Wednesday, November 18, 2020

How to get a working knowledge of the Bible

All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness. If we read our Bibles every day always picking up today where we left off yesterday—never skipping any parts--over time, we will cultivate for ourselves an understanding of what God is saying to us through his Word. Not only that, but if we are doers of the Word and not hearers only, our relationship with our Creator will become deeper and richer than ever before.
 

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Monday, October 26, 2020

Peace that surpasses all understanding

 Our Savior experienced everything we do, yet he did not allow the burdens of the world to crush him. He fully understood--firsthand--our frailty and fears. Yet he walked in perfect rest and peace.  

He fully understood that the fate he chose for himself [at his first coming] was going to be horrific (Luke 9:22-26). But he chose to endure it for our sakes, for the glory, victory, and LIFE that would follow. 

He knew his agony would overcome evil and death. He embraced the pain and suffering of crucifixion with a mind-boggling peace and joy, thinking of others to the last moment (Father forgive them....). 

Jesus passed his victory to his followers when he said, "My peace I give thee...," when he called us to himself, saying, "Come unto me all ye that labor...Learn of me...and I will give you rest."

Monday, September 28, 2020

Torah Observant Believers and Non-Observant Believers: Can we talk?

All Christians do not look alike. Nor do all Christians do not interpret the Bible in the same way. It is normal that our foundational premises will flavor the way we incorporate our understanding of the Bible into everyday life. 

But, if we are heirs of Eternal Life through faith in the Risen Son of God, then we are not only Saved but we are BLOOD relations of every other Born Again Christian. 

As in virtually every family, there is never a 100% consensus on everything. So it is with the Body of Christ.  

In this post, we address the subject of how Christians can handle theological differences in general, and more specifically will deal with issues between, non-Jewish Christians who choose to become Torah observant [a form of Christian Judaism] and those who do not.

This is not an argument against Torah groups nor is it a refutation of the doctrine. Rather, an observation of some disturbing trends seen within such groups. We encourage all true Believers towards edifying theological discussion without rejecting our familial [in Christ] relationship. 

As touching Bible study, one scholar astutely observed, "Without disagreement, there would be no teaching ministry in the Body of Christ."

What an encouragement to use our differing views, not as sticking points, or points of contention, but rather as springboards into broader study and discussion of the many fascinating topics found in scripture. This can only sharpen understanding of our fathomless, incomprehensible, and awe-inspiring Creator! 

Every group tends to feel their group has it more right than other groups. That is simply human nature--fallen nature. There are disturbing trends in all groups, but following are a few found in many observant groups. These are found in other groups as well, and, without compromising faith or obedience to the Word of God, we feel they can be rejected by any who hold to them. 

COMMON TRENDS

Intolerance of Christians who are not Torah observant: Some Christian Judaism groups [not all] reject non-observant members of the Body of Christ to some degree or other and sometimes altogether. 

Anti-Semitism: It seems oxymoronic that antisemitism would rear its ugly head in a Torah Observant [Christian Judaism] group, but that is a common trend. We do not see overt antisemitism in the form of Jew hatred like the Nazi's, but rather in the form of replacement theology. 

The Vatican was first to espouse replacement theology, which is the teaching that many of God's as yet unfulfilled promises to physical Israel, applied exclusively to the Roman Catholic Church. Some protestant Christians, specifically those of Reformed Calvinists groups and groups who teach Dominion theology also espouse the doctrine that The Church is Israel and that physical Israel is no longer featured in God's plan or promises. 

Replacement theology takes Bible statements out of their broad explicit and implied contexts to extrapolate them into such a narrow context, that the only possible interpretation would be to allegorize the plain text while obscuring subtext. To be sure, there are allegories in scripture along with subtext. When rightly discerned, neither negates the other. And a single passage can contain the literal, figurative, symbolic, allegorical, plain text, and subtext without contradiction.

That is one of the joys of Bible study. It is the glory of kings to seek out a matter...Selah

The Body of Christ, the Ekklesia, is the Israel of God, but there is no verse or passage in the Bible that supports the Church replacing physical Israel--only being grafted into the root and enjoying the common wealth of Jacob [physical Israel]. Many scriptural commands and promises were made to physical Israel only.

Denying the Old and New Covenants: When adopting Christian Judaism, the two Covenants appear to be a stumbling block, to the point where some deny two covenants exist. And this despite the fact that Jesus said they do. 

