer will there be a curse upon anything. For the throne of God and of the Lamb will be there, and his servants will worship him. And they will see his face, and his name will be written on their foreheads. And there will be no night thee—no need for lamps or sun—for the Lord God will shine on them. And they will reign forever and ever,” NLT.

 

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Why I Believe in the Gift of Prophecy

and in the Inspiration of Ellen White

Who is Ellen White?

            Ellen Gould Harmon, along with her twin sister, Elizabeth, was born to Robert and Eunice Harmon on a small family farm near Portland, Main in 1827. At age nine Ellen sustained a very serious injury to the face by a stone thrown by a school classmate. Unconscious for 3 weeks, and not expected to survive, long term disability interrupted her formal education.  At age 12 she attended a Methodist camp meeting with her parents where she gave her heart to the Lord, was baptized by emersion, and was accepted into membership of the Methodist Church.

In 1844 Ellen experienced the “Great Disappointment” along with her family and thousands of others when Jesus failed to appear on earth as had been predicted by William Miller--based upon his studies of the Bible Book, Daniel. Later in that year, as Ellen joined four other young women for family worship one morning, she witnessed in vision the travels of the Advent believers (those that had expected Jesus to come) to the City of God. Timid and reluctant, she and other youth traveled from place to place sharing this and subsequent similar visions to churches and companies of believers in the entire area.

At the age of 19, Ellen married James white. As together they studied a tract published by Joseph Bates entitled, the Seventh-day Sabbath, they became convinced that the biblical evidence supported the sacredness of the seventh day. Henceforth they began to keep Saturday as the Sabbath. Several months later Ellen White was shown a vision of the law of God in the heavenly sanctuary, with a halo of light around the fourth (Sabbath) commandment--indicating to her and her husband the importance of the Sabbath. 

During the ensuing years until her death in 1915 Ellen White received more than two thousand visions and dreams. They varied in length from a few seconds to four hours, and dealt with a broad range of subjects, including religion, education, social relationships, evangelism, prophecy, publishing, health and nutrition, and others. Over the course of her lifetime and continuing even until today, Ellen White has impacted--and continues to impact--multiple millions of lives around the world by her writings and by the proven positive influence that she has made upon those that have tested and found her writings biblically sound--and have followed their inspired recommendations.

Seventh-day Adventists believe, as I do, that Ellen White fulfills all of the Biblical tests by which the followers of Jesus are admonished to determine the validity of the professed gifts of the Holy Spirit. Seventh-day Adventists do not believe the writings of Ellen White are a substitute of the Holy Scriptures, nor do I. I believe, however, that as in the more than 1500 years of the development of the Bible itself, knowledge and understanding of God and of His plan for His creation, was progressive over time. Just so, the understanding of those truths may continue to expand into our times. Though truth may ever increase in knowledge and understanding, it can never conflict with itself--wherever it is found or however it may be presented.  

Biblical instructions regarding the “gift” of prophecy:

            The following Scriptures admonish the faithful followers of God to pay attention to the messenger prophets through which He speaks.

            “All of you together are Christ’s body, and each of you is a part of it. Here are some of the parts God has appointed for the church: first are apostles, second are prophets, third are teachers, then those who do miracles, “1 Corinthians 12:27, 28 NLT.

He gives one person the power to perform miracles, and another the ability to prophesy. He gives someone else the ability to discern whether a message is from the Spirit of God or from another spirit,” I Corinthians 12:10 NLT.          

            “Now these are the gifts Christ gave to the church: the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, and the pastors and teachers. Their responsibility is to equip God’s people to do his work and build up the church, the body of Christ. This will continue until we all come to such unity in our faith and knowledge of God’s Son that we will be mature in the Lord, measuring up to the full and complete standard of Christ,” Ephesians 4:11-13 NLT.

            “In his grace, God has given us different gifts for doing certain things well. So if God has given you the ability to prophesy, speak out with as much faith as God has given you,” Romans 12:6, NLT.

            “… Jehoshaphat stood and said, Hear me, O Judah, and you inhabitants of Jerusalem’ Believe in the LORD your God, so shall you be established; believe his prophets, so shall you prosper,” 2 Chronicles 20:20, KJV.

            “I have sent also unto you my servants the prophets, rising up early and sending them, saying, ‘Return now every man from his evil way, and amend your doings, and go not after other gods to serve them, and you shall dwell in the land which I have given to you and to your fathers: but you have not inclined your ear, nor harkened unto me,’” Jeremiah 35:15, KJV.

            “Surely the LORD God will do nothing, but he reveals his secret unto his servants the prophets,” Amos 3:7 KJV.

            “Yea, they made their hearts as an adamant stone, lest they should hear the law, and the words which the LORD of hosts has sent in his spirit by the former prophets: therefore came a great wrath from the LORD of hosts” Zechariah 7:12, KJV.

            “Which in other ages was not made known unto the sons of men, as it is now revealed unto his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit; that the Gentiles should be fellow heirs, and partakers of his promise in Christ by the gospel,” Ephesians 3:5, 6 KJV.

            “And I fell at his feet to worship him. And he said unto me, see you do it not: I am your fellow servant, and of your brothers that have the testimony of Jesus: Worship God: for the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy,” Revelation 19:10 KJV. 

Warning of false prophets:

            “Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves,” Matthew 7:15, KJV.

            “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,” Matthew 24:24

Test all things:

            The following Bible texts admonish us to test all alleged Holy Spirit inspired claims.

            ”Do not stifle the Holy Spirit. Do not scoff at prophecies, but test everything that is said. Hold on to what is good,” 1 Thessalonians 5:19, 20 NLT.

“Dear friends, do not believe everyone who claims to speak by the Spirit. You must test them to see if the spirit they have comes from God. For there are many false prophets in the world. This is how we know if they have the Spirit of God: If a person claiming to be a prophet acknowledges that Jesus Christ came in a real body, that person has the Spirit of God. But if someone claims to be a prophet and does not acknowledge the truth about Jesus, that person is not from God. Such a person has the spirit of Antichrist, which you heard is coming into the world and indeed is already here,” 1 John 4:1-3, NLT.

“Suppose there are prophets among you or those who dream dreams about the future, and they promise you signs or miracles, and the predicted signs or miracles occur. If they then say, ‘Come, let us worship other gods;-gods you have not known before,--do not listen to them. The LORD you God is testing you to see if you truly love him with all your heart and soul. Serve only the LORD your God and fear him alone. Obey his commands, listen to his voice, and cling to him,” Deuteronomy 13:1-4, NLT.

“But you may wonder, ‘How will we know whether or not a prophecy is from the LORD?’ If the prophet speaks in the LORD’s name but his prediction does not happen or come true, you will know that the LORD did not give that message. That prophet has spoken without my authority and need not be feared” Deuteronomy 18:21, 22 NLT.

“So a prophet who predicts peace must show he is right. Only when his predictions come true can we know that he is really from the LORD,” Jeremiah 28:9 NLT.

“Someone may say to you, ‘Let’s ask the mediums and those who consult the spirits of the dead. With their whisperings and mutterings, they will tell us what to do.’ But shouldn’t people ask God for guidance? Should the living seek guidance from the dead? Look to God’s instructions and teachings! People who contradict his word are completely in the dark,” Isaiah 8:19, 20 NLT.

“Beware of false prophets who come disguised as harmless sheep but are really vicious wolves. You can identify them by their fruit, that is, by the way they act. Can you pick grapes from thorn bushes, or figs from thistles? A good tree produces good fruit, and a bad tree produces bad fruit. A good tree can’t produce bad fruit, and a bad tree can’t produce good fruit. So every tree that does not produce good fruit is chopped down and thrown into the fire. Yes, just as you can identify a tree by its fruit, so you can identify people by their actions,” Matthew 7:15-20 NLT.

“Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ has become a child of God. And everyone who loves the Father loves his children, too. We know we love God’s children if we love God and obey his commandments. Loving God means keeping his commandments, and his commandments are not burdensome,” I John 5:1-3 NLT.

“But they mocked the messengers of God, and despised his words, and misused his prophets, until the wrath of the LORD arose against his people, till there was no remedy,” 2 Chronicles 36:16, KJV

Truth, the ultimate test:

            God is Love. God is the source of all truth as He is the source of all love. These two are both absolute, yet infinite, meaning that they are beyond human comprehension. The Bible describes God’s love and truth in human terms, meaning that it describes only that measure of love and truth that may be meaningful to human understanding, for man is not God and has not the capacity to understand God in His infinity.

            This being the case, and man being created in the image of God, has the capacity to advance in the knowledge and experience of both love and truth. For example, one may experience the least expression of love according to the Ten Commandment moral law, but that expression of love may grow and expand without known upper limit—one may be faithful to the letter of the 7th commandment law of love with its attendant benefits, but there is no upper limit to the way a spouse may express that love to his/her mate when that love is full grown. Truth, too, may be faultless, but very limited, both in one’s understanding of it, and in its application, but we know of no upper limit of possible attainment of it. For example, there was a time when horseback was about the fasted mode of travel that we knew, whereas, today we have the knowledge of the laws of the sciences that are enabling men to travel into space at much greater than the speed of sound—undreamed of a hundred or so years ago.

            Biblical truth, too, represents the least description of man’s understanding and comprehension at the time that it was delivered to Moses and the other prophets. It DID NOT then reveal the infinite knowledge and understanding of God—but only those things comprehensible to man at that time in their experience. For example, though the writers of the Old Testament prophesied many truths about Jesus, the Messiah, those truths were often not recognized or understood until Jesus pointed them out to his disciples on the road to Emmaus after His resurrection. Many other examples might be cited, but the evidence is clear, revelation of truth is by its very nature a progressive process whereby one truth is able to build upon a previous one. As this truth is operative throughout the Bible, it is also the case with expansion of all knowledge and truth, whether referring to science or to divine inspiration of prophecy and revelation.

            It is equally true that by its very nature, revelation (inspiration) may expand or enlarge upon some former statement of truth, but it cannot contradict itself. An inspired message may explain or enlarge upon a particular Bible truth, but it cannot contradict that truth. In applying the tests of a prophet, this fact must ever be kept uppermost in our study and interpretation.

 

Features about Ellen White that convince me to believe in her as a true prophetess of God (the fruit)

 

Contributions to the SDA Church and to the World:

Health care, a pattern for the world: The inspiration and writings of Ellen White were, and continue to be, a foremost contributor of Bible-based, wholistic, health care in the world: A leader in temperance (avoidance, prevention, and therapy of tobacco, alcohol, and other addicting drugs and practices); Health education emphasizing the natural therapies provided by balanced exercise, sleep and rest periods, natural plant-based nutrition, value of sunlight, fresh air, ample use of water internally and externally, and the benefit and role of faith in supporting optimal physical, mental, and spiritual health from conception until old age—while de-emphasizing the role of “drugs,” chemicals, and man-made medications.

A premier medical science institution at Loma Linda, California, reflecting the above values, training and supporting professional health care personnel in hospitals, clinics and missions around the world.

Exemplary manufacture and distribution of plant-based health foods worldwide.

Epidemiological evidence that the above practices tend to extend length of useful life more than seven years as compared with their peers utilizing the health practices common around the globe.

Education: A worldwide system of educational facilitiesfrom kindergarten to post graduate education having its greatest impact in 3rd world nations.

Science: An active voice of creationism.

Prophecy: Promoting, preaching, and teaching Bible prophecy as it applies to our time in history.

Biblical truth:  Promoting and restoring Biblical truths for which martyrs through the ages died to defend, many of which have been lost since the Protestant Reformation.

The Great Controversy:

The entire Bible is an account of the war between good and evil, between God and Satan--beginning with the rebellion of Lucifer (Satan) in heaven, his conquest of Adam and Eve soon after earth creation, his defeat by Jesus at Calvary, and his final annihilation when the war is over.

In the visions and writings of Ellen White we may “look” behind the scenes of history and observe the wily, deceptive, movements and evil purposes of the devil and his evil angels and men in combat against the love and power of God as He has responded to the devils ire.

Finally, we are given a picture of events transpiring now and leading up to and through the final conflict during which the saints (faithful followers of Jesus), and the forces of evil, will be completely and eternally separated one from the other. In those same inspired pages we read cautions, warnings, and instructions preparing the faithful to be victorious during that final conflict described in the Bible as “like nothing ever before, and never to be experienced again (Daniel 12:1; Matthew 24:21).

Few, even of men living today, appreciate the true reality of Satan and the evil powers of darkness, accepting the lethal deceptions of Satan as nothing more than the product of a vivid imagination, or of superstition.  Ellen White dispels these deceptions, exposing him as the real causative agent in everything evil and hurtful that we witness and experience in our world today.

The Moral Law of God:

Viewed by most of the people of the world as a law of legalistic restrictions applying to the Jews only, the Spirit of God through the pen of Ellen White, rather, adamantly supports the Biblical description of the Moral Law of God as the universal, unalterable (as is ALL natural law), and comprehensive Law of Love--codified into ten precepts designed to free people from the evils that naturally lead to pain, sorrow, illness and premature death. Nor does she, unlike most people living today, ignore the 4th, Sabbath Commandment, describing God as the Sovereign ruler of the universe who alone is worthy of our love, loyalty, time, and worship.

Antichrist:

There is within each of us (we were all born into sin) an element of rebellion against God and His governance instigated by the devil and his evil angels (demons). The natural tendency for each of us is to selfishly serve and care for ourselves first of all. This Antichrist tendency finds fulfillment in universal expression as Satan and his accomplices of angels and of men carry this rebellious element to its extreme limit, assuming man to the status of God and granting to him the allegiance, loyalty, time, and worship of which God alone is worthy—and who alone is able to give and sustain life. As the Seventh-day Sabbath identifies God, Creator of the heavens and the earth and all that is within them, as the legitimate governor of His creation, so Sunday, the first day of the week from most ancient times, identifies Satan, the instigator and perpetrator of the rebellion—whose end is death from which there is no resurrection. The Holy Spirit inspired writings of Ellen White leave no questions regarding the identity and disposition of those that “buy into” the beliefs and practices of the Antichrist. (Note: In fact, during the past few months we have watched a man accepting adoration and worship around the world and of all classes of men, certainly fulfilling characteristics of such Antichrist.)

Righteousness by Faith:

Legalism is obedience to the law for the benefits one selfishly hopes to derive for the effort. Righteousness by faith is much different from legalism—it is obedience to the law, not for love and benefit of self, but for love of others, both God and man—irrespective of any anticipation of personal benefit. These terms, legalism and righteousness by faith are most commonly seen in relation to the perfect Ten Commandment moral law of God, and reflect the faith, or lack of faith, each of us choose to exercise in regards to the precepts of that law.

Being born in sin, legalism is the natural default mode for every one of us since the fall of Adam and Eve to the devil in Eden. We are all, by nature, selfish and self-serving. Righteousness by faith, on the other hand, is the product of a transformational work of the Holy Spirit, writing the law upon the mind and in the heart of one that truly believes and accepts Jesus as Lord and Savior of their lives--all made possible by the sacrificial blood of Jesus Christ.

Throughout the ages, legalism has been one of the devil’s most effective tools by which to snatch unwary people into his camp, often causing such confusion as to create division and disruption among the professing family of God. The Spirit of God working through the writings of Ellen white has served quite effectively in defending the truth regarding this sometimes contentious matter.

Justice in judgment:

The concept of justice and judgment taught by most of the religions of the world include some version of a heaven for the good and righteous, and eternally burning hell for the evil and unjust. These teachings, in turn, portray human life as physical body and spiritual soul.  Ellen White, in contrast, agrees with many devout students of the Bible that a human being is one entity created by God from the “dust of the earth” and brought to life by the breath of God. All sin, (deviation from the Law of God’s Love), naturally leads to death during which all bodily functions cease and the body decomposes to the dust of the earth once again. At the designated time of resurrection, of both the just and the unjust, each person will be essentially recreated, the righteous to heaven and the new earth, and the wicked to the “second death” from which there is no resurrection.

The promise of eternal life was first made to Adam and Eve after their fall. Many more details were given to the Jews (Israel) in the symbols associated with their Sanctuary and its related symbols, and rituals. In the centuries following the crucifixion of Jesus, the meaning of many of those symbols have been revealed to faithful Bible students, thus forming the foundation upon which the visions of Ellen White were established. Through divine inspiration we are now able to see a much clearer description of the entire plan of God to resolve the war between good and evil in such a way that sin will never arise again throughout eternity—intelligent life throughout the universe having had opportunity to understand the power and goodness of love, and the meanness and certain self-destructive nature of sin and rebellion against that love.

 

Effects of the inspiration of Ellen White to my personal life:

            Because of the influence of the inspired writings of Ellen White:

I have been blessed with a Bible-based education qualifying me for mission service at home and/or abroad as a physician and surgeon.

The Bible has become a “living” book to me as I have responded to White’s wise counsel to diligently study the Holy Scriptures and apply their principles to every aspect of my life.

By her inspired commentary on the Bible my understanding of the conflict between good and evil; of the identity of the Antichrist; the meaning of righteousness by faith and its relationship to the Law of God; the status of the judgment; the nature of death; and many other lessons of Scripture that are often variously understood by other faith groups, I have enjoyed a long and very satisfying life walking in step with my Lord. Together with Him I have had the pleasure of serving my hurting fellow men while sharing with them the truths that have meant so much to me.

Encouraged by her instructions about “natural remedies” I have enjoyed a long and productive life free of the negative consequences of tobacco, alcohol, caffeine, and other drugs and harmful practices—and the privilege of sharing those remedies with others.

The following texts may serve as examples of Biblical passages that have been most helpful to me in my personal walk with my Savior.

 “Where your treasure is, there will your heart be also,” Matthew 6:21. Commentary upon just this one text has expanded my understanding regarding the scope of its application beyond imagination—and it has positively affected my life practices and blessings.

“I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock,” Matthew 7:24. What is this rock? What does it mean to build upon it? Ellen White expounds beautifully upon the matter of building one’s life upon Jesus Christ, the rock.

“Here are they that keep the commandments of God, and have the faith of Jesus,” Revelation 14:12 KJV. From time immemorial religious people have struggled to understand the true relationship between the Moral Law of God and His redeeming grace. In the inspired writings of Ellen White this sometimes difficult topic is made easy to understand.

  “When you shall see the abomination of desolation spoken of by Daniel the Prophet, standing in the holy place, whoever reads, let him understand …” Matthew 24:15. A number of the Protestant Reformers understood the basics of this sign of the end times, greatly enhanced by the visions of Ellen White, and significantly affecting my response to the events going on in the world even as I am now writing. Surely this is an important sign of the times in which we are now living and of the events immediately before us.

“You are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that you should show forth the praises of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light,…” 1 Peter 2:9. What does it mean to be a member of the royal priesthood? To be called out of darkness into marvelous light? One of the beauties of truth is that its extent need not be limited by imagination. Compared to divine revelation, even the most florid imagination fails to begin to measure up.

This list could be extended many pages, but this should be sufficient to grasp the importance of her inspiration to the individual lives of those of us living today.

 

Opposition to EGW by SDA Church:

            There is no shortage of disillusioned SDA’s and no shortage of accusations leveled against EGW—including such things as mental illness, plagiarism, etc. etc. So was Jesus and all of the prophets through the age falsely accused. Not by accusation, but by careful testing, ought wise men to seek to discover the truth about every professed prophetic messenger of the Lord, including Ellen White.

Opposition by the Christian Church:

I suspect the majority of criticism by the larger Christian Church arises from the statements and writings of disillusioned Adventists. Armed with such ammunition, it is not difficult to pick away at minutia, insignificant apparent inconsistencies, or even facts taken out of context.

It is true that Ellen White’s writings contain the understanding of her times about certain health practices and issues of her day that have subsequently been challenged—though seldom disproven (dangers of masturbation and amalgamation of species, as examples).

Depending upon one’s understanding of how the Spirit works, it may be easy to make a case about plagiarism. If, on the other hand, one will permit the Holy Spirit to reference other sources so as to impress upon a point, much of the accusation of plagiarism may be ameliorated.

Interestingly the Bible itself is frequently maligned by similar arguments.

Other non-Christian Religions:

While non-Christian religions may quite naturally ignore Christian publications, teachings, etc. It is not unusual for those individuals that will give study to Ellen White’s writings to become rapidly engrossed in the material, even to the accepting of the Jesus she so faithfully presents in her comments. In fact, the book, The Great Controversy, is highly prized by some prominent leaders of certain non-Christian searchers for truth.

The World at large:

The writings of Ellen White, staunchly encouraging faithfulness to end-time biblical predictions may be expected to invite ever increasing accusations of radical fundamentalism and its challenge to world unity.

Summary:

The prophetic ministry of Ellen White has too often been suppressed, viciously attacked, maligned, avoided, and ignored, not only during her life time, but in the intervening century since her death—all to the serious detriment of society, in America and around the world—both by her fellow Adventist professed believers and the Christian world at large. And it is a real shame—not realizing what a terrible loss society is suffering as a result. In many ways, Christians are following in the footsteps of Israel, and missing the blessings God desired to give to the world through them—until ultimately, they put the Savior of the world to death—never receiving the full benefit (the “rest”) God pledged to give to them in exchange for faithfulness.

Today, we stand at an even more crucial point in history, even on the very precipus of eternity. The predictions of Ellen White, like the prophecies of Israel’s prophets are now coming to fulfillment right in order before our very eyes—still, we refuse to open them just as did ancient Israel.

I have studied the Bible and the writings of Ellen White for a life time. I am aware of most of the objections that have been made about her. Yet, aware of these things, the benefits to be realized by accepting her as a true messenger of Jesus to the world of the end times, it is my conviction that the benefits of her writings far exceed any possible faults leveled against her.

No one will be saved by accepting the divine inspiration of Ellen White, but it is my assessment that many will be saved by accepting the benefits to be realized by knowing and applying the truths I believe God has delivered to the world through her. Listen to the words of Jesus His challengers.

To them Jesus had this to say, “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones God’s messengers! How often I have wanted to gather your children together as a hen protects her chicks beneath her wings, but you wouldn’t let me. And now, look, your house is abandoned and desolate. For I tell you this, you will never see me again until you say, ‘Blessings on the one who comes in the name of the Lord! Matthew 23:37-39 NLT.

What might one think Jesus is saying today? Could it be these words? “Then I heard another voice calling from heaven, ‘Come away from her my people, do not take part I her sins, or you will be punished with her. For her sins are piled as high as heaven, and God remembers her evil deeds.” Revelation 18:4, 5 NLT.

I believe it is! The TIME is near!

 

For those interested in the facts, this reference is an excellent resource.

(http://whiteestate.org/about/egwbio.asp#message)

 

 

 

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Heaven’s Bank

“Don’t store up treasures here on earth, where moths eat them and rust destroys them, and where thieves break in and steal. Store your treasures in heaven, where moths and rust cannot destroy, and thieves do not break in and steal. Wherever your treasure is, there the desires of your heart will also be,” Matthew 6:19, 20. NLT

These are the words of Jesus spoken during His Sermon on the Mount.

How are reasonable people to understand this admonition? Did Jesus really mean what is recorded in this passage? To whom do His words apply? To children? To the poor? To the working class? To those that are rich and prosperous? Or was Jesus merely speaking rhetorically?

What treasures was He referring to? The cash we have left over after we have met all of our needs? All of our wants? The excess after we have met all of our needs, wants, and desires? Or of all of our blessings? How are we to know?

Once we have determined the amount to invest, how are we to know how or where to make the deposit?

We CANNOT know! Unless we know God! Unless we are in regular conversation with Jesus as revealed in the Holy Scriptures and His providential response to our prayers and conversations with Jesus.

Of course, if there is any real question, we are always free to put him to the test and see how He responds. For those that are sincere and honest He will respond.

The truth about the Bank of Heaven

There is no other bank like the bank of heaven.

First of all, my Banker will provide the means for me to invest.

He will instruct me regarding the very best time to invest and the exact amount that I should invest for the very highest yields.

I can deposit whatever I have to invest whenever I want to invest, and withdraw whatever I need whenever I need it—Irrespective of the dollar amount I have invested--for the Bank of Heaven has no limit of resources. He who knows the end from the beginning will give to me exactly what I need when I need it.

Do you know of a better bank, or a better Banker?

Trust Him!

 

 

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The Pope Is Right!  The Pope Is Wrong!

 

The pope is right! We humans are destroying our own world home. We may debate the various factors responsible for the quality of air in our cities; the quality of water in our lakes, streams, and drinking supplies; the chemicals and quality of our food; the rash of natural disasters; the cause of our poor health, our epidemics, our overall measure of health, and our premature crippling and death. Yes, I believe it is true, these things do not, and have not, been caused apart from our interaction with natural resources. I believe he is correct in stating, “Ecological concern” is a “tragic consequence” of “unchecked human activity” (Laudato-SI’).

Yes, he is correct, it is man that is responsible for “natural” disasters occurring all around our world. They are not caused by an angry God punishing us for our sins—as unconscionable as those sins may be.

The pope is wrong. While we may, and must put forth EVERY EFFORT to curtail those activities that are causing the problem (we recognize many of them), we are already beyond recovery by any human means. This world has passed the point of no return. There is nothing human beings can do to significantly reverse processes already beyond control—for we cannot control the human will, the inherent, God-given freedom of choice that is responsible for our present status. No! Not even by force. “As it was in the days of Noah, so it will be also in the days of the Son of Man,” Luke 17:26. Try as he may, neither the pope nor any other man--or conglomeration of men, will ever be able to “put humpty-dumpty together again!”

 

The pope is right: There is only ONE God.

The pope is wrong: He (the pope) is NOT that One God (though he may seem to receive the honor and glory due only to the true God. That one God, though perhaps called by a variety of names, is that ONE who alone has the love and the power to transform sinners (anyone of us), into His image again--His law of love written within our hearts and upon our minds (Hebrews 10:16, 17; 1 Peter2:21). This ONE God is Love personified. He created all things, sustains all things, and rules over all things according to His unchangeable, unconditional, self-renouncing, Law of Love. He is the source of all life, and there is no other.

 

The pope is right: Jesus DID pray for unity among His followers as recorded in the Bible, (John, chapter, 17).

The pope is wrong: There can be no unity apart from the truths of the Holy Bible. Jesus prayed to his Father, “My prayer is not for the world, but for those you have given me, because they belong to you. They do not belong to this world any more than I do. Make them holy by your truth; teach them your word, which is truth. I am in them and you are in me. May they experience such perfect unity that the world will know that you sent me and that you love them as much as you love me,” (John 17:9, 16-18, 23). The Bible asks, “Can two walk together, unless they are agreed?” Amos 3:3.

 

The pope is right: Mercy, humility, kindness, and every other expression of true, godly, self-renouncing love are characteristics of God’s faithful ones

The pope is wrong: Bible believing “fundamentalists” may be radical as judged by others, but not all radicals are evil or unloving. Jesus, himself, was a radical fundamentalist, as were the prophets and all of the faithful ones recorded in the book of Hebrews (chapter 11)--nor are those fundamentalists living today that love Jesus and follow His Law of Love! They were, are, and will be, ridiculed, rejected, persecuted, and “sacrificed” for their loving words, deeds, and examples. Indeed, all who love and serve the ONE true God will suffer persecution, (2 Timothy 3:12).

 

The pope is right: It is noble to bless the children, to stoop before the sick and deformed, and to wash the feet of one of another faith.

The pope is wrong: For to fail to offer them a drink of cool, fresh water from the spring of Living Water (John 4:13, 14), or to feed them with the Living Bread is without excuse (John 6:50, 51).

 

The pope is right: Jesus was a failure.

The pope is wrong: Jesus was only a failure in the eyes of evil men. NOT in the eyes of God, His Father in heaven who proclaimed, “This is my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased.” Nor of the Roman Centurion that, “feared greatly, saying, ‘Truly this was the Son of God,’” Matthew 27:54. No! Jesus was not only not a failure. By his submission to death upon the cross at the hands of demon-possessed men, Jesus defeated the devil and won eternal life for all that would believe in His precious name.

 

The pope is right: Our world does indeed need a day of rest each week. Much of the unrest that we see in our society all around the world is due to our forsaking the only commandment of God that says, “Remember the Sabbath day to keep it holy, …” Exodus 20:8-11.

The pope is wrong: The day we are commanded to remember and keep holy is not Sunday, the day of the sun--honored and worshiped by pagans and unbelievers almost from beginning of earth time--but Saturday, the seventh day of the week, blessed and sanctified, set apart by God as holy time, at the end of creation week. “On the seventh day God had finished work of creation, so he rested from all his work. And God blessed the seventh day and declared it holy, because it was the day when he rested from all his work of creation, Genesis 2:2, 3 (NLT).

 

The pope is right: The answer to the problems this world is facing is a one-world government.

The pope is wrong: That one world government will not occur by ANY human effort, but only upon the return of Jesus--not then as a man, but as King of Kings and Lord of Lords, Wonderful counselor, Almighty God, Everlasting Father, and Prince of Pease. “And His government and its peace will never end. He will rule with fairness and justice from the throne of his ancestor, David, for all eternity,” (Isaiah 9:6, 7) NLT.

 

The pope is right: Poverty stinks!

The pope is wrong: Poverty is not going to be solved by ANY kind of political action—but only by having the Law of Love inscribed upon every human heart and into every human mind. Such inscriptions cannot be made by legislation, nor can they be forced by any papal influence or decree--but only as Jesus is invited and dwelling in the human heart. That does not happen, but by choice.

 

The pope is right: True Christians will reflect the love of Jesus toward those we call lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT

The pope is wrong: While it is true that LGBT’s may be more a product of 6,000 years of sin than the choice of any individual, and while they deserve to be loved the same as everyone else, God wants them to be saved for eternity, just like everyone else. While LGBT’s may, like leopards that cannot change their spots, be unable to change their heritage, they must, like every one of us, surrender their lives to Jesus and seek Him with the entire heart--for God is able to heal any disease and correct any defect we may have, whether from inheritance, environmental influence, or personal choice--or to give us the freedom, grace, and power to use our “spots” to make us a blessing to this ill and hurting world.

 

The pope is right: Divorce is wrong. From the beginning, the family was established as the foundation of all society, (Genesis 1:27, 28). There is no other sin having such a negative effect on a healthy society as the disruption of the human family (from whatever reason). Jesus taught, “You have heard the commandment that says, ‘You must not commit adultery. But I say, anyone who even looks at a woman with lust has already committed adultery with her in his heart,” Matthew 5:27, 28. He continues, “Moses, because of the hardness of your hearts, permitted you do divorce your wives, but from the beginning it was not so,” Matthew 19:8.

The pope is wrong: Neither he, nor any other man has the God-given authority to alter a covenant between a man and his wife, executed before God in holy matrimony. Only God can forgive the truly penitent and wash the record clean, made possible by the sacrificial blood of Jesus.

 

The pope is right: Abortion is wrong. The fact that an unwanted child may be unloved and uncared for after birth does not excuse the wrong of taking its life in the womb—nor the killing of any man.

The pope is wrong: While abortion is wrong, there is a point when we must permit nature to take its course. Death is not only a curse, but also a blessing for those that have lived their lives well, (Job 3:14-22; Isaiah 57:1; Proverbs 14:32; Psalms 116:15; Ecclesiastes 4:13; 1 Thessalonians 4:16-18).

 

The Pope is right: God is a god of mercy. He wants nothing more than to wash away our sins by the spilt blood of Jesus Christ.

The pope is wrong: Mercy does not tolerate unrepentant sin in the life. The Bible says, “When you follow the desires of your sinful nature, the results are very clear: sexual immorality, impurity, lustful pleasures, idolatry, sorcery, hostility, quarreling, jealousy, outbursts of anger, selfish ambition, dissension, division, envy, drunkenness, wild parties, and other sins like these. Let me tell you again, as I have before, that anyone living that sort of life will not inherit the Kingdom of God,” Galatians 5:19-21.

Thanks be to God, when we confess our sins and surrender to God’s mercy, He is faithful and just to forgive our sins and to cleanse us from all iniquity (a new birth) (1John 1:9). Then, His faithful ones with His Law of Love written upon their hearts and in their minds will show all of the fruits of the Spirit, “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control (Galatians 5:22,23).

 

The pope is right: There is a year of Jubilee coming when God will wipe the slate clean and all sin and evil of the truly penitent will be eternally expunged, and the universe will be free to love, once again.

The pope is wrong: That jubilee will be proclaimed by God himself when the universal war between God and Satan, between good and evil, has ended and Jesus returns to earth to free the faithful of all ages to live eternally with Him, (Revelation 21:1-8).

 

The pope is right: God loves Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus, Animists, and every other man and religious person. He is no respecter of persons, (Acts 10:34-36; 17:23-31).

The pope is wrong: God loves every man, and wants everyone to be saved, but the Bible says, “You must not have any other god but me. You must not make for yourself an idol of any kind or an image of anything in the heavens of on the earth or in the sea. You must not bow down to them or worship them, for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God who will not tolerate your affection for any other gods,” Exodus 20:3-5.

 

There comes a point in each one of our lives when we must choose what we will believe and whom we will serve, whether God, our Creator, sustainer, redeemer and friend—or to serve the god of this world--and to give our lives to the cause in which we believe.

The Pope and those that worship and follow him are no exception. I have examined the evidence and find nothing in the world giving a more comprehensive and rational explanation for what I see in the world today than what is described in the Holy Bible. I have, therefore, dedicated my life to the service of the God I read about in the Bible. I am unable, and have no need to judge the hearts and minds of those that choose otherwise. There is, however, a responsibility born of love for God and my fellow men to share my faith and understanding with those that will listen, that they, too, may have opportunity to choose intelligently whom or what they will serve.

 

The pope is right: It is his right and responsibility to choose his god, whether the God of the Bible, or some other god, or multiple of gods. He has stated his position publicly, responding to the call of his god to minister to his fellow men, and has dedicated his entire life to fulfilling the call he has heard. Nothing has stood in the way of attaining the highest possible service. In taking the name, Francis, the pope has chosen well.

I believe that the pope is wrong: The Bible says, “Your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying, ‘This is the way, walk in it,’ whenever you turn to the right hand or whenever you turn to the left, “Isaiah 30:21. He has had ample opportunity to hear this voice during the course of his studies, including the Bible and other sacred prophetic writings. It is not like he has never heard the gospel. Yet, neither I nor any other man can read the heart of any other individual. Only the ONE God can know the thoughts and the true heart values of an individual.

More than eight hundred years ago, Francis of Assisi prayed, “Lord, make me an instrument of your peace; where there is hatred, let me so love; where there is injury, pardon; where there is doubt, faith; where there is despair, hope; where there is darkness, light; where there is sadness, joy.” Sometimes when we hear the latest tragic story of violence in the world, the idea of being instruments of peace can seem overwhelming. But small acts of kindness remind us that in the face of fear, injury, hatred, good does exist.”

“It is in giving that we receive, it is in pardoning that we are pardoned, and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life. Acting kindly means dying to our selfish desires so that the needs of others might be met. Self-denial goes against everything the evening news suggests about human nature. But when we live out God’s kindness in ordinary ways, even moments of despair can become opportunities for hope.”

The pope is right on many more things: He is a child of God, created in the image of God and having many of the characteristics of God--as do all of us human beings.

The pope is wrong about some other things as well. While proclaiming that there is only ONE God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, He permits other men to call him Father, in spite of the teachings of Jesus, saying, “…do not be called Rabbi’; for One is your Teacher, the Christ, and you are all brethren. Do not call anyone on earth your father; for One is your Father, He who is in heaven. And do not be called teachers; for One is your teacher, the Christ, “Matthew 23:8-10). He is the one and only ONE worthy of worship, honor, glory and praise.

The pope is wrong in observing those traditions of the Church that are contrary to the clear teachings of the Holy Bible, (2 Timothy 3:15-17).

The Bible teaches:

Jesus, the true Lamb of God, was sacrificed once, not many times, (Hebrews 9:22-28).

Mary, mother of Jesus, blessed above women, is not a mediator, advocate, or Queen of heaven, Luke 1:46-49. Jesus is the only mediator, (Hebrews 7:21-8:2; 1 Timothy 2:5, 6).

Jesus is the Rock, the head of the Church. There is no other, (1 Peter2:4-9). Bishops are to be husband of one wife. Celibacy cannot be a requirement of Church leaders, (1 Timothy 3:1-7).

God is Creator of heaven and earth and all that is in them, No man can create life, even as an act of worship, (Revelation 14:6, 7).

God only is worthy of worship. No other man, creature, or thing, is to receive that which belongs to God alone, (Exodus 20:3-6)

There is only one safe depository for our wealth, the bank of heaven, (Matthew 6:19-21).

When you pray, do not use vain reputations (rosaries) as the heathen do, (Matthew 6:7).

Veneration of the dead is condemned, (Isaiah 8:19, 20)

Communication with the dead is impossible. Purgatory and indulgences, a myth, “For the living know that they will die: But the dead no nothing, (Ecclesiastes 9:5). Jesus likened death to a sleep from which there will be a resurrection, (Luke 8:52).

Only God can forgive sin. “…, I will hear from heaven and forgive their sins and restore …, (2 Chronicles 7:14). No man can forgive sin. We are able only to forgive those that sin against us, (Mark 11:25).

Baptism is a symbol of one’s choice to die to a life of sin and to rise to a new life of faith in Jesus. There is, therefore, no place for baptism of infants, (Romans 6:3-7).

All Scripture is given by inspiration of God …, (3 Timothy 3:15-17). It is not to be added to or subtracted from, (Revelation 22:18, 19).

The Bible says, “You must not kill (1 John 3:15, 16).” God is the only judge. The Inquisition, crusades and martyrdom of the saints are contrary to love, (1 Corinthians 4:2-4).

 

As we look at the world we are living in today we cannot help but recognize that the things we see cannot continue endlessly. We are on a course of certain self-destruction unless something miraculous should happen to reverse the process. Yet, as we search for options, we realize that there just are not any other options evident. Yes, there is an active space program with many scientists in the process of moving out into space with hopes of building settlements on other worlds, yet we all know in our hearts that present society cannot endure long enough for that dream to ever become a reality. Scientists in many disciplines similarly are searching for answers, but with little hope of significant improvement. Basic to our dilemma is us—we ourselves—short on love for one another, and long with selfishness and violence.

There is only one answer to our otherwise certain demise. That one answer is found in the message of the Holy Bible and the God that created, redeemed, and sustains us. He is coming again to restore that which has been lost, and to save all that through the ages have chosen to believe and follow Him.

Traditions, irrespective of their nigh universal support, will not--for they cannot--duplicate the truths and the benefits contained in the Word of God.

The pope is not the first to claim the power and authority of God. The Bible is clear, Satan aspired to be like God in heaven, even sitting on the throne of God. But there was no room in heaven or anywhere in the universe for another god. War began in heaven, Satan challenged His power and authority and he and his fellow angels were eventually cast out. God has not changed. He remains the one and only Sovereign of the earth and greater universe, (Isaiah 14:12-14; Ezekiel 28:12-18; Revelation 12, entire chapter).

 

The Bible is clear. God wants us all to enjoy life to the fullest here on earth, and life for eternity beyond. His counsel to us is this, “Today I have given you the choice between life and death, between blessings and curses. Now I call on heaven and earth to witness the choice you make. Oh, that you would choose life, so that you and your descendants might live! You can make this choice by loving the Lord your God, obeying him, and committing yourself firmly to him. This is the key to your life. And if you love and obey the Lord, you will live long in the land the Lord swore to give your ancestors, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob,” Deuteronomy 30:19, 20.

This promise to Israel then is for us today, too. Therefore, choose life.

 

The appeal:

We stand today together on the verge of eternity. Two roads lie before us. One is narrow and steep. It leads to Heaven to the ONE true God and eternal life with Him—and few there be that find it. The other is broad, and it leads to Hell and the second death from which there is no resurrection (Matthew 7:13). God has created us with the blessing of free choice. It is up to each one of us which road we will choose (Deuteronomy 30:11-20).

 

I plead with you, my brother Bergoglio, choose the One God and life. Choose the true Word of God as spelled out so wonderfully in the Holy Bible. You know that book, for you have read its message, and from its truths you have crafted your own kingdom. Choose, too, the “Lesser lights” of the prophets. Neither are you unmindful of them. Kneel before Him, fall on your face in humble submission to the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords. Do it today. It will cost you everything you have and are in this world--but in the end, eternal life with Him. In failing to choose the Word of God is to choose death, both for you and all of those that choose to bow before you this day.

Consider, please, these words of Holy Writ. “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened. Or what man is there among you who, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he ask for a fish, will give him a serpent? If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask Him! (Matthew 7:7-11).

 

“Look, I am coming soon, bringing my reward with me to repay all people according to their deeds. I am the Alpha and Omega, the first and the Last, the Beginning and the end.

“Blessed are those who wash their robes. They will be permitted to enter through the gates of the city and eat the fruit from the tree of life, Outside the city are the dogs—the sorcerers, the sexually immoral, the murderers, the idol worshipers, and all who love to live a lie.

“I, Jesus, have sent my angel to give you this message for the churches. I am both the source of David and the heir to his throne. I am the bright and morning star.

“The Spirit and the bride say, ‘Come.’ Let anyone who hears this say, ‘Come.’ Let anyone who is thirsty come. Let anyone who desires drink freely from the water of life. And I solemnly declare to everyone who hears the words of prophecy written in this book: ‘If anyone adds anything to what is written here, God will add to that person the plagues described in this book. And if anyone removes any of the words from this book of prophecy, God will remove that person’s share in the tree of life and in the holy city that are described in this book.’

“He who is the faithful witness to all these things says, ‘Yes, I am coming soon!’

“Amen! Come, Lord Jesus!

“May the grace of the Lord, Jesus be with God’s holy people,” Revelation 22:12-21.

 

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Adam, Abraham, Jesus, and Us

Adam ate of the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil that Eve gave to him. It is therefore his fault for the mess this world is now in.

Abraham accepted the advice of Sarah and took Hagar as the mother of his promised descendants. It is his fault that our world is the way it is today--at war between Christians and Jews, and the sects of Islam.

Jesus told His followers that unless they were willing to leave everything, including wife and family they could not be His disciples, Luke 14:26.

Is there any record in the Bible where some follower of Jesus left his/her family to be Jesus’ disciple? Yes! John the Baptist, Isaiah, Jeremiah, and many others.

Adam loved Eve enough to die with her. Abraham loved Sarah enough that he was willing to take her advice--and to cast out Hagar when that didn’t work out. Jesus loved us so much that He was willing to leave His family in heaven and in earth to die for us, His bride!

God did not condemn Adam, or Abraham for their choice to exercise their love for their families, but honored them in spite of it—or possibly because of it! Yes, there is always a price for sin, but the power of love will always be more than willing to pay it.

Christ suffered for us, leaving us an example that we should follow His steps, 1 Peter 2:21.

I must then conclude that in loving our spouses and families on earth sufficient to die for them, we are, in fact, revealing our love for God, (John 15:13; Mark 12:31).

Adam made the correct decision when he accepted Eve’s plea. Abraham made the correct decision when he took Hagar to wife, and when he sent her away. He made the correct decision again when he took Isaac away from Sarah to sacrifice him to God, (Hebrews 11:17-19) knowing the Love and understanding of God.

Jesus made the right decision when he loved us enough to leave His family in heaven and earth to die for us, unable to be certain that He would rise again (John 3:16).

Jeremiah, Isaiah, and John made the right decision when they left all to follow Jesus, (John 15:13).

What is the lesson for me? ALL of these lived by faith, trusting in God enough to do whatever He, by the Spirit, led them to do.

The answer, then, seems to be that we live in a world at war. Everything is not black and white. We must KNOW God well enough to trust Him whatever the Spirit convicts us to do—even when it appears to be contrary to His command to love Him above everything and everyone else. “All of these having obtained a good report through faith, received not the promise: God having provided some better thing for us, that they without us should not be made perfect,” Hebrews 11:39, 40. (KJV)

When we, today, are confronted with the command to love and serve our God above everything else, do we love God and know Him so well that we would be willing to die for our spouses and families to glorify His Holy Name?

Statistics today reveal that the rate of separation and divorce among professing Christians of all faiths is little different than those of the world. How can this be–except true love be missing or of short supply? Unfortunately, among the most devout couples, conscience issues often play a significant role. Should this not give us pause to sit up and take note? Do we really love, as Jesus loves? Do we have faith? Is OUR God still trustworthy?

Can He trust us?

 

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“You Fool!”

“Remember the Sabbath day to keep it holy”

 

I am one that believes that the passage of Holy Scripture quoted here predicts a trajectory that will soon make the believer the object of scorn, disdain, contempt, and eventual condemnation, persecution and even of death, (Matthew 10:16-42; Matthew 24:9-22; 2 Timothy 3:12; Revelation 13:13-16).

What fool would ever subject one’s self to such strange belief? And, why?

I believe the Bible is a holy book, God’s message to the human family. It is the truth for this, our time.

Central to the truths of the Bible is the role of the love of God for man, and the love of man for God—a love that is codified by ten unchangeable precepts encompassing every possible interaction between man with man and man with God—the Constitution of the governance of the entire universe. In the very center of this constitution of love we find the official SEAL of His authority to rule—Name: God, Ownership: Creator--Scope of his domain: Heaven and earth and sea and all that is in them--instructing His creation to remember the Sabbath day to keep it holy (Exodus 20:8-11; Revelation 14:6, 7).

I am one of a small minority that believes the claims of this book, the Bible—including two very crucial teachings: its claim of a literal six day creation (as opposed to creation by evolution), and its references to the (literal, if sometimes unseen) war between good and evil—between God and Satan now waging here on planet earth.

There is an almost infinite number of alternate beliefs by the people living on earth today—ranging from very devout people with many varying interpretations of the Holy Bible (and other scriptures), to theories of evolution and atheism. Common among nearly all of these is the acceptance of Sunday as a day of rest and family. Furthermore, though not everyone accepts all of the other teachings of the Catholic Church, most people seem comfortable in dedicating Sunday as a day of rest and relaxation apart from the hectic “rat race” of modern-day life--in keeping with the insistence of the pope of the Catholic Church—and this in direct opposition of the Sabbath Commandment that calls believers to “Remember the Sabbath” according to the Commandment to keep it holy (Exodus 20:8-11).

Given this designated role of Sunday, and in view of many threats to the entire world society even now troubling the earth, few find a compelling reason to object to the Papal mandate—even Christians claiming belief in the Holy Bible and the Ten Commandment Law of Love.

I am not one of them. I must respond and speak up!

It is my response of love for my God, my Creator, my Redeemer, and my King. To remember the Sabbath and to honor it as a sign of my faith in Him, a sign of my belief in His cause, a sign of loyalty to Him—a means of giving worship to him. It is the very least I can do for Him in response to what He has done for me. The Bible tells us that when we give we receive much more than we give, (Luke 6:38; Matthew 6:13). I believe this applies to much more that financial resources only.

The benefits provided by the Sabbath itself are His response of love to me for remembering the time He sanctified (set apart) as holy time, to be with me as His child, His friend and faithful believer and follower (Exodus 20:8-11).

 

Benefits available via Sabbath observance:

It is through love as expressed within the full scope of the Ten Commandments that all of God’s benefits may be realized.

The Sabbath is my weekly reminder that He is my creator—designed in love in His own image for fellowship with him as one of his family and dear friends for eternity.

It is my weekly reminder that He is my law giver—that He has established and given me all of the principles of life necessary to protect me from all harm to myself or others, and by which I may experience all of the blessings He wishes to give to His children (Romans 7:12; Matthew 5:17).

It is my weekly reminder that all of the principles of the law are met in loving service to my fellow men, including to those that cannot help themselves (Matthew 25:31-46; James 1:27).

It is my weekly reminder that He is my provider—He is the source and provider of my every need and desire—nothing lacking (Matthew 6:19-36).

It is my weekly reminder that He is my liberator—freeing me from all chains of bondage, self-imposed or of external origin (guilt, fear, anger, etc.)--except the bond of love by which I am bound to Him (James1:25)!

It is my weekly reminder that He is my redeemer—Himself paying the full price for the sin in which I was born, and the sin of my own conscious choices (John 3:16; John 1:1-16; 1 Peter 1:18, 19).

It is my weekly reminder that he is my healer of body, mind, and spirit—relieving my pain and suffering when I am hurting, sad, or ill (Exodus 15:26; Luke 4:18).

It is my weekly reminder to choose to remember Him-- for by remembering Him He is able to restore me into His image once again (Philippians 3:21; 2 Timothy 1:12).

It is my weekly reminder that He is my sanctifier—the One that has the power to transform me, exchanging my selfish heart for a heart of love like unto His own--holy and equipped for service to Him and my fellow men (1 Peter 1:2; 1 Corinthians 1:30; Hebrews 10:10; John 17:17).

It is my weekly reminder of His promises, His covenants, His sacrifice, and His faithfulness to the Word, (Romans 4:21; 2 Corinthians 1:20; 2 Peter 1:4; Isaiah 43:2; Matthew 11:24).

It is a weekly reminder to me that He is my fountain of living water, quenching every thirst, and satisfying my every spiritual desire--springing up to everlasting life with Him (John 4:13, 14).

It is my weekly reminder that He is my living bread that came down from heaven by which my every hunger for wisdom, courage, health and strength is satisfied (John 6:51).

It is my weekly reminder that He is my Good Shepherd that gives His life for the sheep. The thief comes to steal, kill, and destroy, but He has come to give me life and give it more abundantly (John 10:10, 11).

It is my weekly reminder that I can trust Him to guide me through a life free of failure or regrets, for He is the Way, the Truth and the Life (John 14:1, 6).

It is my weekly reminder of the gifts, including the gift of prophecy that He has given to the Church (2 Chronicles 20:20; Ephesians 4:11-13; Joel 2:23, 28; Revelation 14:12; 19:10; 1 Thessalonians 5:19, 20; Isaiah 48:3) for guidance, that when it come to pass we may believe (John 13:19).

It is my weekly reminder that because He is the Lamb of God slain from the foundation of the world (1 Peter 1:20), my sins, though as scarlet, have been made white as snow (Isaiah 1:18). I can now live free of guilt!

It is my weekly reminder that He is the Word of God, validating the truths of the Holy Bible (John 1:1-14).

It is my weekly reminder that He is the Light of the world (John 8:12), the beginning and the end of all things (Revelation 1:8); Wonderful Counselor, Almighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace (Isaiah 9:6); my Rock, my Fortress, my Refuge and my Defense (Psalms 62); my Advocate with the Father (1 John 2:1), and on top of all this, my best Friend (John 15:13-15). Jesus is everything to me!

It is a weekly reminder of my privilege to worship God and fellowship with believers, encouraging and being encouraged by them in our walk with Jesus, and our witness to the world (Hebrews 10:25).

It is my weekly reminder that God does not want anyone to be lost (1 Timothy 2:4) and has empowered believers to love others enough to take the gospel to the ends of the world, that all may hear and have opportunity to accept the gospel (Matthew 28:18-20).

It is a weekly reminder that He is coming to earth again to gather His own together with Him for all eternity, (1 Thessalonians 4:15-17; Revelation 1:7; Matthew 24:30-34).

It is my weekly reminder that He is my just Judge (Matthew 25:32; Acts 17:31; Romans 14:10; Philippians 2:10, 11; Romans 14:11).

It is a weekly reminder that He is my King, my Lord—indeed, The King of kings and Lord of lords. His government is founded upon the constitution of infinite, eternal, self-renouncing, unconditional love (1 John 4:7-11).

It is my weekly reminder that the war between good and evil, between God and Satan will soon be over (Revelation 12:7-9; 20:13-15) and sin and all reminders of it eradicated from the universe forever, never to arise again (2 Peter 3:9-14; Nahum 1:9).

It is my reminder that Jesus has conquered the devil and has promised to be with believers when maligned, condemned, persecuted, and killed in all times and places until the war is over (John 16:33; Deuteronomy 31:8; Isaiah 43:2;)

It is my weekly reminder that there will soon be a new heaven and a new earth where righteousness will reign for all eternity (Revelation 21:1; 22:1-7; Isaiah 65:17-19).

 

What else is there in our world that could possibly begin to compare with this weekly reminder of who He is and of the benefit we may receive by setting apart those 24 hours each week as special time with Him and fellow believers? Yes, Meeting with Him at the beginning and ending of each day in Bible study and pray, privately and/or with the family, and moment to moment dependency upon Him all during our working day always goes a long way toward getting to know and trust Him, and to be changed thereby, but even this cannot replace the benefits of Sabbath worship to Him in fellowship with fellow believers.

Knowing God as we may through praise and fellowship with God and fellow believers on Sabbath we are also given insights about Him that cannot otherwise be understood or received. One example is that of an understanding of hell and what it really is, and the wrath of God and what it is. There is no way to receive so clear an understanding of these and similar difficult concepts except through our time with God on the Sabbath. Sunday, being what it is, the influences with which it is associated, whether or not we are aware of those many and complex influences, cannot give to us the same measure of faith and understanding as the Sabbath may.

This is why.

Sunday sacredness has its origin in ancient pagan sun worship. Because early Sabbath-keeping Christians were often identified as Jews and persecuted and killed by the Romans along with the Jews, some gradually began to worship on Sunday instead of the seventh-day Sabbath. Though Sunday sacredness was soon attributed to the resurrection of Jesus, there is no Biblical statement endorsing such a change, or indication that Sunday was ever set apart (blessed, haloed, or sanctified) by God as was the origin of the seventh-day Sabbath (Genesis 2:3).

The claim that is sometimes made that the Christian Church and Sunday sacredness were inaugurated with the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on the Sunday of Pentecost lacks sound Biblical support. It is true that Jesus fulfilled the law relating to the antitype of the Spring feasts of the ancient Jewish calendar (Passover, Unleavened bread, wave sheaf of First Fruits and Pentecost) referred to in Matthew 5:17. By the witness of love during His life and by His death on the cross, He also fulfilled (vindicated) the great moral law, declaring, “until heaven and earth pass, not one jot or title shall in no wise pass from the law until all be fulfilled,” thereby confirming the permanency of the unchangeable moral law of Ten Commandments including the Sabbath (Matthew 5:18).

Lacking the Seal of God’s authority as written on tablets of stone at the time of Moses (as noted above), Sunday sacredness rests upon an assumption rather than a solid, “thus says the Lord.” It is little wonder, therefore, without such Biblical authority, that human beings might claim the authority to change the Bible to suit themselves, including changing the Sabbath to Sunday observance. Furthermore, without the blessing pronounced upon those that remember and honor the Sabbath according to the Commandment (see a description of some of those blessings above), one’s walk with God must be something much less than originally designed by Him.

The Sabbath commandment fixes God as the unchanging (Malachi 3:6) sovereign of the universe, and the Official Seal, as a monument in time—for all time! Only He can provide the blessings noted above. But if He is not the One the Commandment tells us He is, upon whom, or by what, are we to interpret and trust the commands, promises, prophecies, etc. of the Bible? In fact, how is one to know whose interpretation of the Scriptures is correct or whether the Bible is really God’s Word? Who is to say that the Bible’s teachings about the devil are not true—if we have no true Sovereign?

The Sabbath-Sunday issue is a classic example of the dilemma one is faced with if God is not the One described in the Commandment? Who is to say that the teachings of the Bible are true if God is not who the Bible says He is? Or how are we to make such a decision if there is no authority figure named in the Holy Scripture? Who is to say that the Catholic pope really does not have the authority to change times and laws if we do not know or acknowledge the sovereignty of the God described in the Sabbath Commandment? And if He is not, who and where is the authority to provide the blessings named above that come to us by remembering the Sabbath and the God of the Sabbath (Genesis 2:3)? THERE IS NONE! Certainly no human being, whatever his name or station.

It is not God’s desire that any man lose out on eternal life. His desire is to save everyone. But seeing what we humans have been doing to one another and to our world home for the past 6,000 years, how could we ever expect God to save those that refuse to believe and abide by the Law of love which governs the universe over which He holds dominion--if the Bible is not true, or if we cannot be changed by Jesus’ spilled blood? He has emptied heaven in the giving of Jesus at the Cross to save us all, but if we refuse to give up our independent self-rule and determination, what more could He possibly do?

Certainly, God understands that there are those that have never seen a Bible or heard the essentials of the Law and the Gospel. His love could not permit them to die in their sins. Regarding these, the Bible says that many have “seen” God through His works here and have followed the truths they could see (Romans 1:19, 20; 2;14-16; Matthew 8:11; Psalms 87:4-6; 1 Corinthians 4:5). IF INDEED THS IS TRUE, as I believe, these will be saved by the blood of Jesus, even though we have not been faithful to share our access of Bible truth with them.

As we study the supposed change of the Sabbath from the seventh day to the first day of the week It is important to keep in mind the war that began in heaven (Revelation 12:7-9 & 17), and the deception by which Satan, disguised as a serpent, beguiled our first parents (Genesis 3:1-7). He, is, after all, “as a roaring lion seeking whom he may devour, (2 Peter 5:8; John 10:10; 2 Corinthians 11:12-15).

Sun worship dates back into the very first of recorded history with Semiramis and Nimrod, and has throughout history been associated with the most evil of pagan practices of worship, including idol worship, child sacrifices, divinations, which craft, wizardry, etc. etc. In fact, It was because of these pagan practices that Israel was destroyed by the Babylonian emperor, Nebuchadnazzar, about five centuries before Christ. Likewise, from the very beginning of recorded history, the concept of One God, the Sabbath, and the promise of the Messiah, beginning with the promise to Adam and Eve that the Serpent’s head would be crushed (Genesis 3:15), has been carried down through all of history through Seth, the son of Adam and Eve, Shem, Abraham, Jacob and David until the time of Christ (Luke 3:23-38).

Knowing this, one must surely be dreaming to believe that God would even give the least consideration to taking the Day of the Sun, the devil’s most evil counterfeit of the true Sabbath of the Commandment, and replace the true Seal of God with it. Can any reasonable person even conceive of such a thing? Yes, the devil is subtle, a liar, a thief, and a murderer from the beginning (John 10:10), and is well practiced in his specialty of deception, but this??? Inconceivable to me!!!

There are those that honestly believe that the Sabbath was changed in honor of the resurrection of Jesus. No question! That was a divine event that in some ways might be compared with the original creation of the world—of bringing life from death and the grave. But is there anything at all in the Bible that, even though the resurrection occurred on the first day of the week rather than the seventh, to suggest that the sacredness of the seventh day, originally blessed and sanctified as holy time, was transferred to Sunday? I don’t think so! Others believe that the Christian Church arose out of Pentecost, also a Sunday, the first day of the week. Again, I must ask, is there any Biblical evidence that the seventh day Sabbath was exchanged for Sunday? I cannot find it!

It is true that Jesus appeared to Mary and a number of the disciples on that Sunday of the resurrection, both in the morning and in the evening. During the next 40 days He appeared to about 500 of his disciples (I Corinthians 15:5-7) before His ascension. In none of these passages describing these events is the day of the week mentioned. In fact, as he was telling his disciples the things that would soon come upon Jerusalem, he admonished them to pray that their flight out of Jerusalem before it’s destruction by the Romans (which occurred about 70 years later) should not be in the winter or on the Sabbath day (Matthew 24:16-20). Is it possible that He would have said Sabbath if He meant, Sunday?

Some claim that the fact that the Apostle Paul “preached and broke bread” on the evening of the first day of the week (Acts 20:5-11) (Sunday evening, or Monday evening—Sabbath celebrated from sunset to sunset), constituted proof that Sabbath had been changed to Sunday. Irrespective of whether it was Saturday or Sunday night is really irrelevant, for there is no evidence that the Sabbath had been changed by Divine decree. In fact, the reference to the breaking of bread was not limited to the Sabbath day, but was in those days after Pentecost a time when all believers were sharing and eating with one another on a regular basis, (Acts 2:41-47). Even more interesting is the fact that the Scripture records that Paul and associates met and worshiped by the river in Thyatira with Lydia and her household on the Sabbath day (not Sunday), many years after Pentecost, (Acts 16:11-15). Following this while in Thessalonica, “Paul, as his manner was, went in unto them and three Sabbath days reasoned with them out of the Scriptures about Christ,” (Acts 17:1-4). In Acts 18:4, we read, “And he reasoned in the synagogue every Sabbath and persuaded the Jews and the Greeks.” I am not able to find any other texts about a change from Sabbath to Sunday anywhere else in the Bible.

Or, could this be one? The Apostle John wrote in the Book of Revelation, “I was in the Spirit on the Lord’s day and heard behind me a great voice, as of a trumpet saying, ‘I am Alpha and Omega, the first and the last’, … Revelation 1:10, 11). Surely this is the proof we have been searching for regarding the change of the Sabbath to the first day of the week—until we recall Jesus’ words recorded by Mark, “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath. Therefore, the Son of man is Lord also of the Sabbath, (Mark 2:27, 28).

While it is true that Sunday gradually began to displace the seventh-day Sabbath, primarily under the persecution of Nero, the Sabbath continued as the day of worship for the Christian Church well into the 4th century when Constantine accepted Christianity and baptized his entire army by marching them through the river, an act supposedly changing them from pagans to Christians. All throughout the subsequent centuries—though maligned, persecuted, driven from society into wilderness areas, and killed, a true and faithful Remnant of Christians have honored the seventh-day Sabbath according to the Commandment—as there are still, today. In fact, the Bible tells us “For as the new heavens and the new earth, which I will make, shall remain before me, says the Lord, so shall your seed and your name remain. And it shall come to pass, that from one new moon to another, and from Sabbath to another, shall all flesh come to worship before me, says the Lord,” (Isaiah 66:22, 23).

There are those that claim Sabbath keeping is legalism. It is very true that Jesus came down very hard on the leaders of the Jews in His day—not because they worshiped on the Sabbath, but because of the way and reason their worship was conducted. Sabbath at the time was not a time when the majority of people worshiped God because they loved him according to the Commandment, but because they were trying to earn their salvation by keeping the letter of the Sabbath law that had by then been burdened by innumerable restrictions and necessities. It was NEVER a condemnation of Sabbath, but an abomination of the meaning of the Sabbath that inspired Jesus. So may it be today. We may do the same thing. But, if the Sabbath is truly observed as divinely appointed by God, it is not legalistic to “keep” it holy in honest love to God for who He is and what it cost Him on Calvary to vindicate His sovereign power and authority.

Please consider legalism for a moment. Why do people go to church--on either Sabbath or Sunday? Consider the various reasons—probably most of which are related to making an impression with God--some out of love and gratitude to Jesus for the gift of salvation. It would be a fair question to ask, are Sabbath keepers more legalistic than those that attend church on Sunday?

Though I do not have the wisdom or knowledge to understand the reason why, the Number 7 stands out among all other numbers as something special. This is not the place to delve deeply into this interesting phenomenon, but let us look at just a few examples. In the natural world, there are seven colors (primary and secondary), seven notes in the musical scale, seven chronobiological cycles working throughout the world of plants, insects, animals, humans, etc. The universe is filled with round (circular) worlds, and seven circles placed in proximity to one another makes a circle of circles. Sevens and multiples of seven occur throughout the Bible. Interesting! Might this phenomenon possible be saying something about the reason for the seventh day being designated as the Seal of His power and authority?

 

The Ten Commandments

God’s true, unconditional, self-renouncing, eternal law of love is expressed by ten codified precepts known to us as the Ten Commandments. Within these ten precepts is encompassed the entire spectrum of love relationships as applying to man with God and man with man—nothing lacking!

Summarized by Jesus, “love the Lord your God with all of your heart and mind and being; love your neighbor as yourself (Matthew 22:37-39); Love one another as I have loved you (John 13:34); For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten son that whosoever believes in him shall have everlasting life (John 3:16; 1 John 4:9).

God does not change. The great moral law of the universe, as all natural law, is unchangeable (Malachi 3:6; James 1:17; Hebrews 13:8; Psalms 89:34).

The Ten Commandments describe the least expression of love. There is no upper limit to the expression of love.

The Commandments, as all other things may be expressed in lowermost and in uppermost terms. Let us look for example at nature. Nothing can be colder than. 273.16 degrees below zero Centigrade. Yet, we know no upper limit to how hot something may be.

Nothing can be slower that standing still. Yet, we know no limit to how fast something may travel.

Nothing is darker that absolute darkness. Yet, we know no upper limit to how light something may be.

The Ten Commandments are expressed in the Bible as protective barriers from destructive beliefs and behaviors (“You shall not …”)—a description of the least expression of love. There is no upper limit to the expression of love (“All your heart and mind and being.”)

 

God wants everyone to be saved (2 Peter 3:9; 1 Timothy 2:4, 5). Unfortunately, not everyone will choose to believe the evidence and to submit to the teachings of the Bible and the convictions of the Holy Spirit.

I cannot, do not, and will not judge the heart of any man regarding his god or worship practices. It is my responsibility born of love for God and my fellow men to share the blessings that God has given to me, but every person has the freedom to believe or to reject the Holy Scriptures and the Holy Spirit that seeks to reclaim every one that has been entrapped by the deceptions of the devil and his human partners. I will, out of love for my fellow men, share my faith and beliefs with any and all that will listen.

There is such a thing as Truth, an absolute, unchangeable law or fact. I believe the Bible is such a source describing the law and characteristics of God, his creation, and the law that governs his universe. There are those that interpret the Bible differently than I do, and there are those that believe that truth is progressive, and that the greater Christian Church –even the pope--is the recipient and executor of that progressive truth.

As I examine and compare, there is no other source of truth that even comes close to the teachings and truths of the Bible. The Bible does teach progression of revelation and understanding of Biblical truth (prophecy), in keeping with the progression of the war between good and evil as it nears its conclusion--but this progression, if and when it is valid, CANNOT counter the clear teachings of the Holy Bible. Sunday sacredness is just one of many teachings of the Christian Church worldwide that is completely incompatible with the Holy Bible.

By beholding, we become changed, (2 Corinthians 3:17, 18; Revelation 3:18). When we choose to walk with God as Jesus walked with His Father, we will be changed. Jesus did not suffer and die for us merely to forgive our sins, but to restore us to His image again as well. The Sabbath provides for that quality time and experience with God essential to enhance that change. The Bible says of those that will be saved, “Here are they that keep the Commandments (NOT as a legal duty, but as a response of true Agape love) and have the faith (testimony) of Jesus,” (Revelation 12:17; 14:12).

By all indications of the Holy Bible, the teachings, the prophecies regarding the end times, and the things we see occurring in the world everywhere around us, we are living on the very edge of eternity. Already a call for religious unity of all people has been proclaimed, describing fundamentalists of all faiths (even those that believe and honor the teachings of the Holy Bible), as a danger to society that must be forced to comply. Sabbath keepers, who for conscience sake and for love to God and man, cannot bow before the Sun god, by whatever name or guise he may appear, will soon feel the iron rod coming down upon their backs.

By this shall all men be forced into one of only two groups, those that are faithful to God, even to the point of death as was their Master, Jesus, or join in the mases of those that reject the God of the Holy Bible and the law of love by which He is vindicated.

In fact, the Ten Commandments, all descriptions of love, (See Matthew 22:36-40; Mark 12:29-31; 1 John 5:2-5; John 13:34, 35), free us from the bondage of sin. Only as we are governed by love and have the Commandments written upon our hearts and in our minds can we experience the rest God wishes to give to all men (Heb. 11, 10:16; Jer.31:31; Rom. 2:14, 15; Ez. 36:26, 27)

The rest Jesus promises (Hebrews chapter 3) is the healing that we receive when we are set free from the many forms of bondage caused by sin—whether physical illness, psychological problems, erroneous beliefs, superstitions, etc. It is God’s love as exemplified by Jesus sacrifice on Calvary and applied by His intercession in heaven at the right hand of the throne of God that sets us free. It is received by us through faithfulness to the Ten Commandments made possible by the work of the Holy Spirit upon the daily life of the one surrendered to God. As it is the ignorance and rebellion from the Law of Love as codified by the Ten Commandments that is the root cause of all sin, individually and universally, so it is the Commandments through which the Father, Son and Holy Spirit work to free us from the bondage created by sin.

Human beings are unable to “keep” the Ten Commandments. They are not able to love the way God loves us as demonstrated so effectively at the Cross by Jesus’ sacrifice. But we can be born again and transformed into the image of God as loving human beings that naturally practice the principles of the Ten Commandments. Jeremiah understood this when under inspiration he wrote, “The day is coming, ‘says the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the people of Israel and Judah. This covenant will not be like the one I made with their ancestors ---.”But this is the new covenant I will make with the people of Israel after those days,’ says the Lord. I will put my instructions deep within them, and I will write them on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will by my people,” Jeremiah 31:31-34. (NLT) (See also Hebrews 10:13-18 and Romans 2:15-17.)

It was on the Sabbath that Jesus performed the majority of His healings—freeing, cleansing His benefactors from the guilt and consequences of sin. And it is still the Sabbath that takes us away from the hustle and bustle of the world to spend one entire day each week in fellowship with God and His faithful believers--that serves to free us from our sin and guilt, and to create the new birth within us--the entire law of love written upon our hearts and into our minds. There is no substitute that can do the same, (Hebrews 10:16, 17; Psalms 40:6-8).

“For this commandment which I command you this day, it is not hidden from you neither is it far off. It is not in heaven, that you should say, Who shall go up for us to heaven, and bring it unto us, that we may hear it and do it? Neither is it beyond the sea, that you should say, Who shall go over the sea for us, and bring it unto us, that we may hear it, and do it? But the word is very nigh unto you, in your mouth, and in your heart, that you may do it. See, I have set before you life and good, and death and evil: … I call all heaven and earth to record this day against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing: therefore choose life, that both you and your seed may live,” Deuteronomy 30:11-1 & 19.

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Thorns and Thistles

“…, Cursed is the ground for your sake: in toil you shall eat of it all the days of your life. Both thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you, and you shall eat the herb of the field …,” Genesis 3:17, 18.

Interesting! Cursed, “For your sake!” Really?

I was one of nine children growing up on a small dairy farm in the state of Wisconsin. It was in the final days of the “Great Depression” and the beginnings of World War II. Dad was suffering with advanced tuberculosis (before the time of effective medical treatment). He died while I was still young. It was incumbent upon all of us kids to do our part in sustaining our family during those times.

Most years, mother was able to take us to “Christies,” the local department store in town before the first snow fall, to buy us each a pair of shoes and warm winter clothes. By the next summer our shoes were worn beyond repair, leaving us to go bare foot through the summer months. In fact, as soon as spring came and the dandelions began to burst their first bloom, we were begging our mother to let us take those old shoes off and enjoy a walk in the nice, new, green grass.

Unfortunately, and to our sorrow, that nice, green grass soon began to turn dry and brown. In its place sprang up sand-burs and thistles. Sand-burs, almost invisible plants growing close to the ground are covered with tiny, almost invisible, thorns that not only stabbed the tender flesh of our feet, but then dug in their tiny hooks and held tight. Again, when trying to pull them out, they often stuck to the fingers trying to remove them—for triple pain each time we happened to step on them.

When the oats were ripe and ready for harvest, the grain binder went through the fields, cut the stems of grain, gathered the grain into bundles, and tied a string around the bundles. We followed the binder, picked up those bundles and positioned them in “shocks” where under the summer sun they could dry out before thrashing them and storing the precious grains into the granary. Barefoot, we soon learned to walk through the fields in kind of a skiing motion whereby to push the sharp cut remaining stalks of grain flat and thus avoid some of the discomfort otherwise caused to our feet. Good enough! Until we came upon a patch of thistles among the grain. Ouch!.

Many thorn-apple trees grew and thrived in our pastureland. When in late May they burst into bloom, mother could not help herself, and was out there helping us cut off thorny branches to add to the beautiful flower baskets she took with her to decorate the church those Sabbath mornings.

Come mid-summer, it was off to the pastureland to pick wild raspberries and black berries, both, richly equipped with many razor sharp thorns on each branch. Gooseberries, too, had many sharp spines, even covering the small red and green fruits with spines.

And so it is in all of life. Even beautiful people may sometimes appear to be very prickly and covered with thorns--as if to keep others from getting too close who might threat to bruise and pierce their tender souls yet once again.

Have they, too, received the curse of God? Please read carefully the complete Word of the Lord, saying, “Cursed is the ground--for your sake; in sorrow shall you eat of it, all the days of your life!”

Yes, in all the world around us, we see and experience the curse of God upon our world. We see it in the thorns and thistles, and feel the pain, both upon the outside, and deep within—but ne’er in vain. For it is the work of our loving Potter as He seeks to soften our Son-dried, blood-strained, hardened, hearts into soft, malleable, lumps of clay. When upon His potter’s wheel He molds, and casts us once again into the burning furnace, we will become as beautiful models of perfection, reborn in the image of the Potter.

So when we fret, don’t forget. Thorns and thistles--even sand-burs--are present among us “for our good!” And to His glory! And we see that even the thorns and the thistles reveal the love of God shining out into a sometimes very dark and hurting world. 

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Idols in modern Christian society

 

Questions and answers:

What is a god? That to which we give our primary attention and worship.

What is an idol? Anything to which we give our primary attention and worship.

All idols and all representations of gods are manifestations of Satan’s role in the war between God and Satan, between the powers of good and the powers of evil.

What is sin? Idolatry and anything else that places (loves) self above for God and any neighbor!

What is righteousness? Anything that loves every neighbor equal with one’s self! Righteousness is impossible for sinners—all of us—except by the power of God (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit). It is a miracle that occurs within each person that chooses to believe in God and the Bible and invites Him to live within, whereby to implant Bible truths that, in turn, transform our lives. It is the work of the entire life-time.

What is love? God is love! (1 John 4:8) “For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life!” (John 3:16). “That you love one another as I have loved you!” John 13:34. Love is the means by which righteousness is expressed.

What is life? Life may exist on three levels. There is physical life, presently determined by identifiable brain activity on the electroencephalogram--there is life that has meaning and purpose in this world--and there is life that experiences peace, happiness and joy in this world, and anticipation of life everlasting in a place that extends beyond human imagination and into the presence of God one day. Death is the absence of life.

How is love revealed or expressed? The Ten Commandment Law of Love encompasses the comprehensive expression of love and righteousness—in every possible interaction between man and man, and man and God--nothing lacking!

So often God’s Ten Commandment Law of Love is understood as a list of restrictions that prevent us from enjoying many of the good things life affords. In truth, the Ten Commandment Law of Love is not only a list of barriers protecting us from all of those things in our world that would hurt and destroy us, but more importantly, avenues to infinite, unlimited fulfillment, and life everlasting.

Picture, if you can, a world in which every person lived according to the highest level love.

Just think for a minute what our world would look like today, if:

Every person found his/her greatest joy in sharing everything of value with others--without regard to race, color, creed, or any other discriminatory mark.

Spoke (in every word and action) the absolute truth—free of any trace of deceit—even “little white” lies.

Worked to preserve and bless the life of every other—never a thought of hurting another, or of taking a life?

Valued marriage and family, our own and others, continuously seeking ways to please and exalt one another and every child, whatever the cost?

Gave to parents the highest possible respect and honor?

Everyone dedicated every Sabbath day to expressing our heart-felt honor, praise and glory in joyous worship to God--just because of Who He is as sovereign creator, sacrificing redeemer, dependable sustainer, and King of all?

Certainly our love for Him would preclude placing ANYTHING in His place in our lives that would steal from Him our time, our means, our gratitude, or anything that might lesson His opportunity to fill our lives and the lives of our families with the joy, the peace and the happiness He desires for each one of us to have. And on top of all this, the promise of spending eternity with Him in a place where all of these thing will be true—where love will reign supreme, without end!

Would anyone fail to find happiness in such a loving world? I don’t think so! In fact, this is exactly God’s desire for us. The Bible says, “This book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate in it day and night, that you may observe to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success,” (Joshua 1:8). “For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope,” (Jeremiah 29:11).

 

What is worship?

Worship is our spontaneous response to that entity (entities) that manages to capture our minds, hearts, and actions—whether the God of the Bible, or the gods (Idols) of this world.

Worship to God originates in the heart of the believer and is manifested both by the life that one purposely lives in accordance with the principles codified in the Ten Commandment law of love, and by songs of thanksgiving and praise, individually, and/or in concert with others. Perhaps the greatest description of true worship is described in the Bible in Revelation 5:1-14—every living creature on earth and in the heavens joining in songs of thanksgiving and praise to Jesus, Lord of lords and King of kings.

All other worship has its origin in concert with the devil’s rebellion against God and His law of love—whether addressed to the true God, or to any other god. It may be manifest in a great variety of ways--often rendered at great cost to the worshiper--financially, physically, or by other demanding ways and actions. It is always dismissive of God’s eternal law of love, often leads to anarchy, and is always ultimately self-destructive.

 

Idols

“I am the Lord your God, who rescued you from the land of Egypt, the place of your slavery. You must not have any other god but me. You must not make for yourself an idol of any kind or an image of anything in the heavens or on the earth or in the sea. You must not bow down to them or worship them, for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God who will not tolerate your affection for any other gods. I lay the sins of the parents upon their children; the entire family is affected—even children in the third and fourth generations of those who reject me. But I lavish unfailing love for a thousand generations on those who love me and obey my commands. You must not misuse the name of the Lord your God. The Lord will not let you go unpunished if you misuse his name,” Exodus 20:2-7.

Idols may be physical things, or they may not. Some idols are so obvious that almost anyone would recognize them for what they are—a carved or molded image of some sort, often surrounded by people praying, burning incense and in other ways seeking to appease it. Others are more subtle, often existing without any visible outward substance at all—perhaps nothing more than thoughts and ideas in our minds. In fact, anything that diverts our attention (even in “small” ways) from, or interferes with, our relationship with God may truly be an idol to us--things that occupy our time, our attention, our energies, our means, our thoughts, our acts, our music, our loves, our appetites, and even our songs and prayers.

While it is impossible to name all of the possible idols and false gods available in our world, it may be worthwhile to list some of the more common ones to serve as an example of the kind of things that it is possible for one to idolize. Images, icons, things (toys, pets, clothing, jewelry, cars, boats, gadgets, etc.); activities (sports, competitions, gambling of all sorts, entertainment of all types, hobbies, etc.); religion, religious leaders and practices, books and authors, (even the Bible); science and technology in all of its various forms); people (ourselves and/or others), our “works,” our wealth, reputation, opinion, success, jobs, friends, families, and the comforts of life. You name it! If it is not the God of the Bible that keeps us captivated and inspires our every thought and word and deed, it is an idol.

ANY thing may be a god to us. Any or all of the above may be idols or false gods at various levels of importance to us. Not all of these things are gods by nature or by design however, but MAY become gods depending upon how we deal with them.

Human nature is interesting in that we, not unlike Adam and Eve, have a tendency to minimize the significance of our “small” temptations and idols in comparison with the big ones. The fact is, even the smallest of idols undermine the transformation of our lives into the kind of people described in the Bible as those that will inherit eternal life.

The world in which we live is filled with the works of Satan that have accumulated through the ages--Satanic symbols, crosses, hexagons (star of David), signs in the heavens (signs of the Zodiac), many, many others found throughout the ancient and modern world, including in and upon many Christian churches and public monuments.

Though surrounded by them, appearing even on the money we use, such exposure need not be seen as worship of devotion to Satan or the world. The same may not be so clear regarding holiday celebrations—even “Christian” celebrations having roots in ancient paganism. More about this later.

 

Why are idols so bad?

Some might wonder. Why are idols so bad? Why does God condemn them so adamantly?

The answer! The Bible tells us, “God is love.” God is the very personification of what love is. (1 John 4:7-10). The God of heaven is the only source of life, and all life is dependent upon Him. By its very nature, life cannot exist except energized by the power inherent in love.

Idols, other gods, cannot replicate the blessings the God who created and redeemed us is able--and longing to provide. In fact, idols—anything that displaces God and the blessings He would have us enjoy—all serve to steal those blessings from us—every time! For this reason God hates idols—for the pain, suffering and death that always follows the attention we give to them. The world that we are living in today is a perfect example of this fact. Our world today is not a happy, pleasant place. There is fear, there is anxiety, there is disease, acute and chronic, everywhere; there is violence at every level of society, in the family, the local community, and in every nation—including weapons of mass destruction sufficient to wipe all life off the planet. Do any of these come from God? No, though He may take the “rap.” We, and the “gods” we give our selfish hearts too are the source of all of our suffering.

Moreover, He is the only source of true happiness. There is none other!

The Bible is clear. God is not willing for any to die (2 Peter 3:9; 1 Timothy 2:4). God’s plan for this earth from the very beginning was for man to experience endless life in face to face communion with Him in this beautiful world that He created specifically for His human creation. Still today, He wants nothing but the very best for every one of us, individuals, and society as a whole. Idols--all idols--steal from us the time and attention necessary to bond us securely to Him. God does not feel sorry for Himself as we might do. Rather, it is the deep grief that He experiences when we are separated from Him and the blessings He desires to give every one of us human beings. Sin and idols separate us from God, the only source of life. They KILL! However large or small our idols and our sins, the end result is death—no exceptions.

God does not want ANYONE to be lost—AND NEVER HAS!!! Not any person, any society, any nation--but that all would choose to accept the blessings He waits patiently to provide. He will heal anyone that will give Him free reign to reconnect with Him.

The love of God looks much different to the believer than to the unbelieving idolater. The believer sees and experiences the protection of the barrier wall, and rejoices in the unlimited beauty of life resulting therefrom. Not so the unbelieving idolater—that sees only burdensome duty demanded by a cruel task-master

God takes responsibility for our actions. We always blame Him, and He accepts the blame, for He created us, gave us freedom, and established the law by which we are governed. Though He accepts the blame, He cannot prevent the consequences. We are the ones that bring most of our problems upon ourselves by our choices and actions.

There are times when He, for our own sake, or for the sake of others that are influenced or hurt by our actions, must act aggressively for the good of all—justice for all! This too is love of the highest order.

 

Victory over idols

Would we experience victory over the idols in our lives we must first choose to give our loving God full reign over our lives via the Holy Spirit—a choice that will result in healing the rift sin has caused between we and Him, transforming us into loving, obedient brothers and sisters with Jesus, loving and serving man and God as we love and serve ourselves. This transformation is not something we can do of ourselves. What we can do is to get to know Jesus and the God of the Holy Bible. This will occur spontaneously as we commit to daily study, meditation and prayer, earnestly seeking His blessing and direction in every facet of our lives. God honors such devotion.

Knowing Him, we can then take all of our questions, concerns, and decisions to the Lord. He will then accept the responsibility for answering our prayers and freeing us of our idols and false gods. In such close fellowship with Him, He will be able to lead and guide us to the answers of any and all questions we may have about idols and false gods—and most any other questions and struggles we may encounter. As we surrender all to Jesus, the Holy Spirit will guide us along a pure highway to the ONE true God and to truth.

 

Test time:

The two following stories are provided to give the reader opportunity to apply this discussion about idols and false gods to their own personal lives.

 

Tammuz

The topic of our Bible study that Sabbath morning was based upon the book of Jeremiah and his warnings to the Children of Israel about the devastating effects of Idolatry--pleading with them to repent and get rid of their idols, lest their lives, their city and their temple be destroyed and they be carried captive to Babylon. They didn’t repent! Their city and beautiful temple were destroyed, and they were carried away captive to Babylon where they were to remain for 70 years.

During the ensuing discussion the question was asked, “What is wrong with idols?” And the point was made that all the events occurring during those devastating times—captivity and destruction of the Jews—and the successes of King Nebuchadnazzar of Babylon, were permitted by God because of His compassionate love for, not only the Jews, but for all people of all nations, even the marauding Babylonians. Love must sometimes do very difficult and drastic things.

The worship service that followed the Bible study that morning was arranged to celebrate the birth of the Christ child, for it was the time established by tradition as the birth of Jesus in the city of Bethlehem two thousand years ago.

The church was decorated accordingly with beautiful red Poinsettias and festive colored lights. Participants in the program were seated in a neat row of chairs behind the speaker’s desk. Soft music provided by a young man playing on an electronic keyboard filled the sanctuary. Following a brief prayer and the congregational singing of a Christmas Carrol, the program began with a beautiful Carrol sung solo by a very talented young lady. This was followed by the reading of the first portion of a story about a very poor, crippled, boy whose mother, his only friend, had just recently died. He survived by picking up scraps of food that he sometimes found in the dump behind the hostel kitchen and by sleeping with the sheep in the adjacent stable. One day, while wandering along the street he came upon a sparrow injured by a stone slung from a sling-shot by one of a group of mischievous boys playing in the alley. Picking the frightened bird up from the ground, the boy noticed that it had a broken wing.

Comforted in his warm and tender hand, the little bird soon began to relax and sing a note or two. Whereupon Simon (for this was his name) began to feed it, one crumb at a time, of a dry piece of bread he had found that morning in the garbage dump. That night as he and the bird snuggled up among the warm and wooly sheep, they were awakened by strange sounds coming from another part of the stable. After some time he decided to creep over and sneak a peek of the events next door. There, to his amazement he saw what appeared to be a newborn baby covered with a few rags of cloth and lying upon a pile of straw beside its mother.

Even more surprising to him--a little ways beyond, he saw three men, attired as kings, kneeling before the baby. Unable to contain himself any longer he crawled beyond the dividing wall for a better view, whereupon the crippled sparrow took to flight, its broken wing now healed, and circled around overhead of the baby and its mother, all the while being transformed into a beautiful pure white dove. And marvel of marvels, he, too, began to feel things changing in his own body--muscles, shrunken and useless, began to stretch, and crooked bones and joints began to straighten. Soon he found himself standing tall and full of health, no longer the crippled, hunchback he had been.

Time passed, and one day while fishing with his companions a stranger appeared and beckoned to him, saying, “Come and follow me, and I will make you a fisher of men.” Now full of faith, Simon Peter (that little baby born in the stable that had healed him those many years before), promptly arose and followed Jesus.

The story brought tears to my eyes, placing myself in the place of that crippled little orphan boy and his injured bird, surviving on old dry bread and scraps found in the dump when available, tenderly caring for an injured common sparrow-- reminded me of that hapless young man that visited me when conducting clinics at the “Fisherman’s” House in Gdansk, Poland, many years ago. He, desolated by poverty, orphaned and living alone with a sister that had just recently destroyed his only possession of value, a collection of pretty rocks, was broken and hurting. Upon completing my evaluation, I shared with him the story of Jesus, gave him a few words of encouragement, and offered a simple prayer for him. Whereupon, the young man reached into a pocket of his tattered and badly torn jacket, fumbled around as if searching for something, finally pulled out a small, shiny, calcite, rock, and handed it to me, saying, “here, this is for you.” Suddenly, his most precious possession became mine. Yes, it still brings tears to my eyes when I look at that stone. I hope one day to see him again, if not in this world, then, certainly, in the next.

So what does all of this have to do with Tammuz?

To establish our bearings, let us look at a few verses from the Book of Ezekiel. I believe the text is self-explanatory. Perhaps we will then be able to begin to understand the question posed above, asking, “What is wrong with idols?”

“Then on September, 17, during the sixth year of King Jehoiachin’s captivity, while the leaders of Judah were in my home, the Sovereign Lord took hold of me (Ezekiel the prophet). I saw a figure that appeared to be a man. From what appeared to be his waist down, he looked like a burning flame. From his waist up he looked like gleaming amber. He reached out what seemed to be a hand and took me by the hair. Then the Spirit lifted me up into the sky and transported me to Jerusalem in a vision from God. I was taken to the north gate of the inner courtyard of the Temple, where there is a large idol that has made the Lord very jealous. Suddenly, the glory of the God of Israel was there, just as I had seen it before in the valley.

“Then the Lord said to me, ‘Son of man, look toward the north.’ So I looked, and there to the north, beside the entrance to the gate near the alter, stood the idol that had made the Lord so jealous. ‘Son of man,’ he said, ‘do you see what they are doing? Do you see the detestable sins the people of Israel are committing to drive me from my Temple? But come, and you will see even more detestable sins than these!’ Then he brought me to the door of the Temple courtyard, where I could see a hole in the wall. He said to me, ‘Now, son of man, dig into the wall.’ So I dug into the wall and found a hidden doorway. ‘Go in,’ he said, ‘and see the wicked and detestable sins they are committing in there!’ So I went in and saw the walls covered with engravings of all kinds of crawling animals and detestable creatures. I also saw the various idols worshiped by the people of Israel. Seventy leaders of Israel were standing there with Jaazaniah son of Shaphan in the center. Each of them held an incense burner, from which a cloud of incense rose above their heads.

“Then the Lord said to me, ‘Son of man, have you seen what the leaders of Israel are doing with their idols in dark rooms?’ They are saying, ‘The Lord doesn’t see us; he has deserted our land!’ Then the Lord added, ‘Come, and I will show you even more detestable sins than these!’ He brought me to the north gate of the Lord’s Temple, and some women were sitting there, weeping for the god Tammuz (a pagan goddess). ‘Have you seen this?’ he asked. ‘But I will show you even more detestable sins than these!’ 

“Then he brought me into the inner courtyard of the Lord’s Temple. At the entrance to the sanctuary, between the entry room and the bronze alter, there were about twenty five men with their backs to the sanctuary of the Lord. They were facing east, bowing low to the ground, worshiping the sun! ‘Have you seen this, son of man?’ he asked. ‘Is it nothing to the people of Judah that they commit these detestable sins, leading the whole nation into violence, thumbing their noses at me, and provoking my anger? Therefore, I will respond in fury. I will neither pity nor spare them. And though they cry for mercy, I will not listen,’” Ezekiel 8:1-18.

It would be difficult to imagine a more damning condemnation of idolatry than described in this vision of the prophet, Ezekiel. But, honestly, what is so bad with idolatry? Why is God so very concerned about other gods, or things that sometimes have essentially the same effects upon a person, or entire society? Is His ire really justified?

Follow along!

It is good to remember the birth of Jesus. There are many ways of doing this that will draw us, our families, our church family, and our neighbors closer to Jesus, while at the same time becoming an expression of love to our God. If experienced from a pure heart of unselfishness and given with gratitude, Christmas trees and other decorations may serve as symbols of our love to God and neighbor depending upon how they are used, the attention given to them, the costs spent upon them, etc.

Considering the above words from the prophet, Ezekiel, I must ask, was the “celebration” of Jesus’ birth as described above in the story of Simon Peter, an idolatrous act? Was it stealing away any thing, time, opportunity, Bible truth, serious thought, etc. from our worship to the true God that day?

I believe this is a question each of us must determine for ourselves, considering all of the positive and negative effects to be gained or lost by such participation. This much I must say, the attention given to the “special” worship hour program that day very definitely did detract from the time and opportunity for an in-depth discussion and thoughtful application of the lessons from Jeremiah’s day to our own—undoubtedly stealing from each of us a bit of opportunity to learn and prepare to face the rapidly advancing “troops” of modern Babylon as it rallies its forces to unite the entire world against the remnant of God’s chosen ones today. Did this loss justify the benefits provided by the special service? Did the “tear-jerking” story draw us closer to Christ than a reflection upon the true story of Jesus’ birth might have provided—“At such a time as this?”

You decide!—on your knees, of course!

 

A Christmas song

There is a popular old favorite, Christmas ditty that begins with the words, “You’d better watch out, you’d better not cry, you’d better not pout, I’m telling you why… Santa Clause is coming to town.” It continues, “He’s making a list and checking it twice, He’s gonna find out whose naughty or nice…. He sees you when you’re sleeping, he knows if you’re awake, he knows if you been bad or good…”

Does this description of Santa Clause and his work remind you of any one you know?

How do the two compare?

Does it bother you at all that these actions of judgment by Santa Clause are based upon our good or bad behaviors in contrast to the promises of Jesus, our Lord and Savior that are based upon His grace, made possible by His spilled blood?

Do you see in this song the subtle teaching of salvation by works that is being instilled into the minds of our children (or even us) as they listen and sing along with it? If so, is this enhancing their life-long walk with Jesus, or detracting from it?

You decide—on your knees with God, of course!

 

Note: Bible quotations are taken from the New Living Translation (NLT).

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Two Trees

 

When our adopted new born baby arrived in our home we immediately accepted him as our own first-born son--colic and all. Nor were we surprised that he was not then able to walk, or talk to us. We recognized this as our challenge to love him enough to train him for a full and satisfying life of service to his fellow men—knowing that in the process he would have his share of trials, disappointments, and tears—along with a good measure of peace, happiness and joy.

Six thousand years ago God formed a man from the mud of the earth, breathed life into him, created a “help-meet” for him from one of his own ribs, and made him governor over the entire earth creation.

Within his palatial garden home He planted two beautiful trees laden with tasty fruit, one named the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, the other named the Tree of Life. Everything in, outside of, and all around the world was theirs to eat and enjoy—with one exception, only one! God said, “Of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil you cannot eat, or even touch, for to do so will cost you your lives.” The record does not specify why it was so “poisonous.” In fact, one day when Eve was out walking and enjoying the beauties of their home it seemed that this “forbidden” tree was even more beautiful than the Tree of Life from which they were encouraged to relish each day.

Why did God tell us not to touch that beautiful tree? Eve wondered—or was it that beautiful serpent slithering around through its branches that was speaking to her? Before long he (the snake) had her eating that lovely fruit right out of his hand. Well, we know the rest of the story, and all of mankind has been eating of that tree ever since, still ignoring the warning so lovingly given to Adam and Eve from the very beginning, and still asking the same question, why?—even while completely ignoring the warning!

But Why? Why did God place these two trees in the garden? Why would a loving God conceive such a restriction for those beings created in His very own image? And why in the very center of the garden home?

As it turned out, our son adjusted pretty well to the Trees growing in our home. Not so with his lovely baby sister who could not stay away from the glitter of that forbidden tree, no matter how diligent we were to make access most unpleasant.

While our children do give us a good opportunity to get a “taste” of what God goes through with us, his children, when we disregard His rules for us, try as we might, it is impossible for us to fully understand God’s apparently unreasonable warning about that tree—unless we also understand about the universal war between good and evil (the war between God and Satan) troubling this world for the past six thousand years.

The Bible tells us that Lucifer, one of heavens most highly regarded angels, began to find fault with God’s rule of self-renouncing love, convincing himself and a third of the angels that there was a better way to live--and he would be the one to find that way and to make it happen. Though loving, patient, and long-suffering, the day finally arrived when it became necessary for God to remove Satan and his sympathizing angel counterparts from heaven. (You may read about those events in Ezekiel chapter 28:12-18; Isaiah 14:12-14, and Revelation chapter 12).

We do not “see” Satan again in the Bible until he shows up in the Garden of Eden—and in the very garden home prepared for and given to Adam and Eve as their earthly domain.

Children (and even pet animals) are generally obedient and cooperative with the family rules if they have reason to feel loved and cared for. In such a family, every disobedient or “naughty” action will be a learning experience for the child as family members permit him/her to experience at least some of the natural consequences of their actions—and sometimes even the disciplinary “laying on” of tender, grieving hands. Because of the status of our present world society, even “gentle” discipline may not always be able to effect the desired outcome, sometimes necessitating the application of drastic actions instead.

Adam and Eve, like little, beloved, children “messed up” when deceived by the devil. Could they--should they, have been able to recognize and resist the Serpent’s guile? Certainly they had only seen God for the love He is--and never reason to question his warning. Yet, neither could He, in love, have prevented them from giving ear to the serpent.

Surely, God could have protected them from the devil’s ire. Why did He not do so? The Bible gives this answer. The creation of this world and the people He created to govern it occurred amidst an ugly war waging in the universe. A proud, jealous angel of the highest heavenly estate chose to exercise his freedom and challenge the law of infinite love by which God ruled His universal domain. The same love that offered freedom for Adam and Eve also mandated opportunity for the devil to exercise his free choice--and certainly, he would not miss an opportunity to pull this world and its governors into the conflict. Yes, God could have prevented both Adam and Eve and the devil from exercising their freedom in this experience, but not without forfeiting the credibility of His own rule of love.

It is interesting in this regard that one of the first things God did upon His regular visit to the Garden was to usher His loved ones, created in His own image, out of the garden and away from the other tree, the Tree of Life. For the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil and the Tree of Life were as incompatible as God and Satan--as Love and selfish lawlessness.

While these two trees in Eden were actual trees, the Tree of Life symbolized God and His universal Law of Love as the source of inherent vitalizing power originating with God and continuously flowing into the child of God fully surrendered to Him by bonds of love. The Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil symbolized the devil’s claim that there is a better way to live than God’s rule of love. (Note: It is not knowledge that is evil, but the use to which it is applied that makes it so destructive.)

Jesus, God incarnate (in human form), identified himself as the Son of God; the True Vine (tree); the Bread of Life; the Water of Life; the Light of the World; the Good Shepherd; the Divine Teacher; the Great Physician; the Prince of Life; the Great I Am; and by many other names indicating Himself as one with the Father and only source of life.

Jesus, when on earth among us, exemplified a life of continuous dependence upon and in connection with His Father (His Tree of Life)--in His prayer life; in His study of the Holy Scriptures; in His respect of the perfect Law of Love; in His worship on the eternal Sabbath day; in His ministry to others; in His battles with the devil in the wilderness; and on the streets and byways wherever He confronted him; in the Garden of Gethsemane; and by His sacrificial death on the cross on Mount Calvary. This is what it means to eat of the Tree of life, and the example for us to follow. IT IS NOT WORKS. It is the practice of a life of faith by which we will be changed into His Image. It is the work of a lifetime.

The Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil symbolized the deadly nature of selfish lawlessness that exists when love is absent as a result of disconnection from God. It was this that transformed the mind and heart of Lucifer into “the dragon, that old serpent, called the devil, and Satan,” (Revelation 12:9). It is choosing the philosophies and practices of the world rather than explicit trust and dependence in Jesus and the true teachings of the Holy Bible; it is “enjoying” the pleasures of this world more than the joys of walking in the footsteps of Jesus; it is obeying the laws of the Bible expecting thereby to earn some good standing with Jesus (God) rather than as an expression of love for Him and the Law of Love upon which His entire government is founded. It is a choice we make, perhaps even unconsciously, that, “I will do it my way.”

For six thousand years the war between good and evil, between God and Satan has pitted the faithful believers in the Tree of Life against those that have chosen to dine on the fruit of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. That war is now almost over. Throughout the centuries and millennia until now the faithful followers of Jesus have suffered rejection, false accusations, persecution and tribulation at the hands of those eating out of the devil’s hand. One final battle remains to vindicate God and the eternal Law of His Love and those that believe, and to prove the true nature of selfish lawlessness. Upon the conclusion of this last battle, none of God’s universal creation will ever again throughout all eternity yearn for the return of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil that will be consumed in the fires that cleanses the world and universe of sin,” (Revelation 20:14; 2 Peter 3:10).

That final battle is described in the Bible as “a time of trouble such as this world has never before experienced. The facts are, we are as a world society, at this very time sitting on the very edge of this final battle. We already have weapons of mass destruction sufficient to wipe all life off the earth—and the will to use them. Natural disasters are escalating rapidly, undoubtedly enhanced by our disregard for the world environment. Social unrest and violence are evident everywhere.

Likewise, means necessary to take the gospel to the ends of the earth are now available and being put into place. It is time for this world to be lighted with the glory God through the faithful witness of those nurtured by the fruit of the Tree of Life--exceeding even the outpouring of the Holy Spirit at the time of Pentecost following the return of Jesus to heaven after His death and resurrection.

The question each one of us need to consider is this, which tree has captured my heart and mind and entire being? I pray it may be the Tree of Life!

 

Addendum:

Satan’s argument that evil is necessary for good to exist is a fallacy. This fact will be very plain and evident to all by the conclusion of the Great Controversy between good and evil—when the war is over between God and Satan and the law of love is vindicated, and its antithesis proven that life cannot long exist apart from Love.

Freedom of choice has been present throughout eternity past and will continue into eternity future. EVIL was NOT necessary in order for intelligent beings to experience freedom of choice. Many possible choices having nothing to do with evil. Ying and yang and similar claims are creations of Satan. NOT part of the plan of God. But because of evil, the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil was necessary in order to prove sin’s absolute incompatibility with love and life. 

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With, In, Upon, and Beyond

Holy Spirit

Have you ever wondered why the Bible seems to describe the work of the Holy Spirit in so many different ways with so many different functions? Do you ever wonder what role the Holy Spirit plays in our daily lives as compared to what the Bible says it played at Pentecost?

 

The Bible tells us:

 

The Holy Spirit is WITH everyone that does not reject Him.

The Holy Spirit dwells IN everyone that invites Him.

The Holy Spirit comes UPON those that will permit Him to do special things and miracles in times of need.

 

The Holy Spirit is WITH everyone that does not reject Him.

 

“I can never escape from your Spirit! I can never get away from your presence! If I go up to heaven, you are there. If I go down to the grave, you are there; If I ride the wings of the morning, if I dwell by the farthest oceans, even there your hand will guide me, and your strength will support me. I could ask the darkness to hide me, and the light around me to become night—but even in darkness I cannot hide from you. To you the night shines as bright as day. Darkness and light are the same to you,’ Psalms 139:7-13. (NLT)

“’Can anyone hide from me in a secret place? Am I not everywhere in all the heavens and earth?’ says the Lord.” Jeremiah 23:24

“His purpose was for the nations to seek after God and perhaps feel their way toward him and find him—though he is not far from any one of us. For in him we live and move and exist,” Acts 17:27, 28.

These and many similar texts tell us that God, through the Holy Spirit searches the hearts of every person born on earth, using every available loving means to attract them to submit to Jesus and follow Him—“Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth,”1 Timothy 2:4; “… not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance,” 2 Peter 3:9; This work of the Holy Spirit is an ongoing thing from the day we are born until death--or perchance--become hardened by repeatedly resisting His tender entreats (Mark 3:29).

 

The Holy Spirit dwells IN everyone that invites Him.

 

“The Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him, but you know Him, for He dwells with you and will be in you,” John 14:17 (NKJV).

“And I will put my Spirit in you so that you will follow my decrees and be careful to obey my regulations,” Ezekiel 36:27

“Do you not know that you are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you? If anyone defiles the temple of God, God will destroy him. For the temple of God is holy, which temple you are,” 1 Corinthians 3:16, 17 (NKJV)

 

The Holy Spirit comes UPON those that will permit Him to do special things and miracles in times of need.

 

“Then, after doing all those things, I will pour out my Spirit upon all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy. Your’ old men will dream dreams, and your young men will see visions. In those days I will pour out my Spirit even on servants—men and women alike. And I will cause wonders in the heavens and on earth—blood and fire and columns of smoke. The sun will become dark, and the moon will turn blood red before the great and terrible day of the Lord arrives,” Joel 2:28-31.

“But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you. And you will be my witnesses, telling people about me everywhere—in Jerusalem, throughout Judea, in Samaria, and to the ends of the earth, “Acts 1:8.

“On the day of Pentecost all the believers were meeting together in one place. Suddenly, there was a sound from heaven like the roaring of a mighty windstorm, and it filled the house where they were sitting. Then, what looked like flames or tongues of fire appeared and settled on each of them. And everyone present was filled with the Holy Spirit and began speaking in other languages, as the Holy Spirit gave them this ability. At that time there were devout Jews from every nation living in Jerusalem. When they heard the loud noise, everyone came running, and they were bewildered to hear their own languages being spoken by the believers.

They were completely amazed. ‘How can this be?’ they exclaimed. ‘These people are all from Galilee, and yet we hear them speaking in our own native languages! Here we are--:Parthians, Medes Elamites, people from Mesopotamia, Judea, Cappadocia, Pontus, the province of Asia, Phyrgia, Pamphylia, Egypt, and the areas of Libya around Cyrene, visitors from Rome (both Jews and converts to Judaism), Cretans, and Arabs. And we all hear these people speaking in our own languages about the wonderful thing God has done!’ They stood there amazed and perplexed. ‘What can this mean?’ they asked each other. But others in the crowd ridiculed them, saying, ‘they’re just drunk, that’s all!’”

“Then Peter stepped forward with the eleven other apostles and shouted to the crowd, ‘Listen carefully, all of you, fellow Jews and residents of Jerusalem! Make no mistake about this. These people are not drunk, as some of you are assuming. Nine o’clock in the morning is much too early for that. No, what you see was predicted long ago by the prophet Joel: in the last days,‘ God says, ‘I will pour out my Spirit upon all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy. Your young men will see visions, and your old men will dream dreams. In those days I will pour out my Spirit even on my servants—men and women alike—and they will prophesy. And I will cause wonders in the heavens above and signs on the earth below—blood and fire and clouds of smoke. The sun will become dark, and the moon will turn blood red before that great and glorious day of the Lord arrives. But everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.’”

“’People of Israel, listen! God publicly endorsed Jesus the Nazarene by doing powerful miracles, wonders, and signs through him, as you well know. But God knew what would happen, and his prearranged plan was carried out when Jesus was betrayed. With the help of lawless Gentiles, you nailed him to a cross and killed him. But God released him from the horrors of death and raised him back to life, for death could not keep him in its grip.

“King David said this about him: ‘I see that the Lord is always with me. I will not be shaken, for he is right beside me. No wonder my heart is glad, and my tongue shouts his praises! My body rests in hope. For you will not leave my soul among the dead or allow your Holy One to rot in the grave. You have shown me the way of life, and you will fill me with the joy of your presence.’

“Dear brothers, think about this! You can be sure that the patriarch David wasn’t referring to himself, for he died and was buried, and his tomb is still here among us. But he was a prophet, and he knew God had promised with an oath that one of David’s own descendants would sit on his throne. David was looking into the future and speaking of the Messiah’s resurrection. He was saying that God would not leave him among the dead or allow his body to rot in the grave.

“God raised Jesus from the dead, and we are all witnesses of this. Now he is exalted to the place of highest honor in heaven, at God’s right hand. And the Father, as he had promised, gave him the Holy Spirit to pour out upon us, just as you see and hear today. For David himself never ascended into heaven, yet he said, ‘The Lord said to my Lord, ‘Sit in the place of honor at my right hand until I humble your enemies, making them a footstool under your feet.’”

“So let everyone in Israel know for certain that God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, to be both Lord and Messiah!”

“Peter’s words pierced their hearts, and they said to him and to the other apostles, ‘Brothers, what should we do?”

“Peter replied, ‘Each of you must repent of your sins and turn to ‘God, and be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. Then you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. This promise is to you, to your children, and to those far away—all who have been called by the Lord our God. Then Peter continued preaching for a long time, strongly urging all his listeners, ‘Save yourselves from this crooked generation!’

“Those who believed what Peter said were baptized and added to the church that day—about 3,000 in all.

“All the believers devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching, and to fellowship, and to sharing of meals (including the Lord’s Supper) and to prayer. A deep sense of awe came over them all, and the apostles performed many miraculous signs and wonders. And all the believers met together in one place and shared everything they had. They sold their property and possessions and shared the money with those in need. They worshiped together at the Temple each day, met in homes for the Lord’s Supper, and shared their meals with great joy and generosity—all the while praising God and enjoying the goodwill of all the people. And each day the Lord added to their fellowship those who were being saved,” (Acts 2:1-47) NLT.

A picture of last day Pentecost:

“After all this I saw another angel come down from heaven with great authority, and the earth grew bright with his splendor,” Revelation 18:1.

“For as the waters fill the sea, the earth will be filled with an awareness of the glory of the Lord,” Habakkuk 2:14.

“Servants of God, with their faces lighted up and shining with holy consecration, will hasten from place to place to proclaim the message from heaven. By thousands of voices, all over the earth, the warning will be given. Miracles will be wrought, the sick will be healed, and signs and wonders will follow the believers. Satan also works, with lying wonders, even bringing down fire from heaven in the sight of men. Revelation 13:13. Thus the inhabitants of the earth will be brought to take their stand.

     The message will be carried not so much by argument as by the deep conviction of the Spirit of God. The arguments have been presented. The seed has been sown, and now it will spring up and bear fruit. The publications distributed by missionary workers have exerted their influence, yet many whose minds were impressed have been prevented from fully comprehending the truth or from yielding obedience. Now the rays of light penetrate everywhere, the truth is seen in its clearness, and the honest children of God sever the bands which have held them. Family connections, church relations, are powerless to stay them now. Truth is more precious than all besides. Notwithstanding the agencies combined against the truth, a large number take their stand upon the Lord's side. (ref. Great Controversy p. 612, EGW)

Yes, the Holy Spirit is active in saving everyone from the death-trap of Satan. The Holy Spirit lives within all that believe and will surrender their lives to God without reservation. And we have the promise that before Jesus returns the Holy Spirit will be poured out upon true believers with such power that the entire world population will have opportunity to know and accept the salvation provided by the infinite sacrifice of Jesus Christ on the Cross of Calvary two thousand years ago.

By ALL indications, that day is right upon us!

The only question remaining is this, do we believe “enough” to join fellow faithful believers of Jesus in surrendering everything we have and are to Him to do what HE wants to do with, in, and upon us? 

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What Hath God (Man) Wrought?

 

“The people are united, and they all speak the same language. After this, nothing they set out to do will be impossible for them!” Genesis 11:6.

These are the words of God recorded in the Bible regarding the people building a tower reaching toward the sky on the plane of Shinar following the universal flood of Noah’s day some four thousand years ago. It seems most interesting that God might have been concerned at what surely must have appeared to Him as “child’s play” when compared to His own power to create entire worlds and whatever He wished to place in, on, or around them. Or perhaps we are missing something from this story!

In the Book of Genesis we read that God created man in His own image and gave him dominion over the entire earth--nor need we be completely ignorant regarding what He meant by these words. We are given other references in the Bible that may give us some valuable hints. In Genesis chapter 3, we learn of Satan, one of the highest and most responsible angels of heaven that rebelled against God’s rule (Isaiah 14:12-14; Ezekiel 28:12-18; Revelation 12:7-9), who when forced out of heaven, cunningly stole the dominion of the earth from Adam. Henceforth, Satan is recognized in the Bible as the “Prince of this world,” (Ephesians 2:2; John 12:31; 14:30; 2 Corinthians 4:4). In the book of Job we read that Satan appeared in heaven at a council of world leaders as the representative of this world--implying that had Adam not lost his dominion to Satan, he, instead of Satan, would likely have been in that council representing the earth (Job 1:6, 7). In Ephesians, 3:9, 10, 15, we discover the concept that the things occurring here on earth regarding Christ are a witness to “principalities and powers in heavenly places,” suggesting that this world is not alone, but rather one with all of God’s creation throughout the universe. This same concept is suggested in Colossians 1:15-20. Given these hints, it is not too difficult to imagine that we humans, being created in the “Image of God,” may very well have included the potential to visit and communicate with God and the intelligent residents of other worlds throughout space. Had sin not entered our world, we would very likely even now be able to do that—one of the privileges we lost when Adam and Eve “sold out” to the devil’s lying trick—of partaking of the fruit of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil

Could it be, therefore, that God’s statement about the potential for the builders of the Tower of Babel quoted above was also real, and true? May I suggest that it was! And if true then, why would we not have the same potential now?

All of which suggests to me that we, like the residents of the Plain of Shinar, have the potential to reach into the heavens as well. Is it possible that God would permit us to do what the citizens of Babel were not permitted to do? And if so, Why now, but not then?

Before considering this question it may be well to give some thought to our origins and the events that have brought us to where we presently exist in time and place.

The Bible says, “Then the Lord God formed the man from the dust of the ground. He breathed the breath of life into the man’s nostrils, and the man became a living person. Then the Lord God planted a garden in Eden in the east, and there he placed the man he had made. The Lord God made all sorts of trees grow up from the ground—trees that were beautiful and that produced delicious fruit. In the middle of the garden he placed the tree of life and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil,” Genesis 2:7, 8.

“The Lord God placed the man in the Garden of Eden to tend and watch over it. But the Lord God warned him, ‘You may freely eat the fruit of every tree in the garden—except the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. If you eat its fruit you are sure to die,’” Genesis 2:15-17.

After creating Eve from Adam’s side, the Bible describes them in their garden home. One day Eve found herself near the forbidden tree of the knowledge of good and evil where a beautiful serpent appeared from among its branches speaking to her, claiming that God’s warning about dying for eating the fruit of the tree was a lie, and that God was only trying to prevent her and her husband from experiencing the full wisdom and power they were created to enjoy. Ignoring God’s warning, Eve responded to the serpent by tasting the forbidden fruit and sharing it with her husband, Adam.

In choosing to ignore God’s admonition and yielding to the claim of the serpent, saying, “God knows that when you eat of the fruit your eyes will be opened and you will be as gods (Genesis 3:5)” they demonstrated their unwillingness to believe God explicitly, and to trust in their own ability to manage their lives apart from Him. Thus choosing, God found it necessary to remove them from their lovely garden home, for it could no longer supply the environment they would need to learn the lessons they would need to learn if they were ever to reach the full potential for which they were created. Thus, by their own choice distanced from God, they were removed from their garden home and their access to the tree of life accordingly.

It is important to note that while the tree of the knowledge of good and evil and the tree of life were not only actual trees in the garden, but more importantly, served as symbols of their faith relationship with the God of their creation. Had they trusted God’s word and dismissed the serpent’s lies, death would have never occurred. More than that, as king and queen of Planet Earth, they would have enjoyed unlimited access to the counsels of God as Satan later claimed the legal right to attend.

Given this bit of information we may now return to the above speculation regarding whether or not it may be possible for humans today to reach into the heavens as the people of ancient Babylon living on the Plane of Shinar aspired to do, but were prevented from doing. Let us read the account.

“Then they said, ‘Come, let’s build a great city for ourselves with a tower that reaches into the sky. This will make us famous and keep us from being scattered all over the world.’ But the Lord came down to look at the city and the tower the people were building. ‘Look!’ he said, Come, let’s go down and confuse the people with different languages. Then they won’t be able to understand each other.’ In that way, the Lord scattered them all over the world, and they stopped building the city. That is why the city was called Babel, because that is where the Lord confused the people with different languages. In this way he scattered them all over the world,” Genesis 11:4-9.

Interestingly, by available evidence, we are even now apparently well on our way of doing what the Babylonian tower builders could not do.

Let us now look at some of that evidence.

The field of astronomy: Utilizing information gained by instruments now available (Optical, radio, x-ray telescopes, etc.) Neil Tyson, in a recent television series entitled, The Cosmos, a Space time Odyssey, was able to describe some of the wonders of the heavens and the “unchangeable laws” that govern those wonders. Many of these findings are now being applied in our ongoing efforts to bodily explore our universe, with the expectation of someday inhabiting some of those other worlds. Already we have set foot on the moon and are in the process of preparing to put men on the planet of Mars. Unmanned robotic satellites are already reaching out to the edge of our solar system and beyond.

Global transportation on land, water and air: Here on earth we are traveling at supersonic speeds through the skies, and crisscrossing land and sea at rates never dreamed of even a generation ago, with plans already in the works for even faster travel and transportation.

Information and communication technologies (ICT): Today we can hear, speak and see one almost anywhere in the world almost instantaneously day and night, by radio, television, or Internet--all with multiple possible applications—including “Real time visualization of data.”

Medicine: Prevention and therapy --vaccines against malaria, HIV, some cancers, and many contagious diseases; replication of many human (and other living things) chemicals utilized in everyday human physiology, etc.

Cyclotrons providing the ability to produce radioisotopes, proton radiation, etc.--useful in treating various cancers and other diseases, in diagnostic imaging with PET and technetium 99m scanning, and in nuclear transmutation.

Organ printing—a rapidly developing technology making it possible to create functioning body parts. We are already “printing” tissues of tracheas, livers, hearts, kidneys, and even brains.

Genetic engineering—working with genes, the molecular unit of heredity that encodes the production of all body tissues—testing, modifying, editing, transferring and intermixing them throughout the body, between persons, between animals, plants, and all living materials--pretty much at the will of the one doing the work. Today we are eating vegetables containing genes (or synthesized copies) obtained from many plants and non-plant sources. We are now able to grow human tissues in animals, to cross diverse animal species, and do many other modifications with both somatic and germ cells of all species.

Considering these human accomplishments we might properly ask, what are the physical limitations of man’s potential accomplishments? Can we actually create conditions that will permit us to travel to distant worlds in space?

That man is able to do the things we are now witnessing tells us that the Bible’s references to the image of God in man refers to much more than simply earthly knowledge. In fact it “proves” my thesis that there is little inherent limit to man’s abilities.

There is no inherent evil in becoming educated in the laws of the universe and applying them when guided by the moral law of love for God and man (eating of the tree of life). It is only when we choose to ignore that law and to establish our own rules of moral conduct (eating of the tree of knowledge) that we endanger our civilization and our own personal lives—our status today! More about this later.

We noted above some of the accomplishments of modern human beings, many of which might seem to be very positive—at least from the perspective of our human choice to continue to eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil!

Let us now look at a few of the other things we have been able to do that ought to cause us to reassess our wisdom and judgment.

Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD’s): Even now we possess sufficient stores of nuclear, chemical, and biological materials to destroy all life on the planet—and, unfortunately--the will to use them!

Societal disruption: By recent judgment of the highest court of the most blessed nation of the world, the traditional marriage and family, designed in heaven itself, has now been overturned. By this ruling, one of the two most powerful deterrents to evil has been abolished. The other, the seventh day Sabbath, set apart by God as holy time at the end of creation week, has been under attack for centuries, but is now soon to be abolished by common consent of the majority of earth’s inhabitants--under the auspices of a powerfully influential organization falsely claiming the authority of God. The things now threatening our very existence including, destruction of our environment, sexual disorientation, violence of every imaginable sort, radical religionists, anarchy, and many more—for which, as in the days preceding the flood and the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, there is no cure.

Natural resources: Irreplaceable natural resources are being rapidly depleted by careless, selfish, indulgence by the entire human family, the rich and the poor alike. Amazonia, our largest remaining natural ecosystem is itself rapidly being destroyed by encroaching cities and uncontrolled agriculture; our oceans and waterways are polluted, seriously endangering our marine food chain; and our agricultural lands, largely dependent an abundance of chemicals, and diminishing underground water reserves, are themselves being threatened—all in a vain attempt to satisfy the indulgences of our broken society.

Health: At the same time that our world is hurting by loss of natural resources, we are plagued by diseases primarily caused by our own indulgence of rich, high calorie foods, chemical additives, lack of health promoting physical activity, widespread consumption of addictive substances, and numerous other self-destructive practices.

Financial threats: The bankers of the world recognize that unless something changes with the present threats to the environment, banks, too, will soon fail.

Having considered our present abilities, expertise, and accomplishments--and the dreams that continue to inspire us, we might wonder, will our knowledge continue as it has in recent years until we attain the objectives of conquering the heavens and earth, and thereby “prove” the serpent’s claim that we will not die--or will our knowledge turn to bite us (as it is presently already beginning to do) and in the end bring our demise?

Fortunately, the answer is not far away. In fact, the events noted above describing our knowledge and accomplishments are occurring exactly as foretold in the Holy Bible—describing the end results of feasting upon the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil instead of partaking of the life-giving fruit of the tree of life.

The Tree of life: symbolizes constant and complete dependence upon God, governed by love for God and neighbor according to the great, unchangeable moral law of love.

The tree of the knowledge of good and evil: symbolizes dependence upon one’s own inherent wisdom, judgment, and actions in all disciplines of life—including the theories by which we interpret history, religion, philosophy, evolution, science, etc.

The Tree of life and the Tree of knowledge of good and evil are both dependent upon faith--that which we believe to be true and correct. For example, the knowledge of the things of this world provides theories seeming to answer many of the mysteries of nature, history, philosophy, etc. The theory of evolution is an example of just one of these. On the other hand, faith in the Holy Bible provides benefits that the knowledge of this world can never give, i.e. meaning to life, an explanation for the presence of good and evil, the moral law of love, freedom, hope, and peace in the presence of storm.

While these are the short-term results of our choices, there are also long-term, indeed, eternal consequences as well. Let us see what the Bible says about these.

 

Promises to those of faith that choose to “eat” of the tree of life, made righteous by the sacrificial blood of Jesus and the ministry of the Holy Spirit:

The Bible is clear that those that choose to “eat” of the tree of life will spend eternity with God in paradise, enjoying the infinite blessings provided by faithful commitment to the Law of God’s love—as the following representative texts describe.

The Bible says, “Adam. The first man was made from the dust of the earth, while Christ, the second man, came from heaven. Earthly people are like the earthly man, and heavenly people are like the heavenly man. Just as we are now like the earthly man, we will someday be like the heavenly man. What I am saying, dear brothers and sisters, is that our physical bodies cannot inherit the kingdom of God. These dying bodies cannot inherit what will last forever. But let me reveal to you a wonderful secret. We will not all die, but we will all be transformed. It will happen in a moment, in the blink of an eye, when the last trumpet is blown. For when the trumpet sounds, those who have died will be raised to live forever. And we who are living will also be transformed. For our dying bodies must be transformed into bodies that will never die; for mortal bodies must be transformed into immortal bodies. Then, when our dying bodies have been transformed into immortal bodies that will never die, this Scripture will be fulfilled: ‘Death is swallowed up in victory. O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting? For sin is the sting that results in death, and the law gives sin its power. But thank God! He gives us victory over sin and death through our Lord Jesus Christ,” 1 Corinthians 15:47-57.

Jesus said, “Don’t let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God, and trust also in me. There is more than enough room in my Father’s home. If this were not so, would I have told you that I am going to prepare a place for you? When everything is ready, I will come and get you, so that you will always be with me where I am,” John 14:1-3.

“Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the old heaven and the old earth had disappeared. And the sea was also gone. And I saw the holy city, the New Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven like a bride fully dressed for her husband. I heard a loud shout from the throne, saying, ‘Look, God’s home is now among his people! He will live with them, and they will be his people. God himself will be with them. He will wipe every tear from their eyes, and there will be no more death of sorrow or crying or pain. All these things are gone forever. And the one sitting on the throne said, ‘Look, I am making everything new! And then he said to me, ‘Write this down, for what I tell you is trustworthy and true,’ And he also said, ‘It is finished! I am the Alpha and the Omega—the Beginning and the End. To all who are thirsty I will give freely from the springs of the water of life. All who are victorious will inherit all these blessings, and I will be their God, and they will be my children,’” Revelation 21:1-7. See also: Isaiah 11:6-9; Philippians 3:20, 21; Colossian 3:4.

 

Warnings to those that choose to “eat” of the tree of knowledge of good and evil:

The Bible is clear that these will cease to exist when earth history has finally been written—as the following representative biblical texts describe in words and symbols that are difficult to misinterpret, “Then I heard another voice calling from heaven, ‘Come away from her, my people. Do not take part in her sins, or you will be punished with her. For her sins are piled as high as heaven, and God remembers her evil deeds. Do to her as she has done to others. Double her penalty for all her evil deeds. She brewed a cup of terror for others, so brew twice as much for her. She glorified herself and lived in luxury, so match it now with torment and sorrow. She boasted in her heart, ‘I am queen on my throne. I am no helpless widow, and I have no reason to mourn. Therefore, these plagues will overtake her in a single day—death and mourning and famine. She will be completely consumed by fire, for the Lord God who judges her is mighty. And the kings of the world who committed adultery with her and enjoyed her great luxury will mourn for her as they see the smoke rising from her charred remains. They will stand at a distance, terrified by her great torment. They will cry out, ‘How terrible, how terrible for you, O Babylon, you great city! In a single moment God’s judgment came on you.’ The merchants of the world will weep and mourn for her, for there is not one left to buy their goods. She bought great quantities of gold, silver, jewels, and pearls; fine linen, purple, silk, and scarlet cloth; things made of fragrant thyme, wood, ivory goods, and objects made of expensive wood; and bronze, iron, and marble. She also bought cinnamon, spice, incense, myrrh, frankincense, wine, olive oil, fine flour, wheat, cattle, sheep, horses, wagons, and bodies--that is, human slaves. ‘The fancy things you loved so much are gone,’ they cry. All your luxuries and splendor are gone forever, never to be yours again. The merchants who became wealthy by selling her these things will stand at a distance, terrified by her great torment. They will weep and cry out, ‘How terrible, how terrible for that great city!’ She was clothed in finest purple and scarlet linens, decked out with gold and precious stones and pearls! In a single moment all the wealth of the city is gone! And all the captains of the merchant ships and their passengers and sailors and crews will stand at a distance. They will cry out as they watch the smoke ascend, and they will say, ‘Where is there another city as great as this?’ And they will cry out, ‘How terrible, how terrible for that great city!’ The ship-owners became wealthy by transporting her great wealth on the seas. In a single moment it is all gone. Rejoice over her fate, O heaven and people of God and apostles and prophets! For at last God has judged her for your sakes. Then a mighty angel picked up a boulder the size of a huge millstone. He threw it into the ocean and shouted, ‘Just like this, the great city Babylon will be thrown down with violence and will never be found again. The sound of harps, singers, flutes, and trumpets will never be heard in you again. No craftsmen and no trades will ever be found in you again. The sound of the mill will never be heard in you again. The light of a lamp will never shine in you again. The happy voices of brides and grooms will never be heard in you again. For your merchants were the greatest in the world, and you deceived the nations with your sorceries. In your streets flowed the blood of the prophets and of God’s holy people and the blood of people slaughtered all over the world,’” Revelation 18:4-24.