At the last Passover before his crucifixion, Jesus declared the New Covenant [Testament]:  

"And he took the cup and gave thanks and gave it to them saying Drink ye all of it For this is my blood of the new testament [covenant] which is shed for many for the remission of sins"  Matthew 26:27-28

Galatians 4:21-24 distinguishes between the two covenants.

"For it is written that Abraham had two sons the one by a bondmaid the other by a freewoman But he who was of the bondwoman was born after the flesh but he of the freewoman was by promise Which things are an allegory For these are the two covenants The one from the mount Sinai which gendereth to bondage which is Agar"

There will never be theological uniformity among Believers. Nor should there be, else the practice of our faith would be rote and all our works dead. But among us, there should be genuine love and unity. Jesus said they will know us by our fruits. He also said we would be known for our love for one another.

How can widely diverse Believers practice love and unity?  Individual Believers can recognize each other as being part of the same body. We can acknowledge that we are all living stones in God's building. God's building is built without hands, and Jesus is the Capstone (the Chief Angle) of that building. 

As part of God's building, all the rest of us are connected to one another through HIM. Jesus' building has been in continuous construction since he called his first disciple...Selah

God's Building:

The Spirit of the LORD [YHWH], speaking through the prophets, used a building metaphor, “corner,” in reference to the headship of Christ the Head [kephale] of the Corner [Chief Cornerstone]. Jesus himself also spoke of this.

   No one doubts that Messiah is the kephale of the corner, but how many understand what the corner itself is? What does it mean to be the kephale of the corner?

   It behooves all Christ followers to understand this, as it is the Christian Savior, the Jewish Messiah, who is the kephale of the corner.

   The Middle Eastern believers of the early church understood perfectly the meaning of the word cornerstone. It is only the modern day English reader who usually does not.

   When a building metaphor is used explaining that Messiah is the kephale of the corner, it means that Christ is the Chief Cornerstone in a building.

   The word “corner” (in this case) means angle. The Strong’s Greek Lexicon defines the word translated as corner (G1137) as, “an external or internal angle or corner…” 

 Most buildings have corners (angles), but there is only one structure on earth that can lay claim to having a primary angle (which the Bible calls the head [kephale] of the corner). And within that singular and unique structure, there can be only one primary angle.

   The primary angle (head of the corner) is an angle that links directly with every other angle within the structure. That means every angle within said structure must originate and flow from a single angle.That single angle is the chief angle--the chief cornerstone. This is not a concept. It is a structural fact of engineering that is critical to every believer in understanding the relationship between Christ and every other member of His Body. 

The Church [Ekklesia] is the Body of Christ. And the Church of the Living God is scripturally described [among other things] as being a building.

   1 Corinthians 3:9 says, “For we are laborers together with God you are God's field, God's building.”  

   The Church of Christ is built of living stones[1] with Jesus Himself being the primary angle--The Chief Cornerstone.[2]

   There are angles (cornerstones) in most modern buildings. But no modern building has a place for a chief cornerstone (primary angle). That is why most modern Christians though familiar with the term, have no concept of what a chief cornerstone really is.

   The ancient Egyptians, however—along with their Hebrew slaves—knew exactly what a chief cornerstone was. They were experts at building structures in which, from the the foundation up, every angle (cornerstone) in the building flowed in a continuous connection with final angle, placed at the uppermost tip, the primary angle, the chief cornerstone.

   A primary angle is a capstone, and there is only one structure in the world that has a place and need for a capstone—and that is a pyramid.

   A pyramid is a foursquare structure[3] whose many angles (corners, cornerstones) flow upward to finally connect in a direct, unbroken, line to only one stone which sports four corners that unite the entire structure into a one-of-a-kind unity found nowhere else on earth.

   In Christ’s building—His Church—the relationship of cornerstones to capstone is identical, but the sequence is reversed. The foundation of God’s Church is laid at the top, with the primary angle, the capstone (chief cornerstone)—who is Christ himself—being laid first.  

   God’s building is built from the top down, with each successive stone united directly with Christ,[4] who is the life of the entire building—which is His body.[5]

   The uniting factor between each member of Christ’s body and their God is Christ Himself who forms a living fellowship between himself and all believers in a personal, individual, way. This is made possible by the indwelling of the Holy Spirit—not by any man-made organization, theology, or hierarchy.

   Jesus Christ is the kephale (Head) of the Corner in the Church of the Living God. In Him we live and move and have our being.[6]    In Him, Believers are connected to God and to each other.

   The Church of Jesus Christ has many cornerstones, and we may not all agree theologically beyond the fact that for God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son that whosoever believes on Him will have everlasting life.