“Now concerning how and when all this will happen, dear brothers and sisters, we don’t really need to write you. For you know quite well that the day of the Lord’s return will come unexpectedly, like a thief in the night. When people are saying, ‘Everything is peaceful and secure,’ then disaster will fall on them as suddenly as a pregnant woman’s labor pains begin. And there will be no escape,” 1 Thessalonians 2, 3

“The Lord isn’t really being slow about his promise, as some people think. No, he is being patient for your sake. He does not want anyone to be destroyed, but wants everyone to repent. But the day of the Lord will come as unexpectedly as a thief. Then the heavens will pass away with a terrible noise, and the very elements themselves will disappear in fire, and the earth and everything on it will be found to deserve judgment,” 2 Peter 3:10.

From the very beginning of the war between the powers of God and Satan (between good and evil) this world has served as a battle ground upon which those faithful to the Law of God’s love, and those choosing Satan and their own wisdom and control have been engaged in serious life and death combat. During this time, God, in love, has permitted Satan (working through humans) to test every possible means of governance to demonstrate his claim that there is a better way to rule than the law of love-- that the entire universe might have opportunity to “see” and never again doubt in the wisdom of God, and to learn that which He said about the tree of the knowledge of good and evil in Eden—that Satan’s “better way” always ends in death—no exceptions—a truth that could never again be reasonably challenged.

Throughout history, God has imposed certain restrictions upon the devil and his followers, thereby giving ample time and opportunity for every intelligent being in the universe to see and witness the contrast between the beauty and power of love, and the terribly malignant nature of evil. Before the end of time, those restraints upon evil will be completely removed, revealing the full, unrestrained consequences of Satan’s rebellion in contrast to the goodness of God and the glory of His law of love--thus vindicating His law of love and exposing the fallacies of Satan.

Adam and Eve chose the knowledge of evil and paid an initial price. God permitted them to experience the results of their choice until the flood. At that time Satan had not yet tested every possible form of governance. He tried again at the Tower of Babel, and God in love stopped him and mankind, for humanity had not yet become convinced that Satan’s lie stating that they would not die, was, indeed, truly a lie--and because He (God) had not yet fulfilled the part of the plan where He would “Play” the “Trump” card, demonstrating the true nature of His governance of love--the fruit of Love from the Tree of life. Abraham and many of his descendants subsequently learned to believe, and are now listed among those faithful to Jesus in the Biblical book of Hebrews--awaiting, with us, the return of Jesus, Hebrews 11:39, 40.

Only Jesus lived exclusively according to the original plan of God for man. He was killed by demon inspired men for doing so, confirming the nature of the evil fruit to destroy life rather than give life. The war has continued on another 2,000 years, people still unable to “see” how poison the fruit of the Tree really is. That is now changing. God, in love and patience has waited and gradually loosened the reigns on Satan and man until the “fullness of time (Galatians 4:4),” has come.

Most people living on the earth today, even while seeing the prophecies and warnings being fulfilled before their very eyes still refuse to believe the Holy Bible, the God described in the Bible, and the reality of the devil having real power. We may wonder why?

Consider with me if you will a bit of speculation based upon information supplied in the Bible. The Bible tells us that before his rebellion Satan (then Lucifer, the Light bearer) served in one of the most respected roles in heaven next to the throne of God Himself—a position he lost when, driven by pride in his own beauty and position-- coveting the very throne of God itself. (See Isaiah 14:12-14; Ezekiel 28:12-18; Revelation 12:7-9)

It stands to reason, therefore, that if he could even imagine taking the throne from God he must have understood many of the unchangeable natural laws (physical and moral) governing the universe—nor would it be likely that he would have lost that understanding after his expulsion from heaven (Revelation 12:7-9)

As is now evident all around us, evil is dominating nearly all aspects of life. Even the Church, the “believers” in Jesus, continue to eat of the evil fruit of the Tree of knowledge in spite of the growing evidence of its terrible “sting.” Our world is now at a place in this war where God is giving Satan full reign to join with man without any restrictions. NOW, and now only, we are finally witnessing the full results of both the good and the evil fruit. Now, a people finally fully feeding upon the Good fruit of the tree of life, fully trusting upon God without any reservation, are finally beginning to see the gospel go to the entire world, just as Jesus commanded --and the final and full consequences of eating of the evil fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.

Satan, working through his human followers is now inspiring men to conquer the heavens and finally gain the throne of God long sought. As God releases His restraints upon the devil and his followers in one final battle between God and Satan, and their corresponding followers, the end result of sin in the heart of evil angels and men will become fully evident in contrast to the transformation that has occurred in the hearts and minds of the faithful followers of Jesus who under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit have been regularly feeding upon the fruit of the Tree of Life, walking and trusting in the love, truth, and power of Jesus.

The Bible describes the final events of this process as a “time of trouble such as never was since there was a nation,” Daniel 12:1. (See also Matthew 24:21 and entire chapter). During this time the followers of God will undergo severe trouble and persecution at the hand of the devil and his followers. Nor will the followers of Satan escape this time of tribulation. In fact, they may expect to experience even greater troubles as they reap the harvest of the seeds of evil that have been sown throughout the centuries. In addition to the unprecedented convulsions of nature brought on by their own disregard for the laws of nature, they will almost certainly experience unimaginable devastation as their stockpiles of weapons of mass destruction (WMD) are let loose by warring factions of evil minded men and demons. Then it will finally be fully evident why God has always previously prevented human beings from exercising their full, inherent potential—realizing by seeing the evidence that “eating from the tree of knowledge of good and evil really does end in death—not at the hand of an angry God, but by their own attempt to reach back into heaven by mere human effort and technology.

It is most interesting that the pope, claiming Lordship over the church in Jesus’ name, is even now foremost in calling upon all nations and peoples of the world to unite under his authority to resolve our present environmental concerns, manage our weapons of mass destruction, and to use whatever force necessary to combat religious “extremism” while dismissing God’s call to true repentance according to the Divine Law of Love that governs the remainder of the universe--as delivered in writing on stone to the human race nearly 3500 years ago, and as exemplified by Christ dying for our sins upon a cross on a mountain called Calvary.

At the conclusion of that final conflict, Jesus will return according to His promise, taking his faithful and proven ones with Him to heaven where for a thousand years they will sit in judgment in review of the wicked of all ages, confirming to the family of God throughout the universe that the judgment of every individual is correct, confirming the claim of God and vindicating His law of love for all eternity. At that point Jesus and those proven faithful to Him will return with the holy city to this earth where Satan and all of the wicked of all ages will “see” and understand the true nature of the tree of knowledge of good and evil in contrast to the tree of life (Revelation 20:9). They will then bow before Jesus and confess as one body that Jesus is indeed King of kings and Lord of lords, finally acknowledging that they want no place in the kingdom (Philippians 2:9-11). At this point they will be destroyed—an act of God’s love, for to live in the presence of God for eternity in such an evil state world be worse than the most terrible picture of ever burning fires of hell that Satan has been “selling” to human beings throughout the ages..

Following the “fall” the benefits of partaking of the fruit of the tree of life were dependent upon the faith in the blood lf the sacrificial lamb, the type of Jesus, the Messiah. Since the cross, they are available by faith only through the blood of Jesus Christ.

 

Note: All Bible quotations are taken from the New Living Translation (NLT) unless otherwise indicated.

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Tenets Do Not Save Anyone

(Tenets: doctrines, dogmas, confessions of faith, beliefs, teachings) 

Catholics, Lutherans, Hindus, Muslims, Animists, Seventh-day Adventists, or one of any other Faith, none are saved by the doctrines they believe, or by the faith communities to which they belong. 

No acts of repentance, confession, new birth, baptism, obedience, good deeds, works, penance, pilgrimages, tithes or gifts, or any other action provides a ticket to enter heaven.

 The Bible is clear, and many honest people of all faiths, or of no particular faith, agree. When Jesus said, “Whatever you want men to do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets,” Matthew 7:12, he was not introducing some new teaching, but merely repeating one that had already been understood and practiced for many centuries. 

When asked by His detractors which of the Commandments was the most important, Jesus told them that the Ten Commandments were really encompassed by these two, “you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and mind and soul, and your neighbor as you love yourself,” Matthew 22:36-40. 

On another occasion, however, when Jesus was teaching the leaders in Israel that salvation was NOT earned by strict obedience to the Traditional teachings of the law, He described the correct interpretation of the Ten Commandments, saying, “A new commandment I give unto you, that you love one another as I have loved you,” John 13:34 (love such as caused him to give His life to save ours: 1 John 4:9 & John 3:16). 

No! There was no fault in the Ten Commandments (the universal moral law). It was simply the legalistic way those commandments were being “used” by the Jews to accomplish their own selfish purposes—NOT by truly loving God and their neighbor, but by using the Commandments to exalt themselves, and to judge, find fault, and condemn others. 

He then went on to illustrate this new commandment, this law of love, with the metaphor of a shepherd separating his sheep from his goats--interpreted, those that pass all judgment with flying colors and get placed on His right hand are those that have fed the hungry, given a drink to the thirsty, taken in strangers, clothed the naked, and visited the sick and those in prison,” Matthew 25:31-46. 

Then, before He left this world to return to His Father He illustrated this law of love by giving his life on the cross to save us. Only love could do something like this. 

It would be difficult to make it clearer. It is true, unselfish, unconditional love for God and one another that determines our eternal destiny. Nothing else! But, there is a problem! We have been born as sinners and do not have the ability to love as Jesus taught us. 

Interestingly, even the death of Jesus on the Cross of Calvary—that ultimate expression of love—though it provides opportunity for eternal life for each and every one of us, can save none of us—unless we believe, surrendering everything we have and are to Him. Only then can the human heart be re-born—transformed from focusing and serving upon self into truly loving beings who’s first and foremost concern is for the God and for one another. 

Herein is the role of doctrines and the teachings of the Holy Scriptures. Every truth, every law, every teaching of Holy Scripture, is designed with just one purpose in mind, i.e. to lead us to God who alone can remove the sin into which we were born, and by which we are dominated--and to replace it with the pure characteristics of the same self-renouncing, unconditional love that governs God and all of His vast creation. When He has accomplished His work in us (it is a life-long process), we, too, will be governed by the same self-renouncing love that governs Him, and then, by nature, exhibit the characteristics of love in our lives. 

Nor is the Holy Bible the only source of such life transforming teachings. Many that have never heard the name of Jesus, nor ever been introduced to God, have seen Him in the things He has made (Romans 1:19, 20; Romans 2:6, 7; 11-16; 10:18, 30; John 10:16; 11:52; Matthew 8:11; 25:31-40; 1 Corinthians 4:5; 2 Corinthians 8:12; Acts 14:15-17; 17:26-28; Ps. 87:4-6; 19:1-4). 

The bottom line is this: every doctrine, every teaching, whether from the Holy Scriptures, other holy books, Church traditions, or some other source, changes us into the very thing we accept as our guide to life—unto godlikeness--or unto un-Christ-like self-satisfying sinners at war with the things of God. 

The determinant of which it will be is our choice, the faith that permits God through the intercession of Jesus, the power of the Holy Spirit, and the ministry of angels to transform us--or our choice to reject the faith that is able to make us right with God in love (righteous). 

Foremost of all the tenets in transforming sinners into the loving image of Jesus is the intimacy that develops between God and true believers that is engendered quite naturally by fidelity to the Holy Sabbath day—that special time each week, established and set apart at the completion of creation (Genesis 2:2, 3), and later written by the finger of God in stone at the time of Moses (Exodus 20:8-11; 31:15-18). As true for all of the Commandments, there is no merit gained by honoring the Holy Sabbath, but immeasurable blessing by such a close relationship with God every seventh day. 

Doctrines not only serve to lead us to Jesus and salvation. In the process, they also serve as guardians protecting us from the destructive effects of evil (sin) 

As true doctrine connects us with God and transforms us into His image, so, false doctrine connects us with the devil, Satan and his demon angels that lead to destruction. 

Only love saves! 

“Tis the set of the sail …”

“But to every mind there opens

A way, and way, and away,

A high soul climbs the highway,

And the low soul gropes the low,

And in between on the misty flats,

The rest drift to and fro.

 

But to every man there opens,

A high way and a low,

And every mind decides,

The way his soul shall go.

 

One ship sails East,

And another West,

By the self-same winds that blow,

‘Tis the set of the sails

And not the gales,

That tells the way we go.

 

Like the winds of the sea

Are the waves of time,

As we journey along through life,

‘Tis the set of the soul,

That determines the goal,

And not the calm or the strife.”

 

Ella Wheeler Wilcox, 1916

 

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The Lord’s Supper

Healing Wounds, Mending Broken Hearts

(Creating Love by Transforming Relationships)

The world is falling apart. Jesus has promised to come but His return seems to have been delayed.

The gospel has not yet been preached to the entire world—a prerequisite for Jesus’ return--and we wonder why—for He promised that the earth would be filled with His glory and the gospel preached to every kingdom, nation, tongue, and people (Matthew 24:14; Joel 2:27-32; Revelation 18:1).

The Church is shaking, suffering unrest in many places--many are falling away. We may wonder why!

It need not be so! Jesus provided the answer to our dilemma on the night before His arrest two thousand years ago--we call that answer the Lord’s Supper, Communion (or sometimes by other terms), but we have turned it into a mere ritual that has little meaning--even for those few that continue to participate.

Unfortunately, believers often fail to realize that THERE IS NO MERIT IN GOING THROUGH THE MOTIONS OF THE LORD’S SUPPER--or to recognize that there IS GREAT WORTH AND VALUE in practicing the service the way Jesus exemplified when He established it and told us to keep it until He comes again. (I Corinthians 11:26)

In fact, apart from one’s daily devotions, the Lord’s Supper is the most significant answer to the healing of the brokenness existing in the family of God in the world today. IT IS NOT simply a ritual that we perform.

The entire communion experience is designed to save (heal) and to transform believers into loving beings like Jesus himself—righteous by faith in Him alone.

Jesus set us an example when He, the king of the universe humbled himself, knelt before his disciples and washed the feet of those that had until that very time been bickering over who was the greatest and who would sit at his side in heaven. He even washed the feet of His very worst enemy that had already made arrangements for betraying him to be killed. By His example He expressed His desire for His followers to love one another as He loves us—yes, even enough to die for one another.

The Bible tells us about the Communion experience, “Jesus knew that the Father had given him authority over everything, and that he had come from God and would return to God. So he got up from the table, took off his robe, wrapped a towel around his waist, and poured water into a basin. Then he began to wash the disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel he had around him.

“When Jesus came to Simon Peter, Peter said to him, ‘Lord, are you going to wash my feet?’”

“Jesus replied, ‘You don’t understand now what I am doing, but someday you will.’

“’No,’ Peter protested, ‘you will never ever wash my feet!’”

“Jesus replied, ‘Unless I wash you, you won’t belong to me.’”

“Simon Peter exclaimed, ‘Then wash my hands and head as well, Lord, not just my feet!’

“Jesus replied, ‘A person who has bathed all over does not need to wash except for the feet to be entirely clean. And you disciples are clean, but not all of you,’ For Jesus knew who would betray him. That is what he meant when he said, ‘Not all of you are clean.’

“After washing their feet, he put on his robe again and sat down and asked, ‘Do you understand what I was doing? You call me Teacher and Lord, and you are right, because that’s what I am. And since I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you ought to wash each other’s feet. I have given you an example to follow. Do as I have done to you. I tell you the truth, slaves are not greater than their master. Nor is the messenger more important than the one who sends the message. Now that you know these thing, God will bless you for doing them,’” John 13:3-17.

Only when the Church of Jesus, every believer, every honest member, follows the example of Jesus--humbles one’s self to the point that one is willing to give everything, even life itself if need be, for any other person—is willing to die for any and every other believer, friends, and enemies alike, and will go to them one by one, confessing one’s sins to them, accept one’s responsibility for the harm done, whether intentional or not, and seek reconciliation with them. Only then can one experience the cleansing that Jesus designed when He did what He did. Only when we have made it right with every one of our fellow believers that have offended us, or that we have offended, and are able and willing to do anything to heal the rift, can we partake in the communion service and receive the benefits therefrom. Then, washed and clean (all anger, animosity, pride, whatever, taken away by the power of God—yes, it may take long nights on our knees for heavenly agents to empower us with sufficient love to accomplish this—only then are we able to appreciate the celebration of partaking of the bread and wine (eating the body of Christ and drinking of His blood)—able to fully focus upon His love for us and to realize the true price He paid for us on Calvary.

Note: Most conflicts we have with other people are not strictly one-sided. In most instances neither party is completely free of fault. This fact does not excuse our sin.

(A testimony: When I was a resident in training to become a surgeon, my attending surgeon approached me one day during clinic hours and shared with me an experience he had just had with a distraught patient. He told me that after carefully listening to her complaint, he calmly apologized to her, telling her he was sorry for any misunderstanding, and accepting the blame for any part of the problem that might have been caused by his neglect or action. This simple acknowledgment satisfied her discomfort and resolved the problem. He then shared with me that in his experience of doing this simple confession, difficult situations were often met with satisfaction and joy.)

This is what the Communion celebration is all about—loving others enough to accept them for who they are and to accept responsibility for whatever contribution we may have had in creating the disconnect--restoring full and complete healing between us.

In our world today where the “Church” is spread out around the world--and in some places the local congregation becoming smaller and smaller and farther apart, it may not always be possible to wash the feet of the one with whom we have had grievance. Many times the confession and reconciliation may need to be done remotely via postal service, or the electronic media. The method utilized matters not—only that it be done earnestly and completely, that our conscience and character may be “clean” (fully belonging to Jesus).

Some today may question the practice of foot washing as a necessary practice for preparing for the taking of the emblems of the bread and wine. Yet, the fact is that even in today’s Western society there is still really no other practice more humiliating than to wash the feet of another.

Furthermore, the practice was initiated by Jesus. His followers were admonished to practice it until He should come again. And while we are to make things right with our fellow men before we share in the foot washing practice, God has not provided any other universal practice by which to humble one’s heart to partake the holy emblems and to see the beauty and magnitude of the love of Jesus’ gift to mankind, as they were originally intended.

We may not be able to reconcile all differences by our confession, for some may refuse to hear. Jesus described how to handle those with whom we cannot reconcile, “If another believer sins against you, go privately and point out the offense. If the other person listens and confesses it, you have won that person back. But if you are unsuccessful, take one or two others with you and go back again, so that everything you say may be confirmed by two or three witnesses. If the person still refuses to listen, take your case to the Church. Then if he or she won’t accept the church’s decision, treat that person as a pagan or a corrupt tax collector, (loving and interceding as for one in need of a Savior as Jesus himself did!)” Matthew 18:15-17.

If perchance, you are unable to find other believers to accompany you, or if the “Church” will not accept your request, and there is nothing more you can do, you may continue to privately intercede with God for your enemy’s healing, just as Jesus has done by his example. You will then be “clean.”

If you are the one that has offended another, it is your responsibility to go to that one and confess your sin, and restore that which was lost--with interest where indicated.

Then, as we eat the body of Christ, and drink His blood—thereby preparing a place for the Holy Spirit to dwell within us--we will grow in love, and truly experience healing of our wounds and mending of our hearts—ready vessels for receiving the POWER to share His love with others that do not know Him as we are privileged to know Him—for He is more anxious than are we for the mess in this world to be brought to an end.

The Scriptures say, “As they were eating, Jesus took some bread and blessed it. Then he broke it into pieces and gave it to the disciples, saying, ‘Take it, for this is my body.’ And he took a cup of wine and gave thanks to God for it. He gave it to them, and they all drank from it. And he said to them, ‘This is my blood, which confirms the covenant between God and his people. It is poured out as a sacrifice for many,’” Mark 14:22-24.

Matthew added this touch, “And he took a cup of wine and gave thanks to God for it. He gave it to them and said, ‘each of you drink from it, for this is my blood (my life), which confirms the covenant between God and his people. It is poured out as a sacrifice to forgive the sins of many. Mark my words—I will not drink wine again until the day I drink it new with you in my Father’s Kingdom,’” Matthew 26:27-29 (The life is in the blood, Leviticus 17:11)

“On the night when he was betrayed, the Lord Jesus took some bread and gave thanks to God for it. Then he broke it in pieces and said, ‘This is my body, which is given for you. Do this to remember me.’ In the same way, he took the cup of wine after supper, saying, ‘This cup is the new covenant between God and his people—an agreement confirmed with my blood. Do this to remember me as often as you drink it. For every time you eat this bread and drink this cup, you are announcing the Lord’s death until he comes again,’” 1 Corinthians 11:23-26.

This entire communion experience employs the work of the Father, the Son (Jesus), and the Holy Spirit. Jesus told us that when we ask, He sends the Holy Spirit who convicts of sin and provides us with power to make the necessary confessional call. It is the same Holy Spirit that inspires the other party to accept that confession and brings us victory and peace (clean) (John 14:6, 10, 13, 16; 16:8). Each time we repeat the communion experience we are drawn nearer and nearer to Jesus and to one another. This service is not one in which we are declared clean without a change--leaving us sinners still, separated from God and man. No, faithfully followed, we will be truly changed into children of God that really do love one another, just as Jesus loves us. It is not abracadabra. It is a real transformation into the image of Jesus. It is true righteousness that comes by faith--a new birth that will endure throughout eternity—a change made possible only by Jesus death on the cross.

The following quotation provides an excellent description of what it means to eat and drink the body and blood of Jesus. “To eat the flesh and drink the blood of Christ is to receive Him as a personal Savior, believing that He forgives our sins, and that we are complete in Him. It is by beholding His love, by dwelling upon it, by drinking it in, that we are to become partakers of His nature. What food is to the body, Christ must be to the soul. Food cannot benefit us unless we eat it, unless it becomes a part of our being. So Christ is of no value to us if we do not know Him as a personal savior. A theoretical knowledge will do us no good. We must feed upon Him, receive Him into the heart, so that His life becomes our life. His love, His grace, must be assimilated.” Desire of Ages, page 389 (E.G. White)

ONLY then, can He pour out the Holy Spirit in power as occurred at Pentecost. ONLY THEN!!!

The Bible tells us, “So anyone who eats this bread or drinks this cup of the Lord unworthily is guilty of sinning against the body and blood of the Lord. That is why you should examine yourself before eating the bread and drinking the cup. For if you eat the bread or drink the cup without honoring the body of Christ, you are eating and drinking God’s judgment unto yourself,” 1 Corinthians 11:27-29.

The Bible describes a curse, a judgment as a penalty for “unworthy participation—a penalty for going through the symbols without engaging in the intent of them—for partaking of the emblems without seeking true reconciliation with our neighbor (brother)--not considering the real meaning of the bread and wine, or the value and need of cleansing and healing relationships between man and God and man and man. This curse should not be seen as a punishment so much as a loss that occurs to those that fail to truly engage in the experience of true communion—the loss of the close relationship with Jesus, and the loss of influence upon our fellow men—a loss that affects the entire society, for “no man is an island.”

But there is even more! In losing our close connection with Jesus we also suffer the loss of His protecting barriers--giving access to the devil to tempt and attack us.

How long will it take us to understand and follow His example?

The LORD’S SUPPER is the answer to His delay, to the lack of power within the Church.

Isn’t it time to enjoy the benefits of this holy communal experience?

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One God

The Lord our God is one Lord

Pope Francis has recently been accused of offence for claiming that Allah and God are the same god. Intent upon creating one universal religion, the pope has been bending over backward to gain the attention and support of those of all other Christian and non-Christian faiths. Accordingly he has recently been heard to say in public prayer, “I unite myself with you all (in) prayer to almighty god, ‘all merciful,” (a common expression of Islam).

Of course this should not seem strange seeing that Muslims comprise such a large proportion of the peoples of the world (only second to Catholicism itself)--without which a one-world religion and government would be impossible. Some are already referring to this marriage of the religions as Chrislam.

Interestingly, Jews, Christians, and Muslims all claim the promises God made to the ancient patriarch, Abraham--and the words of God to the Children of Israel as they took up residence in the Promised Land, saying, “Hear O Israel: The Lord our God is one Lord: …” Deuteronomy 6:4. Yet, all of them seem loath to admit that the others worship the same God, claiming Him for themselves only

Given the wide variations between (and even within) each of the faith communities, it is appropriate to question, is He, indeed, one Lord, one God? Or are there many gods? Is the Christian God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, the same god as Allah? Or the same God of the Jews; Yahweh/Jehovah?

The Bible records the instructions spoken by God from Mount Sinai to the Children of Israel (the Jews of today) following their exodus from Egypt, “I am the Lord your God, who rescued you from the land of Egypt, the place of your slavery.

“You must not have any other god but me.

“You must not make for yourself an idol of any kind or an image of anything in the heavens or on the earth or in the sea. You must not bow down to them or worship them, for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God who will not tolerate your affection for any other gods. I lay the sins of the parents upon their children; the entire family is affected—even children in the third and fourth generations of those who reject me. But I lavish unfailing love for a thousand generations on those who love me and obey my commands.

“You must not misuse the name of the Lord your God. The Lord will not let you go unpunished if you misuse his name,” Exodus 20:1-7 (NLT).

Do all three of these major faiths adhere to these instructions? If not, are they worshiping the same God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob? Or some other god?

If the God of Israel is the same God as the God of Christians and Muslims, would these instructions not also be the same for them?

Are these the standards for all of God’s followers? And if so, can those that ignore the standards really be worshipping the same God?

What is idolatry? What is an idol?

What does it mean to “misuse” his name, or as some versions state, “to take His name in vain?”

All religions have their own names for their gods. Are all of these names, too, the same One God? Or what determines our claim to loyalty to one or another of these gods? Is it the name we call them? Or something else?

May I suggest that it matters very little by what name we call God, but, rather, by how we respond to His Law of Love. We may call his name, Jesus, but if we relate to him as to a pagan god, we are certainly not worshiping the Jesus the Bible tells us about. Merely voicing the name means nothing if we do not believe in who He really is and the law of His rule in the world, and in our lives.

The Bible says, “… not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven, … depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’” Matthew 7:21 & 23. 

Who or what really is our god? OUR God!

What constitutes true belief in God? What is a true worshiper of God? Is it possible to give true worship to some other name than Jesus, Yahweh, or Allah?

The Bible gives some interesting observations regarding this. According to these, it depends upon how one responds to the “light” that shines upon one. Nor is the Holy Bible the only source of such life transforming “light” (teachings). Many that have never heard the name of Jesus, nor ever been introduced to God, have seen Him in the things He has made. Let us look at some of these Bible passages pertaining to this.

John 10:16, “I have other sheep, too, that are not in this sheepfold. I must bring them also. They will listen to my voice, and there will be one flock with one shepherd.”

John 11:51, 52,”He did not say this on his own; as high priest at that time he was led to prophesy that Jesus would die for the entire nation. And not only for that nation, but to bring together and unite all the children of God scattered around the world.”

Matthew 8:11, 12,” And I tell you this, that many Gentiles will come from all over the world—from east and west—and sit down with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob at the feast in the kingdom of Heaven. But many Israelites (and Christians!)—those for whom the Kingdom was prepared—will be thrown into outer darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”

Romans 1:19, 20, “They know the truth about God because he has made it obvious to them. For ever since the world was created, people have seen the earth and sky. Through everything God made, they can clearly see his invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature. So they have no excuse for not knowing God.”

Romans 2:19, 20, “They know the truth about God because he has made it obvious to them. For ever since the world was created, people have seen the earth and sky. Through everything God made, they can clearly see his invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature. So they have no excuse for not knowing God.”

Matthew 25:31-40, “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the Kingdom prepared for you from the creation of the world. For I was hungry, and you fed me. I was thirsty, and you gave me a drink. I was a stranger, and you invited me into your home. I was naked and you gave me clothing. I was sick, and you cared for me. I was in prison and you visited me.’ Then these righteous ones will reply, ‘Lord, when did we ever see you hungry and feed you? Or thirsty and give you something to drink? Or a stranger and show you hospitality? Or naked and give you clothing? When did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ And the King will say, ‘I tell you the truth, when you did it to one of the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were doing it to me!’” True worship—even without reciting the name of Jesus!

Acts 14:15-17, “Friends, why are you doing this? We are merely human beings—just like you! We have come to bring you the Good News that you should turn from these worthless things and turn to the living God, who made heaven and earth, the sea, and everything in them. In the past he permitted all the nations to go their own ways, but he never left them without evidence of himself and his goodness. For instance, he sends you rain and good crops and gives you food and joyful hearts.”

Acts 17:27-28, “His purpose was for the nations to seek after God and perhaps feel their way toward him and find him—though he is not far from any one of us. For in him we live and move and exist. As some of your poets have said, ‘We are his offspring.’”

Psalms 87:4-6, “I will make mention of Rahab and Babylon to those who know Me; Behold, O Philistia and Tyre, with Ethiopia: ‘This one was born there.’” And of Zion it will be said, ‘This one and that one were born in her;’ And the Most High Himself shall establish her. The Lord will record, when He registers the peoples: ‘This one was born there.’” (NKJV)

Romans 2:6-8, “He will judge everyone according to what they have done. He will give eternal life to those who keep on doing good, seeking after the glory and honor and immortality that God offers, But he will pour out his anger and wrath on those who live for themselves, who refuse to obey the truth and instead live lives of wickedness.”

Romans 10:18-21, “But I ask, have the people of Israel actually heard the message? Yes, they have: ‘The message has gone throughout the earth, and the words to all the world.’ But I ask, did the people of Israel really understand? Yes, they did, for even in the time of Moses, God said, ‘I will rouse your jealousy through people who are not even a nation. I will provoke your anger through the foolish Gentiles.’ And later Isaiah spoke boldly for God, saying, ‘I was found by people who were not looking for me. I showed myself to those who were not asking for me. ”But regarding Israel, God said, ‘All day long I opened my arms to them, but they were disobedient and rebellious.”

From these texts it seems clear that everyone in this world has opportunity to know God, though they may never have heard the name of Jesus. Some have believed the evidence and followed Him faithfully and will receive the eternal reward. Others have rejected the evidence and will pay the price of eternal loss. It is not the name by which we know God that is eternally important, but how we respond to that God, by whatever name He may be known.

Muslims officially deny Jesus as God, yet may, like others worship Him based upon the things they have seen and witnessed.

God is not willing for any to be lost, but for all to repent. Ez. 18:22, 23; 1 Tim 2:4; Lk 5:32, “I come not to call the whole, but sinners to repentance.” “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son that whosoever believes in Him should not perish …” John 3:16. 17.

While the Bible is clear that God may be seen in the things He has made, it is also clear that Jesus, by virtue of His victory over the devil in the Garden of Gethsemane and upon the cross has made available all of the resources of heaven—the Holy Spirit impressing our minds, giving visions and dreams, and pleading with our hearts with a “a still small voice (conscience)”—and/or dispersing ministering angels whenever indicated to guide and protect, (Hebrews 1:14) (Joel 2:28-32).

The bottom line: Every one of us has to some degree or other been given opportunity to see God at work in the world. What we choose to do with the evidence that we have had access to will determine our eternal destiny—whether an education in a world-famous school of theology, or in the jungles or deserts of some far away land. God knows the heart of each one and bases sound judgment upon what He reads there.

There is only one God. There is none other--whether claimed by a Christian, a Muslim, a Hindu, Buddhist, Animist, or any other. We may not all have the same name for God, or even have the same concepts and beliefs about Him, but one thing we all have in common is this—we have all seen enough of God to be able to make a determined choice of whether we will love and worship Him, or whether we will ignore the evidence and live our lives under the rule of the “Prince of this world (Satan), devoid of love for God and one another.

That choice will determine to a large extent the joy and blessings we may experience in this lifetime--and eternity beyond, or the pain and hopelessness of this lifetime, and our final demise when the war is finally over.

Some may wonder at this point why I have not emphasized the name of Jesus in accordance with these Bible passages “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me,” John 14:6. “There is no other name under heaven whereby we might be saved,” Acts 4:12. “You can ask for anything in my name, and I will do it, so that the Son can bring glory to the Father. Yes, ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it!” John 14:13, 14. (See also Luke 24:47; John 20:31; Acts 3:6, 16; 16:8; Ephesians 5:20: Philippians 2:9-11.)

A name in the Bible is often descriptive of the characteristics of the person. For example, God changed Abram’s name to Abraham, father of many nations, and Sarai his wife, to Sarah, a princes. Jacob’s name was changed to Israel by God after he spent the night wrestling with the angel until he received the blessing he sought.

The name, Jesus, sometimes rendered Joshua or, YHWH, Yeshua, means saves or, is salvation. The Bible tells us that an angel appeared to Joseph, Mary’s husband, and said to him, “And she (Mary) will have a son, and you are to name him Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins,” Matthew 1:21.

There is something about that name that we must not ignore. He is our Savior. Our only Savior. Each time we use that name, we are reinforcing the high cost of our salvation and not only our value to him but to His value to us. Furthermore, Jesus is our intercessor between us and our Father. He is our advocate (attorney) and judge. By using the name of Jesus, we are acknowledging that we recognize these aspects of God. While the other names of God for Jesus in the Bible express other fantastic characteristics of Jesus, they do not take the place of this one name.

With this understanding of the meaning of the name of Jesus, it only makes sense to suggest that when we sense the need of anything at all that may relate to our salvation, it is only natural that we call upon Jesus, the One that saves, to answer our need. If Jesus had not lived among us and died in our place to pay the price for our sins, our salvation would not have been possible. That fact, however, does not require our knowledge of His name, or even of the gift, to appreciate its benefit--as already noted in the texts above.

It is true, however, that though Jesus may be referred to by many other names in the Bible (as noted below), Jesus is the only one of those names that express the length and depth and breadth of His love for us as revealed in sacrificing His life for our salvation. For this reason, that name does take on special significance for all of us, for there is indeed no other name by which we may be saved.

Other titles referring to Jesus serve to enhance His role in our salvation. For example, In Isaiah 6, 7, we read, “For a child is born to us, a son is given to us. The government will rest on his shoulders. And he will be called: Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” In the Book of Revelation, we read, “Then I saw heaven opened, and a white horse was standing there. Its rider was named Faithful and True, for he judges fairly and wages a righteous war. His eyes were like flames of fire, and on his head were many crowns. A name was written on him that no one understood except himself. He wore a robe dipped in bold, on him that no one understood except himself. He wore a robe dipped in blood, and his title was on one understood except himself. … On his robe at his thigh was written his title: King of kings and Lord of all lords,” Revelation 19:11-16.

 

One God--and a Devil

The Bible tells us, “There is no other name under heaven whereby we might be saved,” Acts 4:12.

Interestingly, too, is the fact that there is no other name under heaven by which so many will be lost! For there is a Devil, a Satan, who with his fellow fallen angels, (demons) have “in the name of Jesus” captured an innumerable company of our fellow men through deceit from the fall of Adam even until today.

There is one Lord and one God, but we must not overlook or underestimate the ire of the devil and the means he uses to steal us away from God—even to the point of taking Jesus’ name and faking His return. While there is ample evidence, as noted above, to know and believe in God, the devil may be expected to attempt to make it null and void. For he, too, is a real being of vast experience and marvelous power. Through 6,000 years of practice he has mastered the craft of deception. He is in the world today and sleeps not.

“Jesus told them, ‘Don’t let anyone mislead you, for many will come in my name, claiming, I am the Messiah (Jesus),’ they will deceive many,” Matthew 24:4, 5.

“And many will turn away from me and betray and hate each other. And many false prophets will appear and will deceive many people,” Matthew 24:10, 11.

“Then if anyone tells you, ‘Look, here is the Messiah (Jesus),’ of ‘There he is,’ don’t believe it. For false messiahs and false prophets will rise up and perform great signs and wonders so as to deceive, if possible, even God’s chosen ones. See, I have warned you about this ahead of time,” Matthew 24:23-25.

“For we are not fighting against flesh and blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against might powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places,” Ephesians 6:12.

“These people are false apostles. They are deceitful workers who disguise themselves as apostles of Christ. But I am not surprised! Even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. So it is no wonder that his servants also disguise themselves as servants of righteousness. In the end they will get the punishment their wicked deeds deserve,” 2 Corinthians 13-15.

“Then there was war in heaven. Michael (Christ) and his angels fought against the dragon and his angels. And the dragon lost the battle, and he and his angels were forced out of heaven. This great dragon—the ancient serpent called the devil or Satan, the one deceiving the whole world—was thrown down to the earth with his angels,” Revelation 12:7-9.

Therefore, rejoice, O heavens! And you who live in the heavens, rejoice! But terror will come on the earth and the sea, for the devil has come down to you in great anger, knowing that he has little time,” Revelation 12:12.

“And the dragon was angry at the woman and declared war against the rest of her children—all who keep God’s commandments and maintain their testimony for Jesus,” Revelation 12:17.

Not all that glitters is gold!

 

Note: All Bible quotations from the New Living Translation unless stated otherwise.

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Bible Above All!

A comparison of the Gospel and Bible with other possible options for explaining the origin, existence, and future of the Universe.

Modern science in many of its disciplines exalts its theories and maxim’s above the Bible, denying its claim to divine origin.

Modern philosophy denies Biblical truths.

Almost all of the religions of the world give only “lip service” (if even that much) recognition of Bible truth.

Technology supports both secular and gospel endeavors. It is not selective.

The bottom line: While almost the entire intelligent world about us ignores or attempts to discredit Bible truth, it has no confirming evidence of its superiority to the Bible—and, in fact, often ends up reinforcing Bible truths.

 

In the Bible’s defense:

The Bible claims that God is omnipotent (all powerful), Omnipresent (everywhere present), Omniscient (all knowing) and the personification of love--claims consistent with the well-recognized scientific fact that all natural laws are absolute, dependable, and unchangeable, both in this world and in the visible universe. It should therefore also be reasonable to expect that the same would be true about those realities that may exist beyond the view of our telescopes and observation instruments.

Likewise therefore, it is reasonable to postulate that other inhabited worlds anywhere in the universe would be ruled by similar natural laws. Though there are undoubtedly natural laws at work throughout the universe that we have not yet discovered, whether in the “big” picture of the universe, or in any of the “worlds” comprising it.

The law of Love is one of those universal, unchangeable, laws--though untestable by present science or technology--its universality is now demonstrable only by evidence. (Note: It is also true, however, that proof of the existence of any natural law is dependent upon evidence. Should we be surprised that it would be the same with the law of love?)

The fact the universe exists bespeaks of the law of love as the motivating factor. Moreover, the fact that life in all of its forms exists argues strongly for the universal nature of the law of love (including the seventh -day Sabbath for its role in connecting man with his Creator). While the Bible Sabbath may not be clearly evident in nature, almost all things in the natural world from human physiology to the circuits of heavenly bodies function according to groupings of seven.

Nature reflects the law of God described the Bible—all things in the natural world give of themselves, only to receive again--just as God has done in giving His Son.

The concept of doing unto others as you would like them to do to you is and has been operable by many societies throughout the ages that have had no access to the Bible.

Furthermore, the following Bible observations are also evident in all human societies, “For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made …,” Romans 1:20; “… who show the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and between themselves their thought accusing or else excusing them,” Romans 2:15. Why would these things be true if there were no God?

Scientific evidence existing in the crystals of deep-earth granite rock bespeak the Biblical description of a near instantaneous creation rather than eons of time as required by evolutionary processes (Robert Gentry).

Our observation and experience of sin here on earth for 6 thousand years provides near irrefutable evidence that in the absence of universal, self-sacrificing love, individual and corporate life ceases to exist (It is a fact that we have the capability to destroy all life on the planet even now and by all evidence are well along the way of doing so.)

The law of Love as codified by the Ten Commandments, itself, testifies to its divine origin. A careful study of the broad implications of this law governs every conceivable interaction between man and fellow man, and man and God—and in every aspect compliance with this law has a positive, life-giving effect and every infraction of this law tends to negative outcomes, including even death.

Interestingly all of the natural laws governing health, happiness, and meaningful life (exercise, nutrition, water, fresh air, rest, etc.) are dependable, unchangeable, and sufficient to prevent most of the ills of society--and have their equivalent expressions in the Bible.

At the very beginning of the Bible we read the prophecy predicting the Messiah and the ultimate demise of the devil. The first of these was fulfilled with the coming and crucifixion of Jesus. The other has yet to meet fulfillment at the end of the world. Many other prophecies accurately pointed to Jesus the Messiah. Other Bible prophecies accurately predict the exact time of their fulfillment, often to the very day, hundreds and thousands of years in advance. The classics of these are found in the Book of Daniel identifying the rise and fall of the ancient empires of Babylon, Medio-Persia, Greece, and Rome—to be followed by division into individual nations that would never again be united as one. Even the dates for the anointing and death of Jesus the Messiah and the end of the Jewish economy are accurate to the very day (Daniel 9).

Historical and archeological evidence confirms the truth of most Biblical history from the time of Noah and the flood onward--including the authentication of Jesus’ stories, teachings, and the reality of his life, death and resurrection.

Jesus‘ own claim to the Pharisees (Matthew 23:37-39); to Pilate (Mark 15:2, 4; John 18:38); and to Satan (Matthew 16:23), acknowledge His divine authenticity.

My own personal story: After more than eighty years of walking and talking with Him, and experiencing untold numbers of providential and miraculous interventions, I am convinced beyond any possible shadow of doubt that God is real, and that He is immediately available to all who will believe just as described in the Holy Bible.

 

Weakness of Biblical truth:

Many scientific studies in multiple disciplines seem to provide irrefutable evidence for a very long period of evolutionary development, incompatible with the Biblical account.

The majority of professed Bible defenders do not take Bible truth seriously, tending, rather, to follow the “world”

 

Weakness of all other beliefs about the origin, meaning of, and future of life:

Despite the apparently irrefutable evidence of science, apart from the truths contained in the Holy Bible there is no meaning to our present life, and no hope of anything beyond. In fact, except for a rescue from outer space by Jesus, all evidence suggests that we are on a rapid pace toward self-destruction.

Except for His love and justice I suspect that God would permit this to occur, but for the sake of the innocent He must hold the "winds of strife" until the final conflict between good and evil is over.

Only then, when the war between God and Satan, good and evil, is over, will those things that are now hidden and mysterious become open to our unhindered study and comprehension. Sin and evil will never again arise in God’s whole wide universe, for God’s rule of love will have been fully vindicated, and the terribleness of sin and evil fully unmasked.

 

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No Need for Jesus

Speaking recently at the Pontifical Academy of Sciences, Pope Francis said that the theories of evolution and the Big Bang are real, and that God is not “a magician with a magic wand.” The pope said further that neither the theory of creationism or of intelligent design are in-compatible with the existence of a creator, but rather, “require” it (Not in six days as the Bible teaches). Continuing, Francis said, “He created human beings and let them develop according to the internal laws that he gave to each one so they could reach their fulfillment.”

Interesting!

If this is true, then reason says that the Biblical record of the fall of Adam and Eve is also just a story! And the devil, evil angels, and demons?

If the story of the fall of man is not true just as written, then it must be that there is no need for a Savior. In which case the Christmas story is just a nice story, and the crucifixion of Jesus just a farce, having no merit or value.

Let us continue. If the crucifixion of Jesus is not just what the Bible says it is, then there is no hope, no life after death, no heaven and no hell.

And no moral law and no real love.

Is it any wonder our world is in the shape it is in?

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Eternal Torment—Eternal Love

An Oxymoron? Or No?

The Bible tells us that God is love (I John 4:7). It also warns of coming torment, day and night for ever and ever (Revelation 20:10).

Some say that the Bible is God’s written message of love to His creation. Others contend that eternal torment is incompatible with a God of love. What may we believe?

Still others claim there is no God and no Satan.

Let us weigh the evidence.

The Bible tells us that God created our world six thousand years ago, created a man, Adam, and woman, Eve, and placed them in a beautiful garden home as the king and queen of the entire creation. Everything in the world was theirs and their descendants to employ and to enjoy—with just one exception. They were instructed to avoid the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil growing in the center of the garden lest they eat of its fruit, for to do so would cost them every good thing, even life itself.

Why would a loving Creator God place such a restriction upon them?

The Bible also tells of a war that began in heaven when Lucifer, one of the highest, most respected angels of heaven, one closest to God himself, rebelled against his creator and determined to place himself upon the very throne of God—henceforth known as the devil and Satan. (Revelation 12:12-17; Isaiah 14:12-14; Ezekiel 28: 12-18).

Disguised as a beautiful snake, Satan caught Eve and Adam off guard at the forbidden tree. There he flattered, lied, and deceived them, finally enticing them to taste and eat of the fruit of the tree. In thus yielding to his heinous stealth instead of trusting in the God that created them, Adam and Eve forfeited their kingdom to their conqueror (the winner takes all in any war). In so doing Satan now claimed dominion of their kingdom as the Prince of this world. By this experience, the focus of the war that began in heaven shifted to the earth, (We may read about that event and God’s response to it in Genesis chapter 3). Though the conflict is primarily an ideological war, it is also at times very physical, often engaging opposing forces between God and Satan in very physical combat. We human beings living here on earth compose the military units, the actual “boots on the ground” fighting either for God or for Satan according to our choice and convictions.

According to Biblical, historical, and archeological evidence that war between God and Satan (between good and evil) has been continuous for the past six thousand years. In fact, the entire Bible is a running account of that conflict as it has developed between God and those choosing faithfulness to Him, and Satan and those deceived and captivated by him.

But we are getting ahead of ourselves.

Who is God? Who is Satan? What is at stake in this conflict?

Let us see how the Bible answers these questions. Let us examine, too, the evidence of history, of science, and of reason.

Who is God?

The Bible claims:

“…. God is love. God showed how much he loved us by sending his one and only Son into the world so that we might have eternal life through him,” 1 John 4:8, 9. NLT (John 3:16, 17; 1 John 3:1; Romans 5:8)

God created the heavens and the earth. (Nehemiah 9:6; Genesis 1:1; Psalms 102:25; Hebrews 11:3)

The earth and everything in it belongs to God. (Psalms 24:1; 1 Chronicles 29:14)

God’s kingdom exists from eternity past to eternity future, without beginning or end. (Psalms 145:13; Revelation 1:8; Deuteronomy 32:40)

The Law of God governing His universe is perfect. It is summarized and codified by the Ten Commandments. (Psalms 19:7; Romans 7:12; 13:10; Matthew 22:35-40; John 13:34, 35; Mark 12:28-34).

All intelligent creatures in God’s universe are gifted with freedom of choice, either to accept or to reject His rule in their lives, (Deuteronomy 30:11-20).

God is the source of truth and all truth originates with Him. (John 8:32; John 14:6; Psalms 119:142)

God does not change. (Psalms 102:27; Malachi 3:6; Hebrews 13:8; James 1:17)

God is just and right in judgment. (Deuteronomy 32:4; Zephaniah 3:5; Romans 2:2)

Who is Satan?

The Bible says:

Satan is a created being that is in rebellion against his creator.

“You were perfect in your ways from the day you were created, till iniquity was found in you. By the abundance of your trading you became filled with violence within, and you sinned; …. Your heart was lifted up because of your beauty; you corrupted your wisdom for the sake of your splendor; …” Ezekiel 28:15, 17.

“And war broke out in heaven: Michael (Christ) and his angels fought with the dragon and the dragon and his angels fought, but they did not prevail, nor was a place found for them in heaven any longer. So the great dragon was cast out, that serpent of old, called the Devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world; he was cast to the earth, and his angels were cast out with him,” Revelation 12:7-9.

“How you are fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! How you are cut down to the ground, who weakened the nations! For you have said in your heart: ‘I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God; I will also sit on the mount of the congregation on the farthest sides of the north; I will ascend above the heights of the clouds, I will be like the Most High,’" Isaiah 14:12-14.

Jesus was responding to the Jews as he taught in the Temple, “You are of your father the devil, and the desires of your father you want to do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own resources, for he is a liar and the father of it,” John 8:44.

 He who sins is of the devil, for the devil has sinned from the beginning,” 1 John 3:8; Matthew 13:38, 39; John 8:34; 8:44; 13:2; 1 Peter 5:8; 2 Corinthians 4:3, 4; 11:14;

“One day the members of the heavenly court came to present themselves before the Lord, and the Accuser, Satan, came with them. ‘Where have you come from?’ the Lord asked Satan. Satan answered the Lord, ‘I have been patrolling the earth, watching everything that’s going on,’” Job 1:6, 7 (NLT

The Apostle, Paul, writing to the Church at Corinth about so-called ministers preaching a different gospel than he was preaching put it this way, ”These people are false apostles. They are deceitful workers who disguise themselves as apostles of Christ. But I am not surprised! Even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. So it is no wonder that his servants also disguise themselves as servants of righteousness. In the end they will get the punishment their wicked deeds deserve,” 2 Corinthians 11:13-15.

“… Be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on all of God’s armor, so that you will be able to stand firm against all the strategies of the devil. For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in heavenly places,” Ephesians 6:10-12 (NLT).

Natural Law:

Both the Bible and science declare that all natural law (including the moral law) is without beginning and without end and that it is unchangeable. Though modern scientists may disagree with biblical themes and arrive at different conclusions than presented in the Bible, they do not disagree with descriptions of the universe and the natural laws that govern it as taught in the Holy Scriptures.

Furthermore, the very existence of the universe and the life within it is dependent upon natural laws including the moral, universal, law of love. The Bible tells us that God is love, (1 John 4:7, 16).

At the time of Moses, that all-inclusive law of love was codified into ten eternal precepts (Commandments) and written by God’s own finger upon two tablets of stone, (Exodus 31:18).

We may understand the Ten Commandments as expressions of the least level of love compatible with life. Any thought, word, or deed, less than the commandment is self-destructive and ultimately incompatible with endless life--for an individual or for the entire society. For example, the seventh Commandment prohibits adultery. Adultery in any form, whether in thought, word, or in deed (Matthew 5:28) ultimately ends up in suffering, pain, and death—true both for an individual and for an entire society. On the other hand, there is no upper limit to how love may be expressed to man or God. Taking the seventh commandment once again as an example, there is no upper limit by which one might express his/her love toward spouse and family.

In the absence of the law of love, anarchy self-destructs.

True godly love always focuses upon benefiting others, and tends to heal and to give life to both them and the loving person.

Selfishness (self-love), focusing upon self, on the other hand, individually or corporately, may seem to benefit or save us, but ultimately actually ends up destroying--a fact now becoming very evident in the world all around us. For this reason, our world society is even now focusing upon space travel in an attempt to escape the destruction already coming upon this world as caused by our own selfish actions.

It’s all about getting or giving. One gives life and meaning and happiness. The other takes away and destroys. A fact that in our society is rapidly becoming very obvious and evident.

What greater proof do we need to convince us of the conflict between selfishness and selflessness (love), between good and evil, between God and Satan?

What greater evidence do we need to prove that God is love and that His constitution founded upon love is incompatible with the concept of an eternal torment? The evidence speaks for itself.

What greater evidence is needed to demonstrate that the entire concept of eternal torment is a construct of the devil in his attempt to misconstrue the truth about God and malign our loving Creator God thereby stealing from Him the honor, praise, and worship due alone to Him?

The Bible describes a God and a universe without dimension, beginning, or end. Modern scientists may deny the existence of God, but the findings and the laws by which the universe functions in all of its dimensions are entirely compatible with the Biblical picture of a God whose creation is governed by love.

Bible prophecy is interesting, for it, too, reveals an all knowing, all powerful God that in love reveals the future to his faithful believers hundreds and thousands of years in advance whereby to enhance their faith and to encourage them when tempted and discouraged by the devil’s sometimes relentless attacks--Evidence from prophecy that the Bible is true, accurate and trustworthy. (Note just one example: Prophecies recorded in the Bible books of Daniel and Revelation have irrefutably foretold the course of history from the time of King Nebuchadnazzar of the ancient Babylonian empire until this very day.)

It is God’s responsibility of love to discipline and eradicate irreconcilable sinners:

Sin is disregard, transgression, rebellion against the Law of Love, the constitution governing all of God’s creation. As noted above, it always ends up destroying individuals and societies that live by it.

Since the fall of Adam and Eve to the devil’s lies, we are, one and all, born into a world of sin and naturally inclined to live according to its destructive practices, (Psalms 51:5; James 1:13-15).

Because we have been born into sin, are enslaved by it, and every choice and effort we make to obey the life-giving commandments results in failure and and/or self-efforts to comply (works)—we also fall short of the benefits love promises to provide.

This may all be changed through the sacrificial blood of Jesus. He has not only redeemed us-- paid the legal price for our sin, forgiven our sin and freed us from its attraction and power, but by modeling that expression of infinite love, has demonstrated by example the power of true love. Seeing the high price of love He has paid for our redemption, we are quite naturally drawn to him, thereby enabling the reception of Holy Spirit within us to do its work of transformation. Sabbath, the time that God has sanctified (set apart) from the beginning, provides the time, the association, and the opportunity for fellowship with God and our fellow men that are necessary for our change into loving people.

While choosing another day for worship and fellowship, individually or corporately may provide some of the benefits (when done in ignorance), for those that have the Bible and the information it provides to choose some other day than the one God provided, set apart, sanctified, made holy, becomes an act of rebellion against Him, depriving them of the blessing of the work of the Holy Spirit that He has provided--but worse, opening the door for the devil to enter into their lives and steal from them the blessing God has intended for them.

According to the principles of criminal law (and reinforced by reason and logic), the lawmaker is always responsible for enforcing the law. King David, in confessing his sin of adultery and murder, writes, “For I acknowledge my transgressions, and my sin is always before me. Against You, and You only, have I sinned, and done this evil in your sight—that You may be found just when You speak, and blameless whey You judge,” Psalms 51:3, 4.

God, as sovereign of the universe within which this world exists, takes the blame for the evil that occurs here, irrespective of who actually is at fault–whether king David, Adolph Hitler, Saddam Hussein, or some other. This is why the Bible lists God as the one that administers discipline, punishment, conviction, and eventual annihilation of unrepentant sinners.

A loving, righteous God must defend and protect the innocent, whoever and wherever they are. He must also, out of love for them, annihilate rebellious intelligent beings (angelic or human) that refuse compliance to His sovereign rule, for there are worse things than death. One can but imagine eternal, never-ending life in the very presence of the God they despise and hate. Certainly, such a state would be equal to, or worse than the most horrendous torment sometimes escribed as the fires of hell that cannot be quenched.

Given the vast amount of evidence described above, the rational mind must conclude that such a thing as eternal torment in never-ending fires of hell is completely contrary to, and completely and totally incompatible with the God that created and rules this world and the universe in which it resides.

Is the Bible, then, contradicting truth?

No!

A careful study of that Holy Book quickly reveals truths about God’s love that fully and completely unmask the devil’s attempt, by deception to discredit His infinite love.

The following writing from a previous post examines those texts in the Holy Scriptures that are so often used to establish the teachings about the nature of death and hell.

Hell – an expression of a loving God!

Have you ever considered that hell might be an expression of God’s love? Let us take a look!

The following three texts from the Bible provide the most vivid description of that entity so often called, hell. Let us examine each of them in the context of the entire Bible.

“Then a third angel followed them, saying with a loud voice, ‘If anyone worships the beast and his image, and receives his mark on his forehead or on his hand, he himself shall also drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out full strength into the cup of His indignation. He shall be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels and in the presence of the Lamb. And the smoke of their torment ascends forever and ever; and they have no rest day or night, who worship the beast and his image, and whoever receives the mark of his name,’” Revelation 14:9-11.

“Now when the thousand years have expired, Satan will be released from his prison and will go out to deceive the nations which are in the four corners of the earth, Gog and Magog, to gather them together to battle, whose number is as the sand of the sea. They went up on the breadth of the earth and surrounded the camp of the saints and the beloved city. And fire came down from God out of heaven and devoured them. The devil, which deceived them, was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone where the beast and the false prophet are. And they will be tormented day and night forever and ever,” Revelation 20:7-10.

“But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night, in which the heavens will pass away with a great noise, and the elements will melt with fervent heat; both the earth and the works that are in it will be burned up. Therefore, since all these things will be dissolved, what manner of persons ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness, looking for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be dissolved, being on fire, and the elements will melt with fervent heat? Nevertheless we, according to His promise, look for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells,” 2 Peter 3:10-13.

These three Bible texts, perhaps more than any others depicting that state often referred to as hell describe the predicted outcome of those who reject God’s plan for rescue from this sin sick planet. Yet, most people reading them will conclude, “If this is a picture of a loving God, I want nothing to do with Him.” In fact, one might ask, “How could anyone love a God who would be involved in such a massive genocide?”

Do these and other Bible texts deserve such a conclusion?

The Bible is full of descriptions and allegations claiming that God is a God of love, and, in fact, that He is actually a personification of love itself—love that is without partiality, that is giving of itself, and always right and just in its actions. In fact, the Bible claims that Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross on Calvary’s provides a perfect demonstration of just what that love looks like in action. (1 John 4:7-9)

How can this be in the face of such descriptions as the wrath of God and torment with fire and brimstone mentioned in the above texts and others scattered throughout the Bible?

Even with our limited concept of love, most of us would likely agree that the kind of love the Bible credits to God cannot be all warm and fuzzy. In fact, in any successful family or community there are rules and means to enforce them and to guarantee that every member is treated with fairness and justice.

The following true to life story provides a very nice illustration of the sort of love God has for every one of us.

During the genocide in Rwanda a few years ago, a murderous mob entered a church full of people. Among those slaughtered with their axes and machetes was a pastor who refused to join their ranks. Next it was his wife who was also left as dead. Unbeknown to them, she survived. Some months later when her attackers were in prison, she began visiting a prison and ministering to the inmates. One day in her ministry she recognized her husband’s killer, and he recognized her. For weeks he refused her offer of food and clothing--and her offer of forgiveness. Eventually and ever so gradually he began to soften and finally accepted the Bible studies she offered him. When the day came when he was to be released he had no home to go to, so she took him home to live with her. Eventually she adopted him as her own son.

Jesus said, “You will know my disciples by their love.” This lady certainly demonstrated the kind of love that the Bible attributes to God.

. We are naturally quick to applaud the love of this dear Rwandan lady who won the love and respect of her husband’s murderer, but what does that love look like for those who know no penitence? Those who enter churches, hospitals and orphanages to rape, terrorize and kill the most vulnerable--the innocent, the children, and their keepers and refuse all offers of forgiveness and repentance?

And living in the world of today one must be blind to fail to see variations of this evil that hurts innocent fellow men for personal pleasure or gain—for it exists all around us in both blatant and subtle forms. What responsibility does a God oflove have to protect the innocent in a society that perpetuates such evil? Could anyone possibly admire one who would even attempt to sweep such terrible acts under the rug and pretend that they did not exist? No! Even the basest of societies recognize that there are some things that are just not acceptable. So, should we expect God to ignore them?

As we ponder this challenge to love, let us take a closer look at the above representative texts. Several words and phrases catch our attention; “the cup of God’s wrath, or the wrath of God;” “tormented with fire and brimstone;” and “forever and ever.” How can these texts possibly represent an expression of love?

The wrath of God:

While our view of the policeman that gives us a warning instead of a ticket may be one of mercy and kindness, that same patrolman may very well be seen as insensitive, cold and harsh—even mean--should he justly give us a ticket with a heavy fine when stopped for disregarding the law of the land. It is no different with our view of God. We view Him as kind and loving when we perceive that He is blessing us, but with fear, disgust and anger when life doesn’t go the way we would like it to go. Thus, even in the Bible we often find God’s intentions expressed in the words of disillusioned men—men who are not quite able to comprehend the love and justice of God.

It is interesting to note from the Bible that God forewarned our first ancestors right after creation that if they were to eat of a certain tree in their garden home contrary to His command, they would die. When later, disregarding His command and falling for the serpent’s (the devil’s) deceptions, they found themselves driven by a guilty conscience to run and hide from God’s presence. Now separated from Him and His rule of love, the only source of life, they were destined to die.

Fortunately, out of love, God had a contingency plan whereby to heal the rift caused by sin and to restore their connection with Him, thereby averting otherwise inevitable death. The same is true for each one of us. Separated from God by our un-repent sin, we, too, are on a path to death.

The devil knew on that night when he wrestled with Christ in the Garden of Gethsemane just before the crucifixion that if he could separate Jesus from His connection with the Father as he had done with Adam and Eve he would gain the victory and the world would be his.

All of heaven and earth were put to the test that night before the crucifixion of Christ. If as some believe, the entire episode was nothing but a sham (for it is claimed by many that Jesus could not have failed and God was just putting on a good show), then we are forced to believe that God is just like us and His love as fickle as ours. On the other hand, if it is true that the world hung in the balance that night as Jesus soaked the cold ground beneath his prostrate body with his own bloody sweat we have a picture of a God that is incomparably and incomprehensibly governed by nothing but love. Clearly, the fact that Jesus drank the “cup of God’s wrath” (death) in our stead (Matthew 26:39; John 18:11), and won the victory under such dire circumstances proves that the wrath of God is not a state of uncontrolled rage angrily casting his creation in the fires of endless torment. Rather, it can be nothing other than His expression of extreme grief for the void that will exist throughout eternity for every single lost sinner that chooses separation from God and the death that ultimately and naturally follows that choice.

Please consider one other aspect of God’s response to the evil in this world and the reason for his response. The prophet Habakkuk had this to say when speaking with God shortly before the destruction of Jerusalem and the spoiling of the land by King Nebuchadnazzar of Babylon. “You are of purer eyes than to behold evil, and cannot look on wickedness… .” Habakkuk 1:13.  

What does Habakkuk mean when he tells God, “your eyes are too pure to behold evil and cannot look on wickedness?” Why is evil so offensive to God that he wishes not to look at it?

What loving parent (God is the loving parent of all of us!) would take delight in seeing his/her beloved child engaged in the use and trafficking of illegal drugs, binge drinking and partying, sexual orgies, gang warfare and every other evil thing? What parent revels in receiving urgent midnight calls from the local police department informing them that their child has been apprehended again for carrying and using illegal drugs or weapons  or, perhaps worse yet, that he/she has just been murdered in some terrible mayhem? Yet, respond they must, for it is their child that is in trouble. It can be no different with the God who loves each one of us as his beloved child--forced to not only look upon the terrible results of evil, but to accept responsibility to deal honorably with them as well.

Yes, He created us. We are His children. He loves every one of us as only a God of love can love. He is jealous for us and will do anything and everything possible to win our love and to induce us to live with Him for eternity, but love will not take away freedom of choice and turn us into robots. Love cannot force even a child to accept, or to return that love.

Why do we call it grief when a parent experiences such tragedy and wrath when it is God who experiences it with his children?

 There is no other way to accurately view the wrath of God but as grief for the lost that will miss out on eternal life in a new, sin-free world. We can be certain of this, for all through Bible history, we see God repeatedly seeking to save and be with us, that special creation made in His own image.

Unfortunately, His arch enemy, the serpent, that old dragon, the devil and Satan has played his cards well (Revelation 12). He has successively convinced the masses of humanity throughout the ages that it is God’s wrath, His vengeance, that is responsible for the heinous picture of hell so often depicted in religious art and writing--a picture in which sinners are tortured by fire without end. This is not the God of love described in the Bible, but the cunning devising of an enemy that has used it to turn untold millions against the very ONE who has given His all to rescue us from sin and evil.

Today as I write, bombs are exploding in various cities of our world. Entire cities are literally being leveled and destroyed, and hurting people are fleeing for their lives. Who is to blame for such tragedy? Is it the ruling party, the “liberators,” Or God? What is happening today is little different from the wars and conflicts that have raged all through history—selfish and proud human beings trying to lord it over others by whatever means deemed necessary. Yet, all through the Bible, as at the end of earth history, God has taken the hit! And, yes, we humans have blamed Him--and He has accepted that blame, for He is our Father, our Creator and our God. But, no, He is not to blame for our choices and the outcome of our choices.

And there is more! Un-precedented floods, fires, earthquakes and tsunamis, tornadoes and hurricanes, and other “natural” disasters are coming upon our world. These, too, we call “acts of God.” Yet we are the ones that are destroying our planet! Not God. 

Torment with fire and brimstone

The extremes of anguish referred to by the word, torment, may refer to either mental or physical suffering. Furthermore, it may arise from within, as with a guilty conscience for impenitent acts of evil, or from without as the justice system prosecutes alleged or actual criminal acts. For many of those who reject God’s infinite gift of love now and are then facing eternal death, mental torment will almost certainly exceed any physical pain that might accompany their demise.

In our modern world we sometimes use torment to try to get our captives to “talk.” There is nothing in the Bible that suggests God would ever use such tactics.

The term fire and brimstone is first mentioned in the Bible in reference to the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah in the days of Abraham and Lot. “Then the LORD rained brimstone and fire on Sodom and Gomorrah, from the LORD out of the heavens. So He overthrew those cities, all the plain, all the inhabitants of the cities, and what grew on the ground. And it came to pass, when God destroyed the cities of the plain, that God remembered Abraham, and sent Lot out of the midst of the overthrow, when He overthrew the cities in which Lot had dwelt,” (Genesis 19:24, 25, 29).

Forty years had passed as the Children of Israel wandered in the wilderness for a delayed entrance into the Promised Land. Moses was reciting God’s promised blessings if they would be faithful to the instructions given them, and the curses that would rest upon them and their descendants if they ignored Him and went the way of the people then living in the land. As one reviews those curses, one notes that they are all things that always happen when a community or nation loses its direction, its values, its integrity, and faithful God fearing leaders (Deuteronomy 28 & 29). Yet, Moses likens these curses to Sodom and Gomorrah with these words, “… like the overthrow of Sodom and Gomorrah …which the Lord overthrew in His anger and in His wrath,” Deuteronomy 29:23. 

As it turned out, Israel did forsake the Lord repeatedly and they did suffer the curses predicted. But in every instance it was the work of enemy nations, and never fire from heaven as occurred in Sodom and Gomorrah as Moses described it.

Isaiah the prophet uses similar language to describe the curses of Israel about to befall Israel, but includes all the nations of the world--an obvious warning of events coming at the end of the world. Again, this passage while prophesying massive destruction, utilizes the power of metaphor to apply to various times and situations throughout history, (Isaiah 34).

Ezekiel, prophesying during the captivity of Israel by Babylon, uses the same metaphors of hailstones and fire and brimstone to describe both the experience of Israel when destroyed by Babylon and the events during the “last days” of earth history prior to the return of Jesus, (Ezekiel 38).

Peruse the pages of Holy Scripture. In them you will find many references to fire, burning and wrath when describing God and his response to the evils so prevalent in our world. Study these texts in the context of the situation. You will discover that always they depict some aspect of God as a heavenly parent dealing with our problem of sin which like a terrible plague of contagious disease is threatening and/or working to destroy the lives of His children for whom he died and for whom he grieves.

Forever and ever

Even in today’s parlance we freely use such terms as forever, endless and infinite to describe limited things. For example, “I haven’t seen him in ages,” or “there is no end to the bugs eating my garden.” It was no different in Bible times. Furthermore, in spite of such terms as forever and ever, or eternally, the Bible is clear that we are mortal, meaning we all die. (Note: This will change for God’s faithful followers when Jesus returns as noted in this text, “So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption and this mortal shall have punt on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory,” 1 Corinthians 15:54).

In no instance is there an example in the Bible of these events described as “eternal or everlasting fires” still burning!

The Bible also tells us that God alone has immortality, “Which in his times he shall show who is the blessed and only Potentate, the King of kings and Lord of lords; Who alone has immortality, dwelling in the light which no man can approach unto; whom no man has seen, nor can see; to whom be honor and power everlasting. Amen,” 1Timothy 15, 16.

In the Book of Jude, we read, “…He has reserved in everlasting chains under darkness for the judgment of the great day; as Sodom and Gomorrah, and the cities around them in a similar manner to these, having given themselves over to sexual immorality and gone after strange flesh, are set forth as an example, suffering the vengeance of eternal fire,” Jude 6, 7.

Though there is now ample evidence that those cities were indeed destroyed with literal fire that could not be quenched, they are no longer burning. Yet the Bible describes the fire as everlasting. Other texts help us to understand everlasting, unquenchable and eternal fire as fires that cannot be extinguished—meaning that they cannot be put out until the fuel feeding them has been exhausted. A careful study of other Biblical references to unquenchable, everlasting or eternal fires may be read to confirm this truth.

The following two such texts are examples of the meaning of everlasting as used in reference to the fires of hell in the Bible. Malachi 4:1- 3 describes it in these words, “For behold, the day is coming, burning like an oven, and all the proud, yes, all who do wickedly will be stubble. and the day which is coming shall burn them up,” says the LORD of hosts, for they shall be ashes under the soles of your feet.”

Isaiah 34:8-11 reads, “For it is the day of the LORD’s vengeance, the year of recompense for the cause of Zion. Its streams shall be turned into pitch, and its dust into brimstone; its land shall become burning pitch. It shall not be quenched night or day; its smoke shall ascend forever. From generation to generation it shall lie in waste; no one shall pass through it forever and ever. But the pelican and the porcupine shall possess it, also the owl and the raven shall dwell in it.” These texts clearly demonstrate the everlasting fire here ends up with ashes and desolation—a wasteland inhabited by wild birds and animals--not continuous fires that never stop burning!

With this understanding, the texts in Revelation 20 and 2 Peter 3:10 may now be read as warning statements indicating that death is the lot of those who live their lives apart from God, the only source of life.

Now, too, we have opportunity to “see” God’s eventual destruction of the wicked as a loving act of justice rendered to those who have followed their master, Satan, at the expense of the innocent and defenseless. In fact, the Bible tells us that the last act in the drama of God’s management of the rebellion that began in heaven and came to earth with Satan and his angels will be an act of acknowledgement by every intelligent being in the universe that God is indeed just and righteous as described in the following text. “Therefore God also has highly exalted Him (Jesus) and given Him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father,” Philippians 2:9, 10.

There is one other sense in which hell may be viewed as an expression of love. It is this! Could there be any greater torment than to be denied the privilege of death, and to be forced to live forever in a place and with people in which one would be a total misfit—and unable to ever escape? I think not! And a loving God has provided a way of escape for everyone. We are free to accept or reject it, and God will not force anyone!

Yes, the final annihilation of the wicked will no doubt be accomplished by literal burning. And one might wonder why God would not but speak the word and instantly blot all evil and its accomplices out of existence, thus avoiding all suffering and pain, both physical and mental. Why can this not be? Is it possible that death by fire, too, is yet again a response of love?

When a loving parent spanks a child for an intentionally naughty and unrepentant act, the child (and perhaps siblings) is being taught that some things are not compatible with health and happiness. But this is not all! The guilt and separation that always plagues one who knowingly commits sin also finds resolution.

There is something about guilt that requires either true repentance or penalty in order to experience the peace of full resolution of the guilt resulting from evil acts. Since God has proven by the process of judgment that there are none among the wicked that will have experienced repentance, and hence, none can experience forgiveness (thought God has waited long to give it). Only penalty can satisfy the requirement of the infinite love of God and permit the finally unrepentant to exit life in peace.

Yes, it is love indeed that motivates God in dealing with our free choices the way He does. And yes, hell (death) is a loving act of a just and merciful God! Knowing God as He has revealed himself throughout the Biblical record and the record of history, we may be certain that the tears will be flowing freely during this most difficult time of grief, not alone by the redeemed as they grieve the loss of loved ones, but by our Creator, Redeemer, Sustainer and Friend as well when at last he must perform his “strange act” of ridding the world and the universe of sin and its terrible consequences. 

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In The Garden

We were created and given a home in the Garden of Eden--rescued at infinite cost in the Garden of Gethsemane--and may be restored to an even more beautiful Garden of Eden in heaven above.

Though Jesus paid the full price for our return to Eden, like Pilgrim, in John Bunion’s Pilgrim’s Progress, we, too must pass through our own gethsemane experience. Jesus won the victory over evil in that terrible battle in the Garden, but His conflict with the devil and his followers, of angels and of men, continues today with ever greater furor in their attempt to do all the damage they can possibly do before they finally receive their just reward—annihilation.

Since that tragic day in Eden when Adam and Eve fell victim to the devil’s lie, we humans have paid a high price in that conflict between good and evil, between God and Satan. Just eight people remained faithful to God at the time of the flood. All the rest had succumbed to the devil’s temptations. Only three survived the destroying fires of Sodom and Gomorrah. Nor have the stats changed much since. At every stage of history and in nearly every conflict, Satan and his demonic forces (angelic and human) seem to have retained the upper hand. Yet, through all those centuries God has maintained a faithful remnant through which He has held His ground against evil.

We find some of those successes among the names of the faithful listed in the Book of Hebrews, chapter 11.

At the root of the conflict between God and the devil is his rebellion against the great moral law of God, a law founded upon unlimited, self-renouncing, unconditional Love.

Israel, chosen by God to be His faithful ambassadors to the world (Deut. 7:7-9), failed over and over again in properly representing the benefits and love encompassed by the Law--expressing instead the very characteristics of the people to whom they were to set apart to minister to and bless, (Matt 8:11 & 23:37).

We, the faithful followers of Jesus today have been commissioned by Him to take the “good News” of the gospel (the Law of Love as fulfilled by Jesus’ divine sacrifice on the cross) to the ends of the world in preparation for His return in glory, (Matthew 28:18-20; Revelation 14:6-12 and Isaiah 61:1-6).

The Bible tells us that, “The Law of the Lord is perfect ….” Is it?

Let’s check it out!

This law, codified into ten precepts (commandments), encompasses every possible relationship between man with man and man with God—and God with His creation, whether angel or man. Written with the finger of God upon tablets of stone (Exodus 31:16, 17), the central precept of the ten, says this. “Remember the Sabbath day to keep it holy…For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested on the seventh day; wherefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy,” Exodus 20:8 & 11.

Jesus summarized the Law into two precepts, “Love the Lord you God with all your heart and mind and strength, and your neighbor as yourself.”

The Apostle Paul wrote, “Love is the fulfillment of the Law,” Romans 13:10.

Wise men throughout history have recognized the Law as the Golden Rule. “Do unto others as you would want them to do to you.”

Is it possible that any man might improve upon this divine law? If yes, in what way might that be?

Yet, for as far back into history as we have account, we humans have forgotten the ONE alone that has the love, power and authority to administer the Law, and have given our allegiance to an imposter using the day of the sun as his symbol of authority. Knowing this, it should not seem strange that the other precepts of love should also be forgotten and replaced with an unwritten code of self-love and exaltation.

Could this be the reason our world is now the way it is, broken and hurting, without joy and without hope?

If any one might think to live a thousand years, a million, or for an eternity without end, is there anything one might wish to add to the Law as it presently stands?

Is there any that would like to live under the rule of any human being for eternity?

Anyone that might vote for a universal society without a law? Anarchy!

I doubt it, but there are some questions that we must consider:

Do we believe the Bible?

What is our concept of heaven and eternal life? Do we really see it as a continuation of our lives here, but without the “need” to deviate from the law of love?

Or do we not have a clear concept of life after death?

Are we aware of the war between good and evil and the means God has established to resolve the conflict for eternity so that it will never rise again?

Can we entertain the idea that an intelligent society could exist without law?

Would there be awareness of law if everyone loved as God loves us?

As I was working in the garden today. I realized that pulling difficult weeds was actually enjoyable for me, giving me exposure to the beauty of nature in its many aspects, and time and invitation to commune with my closest friend, Jesus. I was working on a project that others had begun, but which they did not enjoy (as was attested to by the quality of work that had been done). What was pleasure and enjoyable for me was, for them, “hard work.”

Faith is like this. When godly love governs me, I long to be in His presence and expressing my love for God and man in tangible ways. When I am not governed by love, all of my “good” deeds are hard work. My Gethsemane experience is necessary for me to “grow” from hard work to joy and pleasure in expressing my love to the lives around me—even the difficult ones!

Only when I have gone through gethsemane is it possible for me to find true pleasure and joy where before only “works” were performed while seeking the desire and expectation of reward (heaven).

In the words of Jesus, “the kingdom of heaven is within you.” No longer is obedience to the law of love, works. Now it is akin to the joy of pulling weeds in the community garden for others to enjoy! (Some call this state, “righteousness by faith.”

Born a sinner in the world subject to the devil’s claim upon my life, it is impossible for me to love godly love. I must be born again—a thing only God can give to me when I sense the need, ask Him to make the changes, surrender myself completely to His care and permit the Holy Spirit, the holy angels, and the intercession of Jesus at the Fathers throne in heaven to do their work—whether in the refiners caldron, the polisher’s wheel, or the launderer’s soap (Malachi 3:2, 3). All of which are dependent upon beholding my God in close communion in the Word, prayer, service to others, etc.--a cooperative effort between God and me. Jesus died to take away my sins, yes, but this is a continuous process throughout my experience in gethsemane, and an integral part of the growth and maturation that occurs after I have been reborn.

When, because of Jesus’ cross, I have been reborn and grown to maturity in my gethsemane, Eden restored upon a newly recreated earth will prove to satisfy my most extravagant desire throughout all eternity, rejoicing in the freedom of God’s great law of love, (2 Peter 3:13; Revelation 21:1).

By the way, which day of the week should I expect to spend with Jesus in worship and praise for the freedom He has purchased for me, the seventh day, Saturday Sabbath that He set apart and pronounced holy, or Sunday, the day his challenger established it its place? Isaiah 66:23. 

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Grasshoppers or Giants!

The Children of Israel had been miraculously delivered from Egyptian bondage and were now encamped at the very borders of the land promised to their fathers. Prior to crossing into that land Moses had sent spies out to check it out. They found it to be everything that they had imagined, but with one problem. The inhabitants were giants.

The Bible says, “But Caleb tried to quiet the people as they stood before Moses. ‘Let’s go at once to take the land,’ he said. ‘We can certainly conquer it!’”

“But the other men who had explored the land with him disagreed. We can’t go up against them! They are stronger than we are!’ So they spread this bad report about the land among the Israelites: ‘the land we traveled through and explored will devour anyone who goes to live there. All the people we saw were huge. We even saw giants there, the descendants of Anak. Next to them we felt like grasshoppers, and that’s what they thought, too!’”

As God was unable to take the Children of Israel into the Promised Land because they did not believe that He could give them the victory over the giants, so we are again at the border of the Heavenly Promised Land.

By all indications in the world around us, we are now living at the very border of the Heavenly Promised Land. One last great battle stands between us and the return of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, and the end of the world. That battle is described by the Holy Prophets as the “Battle of Armageddon” (Revelation 16:16), and the “Time of Trouble such as this world has never before seen,” (Daniel 12:1). Everyone is seeing those signs. Some understand their omen. Some do not. All wonder!

Will we go across, or as grasshoppers against giants, will we, too, disappoint our Lord? Numbers 13:33; 14; Hebrews chapters. 3 & 4.

Moses was not permitted to cross the Jordan because of one “tiny” sin. Numbers 20:6-12; Deut. 32:51

Mordecai said to Esther, “If you keep quiet at a time like this, deliverance and relief for the Jews (Family of God) will arise from some other place, but you and your relatives will die. Who knows if perhaps you were made queen (called to the kingdom) for just such a time as this?” Esther 4:14. (NLT)

Esther’s response: “…, if I perish, I perish!” Esther 4:16.

And our response? The Bible describes this generation of God’s faithful ones in these terms, “Here are they that keep the Commandments of God and have the faith of (in) Jesus.” Revelation 14:12. These are the Mordecai’s, the Esther’s, the Joseph’s, the David’s, the Hosea’s, the Daniel’s of today.

Joseph: “How then can I do this great wickedness and sin against God?” Gen. 39:9

David: “Against thee and thee only have I sinned,” Psalms 51:4. “Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me,” vs. 10.

Daniel: “We have sinned, and have committed iniquity, and have done wickedly, and have rebelled even by departing from your precepts and from your judgments,” Daniel 9:5.

Hosea: “For the land has committed great whoredom, departing from the Lord,” Hosea 1:2. While some might see in Hosea’s experience with Gomer, the harlot, as license to follow his example, we might rather recognize it as his God-given opportunity to experience the kind of pain that pierces God’s heart over the spiritual adultery of His chosen ones. Does your heart break too?

Jesus: When speaking with the religious leaders about divorce and adultery, “It was not so from the beginning,” Matthew 19:8. And to Nicodemus He said, “Except a man be born again, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God,” John 3:3. To the lawyer that asked him which was the greatest commandment, Jesus replied, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it: you shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets,” Matthew 22:37-40. Unto his disciples, “A new commandment I give unto you, that you love one another as I have loved you,” John 13:34, 35.

Indeed, it is love that fulfills the law. The Bible says, “God is Love,” 1 John 4:16. In John 3:16 we see love in action, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son that whosoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.”

It is important to note that the divine, unchangeable, moral law of Ten Commandments encompass all possible relationships between man and God and man and man. Nothing is excluded or overlooked. As there is an absolute lowest limit to light, motion, and temperature, and no known upper limit, so it is with love. Each of the Ten Commandments expresses an absolute lowest limit of one facet of love but recognizes no upper limit. For example, to refrain from stealing from man or God fulfills the lowest limit of the commandment, but there is no upper limit to how much one who loves his neighbor (or his God) might give in blessing that one.

Important, too, to note is the fact that in each instant, contrary to common thought, the commandment of love serves to establish and maintain freedom—freeing the sinner (we are all sinners) from the guilt and slavery caused by sin. For example, one who loves God will not want to miss any opportunity to be with Him on the divinely established Sabbath day, nor find it difficult or limiting to honor its precious hours in thanksgiving and praise to God and fellowship with fellow believers—but will yearn for and cherish such special time each week. Or, one who truly loves His fellow men will find no joy or pleasure in “messing around” or giving the time of day to sexual lusts, but, rather, will seek, honor, and cherish God and the one appointed by Him as a life-long partner.

“The Apostle Paul has this to say, “For you have been called to live in freedom, my brothers and sisters. But don’t use your freedom to satisfy your sinful nature. Instead, use your freedom to serve one another in love. For the whole law can be summed up in this one command: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself,” Galatians 5:13, 14. “You must have the same attitude that Christ Jesus had. Though he was God, He did not think of equality with God as something to cling to. Instead, he gave up his divine privileges; he took the humble position of a slave and was born as a human being. He humbled himself in obedience to God and died a criminal’s death on the cross,” Philippians 2:5-8.

Unfortunately, ever since the tragic defeat in Eden, we humans have been enslaved in thought and word and deed by the devil who knows no love. By very nature, we, too, have no capacity to love according to the Commandment. To love is foreign to us. Its freedom appears to us as slavery, as prohibition, as limiting the freedom we desire, and as robbing us of the very joy and peace we were originally designed to cherish. And it is this inherent proclivity to sin that is at the very root of the condition of the world we are living in today.

Fortunately, God has provided a remedy for our dilemma. We may be--must be--born again. Fortunately, too, this is possible through the power derived through the sacrificial death of Jesus at Calvary’s Hill and by His intercessory functions at the right hand of His Father’s throne in heaven. We need not spend our lives enslaved to our natural lusts. In Chapter 11 of the Book of Hebrews in the Bible we may read the record of those that through the centuries lived by faith in the promises and power of God as our examples. It is ours to choose whom we will serve, (Joshua 24:15). Choosing God, He will then provide the power and make the transformation from selfishness and lust to unconditional, self-renouncing, unlimited love for God and our fellow men. For, “The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, no wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance,” 2 Peter 3:9.

The commandments regarding the Sabbath and the family are, of the ten, the foundation to all of the rest. All of the commandments, like an impenetrable wall, keep us safe and free from the destructive consequences of life in a sinful world—and serve to free us when by the devil’s “tricks” we are placed into bondage to him. The Sabbath provides us with the opportunity to become united with our loving God whereby we “need” no other gods, images, object of worship, etc. In the presence of strong, united families, true self-sacrificing love for our fellow men may be nurtured and encouraged, thereby eliminating the “need” to hurt others by adultery, parental neglect, deception, stealing, killing or coveting—all of which free us from the temptations Satan might wish to attack us with.

This is the reason Satan spends so much time and effort attacking both of these key commandments. And it is these that we may anticipate will be his focus during the height of the final battle.

The Bible account of Hosea is interesting to say the least. Hosea 1:2 reads, “And the Lord said to Hosea, Go, take unto you a wife of whoredoms and children of whoredoms: for the land has committed great whoredom, departing from the Lord,” It is my understanding that this account is given for a lesson to all of us as an example of the terrible consequences of sin, in whatever form it comes to us--whether spiritual (Idolatry in all of its forms) or actual adulterous disregard (immorality in all of its forms) for that holy law of love in the family-- not an example for us to follow in our daily lives.

Matthew 19:8 reads, “Moses, because of the hardness of your hearts, permitted you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning it was not so.” Could it be that Jesus’ words are valid for us today as well?

The Children of Israel were camped at the border of the Promised Land, but they spent 40 years in the wilderness, where all responsible adults died, … because of unbelief,” Hebrews 3:1 - 2-4. That story is told in Numbers 14.

Our society is the way it is today because of our unbelief, our disregard for the moral principles by which life and society were created to thrive.

Recognizing the effect of our witness upon others, for good or for ill, the Apostle Paul has this to add, “To the weak I became weak, to win the weak. I have become all things to all people so that by all possible means I might save some,” 1 Corinthians 9:22.

”Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death,” 2 Corinthians 7:10. NIV

“You know the generous grace of our Lord Jesus Christ. Though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, so that by his poverty he could make you rich,” 2 Corinthians 7:10.

“When you follow the desires of your sinful nature, the results are very clear: sexual immorality, impurity, lustful pleasures, idolatry, sorcery, hostility, quarreling, jealousy, outbursts of anger, selfish ambition, dissension, division, envy, drunkenness, wild parties, and other sins like these. Let me tell you again, as I have before, that anyone living that sort of life will not inherit the Kingdom of God.

“But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have nailed the passions and desires of their sinful nature to his cross and crucified them there. Since we are living by the Spirit, let us follow the Spirit’s leading in every part of our lives,” Galatians 5:19-25. NLT

I believe we are living today on the border of the Heavenly Promised Land. God is waiting to take us on in. How long must we make Him wait?

Everywhere I look in this world I see pain, suffering, sorrow, famine, suicide, premature death, war, natural disasters, etc. etc. I am sick of seeing the effects of sin that we are witnessing. I read in Jeremiah and Lamentations of God’s tears for the suffering of His creation. I, too, cry in my heart as I read the daily news and walk down the streets and lanes of this world. I cannot, in love to God or my fellow men endorse any thing that may possibly delay the return of Jesus and the end of this world of sin. In my way of thinking, there is no price too great to pay, no sacrifice too great to make, to permit Him to bring this to an early end. 

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“DNA Editing of Human Embryos Alarms Scientists”

Scientific American, 5/23/15

Amalgamation of man and beast

 

Precision gene editing of DNA, known as germline modification is now being experimentally applied in monkeys. There are rumors that it is also being used in human embryos. For a number of years we have been altering the DNA of the human somatic cells, but until now there have been no reports of editing the DNA of reproductive (germ) cells (human ova or sperm). The significance of this difference is that alterations to the genes of somatic cells affect only the present generation. Whereas those changes made in eggs and sperm are permanently passed on from one generation to the next indefinitely. If these modifications were limited to the eradication of inherited diseases as some researcher’s desire, it might appear to have some plausibility. Already it is clear from the scientific literature that this is not about to happen. Therefore we must ask who is able to determine what is ethical and what is not, and how research projects may be controlled so that accidents or deliberate destructive alterations be absolutely curtailed.

One can only begin to imagine the broad range of possible human to human, or animal to human germ cell cross combinations that might be created--within the same, or with other species.

Scientists are presently working on means to eliminate malaria by modifying mosquitos that carry the malaria plasmodium so that they cannot reproduce. By thus eradicating the mosquitos, we will have eliminated the malaria problem. It seems only a matter of time before we could use similar technologies to eradicate an entire human population—by accident, or design!

In 1866, Johann Gregor Mendel, published the results of the findings of his original research on the reproductive function of garden peas, earning for himself the designation, founder and father of genetics. In less than 150 years since his discoveries, the science of genetics has mushroomed to its present ethically complex status.

I find this very interesting, that at the same time in history that Mendal was doing his research, a young woman claiming divine visions and dreams wrote the following statement in explaining the reasons for the universal flood of Noah’s day. “If there was one sin above another which called for the destruction of the race by the flood, it was the base crime of amalgamation of man and beast which defaced the image of God, and caused confusion everywhere.” (1 SP 69.1—Spirit of Prophecy, vol. 1,1870).

When I first ran across this statement 50 years or so ago, about the only animals that could be bred together were a horse and a donkey to obtain a mule (mules cannot reproduce). This knowledge prevailed throughout my college and medical school years and genetics classes. Accordingly, the sceptics had great fun with this statement by Ellen White. Not anymore!

In those former times the following texts from the Holy Bible also managed to generate animated discussion, “You must not plant any other crop between the rows of your vineyard. If you do, you are forbidden to use either the grapes from the vineyard or the other crop. Do not mate two different kinds of animals. Do not plant your field with two different kinds of seed. Do not wear clothing woven from two different kinds of thread. You must not plow with an ox and a donkey harnessed together. You must not wear clothing made of wool and linen woven together, Deuteronomy 22:9, 11 (see also Leviticus 19:19).

Today we know that it is possible for genetic material to pass from one plant species to another by natural mechanisms, knowledge that was unknown only a few years ago. While there are still some questions, especially regarding using different kinds of fibers in our clothing, it is probably true that the warning is now of even of greater value--symbolically, if nothing more!

Though the findings of Mendel lay dormant until rediscovered at the beginning of the 20th century, young Ellen Harmon (White) was apparently, even back then, visualizing the final impact of Mendel’s findings such as we are experiencing today. Happenstance? Perhaps! Divine inspiration? You be the judge!

The Bible describes a time of trouble such as this world has never before experienced (Daniel 12:1). In view of present genetic technology, one might wonder if “amalgamation of man and beasts (genetic engineering)” might once again constitute the “line” that when crossed will “force” God to release the “Winds of Strife”-- thereby leading into that time of trouble that according to Bible prophecies will conclude with the return of Jesus and the destruction of the world. The evidence seems to point in that direction.

The reader may be wondering why I am proposing such a strong link between genetic modification and the end of the world. What is there about the science of genetics that would “force” the hand of God to respond in such an “earthshaking” way? There can be only one answer—the universal war between Good and evil, between God's governance of unconditional, self-sacrificing love, and the self-centered challenge of the devil, Satan, and his demonic constituents of angels and men.

Only in this context is it possible to understand the significance of the events presently transpiring in our world—including genetic engineering. The Bible describes our world at the end of creation week, “Then God looked over all that he had made, and he saw that it was very good!” Genesis 1:31 (Please see the entire chapter to obtain a picture of the beauty and wonder of this world that God had created for the dominion of the “man” he created.).

Unfortunately, everything changed when Adam and Eve chose to join Satan in the rebellion against God and His governance of love. The Bible says, “And to the man he (God) said, “Since you listened to your wife and ate from the tree whose fruit I commanded you not to eat, the ground is cursed because of you. All your life you will struggle to scratch a living from it. It will grow thorns and thistles for you, though you will eat of its grains. By the sweat of your brow will you have food to eat until you return to the ground from which you were made. For you were made from dust, and to dust you will return,” (Genesis 3:17-19).

One day when Jesus was on earth he was sitting by the lake of Galilee teaching the people that had come from far and near and had gathered around him. One of the stories (parables) he told responded to the commonly held false belief then, as now, that it is God that cursed the ground, and is always the One that curses us when we sin. Listen to the story--and its punch line. Jesus said, “The kingdom of Heaven is like a farmer who planted good seed in his field. But that night as the workers slept, his enemy came and planted weeds among the wheat, then slipped away. When the crop began to grow and produce grain, the weeds also grew. The farmer’s workers went to him and said, ‘Sir, the field where you planted the good seed is full of weeds! Where did they come from?’ ‘An enemy has done this!’ the farmer exclaimed. ‘Should we pull out the weeds?’ they asked. ‘No,’ he replied, ‘you’ll uproot the wheat if you do. Let both grow together until the harvest. Then I will tell the harvesters to sort out the weeds, tie them into bundles, and burn them, and to put the wheat in the barn,’” Matthew 13:24-30.

It was Satan (the enemy Jesus referred to) that placed the curse upon the ground at the beginning, and it is Satan that has been the enemy of God ever since, ever sowing noxious weeds intended to destroy the beauty and blessing of life for all of us living on the planet. In fact, for thousands of years the devil has been responsible for all of the evils that have troubled this world—whether accomplished by the selfish acts of men, or by himself employing the laws of nature—just as he is responsible for the present tenuous status in which we now have the tools, and are now capable of destroying ourselves and the world upon which we live.

Knowing that the devil is responsible for all of the negative findings and experiences of this world gives credence to the amalgamation statement quoted above. The fact that we are now on the cutting edge of repeating the pre-Noachian evil also gives plausibility to the biblical flood record.

Why was (is) this sin so much worse than other sins? What is there about genetic engineering that is so bad that God must respond so drastically?

May I suggest that the answer must be found in Isaiah’s revelation about Satan’s quest for the throne of God?

“How are you fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! How you are cut down to the ground, you who weakened the nations! For you have said in your heart; ‘I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throng above the stars of God; I will also sit on the mount of the congregation on the farthest sides of the north; I will ascend above the heights of the clouds, I will be like the Most High,” Isaiah 14:12-14).

While that aspiration to the Throne was squelched by his “trick” in hanging Jesus upon the cross, there could be no greater offence to our loving creator God than to corrupt man, the crowning act of God’s creation. To reduce man who was created in the very image of God for eternal, intelligent face to face fellowship with him into something less—would certainly be expected to demand drastic action by a God governed by love.

 

 

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Posted by on in Family of God

July 26, 2015

 Rest, God's promise to man

            This writing is a copy of a letter I wrote to a pastor friend in response to a sermon he preached about the rest that God promised to ancient Israel, but which because of unbelief they never got to celebrate or experience. That same rest has been promised to us today.

            Dear -----,

You began your message by saying, “God wants us to have rest, and He gives it to us by example.”

In fact, I believe that rest is a free gift given to us from God, made possible to all people of all generations by the spilled blood of Jesus Christ on the cross of Calvary--as prefigured (symbolized) by the blood of animals from the time of Adam in Eden until finally accomplished in reality by the spilled blood of Jesus on the cross. (Hebrews 10:1; Colossians 2:17, 18).

I believe this is so, for, “This is good and pleases God our Savior, who wants everyone to be saved and to understand the truth,” 1 Tim. 2:3, 4 (NLT) “The Lord isn’t really being slow about His promise, as some people think. No, he is being patient for your sake. He does not want anyone to be destroyed, but wants everyone to repent,” 2 Peter 3:9. (NLT)

“The old system under the law of Moses was only a shadow, a dim preview of the good things to come, not the good things themselves,” Hebrews 10:1. “For these rules are only shadows (symbols) of the reality yet to come. And Christ himself is that reality,” Colossians 2:17. “Under the old covenant, the priest stands and ministers before the alter day after day, offering the same sacrifices again and again, which can never take away sins. But our High Priest offered himself to God as a single sacrifice for sins, good for all time (past, present and future). Then he sat down in the place of honor at God’s right hand. There he waits until his enemies are humbled and made a footstool under his feet,” Hebrews 10:11-13. (NLT)

My brother-in-law is presently in the terminal phase of advanced cancer. In my discussions with him recently, though suffering numerous symptoms of his disease, he is at perfect ease. He knows his Lord; knows that his sins, though many, are covered by the blood of Jesus, and that there is a home awaiting him in that better world when Jesus returns and resurrects the faithful ones at His coming. To me, this is a near perfect picture of the rest that God offers to all who will believe—applicable both now in this life, and for all eternity. Of course, Jesus exemplified our temporal rest by His own life here among us 2,000 years ago—a life in perfect accord with His Father and guided by the Holy Spirit.

Other examples of such rest are described in chapter 11 of the Book of Hebrews that tells of many faithful ones from the time of Adam until the end of time. I like especially verses 39 & 40 where it says that, “All these people earned a good reputation because of their faith, yet none of them received all that God had promised. For God had something better in mind for us, so that they would not reach perfection (eternal rest) without us.”

It is interesting that though experiencing this rest that we receive by faith, “All these people died still believing what God had promised them (eternal rest). (Yet), they did not (then) receive what was promised, but they saw it all from a distance and welcomed it. They agreed that they were foreigners and nomads here on earth. Obviously people who say such things are looking forward to a country they can call their own. If they had longed for the country they came from, they could have gone back. But they were looking for a better place, a heavenly homeland,” Hebrews 11:13-16. (NLT)

We have noted that God’s rest is really experienced by one’s life of faith in the promises of God made possible by grace through the blood of Jesus. That life of faith quite naturally revealed itself by good works as already noted by the records in the Book of Hebrews 11 (even martyrdom), but not only here.

The Bible gives other descriptions of the rest that God promises as well. In Old Testament times the prophet Isaiah quotes God speaking in chapter 58, entire chapter.

In Isaiah chapter 61, the prophet outlines a life of rest. Luke (4:18, 19) then quotes Jesus as applying that passage to Himself as the source of rest. Interestingly, Luke fails to quote the last portion of verse 2 that refers to a warning of vengeance, implying that this prophecy extends to our own time and the coming judgment.

Jesus put similar words in the setting of the judgment in Matthew 25:31-46 in referring to the “sheep” receiving the promised rest and the goat’s .suffering judgment.

This sampling of Bible references to the rest God wants us all to experience provides a pretty representative description of what His rest looks like for those of us living in this sin infested world. Other texts refer to the ultimate rest in that better land He has gone to prepare, (John 14:1-3).

Paul, writing in the book of Hebrews, chapters 3 and 4 identifies the reason the Children of Israel did not enter the rest of God, and admonishes us not to follow their example. He then indicates that there remains a rest for God’s people. “Now if Joshua had succeeded in giving them this rest, God would not have spoken about another day of rest still to come. So there is a special rest still waiting for the people of God. For all who have entered into God’s rest have rested from their labors, just as God did after creating the world. So let us do our best to enter that rest. But if we disobey God, as the people of Israel did, we will fall.” Hebrews 4:8-11 a Scripture you used in your sermon.

The warning here is for us. If we are to avoid falling as they did, we must first understand wherein they disobeyed God. Much of the Christian world has interpreted this and similar texts to say that the fault is in the Law of God as described in the Ten Commandments, with special emphasis on the 4th (Sabbath Commandment)—somehow linking obedience to the Ten Commandments with the Old Covenant, thereby implying, if not stating outright, that obedience to them signals the sin of unbelief by which Israel fell. Is this a fair and correct assessment of Bible facts? Let us look at the facts surrounding Israel’s sin.

Jesus confronts the Jewish leadership, calling them hypocrites (See Matthew 23, entire chapter).We read in 2 Chronicles 36:14-16 how Israel was more wicked than were their pagan neighbors. The first 10 chapters of Isaiah describe some of the sins of Israel that eventually led to her captivity. Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Daniel, and many of the Minor Prophets also describe the sins of Israel. In all instances it is disregard for the Ten Commandments, including failure to honor the Seventh-day Sabbath that drew God’s Ire. By the time Jesus walked among them, many of the Jews were attempting to earn their salvation by works, including hundreds of strict, man-made rules (traditions), especially involving their Sabbath observance. Jesus came down very hard on this, but nowhere did He condemn the Seventh-day Sabbath. Indeed He is in the Synagogue worshiping His Father on Sabbath days. Too, Sabbaths were often spent among the people, healing their diseases and casting out their demons, thus celebrating the role of Sabbath in restoring freedom by which people may enter into God’s rest.

How then are we to enter God’s rest? How are we to avoid the sins of ancient Israel and enter into that rest that the Apostle Paul referred to in Hebrews chapter 11?

The answer is quite simple. Joshua describes it as a choice we must make to serve the Lord and put away our heathen gods, Joshua 24:15.

In fact, the Ten Commandments, all descriptions of love, (See Matthew 22:36-40; Mark 12:29-31; 1 John 5:2-5; John 13:34, 35), free us from the bondage of sin. Only as we are governed by love and have the Commandments written upon our hearts and in our minds can we experience the rest God wishes to give to all men (Heb. 11, 10:16; Jer.31:31; Rom. 2:14, 15; Ez. 36:26, 27)

The rest Jesus promises is the healing that we receive when we are set free from the many forms of bondage caused by sin—whether physical illness, psychological problems, erroneous beliefs, superstitions, etc. It is God’s love as exemplified by Jesus sacrifice on Calvary and applied by His intercession in heaven at the right hand of the throne of God that sets us free. It is received by us through faithfulness to the Ten Commandments made possible by the work of the Holy Spirit upon the daily life of the one surrendered to God. As it is the ignorance and rebellion from the Law of Love as codified by the Ten Commandments that is the root cause of all sin, individually and universally, so it is the Commandments through which the Father, Son and Holy Spirit work to free us from the bondage created by sin.

Human beings are unable to “keep” the Ten Commandments. They are not able to love the way God loves us as demonstrated so effectively at the Cross by Jesus’ sacrifice. But we can be born again and transformed into the image of God as loving human beings that naturally practice the principles of the Ten Commandments. Jeremiah understood this when under inspiration he wrote, “The day is coming, ‘says the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the people of Israel and Judah. This covenant will not be like the one I made with their ancestors ---.”But this is the new covenant I will make with the people of Israel after those days,’ says the Lord. I will put my instructions deep within them, and I will write them on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will by my people,” Jeremiah 31:31-34. (NLT) (See also Hebrews 10:13-18 and Romans 2:15-17.)

The Sabbath, at the very center of the Ten Commandments, identifies the official legal seal of God as Sovereign of this world and the sole source of love by which all of the other nine commandments may be written upon the heart and in the mind of the believer. The Commandment says, “Remember to observe the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. You have six days each week for your ordinary work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath day of rest dedicated to the Lord your God. On that day no one in your household may do any work. This includes you, your sons and daughters, your male and female servants, your livestock, and any foreigners living among you. For in six days the Lord (name) made (creator, owner) the heavens, the earth, the sea, and everything in them (domain); but on the seventh day he rested. That is why the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and set it apart as holy,” Exodus 20:8-11. (NLT)

It was on the Sabbath that Jesus performed the majority of His healings—freeing, cleansing His benefactors from the guilt and consequences of sin. And it is still the Sabbath that takes us away from the hustle and bustle of the world to spend one entire day each week in fellowship with God and His faithful believers, that serves to free us from our sin and guilt and to create the new birth within us--the entire law of love written upon our hearts and into our minds. There is no substitute that can do the same, (Hebrews 10:2; Psalms 40:6-8).

In Isaiah 66 we read of God’s plans for the end of the world, i.e., the destruction of sinners and the blessings for the faithful. In verse 23 we are told that “all flesh” shall worship before Him from one Sabbath to another. My question! Will this be on Sunday, or the Seventh day Sabbath?

In your sermon you correctly note that Genesis does not mention the evening and the morning of the seventh day, but it does identify another day, the seventh, upon which He blessed and sanctified (set apart as holy time) and rested from the work that He did on the other six days, (Genesis 2:1-3). Is it rational that He would set apart and sanctify a day that did not have a morning and an evening?

In Exodus 20:8-11 we read that God commanded the people to remember the Seventh day that He blessed and hallowed at the end of creation week—long before the time of Moses and before there ever was an Israelite.

It is true that Israel was governed by a theocracy from the time of Moses until the death of Jesus, but God had been governing the human race ever since creation, and good and evil were well understood by all—as noted by the flood that destroyed the wicked and saved only the 8 people that were faithful to God. This certainly implies that the people knew God’s law at this time. Post flood, and until the time of the Exodus, the law of God was known and honored by the faithful, as exemplified by Abraham (Hebrews 11:8-19) and by the Children of Israel enslaved in Egypt (see Exodus 5:5, 6—“rest” = Sabbath, Hebrew).

Though governed by a theocracy, the benefits of the law of God’s love as codified by the Ten Commandments were for people of all nations and kindred’s. All nations were to be blessed through the descendants of Abraham and the Israelites (Genesis 12: 2, 3; Exodus 20:5, 6; Isaiah 53; 55; 56).

It is true that Jesus came down very hard on the leadership of the Jews in His day because of their practices of the law. Jesus was not thereby condemning the law that is holy, just and good, but the abuse of the law by which the people were attempting to buy (earn) salvation. Such is NOT love. Jesus DID teach love by word and example—love for both His Father and His fellow men. By the power of Grace made possible by the death of Jesus, the intercession of Jesus at His Father’s side in the throne room of heaven along with the agency of the Holy Spirit, God can indeed change the human heart, and will do so for those that truly believe.

The Bible teaches us that we are engaged in a universal war between good and evil, between God and Satan (Revelation 12; Isaiah 14:12-14; Ezekiel 28:11-18; Genesis 3; John 12:31, 32; Revelation 20).The entire Bible is an account of this war, its origin and its conclusion. The universal law of unconditional, self-renouncing love has been challenged by the devil. God has allotted a period of 6,000 years for the devil and his followers to test every other form of governance possible and to “prove” their case in contrast to the law of love. God won the war at Calvary when He demonstrated the extent and power of love as contrasted with the true nature and meanness of selfishness. The battles continue until every intelligent being in the universe has “seen” the vindication of the law of love, and the final consequence of the law of selfishness—a status of possible self-destruction as we can easily visualize today.

About a year ago the famous astrophysicist, Neil Tyson, made an interesting observation during one of his “made for television” series, “Cosmos, A Spacetime Oddesy,” saying “All natural law is unchangeable.” So we must ask ourselves, if this is true for God’s physical laws, must it not also be true for God’s moral law? Malachi 3:6 verifies this truth.

Another point to ponder. Is it even plausible that anyone could improve upon the Ten Commandments as an expression of love? I don’t believe so. Every possible relationship between man and man and man and God is encompassed by these 10 articles. Nothing is over looked. Jesus said as much when challenged by His contemporaries. Thou shalt love the Lord your God with all your body, mind and soul, and you shall love your neighbor as yourself. A new commandment I give unto you, that you love one another as I have loved you.”

Just one more question. Is there any place in the entire Bible that instructs us that the “unchangeable God” has changed the Sabbath from the seventh day of the week to the first?

History is clear that some in the early church began “keeping” Sunday in place of the Sabbath in an attempt to avoid being identified as a Jew and hence subject to the oppression and persecution the Jews were experiencing by the Romans, but can one honestly assume thereby that an unchangeable God has changed His law?

You are absolutely right that the “rest” of God is found in the fellowship we have with Him that is made possible by His work of Grace. The Israelites failed to experience this rest because of unbelief (Hebrews 4 & 4). That rest is for us living today who believe, but the final and ultimate rest awaits our entrance into God’s very presence upon the return of Jesus and the resurrection.

While the Jews may have expected to enter into God’s rest by strict observance to rabbinical law--and were condemned by Jesus for doing so, this fact cannot erase the intended benefit of the Sabbath of the Commandment as set apart as hallowed time from the end of creation week. Though that direct face-to-face Sabbath celebration ended when Adam and Eve yielded to the devil’s lie, their fellowship with God each Sabbath became ever so much more important in their fallen state. It is difficult to imagine how much different this world would be today if people had remembered the Sabbath day according to the Commandment from the very beginning of time and had experienced true fellowship with God every Sabbath day—worshipping Him from a heart of love and an expression of gratitude. Such a fellowship even today would go a long way toward creating the type of faith relationship with God that would naturally tend to transform one into the kind of people God wanted them to be--that would truly be a blessing to their fellow men, Jew and Gentile alike—the true definition of the rest that God desires for each of His children.

Sincerely, your brother in Christ,

 

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Equality!!!

Yesterday while walking my dog I noticed a small, pure, white, cockle weed flower growing among the lower boughs of a spruce tree. I picked it up to take a closer look—and to smell its fragrance. As I examined the tiny flower I noticed that it exhibited all of the sexual characteristics necessary to reproduce whereby to increase (make a family) and assure the continuation of the species, just as I had been taught in my Master Gardner course.

It was then that I realized that this was a characteristics of all living things in our world, whether plant or animal. And I marveled at such a thought so entirely new to me—that the One who designed and created our world had not overlooked anything of beauty or purpose. Truly, our world was designed to live, thrive, and be governed by unchangeable laws founded upon the principles of love of which He himself claims to personify. Every living thing has a male and a female component. In every case, it takes a seed of a male and a seed of a female to make another of the same likeness

Check it out! Examine the living forms about you. Do you find any exceptions to the rule?

Yes, today there is one. Just one!

By the rule of the highest court of the most “advanced” society in the world human beings have evolved beyond dependence upon their designer and creator –beyond the bonds of sexual distinctions--now free from the Law of God and the love that governs Him and all other creation making us all equal.

Or, really????

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ENCYCLICAL LETTER
LAUDATO SI’
OF THE HOLY FATHER
FRANCIS
ON CARE FOR OUR COMMON HOME

 

“Praise be to you, my Lord”

 

The long awaited and highly anticipated Letter from Pope Frances to the peoples of the world about our earth’s environment has finally been published. Already it has received much attention in the world press. The following comments represent a few of my own thoughts regarding this letter.

The pope speaks from the asserted position of the divinely appointed head of the Christian Church and God’s representative (spokesman) on earth, with the authority of God Himself to interpret and/or alter the teachings of the Holy Bible.

I speak as one of no account, but as one convicted that the Holy Bible, like God Himself, is everlasting, unchangeable, and that its divine truths may, by inspiration of the Holy Spirit, be understood by any honest searcher for truth.

We both sense the fact that we are indeed living in a world that, unless drastic changes are made (or rescue comes from outer space), is on a road to certain disaster.

God sent His only Son into the world, not to condemn but that the world through Him might be saved (John 3:16). Neither is it my intent to condemn anyone who may read and disagree with my comments regarding this letter from the Pope to the peoples of the world.

I believe the pope is right on target regarding his evaluation of the present condition of our world and his assessment indicating that we, the very ones for which it was created and gifted to us, are the ones that are responsible for the condition it is in.

I applaud the pope for drawing public attention to this critical status of our planet. Even recognizing and pointing out the fact that the food those of us of means waste or throw away has a negative effect upon the poor people of the world whom we profess to love—indicating that we are indeed all interlinked, and each one affected in some way by each other.

Neither can I fault many of his recommendations for correcting our guilty practices.

But there are some significant problem areas that I believe have been overlooked. As in the days of Noah, by rejection of the warnings describing the coming judgments and Noah’s earnest pleas to repent, the people of his day had become so entrenched in sin (the self-centered culture of the times) and so distanced from God and His love and truth that it was no longer possible for them to respond. In a word, they were doomed! Yet, the door of the ark remained open for seven days more (Genesis 7:10), just in case one more person might change his/her mind and accept the safety of the ark.

When the tender mercies of God’s love are rejected and spurned so unrelentingly that evil reigns supreme throughout His entire creation (violence, human trafficking, war, homelessness, starvation etc.) that purpose, meaning and true happiness gives way to endless pain, misery and hopelessness, there remains no choice for a God of love but to intervene and to apply an appropriate measure of tough love whereby to relieve the misery. For One who has the power and authority to eradicate evil and fails to do so would give the on looking universe every reason to question His claim of compassion and Love.

Grieved by the terrible wickedness of the people before the flood, and the pain and suffering resulting therefrom, God, recognizing the hopelessness of reversing the degraded status found it necessary to cleanse the world of sin and wickedness. Because at that time the plan of salvation had not yet been sealed by the sacrificial blood of Jesus, and the devil defeated thereby, God, through the descendants of Noah provided opportunity for recovery and for completion of the Plan of Salvation.

Today, in our mad, selfish, rush toward self-destruction our world is rapidly approaching the same point of degradation as in Noah’s day. Though the door remains open for any and all that may wish may enter in, this world is again beyond human repair. There is nothing man or God can do to reverse direction and restore that which we have destroyed. At best, we can begin to apply some of the penitential suggestions of Pope Frances, thereby hoping to buy a bit of time and thereby perhaps save a few.

There is, however one great opportunity for hope for those that will acknowledge their condition and truly repent—for the door remains open still today. That hope is found in the promise of God to create this world all over again in even greater glory than the first—then inhabited by the saved of all ages that have accepted the power of the sacrificial shed blood of Jesus, having been proven faithful to the principles that govern the Kingdom of God. This is the message that Jesus commissioned His disciples to proclaim to the ends of the earth 2,000 years ago. Though that commission remains to be completed before the promise can be fulfilled, we now have the tools by which to accomplish.it.

Unfortunately, though not exclusively the fault of the Christian Church over which Pope Frances claims jurisdiction, the Church is, itself, at least partially responsible for the condition we find ourselves in today. In assuming the prerogatives of Christ alone in claiming to have the power and authority to forgive sins—when, in truth, neither it, or any man, possesses such power, it has contributed to the status of the world as it is today.

Though we humans may forgive one another of offences towards us and thereby restore broken relationships, only Christ serving at His Father’s side at the throne in heaven has the power, ability, and legal authority to both forgive our sins and to restore our broken relationship with Him caused by our sin, thereby fully restoring the faith and love of Jesus within our hearts. Lacking such power, authority, and the ability of God to make that transformation in their hearts, penitents are left with little other alternative but to return to their sin as a dog returns to its vomit.

Were this the limit of the deficiency, it would be one thing, but by claiming the power and authority to change the very eternal, unchangeable, all encompassing, law of love as codified by the Ten Commandments, the church is thereby removing the very principles through which the Spirit of God works to govern and sustain the human creation. Human substitutes lacking the very means by which the Holy Spirit works have no such power to give and sustain life as the law of Ten Commandments, irrespective of their earnest intent.

I make no claim of godliness over that of Pope Frances, or any other human being. We are all sinners saved by the grace of God alone. Furthermore, it is my conviction that the Bible is true in stating that God is not willing that any should perish, but, rather that He “… Will have all men to be saved and come to a knowledge of the truth. For there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus.” (1 Timothy 2:4, 5). That means all of us who live on the earth, Christians of all faiths, and those who have not yet heard and believed the Good News of God’s love and His desire to save. While the door remains open it is my plea that we, each one living on earth today, earnestly repent of our sin, fully surrender our hearts to Jesus for full transformation in preparation to meet Jesus upon His soon return—lest we be among those that resist the call of the Spirit and find ourselves among the unfaithful recipients of the “Strange Work" (Isaiah 28:21) that He must, in true love perform.

I believe that by the time Jesus comes those that are ready and waiting to meet Him will have come out of all other faiths to complete the unity Jesus prayed to His Father for on the night before His capture. While the Pope calls for unity based upon those beliefs held in common by various religious groups, the Bible is clear to me that the unity that Jesus was pleading for consists of those that truly love God and will express their love in honoring God according to the first four commandments, and express their love for their fellow men by honoring the other six. After all, this is just what Jesus was saying when, in Matthew 25 he told the parable of the great white throne judgment of the sheep and the goats.

Won’t you, dear reader, whatever your present religious affiliation, give your heart to the Lord in honest and full repentance in preparation for meeting Him in the clouds when He returns very soon?

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God’s Law of Love

The Commandments define love. We would not know what love was except for the Ten Commandments that are all encompassing.

 

The Law of God has existed from eternity past and will continue into eternity future. As will be seen, this Law includes the governing Seal of the authority of God as encrypted in the fourth (Sabbath), Commandment. That law remains applicable to every one of us living on earth today, including Sabbath.

The Evidence:

Adam and Eve knew about the Sabbath. They were there when God set it apart as a holy memorial celebrating creation. (Genesis 2:2-4)

Cain and Able knew right and wrong, implying the presence of law. For loving compliance Able was murdered by his uncompliant brother, Cain. (Genesis 4:1-10)

Seth knew the difference between right and wrong. Through his descendants the knowledge of God and good was preserved until the time of Noah. (Genesis 4:25-26 and chapter 5); Enoch walked with God. (Genesis 5:21-24) He certainly knew the difference between good and evil. Noah knew the difference, building the ark to save the faithful from the flood—all unbelievers perished. (Genesis 6:1-13)

Abraham knew the difference between good and evil and was called of God to move to another place from which the love (law) of God could be dispersed throughout the world, a blessing to all nations. Through him, the Messiah would come into the world, (Genesis 12:1-4; chapter 16). He kept the Commandments (Gen.26:5) long before Moses and the giving of the Law at Mount Sinai.

Lot and the people of the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah knew the difference. All but three people refused to believe and lost their lives in the fires that destroyed the entire plain. (Genesis 18, 19)

Melchedezek, the king of Salem and high priest of the Most High God, knew the difference and gained the respect of Abraham. (Genesis 14:18-20; Psalms 110)

The Children of Israel living in Egypt knew the difference, resisting work on the Sabbath and thereby gaining the ire of the Pharaoh. (Exodus 5:5 Hebrew word indicating Sabbath rest)

After leaving Egypt God provided manna for the people each day, Sunday through Thursday, with a double portion on Friday and none on the seventh day, Sabbath. (Exodus chapter 16)

All of these thing occurred before the giving of the codified Ten Commandment written on tablets of stone by the finger of God on Mount Sinai. (Exodus 20:1-17; 31:12-18)

All through the history of Israel the Sabbath was always “kept” by the faithful remnant, though it was often forgotten by most of the people. For this they often ended up in deep trouble. It is interesting that as one reads the story of Israel one notes that upon restoring the Sabbath and the remainder of the law, they prospered. (Nehemiah Chapter 10)

In the book of Isaiah we read again of God’s desire that the people of all nations might receive the blessings promised to come through the Seed of Abraham, including the Sabbath. (Isaiah chapters 56 & 58)

Sabbath was known until the time of Christ, and was honored by Him and his disciples. It was “changed” by the Roman State with the support of the Christian Church in the 4th century. Ever since, the Catholic Church admits that the seventh day of the week (Saturday) is the Biblical Sabbath, and claims to have changed the Sabbath from Saturday to Sunday (the ancient pagan day giving worship to the sun), and uses this act to “Prove” its authority.

History reveals that the 7 day cycle of time including the special significance of the 7th day existed in ancient China, as far back as history goes. The 7th day Sabbath is even confirmed in ancient Chinese characters (pictographs). Likewise, the knowledge of good and evil is seen by the character pictograph for the concept of righteousness by faith in the Lamb of God.

The entire plan of salvation is written in the names and meaning of the stars and constellations of the universe from the most ancient times—depicting the war between God and Satan and the final victory of Christ over the dragon, Satan.

The name of the seventh day of the week in almost all ancient languages is some form of the word, Sabbath.

The Sabbath was known in much of Africa from ancient times. In Ghana, the Sabbath is known as God’s day and Sunday as “white man’s day.” (This, of course suggests a later origin, at least in Ghana) Not necessarily so in other places of Africa however.

The law of love has been known in both the Bible and in secular archeology, etc. Good and evil were known from most ancient times. It was codified in its present form of ten separate commands at the time of Moses and Sinai?

Upon examining the Ten Commandments, one discovers that they perfectly apply to every possible interaction between God and man. There is nothing that is not included by true love in all interactions between God with men, between men with God, and between men with men. There is nothing that could improve them.

At the center of the Ten Commandments we find the official seal of God’s authority and legitimate ruler, His name, His domain (heaven and earth), His ownership, Creator. And it calls us to “Remember the Sabbath day---,”) Exodus 20:8-11).

That Israel and many others “kept” the Sabbath in an attempt to impress God and gain merit thereby (salvation by works), does not diminish the benefit of the Sabbath for those that honor it in love and respect to God according to the summary of the Law as explained by Jesus, i.e. “Love the Lord your God with all your body, mind, and spirit, and your neighbor as yourself.” (Mark 12:30, 31)

It is interesting to note that the Ten Commandments may be seen as the least expression of love in each of the ten percepts. As there is a minimal limit to movement (dead stop), temperature (absolute zero, minus 273 degrees), light (total darkness), and other physical things, but no known upper limit to any of these, so with the spiritual laws of the universe. While, for example refraining from murdering our neighbor may fulfill the minimal expression of the Commandment not to kill, there is no upper limit to our expression of love for that neighbor—the rich; the poor; the well; the sick; the free; the prisoner; everyone; everywhere. And if we really love our God, the One that risked everything for us, will we not give Him the honor due to him as called for in the first four commandments, including the Sabbath? The same may be said for each of the commandments toward God and our fellow men.

While everyone is justified by the sacrificial blood of Jesus when they accept the gift, they will be changed into loving persons by the work of the Holy Spirit during the remainder of life. This process of being made holy (sanctification) is nothing we can do, but is what the Spirit does within the one that truly believes the gospel, searches the Scriptures, and speaks regularly with God in prayer and meditation.

Jesus summarized the Ten Commandments as love to God and to our fellow men. That love is what will determine our individual eternal destiny. Nothing else. But how can we claim to love either God or our fellow men, if, when we see all of the terrible things happening in our world today, we fail to give everything we have personally and collectively to tell ALL our neighbors all around the world the GOOD NEWS given to us, and to minister to their physical and spiritual needs?

All natural laws of the universe are unchangeable according to Neil Tyson, foremost astrophysicist, as noted in his recent “made for TV series, “Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey.” Could it be any different with the great Moral law of the universe?

If there were no law, there could be no sin, for sin is, by definition, transgression of the law.

Satan and a third of the angels of heaven sinned (transgressed the law) and were cast out of heaven (Revelation 12:9; Jude 6; James 2:19) before the creation of the earth.

Faithful angels kept the Commandments (Psalms 103:20).

While we may never again see on this earth the perfect expression of love for God and man that Jesus demonstrated when here, we have no trouble seeing what a world looks like when the love encompassed by the Ten Commandments is forgotten or intentionally ignored--for it exists in our world all around us today!!!

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LOVE and WAR

Love for God and man

 

If we truly believe, if the war is real, If we love God--will we be able to sit still while His other children are dying without a Savior, without knowing what is coming upon them, without warning?

If the war is real, will we comfort ourselves, satisfied to use the armor He has provided for us to fight defensively against the principalities and powers of the rulers of darkness of this world (Ephesians 6:12-18)? Or must we use the armor to fight aggressively and offensively against the enemy for the glory of God and the salvation of our fellow men? If the war is real? If we Love?

In the judgment symbolized by the parable of the Good Shepherd separating the sheep from the goats, will it be seen that we have limited our love to satisfying the physical needs of our neighbors near and far (as important as that is), or will we not also be seen ministering to satisfy the spiritual needs, understanding that Jesus is the bread of life with which to feed the soul hungering for meaning and purpose in life; That He is the Water of life satisfying the thirsty heart; That He is the Good Shepherd seeking the lost; That He is the Light of the World opening blind eyes to precious truths; That He is the Great Physician longing to heal the terrible ills of this world; That He is the Prince of Peace Who alone can bring solace in a very troubled world, and that He is the Son of God and Son of man, Intercessor, Advocate and Judge longing to free us from the shackles that bind us in the Devil’s Guantanamo’s. (Matthew 25, John 15, & Isaiah. 61:1) If the war is real? If we love God and one another?