Beyond that, we must strive for the unity of the Spirit...which never includes uniformity of every nuance of doctrine.  So we'd better figure out how to accept as brethren true believers who hold to various theological perspectives we may not.


[1] 1 Peter 2:4-6, “To whom coming as unto a living stone rejected indeed of men but chosen of God and precious You also as lively stones are built up a spiritual house an holy priesthood to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God by Jesus Christ Wherefore also it is contained in the scripture Behold I lay in Sion a chief corner stone elect precious and they that believe on him shall not be confounded.”

 [2] Isaiah 21:16 “Therefore thus says the Lord GOD Behold I lay in Zion for a foundation a stone a tried stone a precious corner stone…”

[3] Revelation 21:16 “The city lies foursquare”

 [4] 1 Timothy 2:5 only one mediator between God and all people. Every stone in God’s building is connected directly to Christ himself—not to someone else who mediates for us by connecting us to Christ.

[5] Ephesians 1:22-23

[6] Acts 17:28

 

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Tuesday, June 9, 2020

A God Make-Over

  
Submitted by Lane Roberts 
In Kyoto, Japan there is an interesting shrine.  It is called the Temple of the Thousand Buddhas.  Inside, worshipers see over 1000 images of Buddha, each with different characteristics.  Those who enter can pick and choose which they like the best.  They often try to find a Buddha whose likeness most resembles them.  They then bow before it in worship.  What is interesting is that Japan is not the only place that custom makes gods to the liking of worshipers.  Our land is now a place where people emphasize the characteristics of God that meet the “quick fix” need of the moment.
   Women in our culture like to get “make-overs”   A new wardrobe, new hair style, and new make-up, can help us with our self-image.  We age, and with age comes change that happens almost daily.  We do need to find ways to improve our appearance.  However, for some time now there has been a movement to make God look more glamorous and appealing to modern worshipers.  In an effort to give God a make-over humans have forgotten that God is ageless and changeless.  At the expense of reverence for His sovereignty, we have made God into a comfortable pal, a “user-friendly” God who resembles us in so many ways.  Our worship services resemble nights out at a club.  The music is infused with ancient pagan mysticism, not the least of which is chanting a few vapid phrases over and over, which the Bible has instructed against. 
   Modern worshipers want a God that can be understood.  They want the latest “designer” God that will be predictable and controllable.  People these days want a deity that is custom-made to suit individual needs and circumstances.   They want a God that will agree with their choices and desires, no matter what Scripture says about those choices and desires.  They want to pick and choose what they believe, instead of taking the whole counsel of God.   They want to make God in their own image. The modern worshipers have done what the great atheist Voltaire said, “God made man in His image, then man returned the favor.”
   God is no longer seen as He is: a God of mercy and love, but also a God of justice.  God is seen as a big grandfather in the sky, who loves everyone just like they are.  While He does love us like we are, He loves us enough to offer the means for us to be re-made according to His character and His likeness.   In our post-modern world, good is called evil and evil is called good.  The modern deity is one of chaos and not order, hatred and not love, blame and not repentance.   The “love” of the modern deity fails to warn of reckless behavior that leads to destruction.  The modern deity will leave one to their own devices.   The true God warns and corrects because it is the loving thing to do.   Let me remind you of this one central truth:  It is God that changes us—not the other way around.

    
Lane Roberts, Senior Acquisitions Editor, One Way Press

Wednesday, April 29, 2020

C. S. Lewis & Mere Christianity: Another View

 With accolades, throughout the evangelical world, of C. S. Lewis' work ringing in my ears, I began reading "Mere Christianity." I found myself alternately impressed with some of the incredibly insightful things he wrote, then [often in the same chapter] flabbergasted at some of the really asinine things he wrote.

I went from flabbergasted to horrified when I read some of the heretical things he wrote.

It was obvious from just reading the introduction to Mere Christianity that C.S. Lewis, at the very least, was quite liberal and most decidedly ecumenical. 

I do not mean that as a compliment.

In his introduction, while making clear that Mere Christianity is written as an effort to introduce unbelievers to the concept of God, I questioned his motives for addressing the church at all. I wondered at his criticism towards Christians who contend for the faith. 

He made absolutely no difference between those who contend for the faith, as the scriptures command, and those who are simply contentious and divisive. He lumped all who had strong convictions into the contentious divisive camp. He even had the audacity to say that most who disagree with what he wrote in Mere Christianity were “borderline” people—those disobedient to any communion (i.e., rebels)

That’s a strong accusation, and it is simply wrong. 