When we have been granted the high privilege of completing the work of Jesus (Luke 4:18, 19 & Isaiah 61:2) in proclaiming the acceptable year of the Lord and the Day of vengeance of our God, will we ignore it? If the war is real? If we truly love one another?

Jesus has promised to provide EVERYTHING we ask for, yes, even POWER, in order to do the work He has called us to do (John 15:16).

“You shall receive power after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you,” (Acts 1:7, 8) If in the former rain, why not in the later rain? This word for power is dynamite, explosive power—a LEGAL term applied to a witness testifying in a court of law. We can only testify in any court to what we ourselves have seen. There are no witnesses called to the stand except those that were there, having witnessed the evidence first hand and in person.

1 Pet 3:15-17 reads, “Always give an answer for the hope within—better to suffer for doing good than evil, as Jesus suffered. Do we love God and man enough to suffer and die for them if need be? If the war is real?

Suppose your children, dear ones, were captured by the Boca Haran or some similar evil force, what would you do? Would you not do much more than defend yourself and them, but you would go aggressively against their captors, whatever the cost?

The Devil is capturing the people we claim to love. If we truly love our neighbor, will we go aggressively against the enemy NOW? Or sit and watch them molested or beheaded? The war is real, and we are in the midst of it. What will we do?

Matthew 24:15-20 says, “When you therefore see the Abomination of Desolation stand ….” Verse. 21, “There shall be great tribulation such as has not yet been seen since the beginning of the world until this time nor ever more shall be?” verse 15.

If the war is real? If we love God Who gave His all, IF WE TRULY LOVE ONE ANOTHER?

“Whosoever reads, let him/her understand!”

What will we do?

 

 

 

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Why I Believe the Bible 

My Wife and I were sitting at breakfast this morning with two very pleasant elderly Catholic ladies. One, Betty, who is generally quite up-beat, was noticeably sad and hurting. She shared with us that a very dear friend was in hospice in a distant city. She said he was failing rapidly and she was expecting a call about his death at any time. Sensing her pain, I thought to comfort her a bit by telling her how glad I was that “in that better world that is coming there will be no more such suffering and parting.” Her reaction was as if she had not heard me, so I tried to clarify myself. The blank on her face did not change. What I was suggesting apparently had not registered on her brain at all. What I was sharing was foreign language to her, though she was a faithful, attending, member of her church.

How very sad, I thought.

Unfortunately, I have discovered that ignorance of the goodness of God and His covenanted plan for His children is far too common. Even for most “Christians” the reality of God’s love and goodness is unfathomable--yes, even incomprehensible! And there can be only one reason. They do not “know” the Bible and the beautiful truths carefully hidden therein--just waiting to be discovered and applied to one’s life.

But, why the ignorance one might reasonably ask. Why, with the Bible the most widely distributed of any book in history, are so few aware of the beauty of the message it conveys? I would be loath to place the fault of this on any man, for there is a very literal war being actively waged in the world between a God Who is the very personification of Love, and a rebel angel, Satan. So masterful of his “art” of deception is this devil that he has been able by it to hood-wink pastor, priest, and king, and entice them into his ranks in contest against God.   

Yet, ignorance can be no excuse. The truths of Holy Scripture, though sometimes carefully hidden for sake of protection from those that would destroy them, are discoverable through the power of the Holy Spirit by those that will earnestly seek, ask, and believe. 

The Bible tells us!

The Bible tells us that God is the very personification of love. It not only clearly tells us this truth, but it then tells us of His own experience of risking heaven itself by coming to this earth to pay the price of death at our hands to save us from our sins.

The Bible tells us that all of God’s intelligent creation possesses the freedom to choose to accept or to reject His love, and warns us of the price of rejecting it, death--in company with the devil and all that reject God and join with him in his rebellion against God.  

Fortunately, LOVE (God) established a plan by which to defeat the devil in a war that began in heaven and came to earth when Adam and Eve “fell” for his cunning deception--thereby becoming captive to him--separated from God, the only source of life.

The Bible, in addition to providing an account of the beginning of the war, is the record of the past six thousand years of the history of that war. It tells us that when the inhabitants of this world have come to understand the truth about God, the nature of love by which He rules, they have the intelligent choice to accept or reject that love. If, by faith, it is believed and accepted, and one is transformed by that Love (working through the power of the Holy Spirit) into His likeness (image), that one will at the end of time be removed from this world of sin to spend eternity with God and the faithful of angels and of men.

By contrast, if rejected, one will experience the natural terribly destructive nature of Satan and his rule of selfishness, deception, and hate, now, in this world, and in the end of time when that war is finally over, the devil along with all that have yielded allegiance to him in the rebellion will bow before God in acknowledgment of defeat--but unchanged in character and motive, will in mercy and love be removed from God’s entire creation. So complete and comprehensive will the war be that when the devil and all sin and evil have been destroyed, evil will never rise again anywhere in God’s universal creation

It is a sad history, for love does not exist that does not yearn for the life and happiness for every other. Unfortunately, since selfishness, deception and sin are so destructive by their very nature that unless eliminated, would, like some terrible contagious, malignant disease destroy the entire creation, God must act finally act.

This is the message of the Bible, a message accompanied by the unlimited, infinite, power of God’s love to save, in incomparable contrast to the full consequence to its rejection and the loss that by nature follows.

 What if the Bible is Not True? What Other Alternatives Exist?

Atheism: If the Bible is not true, and if there is no God, what purpose life? What hope after death? Could it be possible that something so complex and potentially beautiful could have arisen de-novo and without plan or purpose?

Science: If the Bible is not true, if God does not exist, how are we to account for the unchangeable nature of the tremendous laws that govern all of the universe? For what purpose is life? To what end might one anticipate if the Bible is not true and there is no God of love? Even if perchance the human race should by some hook of crook escape the present threats to the life to our planet and find itself on some other planet in the heavens, what would prevent a recurrence of what is happening to this earth—if there were no God and no Love? I mean, really!

Philosophy: If the Bible were not true, is it possible that we could, by philosophy change the present direction of life on the planet, removing all selfishness, envy, deception, greed, and every other common practice presently destroying the lives of those now living on the earth. Has not 6,000 years of history been ample time to test all concepts imaginable to the human mind? Before dismissing philosophy, please consider all of the many religious and philosophical movements, the military strategies, conquests, and defeats arising therefrom. Are there any other yet to be tested that have not yet been?

 Yes, it is easy to imagine that after millions or billions of years we are now at a place where we can begin to intelligently plot our future—no longer dependent upon chance (or fate), to determine the our chosen course. We are already extending our life-span by our medical technology. We are beginning to understand the science of genetics and expect soon to tailor-make our food and medication—perhaps even discover the fountain of life so futilely sought in previous generations! If all of our present plans and dreams should be realized, what then? Would our life here on earth approach utopia? Would life then be worth living? Something to think about, certainly.

By contrast, even as far as we have come in this life here and now, how does that compare with the Biblical ideal of love for one another as I (Jesus) have loved you? Is there ANY comparison? No! True, faithful, Christians obedient to the law of love that governs all things are rare indeed. As such it certainly gives excuse to question the entire concept of love and the Bible that embodies it, but even in spite of its rarity, it is still the love taught in the Bible that keeps a spark of light still burning in this dark and hurting world.

I Believe in the Bible!

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What? There Is No Soul?

No! There is no such thing as a soul, if by that word one is referring to some entity separate from the physical body that dwells within during life and departs from the body at the time of death.

This is a Biblical truth--but contended ever since the serpent (Satan) claimed that God was lying when He told Adam and Eve that they would die if they ate of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. His claims that God was lying, that their eyes would be opened, and they would be like gods continue to hood-wink most of mankind (as a careful study of the Holy Bible will confirm to the honest student.) (The Bible tells us that Satan is a liar from the beginning, and the father of lies, John 8:44.)

God created man from the “dust of the earth” and breathed the breath of life into him, and man BECAME a living being with physical, mental and spiritual qualities. (Note: We all understand the physical qualities and their role in the function of the entire being. Our understanding of the full range of mental qualities may not be as complete. Spiritual qualities, those that allow us to sense the presence of God and other human beings and to communicate on a level beyond physical act or thought, provide for the development and sustenance of relationships between human beings and between human beings and God, their Creator, redeemer, and sustainer--and to a lesser degree with other of God’s great creation.)

When a man dies, he returns to the dust from which he was formed.

There is no soul, but there is a complete record in heaven of every person living now and that has ever lived on earth (Daniel 12:1; Hebrews 12:23; Revelation 3:5; 20:12; Palma 69:28) --perhaps something akin to a modern computer and “Flash drive” upon which those of us living on earth today manage and store our electronic information.

Not only the computer and “Flash drive,” but the Personal I.D. and the password as well are accurately maintained and protected, not in the “clouds” alone, but in the very heavens, the dwelling place of God.

At the time of conception, the connection between heaven and earth is established and communication begun and carried on throughout the developmental process.

It is interesting that the human brain itself is comparable to a powerful “hard wired” computer (with both electrical and chemical connections to all parts of the body) that also has highly efficient “Wi Fi” capabilities with the ability to send and to receive instantaneous (just as real as the electro-magnetic waves of our modern equipment) communication with other beings on earth and in the “heavens (John 14:12-16),”

Interesting, too, is the fact that our brains are malleable. They develop progressively according to the input they receive from both heaven and earth, as well as the life-styles and health of their mother within whom they are developing. One example: Should for some reason, the developing baby not form eyes, the other sensors (ears, touch, etc.) and accompanying brain areas will develop to help to compensate for the loss of vision.

For this reason, it is essential for the sake of the developing baby that the parent’s abide by optimum health practices. But not only during development, for during childhood, and throughout life, communication connections (new and old) within the individual himself/herself as well as between heaven and earth, are dependent upon the functioning status of the brain, the body, and the family within which it exists. 

At the time of death, the “computer” is put to “sleep” until resurrection morning.

Confessed sins are forgiven, deleted, made possible by the sacrificial blood shed by Jesus at the Cross.

Unconfessed sin remain on the “flash drive” until Judgment is complete and the data destroyed along with the sinner by fire (hell). Note: Nothing but fire has the capability of purifying this sin-sick world in preparation for restoration to its original, sin-free status.

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Two Faces of Love

Perhaps you, too, have experienced it!

I had just gotten onto U. S. Highway 39 going south and accelerating in my attempt to pace myself with the traffic speed of the day, when suddenly I saw flashing red lights in my rear view mirror. The whine of a patrol car siren followed shortly thereafter. I pulled over to the side of the road and waited as the patrolman pulled up behind, got out of his car and walked up to my window.

“Do you know how fast you were traveling?” he asked.

In a few minutes and after I had explained my “innocent” actions, he wrote up a warning ticket and wished me well.

While our view of the policeman that gives us a warning instead of a ticket may be one of mercy and kindness, that same patrolman may very well be seen as insensitive, cold and harsh—even mean--should he justly give us a ticket with a heavy fine when stopped for disregarding the law of the land. It is no different with our view of God. We view Him as kind and loving when we perceive that He is blessing us, but with fear, disgust and anger when life doesn’t go the way we would like it to go. Thus, even in the Bible we often find God’s intentions expressed in the words of disillusioned men—men who are not quite able to comprehend the manifestations of the love and justice of God.

Have you ever considered that God’s “anger” might be an expression of God’s love? Let us take a look!

The following three texts from the Bible provide the most vivid description of that entity so often described as hell. Let us examine each of them in the context of the entire Bible.

“Then a third angel followed them, saying with a loud voice, ‘If anyone worships the beast and his image, and receives his mark on his forehead or on his hand, he himself shall also drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out full strength into the cup of His indignation. He shall be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels and in the presence of the Lamb. And the smoke of their torment ascends forever and ever; and they have no rest day or night, who worship the beast and his image, and whoever receives the mark of his name,’” Revelation 14:9-11.

“Now when the thousand years have expired, Satan will be released from his prison and will go out to deceive the nations which are in the four corners of the earth, Gog and Magog, to gather them together to battle, whose number is as the sand of the sea. They went up on the breadth of the earth and surrounded the camp of the saints and the beloved city. And fire came down from God out of heaven and devoured them. The devil, which deceived them, was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone where the beast and the false prophet are. And they will be tormented day and night forever and ever,” Revelation 20:7-10.

“But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night, in which the heavens will pass away with a great noise, and the elements will melt with fervent heat; both the earth and the works that are in it will be burned up. Therefore, since all these things will be dissolved, what manner of persons ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness, looking for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be dissolved, being on fire, and the elements will melt with fervent heat? Nevertheless we, according to His promise, look for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells,” 2 Peter 3:10-13.

These three Bible texts, perhaps more than any others depicting that state often referred to as hell fire, fire and brimstone, the wrath of God, God’s vengeance, etc. describe the predicted outcome of those who reject God’s plan for rescue from this sin sick planet. Yet, most people reading them will conclude, “If this is a picture of a loving God, I want nothing to do with Him.” In fact, one might ask, “How could anyone love a God who would be involved in such a massive genocide?”

Do these and other similar Bible texts deserve such a conclusion?

The Bible is full of descriptions and allegations claiming that God is a God of love, and, in fact, that He is actually a personification of love itself—love that is without partiality, that is giving of itself, and always right and just in its actions.

We read these words of God describing himself, “The Lord God, merciful, and gracious, long suffering, and abundant in goodness and truth. Keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin …,” Exodus 34:6, 7.

Furthermore, the Bible claims that Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross of Calvary provides a perfect demonstration of just how real that love is in action. (1 John 4:7-9)

How can this be in the face of such descriptions as the wrath of God and torment with fire and brimstone mentioned in the above texts and others scattered throughout the Bible?

Even with our limited concept of love, most of us would likely agree that the kind of love the Bible credits to God cannot be all warm and fuzzy. In fact, in any successful family or community there are rules and means to enforce them and to guarantee that every member is treated with fairness and justice. Should we expect it to be different with God?

The following true-to-life story provides a very nice human illustration of God’s love as may be lived out in any one of us that is being transformed by that love.

During the genocide in Rwanda a few years ago, a murderous mob entered a church full of people. Among those slaughtered with their axes and machetes was a pastor who refused to join their ranks. Next it was his wife who was also left as dead. Unbeknown to them, she survived. Some months later when her attackers were in prison, she began visiting a prison and ministering to the inmates. One day in her ministry she recognized her husband’s killer, and he recognized her. For weeks he refused her offer of food and clothing--and her offer of forgiveness. Eventually and ever so gradually he began to soften and finally accepted the Bible studies she offered him. When the day came when he was to be released he had no home to go to, so she took him home to live with her. Eventually she adopted him as her own son.

Jesus said, “You will know my disciples by their love.” This lady certainly demonstrated the kind of love that the Bible attributes to God.

We are naturally quick to applaud the love of this dear Rwandan lady who won the love and respect of her husband’s murderer, but what does that love look like for those who know no penitence? Those who enter churches, hospitals and orphanages to rape, terrorize and kill the most vulnerable--the innocent, the children, and their keepers and refuse all offers of forgiveness and repentance?

And living in the world of today one must be blind to fail to see variations of this evil that hurts innocent fellow beings for personal pleasure or gain—for it exists all around us in both blatant and subtle forms. What responsibility does a God of love have to protect the innocent in a society that perpetuates such evil? Could anyone possibly admire one who would even attempt to sweep such terrible acts under the rug and pretend that they did not exist? No! Even the basest of societies recognize that there are some things that are just not acceptable. So, should we expect God to ignore them?

As we ponder this challenge to love, let us take a closer look at some of those representative texts describing God’s actions toward wicked and evil people mentioned above. Several words and phrases catch our attention; “the cup of God’s wrath, or the wrath of God;” “tormented with fire and brimstone;” and “forever and ever.”

The extremes of anguish referred to by the word, torment, may refer to either mental or physical suffering. Furthermore, it may arise from within, as with a guilty conscience for impenitent acts of evil, or from without as the justice system prosecutes alleged or actual criminal acts. For many of those who reject God’s infinite gift of love now and are then facing eternal death, mental torment will almost certainly exceed any physical pain that might accompany their demise.

This was evidently true for Jesus when He was facing death on the cross to save us from our sins (no, not from the first death which we must all suffer, but from the second, eternal death, dying for our sins in our place). According to the record it was in the Garden of Gethsemane where Jesus suffered the greatest torment and suffering, (Please read carefully the descriptions of this torment in the Gospel writings of Matthew 26:36-54; Mark 14:32-50, and Luke 22:39-44). Upon completing His communion with His Father in the Garden and accepting the responsibility and price of our sins in accordance with His Father’s will (Luke 22:42), He was free from the burden of guilt He bore. Then, and only then was He able to be at peace while undergoing the terrible torture leading up to and including his death on the cross. Only then could He say, “Father forgive them for they know what they are doing” (Luke 23:34).

As Jesus experienced mental, emotional, and physical torment and suffering for the sins of us sinners when He died the second death, so may we expect the wicked that have not accepted His death for their sins to suffer as they face their second death.

In our modern world we sometimes use torment to try to get our captives to “talk.” There is nothing in the Bible that suggests God would ever use such tactics.

The term fire and brimstone is first mentioned in the Bible in reference to the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah in the days of Abraham and Lot. “Then the LORD rained brimstone and fire on Sodom and Gomorrah, from the LORD out of the heavens. So He overthrew those cities, all the plain, all the inhabitants of the cities, and what grew on the ground. And it came to pass, when God destroyed the cities of the plain, that God remembered Abraham, and sent Lot out of the midst of the overthrow, when He overthrew the cities in which Lot had dwelt,” (Genesis 19:24, 25, 29).

Forty years had passed as the Children of Israel wandered in the wilderness for a delayed entrance into the Promised Land. Moses was reciting the blessings God had promised if they would be faithful to the instructions given them, and the curses that would rest upon them and their descendants if they ignored Him and went the way of the people then living in the land. As one reviews those curses, one notes that they are all things that always happen when a community or nation loses its direction, its values, its integrity, and faithful God fearing leaders (Deuteronomy 28 & 29). Yet, Moses likens these curses to Sodom and Gomorrah with these words, “… like the overthrow of Sodom and Gomorrah …which the Lord overthrew in His anger and in His wrath,” Deuteronomy 29:23.

As it turned out, Israel did forsake the Lord repeatedly and they did suffer the curses predicted. But in every instance it was the work of enemy nations, and never fire from heaven as occurred in Sodom and Gomorrah as Moses described it. While the nature of their destruction may have been different, the outcome, suffering, and death were the same.

Isaiah the prophet uses similar language to describe the curses of Israel about to befall Israel in his day, but includes all the nations of the world--an obvious warning of events coming at the end of the world. Again, this passage while prophesying massive destruction, utilizes the power of metaphor to apply to various times and situations throughout history (Isaiah chapters 3, 4).

Ezekiel, prophesying during the captivity of Israel by Babylon, uses the same metaphors of hailstones and fire and brimstone to describe both the experience of Israel when destroyed by Babylon and the events during the “last days” of earth history prior to the return of Jesus, (Ezekiel chapter 38).

Peruse the pages of Holy Scripture. In them you will find a number of references to fire, burning, and wrath when describing God and his response to the evils so prevalent in our world. Study these texts in the context of the situation. You will discover that always they depict some aspect of God as a heavenly parent dealing with our problem of sin which like a terrible plague of contagious disease is threatening and/or working to destroy the lives of His children for whom he died and for whom he grieves.

Even in today’s parlance we freely use such terms as forever, endless and infinite to describe limited things. For example, “I haven’t seen him in ages,” or “there is no end to the bugs eating my garden.” It was no different in Bible times. Furthermore, in spite of such terms as forever and ever, or eternally, the Bible is clear that we are mortal, meaning we all die. (Note: This will change for God’s faithful followers when Jesus returns as noted in this text, “So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption and this mortal shall have punt on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory,” 1 Corinthians 15:54).

In no instance is there an example in the Bible of these events described as “eternal or everlasting fires” still burning! There must be a reason for this.

The Bible also tells us that God alone has immortality (lives forever without end), “Which in his times he shall show who is the blessed and only Potentate, the King of kings and Lord of lords; Who alone has immortality, dwelling in the light which no man can approach unto; whom no man has seen, nor can see; to whom be honor and power everlasting. Amen,” 1Timothy 15, 16.

In the Book of Jude, we read, “…He has reserved in everlasting chains under darkness for the judgment of the great day; as Sodom and Gomorrah, and the cities around them in a similar manner to these, having given themselves over to sexual immorality and gone after strange flesh, are set forth as an example, suffering the vengeance of eternal fire,” Jude 6, 7.

Though there is now ample archeological evidence that those cities were indeed destroyed with literal fire that could not be quenched, they are no longer burning (Genesis 19:23-29). Yet the Bible describes the fire as everlasting. Other texts help us to understand everlasting, unquenchable and eternal fire as fires that cannot be extinguished—meaning that they cannot be put out until the fuel feeding them has been exhausted (completely burned up). A careful study of other Biblical references to unquenchable, everlasting or eternal fires may be read to confirm this truth.

The following two such texts are other examples of the meaning of everlasting as used in reference to the fires of hell in the Bible. Malachi 4:1- 3 describes it in these words, “For behold, the day is coming, burning like an oven, and all the proud, yes, all who do wickedly will be stubble. and the day which is coming shall burn them up,” says the LORD of hosts, for they shall be ashes under the soles of your feet.”

Isaiah 34:8-11 reads, “For it is the day of the LORD’s vengeance, the year of recompense for the cause of Zion. Its streams shall be turned into pitch, and its dust into brimstone; its land shall become burning pitch. It shall not be quenched night or day; its smoke shall ascend forever. From generation to generation it shall lie in waste; no one shall pass through it forever and ever. But the pelican and the porcupine shall possess it, also the owl and the raven shall dwell in it.” These texts clearly demonstrate the everlasting fire here ends up with ashes and desolation—a wasteland inhabited by wild birds and animals--not continuous fires that never stop burning! (Note: Though the place in modern Iraq where the ancient city of Babylon lay remains quite desolate, there is no unquenchable fire burning there now.)

With this understanding, the texts in Revelation 20 and 2 Peter 3:10 may now be read as warning statements indicating that death from which there will be no resurrection (no tormenting fires that burn throughout eternity) is the lot of those who live their lives apart from God, the only source of life.

Now, too, we have opportunity to “see” God’s eventual destruction of the wicked as a loving act of justice rendered to those who have followed their master, Satan, at the expense of the innocent and defenseless. In fact, the Bible tells us that the last act in the drama of God’s management of the rebellion that began in heaven and came to earth with Satan and his angels will be an act of acknowledgement by every intelligent being in the universe that God is indeed just and righteous as described in the following text. “Therefore God also has highly exalted Him (Jesus) and given Him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father,” Philippians 2:9, 10. (Please see Romans 14:11, 12 also.)

Yes, the final annihilation of the wicked will no doubt be accomplished by literal burning. And one might wonder why God would not but speak the word and instantly blot all evil and its accomplices out of existence, thus avoiding all suffering and pain, both physical and mental. Why can this not be? Is it possible that death by fire, too, is yet again a response of love? More about this a bit later!

God is love. The Bible is clear in describing the nature and extent of that love (John 3:16; 1 John 4:7-9).

Even with all of the Biblical evidence, many people still struggle with a God that claims to be the personification of love that will destroy those that don’t “buy into” the teachings of the Bible and live according to the principles of love described therein. The disbelief is even greater when confronted with the commonly held interpretation of the Bible that the wicked will literally be tormented and suffer in the flames of hell forever and ever without end—a punishment often understood to be the “wrath or vengeance of God” spoken of in the Bible.

Thankfully, there is a better explanation for the dilemma of hell fire. It is this. There is a real war going on in the universe (please see Revelation chapter 12:1-17; Ezekiel 28:11-18, and Isaiah 14:12-14). God and love are at war with Satan and evil. God is love. The devil knows nothing about love. He is out to kill and destroy all manner of goodness and love (John 10:10). God and His governance of love and truth have been challenged. That love and that law must be vindicated. Love has already proven its power at the cross where Jesus Christ demonstrated both how great is the power of love and how malignant is the power of evil. Yet still to be fully revealed is the ability of love to eliminate evil from the universe in such a way that the justice of love can never again be called into question, while at the same time establishing confirming evidence that evil is not only destructive of all that is good, but that it is also self-destructive as well. Interestingly, we now have the implements of war capable of demonstrating such evidence.

To fail to respond to the devil’s attacks upon the innocent, the unsuspecting, and the impotent, and to permit evil to run rampantly throughout the world without mounting necessary resistance would be incompatible with love. We might look for a moment at the world we live in today. It is presently under attack by radical religionists, threatening to destroy all that is just and good. It would be unconscionable for those nations with power to resist and fight back against this aggression--to fail to expend the resources necessary to protect the innocent and vulnerable. Nor could God! In fact, all references to God’s anger, wrath, hell, fire and brimstone, and all of the other frightening terms recorded in the Bible may properly be understood as His efforts to contain evil against those that are most vulnerable. For God, who has the power and authority to limit the aggression of his enemies would be nothing less than the worst of potentates should He fail to do so.

The Bible, from beginning to end, is filled with accounts of the war, beginning already in Eden and the “serpent’s” conquest of Eve and Adam, and extending to the final conflict in which evil is finally defeated by the glorious love and power of God. Often, as we read those accounts, we see them as battles between peoples, tribes and nations, seldom catching a glimpse of God and Satan as the actual contenders of those conflicts. While we may occasionally see God disciplining His professed followers by permitting evil elements to engage in physical battles with them, seldom do we recognize the significance of those battles as battles primarily between God and Satan. Consequently, we tend to “read” God’s acts of the war as applying to those of us that are merely “boots on the ground” of that universal conflict rather than offensive or defensive actions directed at Satan and his armies of destruction.

Interestingly, there is nothing anywhere in Scripture that even hints to the possibility that any of God’s actions are inspired by any other motive than genuine, unconditional love.

We were created in the image of God. This being the case, there is a sense in which God is also in our image. Thus, we should not expect that He would torment any person in fire or any other punishment for eternity--actions even the most wicked of us men would condemn.

Almost all Christian thought regarding hell is based upon the false teaching about the nature of man as body and a soul rather than as a being (person) created in the image of God. He is not a body and a soul! Neither are his human creations (Genesis 2:7).

Eternal and everlasting, ever and ever—are dependent upon the existence of matter or life. In the absence of life, or of matter, these terms have no relevance. Eternal hell cannot exist if there is nothing to experience it (no soul entity). Eternal life, on the other hand, can exist, for there is then both life and matter.

It is interesting to note from the Bible that God forewarned our first ancestors right after creation that if they were to eat of a certain tree in their garden home contrary to His command, they would die. When later, disregarding His command and falling for the serpent’s (the devil’s) deceptions, they found themselves driven by a guilty conscience to run and hide from God’s presence. Now separated from Him and His rule of love, the only source of life, they were destined to die Genesis 3:19).

Fortunately, out of love, God had a contingency plan whereby to heal the rift caused by sin and to restore their connection with Him, thereby averting otherwise inevitable death. The same is true for each one of us. Separated from God by our un-repentant sin, we, too, are on a path to death.

The devil knew on that night when he wrestled with Christ in the Garden of Gethsemane just before the crucifixion that if he could separate Jesus from His connection with the Father as he had done with Adam and Eve he would gain the victory and the world would be his.

All of heaven and earth were put to the test that night before the crucifixion of Christ. If as some believe, the entire episode was nothing but a sham (for it is claimed by many that Jesus could not have failed and God was just putting on a good show), then we are forced to believe that God is just like us and His love as fickle as ours. On the other hand, if it is true that the world hung in the balance that night as Jesus soaked the cold ground beneath his prostrate body with his own bloody sweat we have a picture of a God that is incomparably and incomprehensibly governed by nothing but love. Clearly, the fact that Jesus drank the “cup of God’s wrath” (death) in our stead (Matthew 26:39; John 18:11), and won the victory under such dire circumstances proves that the wrath of God is not a state of uncontrolled rage angrily casting his creation in the fires of endless torment. Rather, it can be nothing other than His expression of extreme grief for the void that will exist throughout eternity for every single lost sinner that chooses separation from God and the death that ultimately and naturally follows that choice.

Please consider one other aspect of God’s response to the evil in this world and the reason for his response. The prophet Habakkuk had this to say when speaking with God shortly before the destruction of Jerusalem and the spoiling of the land by King Nebuchadnazzar of Babylon. “You are of purer eyes than to behold evil, and cannot look on wickedness….” Habakkuk 1:13.

What does Habakkuk mean when he tells God, “your eyes are too pure to behold evil and cannot look on wickedness?” Why is evil so offensive to God that he wishes not to look at it?

What loving parent (God is the loving parent of all of us!) would take delight in seeing his/her beloved child engaged in the use and trafficking of illegal drugs, binge drinking and partying, or taking part in sexual orgies, gang warfare and every other evil thing? What parent revels in receiving urgent midnight calls from the local police department informing them that their child has been apprehended again for carrying and using illegal drugs or weapons or, perhaps worse yet, that he/she has just been murdered in some terrible mayhem? Yet, respond they must, for it is their child that is in trouble. It can be no different with the God who loves each one of us as his beloved child--forced to not only look upon the terrible results of evil, but to accept responsibility to deal honorably with them as well.

Yes, He created us. We are His children. He loves every one of us as only a God of love can love. He is jealous for us and will do anything and everything possible to win our love and to induce us to live with Him for eternity, but love will not take away freedom of choice and turn us into robots. Love cannot force even a child to accept, or to return that love.

Why do we call it grief when a parent experiences such tragedy and wrath when it is God who experiences it with his children?

There is no other way to accurately view the wrath of God but as grief for the lost that will miss out on eternal life in a new, sin-free world. We can be certain of this, for all through Bible history, we see God repeatedly seeking to save and be with us, that special creation made in His own image.

Unfortunately, His arch enemy, the serpent, that old dragon, the devil and Satan has played his cards well (Revelation 12). He has successively convinced the masses of humanity throughout the ages that it is God’s wrath, His vengeance, that is responsible for the heinous picture of hell so often depicted in religious art and writing--a picture in which sinners are tortured by fire without end. This is not the God of love described in the Bible, but the cunning devising of an enemy that has used it to turn untold millions against the very ONE who has given His all to rescue us from sin and evil.

Today as I write, bombs are exploding in various cities of our world. Entire cities are literally being leveled and destroyed, and hurting people are fleeing for their lives. Who is to blame for such tragedy? Is it the ruling party, the “liberators,” Or God? What is happening today is little different from the wars and conflicts that have raged all through history—selfish and proud human beings trying to lord it over others by whatever means deemed necessary. Yet, all through the Bible, as at the end of earth history, God has taken the hit! And, yes, we humans have blamed Him--and He has accepted that blame, for He is our Father, our Creator and our God. But, no, He is not to blame for our choices and the outcome of our choices.

And there is more! Un-precedented floods, fires, earthquakes and tsunamis, tornadoes and hurricanes, and other “natural” disasters are coming upon our world. These, too, we call “acts of God.” Yet we are the ones that are destroying our planet! Not God.

Consider this. While truth has never changed, the revelation of truth has been a progressive process from Adam’s fall to our present time. Some things can only be understood based upon the truth that has gone before. All of the natural laws of the universe have existed from eternity past, but many are just now being discovered and applied. All communication is limited by our knowledge and understanding.

In Jesus’ day, as in prior generations, the meaning of the terms used by him were well understood based upon the previous nearly 1400 years’ experience of Israel and the symbols and metaphors of the prophets. They knew what Jesus was referring to by “worms that do not die” & unquenchable fire (Is 66:24; Mark 9:44-48); hell (Gehenna - 2 Chron. 33:6; Matt.5:29, 30); fire and brimstone (Sodom and Gomorrah, Genesis 19:24-29; Jude 7); burn as oven, burn them up as stubble, Malachi 3:1-3). During the ensuing two thousand years since then, the origin and symbolism of these terms have been lost by most of the world. Let us look at just one example.

Gehenna, the Hebrew word that is most often translated, hell, was a deep, narrow, glen just south of the city of Jerusalem where in former times apostate Israelites and followers of various Ba’als and other Canaanite gods, including Moloch, sacrificed their children by fire (2 Chronicles 28:3; 33;6; Jeremiah 7:31; 19:2-6). This valley eventually became the common receptacle for all the garbage of the city. Here the refuse of the city (including dead animals, criminals and other bodies) were discarded and consumed by a fire that continued to burn as long as there was fuel to burn. In Jesus’ day this valley had become the symbol of everlasting destruction. It was in this sense that Jesus used the term to symbolize the death of the wicked and unbelieving.

Interestingly, our modern understanding of hell is based upon the teaching that the soul is immortal. This was NOT the understanding of Jesus nor the apostles when referring to hell (Gehenna).

In fact many protestant, Jewish, and Catholic theologians now accept and support the Biblical concept of death as sleep-like from which there will be a resurrection, just as Jesus and the prophets described it.

I find it interesting that modern scientists and astrophysicists are able with powerful instruments to look into the far reaches of the heavens and see fiery worlds, galaxies, and nebula without number. Should it seem strange, therefore, that the Bible describes God and His abode in fiery terms? (Hebrews 12:29; Deut. 4:24, 25; 5:25; 9:3-Ex. 19:14-19). Interesting, too, is the Bible description of Lucifer’s (Satan after the rebellion) dwelling place in heaven as among the stones of fire, (Ezekiel 28:1-26).

“There is one other sense in which hell may be viewed as an expression of love. It is this! Could there be any greater torment than to be denied the privilege of death, and to be forced to live forever in a place and with people in which one would be a total misfit—and unable to ever escape? I think not! And a loving God has provided a way of escape for everyone. We are free to accept or reject it, and God will not force anyone! 

“Yes, the final annihilation of the wicked will no doubt be accomplished by literal burning. And one might wonder why a loving God would not but speak the word and instantly blot all evil and its accomplices out of existence, thus avoiding all suffering and pain, both physical and mental. Why can this not be? Is it possible that death by fire, too, is yet again a response of love?

 “When a loving parent spanks a child for an intentionally naughty and unrepentant act, the child (and perhaps siblings) is being taught that some things are not compatible with health and happiness. But this is not all! The guilt and separation that always plagues one who knowingly commits sin also finds resolution.

“As noted above, there is something about guilt that requires either repentance or penalty in order to experience the peace of full resolution of the guilt resulting from evil acts. Since God has proven by the process of judgment that there is none among the wicked that will have experienced repentance, and hence, none can experience forgiveness (though God has waited long to give it), only penalty can satisfy the requirement of the infinite love of God and permit the finally unrepentant to exit life in peace.”

Note: There is another point that must be considered. We were born in sin. It is part of our nature. In this sense we are all guilty before God though we may be living a godly life and walking with the Lord. Jesus has already taken the punishment of this guilt by His death on Calvary. Because of this, all who by faith accept this gift may enjoy the peace that forgiveness may provide. 

 “Yes, it is love indeed that motivates God in dealing with our free choices the way He does. And yes, hell (death) is a loving act of a just and merciful God! Knowing God as He has revealed Himself throughout the Biblical record and the record of history, we may be certain that the tears will be flowing freely down the cheeks during this most difficult time of grief, not alone by the redeemed as they grieve the loss of loved ones not there, but by our Creator, Redeemer, Sustainer and Friend as well when at last He must perform his ‘strange act’ of ridding the world and the universe of sin and its terrible consequences.”

The Bible tells us that there is such a thing as eternal life. It also tells us that sin will not arise again, and describes heaven and the new earth as places where there will be no sin (Galatians 5:19-21; Daniel 2:44; Revelation 21:8; Nahum 1:9, and many others).

As important as an understanding of the war between good and evil (God and Satan) is to the plan of God to rescue sinners from the consequences of sin and to restore His original earth creation, most of the world, including most Christians, fail to believe and accept the reality of that war so clearly taught in the Holy Bible. As a consequence, it is nigh impossible to understand the nature of man, the nature of death, and the deceptive role of evil spirits and demons in the plan of God to rescue and restore His creation, forever after, free of sin. 

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A New Commandment!

“… As I have loved you!”

“A new commandment I give unto you, that you love one another as I have loved you. That you love one another,” John 13:34.

Have you ever thought about how much God loves you? Have you ever considered what it cost God to ransom the human race from the clutches of Satan after his deceptive conquest of Adam and Eve? I recently discovered some quotations that have expanded my understanding of that cost, and rather than trying to place those quotes into my words I have chosen to share them as written. Please enjoy the following quotations describing that cost in the words of Ellen White, one believed by many of us to have been inspired by divine revelation.

The Bible tells us of God’s call to Abraham to sacrifice his son (Please read Genesis chapter 22).

“Every step that Abraham advanced toward Mount Moriah, the Lord went with him. All the agony and grief that Abraham endured during the three days of his dark and fearful trial, were imposed upon him to give us a lesson in perfect faith and obedience, and that we might better comprehend how real was the great self-denial and infinite sacrifice of the Father in giving his only Son to die a shameful death for the guilty race. No trial, no suffering or test, could be brought to bear upon Abraham, which would cause such mental anguish, such torture of soul, as that of obeying God in offering up his son.”  {ST, April 1, 1875 par. 22} 

“The Son of God, heaven's glorious Commander, was touched with pity for the fallen race. His heart was moved with infinite compassion as the woes of the lost world rose up before Him. But divine love had conceived a plan whereby man might be redeemed. The broken law of God demanded the life of the sinner. In all the universe there was but one who could, in behalf of man, satisfy its claims. Since the divine law is as sacred as God Himself, only one equal with God could make atonement for its transgression. None but Christ could redeem fallen man from the curse of the law and bring him again into harmony with Heaven. Christ would take upon Himself the guilt and shame of sin--sin so offensive to a holy God that it must separate the Father and His Son. Christ would reach to the depths of misery to rescue the ruined race.  {PP 63.2} 

     Before the Father He pleaded in the sinner's behalf, while the host of heaven awaited the result with an intensity of interest that words cannot express. Long continued was that mysterious communing--"the counsel of peace" (Zechariah 6:13) for the fallen sons of men. The plan of salvation had been laid before the creation of the earth; for Christ is "the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world" (Revelation 13:8); yet it was a struggle, even with the King of the universe, to yield up His Son to die for the guilty race. But "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. Oh, the mystery of redemption! The love of God for a world that did not love Him! Who can know the depths of that love which "passes knowledge"? Through endless age’s immortal minds, seeking to comprehend the mystery of that incomprehensible love, will wonder and adore.  {PP 63.3} 

The Lord of glory was put to a most shameful death, and God himself was in Christ, suffering with his only-begotten Son, in order to reconcile the world unto himself.

The great plan of redemption was laid before the foundation of the world. And Christ, our Substitute and Surety, did not stand alone in the wondrous undertaking of the ransom of man. In the plan to save a lost world, the counsel was between them both; the covenant of peace was between the Father and the 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." The Majesty of heaven, the King of glory, would become a servant. The only-begotten Son, in whom the Father delighted, was given for the ransom of a fallen race.  {ST, December 23, 1897 par. 2}  The Father gave himself to the world in the gift of his Son. It was the love of the Father for fallen man that devised in union with the Son the plan of redemption. And in this great gift the character of God is exemplified to all who shall receive the world's Redeemer by faith, as a God of holiness and a God of love. In the crucifixion of his dear Son upon the cross of Calvary, he gives to all the sons and daughters of Adam an expression of his justice and his love. This offering made manifest the immutability of the holiness of his law. In the cross of Calvary justice and truth have met together, righteousness and peace have kissed each other.  {ST, December 23, 1897 par. 4} 

The sufferings of Christ for the redemption of a fallen race were a necessity, and his exaltation is a part of the plan by which his chosen shall at last behold his full and inexpressible glory. Our Lord Jesus Christ could not have become the Redeemer unless he had first been the Sacrifice. How precious is it to contemplate the faithfulness of God to his promises! After his humiliation, suffering, and death, the Son of God steps back to the position of his former glory, and is one with the Father in power and dominion. While on earth he lived a life of humiliation, toiling for the good of men. He suffered, he died, he triumphed over death and the grave, and was received up into glory. But before he takes his seat upon the throne with his Father, he prefers the request: "I will that they also, whom thou hast given me, be with me where I am; that they may behold my glory, which thou hast given me; for thou loved me before the foundation of the world. O righteous Father, the world hath not known thee; but I have known thee, and these have known that thou hast sent me. And I have declared unto them thy name, and will declare it; that the love wherewith thou hast loved me may be in them, and I in them." Jesus had represented the Father to his disciples, and before the throne of God he now represents his believing children, saying: "These have known that thou hast sent me." "And the glory which thou gave me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one; I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them, as thou hast loved me."  {ST, June 27, 1895

Those who represent God the Father as unloving, ready to break forth on his sinful creatures in vindictive wrath, do not speak the truth. In his prayer to his Father, Christ said, "O righteous Father, the world hath not known thee: but I have known thee." The world has measured God by their own finite measurement. They have misjudged and misinterpreted his truth and righteousness. But Christ could say, "I have known thee, for I have been in the secret chambers of the Most High." If the world had been admitted into the counsels of God, they would have one and only one testimony to bear, and that is, "God is love."  {ST, December 23, 1897 par. 3}

   

The wonderful plan of redemption, which human beings cannot fully understand, shows that the Creator deals justly and loves mercy. Because He loved man, He gave His Son as a sacrifice for sin. The plan of salvation was laid open before the foundation of the world was formed. In counsel together, the Father and the Son determined that Satan should not be left unchecked to exercise his cruel power upon man. It is God's will that all shall be saved, that not one shall perish; but He does not compel obedience. He leaves all free to say whether or not they will take advantage of His offer of mercy. In giving Jesus, He poured out all heaven in one gift, making it possible for man to come into possession of eternal riches.  {18MR 345.5} 

But it was not merely to accomplish the redemption of man that Christ came to the earth to suffer and to die. He came to "magnify the law" and to "make it honorable." Not alone that the inhabitants of this world might regard the law as it should be regarded; but it was to demonstrate to all the worlds of the universe that God's law is unchangeable. Could its claims have been set aside, then the Son of God need not have yielded up His life to atone for its transgression. The death of Christ proves it immutable. And the sacrifice to which infinite love impelled the Father and the Son that sinners might be redeemed, demonstrates to all the universe—what nothing less than this plan of atonement could have sufficed to do—that justice and mercy are the foundation of the law and government of God. {DD 4.3}

The grace of Jesus Christ alone can change the heart of stone to a heart of flesh, and make it alive unto God. Men may perform great deeds in the eyes of the world; their achievements may be many and of a high order in the sight of men, but all the talent, all the skill, all the ability of the world will fail to transform the character and make a degraded child of sin a child of God, an heir of heaven. Men have no power to justify the soul, to sanctify the heart. Moral disease cannot be healed save through the power of the great Physician. The highest gift of heaven, even the Only-begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth, is alone able to redeem the lost. What gratitude, what love, should fill our hearts as we contemplate the love of God! The heart should be softened and subdued as we meditate upon the risk that Jesus took in order that man might be elevated and restored. The world's Redeemer endured sufferings commensurate to all the guilt of a lost world. The sacrifice of Christ on Calvary's cross is a consideration that surpasses all the overwhelming power of sin; and when a sense of sin presses upon the heart of the sinner, and the burden seems intolerable, Jesus invites him to look to him and live. There is power in Christ to cleanse the soul. "Come now, and let us reason together, saith the Lord; though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool."  {ST, May 2, 1892 par. 8} 

Never can the cost of our redemption be realized until the redeemed shall stand with the Redeemer before the throne of God. Then as the glories of the eternal home burst upon our enraptured senses we shall remember that Jesus left all this for us, that He not only became an exile from the heavenly courts, but for us took the risk of failure and eternal loss. Then we shall cast our crowns at His feet, and raise the song, "Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honor, and glory, and blessing." Revelation 5:12.  {DA 131.2}  

The fire that consumes the wicked purifies the earth. Every trace of the curse is swept away. No eternally burning hell will keep before the ransomed the fearful consequences of sin. {TA 295.3}

     One reminder alone remains: our Redeemer will ever bear the marks of His crucifixion. Upon His wounded head, upon His side, His hands and feet, are the only traces of the cruel work that sin has wrought.—GC 674. {TA 295.4}

     Sin is a mysterious, unexplainable thing. There was no reason for its existence; to seek to explain it is to seek to give a reason for it, and that would be to justify it. Sin appeared in a perfect universe, a thing that was shown to be inexcusable and exceeding sinful. The reason of its inception or development was never explained and never can be, even at the last great day when the judgment shall sit and the books be opened. . . . At that day it will be evident to all that there is not, and never was, any cause for sin. At the final condemnation of Satan and his angels and of all men who have finally identified themselves with him as transgressors of God's law, every mouth will be stopped. When the hosts of rebellion, from the first great rebel to the last transgressor, are asked why they have broken the law of God, they will be speechless. There will be no answer to give, no reason to assign that will carry the least weight.—ST April 28, 1890. {TA 295.5}

     The inhabitants of all worlds will be convinced of the justice of the law in the overthrow of rebellion and the eradication of sin. . . . The working out of the plan of salvation reveals not only to men but to angels, the character of God, and through the ages of eternity the malignant character of sin will be understood by the cost to the Father and the Son of the redemption of a rebel race. In Christ, the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world, all worlds will behold the marks of the curse, and angels as well as men will ascribe honor and glory to the Redeemer through whom they are all made secure from apostasy. {TA 296.1}

     The efficiency of the cross guards the redeemed race from the danger of a second fall. The life and death of Christ effectually unveils the deceptions of Satan, and refutes his claims. The sacrifice of Christ for a fallen world draws not only men, but angels unto Him [in] bonds of indissoluble union. Through the plan of salvation the justice and mercy of God are fully vindicated, and to all eternity rebellion will never again arise, affliction never again touch the universe of God.—The Messenger, June 7, 1893. {TA 296.2} 

The fire that consumes the wicked purifies the earth. Every trace of the curse is swept away. No eternally burning hell will keep before the ransomed the fearful consequences of sin. {TA 295.3}

     One reminder alone remains: our Redeemer will ever bear the marks of His crucifixion. Upon His wounded head, upon His side, His hands and feet, are the only traces of the cruel work that sin has wrought.—GC 674. {TA 295.4}

DA Desire of Ages

DD Darkness before Dawn

GC Great Controversy

18 Manuscript Releases

PP Patriarchs and Prophets

ST Signs of the Times

TA The truth about angels

 

 

 

 

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Legalist, liberalist--or Lover

Undoubtedly the single most commonly used reason given by Christians for rejecting the seventh day Sabbath as God’s holy time for all mankind is the claim that Sabbath keeping is legalism. The argument often given is that the Ten Commandments were given to Moses for the Jews as part of the Old Covenant, and that since Jesus’ death on the cross we are now living under the New Covenant of Grace, thereby nullifying the obligation of keeping the seventh day Sabbath as holy time set apart for worship to our God.

Is this a valid interpretation of the Holy Scriptures? The Bible tells us that it was Jesus’ custom to regularly attend the synagogue on the Sabbath day. It also makes note of the fact that most of His teaching and divine healings were performed on the Sabbath. For this He was condemned by the Jewish establishment as breaking the Sabbath (a liberalist!). Was He? Or should He be considered a legalist for keeping the Sabbath according to the Commandment?

Interestingly, Jesus condemned the Jews as hypocrites for rigidly keeping the letter of the Law of Moses (including Sabbath keeping) as well as hundreds of other “traditional” laws while ignoring or rejecting the intent and the broad meaning of the law love described by Jesus and as codified by the Ten Commandments.

What are we to understand by these exchanges between Jesus and the Jews?

Perhaps an understanding of the nature of the laws (natural laws) that govern our world and the larger universe would be helpful in our consideration of this issue.

When we think of natural law we think first of those physical laws that affect us every moment of every day in everything we do, yet hardly ever give conscious thought to them. The law of gravity, for example, never changes. But it never goes away and though we seldom think about it, we quite naturally abide by it.

There are also other natural laws that when discovered and applied may permit us to escape some of the power of gravity, even to fly through the sky or even on into the heavens.

In fact everything on earth and in the heavens is governed by similar dependable and unchangeable natural laws.

What is sometimes more difficult for us to understand is the fact that just as there are natural laws that govern the physical aspects of the universe, there are also moral laws that govern the moral aspects of our lives that are responsible for giving and enhancing our lives. And when ignored or defied, moral laws, like the physical laws, inevitably result in injury and death. We know by experience, for example, the positive effects of genuine love for one another, and the negative effects of what happens when love is deficient or absent. They are self-evident and the negative effects witnessed all too frequently in our society today in brokenness, violence, war and untimely death.  

As intelligent beings, we have the freedom and power to comply with, or to ignore the physical laws as well as the moral laws, but in neither case can we ignore them without suffering the consequence which always eventuates in death and non-existence. In other words, there is no life apart from the laws that govern our universe and our little world within it.

Interestingly, these facts beg another answer. Where did these laws come from?

The Bible gives the one and only reasonable answer. That answer is God—a God that describes Himself as creator of heaven and earth and characterizes himself as a moral being whose essence is love (as demonstrated by the sacrificial death of Jesus for the sake of his creation) (1 John 4:7-10). This love is codified in ten summary Commandments and covers all aspects of intelligent life, human and divine (Exodus 20:1-17).

In view of this, and in regards to our original question regarding Jesus’ Sabbath observance and legalism, we find that the Bible identifies the Sabbath as the official Seal of God’s governing authority. It includes his name (the Lord thy God), his domain (heaven and earth), and his authority, (creator) and strategically locates it in the 4th Commandment at the very center of the moral law.

It reads, “Remember the Sabbath day to keep it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord thy God …: For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and hallowed it,” Exodus 20:8-11.

Interestingly, love, by its very nature can only exist in an atmosphere of freedom. And so we see that the entire Bible presents to all intelligent creation the freedom of choice. “I have set before you, life and death, blessing and cursing: therefore choose life, that both you and your seed may live: That you may love the Lord thy God, and that you may obey his voice, and that you may cleave unto him: for he is thy life, and the length of your days: …, (Deuteronomy 30:19, 20; Joshua 24:15).

Though it is true that we have no voice, no choice about entering God’s great creation, we do have a choice of whether or not to remain in it and enjoy its benefits as provided by the law of love--or to opt out and suffer death and a return to non-existence.

Herein lies the answer to our original question about Jesus. Was He a legalist or a liberalist?  

The answer is found in the natural moral law of love as codified in the Ten Commandments, summarized by Moses: “… you shall love your neighbor as yourself. I am the Lord,” Leviticus 19:18; I command you this day, to love the Lord your God, and to serve him with all your heart and with all your soul,” Deuteronomy 11:13.

Jesus confirmed Moses. When tempted by a lawyer at the instigation of the Pharisees saying, “Master, which is the great commandment in the law”? Jesus said, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the first and great commandment. The second is like unto it. You shall love your neighbor as yourself,” Matthew 22:36-39. On another occasion Jesus expanded his instruction saying, “A new commandment I give unto you, that you love you one another as I have loved you …” John 13:34. “By this shall all men know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another,” John 13:35.

How could it be clearer, easier to understand? The Jews were keeping the letter of the law, but by purely selfish motives, expecting thereby to be rewarded by God for doing so. This is legalism!

Jesus was keeping and living by the broad spirit and intent of the law, loving God and loving men. He was totally motivated by that love and willingly gave up his life that we, his enemies might live, not to exalt himself either in the eyes of his Father or of us humans, but just because He loved his Father and us so very much.

And the Sabbath? Could any man love God, the Father or the Son and think to ignore the unchangeable moral law of the universe, setting aside hallowed time for another time originating in the heinous mind of Satan, His arch enemy?

True! Sabbath keepers today may, like many of the Jews of former times, keep the Sabbath Commandment with selfish motives, hoping thereby to profit by eternal life, or they may, like Jesus himself, honor this hallowed time just because of the deep love for their neighbor and their God.

Fortunately, too, only God is able to read the true motive of the human heart. We may see the actions, but cannot know the heart and mind behind those actions—often, even our own!

Will you, dear reader, be a legalist, a liberal, or a true lover of God and man? It is your choice. And all of the powers of heaven will act in to your choice.

Note:

Upon what basis might the Sabbath be considered an essential and legitimate law of the universe on a par with the vast array of physical laws that serve to sustain its existence? I believe this is a fair question, but one that should not be too difficult to understand.

Governments on earth, too, require a governing structure and a governing authority for their existence. Not infrequently, we establish the day of our origin as a memorial serving to maintain the strength of the nation or organization. Such a memorial often serves as an opportunity for its members to express their loyalty, as glue that holds it together and gives it identity and strength. Should we expect it to be different with the government of God?

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Happy New Year, Ba Humbug!!!!!

It is New Year’s morning, 2015. I awakened at my usual time, but with the dreadful thought, “Happy New Year, Ba Humbug.” Who can possibly be happy at the thought of the New Year, I wondered. 2014 has certainly been one of the very worst years in all of history, with natural disasters, wars in almost every land, violence filling the streets of towns and cities worldwide, and ever the threat of even greater calamities (yes even including unleashing our great stockpiles of weapons of mass destruction). Even the thought of a happy new year seemed to me to be an oxymoron.

Fortunately, thoughts of an entirely different order soon arose in my mind. No, I need not fret, for I have every reason to rejoice and anticipate this New Year. For not only are we living in a sick and hurting world, but we are also living in the world at a time such as has never before existed on the planet—a time when we are seeing the final battles that will conclude of the universal war between good and evil, between God and Satan.

Indeed, it is our great privilege and high honor to see the gospel taken to the entire world in fulfillment of the Gospel Commission and the preparation of a people transformed into the image and likeness of Jesus ready and waiting to meet our returning Lord on the one hand vindicating the love and rule of God—and, simultaneously, fully exposing the naturally destructive consequences of evil that will for all eternity condemn sin with such conviction that it will never again arise in God’s great universe throughout eternity.

Then it was that the words of the hymn, We have this hope, by Wayne Cooper, captured my thoughts, “We have this hope that burns within our hearts, Hope in the coming of the Lord. We have this faith that Christ alone imparts, faith in the promise of His Word. We believe the time is here, when the nations far and near shall awake, and shout and sing, ‘Hallelujah! Christ is King!”

Hardly had those words passed through my mind when the title of another more recent hymn by Danny Shelton popped into my thoughts, Hallelujah Home at Last.

This may be the final New Year for us to celebrate the honor and privilege of serving our Lord and Savior in this final battle of the war between God and Satan, or it may not, but one thing is certain, it will not be long before that hope is realized and we will be joining the faithful of all ages in singing those joyous words of that other song composed by Danny Shelton, “Hallelujah, home at last.”

 

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Abraham’s Children

“ … in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed,” Genesis 12:3.

All that is right and good in our world has come to us from God through Abraham just as promised to him in the brief quotation above, (Genesis 12:1-3).

The vast majority of the Christian world counts the first day of the week, Sunday, as the day to attend Church and to worship God. Though many of these same Christians claim the Bible to be God’s message to us humans, they also believe that the Ten Commandments, and especially the seventh day Sabbath, were of Jewish origin and applicable to the people of Israel only.

This seems somewhat strange when one thinks about it, for there is ample evidence in both the secular and religious world that the seventh-day Sabbath was recognized as holy time long before there was a Jew, and before the giving of the Law to Moses on Mount Sinai.

One might wonder by what means Abraham would be a blessing to the nations of the world more effectively than through the Law of Love (God is love) as summarized and codified by the Ten Commandments and through Jesus who vindicated that law of love on the cross by giving His life to save us from our sins. This is even more interesting when one recognizes that it is the Sabbath Commandment appearing at the very center of the document that bears the official seal identifying God as the sovereign governor of His creation.

The Apostle Paul makes an interesting and seemingly very pertinent observation in his letter to the church in Galatia where we read, “If you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s seed and heirs according to the promise,” Galatians 3:29. There seems to be no question in Paul’s mind as to who constitutes Abraham’s seed, and by deduction, who God’s Law of Love (including the Sabbath) governs.  .

Yes! There is a problem that Jesus made a real issue about. In fact he confronted the leaders of the Jews of his day, describing them as hypocrites, faithful to the letter of the law, but completely blind to the true spirit of the Law. Rather than living the love (for God and neighbor) described in the Commandments, they were performing rituals and acts they interpreted as fulfilling the requirements of the Law. Many Christians today, aware of Jesus condemnation of the Jews and fearing lest they fall into the same pattern, react by rejecting the Law almost entirely and claiming Sunday as the Christian Sabbath—even though there is no biblical indication for such a response.

The Bible says, “For I am the Lord, I change not …,” Malachi 3:6. Science tells us that all natural law (the laws that govern our universe) are unchangeable. Certainly it must be the same for the great moral law of God--Unchangeable either by God or man!

When Jesus spoke about the Law, He summarized it as a law of Love for both God and man saying, “A new law I give unto you that you love one another as I have loved you,” John 13:34. The Apostle John, in describing this love wrote, “For God so loved the world that He gave his only Son that whosoever believes on him should not perish but have eternal life, “John 3:16.

We might all agree that obedience to the Ten Commandments in order to gain God’s favor and an eternal home in heaven with Him is NOT love of the type Jesus spoke of. On the other hand, the Bible is clear that one truly born again will be changed by the transforming power of the Holy Spirit into people truly loving both God and man with the same love that God loves us.

We noted earlier that the Ten Commandments are ten descriptions of the kind of love with which God loves us. Consider, for example, how would one that loved with the same quality of love as Jesus expressed when He give His life on the Cross to save us from our sins express their love in turn to God? Would, could, such a one have another God in place of Him (first commandment)? Would, could one bow down before any other god or image and worship it (second commandment)? Would, could such a one make common use of the name and character of God or in any way bring disgrace against Him (third commandment)? The answer to each of these questions seems quite obvious—not if one loved God the way God loves him!

We may ask the same questions about loving our neighbor “as God loved us.” What would that love look like toward our parents (or our children) (fifth commandment)? Would we kill, commit adultery, steal, or lie either in deed or thought, if we truly loved them as God loves us (commandments 6, 7, 8, 9)? Or would we be unsatisfied with the blessings God has given to us, desiring rather the things of this world more than God or another man (commandment 10)? No! Not if our love is anything like the love God has demonstrated toward us.

Let us for a moment forget that the Sabbath Commandment (commandment 4) rests firmly at the center of the Ten and serves as the governing “seal” of God’s sovereignty, and consider it from the perspective of love alone. What would our love for God look like if we truly loved him as He has demonstrated his love for us? Would we, could we ever ignore this special time each seven days that He has set apart to spend with us and establish some other time to worship him? Is there anything in all the world that could possibly prevent us from meeting with Him during that holy time—if we truly loved him as He loves us?

One further thought. From as far back as there is recorded history, the “Day of the Sun (Sunday)” has been sacred time for the enemies of God and his faithful followers. Might one dare to think that Satan himself may be responsible for establishing that day of worship under the guise of God, his arch enemy in the universal war between good and evil, between God and Satan?

If we are on God’s side of this conflict, are we not then Abraham’s children?

You decide!

 

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One Last Battle to Capture the Throne

Part one

The Bible describes a war that began in heaven when Lucifer, one of the angels closest to the throne of God rebelled and enticed a third of the angels of heaven to join him in his quest for power and a place on God’s throne. As a result, Lucifer (henceforth known as Satan) and his co-conspirators lost their place in heaven. (See Revelation chapter 12; Isaiah 14:12-14; and Ezekiel 28:12-18.)

Soon after the creation of Planet Earth Satan succeeded by lies and deception in stealing from Adam and Eve and their descendants the dominion of this new creation made especially for them (Genesis chapters 1 3). By this act of aggression, the focus of the war that began in heaven shifted to Planet Earth. The world in which we now live is the natural consequence of that war that continues between God and Satan, between the powers of Good and the powers of evil.

Adam and Eve, guilty and ashamed, had hardly had time to run and hide from the presence of God before He appeared to them and outlined His plan for the restoration of the world to them and their descendants, (Genesis 3).

In due time Jesus came to earth, lived among us, walked in our shoes, and died upon the cross for our sins according to the plan out lined long before the need (1 Peter 1:18-20). In so doing He proved the power of godly, self-renouncing love over evil, and exposed the malignant nature of Satan’s rebellion. By this defining act of Jesus, the promise of our restoration and the victorious conclusion of the war was determined—but not conceded by the devil.

The Bible tells of yet other battles to be fought. See Revelation 12; 13:1-18; 16:10-21; Daniel 7:24-28; Ephesians 6:10-18, including one great final battle described as a “time of trouble such as this world has never before seen” (Daniel 12:1; Matthew 24:21), also referred to in Revelation 16:16 as the Battle of Armageddon.

Still to be seen in the final phases of this war is:

1.) The power of the God’s love to transform fallen human beings into faithful citizens of the kingdom of God that cannot be distracted or stolen away by any other challenge or temptation, and

2.) The irrefutable evidence that every other form of rule ends in death and destruction (countering Satan’s claim to Eve and Adam that “you shall not surely die, but you shall be as gods, knowing good and evil,” Genesis 3:4, 5).

Both of these points will be seen and experienced in the final battle of this war that will end all wars throughout the endless ages of eternity.

The devil knowing what is at stake—knowing that this is his last opportunity to disprove the claim of God’s victory at the cross--we may be certain that the final battle of this war will be the most intense ever fought in heaven or on earth, just as predicted. We may be certain that he will spare nothing to accomplish his millennia long objective. There is therefore no question but that the devil will use every trick he has conceived during the past 6000 years to bring dishonor to God and to get His witnesses to yield their faith in God and become subject to him.

But, of course, no war is one-sided. And though the hand-to-hand battle involving the two opposing commanders (Jesus and the Satan) at the time when Jesus was here on earth representing us was intense, this final battle involving all of the powers of evil against the faithful followers of God promises to be equally engaging, again with eternal consequences—for by it, the governance of love will be vindicated and the devil’s challenge eternally defeated. Sin will not arise again (Nahum 1:9).

This time of trouble for His faithful ones is permitted by God to prove that there is NOTHING that can steal them from His hand. (They have already been judged and sealed, but the time of trouble will confirm the findings of the judgment, not alone for those living at the time, but for all who through the ages have been judged faithful to their creator, redeemer, Savior and friend). By this the devil’s claim from the beginning that God’s law cannot be kept, and that hence there must be a better way (his way) will be eternally dispelled.