He also discouraged contending for the faith by implying that Bible reading Christians are not capable at all of really understanding the faith and should leave matters of what he calls “high theology” (does that mean whatever is not found in the Bible?) to the "experts."

I found Lewis to be subtle in his barbs and very good at aiming his darts.

His occult training shows up in the many statements he makes in Mere Christianity about ignoring anything he says that doesn't suit and simply finding a way at looking at things that does suit. I challenge anyone to find a Witch or New Ager who does not have the same mindset and encourages the same thing.

And if he doesn't have the discernment to know that the Vatican is not simply just another "denomination," I am forced to take anything else he has to say with a grain of salt.

We cannot find anywhere in scripture where we are fully incorporated into the Body of Christ by partaking of the Roman Mass. But that is the statement found on page 112 of, "Documents of the Vatican 2" (which is the Vatican's official statement of faith and dogma). Participation in the Roman Mass is as close to salvation as you can find, anywhere, in Roman Catholic dogma--so how does C.S. Lewis get the idea that Roman Catholicism is just another denomination of Christianity (pg 6 Mere Christianity)?

Roman Catholicism is a heretical Christian Cult, the largest cult in the history of the world, and though individuals within the organization may [by their faith] connect with Christ, thereby inheriting eternal life, no salvation can be found within Roman Catholic dogma. 

It is telling that a Roman Catholic Priest who critiqued the manuscript of Mere Christianity before its publication had no problems whatever with anything Lewis wrote in it. We find that on page 8.

Couple that with his statement (from Pg 43): "If you are a Christian, you are free to think that all [these] religions, even the queerest ones, contain at least some hint of truth." That is stretching things a bit if you ask me.

So far, I am less than impressed with C. S. Lewis being held up as the evangelical world's chief apologist and finest example of a Christian.

As I continued to read, I went from flabbergasted to horrified. Lewis graduated from liberal to heretical, when on pages 62 and 63 he wrote that he saw no difference between the protestant practice of observing the Lord's Supper and the idolatrous Roman Catholic Mass, which is said to literally turn into God. Many chose to be burned at the the stake during the Spanish Inquisition because they refused to participate in the Mass and admit that it literally transformed into the body and blood of Christ (transubstantiation). 

He dug deeper into heresy when he proclaimed that Jesus taught life was imparted through baptism and the Mass (pg 63). 

My question to evangelical leaders is this, ‘Where is your discernment!?’ 

I will digress here and share that in the introduction of Mere Christianity, Lewis made it very clear that he was a member of the Church of England (Anglican to us Americans) and that his doctrine could be found, in its entirety, within the pages of the Book of Common Prayer.

I wonder that he finds nothing significant in the fact that Thomas Cranmer, the writer of the very first Book of Common Prayer was burned at the stake by the Roman Catholic Church for refusing to admit that the Lord's Supper was the same as the Roman Mass, for refusing to admit that it was anything more than symbolic of our Lord's death and that the ordinance was given as a commemorative, a memorial, a remembrance only.

The Roman Mass, on the other hand, is the doctrine of transubstantiation which says the bread and wine literally become the body and blood of Christ after it is blessed. The wafer/eucharist is held up during a Mass to be worshipped

The eucharist is held up during processionals to be worshipped.

This is blatant idolatry.

Millions of god-fearing men and women died cruel deaths at the hands of the Roman Catholic Church for refusing to acknowledge that the doctrine of transubstantiation is anything but a heretical perversion of the commemorative ordinance of the Lord's Supper.

In view of Lewis' stubborn disregard of what the Bible clearly says about The Lord's Supper (and many other things I’m finding), I conclude that he does not know his Bible very well nor does he hold it in high esteem. I seriously doubt much of his doctrine actually comes from the Bible, and in view of Thomas Cranmer's death by burning, because of that same issue, I also question the truthfulness of his statement that he found all his doctrine in the Book of Common Prayer either.
  
I do find it interesting that he apparently remained an enthusiastic student of Greek Mythology his entire life. We find evidence of this when he is quoted on page 276 of C.S. Lewis: A Biography, by Roger Lancelyn Green as saying, "I had some ado to prevent Joy (his wife) and myself from relapsing into Paganism in Attica! At Daphni it was hard not to pray to Apollo the Healer. But somehow one didn't feel it would have been very wrong--would have only been addressing Christ sub-specie Apollinis (emphasis mine)."