One Last Battle to Capture the Throne

Part two

It is difficult to realize the significance of the passages in the Bible that tell of Lucifer’s (Satan’s) jealous aspiration to sit on the throne of the God of the universe in His place. (See Isaiah 14:12-14; Revelation 12:1-17; Ezekiel 28:12-18) What intelligent, created being in his right mind could ever imagine such a thought, to say nothing about actually attempting to do so? Yet, the universal conflict arising from this “angelic” rebellion against God fills the pages of the Bible and the historical record, and describes the most reasonable explanation for the present status of our world today. No other scenario explains the evidence that we see all around us as the reality of the universal conflict between God and Satan as is portrayed throughout the pages of the Holy Bible.

That the commanders on each side of this conflict are invisible and inaudible to us humans sometimes makes the reality of the war difficult to comprehend—but does not diminish the reality of what is happening, both seen and unseen.

Since it is impossible for us humans to fully comprehend, the Bible identifies God’s actions as the mystery of Godliness (1 Timothy 3:16), and the devil’s actions as the mystery of iniquity (lawlessness) (2 Thessalonians 2:7). In the paragraphs to follow, it may appear at times as though I am over-reacting as I identify some of the strategies and weapons utilized by each party in this ideological, yet very physical war, as we enter into this final battle of the war.

God claims that He is Love personified (1 John 4:7, 8), that all of His words are truth, that He is the source of all natural law (including the moral law of love) and that His laws are unchangeable—a fact that both simple observation and advanced science are able to verify. He claims that His principles are the one and only source of life and that apart from them life cannot long exist.

Though the devil makes no such claim, observation of both his short term and long term activities seem to indicate that he thinks he has a better way to govern than God’s governance of love and truth. God calls him a liar and the father of lies (John 8:44).

Because I believe God is the very essence of love as He claims and as He has demonstrated on a wooden cross on Mount Calvary, the following discussions regarding this war and its culmination will reflect my bias.

Because love could not be love if freedom to accept or reject it were not available to every intelligent being, it is our individual choice to decide who we believe and to whom we will fully yield our allegiance—whether to God and eternal life in His presence, or to the devil and to ultimate non-existence.

The means by which God wages war are all founded upon the principles of His kingdom, i.e. natural law, love, truth, and freedom as administered through the agencies of the Holy Spirit and the holy angels, made possible through the sacrificial death of Jesus, Himself, very God.

On the other hand, Satan respects no constraints of law, utilizing any and every tool that might appears to offer him an advantage. Deception in every possible form constitutes his primary means of warfare.

Though the war and its commanders are unseen and in the heavens, the battle field for the war has been here on earth since Adam and Eve distrusted God and yielded their allegiance to the devil serpent. We are the “boots on the ground.” We humans are the witnesses, the exhibits by which judgment and the outcome of the war will be determined (Ephesians 6:12-18).

It is our individual choice as to which side of the war we will favor and to which cause we will fight and offer our lives. And though many of our actions are physical, they arise from our thoughts (minds). Our minds and thoughts, in turn, are intimately related to the efficiency and function of our brains, serving as the primary medium through which God and Satan each work in and through us. By virtue of our birth into a world enslaved to the devil, we are naturally inclined toward evil. That inclination may be enhanced or diminished by the information programmed into us by our parents and caregivers during our early years, and by our own choices upon reaching the age of accountability.

This being the case, the lives we live and our eternal destiny are dependent upon the programming we permit to enter the senses, the avenues to the soul – positive and negative. Though God has provided the means through His gift of Jesus for every one of us to experience eternal life with Him, our eternal destiny is dependent upon our choice to accept or reject Him--as reflected by the choices we make during our lifetimes.

 

One Last Battle to Capture the Throne

Part three

The Bible identifies just two classes of people waiting and ready to meet Jesus to spend eternity upon His return. They are described simply as those the “Keep the Commandments of God and have the faith (testimony) of Jesus (truly love God and one another as demonstrated by their actions), and those that participate in the devils rebellion against God and the principles of love that govern His kingdom (everyone else) (Revelation 12:17; 14:12). The Bible makes this distinction very clear. “No one can serve two masters,” (Matthew 6:24).

While the Bible is also very clear that God is not willing for anyone to perish but that everyone should have eternal life with Him (1 Timothy 2:4; 2 Peter 3:9), the fulfillment of this desire of God is dependent upon our complete surrender to Him and His governance of love. And while God so loved the world that He gave His only Son in our place for our sins (John 3:16, 17), the New Birth into His kingdom, if real, will result in the transformation of the believer into the image of Jesus (John 3:1-21)—fully committed to the cause of God in the war between good and evil, now and for all eternity.

Each one’s eternal destiny is made possible by the sacrificial blood of Jesus and the power of the Holy Spirit and is set at the time of death. The judgment of God is not based so much upon our sins, either of ignorance or of intent (which may be confessed and forgiven through the blood of Jesus), but upon our surrender to His principles and our undivided commitment, both offensively and defensively, to His cause.

The devil knows this. It is the reason for his relentless efforts to entrap each one of us and assign us as agents in his service in his ceaseless attack against the kingdom of God.

The kingdom of God functions according to the eternal unchangeable laws established at creation, including the moral law of unconditional, self-renouncing love as summarized by and codified in the Ten Commandments and described in the Holy Bible (Exodus 20:1-17). Accordingly, the Bible, carefully studied in an attitude of prayer and honest searching, is the standard against which all other inspiration and science must be tested.

Contra wise, the devil knows only deception and lying, and has no respect for life. He is a murderer from the beginning, (John 8:44). He knows no constraints and honors no ethical code in his attempt to undermine, distort or otherwise counter the law of God and the principles of His kingdom that alone give life, meaning and purpose.

Understanding these two principles, none of us need be long tricked or defeated by Satan, the Prince of this world and his agents, whether of angels or of men.

It is crucial to note at this point that though we may be able to judge the actions of others, we are NEVER able to judge the heart of another, whatever their religious affiliation, heritage, race, place of origin--or to determine another’s relationship with God. These judgments belong to God alone. Nor should our thoughts or actions EVER be determined by the witness and actions of any other man.

The following Strategies and weapons used by the powers of evil exemplify some of the most effective deceptions by which the devil works to steal away the followers of God and to conscript them to his own service.

These warnings are for all real and professed believers!

The “trick” used in Eden (“You shall not surely die” Genesis 3:4) to defeat our first ancestors remains one of the devil’s most effective weapons. While the Bible clearly teaches that death is as a sleep from which the dead will be resurrected one day, most of the world accepts the devil’s lie that only the physical body dies while his/her soul lives on in heaven or hell or some place in between. By “selling” this lie to the people of the world, the devil has magnified his, and that of fallen angels (demons), effectiveness to deceive human beings at times when they are most vulnerable to deception. By appearing as the “so called” souls of the dead in apparitions, visions, miracles of healings, answered prayers, etc., the devil is able to create illusions that may be next to impossible for loved ones to discern or to dispel. (2 Corinthians 11:13-15).

A close second to this lie is the related one about eternal torment in the fires of hell, purgatory and limbo. By this, he has convinced almost the entire world that the infinitely loving God that created, redeemed us at infinite cost, and continuously sustains us, is, rather, the most violently evil being in the universe. How could anyone love, trust, and obey such a God? This is the implication of this demonic lie.

During that same encounter with Adam and Eve in Eden Satan claimed that eating of the fruit of the tree would enable one to “know good and evil,” (Genesis 3:5). Until today he continues to claim (falsely) that good and evil are complimentary forces involving all aspects of life. Upon this claim the devil has based his campaign to counter the benefits of God’s unchangeable law of love. We see this claim demonstrated in the ancient Eastern concept of yin and yang as applied in many “New Age energy” teachings and practices—skillfully woven into such practices as acupuncture, Yoga, reflexology and numerous other “healing” modalities.

Closely related to this “complimentary” deception are many occult phenomena (noted above) and/or pagan practices involving apparitions, visions, miraculous healings, “answered prayers,” “near-death experiences” (even restoration of life after apparent death), innate and extraterrestrial powers, etc. applied to all aspects of life.

And, yes, the devil has made great sport in creating conflict between religious beliefs and practices, including but certainly not limited to Christianity, Judaism, and Islam etc. This conflict is not limited to the major religions of the world but, extends as well to the core unit of society, the human family. It includes such things as conflict over doctrinal issues and worship practices, biblical interpretation, biblical translations and such basic things as Biblical truths versus “Traditions” of the Church.

Among these truths that for centuries have torn families and societies apart is the Ten Commandment Law of God and its central commandment describing God’s governing authority, the “Seal of God,” the seventh day Sabbath. It is most interesting that the Ten Commandments receive a lot of attention from across the religious world while nearly the entire world ignores or condemns the seventh-day Sabbath (as legalism), preferring instead the devil’s counterfeit Sabbath—thereby depriving many honest people the full benefits of spending each Sabbath with God on the time He has sanctified for worship and close fellowship (Genesis 2:2, 3).

Prevalent today and seen frequently in the daily world news is the attention being given to the Unity Movement ardently supported by the present Catholic pope in conjunction with many Protestant churches and non-Christian religions with emphasis on Sunday as the day of the family and other beliefs held in common while ignoring vital Biblical truths.

Not so widely reported is the acknowledged necessity for compromise of divergent teachings and the related need of coercion or force (threats, prosecution and persecution) for those unwilling to lend their support (“fanatics and fundamentalists”) to the cause. (Note: though increasingly being classified together, “fundamentalism” has in the past been defined as belief in the literal teachings of the Holy Bible while “fanaticism” has been understood as “excessive, irrational zeal” for some particular belief.)

In such an environment as described above, nothing fans the flames of rejection and persecution quite as effective as fanaticism –certainly one of the devil’s most effective weapons for undermining crucial “fundamentalism” of biblical truths.

True unity with God, for the individual or for the body of believers, is dependent upon forsaking the “wisdom” and practices of the world and surrendering body, mind and spirit to the cause of God. Knowing this, Satan and his associates, of angels and men, are continuously devising “innocent (safe)” diversions that steal away one’s time, means, energy, and interest in the things of God. By accepting and participating in these diversions, unwary professed followers of God silently and insidiously, take on the characteristics of the enemy of God—aggression, pride, egotism, self-centeredness, deception, etc. in place of the characteristics of Jesus (Galatians 5:16-25).

Examples of such diversions include competitive sports (including all professional sports), nearly all forms of entertainment, and all sorts of “things” (fashions, cars, boats, homes, latest electronic instruments, and other unnecessary “toys,” and other gifts and talents receiving the worship that belongs to the giver of all gifts).

There is yet one other area of growing concern by which the devil is even now capturing the hearts and minds of man in this final battle between God and Satan. Never before during the history of man has the acquisition of knowledge been so rapid and wide spread as it is today. It involves such things as science and technology and the application of natural law to our study of cosmology, origins (creation-evolution), genetics, occult phenomena, and other areas of advanced learning that may easily deceive and lead one to question the Holy Bible and one’s faith and dependence upon God.

This explosion of knowledge was predicted by the prophet Daniel (Daniel 12:4), and is rapidly becoming one of the devil’s most deceptive weapons.

It is as if a dam has suddenly been released that is now permitting rivers of knowledge pent up for millennia to flood out into the minds and hands of mankind. And that knowledge is changing the world—for evil as for good.

Knowing the things we humans now understand about the unchanging nature of the natural laws that govern the universe, we can begin to imagine how it is possible that Satan, (once standing in the very presence of God and having knowledge of these laws governing all nature)may have thought it possible to challenge the rule of God. Even so there is no way to really know what that war in heaven really looked like that forced the hand of God to exclude the devil and his followers. What we may now begin to understand, however, based upon the findings of modern science is that this final battle between Christ and Satan has the potential to be far more terrible and far reaching than anything we have ever before witnessed here on earth—just as predicted in the Holy Scriptures.

That modern scientists are able to understand and apply the secrets of the universe from the smallest Higgs particle to the vast expanse of space is most interesting. Of this we may be quite certain: In some way this flood of knowledge must be related to the release of the “four winds” mentioned in the prophecies of John in the Book of Revelation (Revelation 7:1-4). No longer restrained by God, Satan is free to conscript his human counterparts in the utilization of any and all of the laws of nature in preparation for that final battle for the throne of God. That this is the case is clearly evidenced by the many things we humans are doing in our world and far out into the universe, things formerly attributed to God alone.

It should be noted here that the acquisition of knowledge or the application of it is not necessarily an evil thing. In fact, it is this that is even now providing the tools to take the gospel to the ends of the world. No! True science is not contrary to the rule of God, nor to the words of the Holy Scriptures. It is not knowledge that is evil, but, rather, what we do with this knowledge--whether to exalt and glorify ourselves (man) through our many accomplishments, or to glorify God through faithfully sharing the governing principles of care and loving service to our hurting fellow men that are cold, hungry, homeless, incarcerated, and sick.

Unfortunately, almost every application of the findings of modern science is directed toward exalting the wisdom and ingenuity of man for his own selfish interests.

We are presently entering this last battle and can just begin to see a sampling of things to come. Of this we may be sure, the devil will spare nothing in this, his final quest for the Throne as the “winds of strife” are fully released and God gives Satan and his followers full and unrestrained access to the people and resources of this world. In doing this the true nature of the character (heart) of Satan and his co-conspirators will be revealed, and in the process, will prove the natural self-destructive consequences of sin and disregard for the Law of God’s love.

We can only begin to imagine what may happen when our stockpiles of weapons of mass destruction already in place are let loose. We are already experiencing samples of what we may expect from “natural disasters” as our environment passes a point of no return. We are just now beginning to get a glimpse of the potential disastrous effects of our exploration of space upon out world, its environment and technology. We are already witnessing samplings of societal anarchism, immorality, violence, demonic manifestations of all forms of the occult. Of particular interest at this time that we dare not ignore are the events occurring in the religious world with the melding of religions and of religion and politics (church and state), as they attempt to avert the predicted total devastation of our world that is foretold in Bible prophecy. In view of these things we may be certain that affliction, persecution, martyrdom; etc. are not far away.

And let us not be too surprised if we should find Satan explaining apparitions and other occult phenomena by scientific principles! Even, perhaps, himself counterfeiting the return of Jesus in the clouds of heaven (2 Corinthians 11:13-15; Matthew 24:23-30)

In any case, the devil working in concert with man is most effectively using modern science and cosmology to divert our attention away from the explosion of evil in our world and the immediacy of the end of all things earthly and the return of Jesus in glory.

Recognizing the battle the family of God is facing, it becomes obvious that only those that will pass through unscathed will be those that have, like Jesus our example, learned to walk with God in total trust and dependence upon Him, completely unshackled from the wisdom and practices of the world, and never faltering.

We of this generation, as none ever before, have the great honor and high privilege of playing a part in this final battle that will free the universe from sin and evil throughout the ages of eternity. What a great time to be alive!

Though the coming final battle promises to be intense, painful, and testing, the promised victory over the devil and evil by the life and death of God’s only Son, Jesus, is sure. The throne of God is established on solid foundations, the Law of God’s love as summarized and codified by the Ten Commandments. Nothing His enemies may attempt will succeed.

Note: In the above discussion we have focused upon the weapons prepared and implemented by the devil for his final quest for the throne. While it may be true that the most intense days of that final battle remain in the future, it is now and not sometime in the future that must concern us. Those days are coming—no question, but for us living today, the warnings and admonition are for us. While we may not yet be seeing the most intense moments of the battle, we are now all under assault and making the decisions by which our eternal destiny is being determined. It is now, not tomorrow or next year that will determine that eternal destiny. 

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In The Fullness of Time According to the Bible, Adam and Eve were told by God that they would die if they ate of the tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. What is death? They must have wondered. How could they know what death was accept they witness it. (Even Satan must not have understood death, having never witnessed it). Therefore God killed a lamb that they might see what death was. They must have then wondered why sin would cause death. How could they know? Furthermore, how could God have answered this question in a way that they might know that death was not an arbitrary act of punishment? He could not, for though He might tell them in fine detail, there was no experience, no point of reference by which they might understand. So God must have told them that someday they would understand, but until then there were some things that must happen that would help them to “see.” Then He told Satan in the presence Adam and Eve, that “though the war that began in heaven will continue (Revelation 12), and you will seek to destroy My Son that will come to earth as a child of Eve, He will destroy you and return the dominion of the earth to Adam and Eve and their descendants,” Genesis 3:15. After God killed a lamb and made clothing for Adam and Eve, He instituted the ritual of offering animal sacrifices as a symbol indicating their faith in His plan to defeat the serpent (devil and Satan) and restore their creation to them. It is interesting that the entire plan of restoration that God outlined to Adam and Eve was written in the stars and constellations of the heavens for a lasting record to be passed on to each succeeding generation. (Ref: The Gospel in the Stars. Joseph A. Seiss, Kregel Pub. 1990) The plan was there, but still, there was no way for them to understand, never having had experience or a reference to guide them. (Note: Before the plan would be complete, every facet of it must be made so plain that no intelligent being will ever again have reason to question or doubt the love of God and the law of love by which He governs the universe. Thus, when complete, God and His rule of love will be vindicated and the devil’s rebellion fully unmasked--revealing that any and every challenge to love eventually results in death and destruction, not as an arbitrary act of God, but as a result of the very nature of the alternative. For this to occur, every facet of the plan must be revealed as circumstance and experience might be able to open the mind and the eyes of the people to see and comprehend that which until complete is impossible to fully understand. The Holy Bible is essentially a running description of that process by which eyes have been opened progressively whereby the plan will be completed. Each of these experiences, before and since, are dependent upon the seminal event of the coming of the Son of God, the Messiah. The Bible tells us that “in the fullness of time God sent forth His Son…,” Galatians 4:4, 5. The following are merely a few examples of the many eye-opening events occurring during the past six thousand years that are even now leading up to the final events that will finally make it possible for God to answer every possible question that may arise in the minds of His intelligent creation on earth and in the heavens. Cain, in killing his brother, Abel, learned early of the consequences of sin and the experience of death. See Genesis 4:1-16. Centuries later, In the fullness of time Enoch had seen enough of the effects of sin to convince him that he wanted nothing to do with it, so he forsook the attractions of the world and walked with God, demonstrating for future generations that such a walk is possible in spite of the devil’s denial. See Genesis 5:19-24; Hebrews 11:5; Jude 14, 15. Again, In the fullness of time Noah, too, Enoch’s great grandson, saw what men were doing to the earth, and responded to Gods call to build an ark by which to escape the destruction that would soon destroy the earth, he believed and proceeded to comply. See Genesis, chapters 6, 7, 8; Hebrews 11:7. (Note: The destruction of the world was so extensive by the flood that today we really have very little information about what the pre-deluvians were doing in the world and universe that eventuated in the flood. What we may know is that God deemed it was necessary for the flood to occur in order preserve a people and occasion for the Savior to come to complete the Plan of Salvation that had been laid before the foundation of the world. See Genesis 6:1-13.) Abraham knew the history of the flood (directly from Shem, the son of Noah) and could see the world returning to the pre-flood idolatry and evil. In the fullness of time God called him to be His agent through whom He could preserve the knowledge of His plan and to prepare a faithful people (remnant) through whom the promised Messiah could enter the world to accomplish the critical element of the Plan. Genesis chapters 12 & 15. In the fullness of time the inhabitants of ancient Palestine became so depraved that they could no longer respond to the pleadings of God for them to repent. So God raised up Moses to lead His people, Israel, to the Promised Land to occupy the land in which their predecessors had filled their cup of iniquity and were destroying themselves. (See Genesis chapter 15; Numbers 14:9.) In the fullness of time enough reference points had been experienced to permit God to reveal the prophecies which when fulfilled would validate His ability to tell the future and establish a basis for faith among subsequent generations. (See Daniel 9:24 & chapters 1-12.) In the fullness of time John the Baptist was raised up to proclaim the arrival of the Messiah. (See Mark 1:1-14.) In the fullness of time God sent forth His Son. They called Him Jesus. He came to demonstrate the nature of the Love of God, both as it may appear in one’s daily life experience on earth, and in its infinite extent, the sacrifice of life itself so that others might live. In the fullness of time God sent the Holy Spirit to build upon the insights accomplished by Jesus sacrificial death. Because of this new and much expanded understanding of God’s love, Jesus noted that His followers would do even greater works that He did. (John 14:12-18; Acts chapter 2) Though the Holy Spirit was involved in the Plan of Salvation before Jesus, His life, ministry and sacrificial death on the cross changed everything. By His death at the hands of the devil and his accomplices, the nature of God’s rule of love contrasted with Satan’s ire that instigated Jesus ‘death served as nothing else could have ever done to open blinded eyes and change forever the benefits available to all who would renounce the world and follow Jesus. It was by the power of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost that the gospel came to be preached to all nations, kindred’s and tribes. In the fullness of time, Steven gave his life in defense of the gospel, resulting in the conversion of the Apostle Paul and the beginning of the preaching of the gospel to the entire world. (See Acts chapter 7.) In the fullness of time, a number of devout Christians recognized the corruption that had developed within the Church, and were “driven” by the Spirit to initiate reformation based upon Bible truths. In the fullness of time, often under great persecution, faithful Christian reformers found freedom in America and worked to establish a nation where freedom of religion became one of the primary articles of its constitution. In the fullness of time, the judgment hour message of Revelation 14:6, 7 was first preached by William Miller and by many others voices around the world, calling the world to repentance and to prepare for the return of our Lord in glory, now as King of kings and Lord of lords. Out of this arose the Second Advent Movement under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, often speaking and giving prophetic guidance through the ministry of Ellen White. In the fullness of time Rachel Oaks, Joseph Bates, and others saw and understood the significance of the Sabbath among the Ten Commandments, the unchangeable, foundational moral law of love that governs God’s entire universe, and to recognize Sunday as Satan’s counterfeit Sabbath. Armed with these truths, the stage was set whereby a final generation might be enlightened and prepared to stand faithful to God amidst the final battles of the war between good and evil, truth and error, God and Satan--wherein the Sabbath will be the ultimate sign of loyalty to God and His universal governance of Love. In the fullness of time the earth will be lightened with the glory of the Lord in keeping with the prophecy of Revelation 18:1, finally uniting the faithful followers of Jesus around the world as One with Him (John 17) In the fullness of time, by virtue of the many accumulated experiences and lessons learned during the past 6,000 years, the descendants of Adam and Eve along with all of the intelligent beings of the universe, (good and evil) will understand the power of love to give and sustain life, and the power of evil to steal, kill, and destroy—as never before possible, (John 10:10). We see this today, i.e. the potential to destroy the entire world, and its impact on the remainder of the universe in Satan’s continuing quest to conquer the very throne of God in the heavens (through science and technology by man, created in the image of God) And, by contrast, to demonstrate that through the blood of Jesus and the power of the Holy Spirit, intelligent creatures on earth or anywhere in the universe could love perfectly according to the principles and infinite limits of the divine law existing from eternity past to eternity future. There are many other special times and experiences that might be added here, but the point has been made. The Plan of Salvation has been a progressive learning process by which God has been answering those original questions arising in the minds of Adam and Eve ever since their tragic fall in Eden. What is death? Why does sin cause death? Concluding with the indisputable evidence that death is the result of sin (the rejection of the great law of love governing the universe), and that it is a natural consequence of sin and not an arbitrary act of a God claiming to be love. We are now nearing the fulfillment of the Plan. There are a few concluding lessons to be learned. When complete, there will no longer be any questions for any intelligent being, good or evil to ask. Then, in the fullness of time, when the awful consequences of evil have been fully unmasked, and when the infinitely costly Plan is fully comprehended and its benefits applied by those that will believe, as the very last act of the plan, every intelligent being in heaven and earth will kneel and confess that God is just who He has always claimed to be, a God who created and rules His creation by the law of infinite, self-renouncing, unconditional LOVE that none will ever again misunderstand (Philippians 2:10, 11; Romans 14:11; 5:13).

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Why hell? 

Absolve: 1. To clear of blame or guilt. 2. To relieve of a requirement or obligation. 3. a. To grant a remission of sin. b. To pardon or remit a sin.

Resolve: 6. To reach a solution to: Solve. 7. To dispel or remove (doubts): explain away. 8. To bring to a successful conclusion < resolve a dilemma.

Ref: Webster’s New College Dictionary, 1999. 

Please look carefully of these two words, Absolve and Resolve, for they describe the answer to the question, “Why hell?”

 For those following “The Family of God blogs on this website, you may recall the post of August 5, 2012 entitled, Hell--an expression of a loving God.” In it I made the following statement. 

“There is one other sense in which hell may be viewed as an expression of love. It is this! Could there be any greater torment than to be denied the privilege of death, and to be forced to live forever in a place and with people in which one would be a total misfit—and unable to ever escape? I think not! And a loving God has provided a way of escape for everyone. We are free to accept or reject it, and God will not force anyone! 

“Yes, the final annihilation of the wicked will no doubt be accomplished by literal burning. And one might wonder why a loving God would not but speak the word and instantly blot all evil and its accomplices out of existence, thus avoiding all suffering and pain, both physical and mental. Why can this not be? Is it possible that death by fire, too, is yet again a response of love?

 “When a loving parent spanks a child for an intentionally naughty and unrepentant act, the child (and perhaps siblings) is being taught that some things are not compatible with health and happiness. But this is not all! The guilt and separation that always plagues one who knowingly commits sin also finds resolution.

“There is something about guilt that requires either repentance or penalty in order to experience the peace of full resolution of the guilt resulting from evi acts. Since God has proven by the process of judgment that there is none among the wicked that will have experienced repentance, and hence, none can experience forgiveness (though God has waited long to give it), only penalty can satisfy the requirement of the infinite love of God and permit the finally unrepentant to exit life in peace.”

Note: There is another point that must be considered. We were born in sin. It is part of our nature. In this sense we are all guilty before God though we may be living a godly life and walking with the Lord. Jesus has already taken the punishment of this guilt by His death on Calvary. Because of this, all who by faith accept this gift may enjoy the peace that forgiveness and punishment provide. 

 “Yes, it is love indeed that motivates God in dealing with our free choices the way He does. And yes, hell (death) is a loving act of a just and merciful God! Knowing God as He has revealed Himself throughout the Biblical record and the record of history, we may be certain that the tears will be flowing freely down the cheeks during this most difficult time of grief, not alone by the redeemed as they grieve the loss of loved ones not there, but by our Creator, Redeemer, Sustainer and Friend as well when at last He must perform his ‘strange act’ of ridding the world and the universe of sin and its terrible consequences.”

 Since posting that post I have discovered that this truth that punishment alone can resolve unconfessed sin, is based upon solid psychological principles, well recognized by Sigmund Freud and others. Unfortunately, while the principles are correct, interpretation of those principles most frequently focuses upon the harsh and frightening picture of God understood by those that have been separated from God and do not know Him as their loving Savior and friend. The devil has done his work well in portraying God as harsh and vindictive and finding pleasure in the most unimaginable forms of torment. As a consequence, rather than punishment being viewed as something of great value, and a necessary thing to resolve guilt and give real and lasting peace, it often leads to fear and all sorts of destructive (even pathological) attitudes and practices. 

The reader may find it valuable to read again the entire post of August 5, 2012 entitled, Hell--an expression of a loving God” to see again the magnitude and beauty of God’s love in dealing with a rebel creation. 

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Ebola and Other Epidemics

Two major epidemics are presently occupying the headlines of the news, the epidemic of Ebola and the epidemic of Obesity.

Believe it or not, both of these epidemics arise from the same root cause, and both may be prevented by the same remedy. In short, the cause is sin, and the remedy is the kind of love exemplified by Jesus when He gave His life on the Cross of Calvary to save us from our sin. The Bible describes this remedy in these words, “You must love the Lord your God with all heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. And you must love your neighbor as yourself. Upon these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets,” Matthew 23:37-40.

Unfortunately, we do not have the innate ability to love the way God loves and commands us. Only as He takes up his dwelling within us is the true and complete expression that love possible for us.

The law of Ten Commandments defines God’s law of love for us. All facets of true unconditional, self-renouncing love are encoded in these ten instructions. Obeying these ten precepts gains one no merit or special favor of God, but they serve as impenetrable barriers against evil and the dread consequences of it for those that honor them from the heart. Though this truth radiates from every page of the Holy Bible, it is seldom recognized for its true import.

Sin is, by definition, failure to recognize and honor this life-giving law of love. And, since sin is pervasive throughout our entire world society, so are the consequences—i.e. tragedy, suffering, and death.

Though we may not always be able to see the direct link between our suffering and our behaviors, or the behaviors of our ancestors (since the fall of Adam and Eve to the devil’s “tricks” in the Garden), the link is there for those willing to search for it.

Nearly every ill thing that can befall a person has its roots in ignorance, defiance, or willful disobedience to some aspect of the law of love.

Let us look at a few examples.

Obesity, presently one of the most disconcerting health problems, both in the West, and around the world, is the result of consuming more calories than are being utilized to nourish the body--or by some malfunction of the various glands and organs of the body. This malfunction itself, is the result of our own sins or the sins of our forefathers. This excessive intake of calories may not always be understood, for society has devised all manner of ways to exploit and hide the facts—which, too, is sin, and contrary to the broad definition to the law of love.

Perhaps it should be no surprise that the consequence of our sin does not end with obesity and excessive weight. Most forms of diabetes, heart disease, cancer, arthritis, and a myriad of other health related problems that cripple, disable, and result in premature death are intimately related to the same factors that often lead to excessive weight and obesity.

In fact, lust, the uncontrollable desire for pleasure and satisfaction, is responsible for most of the other diseases and ailments that trouble the human family as well. Sexually transmitted diseases (including AIDS), addictions of all types (alcohol, tobacco, drugs, gambling, porn, etc.) account for a very large share of other of the diseases and disabilities that trouble us—all of which have their roots in our lack of love for ourselves, our neighbor, or our God—which lust is sin.

Selfishness and pride, the roots of competitive activities in the home, the athletic field, the market place, and in politics often accounts for many of the other maladies that afflict us. Stress, broken families, homeless and troubled children, and violence, suicide, homicide, and war, are all consequences of our sin, and comprise the remaining primary ills of our sin riddled human society around the world.

Understanding this relationship between sin and the tragedies of life on the planet, we may begin to also understand why a loving God has given us the law of love, has demonstrated it for us in giving His only Son as a means of rescue from sin and its consequences, and requires compliance with it for healing from the many varied consequences of our sins—including Ebola!

Perhaps you think I am exaggerating when I suggest that Ebola is also a consequence of our sin! I think not, at least at its root. Though it is true that we do not yet know the origin of the Ebola virus, how it entered into human beings and became such a virulent and deadly disease, we do know that it appeared and spread in an environment torn apart with hardship and war—always the result of sin.

Yes, we are living in the midst of an epidemic of sin. All other epidemics are but the natural outcome of the epidemic of sin. And we are all suffering the consequences that are manifest in hundreds of different ways.

Thanks be to God. There is hope. There is a way out. There is a cure for this terrible epidemic of sin that has for 60 centuries ravaged Planet Earth. It is the outworking of a plan laid in heaven before the creation of the earth. By it, God and His governance of love will be eternally vindicated. By it, the epidemic of sin will be eternally examined, judged to be found deficient in every facet, and finally eliminated from not only the earth, but from the entire universe.

By the love of God, each one of us may find healing.

Jesus was one with God at creation; He was one with the Spirit in ancient Sanctuary symbols; He came to earth, showed us how to live in intimate communion with the Father and died at our hand on the cross to exemplify the character and self-sacrificing service of love. He continues to work through the power of the Holy Spirit to forgive our sin and transform us into loving beings again in His image, and is coming again as King of kings and Lord of lords to claim all who believe and place their total trust in Him.

It is also true that even in this life, we can find healing from many or our ills through faith in the power of God’s Spirit living within--changing our hearts desires, our life-style practices, and granting us victory over those other powers that control us while living in the world apart from Him.

There is a flip side to sin. As devastating as the consequences of sin are, He is able to restore His faithful followers, now in part, and then in whole for all eternity. An important part of that healing comes through the experience of faithful service of love as summarized in the ten golden rules--in worship to God and in loving ministry to our fellow men. 

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Foolish or Wise

Offensive or Defensive

We are engaged in a vicious war between good and evil, between God and Satan. Furthermore, we are presently in the beginning stages of the final battle of that conflict that will determine the fate of every man and woman on earth, vindicate the governance of God’s love and convict, condemn, and eradicate sin from the universe for all eternity.

The question we must face at this point in time is this. Is it better to fight offensively now while the battle lines are still being drawn, or to wait until the heat of conflict when the only available option will be to defend our cause against the accuser?

Is it not better to go on the offensive and inform our potential enemies with the essential elements of our position so that they may determine their own response by the true facts, or to wait until lying accusations have stolen away any possible opportunity to hear the true facts and merits of our faith unbiased?

The answer seems so obvious, yet we so often choose to keep those truths that we find so valuable and comforting to ourselves lest (as we sometime think) we will offend a friend, a neighbor, or even a family member that does not know or understand.

Would our response change if we truly loved our neighbor as we love ourselves? Really? What would we desire if we were in their un-enlightened position, and they in ours--or if we loved our God with all of our heart and soul and mind, as the Command declares? (See Matthew 7:12 & 22:36-40).

The Bible tells us that God loved the world so much that He gave His only son, dying on a cruel cross so that we might live forever.

If we were to love as God loves us, would we consent to accept even death for ourselves, knowing one of our enemies might be saved thereby? Jesus did! Would we count it a privilege and honor to do so?

Our answer may very well be a life or death determination, our own--or our neighbors!

Does everyone within the reach of my influence know the truths of the gospel that are so valuable to me? If not, what must love compel me to do?

And you?

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It Ain’t Love to ---

Fail to offer the gift of salvation to ANYONE and EVERYONE

To permit anyone within reach to die without offering them the benefits of the gospel

To compromise truth in an effort to bring the family of God into unity

Ignore the errors of others without offering them opportunity to hear and understand truth

Try to press everyone into the same mold – over non-critical doctrines or traditions and practices that are not essential for salvation

Avoid association with those of other faiths for fear of being offended--or of offending

Judge another’s heart

Neglect to plead and intercede with God for others within our sphere of influence

Ignore the orphan, the widow, the hungry, the cold, the sick, the hurting, or the one in prison

God is Love!

Would we be like Him?

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Is it possible we could survive …?

Is it possible this world could survive a full blown nuclear war, a biological war, a chemical war, or a combination of all of these?

Is it possible that this world can survive the progressively increasing incidence and severity of natural disasters, at least some of which are almost certainly the consequences of what we humans are doing to the earth?

Is it possible we might survive the anticipated population increase—nutritionally, socially, etc.?

Is it possible that we can survive our rapidly increasing shortage of drinkable water and water for irrigating our fields?

Is it possible we will be able to survive the increasing incidence of drug resistant microorganisms of which Ebola is just one example?

Is it possible we will be able to survive the increasing political upheavals, lawlessness, and anarchy already destroying so many societies?

Is it possible for us to survive our rapidly increasing international financial deficits?

Is it possible we will be able to survive in a world of rapidly worsening religious conflict?

Is it possible for any society to survive and thrive while ignoring or actively flaunting the God-given moral code of Love as spelled out in the Ten Commandments by the vast majority of its citizens?

The Bible predicts a Time of trouble such as has never before existed on earth preceding the return of Jesus and the end of the world. Based upon these apparent impossibilities, is it possible we are very near to seeing that prediction fulfilled?

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Battle for Truth

How does God convince the universe that He is right and that Lucifer (Satan) is wrong?

Satan challenged God in heaven and convinced 1/3 of the angels to join him in rebellion in seeking a “better” way (Revelation 12; Isaiah 14:12-14; Ezekiel 28:13-18).

After being excluded from heaven Satan then captured by deception the allegiance and kingdom of earth from Adam and Eve, its first king and queen (Genesis 1-3).

For 2 thousand years the faithful descendants of Adam through the line of Seth and the rebellious descendants of Cane coexisted and intermarried. Only a handful remained faithful to God based upon promises God made to Adam and the prophets until the time of Noah. By that time people could certainly “see” the natural consequences of sin, but most remained blinded to the full benefits of compliance with the constitution of God’s love. A greater revelation of God’s nature and law was necessary, but people were not yet ready to receive God’s promised answer to the problem of evil (Genesis 6:1-15).

Building upon God’s promise of a Savior as symbolized by the sacrificial lamb, God called Abraham to be His representative and spokesman that through his descendants He might keep alive and relevant those principles of His kingdom that would faithfully represent Him in the world and preserve a faithful line through whom the Savior might be delivered and welcomed (Genesis 12:1-5; 15:1-20).

That was later accomplished through Moses with the giving of the Ten Commandment Law of Love and the laws regarding the services surrounding the Sanctuary delivered to him at Sinai (Exodus chapters 19, 20). Still, the love and nature of God remained obscure and misunderstood by all but a select few of the Children of Israel (Hebrews 11).

In fact, it was not until Jesus, incarnate, demonstrated the fulfillment of the law of love, the constitution of the universe at the cross, that some began to understand (Acts chapters 1-7 & 9).

While the cross served as a definite turning point in the contest between good and evil, between God and Satan, the devil, though conquered by Jesus, had not surrendered his power and influence--nor his ambition for the throne (Luke 4:13; John 12:30, 31; 14:30; 2 Thessalonians 2:8; Hebrews 2:14; 1 John 3:8; Acts 26:18). So it was that for centuries after the crucifixion of our Savior, the Church, the Family of God, struggled against great opposition in its origin and development

As was the case before Christ, only a small remnant caught the vision, believed the prophets and the evidence of the Cross, and guarded those elements of truth revealed at the cross.

By the time of the Reformation, evil, in the pagan world and in the Church, had become so prevalent and despicable that God was only able to find a few honest “believers” that could begin to see the terrible consequences of sin and to search for better answers--individuals through whom He could refute and discredit the dominant Church and its teachings and largely, through the printed word, change the course of history. Even then, however, the terrible darkness of pagan tradition prevented a full revelation of God’s constitution of law and of His plan for restoration of His kingdom.

Unfortunately, because of residual darkness, that revival was not sufficient to unmask all false teaching. Like Martin Luther who had it right with justification by faith, but was unable to see its value and importance of the Sabbath and other truths, so many of the other reformers remained ignorant of many vital teachings necessary to terminate the conflict between good and evil.

Fortunately, after 60 centuries of war between the two warring factions God was beginning to find sufficient “cracks” in the embattlements of evil to permit the light of God’s love to begin to illumine those searching for truth. In keeping with this “second awakening” and the conclusion of the 1260 years of papal dominance, The Spirit of God was finally able to find human instruments through whom He could initiate the judgment hour message and prepare for the return of Jesus in glory Daniel (8:13-17).

It is important to note that essential truth had not changed through the six preceding millennia, but as in any war, there are always many battles (skirmishes) that are won, and many that are lost prior to the final victorious one. Throughout, though important truths have often been forsaken and apparently lost, they have been carefully and providentially hidden away so as to be preserved for the time of need, and these truths exposed as that need arose.

[Note: The war between God and Satan is as real as any war. The fact that the commanders of this war are invisible and working behind the scenes does not lesson the reality, intensity or significance of it. It is a powerful contest between God (Love) and truth that alone gives life and Satan (lies and deception) that can result in nothing other than death from which there is no recovery. We humans living on earth are the “foot soldiers,” the “boots on the ground” that carry out the orders of our chosen commander. When I suggest that truths have been stolen away by evil, this is no exacerbation, a reality that is not altered by proclaiming abracadabra, but only by victory over the foe in the conflict.]

As the burden of sin has increased though the ages, so has the need for an understanding and application of truth. Never before has sin been so pervasive and destructive, and never before has the need for truth been so great.

The Bible is clear that before the Plan of Salvation is complete, God and His law (constitution of love) vindicated, and the devil’s challenge for the throne of God completely squelched, there will be one final battle that will showcase the true power of love, the glory of God through Christ, and the true self-destructive nature of sin and the rebellion (Daniel 12:1; Revelation chapter 13; Romans 14:11; Philippians 2:11).

By the end of time God will have a people that are in complete sync with all of the essential facets of the unconditional, self-sacrificing love that governs all of His creation. Love for God and for our fellow men will not then be expressed by the rote performance of any act or denial of any desire, for every act and every desire will have been perfected in love by the transforming power of the Holy Spirit made possible by the singular exhibition of God’s own love upon Calvary’s cross (Revelation 12:17; 14:12).

Then, all of those essential truths about good and evil that have been carefully preserved throughout history and that have been tossed back and forth in the many various battles between good and evil will have been fully tested and thoroughly proven to be valid and effective throughout eternity.

Not only this! Then, too, every suggestion, every claim, every act that is in anyway incompatible with God’s governance of love will have been exposed and rejected by the Faithful. Evil will have been so thoroughly displayed for what it really is, that it will never again throughout eternity tempt any one.

Then Jesus will return, gather His faithful followers of all generations together with Him in the clouds and transport them to heaven to remain with Him for eternity. Those that have not believed and accepted the provision for salvation and everlasting life will be resurrected at a later date to see, understand, and acknowledge God’s love and justice and receive the pronouncement and execution of their judgment and destiny (! Thessalonians 416, 17; Matthew 24:29-31).

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EQ

Emotional Quotient

 

I was accepted into medical school with a rather average IQ. Others of my classmates wrote some of the highest test scores in the nation and were obviously challenging the very top of the IQ scale. Yet, when it came to applying the knowledge I gleaned from my studies I excelled, and have had a very successful and satisfying medical practice.

I believe this observation indicates that there is something more to life and success than IQ (Intelligence Quotient). There are others that would agree.

In fact, all the “buzz” in the modern world is about another measure of competence labeled, Emotional Quotient, or EQ. Unlike IQ which measures the intellect (intelligence), and the ability to learn, and is stable over a life-time, EQ is a measure of one’s ability to sense and manage one’s own emotions and behaviors, and to understand and to influence the emotions of others. It is a skill that can be learned and improved with practice, and may be utilized to manage interpersonal relationships to one’s personal advantage, financially and otherwise—or to be a blessing to others.

Microsoft CEO, Satya Nadella, during a visit to India and speaking to thousands of students across India, is quoted as saying, “In the long run, EQ (emotional quotient) trumps IQ-9 (intelligence Quotient). Without being a source of energy for others, very little can be accomplished.” He told them further that the future lies before them and their opportunities are unparalleled.

While EQ is undoubtedly a real phenomenon, for we are all affected by our emotions and the emotions of others. I am concerned about the way this “gift” is being promoted and utilized for selfish gain. Most of the emphasis being placed upon EQ is on “success” as measured by the measures of the world, i.e., financial, popularity, pride, etc. Nadella, to his credit, was looking at success from the “big” picture of success for the nation of India as a whole, but with personal benefits for its individual citizens as well. Never-the-less, the primary motivation for developing EQ is often focused upon personal benefit at the expense of others.

Not to be overlooked during this discussion is Microsoft CEO Nadella’s linking of the term, “source of energy” with EQ. When used in this way, the term is certainly suggestive of the ancient Eastern concept of energy and the alleged complimentary benefit of opposite and contrary, but amoral, forces of Yin Yang.

This is in distinction of the Western Judao-Christian concept of morality and the conflict between good and evil—between God and the devil.

My concern then has to do with the fact that if there is no such thing as evil, or if evil is necessary in order for good to exist (Eastern concept of energy), then we have no explanation for the things we see and experience every day of our lives today. For everything about us screams of evil, and unless rescued by love, certain self-destruction

Thus it appears to me that these two concepts of life (ancient Far Eastern and Judao-Christian West) are totally incompatible”. If this is indeed true, then we must choose which one to believe and depend upon as we plan and live our lives both now and in the future.

The Bible, the Word of God, gives promise and hope for the future. There is no such source of hope for those that choose to ignore love and God and depend upon the demonic amoral qualities of EQ as applied to the Eastern concept of energy. When EQ is utilized according to Biblical principles of love or God and man it may very well give glory to God.

Note: There are yet other inborn and acquired measures of performance beside IQ and EQ that are not considered in this discussion.

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Health, It’s Natural

Laws of life

Neil DeGrasse Tyson, American astrophysicist, creator and narrator of the “made for TV series,” Cosmos, A Space-time Odyssey, made amost interesting statement in one of the presentations. It was this, “All of the laws of the Universe are dependable and unchangeable.” Though indicating that the series was created to prove the evolution of the universe and the non-existence of a creator God, Tyson by this statement was making a most positive endorsement for the existence of God, for apart from God there is no basis for law of any kind.

While focused upon the scientific laws of the cosmos, Tyson was, by his very acknowledgement of the unchangeable nature of natural law, endorsing the unchangeable nature of the moral law (Ten commandment Law defining and codifying Love) and the eight laws of health that govern our very existence.

Indeed, according to the Creation account described in the Bible Book of Genesis, we find that the “very good” world that man (Adam and Eve) was placed into employed a perfect environment utilizing each of these eight principles. A fantastic diet; a great out-door gymnasium; an abundance of water for both internal ingestion and external application; an atmosphere filled with clean, fresh air; the healing waves of the sun; a perfect environment for both relaxation and sound sleep; freedom of any harmful or addicting thing, and most importantly, face to face fellowship with the Creator Himself.

These eight provided everything necessary for life without end—plus one additional ingredient, the freedom of choice to accept and enjoy the endless benefits therein provided, or to reject them and experience the consequences resulting therefrom.

As all of the laws governing the universe are unchangeable and distinct, they are also connected and interrelated. Accordingly, they are necessary for all of the other natural laws to function. This includes the moral law, the laws of health, and every other law, governing our universe, or planet, and our individual lives.

Focusing in upon the moral law and the health law we note that the moral law, (love for God and for one another) is dependent upon the health provided by the health law, and that the full benefit of the health law is dependent upon the presence of the moral law of love for God and one another. Without love for God and for our neighbors, there is no incentive or need to honor any of the laws of the universe that are all designed to give us health and endless life. Not only so, but without the benefits of each, life, even if possible, would not be worth living. Of course, without love, even God would not exist.

Likewise, without the health laws, our ability to love to its fullest extent would be impossible, just as it is impossible to give of our best today to our God and our neighbors when burdened with pain of disease.

The Bible tells us that our bodies are the temple of God and that the Holy Spirit dwells within us. It goes on to explain that those that defile this temple will be destroyed (1 Corinthians 3:16, 17). Properly understood, this text is telling us that separated from God death eventually occurs naturally. Therefore, if we would enjoy optimum health, we will do whatever is necessary to keep our temple if the very best condition possible, both to glorify the God we love and to be a blessing to our neighbor that we also love--according to the unchangeable commandment of God. 

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The Naked Truth

It was several years after the war ended that I arrived in Rwanda to serve as interim medical director for the Mugonero mission hospital. As we approached the mission entrance I could see beautiful Lake Kivu far down the mountain on my right. Directly ahead there was a brick wall supporting a steel fence encircled the Rwanda Memorial Cemetery. Up the mountain to my right was the hospital complex, the nursing school and the chapel. My residence (the home of the director), was located midway up the mountain to my left, at the top of which stood the Mugonero SDA church.

Soon after my arrival at the mission, I was taken on tour of the hospital and mission complex. Once the place to which people from much of Rwanda and the eastern Congo came for unsurpassed medical care. Unfortunately, the hospital complex was now just barely operational, having been stripped of everything of value during and immediately following the war. I was next taken to the chapel where workers and patients once gathered for daily worship. It was empty except for three wooden boxes filled with the bones of some of those that had been slaughtered there. The operating suite was my next stop. There I was introduced to the sterile supplies nurse. He had witnessed the slaughter that had occurred in the suite through the crack in the door to the dressing room, and when he saw that he would be the next to be struck, he fell to the floor and covered himself with bodies, playing dead until far into the night when he escaped into the forest. Behind the hospital, the well that had been filled with bodies was now covered with leaves and debris.

Upon having viewed the mission from the hospital perspective we ascended the mountain to the large SDA Church from which the murderous throng armed with machetes, axes, hoes, and other arms marched down through the valley and up to the chapel where patients, employees and neighbors had gathered, believing themselves to be safe there.

It seemed incomprehensible to me that such a thing could happen that a leader of a Christian Church could assemble such an army and perform such a horrendous act, but the evidence was overwhelming that this had indeed been the case.

During the night, my residence was guarded by a young French speaking Rwandan man who had been severely injured during the war. On occasion as we sat in the moonlight outside the house I listened as he shared some of his experiences during those tragic days of tribal warfare between ruling minority Tutsis and majority Hutus.

Not many days after my arrival several men representing the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda approached me seeking permission to investigate the premises and speak with any survivors they might find. They met no resistance from me!

Ever since that experience Rwanda represents a classic example to me of spiritual nakedness in the extreme. Indeed, ever since the fall in Eden, every human being has come into the world naked, and not just physically so. Our spiritual nakedness is displayed in one of two ways:

—1.) Ashamed: We see the shame of spiritual nakedness today disguised as timidity, self-consciousness, fear, embarrassment, pride, doubt, failure to recognize the beauty of the gospel, and “unable” to preach the straight gospel truth to the world. For this reason Jesus said, “Whosoever shall be ashamed of me and of my words, of him shall the Son of man be ashamed when he shall come in his own glory, and His Father’s, and of the holy angels,” Luke 9:26.

--2.) Exhibitionists:—parading our nakedness before the world: Perhaps this is best illustrated by King Hezekiah who showed the Babylonian delegation all of the blessings God had given to Israel while forgetting to introduce them to his God. How might this (spiritual nakedness) appear to us today? How might it apply to us who profess the name of Jesus? As a church, and as individuals?—parading our great institutions and our great works!

One might wonder what spiritual nakedness has to do with anything, anyway. What is there about it that inspires us to consider it at this time?

My answer! Most everyone living on earth today senses the seriousness of the times. We all know that things are not right in our world. As those gathered at the Rwandan hospital chapel found their world to be a very scary place, so do we. In fact our world today is very much as described in the Bible at the end of time-- not this time to be destroyed by water, but buy fire. (See 2 Peter 3:1-14)

If we hope to survive through these times and meet our Savior in glory when He comes, we need:

Faith to discern error and to trust in our God.

Courage to love and stand for truth about God, no matter the cost (as a mother will often do for a threatened child).

Power to complete the gospel commission in preparation for the final battle of the war between good and evil, the Battle of Armageddon.

We are presently engaged in a war that will continue until the end of the world and the return of Jesus. This is not a war between Christianity and Islam as is so commonly believed! It is not a war between the East and the West.

It is a war between truth and error. It is a war between Christ and His followers and Satan and his followers. Certainly Christianity and Islam (and everyone else) will enter into this global experience, but they are not the primary players in this conflict to end all conflicts. (More about the final battle of the war later!).

Here are a few examples of things that we are already facing—traps that are already being set by the devil by which to “catch” the unwary—the Spiritually naked.

In the religious world:

An ecumenical movement led by the pope, designed to unify all peoples of faith under his headship as our collective response to the prayer of Jesus to His Father the night before His crucifixion and resurrection (John 17)--based not upon Biblical truth, but upon such articles of faith that we all share in common.

According to Pope Frances 1, “Divisions, including proselytism, are a “grave” sin, the work of the devil.”

The campaign for unity includes the promotion of Sunday as a universal day of rest, “for the family.”

In response to a “black Mass” recently scheduled by Satanists with plans to desecrate a consecrated host in Oklahoma City, Pope Frances 1 expressed his antipathy with the principle of separation of church and state as outlined in the Constitution of the United States. (Note: that plan has since been modified to use an unconsecrated host.)

The rise of modern “prophets” bearing messages of catastrophe and doom.

In the world of science and evolution:

We now have the knowledge and technology to examine, measure, and explore the universe billions of light years distance, and are already utilizing that knowledge and technology to send men and satellites out into the solar system. Astrophysicists anticipate the time when we may travel far beyond the solar system. We are already experimenting with inducing hibernation and suspended animation for such extended travel. By all objective indications we will soon be able to conquer the universe, no longer having a need for God—or so we may be tempted to believe.

In the area of genetics, we are already able to manipulate genetic material between the plant and animal world --even to manufacture artificial genes--anticipating the day when we expect to place life into our creations.

Lure for the “things” of the world:

We have become addicted to things like never before in history—electronics, gadgets, cars, boats, homes, cloths, fashions, foods, philosophies, practices, etc., of the world at the expense of love for God and our neighbor.

What, we might ask, is the cure for our nakedness, our unbelief, our unwillingness to trust God explicitly in all things?

The answer! The robe of Christ’s righteousness. That robe is love--of the kind exemplified by our Lord on the wooden cross of Mount Calvary. Jesus said when speaking of His followers, “By this shall all men know that you are my disciples , if you love one another,” John 13:35.

This robe is not worn on the outside, but on the inside!

The covering of Christ’s righteousness is not only justification, though it is truly this. It is not merely forgiveness of our sin and assurance of salvation as a “done deal.” It is not anything “good” that we might do. Acts of goodness do not “cut it.” True goodness is the natural product of the love that God places in one, a gift made possible by the sacrifice of Jesus, and the on-going work of the Holy Spirit. It is the complete transformation that occurs following a conscious and on-going choice to surrender everything we have or are to the cause of Christ—without any reservations. This can ONLY occur as we follow the example of Jesus by maintaining instant and continuous communication with God, (John 14:10).

“When Jesus’ disciples heard this, they were greatly astounded and said, ‘Then who can be saved?’ But Jesus looked at them and said, ‘for mortals it is impossible, but for God all things are possible.’”

“Then Peter said, ‘Look, we have left everything and followed you. What then will we have?’ Jesus said to them, ‘Truly I tell you, at the renewal of all things, when the Son of Man is seated on the throne of His glory… everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or fields, for my name’s sake will receive a hundredfold, and will inherit eternal life,’” Matthew 19:25-30.

It is a choice one must make and repeat at the beginning of every day and again every time the temptation comes.

Sin is not merely an act or series of acts which are a reflection of our choice (whether by choice or negligence) to distrust God’s wisdom and love for us. This distrust then works to separate us from Him. Our connection severed, evil thoughts, words and deeds follow quite naturally.

True repentance is recognizing our distrust and separation and the acts resulting therefrom. It is fasting and praying, seeking victory over our sin by the power of the Holy Spirit (John 13:7-13).

Knowing the times in which we are living, it is time to get serious about our faith.

Another question that often puzzles us is this. How do we live in the world without being of the world?

The answer is, that we must ask our Lord--but not unless or until we are ready to give up everything and follow Him. Then He will not disappoint us. (See John 14:12-21 &26, 27)

One will soon discover that there are some things, philosophies, attitudes and acts that other “believers” may do that our Spirit-driven conscience will not permit us to entertain. We must follow our conscience, but we must NEVER judge another by the things God through the Holy Spirit reveals to US.

Unbelief was the reason Israel (as a nation) did not enter into the “rest” promised to them, (Hebrews 3:19 & 4:1). We have been forewarned! As the forces of evil increase their deceptive fury, so will our need for faithfulness increase to believe and discern truth from the devil’s most enticing deceptions.

Though the troubles and temptations may increasingly assail us, we may rejoice and take comfort in this. We, believers of this generation, are the most honored of all peoples of all generations to live and join with God during the final battle of the war that has caused so much pain and suffering for now 6,000 years. It is our privilege in this generation to witness and to see the gospel commission fulfilled; to witness and have a part in the vindication of Jesus (God) and the resolution of the sin problem; to witness the conclusion of the cause Jesus died for; to represent Jesus during the final crisis to serve as His faithful witnesses for truth in a dying world. How can we NOT rejoice for the privilege of humbly wearing the Robe, believing and sharing the message with the entire world--inviting all men everywhere to the feast?

As noted above, we believe that we are engaged in a universal war between good and evil, between God and Satan. This war is the explanation for all the evil we see in our world today. When it is finally over, sin will have been eliminated from the universe, never to arise again to mar the magnitude of God’s great creation.

Before that war can be won and sin and evil eliminated, two things must occur. God must prove to the intelligent universe that His governance of love is the only source and assurance of life, and that everything contrary to His law of love (sin) destroys by natural consequence. We are told that before Jesus returns to put an end of sin this gospel of the kingdom must be (will be) preached in the entire world (Matthew 24:14; 28:19, 20).

Before Jesus ascended to heaven after the resurrection He prayed to the Father for unity of His people—one with Him and His Father. Until now that prayer has not been answered. Undoubtedly, these two events must be related.

We might wonder why the gospel must be preached to the entire world now when for the past 6,000 years people have been born and died without the hope the gospel provides. I believe the answer is this.

For every truth, there is a counterfeit. We have long acknowledged this. But equally true is the opposite, for every counterfeit there is a truth.

There is in our world today a movement in place, led by Pope Frances 1 to unite the world “for Christ” in answer to His prayer in John 17. Based in part upon the observations made above, I believe this is a counterfeit movement. We may be sure the devil will do everything in his power to accomplish it. Thankfully, we may be assured that God will do everything in His power to fulfill Jesus’ prayer for true unity with His governance by the law of love.

Why is this final battle between the true believers of God and the followers of Satan necessary?

My belief! It will accomplish the two things that will secure the universe for eternity. It will answer Jesus prayer for unity based firmly on unconditional, self-renouncing love, and it will prove the ultimate natural consequence of sin. Never before in history has there been a time when the universe has had opportunity to witness God’s family on earth unified as a testimony to the universe that it is possible for God to establish a people that are so faithful to Him that they will be safe to dwell with Him for eternity and never again look back—that will fit into His royal realm of unfallen intelligent beings without contaminating them with the “contagious germ” of sin. Never before in the history of the universe has there been a time and place where it will be possible for the entire intelligent universe to witness the end result of sin—the consequences of 6,000 years of Satan’s rule.

As the antichrist will “Prove” the deficiency of Satan and evil, the proclamation of the gospel to the entire world and the Unity of the Church for which Jesus prayed will “Prove” the adequacy of His sacrifice and vindicate God.

Both of these will be accomplished by the Battle of Armageddon as it takes place on two primary fronts: 1.) the physical front in which all of the armaments now available will be let loose in universal war, joined by the “natural disasters” (including the flood) occurring as a consequence of what we humans have done to the earth for the past 6,000 years—“acts of God”, and 2.) In the spiritual front in which the followers of Satan and the followers of Jesus will “face off” in a time of trouble such this world has never before witnessed during which the followers of God will be tested to the very limit as described in the Bible and other inspired writings.

I believe we are NOW at that point in history when both of these things are beginning to happen. And I believe NOW is the time for the faithful followers of Jesus to be called into unity in true answer to Jesus’ prayer. When that time comes, God’s faithful followers from all faiths will come into the unity made possible by Christ’s robe of righteousness to replace those professors of truth that do not truly believe. NOW is the time for true believers to extend that invitation to those believing “sheep” in “other folds.”

As evil cannot be defeated by force, but only by love and by choice, it will be plain when the war is over that all of God’s apparent acts of force or evil were in fact acts of love and proven by the acknowledgement of everyone, saved and lost at the conclusion and before the destruction of the wicked (Philippians 2:10, 11).

God has taken the initiative in demonstrating true love. Will we choose to be transformed by it? That is the question we must all ask ourselves.

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“Church”

If We Ever Needed the Church Before, We Sure Do Need It Now!

What is the church?

Is it stained glass windows?

Is it messages by visiting pastors?

Is it dedicated Sabbath School teachers educating children and adults about the love of God and the Plan of Salvation.

Church! Why the church? What is its function today?

Let us consider the following in view of the world in which we are now living--for never before in history has there been a time such as ours.

Wars:

Today as I write heavy artillery is flying back and forth across the Russian-Ukrainian border, prompting a return of the “Cold War” between Russia and the West. Israel is engaged in active warfare with Hamas controlled Palestine with no sign of a peaceful conclusion. Libya, Syria, Iraq, and Afghanistan are just a few examples of conflicts remaining as active tinderboxes defying full and lasting peace. Meanwhile, weapons of mass destruction capable of destroying essentially all life on earth lie in wait for just the right circumstance to be released.

Politics:

Politically, almost our entire world is a mess. Many suppressive governments are giving way to revolution, and unfortunately, anarchy or near anarchy—even among long established stable societies. We may blame presidents, kings, and other world leaders, but, in truth, there appear to be no answers to the escalating unrest everywhere present.

Environment:

Global warming, undoubtedly related to the use of our natural resources has been blamed on the extreme weather conditions occurring around the world--fires, floods, tornados, hurricanes, and rising ocean levels. In similar fashion, earthquakes and volcanic activity are also increasing in frequency and intensity.

Genetic engineering:

Our ever increasing ability to understand and manipulate the genetic code of all living things is giving us the ability to do many “wonderful” things with our plants and animals-- including human beings. While in the short run, this science may appear to be improving life for millions (even billions) of our fellow travelers on Planet Earth, already we are beginning to reap the diverse harvest of our attempts to outsmart our Creator.

Science and technology:

Science and technology are now permitting us to explore the heavens and the depths of the earth, enhancing communication and travel around the world—having little idea of the potential dangers of our actions either to the earth or to the heavens.

Food:

No longer do the inhabitants of our world have ready access to food in our local garden plot or neighborhood, forest, lake or stream. Almost everyone today is dependent upon mega-farms for food production and fuel dependent trucks, trains, or planes to deliver it to our doors. One can hardly imagine how rapidly even a limited interruption of any one of these vital resources would throw our entire society into chaos.

Morality:

If it feels good, do it! Such is the mark of our morality. We see its results in sexual disorientation, broken families, human trafficking, and untold varieties of addictive practices--equal to or even exceeding the evils of ancient Sodom and Gomorrah.

Finance:

We are hopelessly in debt! At every level of society, and in almost every nation. It cannot be long before a major crash is inevitable!

Religious unity:

Overwhelmed! When all else fails, people turn to God, infidels and the religious alike. And true to form, we have arrived. Two thousand years ago Jesus prayed to the Father, pleading for unity among His followers. Today, Pope Frances 1 has made it the supreme objective of his episcopate to answer that prayer and unite, not just His followers, but the entire religious world.

Identifying himself as God’s spokesman to the world, Frances has already begun conversation with much of the Christian world, Islam, and other religions, calling for unification based not upon specific doctrines, but “about showing the love of Jesus”, and “fighting for the defense of religious freedom, life and family.” Using Jesus as his example, Pope Frances has repeatedly performed public expressions of loving actions upon the underprivileged members of our society. These actions have not gone without notice by people of all faiths and nations. Nor should his persistent emphasis on “spending Sundays with family and friends as an ‘ethical choice’ for faithful and non-faithful alike”—quite contrary to the Commandment, go unnoticed.

Nine reasons why we need the church as never before. Yes, we might identify many more, but these alone are sufficient to awaken us to our need.

Two things are clear from Bible prophecy: Before Jesus returns the gospel must go to the entire world, and determination be made regarding who will go to heaven with Him when He comes, and who will not.

According to the Scriptures there will be a time of trouble such has never been, the result of which will serve to separate those that keep the Commandments and are faithful to Jesus by the leading of the Holy Spirit from those that are not.

Please note carefully the following quotes:

“Now as He sat on the Mount of Olives opposite the temple, Peter, James, John, and Andrew asked Him privately, ‘Tell us, when will these things be? And what will be the sign when all these things will be fulfilled?’

“And Jesus, answering them began to say: ‘Take heed that no one deceives you. For many will come in My name, saying, ‘I am He,’ and will deceive many. But when you hear of wars and rumors of wars, do not be troubled, for such things must happen, but the end is not yet. For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. And there will be earthquakes in various places, and there will be famines and troubles. These are the beginning of sorrows.’”

“’ But watch out for yourselves, for they will deliver you up to councils, and you will be beaten in the synagogues. You will be brought before rulers and kings for My sake, for a testimony to them. And the gospel must first be preached to all the nations. But when they arrest you and deliver you up, do not worry beforehand, or premeditate what you will speak. But whatever is given you in that hour, speak that; for it is not you who speak, but the Holy Spirit. Now brother will betray brother to death, and a father his child, and children will rise up against parents and cause them to be put to death. And you will be hated by all for My name’s sake. But he who endures to the end will be saved.’

“ … For in those days there will be tribulation, such as has not been since the beginning of the creation which God created until this time, nor ever shall be. And unless the Lord had shortened those days, no flesh would be saved; but for the elect’s sake, whom He chose, He shortened the days.

“Then if anyone says to you, ‘Look, here is the Christ!’ or, ‘Look, He is there!’ do not believe it. For false christs and false prophets will rise and show signs and wonders t deceive, if possible, even the elect. But take heed; see, I have told you all things beforehand.

“But in those days, after that tribulation, the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light; the stars of heaven will fall, and the powers in the heavens will be shaken. Then they will see the Son of Man coming in the clouds with great power and glory. And then He will send His angels, and gather together His elect from the four winds, from the farthest part of earth to the farthest part of heaven.

“Now learn this parable from the fig tree: When its branch has already become tender, and puts forth leaves, you know that summer is near. So you also, when you see these things happening, know that it is near—at the doors! Assuredly, I say to you, this generation will by no means pass away till all these things take place. Heaven and Earth will pass away, but My words will by no means pass away.

“Watch therefore, for you do not know when the master of the house is coming—in the evening, at midnight, at the crowing of the rooster, or in the morning—lest, coming suddenly, He find you sleeping. and what I say to you, I say to all: Watch!” (Mark 13:3-37)

“And the dragon was enraged with the woman, and he went to make war with the rest of her offspring, who keep the commandments of God and have the testimony of Jesus Christ,” Revelation 12:17.

“Here is the patience of the saints; here are those who keep the Commandments of God and the faith of Jesus,” Revelation 14:12.

For this reason, this passage in the Holy Bible has special significance.

“ … In the last days scoffers will come, scoffing and indulging their own lusts and saying, ‘Where is the promise of his coming? For ever since our ancestors died, all things continue as they were from the beginning of creation!’ They deliberately ignore this fact, that by the word of God heavens existed long ago and an earth was formed out of water and by means of water, through which the world of that time was deluged with water and perished. But by the same word the present heavens and earth have been reserved for fire, being kept until the Day of Judgment and destruction of the godless. But do not ignore this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like one day. The Lord is not slow about his promise, as some think of slowness, but is patient with you, not wanting any to perish, but all to come to repentance,” 2 Peter 3:1-9.

Recently the SDA Church has been promoting daily Bible reading and twice a day prayer for revival and reformation among believers, anticipating thereby that the gospel commission might be fulfilled and a people might be prepared from among all communions and all nations to meet our Lord at His coming. Some have faithfully complied with this practice, but most of us are too busy and too involved to permit our “feeble efforts” to make any real change in our lives.

We seem to be oblivious to the times in which we are living and to the events transpiring all around us that scream out at us, IT IS TIME to get serious about church.

Pope Frances 1 is! Many Evangelicals are. Are We?

A few years ago we were canoeing and camping on the boundary waters between the U.S. and Canada. One of the most intriguing and entertaining things I saw were the baby loons. When we would approach the loons with our canoes, the mature birds would dive under water and remain there for an unbelievable long time before resurfacing far from where the submerged. Not so with their little one that seemed perfectly content to stick their heads under water only, apparently unaware of the approaching danger, or too frightened to go under water to respond. Is there a lesson here for the Church today?

Yes, it is still true that the Bible predicts a time of trouble such as this world has never previously experienced. We know not exactly when that will be, but this we do know. It is NOW that we need to be preparing for the days ahead, whenever they arrive.

No, most of us do not need more information, more sermons, more searching for our “gifts of the Spirit,” or encouragement in “soul winning,” or taking the gospel to the world. No! What we do need is the prayers, encouragement and support of one another in our walk with Jesus that He may have full and complete control of our lives, fully surrendered to Him and divorced from the things of this world—and true worship to God in songs of thanksgiving and praise for His infinite love and goodness. THIS is what Church is to be about.

The church is to be a hospital for sinners, not a place to die, but a place for healing and growing in love.

There is no merit in membership, baptism, or communion—not even for those that never miss an opportunity to participate. However, there are benefits beyond measure for the sinner who truly believes.

For the one who truly believes, the church may be a community, a fellowship, a family where “lost sheep” are searched for (sometimes at great risk), where “lost coins” are found, and “prodigal” children are prayed back into the home with exultation and praise (Luke chapter 15).

For those that believe, the church is a “spiritual house,” a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people (1 Peter 2:4-10), interceding for the family members, friends, enemies, leaders of the local community, the nation and the peoples of the entire world—utilizing every medium available in sincerity, seeking the lost.

Each and every one of us living on the planet today must look at the evidence and decide for ourselves what is that true “Church” described in the Bible that is faithful to the Commandments of God and to the prophetic guidance of the Holy Spirit (Revelation 12:17; 15:12)—that is preparing a people from among all faith communities to clearly represent the love of Jesus to a hurting world in preparation for the His return as Lord of Lords and King of Kings.

Please note: As in all of history since the days of Abel, those that are faithful to Jesus will be singled out for oppression and/or persecution. So believers may anticipate as the price for faithfulness in the final days of earth history. For this reason, if for no other, we need the Church today as never before to help and encourage one another through those most difficult days just before us.


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Note: The following quotations taken from the writings of Ellen White are most thought provoking—and very believable now in our day.

End Time Events in Nature

Selected quotations from the writings of Ellen White

When the religion of Christ is most held in contempt, when His law is most despised, then should our zeal be the warmest and our courage and firmness the most unflinching. To stand in defense of truth and righteousness when the majority forsake us, to fight the battles of the Lord when champions are few--this will be our test. At this time we must gather warmth from the coldness of others, courage from their cowardice, and loyalty from their treason. The nation will be on the side of the great rebel leader. {5 Testimonies, p. 136.2} 

It is God who holds in His hands the destiny of souls. He will not always be mocked; He will not always be trifled with. Already His judgments are in the land. Fierce and awful tempests leave destruction and death in their wake. The devouring fire lays low the desolate forest and the crowded city. Storm and shipwreck await those who journey upon the deep. Accident and calamity threaten all who travel upon the land. Hurricanes, earthquakes, sword and famine, follow in quick succession. Yet the hearts of men are hardened. They recognize not the warning voice of God. They will not flee to the only refuge from the gathering storm.  {5 Testimonies, p. 234.1}

Many who have been placed upon the walls of Zion, to watch with eagle eye for the approach of danger and lift the voice of warning, are themselves asleep. The very ones who should be most active and vigilant in this hour of peril are neglecting their duty and bringing upon themselves the blood of souls.  {5 Testimonies, p. 234.2} 

Four mighty angels are still holding the four winds of the earth. Terrible destruction is forbidden to come in full. The accidents by land and by sea; the loss of life, steadily increasing, by storm, by tempest, by railroad disaster, by conflagration; the terrible floods, the earthquakes, and the winds will be the stirring up of the nations to one deadly combat, while the angels hold the four winds, forbidding the terrible power of Satan to be exercised in its fury until the servants of God are sealed in their foreheads.  {My Life Today, p. 308.2}

Angels are holding the four winds, which are represented as an angry horse seeking to break loose and rush over the face of the whole earth, bearing destruction and death in its path.  {My Life Today, p. 308.3}

The restraining Spirit of God is even now being withdrawn from the world. Hurricanes, storms, tempests, fire and flood, disasters by sea and land, follow each other in quick succession. Science seeks to explain all these. The signs thickening around us, telling of the near approach of the Son of God, are attributed to any other than the true cause. Men cannot discern the sentinel angels restraining the four winds that they shall not blow until the servants of God are sealed; but when God shall bid His angels loose the winds, there will be such a scene of strife as no pen can picture.

David prayed, "It is time for Thee, Lord, to work: for they have made void Thy law." This prayer is no less pertinent at the present time. The world has gone astray from God, and its lawless state should strike terror to the heart, and lead all who are loyal to the great King to work for a reformation. The papal power has thought to change the law of God by substituting a spurious Sabbath for that of Jehovah; and all through the religious world the false sabbath is revered, while the true one is trampled beneath unholy feet. . . .  {Christian Service, p. 155.1} 

 It is on the law of God that the last great struggle of the controversy between Christ and His angels and Satan and his angels will come, and it will be decisive for all the world. . . . Men in responsible positions will not only ignore and despise the Sabbath themselves, but from the sacred desk will urge upon the people the observance of the first day of the week, pleading tradition and custom in behalf of this man-made institution. They will point to calamities on land and sea--to the storms of wind, the floods, the earthquakes, the destruction by fire--as judgments indicating God's displeasure because Sunday is not sacredly observed. These calamities will increase more and more, one disaster will follow close upon the heels of another; and those who make void the law of God will point to the few who are keeping the Sabbath of the fourth commandment as the ones who are bringing wrath upon the world. This falsehood is Satan's device that he may ensnare the unwary.--Southern Watchman, June 28, 1904.  {Christian Service, p. 155.2}

 It is on the law of God that the last great struggle of the controversy between Christ and His angels and Satan and his angels will come, and it will be decisive for all the world. . . . Men in responsible positions will not only ignore and despise the Sabbath themselves, but from the sacred desk will urge upon the people the observance of the first day of the week, pleading tradition and custom in behalf of this man-made institution. They will point to calamities on land and sea--to the storms of wind, the floods, the earthquakes, the destruction by fire--as judgments indicating God's displeasure because Sunday is not sacredly observed. These calamities will increase more and more, one disaster will follow close upon the heels of another; and those who make void the law of God will point to the few who are keeping the Sabbath of the fourth commandment as the ones who are bringing wrath upon the world. This falsehood is Satan's device that he may ensnare the unwary.--Southern Watchman, June 28, 1904.  {Christian Service, p. 155.2}

 In accidents and calamities by land and by sea, in great conflagrations, in fierce tornadoes and terrific hailstorms, in tempests, floods, cyclones, tidal waves, and earthquakes, in every place and in a thousand forms, Satan is exercising his power. . . .  {In Heavenly Places, p. 342.3}

The crisis is stealing gradually upon us. The sun shines in the heavens, passing over its usual round, and the heavens still declare the glory of God. Men are still eating and drinking, planting and building, marrying and giving in marriage. Merchants are still buying and selling. . . . Pleasure lovers are still crowding to theaters, horse races, gambling hells. The highest excitement prevails, yet probation's hour is fast closing, and every case is about to be eternally decided. Satan sees that his time is short. He has set all his agents to work, that men may be deceived, deluded, occupied, and entranced, until the day of probation shall be ended and the door of mercy be forever shut. The time is right upon us when there will be sorrow that no human balm can heal. Sentinel angels are now restraining the four winds, that they shall not blow till the servants of God are sealed in their foreheads; but when God shall bid His angels loose the winds, there will be a scene of strife such as no pen can picture. . . .  {In Heavenly Places, p. 342.4}

 It will not be long until the gathering storm will burst upon the world that is so asleep in sin. . . . When the earth is reeling to and fro like a drunkard, when the heavens are shaking, and the great day of the Lord has come, who shall be able to stand? One object they behold in trembling agony from which they will try in vain to escape. "Behold, he cometh with clouds; and every eye shall see him" (Rev. 1:7). The unsaved utter wild imprecations to dumb nature--their god: "Mountains and rocks, 'Fall on us, and hide us from the face of him that sitteth on the throne'" (Rev. 6:16).  {That I May Know Him, p. 356.2}

Creation is loyal to her God, and deaf to the frenzied call. That unrequited love is now turned to wrath. Sinners who would not let Jesus take away their sins are rushing from place to place in search of a hiding place, crying, The harvest is past, the summer is ended, and our souls are not saved! . . .  {That I May Know Him, p. 356.3}

 Our heavenly Father does not willingly afflict or grieve the children of men. He has His purpose in the whirlwind and the storm, in the fire and in the flood. The Lord permits calamities to come to His people to save them from greater dangers. He desires everyone to examine his own heart closely and carefully, and then draw near to God, that God may draw near to him. Our life is in the hands of God. He sees dangers threatening us that we cannot see. He is the Giver of all our blessings; the Provider of all our mercies; the Orderer of all our experiences. He sees the perils that we cannot see. He may permit to come upon His people that which fills their hearts with sadness, because He sees that they need to make straight paths for their feet, lest the lame be turned out of the way. He knows our frame, and remembers that we are dust. Even the very hairs of our head are numbered. He works through natural causes to lead His people to remember that He has not forgotten them, but that He desires them to forsake the way which, if they were permitted to follow unchecked and unreproved, would lead them into great peril.  {The Upward Look, p. 65.2}

 Satan works through the elements also to garner his harvest of unprepared souls. He has studied the secrets of the laboratories of nature, and he uses all his power to control the elements as far as God allows. When he was suffered to afflict Job, how quickly flocks and herds, servants, houses, children, were swept away, one trouble succeeding another as in a moment. It is God that shields His creatures and hedges them in from the power of the destroyer. But the Christian world have shown contempt for the law of Jehovah; and the Lord will do just what He has declared that He would--He will withdraw His blessings from the earth and remove His protecting care from those who are rebelling against His law and teaching and forcing others to do the same. Satan has control of all whom God does not especially guard. He will favor and prosper some in order to further his own designs, and he will bring trouble upon others and lead men to believe that it is God who is afflicting them.  {Great Controversy, p. 589.2}

 While appearing to the children of men as a great physician who can heal all their maladies, he will bring disease and disaster, until populous cities are reduced to ruin and desolation. Even now he is at work. In accidents and calamities by sea and by land, in great conflagrations, in fierce tornadoes and terrific hailstorms, in tempests, floods, cyclones, tidal waves, and earthquakes, in every place and in a thousand forms, Satan is exercising his power. He sweeps away the ripening harvest, and famine and distress follow. He imparts to the air a deadly taint, and thousands perish by the pestilence. These visitations are to become more and more frequent and disastrous. Destruction will be upon both man and beast. "The earth mourneth and fadeth away," "the haughty people . . . do languish. The earth also is defiled under the inhabitants thereof; because they have transgressed the laws, changed the ordinance, broken the everlasting covenant." Isaiah 24:4, 5.  {Great Controversy, p. 589.3}

 And then the great deceiver will persuade men that those who serve God are causing these evils. The class that have provoked the displeasure of Heaven will charge all their troubles upon those whose obedience to God's commandments is a perpetual reproof to transgressors. It will be declared that men are offending God by the violation of the Sunday sabbath; that this sin has brought calamities which will not cease until Sunday observance shall be strictly enforced; and that those who present the claims of the fourth commandment, thus destroying reverence for Sunday, are troublers of the people, preventing their restoration to divine favor and temporal prosperity. Thus the accusation urged of old against the servant of God will be repeated and upon grounds equally well established: "And it came to pass, when Ahab saw Elijah, that Ahab said unto him, Art thou he that troubleth Israel? And he answered, I have not troubled Israel; but thou, and thy father's house, in that ye have forsaken the commandments of the Lord, and thou hast followed Baalim." 1 Kings 18:17, 18. As the wrath of the people shall be excited by false charges, they will pursue a course toward God's ambassadors very similar to that which apostate Israel pursued toward Elijah.  {Great Controversy, p. 590.1}

 The lying spirit that enticed Eve in Eden, finds acceptance with the majority of earth's inhabitants today. Even the Christian world refuses to be converted by the Spirit of God, but listens to the prince of darkness, as he comes to them in the garb of an angel of light. The spirit of Antichrist is prevailing in the world to a far greater extent than it has ever prevailed before.  {7 Bible Commentary, p. 950.4}

The day of test and purification is just upon us. Signs of a most startling character appear, in floods, in hurricanes, in tornadoes, in cloudbursts, in casualties by land and by sea, that proclaim the approach of the end of all things. The judgments of God are falling on the world, that men may be awakened to the fact that Christ will come speedily (Review and Herald,  Nov. 8, 1892). 


Crime before the Flood

Those who honored and feared to offend God, at first felt the curse but lightly; while those who turned from God and trampled upon his authority, felt the effects of the curse more heavily, especially in stature and nobleness of form. The descendants of Seth were called the sons of God--the descendants of Cain, the sons of men. As the sons of God mingled with the sons of men, they became corrupt, and by intermarriage with them, lost, through the influence of their wives, their peculiar, holy character, and united with the sons of Cain in their idolatry. Many cast aside the fear of God, and trampled upon his commandments. But there were a few who did righteousness, who feared and honored their Creator. Noah and his family were among the righteous few.


The wickedness of man was so great, and increased to such a fearful extent, that God repented that he had made man upon the earth; for he saw that the wickedness of man was great, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. The curse did not change at once the appearance of the earth. It was still rich in the bounty God had provided for it. There was gold and silver in abundance. The race of men then living were of very great stature, and possessed wonderful strength. The trees were vastly larger, and far surpassing in beauty and perfect proportions anything mortals can now look upon. The wood of these trees was of fine grain and hard substance--in this respect more like stone. It required much more time and labor, even of that powerful race, to prepare the timber for building, than it requires in this degenerate age to prepare trees that are now growing upon the earth, even with the present weaker strength men now possess. These trees were of great durability, and would know nothing of decay for very many years. A heavy, double curse, first in consequence of Adam's transgression, and second, because of the murder committed by Cain, was resting upon the earth; yet the mountains and hills were still lovely. Upon the highest elevations grew majestic trees, rising to a lofty height, their branches spreading to a great distance on every side, while the plains were covered with verdure, and appeared like a vast garden of flowers. Some of the hills were covered with trees of beauty, and vines climbing the stately trees were loaded with grapes, while beautiful flowers filled the air with their fragrance. But notwithstanding the richness and beauty of the earth, yet when compared with its state before the curse was pronounced upon it, there was apparent evidence of sure and certain decay. {


The people used the gold, silver, precious stones, and choice wood, in building houses for themselves, each striving to excel the other. They beautified and adorned their houses and lands with the most ingenious works, and provoked God by their wicked deeds. They formed images to worship, and taught their children to regard these pieces of workmanship made with their own hands, as gods, and to worship them. They did not choose to think of God, the Creator of the heavens and the earth, and rendered no grateful thanks to him who had provided them all the things which they possessed. They even denied the existence of the God of Heaven, and gloried in, and worshiped, the works of their own hands. They corrupted themselves with those things which God had placed upon the earth for man's benefit. They prepared for themselves beautiful walks overhung with fruit-trees of every description. Under these majestic and lovely trees with their wide-spread branches, which were green from the commencement of the year to its close, they placed their idols of worship. Whole groves, because of the shelter of their branches, were dedicated to their idol gods, and made attractive for the people to resort to for their idolatrous worship. They corrupted themselves with those things which God had placed upon the earth for man's benefit.


Instead of doing justice to their neighbors, they carried out their own unlawful wishes. They had a plurality of wives, which was contrary to God's wise arrangement. In the beginning God gave to Adam one wife--showing to all who should live upon the earth, his order and law in that respect. The transgression and fall of Adam and Eve brought sin and wretchedness upon the human race, and man followed his own carnal desires, and changed God's order. The more men multiplied wives to themselves, the more they increased in wickedness and unhappiness. If one chose to take the wives, or cattle, or anything belonging to his neighbor, he did not regard justice or right, but if he could prevail over his neighbor by reason of strength, or by putting him to death, he did so, and exulted in his deeds of violence. They loved to destroy the lives of animals. They used them for food, and this increased their ferocity and violence, and caused them to look upon the blood of human beings with astonishing indifference.


But if there was one sin above another which called for the destruction of the race by the flood, it was the base crime of amalgamation of man and beast which defaced the image of God, and caused confusion everywhere. God purposed to destroy by a flood that powerful, long-lived race that had corrupted their ways before him. He would not suffer them to live out the days of their natural life, which would be hundreds of years. It was only a few generations back when Adam had access to that tree which was to prolong life. After his disobedience he was not suffered to eat of the tree of life and perpetuate a life of sin. In order for man to possess an endless life he must continue to eat of the fruit of the tree of life. Deprived of that tree, his life would gradually wear out.

 

mpending Destruction.--The time is near when large cities will be swept away, and all should be warned of these coming judgments.  {AH 136.5}

I am bidden to declare the message that cities full of transgression, and sinful in the extreme, will be destroyed by earthquakes, by fire, by flood. All the world will be warned that there is a God who will display His authority as God. His unseen agencies will cause destruction, devastation, and death. All the accumulated riches will be as nothingness. . . .  {CL 7.4} 

     Calamities will come--calamities most awful, most unexpected; and these destructions will follow one after another. If there will be a heeding of the warnings that God has given, and if churches will repent, returning to their allegiance, then other cities may be spared for a time. But if men who have been deceived continue in the same way in which they have been walking, disregarding the law of God,

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and presenting falsehoods before the people, God allows them to suffer calamity, that their senses may be awakened.  {CL 7.5} 

     The Lord will not suddenly cast off all transgressors, or destroy entire nations; but He will punish cities and places where men have given themselves up to the possession of Satanic agencies. Strictly will the cities of the nations be dealt with, and yet they will not be visited in the extreme of God's indignation, because some souls will yet break away from the delusions of the enemy, and will repent and be converted, while the mass will be treasuring up wrath against the day of wrath.--Evangelism, p. 27. (1906)

  The time is near when large cities will be swept away, and all should be warned of these coming judgments.--Evangelism, p. 29. (1910)  {CL 8.3} 

     O that God's people had a sense of the impending destruction of thousands of cities, now almost given to idolatry.--Review and Herald, Sept. 10, 1903.  {CL 8.4}

God is withdrawing His Spirit from the wicked cities, which have become as the cities of the antediluvian world and as Sodom and Gomorrah. . . . Costly mansions, marvels of architectural skill, will be destroyed without a moment's notice when the Lord sees that the owners have passed the boundaries of forgiveness. The destruction by fire of the stately buildings, supposed to be fireproof, is an illustration of how in a short time earth's architecture will lie in ruins.--TDG 152 (1902).  {LDE 112.1}

    Scenes that would soon take place in Chicago and other large cities also passed before me. As wickedness increased and the protecting power of God was withdrawn there were destructive winds and tempests. Buildings were destroyed by fire and shaken down by earthquakes. . . .  {LDE 113.3} 

  As we near the close of this earth's history, we shall have the scenes of the San Francisco calamity repeated in other places. . . . These things make me feel very solemn because I know that the judgment day is right upon us. The judgments that have already come are a warning, but not the finishing, of the punishment that will come on wicked cities. . . .  {LDE 114.4} 

     [Habakkuk 2:1-20; Zephaniah 1:1-3:20; Zechariah 1:1-4:14; Malachi 1:1-4, quoted.] These scenes will soon be witnessed, just as they are clearly described. I present these wonderful statements from the Scriptures for the consideration of everyone. The prophecies recorded in the Old Testament are the word of the Lord for the last days, and will be fulfilled as surely as we have seen the desolation of San Francisco.--Letter 154, May 26, 1906.  {LDE 115.1}

     I am bidden to declare the message that cities full of transgression, and sinful in the extreme, will be destroyed by earthquakes, by fire, by flood.--Ev 27 (April 27, 1906).  {LDE 115.2} 

     All the warnings of Christ regarding the events that will occur near the close of this earth's history are now being fulfilled in our large cities. God is permitting these things to be brought to light that he who runs may read. The city of San Francisco is a sample of what the whole world is becoming. The wicked bribery, the misappropriation of means, the fraudulent transactions among men who have power to release the guilty and condemn the innocent--all this iniquity is filling other large cities of the earth and is making the world as it was in the days that were before the Flood.--Letter 230, 1907.  {LDE 115.3} 

V

Therefore I will shake the heavens, and the earth shall remove out of her place, in the wrath of the Lord of hosts, and in the day of his fierce anger. And it shall be as the chased roe, and as a sheep that no man taketh up. Isaiah 13:13, 14.  {Mar 285.1}

 

     Thick clouds still cover the sky; yet the sun now and then breaks through, appearing like the avenging eye of Jehovah. Fierce lightnings leap from the heavens, enveloping the earth in a sheet of flame. Above the terrific roar of thunder, voices, mysterious and awful, declare the doom of the wicked. The words spoken are not comprehended by all; but they are distinctly understood by the false teachers. Those who a little before were so reckless, so boastful and defiant, so exultant in their cruelty to God's commandment-keeping people, are now overwhelmed with consternation and shuddering in fear. Their wails are heard above the sound of the elements. Demons acknowledge the deity of Christ and tremble before His power, while men are supplicating for mercy and groveling in abject terror. . . .  {Mar 285.2} 

     Through a rift in the clouds there beams a star whose brilliancy is increased fourfold in contrast with the darkness. It speaks hope and joy to the faithful, but severity and wrath to the transgressors of God's law. Those who have sacrificed all for Christ are now secure, hidden as in the secret of the Lord's pavilion. They have been tested, and before the world and the despisers of truth they have evinced their fidelity to Him who died for them. A marvelous change has come over those who have held fast their integrity in the very face of death. They have been suddenly delivered from the dark and terrible tyranny of men transformed to demons. Their faces, so lately pale, anxious, and haggard, are now aglow with wonder, faith, and love. Their voices rise in triumphant song: "God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore will not we fear, though the earth be removed, and though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea; though the waters thereof roar and be troubled, though the mountains shake with the swelling thereof." Psalm 46:1-3.  {Mar 285.3}

The rocks are among the precious things of earth, containing treasures of wisdom and knowledge. In the rocks and mountains are registered the fact that God did destroy the wicked from off the earth by a flood, and the broken surface of the earth reveals, in the gigantic rocks and towering mountains, that the Lord’s power has done this because of the wickedness of man in the transgression of His law. The ever-varying scenery that meets the eye is the work of the God of wisdom, that in His stupendous works men may discern that there is a living God whose power is unlimited. The marvelous works of majesty are to refine the soul and to soften the roughness of man’s nature, to help him in character building.—Manuscript 73, 1886, 2, 3.

These mountains to me are significant. Subterranean fires, although concealed in them, are burning. When the wicked shall have filled their cup of iniquity then the Lord will rise out of His place to punish theinhabitants of the earth. He will show the greatness of His power. Thesupreme Governor of the universe will reveal to men who have made void His law that His authority will be maintained. Not all the waters ofthe ocean shall fail, nor the fires which the Lord shall kindle. Theearthquake makes the earth tremble, the rocks heave from theplace, the hills and solid ground shake beneath the tread of Omnipotence, yet once more He will shake, not the earth only but alsothe heavens. There is a sea of fire beneath our feet. There is a furnace of fire in these old rocky mountains. The mountain belching forth itsfires tells us the mighty furnace is kindled, waiting for God’s word to wrap the earth in flames. Shall we not fear and tremble before Him?—Manuscript 29, 1885, 15-17.

 

 

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Pope Frances and great controversy

For more than a century and half since its origin, the Seventh-day Adventist Church under the inspired guidance of Ellen White has maintained as one of its principle teachings, the reality of Satan and his accompanying fallen angels, and the war between God and Satan--between good and evil. During this same time (and especially in recent decades) the Catholic Church (except for a scattering of exorcists) has often downplayed the reality of the devil and of the war, relating the terms more as metaphors for the evil we see in the world than to real demons and a real war.

It is thus interesting that while these very Christian biblical teachings are being questioned by some professing Seventh-day Adventists, Pope Frances 1 makes no apologies for resurrecting them within the Catholic Church. Nor is this fact hidden from the world’s news services.

This interest in the devil and the war between good and evil by the pope became even more evident with the May, 2014, approval of statutes by the Congregation for the Clergy at the Vatican for a new Catholic organization, the International Association of Exorcists. Founded by the well-known exorcist, Fr. Gabriel Amorth, the Association of Exorcists fosters awareness of the spiritual problem, “trains exorcists and holds conferences which bring together theologians, medical practitioners, psychiatrists, and clergy.”

A recent article in the Washington Post went so far as to quote some of the comments being made by those close to Pope Frances as follows. He “speaks regularly and openly about the devil” and “never stops talking about the Devil; it’s constant.” As if to reinforce his comments, the pope has dedicated a new image of St. Michael in the Vatican gardens -- praying especially for Michael’s protection in the battle against Satan.“ Finally, the Post quotes an unidentified “Vatican insider” as noting the pope’s “constant reference (is) to the great battle between good and evil.”

One might wonder what is inspiring Pope Frances that he refers so often to the devil and the conflict between God and Satan. Some observers suggest that it came with him from his experience in Argentina before becoming pope. It is said that Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio, S.J., Archbishop of Buenos Aires, Argentina, mingled freely with various other Christian leaders including Seventh-day Adventists. If this is so, it is almost certain that he has received copies of, and has likely read the book, The Great Controversy Between Christ and Satan—a book written by E.G. White and widely circulated by Seventh-day Adventists. That Pope Frances is very familiar with the beliefs of Seventh-day Adventists and the writings of Ellen White seems quite evident in the encyclicals that he has written since becoming pope, and by the things he emphasizes in his daily messages.

If my observations and speculations are correct, we may then conclude that either Pope Frances is being positively influenced by his relationship with Seventh-day Adventists, or that he is intentionally building upon this teaching of the conflict between good and evil in his attempt to draw them into the Christian unity movement presently gaining momentum between the Catholic Church and other Christians, Evangelicals, Charismatics, and others of the “separated brethren.”

Though he seldom or never mentions the SDA Church by name, Pope Frances often refers to the challenge Catholicism faces by Protestants and Evangelicals in Latin America--some of the most active of which are Seventh-day Adventists. This being true, we may now begin to understand the renewed interest in the devil and the war between good and evil occurring in the Catholic Church.

Anyone familiar with the content of the book, The Great Controversy between God and Satan, and the teachings of the Seventh-day Adventist Church also knows that the Catholic Church and the SDA Church are at polar opposites in respect to the traditions of the Church and the critical Christian teachings of the Holy Bible. They, Seventh-day Adventists pose the greatest threat (of all faiths) to the unity of Christendom, a challenge that Pope Frances has adopted as his legacy.

According to the Bible, the earthly component of the final battle of the war between God and Satan will be waged between those that are faithful to the unchangeable law of love as codified by the Ten Commandments and are faithful to the guidance of the Holy Spirit, and those that claim the prerogatives to change God’s unchangeable law, best symbolized by Adventists and Catholics, respectively. This is interesting when one considers the fact that within one or the other of these two churches, Catholicism or Seventh-day Adventism, may be found the essence of all significant religious teachings, Christian and other wise.

When, therefore, in the course of prophetic end-time events in the war between God and those faithful to the unchangeable moral law of love and Satan and his armies meet in the final battle, all of humanity will of necessity identify with either one or the other of these two diametrically opposed bodies.

Interesting, too, is the way the Bible describes these opposing forces in the final battle between God and Satan. “The dragon was wroth (angry) with the woman, and went to make war with the remnant of her seed that keep the Commandments of God and have the testimony of Jesus,” Revelation 12:17, (accepting the direction and guidance of the Holy Spirit as Jesus did,” John 14:6, 16, 17; 15:26; 16:13; Revelation 19:10; 22:8,9.)

(Note: The Bible is clear that many of God’s faithful people are still to be found among all faiths and belief systems, having never discerned the clear distinctions between truth and error. When the day comes, as it will come, when the issues become clear, difficult choices will need to be made.

Herein is the great danger for God’s faithful followers in that Pope Frances 1 is showing himself a very kind and sensitive and loving man of the sort that appeals to people of all faiths and stripes. It is difficult to criticize the attention he gives to the poor, the sick and the disenfranchised, very much like Jesus Himself when here on earth. Thanks to the Holy Scriptures none need to be misled when decision time arrives, for it tells us that just as Satan may deceptively appear as “an angel of light, so may his human agents,” (2 Corinthians 11:13-15).

“Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world,” 1 John 4:1).

 

http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/a-modern-pope-gets-old-school-on-the-devil/2014/05/10/f56a9354-1b93-4662-abbb-d877e49f15ea_story.html

http://www.gazzettadelsud.it/news/english/91098/Exorcism-conference-underway-in-Rome.html

http://www.aleteia.org/en/religion/article/the-devil-and-pope-francis-5884437300510720

 

 

 

 

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I Love Me!

 

I love me – the highest level of love! 

When I was a baby, I loved me for my sake. Everything about me was focused on me, and I cried when I did not get what I wanted when I wanted it. 

A little later in life I learned to love others, but mostly for what they could do for me. 

Having given my life to Jesus, He taught me to love others just because of who they were - sinners just as I. 

Then one day I read this incredible concept describing the 4 levels of love, the highest of which is this! I love me for your sake! In other words, if I really love you, I will make of myself the very best person I can be so as to be of greater benefit to you. For years I saw this concept primarily from the perspective of health. The better my health, the better I can serve you. But the concept is true in all aspects of life, my spiritual health, my spiritual maturity, etc. 

Randy Skeeks, when speaking at GYC (Generation of Youth Conference), added another dimension to my understanding. He noted that the best gift, the best expression of love that we can give to another, is that gift of faithfulness to the Gospel of Jesus Christ and His law of love as described in the Ten Commandments. For, as he noted, we can only give of what we possess. We cannot give that we do not have. A poor person does not have the ability to help other poor people as the one who has an abundance of wealth. A homeless person cannot share his home with the homeless, nor feed him if he has no food. Likewise, one cannot give another the full benefits of the Gospel unless one him self possesses them. One cannot share the bounties of victory except one has conquered sin. Unless one possesses the Fruits of the Spirit, one cannot share them. 

Ours is a society that is conditioned to think that the best way to help one out of the depths of sin is by compromising our principles to meet them where they are at. We sometimes call it, “friendship evangelism.” While it is true that love will cause us to meet others where they are – Jesus did! – We are cheating them if we fail to give them that which is most valuable to us. If I really love another, I must give that thing of value that I possess. If for any reason I do not, I have not only failed them, but by so failing, by compromising my beliefs to meet them at their level, I am thereby damaging myself also – losing that which I am not using – drifting from light into darkness. 

This is precisely why God instructed the Children of Israel not to mingle or intermarry with the Canaanites. For them selves to remain faithful to God, they must be true to the Law given to sustain them. Only then would they be able to be a blessing to the world as God designed them to be when He called Abraham and promised to make his name great so that he could be a blessing to the nations, (Gen. 12:2, 3.) 

One of our biggest challenges is to meet people where they are at, but to do so without compromising the principles of the Kingdom. This can only be done as one walks as Jesus walked with His Father, being in constant communion with Him, and receiving all of His direction from Him. Jesus promised to send the Holy Spirit to guide us in all things, and He commissions His angels to walk beside us and to protect us from the evil one. Such a walk does not occur by accident. Since sin entered this world godly love is no longer the default mode of our brain computers. We must renew our covenant with God at the beginning of each day. 

When I love myself enough to apply all of the benefits God has provided for my growth, health and happiness, then from my wealth I am in position to share something of real value to you too.

LOVE NEVER FAILS !

 

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A Faithful Remnant

Prepare to meet your Lord

 

Remnant: This word is commonly used to designate a piece of fabric left over after the rest of the bolt has been sold. The word, remnant is also used throughout the Bible to refer to those people that remain as faithful believers in God when the majority of professed believers have departed from the faith.

Such a remnant has existed throughout earth history from Adam until now. For the first approximately four thousand years the remnant consisted primarily of faithful descendants of Adam through the line of Seth, Noah and Abraham. Melchizedek, king of Salem, and Job are also named in the Bible as God’s faithful ones (remnant). From this we may understand that God’s remnant has never been limited to Abraham’s descendants. Subsequent to the Exodus, God covenanted with the Children of Israel to make them His witness to the other nations of the world. At that time He codified His unchangeable Law of Love and wrote it upon tablets of stone. On condition of faithfulness to compliance with His law He promised to be their God and they would be His people and He would make of them a great nation. It is interesting to note that even when Israel rebelled and departed from the covenant, there were always a few that remained faithful to the covenant—a remnant—honoring the Law and believing in and trusting the inspiration the prophets and messengers God sent to them to call them to repentance.

In the Christian era, likewise, God has had an organized body (Church) through whom the Law of Love and the prophetic guidance of the Holy Spirit have been carefully preserved and shared with the world—a remnant church. When however, these truths have been altered or lost by the larger body, God has, as in ancient Israel, always raised up a faithful remnant to take their place, preserving and protecting the covenant.

The remnant is God’s vehicle through which He communicates the message of salvation and the nature and extent of His love with the entire population of the earth. It is His witness to the world in times of prosperity and peace, and in times of poverty and persecution.

Following the rejection and crucifixion of Jesus, though a remnant of Israel joined and played an active role in the establishment of the Christian Church, Israel’s status as God’s Remnant people was modified to include people of all nations under a “new” covenant relationship, not sealed with the sacrificial lamb, but by the royal blood of Jesus, Himself.

Unfortunately, the early church struggled to become established, and before long, it, like Israel, also lost its first love. While the Catholic Church continues to claim favored status with God, describing its origin with Peter and the Apostles, and taking credit for establishing the Canon of the Holy Scriptures and the formation of the Christian Church, it also claims the authority and power to interpret and change those same Holy Scriptures (Including the Ten Commandments) that it canonized.

Given these claims, I believe that it no longer meets the Biblical characteristics qualifying it as God’s remnant Church. The Law of Love for God and for neighbor, the Moral Law as codified by the Ten Commandments, is as unchangeable as God Himself (Malachi 3:6; James 1:17; Hebrews 13:8)—just as noted astrophysicist, Neil Tyson in his documentary, Cosmos: a Spacetime Odyssey, claims is true for all of the natural laws that govern the known universe. Furthermore, it fails the Biblical tests of the prophetic guidance of the Holy Spirit by replacing the authority of the Holy Spirit inspired Holy Scriptures with the “traditions” of the Church and the authority of the Magisterium.” (See 1 John 4:1-4 and other texts).

Thus, by Biblical standards it cannot be the organized Catholic Church, but those reformers and their followers that have upheld the Ten Commandment law of God and believed in and have been faithful to the divine inspiration of the Holy Spirit as found in the Bible and the prophetic voice that have constituted the true remnant of God. And while many of those reform movements have come and gone through the centuries since the Reformation there remains one, the Seventh-day Adventist Church, that continues to believe in and honor the Ten Commandment Law of God’s Love, believe in and accept the inspiration of the Bible as the true Word of God, and the continued inspiration of the Holy Spirit through God’s prophets and messengers.

Unfortunately, this church, too, like its predecessors before it, while it continues to teach and promote faithfulness to the Commandments and to the guidance of the Holy Spirit through its messengers, is composed of members many of which no longer believe. Fortunately, there are many others that are true and faithful--a remnant of the remnant.

For six thousand years, since the devil’s defeat of Adam and Eve and his conquest of the dominion of the earth, all the powers of heaven have been involved in serving the needs of human beings in the conflict between good and evil. It will continue until evil is fully defeated and eliminated and the promised restoration of dominion to its original human agents.

While Jesus Christ, the Commander of the armies of heaven has by His death provided the sacrifice that guaranteed final victory, the Holy Spirit has provided the divine inspiration necessary to communicate strategic guidance to the entire body of believers, often acting through a human agent (commonly known as a prophet). As in any war, the need for communication increases in proportion to the significance of the conflict and the intensity of battle. Since we have been instructed in the Holy Scriptures that the final battles will be the most significant, extensive, and intense of any until that time, it should not seem strange that the Holy Spirit would be very evident and involved to carefully guide the faithful (as well as the “other sheep, John 10:16) through the final conflict--Identifying spies, double agents; interpreting secret codes, providing escape routes and booby traps, etc. all necessary to avoid the deceptive, destructive tactics of the opposing devil and his demons.

In any conflict, strategic communications are of value only when they are received, accepted, and acted upon. So is true of the communications of the Holy Spirit though the human voice of the prophet.

During the end times of Planet Earth (our times), the remnant continues to be characterized as those that keep the Commandments and believe in and trust in the inspiration of the prophets and messengers God sends to guide and to call them to repentance—referred to in the Bible as having the faith (testimony) of Jesus, and the spirit of prophecy, (Revelation 14:12; 19:10 and 22:8, 9). Though the vehicle remains the same, the message is ever more urgent and timely in keeping with the greatly heightened intensity of the concluding battles of the war between God and Satan (“a time of trouble such as never was since there was a nation. …” Daniel 12:1, Matthew 24:21) and the proximity of the return of Jesus--not this time as a “Lamb that was slain,” but as “the Lion of the Tribe of Judah,” the Judge and Conqueror—King of Kings and Lord of Lords.

The Bible is also clear that just as today, the majority of people living in the world find no lasting pleasure in the covenant relationship that He has offered every man, but choose instead to reject the law of love as spelled out in the Ten Commandments, and refuse to believe in the and apply the inspired word of the Holy Scriptures and the prophets and messengers, they would not be happy or pleased to spend eternity with Him, living by the law of self-sacrificing love by which He governs the universe—and will not be there.

Thus there exists two groups of people living in the world today, the majority of mankind that reject the God that created, redeemed them, and is coming again--and those that believe—a remnant of mankind. These two groups are symbolized in the Bible as the Harlot and the Bride of Christ, respectively (among other terms).

While it is true that the general beliefs and practices of most of the world’s inhabitants might be found in one of either the Catholic belief system or the Adventist belief system, it would be erroneous to claim remnant exclusivity for either group, for the truth is that throughout the world, among all faiths and among those with no claim to faith at all, God has His faithful ones (Romans 1:19, 20; 2:14, 15; Psalms 86:9; 87:4-6; 98:2; Matthew 8:11; 25:31-40; John 11:50-52; Acts 17:23-31; Romans 10:18-20) the true remnant. Presently, these live side by side unidentified, walking the same streets and together experiencing a broken and confused world.

The Bible is also clear that this condition will not continue forever, but before Jesus returns to claim His faithful ones (the true remnant), all of mankind will be divided into distinct groups, and only two—the faithful and the unfaithful. When that time comes, every individual will need to choose his/her champion, Christ and His Law of Love as described in the Bible and the prophetic guidance, or the Prince of this world and his alternative rules and practices. The Bible describes this polarization process as the Time of Jacob’s trouble (Jeremiah 30:7), a time such as this world has never before experienced (Daniel 12:1; Matthew 24:21), and “The Battle of Armageddon,” (Revelation 13:7-17; 16:14-16).

The Bible is clear, from beginning to end, from the fall of Adam and Eve until today, that God is love. He has exemplified that immeasurable love by the death of Jesus upon the Cross (John 3:16, 17; 1 John 4:9). The very price of this sacrifice verifies the many passages in the Holy Scriptures that claim that God is not willing for anyone to experience death from which there is no resurrection, but that it is His passionate desire that everyone repent and be saved to spend eternity in the new world Jesus has gone to prepare, (2 Peter 3:9, 1 Timothy 2:4).

While the clock of this world continues to tick, we still have opportunity to repent and choose to accept the invitation God has extended to every one of us. All of the evidence tells us that the time of trouble is not far hence. The final outcome is being determined now during this time of preparation. Faithfulness is not developed during troublous times. It is only then revealed. Now is the time to accept Jesus and join the remnant.

 

Ref. Angel M. Rodriquez, “God’s End-time Remnant and the Christian Church,” in Toward a Theology of the Remnant: An Adventist Ecclesiological Perspective. Angel M. Rodriquez, ed. (Silver Spring, Md.: Biblical Research Institute, 2009) pp. 201-226. SS Lesson for June 21, 1402, pages 146-148

 

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Fences

Ten Commandments and the Cross of Christ

There are those that believe and teach that the Ten Commandments were done away (made null and void) with at the Cross of Christ. Can this possibly be true?

The Bible tells us, “Let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loves is born of God and knows God. He that does not love does not know God; for God is love,” 1 John 4:7.

“For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments: and his commandments are not grievous,” 1 John 5:3.

“A new commandment I give unto you, that you love one another as I have loved you, that you also love one another,” John 13:34.

“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind; and your neighbor as yourself,” Luke 10:27.

In these passages we find a comprehensive description of love, i.e. there is no thought or action that any man may devise that is not included by one of the Ten Commandments--or by Jesus’ summary of them as love for God and love for one another.

In Cosmos: A Space-time Odyssey , a 13 part “made for television series,” narrator, astrophysicist, Neil deGrasse Tyson, emphasized the fact that the laws that govern the universe are unchangeable. The Bible tells us, too, “I am the Lord, I change not:” Malachi 3:6. “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning,” James 1:17.

If Tyson is right, and if God is the embodiment of love, and unchangeable, then we can correctly understand that the Ten Commandments, the moral law of the universe that describes all of the various facets of love must also be unchangeable.

This is how the Bible tells us that God demonstrated the infinite extent of His unchangeable love for us, “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.

There is in the world an apparent lower limit to the expression of physical laws. For example, we recognize the absence of light as darkness; the absence of heat as absolute zero Celsius, and the absence of all motion as a “dead stop.” Interestingly, we know no such upper limits to light, heat or motion.

The moral law, likewise, appears to have a lower limit beyond which love does not exist, but has no upper limit of expression—even to the point that there was nothing in God’s entire creation beyond which His expression of love could reach as in the sacrifice of His Son, Jesus, to save sinners.

In view of these unalterable truths, let us take a look at each of the ten facets comprising the Law of love, beginning with the last of the Ten.

“Thou shall not covet …, “Exodus 20:17.

If there is within our hearts any love at all, we will be content with the material things we possess, and have no desire for the things of others. On the other hand, there can be no upper limit to the joy one might experience in sharing one’s material and spiritual possessions with those whom one truly loves and cares about.

“Thou shall not bear false witness against your neighbor,” Exodus 20:16.

At the very least, any love at all for a friend or neighbor would preclude deceiving that one, or spreading hurtful comments about them. On the other hand, can any imagine the joy one might experience from fellowship with others if our only thoughts, words and deeds about them or to them were honest compliments and expressions of appreciation and gratitude for the positive virtues they might demonstrate--and forgiveness and acceptance for their faults?

“Thou shall not steal,” Exodus 20: 15.

It is difficult to imagine what it would be like if everyone in the world loved us as Jesus (God) loves us. Certainly we would have no need to lock our doors, hide our possessions, or fear that someone might manage to steal our reputation—or even our soul. Or how others around us would respond if we, too, were so completely honest the caring for others that we would never even considering taking anything from them. Yet, this is what this commandment will afford—if we truly love! And certainly, we would not steal from our loving God!

“Thou shall not commit adultery,” Exodus 20:14.

This commandment protects the family, the basic unit composing all of human society. There is probably no other pain as grievous as that occurring when a family is broken. If we only loved our families and society at the very least level of love, there would be no heart-broken father or mother, no orphan children, latch-key kids, street children, human trafficking, child abuse, confused sexual orientation, or any of those terribly hurtful things that are nearly universal in our world today. But what if there were no upper limit to our love for our families? Can we even begin to imagine what such a home would be like if every one of us loved with the kind of self-sacrificing love that Jesus demonstrated for us?

“Thou shall not kill,” Exodus 20:13.

There are many ways to destroy a life. We may do so by physically violent acts, or by all manner of hurtful words. We may take the life of another, or we may take our own lives—by intentional means, or by practices and habits that naturally destroy our physical and mental health. Even the most basic expression of love for God, for one another, or for ourselves would prevent most of the known leading causes of premature illness and death in our society today. But, picture, if you will, what life might be like if we all loved others as we love ourselves, or, better yet, as God loves us.

“Honor your father and your mother:” Exodus 20:12.

No nursing homes for lonely men and women that have sacrificed even many of the essentials of life to give their children the best things of life. No grandchildren lacking the love, wisdom, encouragement and guidance that only a grandparent can give. Rather, if we truly loved our parents as God loves us, one can only begin to imagine the happiness and power of a multigenerational family, each seeking the benefit of all others.

“Remember the Sabbath day to keep it holy …,” Exodus 20:8-11.

Situated at the very center of the Ten Commandment law of love is the Sabbath commandment. If during this one day each week specifically set aside (sanctified, made holy) for intimate fellowship with God and one another in worship and praise; if the entire population of the earth loved God enough to keep the Sabbath even at the least degree, we would soon be changed into an entire planet of people resembling Him. But should we love God with the same intensity as He loves us, there is nothing but heaven itself that could begin to compare with the beauty, peace and happiness of our little planet.

“Thou shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain,” Exodus 20:7.

Of course, one would never use the name of God in anything but reverence if one really loved Him even in the least degree, but if one truly loved God as He loves us, we would never tire of speaking well of Him, lifting up His name in songs of private and public praise, and in every way, glorifying that holy name by the thoughts, words and actions of our everyday lives.

“Thou shall not make any graven image of any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, the earth beneath or in the waters under the earth,” Exodus 20:4-6.

If we knew and really believed the kind of God that the Bible describes, a God who is love personified who is ever ready and available to hear and answer any prayer we might have—even before we think to ask, we would never need to be disappointed by idols and images that are only able to deceive, hurt and destroy, but never able to work a true miracle in response to our needs. But if we loved God as He loves us, the world would see the likeness of God in every one of His faithful followers.

“I am the Lord your God … Thou shall have no other gods before me,” Exodus 20:2, 3.

It goes without saying that by just knowing a little about God and believing what He has done and is doing for us, we would have no “need” or inclination to find other sources of help in time of want or need. For by His very nature He is ever ready and waiting to hear from us and to satisfy the most superficial, or the very deepest yearning of our being.

But if we knew and loved God with the kind of self-renouncing, unconditional love by which He loves us, every thought and word and act of every minute of every day would be utilized in searching for ways to lift up and glorify His name in all the earth. Our bodies, employing all the laws of healthful living would soon become the most beautiful and loving temples of the living God possible. Sabbath, that day each week that is so often a time of restlessness and boredom would be, instead, the most desirable day of the week, ever seeking to please Him and to glorify His name in the heavens and the earth. And certainly, we would not presume to pre-empt the day that God set apart and made holy with any other day—not if we loved Him the way He loves us!

Even by this very limited discussion of the Ten Commandments we can easily begin to see what this world would be like if everyone knew, believed, and loved as God loves us. Certainly, it would be a far cry from what we see and experience in the world today.

In view of this, I am forced to ask, how can anyone ever conclude that this law of love was altered in any way by an unchangeable God whose entire universe is governed by unalterable laws? How could any claim that the law was done away with by the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross--Who gave His life to fulfill (exemplify) the infinite expression of love? Indeed, it is a mystery that anyone could even think to make such a claim.

All of the laws of nature throughout the observable universe entertain near infinite opportunities when understood and applied. Astrophysicists like Neal Tyson are even now discovering this fact by their studies and research in regards to their exploration of space. While these laws have been present and operational from infinity past, we humans have been confined to this world due to ignorance until very recently. Other laws, as exemplified by the law of gravity, have been evident to everyone since the beginning of time. Ignorance or defiance of these always results in injury or death while compliance tends toward a long, full, life.

While all natural law operates by cause and effect, and often offers opportunity for choice on our part, the Moral Law, codified in the Ten Commandments, and exemplified by Love, not only provides opportunity for choice, but, actually includes free choice as a major characteristic of the love it describes. Unlike all other natural laws, we may choose whether to love or not, and in so choosing we choose between life by compliance, or death and non-existence by non-compliance (sin)

In some places in the world people build fences of cactus or thorn bushes around their homes. These fences serve well to keep children and cattle inside and to keep predators out. In other places, people make high walls of cement or stone topped with shards of broken glass. They, too, are effective in keeping the residents inside safe from intrusions by unwanted men or animals. These fences are effective, but never fool-proof. On occasion those people intended to be kept inside escape, and those intended to be kept out are able to enter in.

All natural laws, but especially the moral law of The Ten Commandments, are like good fences. To choose to live compliantly within the fence always results in life or its enhancement. To choose to ignore or live outside of the fence in non-compliance always leads to eventual death and non-existence.

In choosing life within the bounds of the moral law one is protected from the assaults of those choosing non-compliance or from reaping the terrible and sometimes naturally devastating consequences of the broken law. Not only so! These same walls, when respected, open the doors and windows to the richest benefits heaven has to offer including eternal life.

For those who see the moral law as restrictive rather than as liberating from the effects of sin, it is understandable that they would laud the teaching that the Ten Commandments were removed by the Cross of Christ. The fact some choose to believe such teaching does not guarantee that it is correct.

One must wonder what heaven would be like if there were no moral law (Including the Sabbath commandment) governing its inhabitants! Is it possible that those taken to heaven might presume to change the moral law as is now claimed possible through the papacy and the ruling Magisterium? Will God cease to be God then and there and turn the “keys” of heaven over to a man? We all know the answer.

No! No Danger!

Thanks be to God, only those will be there that love Him as He loves us, and our neighbor as ourselves—just as the Law of Ten prescribes. Furthermore, there will be no devil there, or demon angels to temp any to stray. 

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Deceived by an Angel of Light?

2 Corinthians 11:13-15

It was Sunday morning, December 15, 2013. One of the headlines catching the attention of the world on that day was a picture of a little child held in the arms of Pope Frances as he removed the Pope’s skullcap. The smile on the face of the pope says it all. This pope is no ordinarily pope. He is a pope for the masses.

On the same day, during an interview on CNN News, note was made of the popularity of Pope Frances and how he has restored the image of the Catholic Church so that Catholics, disillusioned by the Church in recent years, are beginning to return to fill its pews.

And it is not Catholics alone that are impressed with the humility of this pope. After less than a year as pope, Frances was judged by Time Magazine as the Person of the Year, the person that has had the greatest impact on the world during 2013.

It is his actions, kissing the misshapen face of the man with neurofibromatosis, kneeling to wash the feet of women and Moslems, connecting with the world on Twitter, and publicly identifying with the struggles of the common people of our times that are undoubtedly endearing Frances to the peoples of the world. Expressing sympathy for people caught up in the painful culture of the times, and his acts in changing age-long practices of the church have undoubtedly all contributed to his popularity.

Indeed, while some discredit the pope for “acting like Jesus,” others are describing him as actually being like Jesus. Rabbi Abraham Skorka, a long-time friend of Pope Frances, has been quoted as saying about the pope that he “lives with his mind in heaven and with his feet on earth.”

Whether the pope is for “real” or merely “acting” is not for me to say. What I can say, and must say, is that there is a “disconnect” between the teachings and practices of the pope and the Catholic Church, and the Holy Bible. For example, the Bible describes the true followers of Jesus as those that “keep the Commandments of God and have the faith of Jesus,” Revelation 14:12. Yet, the pope follows the teachings of the Catholic Church that claims it has the power and authority of God to change those commandments and to act in the place of God, on Earth.

Is this distinction important? This is a question each one of us must answer for ourselves, but what if our decision may decide our eternal destiny.

Jesus summarized the Ten Commandments with these words, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it. You shall love your neighbor as yourself, Matthew 2237-39. In another place Jesus said it this way, “Therefore, all things whatsoever you would that men should do to you, do even so to them: for this is the law and the prophets,” Matthew 7:12. Interestingly, this description of the Law by Jesus has been recognized for centuries by peoples of almost all faiths as the basic principle governing one’s relationships with his fellow men. Unfortunately, this summary is often thoughtlessly interpreted as replacing the Ten Commandments which describe the various elements of the unchangeable law of self-renouncing, unconditional love that forms the moral foundation of God’s universal government.

While it is also true that Jesus came down hard on those that “kept” the Ten Commandment law legalistically so as to gain favor with God, He said or did nothing to indicate that the Ten Commandments no longer defined love or formed the basic constitution governing His creation. Jesus himself said, “Think not that I am come to destroy the law or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfill. For verily I say unto you, till heaven and earth pass, one jot tittle shall in no wise pass from the law till all be fulfilled,” Matthew 5:17, 18 (see also Deuteronomy 4:2).There can be no fault found in obedience to the Commandments when inspired by honest, unconditional, self-renouncing love for God and man.

The issue then becomes this. Can the pope, or any man, honestly love God with unconditional, self-renouncing love while at the same time claiming prerogatives that belong to the One who created them?

Is it love to God to claim to forgive sins that only God has the right and ability to do? Is it love to God that assumes the prerogative of declaring that death is not really death, but merely life in a different form? Or to appoint some to heaven and condemn others to destruction, when by his own spilled blood Jesus Christ alone died in our place for out sin? (The Bible tells us this about death, “For the living know that they will die; but the dead know nothing, and they have no reward, for the memory of them is forgotten. Also their love, their hatred, and their envy have now perished; Nevermore will they have a share in anything done under the sun,” Ecclesiastes 9:5, 6.

Is it love to God to claim power and authority to change the very time set apart by him as holy time for communion and worship in His presence?

The Bible makes a number of statements that must be considered when attempting to determine the truth regarding this matter.

“He who has My commandments and keeps them, it is he who loves Me. And he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and manifest Myself to him,” John 14:21.

“By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and keep His commandments. For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments. And His commandments are not burdensome,” 1 John 5:2, 3.

The Apostle, Paul, in defending the faith against some professed believers that were opposing him in his ministry made this statement about them, “For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into apostles of Christ. And no wonder! For Satan himself transforms himself into an angel of light. Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also transform themselves into ministers of righteousness, whose end will be according to their works,” 2 Corinthians 11:13-15.

The Apostle, John added this counsel, “Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits, whether they are of God; because many false prophets have gone out into the world,” 1 John 4:1.

The reader may wonder why I am concerned about the current news about Pope Frances. Why am I expressing caution regarding one performing such an abundance of loving acts when the world is so troubled and broken--when so many are hurting and longing for someone to reach out and just touch them as Jesus did for the lady with the “issue of blood” many centuries ago?

The question is the correct one to ask, for indeed we do live in a dark and hurting world, and from appearances, Pope Frances is spreading a bit of that light for which almost the entire world is searching.

But I dare not remain silent!

For the Bible describes the final judgment of the world as occurring in the setting of a battle between the forces of good and evil, of God and Satan. It identifies a “Little Horn” power that rises up against the saints of God (Daniel chapter 7) and seeks to destroy them. This same final battle is referred to in the Book of Revelation (Revelation 16:16) as the Battle of Armageddon. While this battle is often understood to be a global conflict involving weapons of mass destruction centered in the Middle East, and may indeed include such a battle, one would be amiss to overlook the more important spiritual battle between good and evil that is described in the Bible.

For centuries, earnest students of the Holy Scriptures have linked the “Little Horn” of Daniel chapter 7 to the Universal Christian Church --for the reason mentioned above. And while Pope Frances may have a pure heart for the gospel (only God can judge the heart), his identity with the Church and his role as head bishop of the Church places him in a position where he must accept responsibility for the actions of the Church. He may indeed be just as humble, loving and concerned for the hurting people of this world as is being portrayed in the media, but that does not excuse the role that the Church has played through the centuries, and is now playing, in bringing our world to its present broken status. Neither the Church nor the pope have the power to forgive sin or to write the law of God upon the human heart and in the human mind--the ONLY answer to the sin problem, and the cause of the broken world we live in today. Jesus Christ alone can accomplish this through the power of the Holy Spirit working in and through those that believe in and are submissive to Him.

Furthermore, while Pope Frances may fault those Christians that he describes as “being ‘sad’ and afraid of the freedom of the Holy Spirit,” the truth is that many Christians are inspired and empowered by the Holy Spirit as evidenced to the witness of their lives—including the love for God and man as summarized in the Ten Commandments and expressed by the outworking of the law that has been, or is being, written within them.

It is the desire of God that no one should die, but that all men should be saved, (1 Timothy 2:4). “For God sent not His son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world though him might be saved, (John 3:17).

Throughout the Bible we read of God’s infinite love; of His immeasurable desire to save every one of us for eternal life with Him; and of warnings designed to prevent us from suffering the death caused by sin. In addition, we are given a picture of those people, tribes, and nations that have been wiped off the face of the earth by the consequences of their sins as examples to us should we reject His warnings.

Even today, God has His faithful saints scattered throughout the world. They are not limited to any one group or church organization, but many are being deceived by the Church and losing out on the blessings one may enjoy as faithful soldiers in the service of Christ, our Savior.

The warning signs scattered throughout the Bible and in this blog are for all men without exclusion. They are given here that all might have opportunity to confess their sins and accept the salvation God has provided for us, thereby also avoiding the full weight of the calamities falling upon our world.

This blog is not written to discourage anyone, to condemn anyone, or to judge any before the time, but exclusively to extend the warnings and the invitation proscribed in the Holy Bible that as many as possible might be ready and waiting to meet our Savior when He returns in glory. 