Apollinis is a Christ sub-specie? Lewis could barely restrain himself from praying to Apollo? The Bible is clear that the false Gods worshipped by the Greeks were demons. And here we have a highly recommended, foremost apologist for the Christian faith, telling us that he was almost unable to restrain himself from praying to a devil!

In his book The World’s Last Night and Other Essays on pages 98-99, Lewis called Matthew 24:34 (“Verily, I say to you, this generation shall not pass till all these things be fulfilled)… the most embarrassing verse in the Bible. He went on to say, "The one exhibition of error and the one confession of ignorance grow side by side. That they stood thus in the mouth of Jesus himself and were not merely placed thus by the reporter, we surely need not doubt… The facts, then, are these: that Jesus professed himself (in some sense) ignorant, and within a moment showed that he really was so.” 

I say it is C. S. Lewis who shows his ignorance—not my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

Lewis was converted from atheism to a belief in God by J. R. R. Tolkien. Tolkien is loudly touted as being a Christian. In actuality, Tolkien was a Roman Catholic--which does not mean he was saved. In fact, Roman Catholicism teaches that being born again is a heretical teaching. But modern evangelicals, along with C. S. Lewis apparently leading the charge, rarely make the distinction between Protestant Christianity and Roman Catholicism. 

In earlier, not so distant, times, evangelicals did not have a problem with speaking up about this. They made certain the distinctions between Roman Catholicism and evangelical Christianity remained in sharp focus.

But in these last days, we find ourselves hurtling at lightening speed towards The Day of the Lord, and see conditions ripening for the introduction of a world religion that will be facilitated by The Man of Sin. The scriptures warn about this in many places. The fruit cannot take much more ripening. It is almost rotten as it is.

Even so, come quickly Lord Jesus....


Review and commentary  by Jocelyn Andersen

Sunday, April 26, 2020

Miracles Still Happen: A Miracle of Birth

CONTRIBUTED BY LANE FISHER

   It was 1949 and William and Opal Fisher had the perfect family…two boys and a girl.  They weren’t planning on adding to their happy little family of five.  However, that year proved to be the most difficult of their lives.  Their daughter, who was only three years old, was a healthy looking child one week and literally skin and bones the next.  It turns out, cancer had been ravaging her little body and, tragically, she quickly succumbed to the disease. 
   The family was devastated, but Opal, in particular, was especially grieved and heartbroken.  She cried out to the God whom she’d served for most of her life, and He heard her and answered her heart’s cry.   She knew that the precious child she’d lost could not be replaced, but she longed for another daughter.  She was crying in her bedroom one day, and she heard the Lord say [in an audible voice] that He was going to give her another daughter.  She dried her eyes and went on about her life, convinced He would do as He promised.
   In the meantime, Opal was having health issues, and her doctor kept telling her she needed a hysterectomy.  It seemed that she had tumors in her uterus.  She kept telling the doctor that God had promised her another daughter, and so, thanks, but no thanks to the offer of surgery.
   Nearly a year passed, and then Opal became pregnant.  She was ecstatic and thought, “The Lord is answering my prayer for a daughter and is keeping His promise to me.”   She eagerly awaited the birth of the child, and in due time, it was delivered.  To her great disappointment, she gave birth to a boy.  Oh, she loved him dearly, but she couldn’t help but be disappointed.  All the while, she still needed the surgery, and her doctor was trying to talk her into having it.
   Four more years passed with no daughter in sight, but Opal still believed God and trusted Him to keep His promise.  She discovered she was pregnant again and thought, “This time my daughter will be given to me.”  But, alas, another little boy was born.  This made four boys, with no girl in sight.
   Time marched on, and Opal’s health kept deteriorating.  Still, she held fast to God’s promise.  However, the tumors were causing great pain and discomfort, as well as other problems. So after ten long years, she finally agreed to let the doctor do the surgery.  She told her physician that she didn’t know how God was going to keep His promise to her for a daughter, but she knew He would somehow. 
   The doctor wouldn’t even let her go home to pack her bag.  He admitted her straight into the hospital that afternoon. 
   The next morning, he wheeled a still hopeful and trusting Opal into the operating room.  He prepped her for the surgery and made the first incision.  He immediately saw that she was pregnant and sewed her back up. 
   Nine months later, her baby girl was born.
   I was that baby girl.
   I never tired of hearing the story of my birth.  There was such promise, and it was a great miracle. But, when you stop to consider it, every birth is a miracle and a promise from our loving God.  Life is precious and oh so sweet when we trust and lean on Him…as my mother, Opal Fisher, did.