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I Will Be Like ....

Jesus was sitting on the Mount of Olives with His disciples and looking across the Kidron Valley toward the beautiful Temple in Jerusalem. It was just a few days before His capture, mock trial and crucifixion, and it had been a stressful day at the temple. There the chief priests and elders had challenged His authority to work many miracles and minister to the people, and there, without mincing words, but with tears in His voice, He had called them to account for their hypocrisy.

Outwitted and defeated, His enemies were even then making plans to take Him and “put Him away.”

There on the mountain, Jesus shared with His disciples some of the things they should expect in the days ahead. He explained to them that the day was coming, and not far off, when the temple would lay in ruins, not one stone remaining upon another. Assuming He was speaking about the time of His promised return, they asked, “When shall these things be? What shall be the signs of your coming and the end of the world?”

After describing some of those signs, Jesus gave them two definitive signs, saying, “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.” ”Therefore when you see the ‘abomination of desolation,’ spoken of by Daniel the prophet, standing in the holy place (whosoever reads, let him understand), then …, there will be great tribulation, such as has not been since the beginning of the world until this time, no, nor ever shall be. …” Matthew 24:15-22.

We may understand the preaching of the gospel to the entire world, but the question that remains for us to determine is this, what are we to understand about this ‘abomination of desolation’ and the great tribulation accompanying it that He told them of?

The key to the answer of this ‘abomination of desolation’ question may be found in the three following texts.

“I am the first, and I am the last, and beside me there is no God,” Isaiah 44:6.

“You shall have no other gods before Me,” Exodus 20:3.

“God is love,” 1 John 4:16.

In these three verses of Holy Scripture are revealed the secret to this hidden prophecy first described in the Book of Daniel about 500 years earlier.

God is God. There is no other. For Him there was no beginning, and there will be no end. He rules by love, and there is no equal. But, according to Daniel’s prophecy, there would come one determined to take His place.

It may seem inconceivable that any created being could ever fault or challenge God or question such a rule of love. Yet, one look at the world in which we find ourselves today clearly tells us that someone has done just that. For love does not rule in our world today. Another has plainly challenged God’s rule of love and has enticed nearly the entire world population to bow before him as he seeks the power and authority of God.

Fortunately, the Bible does not leave us uninformed regarding the identity of this one we now know as Satan. The Bible says, “How you are fallen from heaven, O Lucifer (now Satan), son of the morning! How you are cut down to the ground, you who weakened the nations! For you have said in your heart; ‘I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God; I will sit on the mount of the congregation on the farthest sides of the north; I will ascend above the heights of the clouds, I will be like the Most High,’” Isaiah 14:12-14.

“You were the anointed cherub who covers; I established you; you were on the holy mountain of God; you walked back and forth in the midst of fiery stones (not unlike our pictures of the Orion nebulae!). You were perfect in your ways from the day you were created, till iniquity was found in you,” Ezekiel 28:14, 15. “Your heart was lifted up because of your beauty; you corrupted your wisdom for the sake of your splendor; I cast you to the ground,” vs. 17.

“And war broke out in heaven: Michael (Jesus) and his angels fought with the dragon; and the dragon and his angels fought, but they did not prevail, nor was a place found for them in heaven any longer. So the great dragon was cast out, that serpent of old, called the Devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world; he was cast to the earth, and his angels were cast out with him,” Revelation 12:7-9.

These texts paint a tragic picture of a universal war between God and Satan (once one of the highest angels serving in the throne room of God)—between good and evil—between the rule of love and the rule of self-centered anti-love. The war is real, and by virtue of our birth and living presence here on earth it engages each and every one of us on one side or the other—according to our choice of a Commander—God or Satan.

The Bible continues, “Finally, my brothers, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. Put on the whole armor of God that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand,” Ephesians 6:10-13.

In responding to some of his opponents of the early Christian Church, the Apostle Paul provided the following additional information regarding the tactics of the devil and his human accomplices, “For such boasters are false apostles, deceitful workers, disguising themselves as apostles of Christ. And no wonder! Even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. So it is not strange if his ministers also disguise themselves as ministers of righteousness. Their end will match their deeds,” 2 Corinthians 11:13-15 (NRSV).

Given the nature of the war, the deception, the ire, and the power of the devil to paralyze his victims, it might seem that we mere humans are defeated before we even have a chance to fight back. In fact, except for Jesus, His coming to earth as a man, for the example that He set for us, and for the blood He shed on our behalf, the devil would indeed have us firmly and eternally in his clutches.

Not only did Jesus pay the price of our sin, but just as importantly, He set us an example of a life of victory through a continuous and unbroken connection with His Father in heaven. Only by such a moment by moment dependency was it possible for Him to live perfect and sin-free in every aspect of His life.

Please note the following comments of Jesus in this regard, “For I have not spoken on my own, but the Father who sent me has himself given me a commandment about what to say and what to speak. And I know that his commandment is eternal life. What I speak, therefore, I speak just as the Father has told me,” John 12:39, 40 (NRSV).

“When you have lifted up the Son of Man, then you will realize that I am he, and that I do nothing on my own, but I speak these things as the Father instructed me. And the one who sent me is with me; he has not left me alone, for I always do what is pleasing to him,” John 8:28, 29 (NRSV). Gratefully, through the atoning death of Jesus on our behalf, we may have a similar connection with God.

Please note the words of Jesus’ last prayer before His crucifixion, “I ask not only on behalf of these, but also on behalf of those who will believe in me through their word, (this is referring to you and me!) that they may all be one. As you, Father, are in me and I am in you, may they also be in us. So that the world may believe that you have sent me. The glory that you have given me I have given them, so that they may be one, as we are one. I in them and you in me that they may become completely one, so that the world may know that you have sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me. Father, I desire that those also, whom you have given me may be with me where I am, to see my glory, which you have given me because you loved me before the foundation of the world. Righteous Father, the world does not know you, but I know you; and these know that you have sent me. I made your name known to them, and I will make it known, so that the love with which you loved me may be in them, and I in them,” John 17:20-26 (NRSV).

We read, “In this is love, not that we loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the atoning sacrifice for our sins. Beloved, since God loved us so much, we also ought to love one another,” 1 John 4:10, 11. “God is love, and those who abide in love abide in God, and God abides in them,” vs. 16 (NRSV).

“By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and obey his commandments. For the love of God is this, that we obey his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome,” 1 John 5:2, 3 (NRSV).

As it was Jesus’ love connection with His Father that enabled Him to live a pure and victorious life, so we must be linked with Him in love if we would be faithful and true to our God, both now, and when things really get rough in the days ahead.

Only in loving unity with God will any survive the final conflict between God and Satan when all constraints have been removed and the devil is free to reveal his power, knowledge, and his malice, undeterred—when deception appears more true and honorable than truth itself.

Herein is a most crucial point of understanding. Satan, the master of deception also knows and understands the word, love, and uses it often. True love for God and man is self-renouncing and unconditional. It is manifested in faithful obedience to the broad intent of the Ten Commandments as demonstrated by Jesus when living here among us—a rare quality in the society of our times which tends to use “feelings” rather than principles.

Interestingly, one of the world’s foremost astrophysicists, Neil deGrasse Tyson, an atheist and evolutionist, acknowledges that the laws of the entire universe are unchangeable, just as the Bible describes God’s unchangeable nature (Malachi 3:6).

Just as all of the physical laws governing the universe are dependable and unchangeable, so must be the moral law. Herein we have a problem. We learn from science and from the Bible that the laws governing the universe are unchangeable, yet we, being born into a world enslaved by the devil, quite naturally yield to his temptations and tend to play the role of God in our own lives and live by the rules (laws) we, ourselves establish.

It is one thing to ignore the laws of God and to make our own rules, but something much more serious to teach others to do likewise, (Matthew 5:19). Blaspheme is the word we use to describe the act of claiming and/or exercising the prerogatives of God as in replacing God’s unchangeable laws.

And while it is one thing to teach and encourage others to ignore the law of God and “do our own thing,” it is quite something else to claim the power and authority to actually change the law of God.

Yet, the Christian Church claims to have changed the law of God, and though most of the world has accepted its claim to authority, the “abomination of desolation” referred to by Jesus in the above passage, will not be fully developed until it becomes worldwide (universal) and succeeds in forcing that change upon all people, a feat made possible only by the disciplinary power of the State in a Church-State union.

There is, today, a concerted effort to establish a universal movement among the religious people of the world under the headship of the Pope of Rome in accordance to the “traditions” of the Catholic Church. This, of course, has gained much momentum by the respect Pope Frances 1 has gained in the world by his exemplary acts of love and kindness to the poor the orphan and the outcast.

All of which places Bible believing Christians in a difficult spot, for while on the surface it might appear that the pope is doing everything right, the “traditions” of the Church by which he operates smack directly in the face of the words and claims of God in the Holy Bible.

Does it matter? Is the Bible really that important that any should stand for its teachings when almost the entire world sees things differently?

Does it matter that the Traditions of the Church exalt the example and authority of the Roman Pontiff above the God of the Bible?

Does it matter that the Church claims the power and authority to change even the unchangeable moral law, including the seventh day Sabbath set apart and established as holy time at the end of creation week—a memorial of creation and an assurance of our redemption and recreation.

Sunday is even now almost universally accepted by religious and political organizations. Arrangements are already being prepared to enforce traditional Sunday practice among Sabbath dissenters when the need arises.

Does it matter?

Does it matter that the Church claims the power and authority to consign sinners to eternal hell fire, or to forgive sin and to release sinners from hell—sometimes for a price (though Jesus has already paid the price)?

Based upon the unbiblical beliefs of the soul and life after death as exemplified by popular books and movies describing near-death (and after death) experiences, there can be little question but that these voices from the “dead” will be even more “miraculous” when the devil himself begins to speak! But, does it matter?

By all indications, we are now beginning to witness the fulfilling of both of the signs Jesus gave to His disciples that evening on the Mount of Olives. We now have the capability to take the gospel to the ends of the earth, and the prediction regarding the “abomination of desolation” is now developing rapidly.

Acts similar to the “abomination of desolation” have occurred at various times in history when the “Church” has worked in cahoots with the “State” to force compliance with religious codes that are contrary to the Bible and the Ten Commandments. However, the present scenario, unlike anything previously, is different. The movement now well underway is universal in scope and will conclude only when all humanity has been “shaken” forced into one or the other of two camps, the camp of the saints or the camp of Satan.

The question we must each ask ourselves is this. Does it matter?

Either the Bible is true, and its teachings correct--or it is not.

Likewise, either the claim of the Catholic Church and the presently growing religious movement is true and its teachings correct--or it is not. The evidence for each is now rapidly becoming universally available. Based upon this evidence we must each choose whether it matters, or not.

In making that choice it is well to remember that faithful supporters of the God of the Bible have always been detested and often persecuted (sometimes to their death) for their faith (2 Timothy 3:12). It is also true that those choosing the alternative have historically experienced great difficulty, trial, and suffering--but without the assurance of eternal reward promised to those faithful to the Holy Bible.

Not to choose, is to join the “universal” religious movement, and receive the appropriate reward.

IT DOES MATTER—for all eternity!

PLEASE CHOOSE THE BIBLE WAY AND THE BIBLE PROMISES.

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Jesus is Coming Soon!!!

“Behold I come quickly and my reward is with me,” Revelation 22:12.

Based upon these final words of Jesus as He spoke to the Apostle John in vision while imprisoned on the Island of Patmos, “Jesus is coming soon,” is an expression that has been repeated millions of times during the past two thousand years. His followers expected to see Him return promptly—even during their lifetimes, but it was not to be! No, nor in the lifetime of their immediate descendants.

What is soon? Were these believers somehow deluded? And, yet, still today we speak and listen to those same words over and over again in conversations with one another as we see the “signs” of His coming being fulfilled all around us.

As a child during the horrendous days of World War II, I remember thinking that surely Jesus must return before I reach adult hood. In college, some fellow students couldn’t wait to finish school before getting married lest Jesus come before they had opportunity to experience matrimony.

Nor have the speculations ceased in the decades since.

So what are we to make of the word, “soon?”

Is it possible the Bible is wrong? Could it be that our understanding of Jesus’ promise is incorrect? Or has He just been “leading us on?”

I think not, for we also read these words of the Apostle Peter in the Holy Scripture, “My friends, this is the second letter I have written you to help your honest minds remember. I want you to think about the words the holy prophets spoke in the past, and remember the command our Lord and Savior gave us through your apostles. It is most important for you to understand what will happen in the last days. People will laugh at you. They will live doing the evil things they want to do. They will say, ‘Jesus promised to come again. Where is He? Our fathers have died, but the world continues the way it has been since it was make.’ But they do not want to remember what happened long ago. By the word of God heaven was made, and the earth was made from water and with water. Then the world was flooded and destroyed with water. And the same word of God is keeping heaven and earth that we now have in order to be destroyed by fire. They are being kept for the Judgment Day and the destruction of all who are against God. But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: To the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years is as one day. The Lord is not slow in doing what He promised—the way some people understand slowness. But God is being patient with you. He does not want anyone to be lost, but He wants all people to change their hearts and lives,” 2 Peter 3:1-9 (NCV).

Interestingly, Jesus himself gave us two objectives that must be met before His return. He said, “This gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness to all nations, and then shall the end come,” Matthew 24:14.

In contrast to the benefits of the gospel being taken to the entire world, Jesus made it clear that before His return the world would also see the ultimate consequences of unrestricted evil.

He said, “Therefore when you see the ‘abomination of desolation,’ spoken of by Daniel the prophet, standing in the holy place’ (whoever reads, let him understand), then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains. … For then there will be great tribulation, such as has not been since the beginning of the world until this time, no, nor ever shall be. … Then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in heaven, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. And He will send His angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they will gather together His elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other,” (excerpts from Matthew 24:15-31).

For this to make sense, we must remember that our world is at the center of a universal conflict (war) between good and evil, between God and His governance of self-renouncing love, and the devil and his challenge to the law of love. Before Jesus can return and eradicate the problem of sin that has had such a devastating effect on Planet Earth, the war between good and evil must be resolved and the winner declared. God’s entire creation must have the opportunity to see and choose between the benefits of His governance of love, and the ultimate consequences of self-centered lawlessness deceptively promoted and practiced by the devil and his followers.

In addition to the above passages describing these contrasting ideologies and their ultimate consequences, there are throughout the Bible many other passages expanding upon these end-time signs indicating the evidence of His imminent return. Taken together, these signs describe the condition of the earth at the time of Jesus’ return. Each describes some aspect of a planet essentially destroyed socially, physically, and in every other way, culminating in a final, determinate battle between Good and evil.

That battle is described in these words, “For they (Jesus’ opponents) are spirits of demons, performing signs which go out to the kings of the earth and of the whole world, to gather them to the battle of that great day of God Almighty. Behold, I am coming as a thief. Blessed is he who watches, and keeps his garments, lest he walk naked and they see his shame. And they gathered them together to the place called in Hebrew, Armageddon,” Revelation 16:14-16.

The Prophet Zephaniah saw the following insights as warnings for these times.

“The great day of the Lord is near, near and hastening fast; the sound of the day of the Lord is bitter, the warrior cries aloud there. That day will be a day of wrath, a day of distress and anguish, a day of ruin and devastation, a day of darkness and gloom, a day of clouds and thick darkness, a day of trumpet blast and battle cry against the fortified cities and against the lofty battlements. I will bring such distress upon people that they shall walk like the blind; because they have sinned against the Lord, their blood shall be poured out like dust, and their flesh like dung. Neither their silver nor their gold will be able to save them on the day of the Lord’s wrath; in the fire of His passion the whole earth shall be consumed; for a full, a terrible end He will make of all the inhabitants of the earth,” Zephaniah 1:14-18, (NRSV).

Modern day prophets, too, both the true and the false, relate visions similar to, but in greater detail, to those of the Bible. Please note these passages from Ellen White, one of the most widely published of these.

“These scenes will soon be witnessed, just as they are clearly described. I present these wonderful statements from the Scriptures for the consideration of everyone. The prophecies recorded in the Old Testament are the word of the Lord for the last days, and will be fulfilled as surely as we have seen the desolation of San Francisco”—Last Day Events, p, 115). (We might add New York, New Orleans as other examples also.)

“God is withdrawing His Spirit from the wicked cities, which have become as the cities of the antediluvian world and as Sodom and Gomorrah. Costly mansions, marvels of architectural skill, will be destroyed without a moment's notice when the Lord sees that the owners have passed the boundaries of forgiveness. The destruction by fire of the stately buildings, supposed to be fireproof, is an illustration of how in a short time earth's architecture will lie in ruins”—(Last Day Events, p. 112}.

“Scenes that would soon take place in Chicago and other large cities also passed before me. As wickedness increased and the protecting power of God was withdrawn there were destructive winds and tempests. Buildings were destroyed by fire and shaken down by earthquakes”—(Last Day Events, p. 113).

“As we near the close of this earth's history, we shall have the scenes of the San Francisco calamity repeated in other places. These things make me feel very solemn because I know that the judgment day is right upon us. The judgments that have already come are a warning, but not the finishing, of the punishment that will come on wicked cities”—(Last Day Events, p. 114).

It is very easy to read these predictions from the Bible and prophets and downplay their significance just as did the people before the flood or before the burning of Sodom and Gomorrah. We should not be so foolish, for we have the historical record confirming that such terrible disasters can indeed occur—some in this very decade. In addition to such “natural” disasters, we must not forget the vast stores of weapons of mass destruction the nations of the world have amassed for the time of “need!” Unfortunately, not only do we have the means to destroy every living thing of the planet, but the moral decay permitting us to do it as well.

Yes, we sometimes speak about how bad things are in our world and how we are very near the end of time, but strangely, it seems to be having minimal if any impact upon how we live our lives. If we really believed, it would seem that our actions show it?

For reasons that are difficult to understand, we tend to belittle the warning signs, apparently believing that it could never happen to me. Or perhaps we are of the opinion that there is nothing we can do about it anyway, believing, “Whatever will be, will be!”

It is also true that in times past, major catastrophes have been averted by corporate repentance (Ancient Nineveh in the days of Jonah). Could it happen again?

Certainly, God would rejoice should such a thing happen. The problem is, human nature is such that when truth is repeatedly rejected, when warnings are ignored time after time, people eventually arrive at a point where they can no longer respond to those warning calls, no matter how loud they may be shouted. Such was the case with the Pharaoh of Egypt at the time of the Exodus of the Children of Israel.

By all appearances we are also, as a world corporate society, rapidly approaching a line of no return. Can anyone even imagine what true godly repentance for the sins of this age would look like, let alone believe that it could actually happen? Yet, the door remains open (though closing rapidly) for those individuals that will turn from the ways of this world and humbly submit to the loving care and guidance of our God and Savior, Jesus Christ.

It is true also that while the predicted troubles of this world are spiraling rapidly downward toward ultimate destruction, the professed followers of Jesus will also be experiencing a time of trouble unlike any time in the past.

The Bible describes the time when God will completely release all restraints that have been imposed upon Satan and the forces of evil through the ages. Jeremiah referred to that time as the “Time of Jacob’s Trouble” for God’s faithful ones. It is the testing time during which the true followers of God will be proven faithful against all possible odds the devil and his forces, demonic and human, may subject them to.

“For thus says the Lord: ‘We have heard a voice of trembling, or fear, and not of peace.

Ask now, and see, whether a man is ever in labor with child? So why do I see every man with his hands on his loins like a woman in labor, and all faces turned pale?

Alas! For that day is great, so that none is like it; and it is the time of Jacob’s trouble, but he shall be saved out of it,” Jeremiah 30:5-7.

As Jesus successfully struggled in combat with the devil in the Garden of Gethsemane, trusting that He was safe in the hands of His Father even though He could not see, hear, or feel His presence, so those passing through the Time of Jacob’s Trouble at the end of time will faithfully trust in God to carry them through whatever temptations the devil and his cohorts may press upon them.

According to His plan, God has designated a period of six thousand years during which the conflict between good and evil (between God and Satan) is to determine for eternity the truth about God’s kingdom governed by love, and Satan’s challenge of self-rule. As that time draws to an end, the entire intelligent universe will have opportunity to view the final consequences of the rule of each, God and Satan. And when complete, none will ever again even consider questioning the power and vast extent of true Self-renouncing, unconditional love of God.

So does it really matter what soon means? Certainly it matters if our desire and intent is to dwell in the presence of God in heaven and the New Earth for eternity, but we have not secured our faith connection with God through the blood sacrifice of Jesus when death comes suddenly knocking on the door. For soon could be as soon as a few seconds from now.

And certainly it matters for those of us living in the world today knowing the things that must shortly come to pass in this once-in-eternal history when the devil and his followers seek with unrestrained effort to prevent God’s final show of love to an on looking universe. Is our connection so secure with God that no other power can pry it loose? For irrespective of when that final conflict will occur, it is NOW that will establish the true strength of our faith

All through the centuries it has been the sense of His imminence that has motivated revival movements and kept the faith alive. That sense of His “soon” return still holds great motivational power to keep our hearts and minds fixed on Jesus. Furthermore, there is a sense in which Jesus comes into the hearts of believers as members of the kingdom of God at the time they accept Him as the Lord and King. As such they may experience many of the benefits of walking with Jesus even while waiting to see Him coming in the clouds of heaven upon His literal return.

The following Psalms of David give believers assurance of God’s ever present protection during those trying times when the devil is on his final unrestrained rampage.

“God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in time of trouble. Therefore we will not fear, even though the earth be removed, and though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea; though its waters roar and be troubled, though the mountains shake with its swelling. Selah

There is a river whose streams shall make glad the city of God, the holy place of the tabernacle of the Most High. God is in the midst of her, she shall not be moved; God shall help her, just at the break of dawn. The nations raged, the kingdoms were moved; He uttered His voice, the earth melted. The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge. Selah

Come, behold the works of the Lord, Who has made desolations in the earth. He makes wars cease to the end of the earth; He breaks the bow and cuts the spear in two; He burns the chariot in the fire. Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted in the earth! The Lord of hosts is with us; The God of Jacob is our refuge.” Selah (Psalms 46)

“He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress; My God, in Him I will trust.” Surely He shall deliver you from the snare of the fowler; and from the perilous pestilence. He shall cover you with His feathers, and under his wings you shall take refuge; His truth shall be your shield and buckler. You shall not be afraid of the terror by night, nor of the arrow that flies by day, nor of the pestilence that walks in darkness, nor of the destruction that lays waste at noonday. A thousand may fall at your side, and ten thousand at your right hand; but it shall not come near you. Only with your eyes shall you look and see the reward of the wicked. Because you have made the Lord, who is my refuge, even the Most High, your dwelling place, no evil shall befall you, nor shall any plague come near your dwelling; for He shall give His angels charge over you, to keep you in all your ways. In their hands they shall bear you up, lest you dash your foot against a stone. You shall tread upon the lion and the cobra, the young lion and the serpent you shall trample underfoot. Because he has set his love upon Me, therefore I will deliver him; I will set him on high, because he has known my name. He shall call upon Me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble; I will deliver him and honor him. With long life I will satisfy him, and show him My salvation.” Psalm 91

Yes, Jesus IS coming soon. Only today, that word takes on a most urgent connotation. Whereas God has always accepted responsibility for the terrible catastrophes of history, calling them His anger, His wrath, we, today, have all of the tools necessary to destroy the earth. Furthermore, we have the corporate will to use them. Should He delay longer, it is easy to see that there could well be nothing here for Him to return to. But, or course, His love for this creation could never permit such a thing to happen.

The question for all of us is this. Are we ready to meet Him? SOON!

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To Believe

The Bible says, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you shall be saved,” Acts 16:31.

“For God loved the world so much that He gave His only begotten Son that whosoever believes in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life,” John 3:16.

What does it mean, “To believe?”

My dictionary uses these words to try to explain its meaning. To have faith, confidence or trust; to accept something as real or true.

Bo Kim Song was a Cambodian refugee living in the Sac San refugee camp in Thailand when I met him. He had been a law student in the capital city of Phnom Penh, Cambodia, when the Khmer Rouge under the command of Pol Pot entered the city and forced the people at point of gun to leave immediately. There was no time for working family members to return home to join the masses of people as they picked up what few things they could carry and follow the orders to leave.

After spending a couple years in the labor camps to which they were driven, living under the hard hand of the Khmer Rouge, Kim Song, along with a few others managed at great risk to life to escape into the jungles and find their way to the Cambodian-Thailand border where they joined the Khmer Serey resistance forces encamped in the jungle along the border of the two nations.

Periodically, my friend, Bo, joined with others on secret missions into Cambodia to support and/or rescue hungry and hurting people and to escort them back to the camps bordering on Thailand.

Over and over again Bo Kim Song and his companions risked life and limb fighting for the restoration of freedom in their nation.

Kim Song believed in the cause of a free Cambodia, and there was no price too high to pay to save his homeland.

Many people in our world today claim the promise quoted by Jesus above, stating that whoever believes would have eternal life. The promise is true, and the promise Maker has paid the price to make it happen. There is only one question in this regards, and it is this, “What does it mean to believe?”

Jesus answered that question, both by the example of his faithful ones throughout the ages (See Hebrews chapter 11), and personally by His life example during His time here among us.

In that same book of Hebrews we also read of the cost of not believing. When God brought the Children of Israel (the descendants of Abraham) out of captivity from Egypt and ushered them into the “Promised Land,” He had great plans for them to become a great nation that would be a blessing to the entire world. Instead, while believing they were special with God, the vast majority of them took on the ungodly characteristics of the people of the land, essentially failing to realize the blessings God had intended for them and for the people of the world—all because of unbelief! (See Hebrews 3:12-19).

What must it mean, to believe?

Jesus spoke of a real war between the powers of good and evil, and over and over again in many different ways reminded us of our role in that war and of the attacks that the devil and his evil forces would level at the true followers of the Lord. “Then they will deliver you up to tribulation and kill you, and you will be hated by all nations for My name’s sake. And then many will be offended, will betray one another, and will hate one another,” Matthew 24:9, 10.

“And all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution,” 2 Timothy 3:12..

There are many, many texts in the Holy Scriptures that detail what belief will look like in the life of the believer, but this statement by the Apostle Paul in Philippians chapter 2 sums these texts up very well. ”Let this mind be in you that was also in Christ Jesus: Who being in the form of God thought it not robbery to be equal with God: but made Himself of no reputation, and took upon Him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: And being found in fashion as a man, He humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross,” Philippians 2:5-8.

Jesus believed! And paid the ultimate price.

Do I?

Do you? Really?

Have we counted the cost? He did! And paid it in full for us to accept by faith. Can we refuse His gift because of unbelief as did so many of His “believers” in the past?

 

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Doomsday and the Gospel

Have you ever wondered why Jesus told us that the gospel must be preached to the entire world before He would return? Or, have you wondered why the Bible gives us warning signs by which we may know that the end of the world and the return of Jesus is near?

Have you wondered what, if anything these two events, the taking of the gospel to the world and the signs predicting the end of the world have in common? Why is it essential that both of these events be fulfilled before Jesus returns?

Please notice the following texts describing both of these events.

“And Jesus came and spoke unto them, saying, ‘All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. Go, therefore and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world.’” Matthew 28:18-20.

“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,” Matthew 24:14.

The prophet, Isaiah, spoke of the end of the world in these terms, “…: for the windows from on high are open, and the foundations of the earth do shake. The earth is utterly broken down, the earth is clean dissolved, the earth is moved exceedingly. The earth shall reel to and fro like a drunkard, and shall be removed like a cottage; and the transgression thereof shall be heavy upon it; and it shall fall and not rise again,” Isaiah 24:18-20. (The Bible contains many other passages describing the end of the world as well. See for example, Matthew 24; Revelation 18; Joel 2; Isaiah chapter 2)

Until the present time, it would have been impossible to really understand or comprehend the answer Jesus gave to His disciples regarding their questions. Such an impossibility exists no longer. It doesn’t require much of an imagination anymore to visualize the total destruction of this our planet home. In fact, we have all of the necessary tools to accomplish it by ourselves, and the will to do it. It is only a matter of time, except our Lord should intervene. Likewise, we now have the technology and the means in place to fulfill the gospel commission and take the gospel to every human being on the planet.

But, why has God patiently waited until now? Why did He give these two prerequisites?

I believe it all has to do with the love, the longsuffering, and the justice of God, (Exodus 34:6, 7 & Genesis 18:25).

The Bible is clear. The universe is engaged in a war between good and evil. The conflict began in heaven before the creation of the earth when Lucifer, one of the most respected angels serving in the very courts of God, swelled with jealousy and pride, challenged God who is the very personification of love, and who rules His creation by the principles of love. Isaiah, the prophet describes it this way, “How are you fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! How are you cut down to the ground, you who weakened the nations! For you have said in your heart; ‘I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God; I will also sit on the mount of the congregation on the farthest sides of the north; I will ascend above the heights of the clouds, I will be like the Most High,’”.

We may gain further incites regarding Satan’s rebellion in Ezekiel 28:12-18 and may read about the ensuing war in Revelation, chapter 12.

The focus of the war shifted to earth when this rebel angel, now known as Satan, defeated Adam and Eve by deception at the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil in Eden, thereby claiming the earth as his domain, the rightful “Prince” of this world (Genesis chapter 3 and Luke 10:18).

This conflict between good and evil, between God and Satan, has now been raging for six thousand years. Though the victory was determined at the Cross when the devil produced the defining “exhibit” (the murder of the Son of God) to the universal court (John 12:31, 32), the war could not end there.

Before God could declare the war over, incontrovertible evidence must be presented to the universal court (every intelligent being in the heavens and on earth) that sin would never again arise to mar God’s great creation. Evidence must be presented that created beings entangled in sin could, while still possessing freedom of choice, be freed from entanglement so effectively that nothing, ever again could lead them to question the love by which the government is governed—and sin (rejection of God’s law of love) must be so completely exposed and demonstrated that no intelligent being would ever be tempted by it again throughout eternity.

Many are they that through the centuries have passed this test and subsequently been confirmed by judgment, but except for Jesus, none have been subjected to full and unrestrained activity of the devil and his followers and the ultimate consequences resulting therefrom as will those “saints” that will live through the final “Time of Trouble” and the end of the world, Daniel 12:1.

Had God intervened--had Jesus returned to take the faithful to heaven with Him without first demonstrating that it is possible for created beings to possess the same kind and power of love that God possesses-- before His entire creation had witnessed the full extent and power of love to sustain life and faith under any and all of the most difficult of possible circumstances, it would have been impossible for Him to confirm His claims that sinners could be changed, and safe to save for life eternal with never a thought of sin again--guarantee that the rule of love would never again be challenged throughout eternity. To release the winds of strife and permit evil to destroy the world before every intelligent being in the universe had witnessed the ultimate consequences of unrestrained sin (evil) it would have never been possible for any intelligent being in the universe to fully understand the power and extent of sin and evil to kill and destroy.

The living of God’s faithful ones through the shaking and time of trouble will establish an eternal witness that true godly love endures any challenge and never fails. This witness is in contrast to the eternal evidence that absence of such love always destroys and kills. Only at the end of time when good and evil will confront each other in one last, unprecedented, conflict is it possible for this eternal witness be fully accomplished (Please see Revelation 16: 14-16, where this final battle between good and evil—the “battle of the great day of the Lord God Almighty,” the “battle of Armageddon”.is so graphically described in symbols. See also, Luke 21:25, 26, 31, 32; Isaiah 28:21; Daniel 12:1, 2; Revelation 13:11-18)

When the last battle has been fought, and before the rebellious and unrepentant have been eliminated, the entire creation (the saved and the lost) will bow before God and acknowledge His infinite love, wisdom, patience, and justice (Philippians 2:5-11). Never again will sin and rebellion arise again in God’s eternal kingdom.

 

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The Big Bang

Announced as a scientific breakthrough, astrophysicists are jubilant over what appears to be the long sought after evidence they believe will confirm the “Big Bang” theory and the origin of the universe. They believe this evidence, if confirmed, will give them the ability to “see” back into cosmic history to what they believe to be very near the beginning of time (estimated to be about 13.8 billion years ago).

Scientists from the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics obtained this evidence via a sensitive microwave telescope located at the South Pole.

Many Bible believing Christians get uncomfortable when they perceive that science is ignoring the words of Holy Scripture which describes creation as being simply spoken into existence by the Word of God.

So the question may be asked. Is it possible that God could have spoken the worlds into existence via something akin to the “Big Bang,” utilizing the laws of nature that He himself established and that we are just now in our age discovering? Are the laws and theories of science necessarily incompatible with the Word of God in Holy Scripture as we Christians are sometimes prone to believe? Yet, truth is truth, whether found in the Holy Bible or in the science lab. If perchance there appears to be conflict, it can only be because some parts of it are still missing, on behalf of one or the other, or of both.

In our world today we are observing the fulfillment of Bible prophecies regarding the return of Jesus and the end of the world. Everywhere we look we see the signs described in the Bible as taking place just as predicted. In fact, one does not even need the Bible to recognize that life cannot continue on at our present pace much longer. Even scientists studying our world recognize that we are on a rapid downward spiral toward self-destruction unless by some miracle, One bigger and wiser than you or me might intervene. We have the physical tools and the moral mindset to destroy life on this earth, and though we may recognize our status, we find that we are impotent to make the necessary changes to prevent the apparently inevitable doomsday. To find another place of abode when we can no longer live here on earth, is, in fact, one of the significant incentives for our present interest in the exploration of space.

During his description of the incredible power of “black holes” that are believed to exist out in the cosmos, Neil DeGrasse Tyson, in the recent “made for television series, Cosmos, a Space-time Odyssey,” made a most interesting comment. Referring to the incredible physical laws of nature that govern the heavens, Tyson used the word, “commandments,” specifically noting that they are unalterable (unchangeable).

I was immediately struck by his comment because the Bible also claims that God’s laws (commandments) are unalterable. And I wondered, does Tyson know what he just said? Was this comment a mere “slip of the tongue,” or was it, rather, a tacit acknowledgment of an intelligent being (God) somewhere out there in space that established those commandments and, by them, rules the heavens? I thought the comment rather strange, and out of character for Tyson, for the central objective of this entire television series seems to be to convince his viewers that there is no God--or any need for a God, claiming instead that human beings have the inherent ability to control their own destiny, and even rule the heavens utilizing these “commandments.”

This comment should not be taken lightly. Even the God of the Bible seems to acknowledge the inherent potential for men to accomplish things far beyond usual expectations. Please note this comment that God made regarding the building of the Tower of Babel nearly 4,000 years ago. “And they said, Come, let us build ourselves a city, and a tower whose top is in the heavens; let us make a name for ourselves, lest we be scattered abroad over the face of the whole earth.’”

”But the Lord came down to see the city and the tower which the sons of men had built. And the Lord said, ‘Indeed the people are one and they all have one language, and this is what they begin to do; now nothing that they propose to do will be withheld from them. Come, let Us go down and there confuse their language, that they may not understand one another’s speech.’ So the Lord scattered them abroad from there over the face of all the earth, and they ceased building the city,” Genesis 11:

Often overlooked in discussions about the natural laws (commandments) that govern the heavens is the consideration that it is not the laws governing the heavens only that are unalterable, but that the same is true of all aspects of life on Planet Earth as well. Furthermore, just as serious consequences, even death, may result from disregarding the laws that govern the heavens, so, non-compliance of all of God’s other natural laws also always result in eventual death and destruction—as a natural consequence.

What then is the difference between the natural laws governing the heavens and those governing the earth? Perhaps nothing! In each instance it is possible that our theories or expectations may be incomplete or incorrect. Just as other unrecognized laws may alter the expected outcome of the natural laws governing those of us living on earth, so unrecognized laws may alter the theories regarding the unalterable laws governing the heavens.

I believe this Bible text is relevant to our sometimes dilemma. “The secret things belong to the Lord our God, but those things which are revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may do all the words of this law,” Deuteronomy 29:29.

If my reasoning is correct, a correct understanding of natural laws, whether in science or in Scripture are not incompatible sources of truth.

There is, however one other aspect to this discussion that must not be overlooked. It is this. Motive!

A careful look at the Bible story about the Tower of Babel reveals that the people of Babel ignored God’s promise that He would never again send a flood to destroy the world, and as a defiant act of unbelief, decided to continue their deviant practices and establish their own defense—just in case!.

In many ways our situation today is very similar to that of Babel. We are knowledgeable of the laws governing our universe (as noted above). In addition, we have extensive Bible predictions warning us of the destructive nature of our self-centered actions—and are already beginning to experience them.

Furthermore, the Bible is clear that there is one more universal law to which all others are subjective. Where this law is correctly applied to any or all of the other natural laws, life thrives, and when missing or ignored, life soon ceases to exist.

That law is the Law of Love. Because God is Love, and because God is the originator of natural laws He has within His hand the wisdom, power, authority, and responsibility to enforce them all.

The Bible tells us that the Law of Love was placed in writing on tablets of stone, written by God’s own finger. Jesus, when living and walking among us, summarized that law of Ten Commandments into two, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength. This is the first commandment. And the second, like it, is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these,” Mark 12:29-31.

Were we to apply this commandment to love God and love man to everything we did, as individuals and as society, our world would be an entirely different place—if we truly loved God and our neighbor! For example, what might be the benefit of research into the composition, structure and function of the atom if we were to limit our studies to ways to benefit the poor and the deprived and to bless our enemies instead of creating weapons of mass destruction? What might be the benefit of limiting our studies of genetics to the work of restoring life to the purity of the human genetic code that existed before sin came into the world and started us on the downward slope, rather than trying to improve upon God’s original design by mixing and matching genetic material for our own pleasure? What if in our exploration of space we were to focus upon glorifying the God who created us rather than seeking ways, like the people of Babel, to save ourselves to satisfy our own egos and pursue our personal objectives? What if instead, we were to believe His promises, accept the salvation He has made available for every one of us rather than to expend our resources in defiance to His expressions of infinite love?

Whereas there was a time when the “Big Bang” theory appeared incompatible with what the Bible tells me about the infinitely loving God that created our universe and established the laws by which it is governed, now, when I consider the heavens and the earth I cannot but be awed by His immeasurable wisdom, power and glory, and bow humbly before Him in love and obedience. For I know He is Able to do whatever He wishes, and to do it in any way that He chooses.

Praise His Holy Name!

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Science of the Cosmos

In Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey , a 13 part “made for television series,” narrator, astrophysicist, Neil deGrasse Tyson, combines scientific facts with evolutionary theory and a large amount of imagination as he describes what he projects for the future of our world and of the cosmos. In part 3, Tyson focused upon comets and meteorites, describing many recently discovered facts and theories about their composition, origin, and travels through the solar system.

Much of the discussion was based upon the discoveries and writings of Sir Isaac Newton, a mathematician, physicist, philosopher, alchemist (and much more) who discovered the laws of motion and universal gravitation. With the help and encouragement of Edmond Halley (after whom Halley ’s Comet gets its name) Newton published in (1687) his book Mathematical principles of natural philosophy, a book that rapidly became the “primmer” used by scientists studying the heavens and the earth for several centuries.

Though I always believed that the entire universe was governed by natural law, I found it interesting to learn that “Newton’s law of motion and universal gravitation” applies to every object in every part of the universe. By this law the comets, the planets, the worlds, the galaxies and everything operate.

I must confess that I was amazed when I heard Tyson use the presence of these natural laws and our utilization of them to explore the universe around us to prove that all of this existed as a result of the evolutionary process and that there is no God.

Amazing!

Amazing that any intelligent creature can study and apply these universal laws and miss “seeing” the God who created the worlds and established the laws by which they operate.

Amazing, too, that this same God loves His creation down on this little world so much that He left the entire “flock” of worlds to come in search of me, just one little lost lamb down here!

Amazing, too, what a comfort we may experience by merely sending even a silent request up to Command Central and knowing that we have His immediate personal attention.

I never cease to wonder!

“The secret things belong to the Lord, our God, but those things which are revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may do all the words of this law,” Deuteronomy 29:29.

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No Greater Love

“… Faith, hope love, these three, but the greatest of these is love,”

“Fascinated,” is probably not a strong enough word to describe my response to the first of the television series, “The Cosmos.” “Live” pictures of the planets, the asteroids, our sun, the stars, galaxies, and nebula filling the heavens held me transfixed. Extending for a distance of 13 billion light years out into space, myriads of celestial bodies filled the screen—and who knows what exists even beyond? This is the universe within which we have our home.

The Bible tells us that there is a God who is big enough, wise enough and powerful enough to create the entire cosmos and everything in it. He is the very embodiment of infinite love, and all of creation is governed by it.

Giordano Bruno (a Dominican friar, philosopher, and observer of the heavens long before the days of modern telescopes), understood that an infinite God of infinite love must also mean that there must be an infinite number of inhabited worlds in His infinite universe. For his departure from the teachings of the Church that taught that the earth was the center of the universe he was tried for heresy by the Roman inquisition and burned at the stake in the year, 1600.

The centrality of the earth within the Universe, or the concept of other possibly inhabited worlds are no longer questioned. Science finally claims that victory. The concern of the Church today is not about the division in the church over the nature of the cosmos, but about the division within the Church over the teachings of the gospel and the authority of the Catholic Church. Since the days of the Protestant Reformation the Church has become fragmented into ever smaller fragments that now number approximately 41,000 factions.

Nor has this fragmentation gone by unnoticed. Two thousand years ago during His last prayer with His disciples before His crucifixion, Jesus had prayed to His Father in heaven for the unity of believers—“that they may all be One as You, Father are in Me, and I in You, that they also may be one is Us, that the world may believe that You have sent Me,” John 17:21.

Until now, that prayer remains to be answered. It has become the rallying cry of the Christian Church of today.

Having already made amends with some of the major Protestant denominations (Lutheran, Methodist, and others), the Roman Catholic Church under the leadership of Pope Frances 1 and Tony Palmer, former Protestant apologist and the leading proponent of unity with Rome, are now proclaiming that Protestantism is a thing of the past. According to them, the division that has existed in Christendom since the days of the Inquisition is now being replaced by a spirit of unity through diversion made possible by the one common belief in the Cross of Christ. In fact, according to Tony Palmer, “No doctrine (teaching) is more important than the teaching of the Cross.”

Rather than insisting that everyone must join the Catholic Church in order for unity to exist, Pope Frances 1 says that is not necessary to do. In his words, “no one is coming home (to the Catholic Church).”

In his description of what is meant by unity in diversion, Pope Frances used the example of Joseph and his brothers who when arriving in Egypt to purchase much needed food, found unity after many years of separation. By accepting one another in the diversity of the family, they ended the division that had existed since his brothers sold him to the Ishmeelite slave traders many, many years before. In the words of the pope, “we, as Christians, have been divided long enough. It is now time for us to make up and “cry together” just as did Joseph with his brothers.

For his part, Tony Palmer applied the comments of the Apostle Paul in his letter to the Ephesians to this ecumenical movement in its move toward unity, saying,, “I therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you to walk worthy of the calling with which you were called, with all lowliness and gentleness, with longsuffering, bearing with one another in love, endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all,” (Ephesians 4:1-6).

Who could argue with these words of the Apostle Paul?

But is it really this simple? We may claim to hold all of these elements in common, but do we really? And are we united in love as One in God if we gloss over the differences that exist?

I don’t think so! Follow along.

We were recently invited by friends to watch a “film about Jesus.” In it we saw “Jesus” castigating the Priests, the Scribes, and the Pharisees for their hypocrisy, their pride, their arrogance, and their departure from the meaning and purpose of the Law.

Interestingly, though no effort was made in the motion picture to suppress the violence surrounding the Crucifixion, there were no scenes of Jesus praying in the Garden of Gethsemane, no scenes of Him pleading for those preparing to kill Him, no scenes of Him agonizing with His Father in Heaven for strength of faith to follow through with the plan to save sinners as they had agreed upon “before the foundation of the world.” This seemed strange to me, for I understand that it was in the Garden that the law of Love was put to its most intense test, where the fiercest battle with the devil was fought. It was here in the Garden where Jesus won the victory over the devil and the powers of evil. Sure, the crucifixion had to have been a most terrible experience, but in reality, it was merely the public revelation of the love that won that victory in the Garden battle.

All of which led me to wonder. How did Jesus really face His adversaries, the leaders of the Jews when confronting them as they were even then plotting His crucifixion? Was it really mean spirited and hateful as depicted in the film? How does true love express itself in the presence of such terrible evil as exhibited by these, His enemies--especially when knowing that it would only be a matter of hours before that same love would cause Him to hang and die in shame upon the cruel cross for the sins of all mankind—including even theirs?

Then I remembered the time when it became necessary for me to discipline my teenage daughter. It is an experience I will never forget. The grief and pain that I experienced when she walked out the door and up the street in her decision to reject the love my wife and I had for her in exchange for the “freedom” of the “world” devastated me. Such grief could never be generated by anything but true godly love. There was no hate. No resentment. No desire to punish or seek revenge—but only the sense of my loss and the loss I knew she would experience by the course she was choosing

Yes, love must sometimes take a stand against the evil that, unabated, always leads to certain destruction. Such love does not—cannot fail to be “tough” when the need is there—even when it hurts!

Jesus could not remain silent when confronted with the sin and hypocrisy of the Jews. His love for them, and for the sinners of this world, would not allow Him to do so—to let the entire nation under their influence be lost for eternity without an urgent call to repent. He might have approached the Jews with a call for unity in diversity and thus heal the division that existed. But He did not. Love would not permit Him to do so, whatever the cost. His prayer to the Father did not call for unity among diversity, but for unity among those that had demonstrated their faith (belief) in Him during the years of His ministry—and those that would believe through their ministry.

In recording Jesus’ prayer, John wrote, “I pray for them. I do not pray for the world but for those whom You have given Me, for they are Yours. And all Mine are Yours, and Yours are Mine, and I am glorified in them. Now I am no longer in the world, but these are in the world, and I come to You, Holy Father, keep through Your name those whom You have given to Me, that they may be one as We are. And the glory which You gave Me I have given them, that they may be one just as We are one: I in them, and You in Me’ that they may be made perfect in one, and that the world may know that You have sent Me, and have loved them as You have loved Me,” John 17:9-13.

The Bible is clear that it is love which may replace division with unity. It is also true that true godly love extends to all diverse elements of the church and of society, but it cannot force true unity among elements that choose to remain diverse in regards to essential truths.

In fact, the Bible is replete of examples of enmity against the true followers of God throughout the ages. Furthermore, in describing the final days before His return, Jesus reassured His followers that though they, too, would suffer all sorts of hatred, persecution and maltreatment, those that remained steadfast for truth against opposition would share with Him in the eternal glory of eternal life.

Jesus said, “If the world hates you, you know that it hated Me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love its own. Yet because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. Remember the word that I said to you, ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you. If they kept My word, they will keep yours also. But all these things they will do to you for My name’s sake, because they do not know Him who sent Me,” John 15:11-21.

Love that Unites—and divides!

The Bible is not silent regarding the nature, the role, and the importance of love in the life of a follower of Jesus.

“Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. He who does not love does not know God, for God is love. In this the love of God was manifested toward us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through Him. In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another,” 1 John 4:7-11.

During the final time together with His disciples Jesus made this further comment about love, saying, “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you love one another,” John 13:34, 35.

True! Jesus modeled love for us when He died on the Cross. Certainly this was the ultimate expression of love, but short of dying for one another, we might wonder, what are the other characteristics of love?

The Apostle John answers this question as follows, “

“Whoever believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God, and everyone who loves Him who begot also loves him who is begotten of Him. By this we know that we love the children of God when we love God and keep His commandments. For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments. And His commandments are not burdensome. For whatever is born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith. Who is he who overcomes the world, but he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?” 1 John 5:1-5.

This text makes several important points. Believing in Jesus is something more than merely acknowledging His love for us. It says, “For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments.” It also says that keeping His commandments is not burdensome, implying that when one really loves, obedience to the commandments occurs spontaneously as a response of that love and gratitude, and NEVER as a work one must do to win God’s favor.

Nor need we be uncertain about what Jesus was referring to when He spoke of the commandments. They were they which He wrote with His own finger on tablets of stone in the days of Moses by which to fulfill His covenant with Abraham through whom the entire world was to be blessed.

It is true as some sometimes claim, that the gospels do not quote the Ten Commandments of the Law as written on the tablets given to Moses. On this basis, if is often argued that the Ten Commandments are no longer the standard description of godly love. Yet, no Jew in Jesus’ time would have failed to understand that any reference to the commandments was to the ten precepts inscribed by God on stone. The following passage is Jesus’ answer to the scribe that asked Him,“ which is the first commandment of all?”

Jesus answered him, “The first of all the commandments is ‘Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one. And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ This is the first commandment. And the second, like it, is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these,” Mark 12: 29-31.

It is apparently true, as often argued, that the Ten Commandments were first given to humanity in written form, to Moses and the Children of Israel. One might think of any number of reasons why this might be true. What is not so often mentioned is the fact that the Conflict between good and evil began long before Moses, implying that everyone from Adam onward understood the principles inscribed in those ten commandments and passed them on from generation to generation. Unfortunately, the record of the Children of Israel after living in Egypt for more than 400 years had apparently robbed them of these precious precepts.

Often missed in this dialog is the fact, also, that God’s covenant with Abraham was not an exclusive blessing for the Jews, but so that ALL families of the earth might be blessed. Israel was thus God’s chosen vehicle through which the plan of Salvation was to be made known, executed (through Jesus, the Son), and made available to all men of all nations. Nothing more!

There is absolutely nothing in the Ten Commandments as given to Moses that is contrary to the broad definition of love to God and love to man. Each and every one of them is directed as one specific aspect of love—and together, the ten encompass the entire, complete, scope of the Law of Love that describes the character of God and the constitution of His governance throughout creation.

To say, therefore that the Ten Commandments are for the Jews and not for the remainder of humanity is a gross distortion of both Biblical truth and rational thought.

Even today, there is no other more comprehensive set of principles expressing so completely the essence of love to both God and man as those ten commands indelibly inscribed on stone and summarized by Jesus as the full expression of love to both God and man.

Also missed is the fact that Jesus condemned the Israel of His day, not for living the love which the commandments prescribed, but for selfishly performing works of the law for pride and personal gain apart from the love the commandments embodied.

Nor is it any more possible to create unity among Christians and others today by any other means than by the love described in the Ten Commandments than it was in Jesus day. For there can be no unity where even one of these ten precepts—expressions of true godly love—is lacking.

Unfortunately, there is no indication that the present unity movement incorporates true biblical love as described in the Ten Commandments as one of its foundational principles. Nor can the movement expect to incorporate those who believe in the principles of true Christian love as defined by the Ten Commandments.

True unity among the people of God today does not exist in any church or organization in the sense that every member is born again and solidly committed to a common cause working together in common practice. But it does exist in a semi-visible form as faithful believes, present inside of and outside of various faith bodies all around the world, follow the example and counsel of Jesus to minister to the orphan, the widow, the poor, the sick, and the prisoner—all acts of love--and those that combine their faith and their resources to prepare the world for the return of Jesus and the end of the world. Scattered now, His Church will be united, and fully visible following the shaking at the end of time, so that when Jesus returns His prayer will have been answered—a unified church rising with Him when He ascends to heaven.

Impressed by the miracles he had heard about that Jesus had been doing, Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews and a Pharisee, came to Jesus one night for a visit only to hear Jesus tell him that he must be born again if he wanted to enter the kingdom of God. Like many Christians today, Nicodemus saw himself as a member of the true church in good standing. He knew the Law of Moses backward and forward and obeyed it in every detail. In his mind, it was Jesus that needed to be “straightened out,” not him. Recognizing his sincerity, Jesus went on to “burst his bubble” of self-righteousness and help him to understand the nature of the Kingdom of Heaven where Godly love rules every true believer. Before the night was over, Nicodemus understood that there is no merit in keeping the commandments. But when he realized the love God had for him and the price heaven paid, the price of Jesus’ life-blood, to forgive his sins and rescue him from the devil’s clutches, gratitude and joy filled his heart, creating an irresistible desire to be filled with the love of God and to be like Jesus. Now free from the “need” to earn salvation by rigid obedience to the Law, Nicodemus was ready to be filled by the Holy Spirit who alone could give him the new birth he now understood and sought after.

The Biblical record indicates that Nicodemus was indeed born again following this encounter with Jesus. Never more would he “keep” the commandments in his effort to gain salvation, or to reveal his rank and greatness to the people around him. Henceforth, from the fountain of his heart overflowing with love for God and for his neighbor, Nicodemus’ life reflected the true light of God’s love as embodied by the Ten Commandments to the world around him

The Bible describes those that will be at unity, one with Christ, while awaiting His return as those that “keep the Commandments of God and have the testimony (faith) of Jesus, (Revelation 12:17 and 14:12).

 

No Greater Love

There is no greater love than to stand in defense of the Ten Commandment Law of Love that alone guarantees life, and there is no greater sin than to ignore that law and to participate in the least infraction of it.

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No Greater Honor

The Bible tells us that our little world is the center of a universal cosmic conflict between the powers of good and the forces of evil. It tells us how the war began, how it will end, and who will be the victor. It is an ideological war, and yet a very physical and personal war, engaging every intelligent being in the heavens and on earth, each gifted with the freedom to choose his/her champion, whether Christ Jesus or Satan.

It tells us that until his rebellion, Lucifer, (now Satan, the Champion of evil), was one of the most honored angels of heaven serving in the very presence of God Himself.

The war on earth has now been raging for about six thousand years. The Bible tells us that though the most intense battles lie before us, we are assured that when the last stand has been made, the last shot fired, the fatal defects of evil will have been so effectively exposed that it will never again raise its ugly head throughout the endless ages of eternity.

In the Bible Book of Hebrews (chapter 11) we find listed the names of many of the guardians of the cause of God through the ages--foot soldiers preparing the battleground upon which the Son of God might meet in hand to hand combat with Satan himself in the determinant battle of all ages.

That battle was fought in the Garden of Gethsemane and upon a mountain called Calvary. Many have been the faithful through the ages since that have defended the cause of God, even unto death—trusting in the promise of His return in glory and the just and final end of evil.

While all through the ages the faithful followers of God have counted it a high honor to fight valiantly for the cause of love and truth, never has that honor been greater than may be experienced by those of us living today.

What makes this time special? Never before has any human being except Jesus experienced the face to face combat with the devil and evil as will occur in the final battles of the war just ahead. Never before except in the life of Jesus has the universe witnessed the full and final expression (display) of evil in contrast to the revelation of love as will be evident when at last the shaking process of judgment will eternally separate all intelligent creation into one of two divisions—for God and good, or for Satan and evil. Never before, and never again, have the cost of sin and the blessing of love so clearly revealed and understood.

What could possibly be greater than the privilege and honor of representing the King of the Universe during the conclusion of this great cosmic conflict that will eradicate every trace of evil for eternity and lift up, exalt, and glorify the Name of Jesus before the entire creation forever without end?

This, dear reader, is our privilege and honor in this our day. Do we appreciate it? Does it inspire us in our Spirit-designated role?

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I Believe

I believe the Holy Bible is the one and only trustworthy message of God for this world. This belief is based upon several sources of evidence.

The nature of the Bible itself

The Plan of Salvation laid out from the “foundation of the world” as described within its pages and confirmed by the names of the stars in the sky

Pictographs, ancient and current religious practices

By Prophecy fulfilled and confirmed by the historical, the archeological record, and by the signs and events occurring in our world today

The scope, the nature, and the power of the Law of Love that it prescribes, describes, and, finally, exemplifies in the life, death, resurrection and ministry of Jesus as our High Priest ministering in heaven at the right hand of God the Father

The Nature of the Bible Itself

The Bible is a collection of 66 books written by 40 different authors of a wide variety of professions and backgrounds in 3 different languages (Hebrew, Greek and Aramaic) over a period of 1500 years. In spite of these facts, there are no historical errors or contradictions as from beginning to end they describe in every essential detail the reason for the evil we see in all the world around us and God’s comprehensive plan for rescuing every person that will believe, with patience, love, and perfect justice while simultaneously eliminating sin and evil from the universe, never to rise again.

Never has another such a book been written, nor will ever be.

Plan of Salvation as Described in the Bible

The Bible tells us where we came from; what God’s original plan for us consisted of; what happened to disrupt that plan, and the means by which He is and will restore the universe (including our earth) to its original state of perfection, free of pain, disappointment, sickness and death.

God is Love. By love He is governed, and by the Law of Love He governs all things. Furthermore, He defined this Law of Love by His own sacrificial death on the cross at our hand, in our place, for our sin. At some point in pre-earth history a high-ranking angelic being exercised his freedom of choice (an essential characteristic of love) challenged the law, incited a rebellion in heaven, and was eventually excluded from the divine realm.

When in time, God created Planet Earth and human beings as governors over it, Satan, the rebel angel succeeded by stealth to snatch it away from them, thereby bringing to earth the war that had begun in heaven at the time of his rebellion. This act placed God (Love) in what might have seemed to be a most precarious position. How, we may ask, is it possible for love to resolve the rebellion while honoring freedom of choice?

There can be no other way but to permit the war to continue until the entire intelligent universe has witnessed the unrestrained tactics and the results thereof of each warring party. Before the governance of love can reign supreme throughout eternity to come, and for rebellion to be eternally squelched, every intelligent mind in the universe must be convinced that the Law of Love alone is exclusively capable of sustaining life and freedom throughout the universe for eternity, and that there is no other possible challenge whereby to threaten the universe ever again.

Even now we are nearing the conclusion of that war. Signs in the heavens and the earth everywhere are revealing the destructive nature of the rebellion, and by contrast, the nature of the Law of Love in the lives of the faithful followers of the God of the Bible.

The Heavens Confirm

The Bible tells us that God knows the number of the stars in the heavens and calls them all by name. Students and scholars studying the heavens, the constellations, and the principle stars composing those constellations, have discovered well documented evidence that the same plan of salvation described so beautifully In the Bible is told in the coherent meaning of the names of those stars in the ancient Hebrew, Greek, Coptic, Arabic and Chinese languages.

Pictographs, Ancient and Current Religious Practices

Pictographs (Chinese characters) composing the most ancient Chinese written language describe the story of creation of the world; the fall of man to the devil’s lie; the basic elements of God’s plan of redemption; and the universal flood in the days of Noah.

Throughout the ancient world in many cultures and locations we find stories similar to the biblical stories describing creation, the fall, the conflict between good and evil, and the promise of restoration. Many of these are reinforced by ancient (and sometimes modern) pictures and images of a virgin with child, of serpents and birds and ritualistic practices similar to the Bible’s descriptions.

Prophecy Fulfilled

I never cease to marvel when I open the Book of Daniel written some 500 years before Christ and read of the future rise and fall of empires and nations--and realize that subsequent history records those events as occurring in the exact order as revealed to Daniel in vision and dream. There is no other book, there are no other sources of predictions that have been so accurate and timely in foretelling the future. Other prophesies predicted the birth, death, and resurrection of Jesus in symbol and in ritual centuries before they occurred. Perhaps most impressive of all are prophesies found scattered throughout the Bible that describe the times in which we are living, culminating in the final events leading up to the end of the world--cataclysmic events in the natural world; irresolvable political and financial problems inconceivable even a few decades ago; disastrous changes in the social environment; and, yes stockpiles of weapons of mass destruction--and the will to use them—all foretold in that Holy Book centuries ago.

The Scope, the Nature, and the Power of the Law of Love

Yes, there are many evidences in the world lending credence to the divine origin of the Holy Scriptures. We have only barely touched on a few of these. But there is one other that trumps these all. That other one is the scope, the nature, and the power of God’s Law of Love that characterizes God and governs the universe He has created. The principles of that Law of Love, though known and operative from the foundation of the world, were first revealed to us as written by the finger of God in their least expression on two tablets of stone and given to Moses about thirty five hundred years ago. They were summarized by Jesus as love to God and love to our fellow man as follows. “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. The second is like unto it. You shall love your neighbor as yourself,” Matthew 22:37-39. Finally. They were exemplified in their highest expression by God in the life, death and resurrection of Jesus and by His subsequent intercession for us at the right hand of God in the throne room of heaven,” Hebrews 7:25-8:2.

We can but imagine what our world would be like if everyone of us loved God as He loves us, and if we each loved one another as we love ourselves. For certain, it would be a different world in which to live. By contrast, our world today provides us with a pretty comprehensive view of what happens where love is lacking—each one foolishly seeking his/her own happiness and pleasure.

Interestingly, without God and the Bible, there is no other source of love, no description of the Law of Love to guide us, and no example of love of the highest order to inspire us. Truly, love is the greatest evidence of God and of the truth of the Holy Bible.

Yes! I believe, for there is no other book, there is no other resource in all the world that answers the important questions of life like the Holy Bible.

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“That They May Be One”—the End of Protestantism

It is a new day in Christendom.

If you ask Pope Francis 1 or Tony Palmer (a prominent Charismatic, Evangelical, Holy Spirit filled, Catholic), the Protestant Reformation has come to an end—a status confirmed by a covenant they have publicly made with one another. Since with the signing of an agreement between the Lutheran Church and the Catholic Church acknowledging that salvation is by grace alone in 1999, most of the protestant world has followed suit--until today, according to the following posts,  there is no more protest, and hence no need for a Protestant. "In the Spirit of Elijah," a bridge has been built preparing the world for the “Ministry of Reconciliation.”

For more than 2,000 years the Christian world has been waiting to see Jesus’ final prayer with His disciples calling for unity among believers to be answered (John 17:11-23). Now, with the answering of this prayer, it is believed to be only a matter of time before the eyes of the unbelieving world will see, their ears hear, and they will understand with their heart, be converted, and healed (Matthew 13:15).

To understand the scope and significance of this action, please read the following articles and watch the following video.

http://www.catholicculture.org/news/headlines/index.cfm?storyid=20560
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b5TwrG8B3ME
http://cnsblog.wordpress.com/2014/02/20/a-pentecostal-a-pope-and-an-iphone-for-christian-unity/
http://www.catholicnews.com/data/stories/cns/1400707.htm

The question Bible believing Christians must now consider is this. Are we prepared to be "reconciled" to the Church, or to stand firm for Bible truth?

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