Friday, June 15, 2018

Conscience, Authority, Sexual Immorality, And Judging Inside the Church

My heart is saddened how people seem to think that men having sex with men or women with women or sexual relations with someone else's boyfriend or girlfriend, or someone else's wife or husband, is considered normal and a matter of sexual freedom. Sexual immorality is no longer considered sinful behavior, though at one point in their life there was a deep conviction that it was, and instead, have chosen to ignore the warning of their conscience.  God gave us a mind and conscience and therefore all of us will ultimately be held responsible for our behavior.  


Though conscience does not have an audible voice that speaks to us, however, it does mean having the knowledge of letting us know whether our actions are good or evil.  It is a power of the mind that affirms and enforces moral obligation.  It lets us know whether we should or should not do or say something.  For instance, my conscience tells me not to drink wine in front of someone who may be struggling with alcohol.  There may have been times when our conscience has said, "Don't do it," only to ignore our conscience, do it anyway, and regret later the decision we have made.  How many times have we heard, "I should have known better." 

Conscience should be our guide, but on the other hand, it may not if our conscience has been seared, meaning, conscience or convictions have been desensitized. There are people whose hearts have been so hardened by ignoring their conscience by choosing to indulge in repeated sinful behavior that it can no longer speak to the person.
 ...that in later times some will depart from the faith by devoting themselves to deceitful spirits and teachings of demons, through the insincerity of liars whose consciences are seared (1 Tim. 4:1-2). 
I have always wondered if there is still hope for a person whose conscience has been seared.  Is there a time when it is too late, where there is no point of return? 

With all the sexual immorality we are faced with in today's generation (as with past generations), we have a void of conscience and no fear of God.  We can go back to the days of Noah (just as Jesus declared Matt. 24:37-39).  Even though the people were eating, drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, God also saw the wickedness of man and that it was great in the earth and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart were only evil continually (Gen. 6:5).  The earth was so corrupt and filled with violence that God repented that he made man.  It appears these people lost all awareness of their conscience and to do what is right. But also remember this: It grieved God's heart (Gen. 6:6).  It appears their conscience was seared to the point of no return and God destroyed them with a flood. 


 Whether we are talking about the homosexual or heterosexual union, or monogamy or polyamory, we can boil down human sexuality and marriage to the foundational issue of “authority.” Authority is 1) "power or right to give orders, make decisions, and enforce obedience:  2) freedom to decide or a right to act without hindrance." And as many people may scoff, all such authority begins with God, for there is no authority except from God (Rom. 13:1). 

God has created us to live under his authority. How does God exercise authority over His creatures?  The answer is the testimony of scriptures and the innate ability to know the difference between good and evil.  However, we have the ability to choose whether to obey or disobey His authority and our conscience.

We may choose to redefine what is good or evil, but it will never change God’s mind and His definition of sexual immorality or the definition of marriage.  God created us (Gen. 2:8,19), sex (Gen. 2:24), and marriage (Gen.2:24).  God approves of sexual relations between a husband and wife and a loving sexual relationship is one of the benefits of marriage.
Marriage is to be held in honor among all, and the marriage bed is to be undefiled; for fornicators and adulterers God will judge (Heb. 13:4). 
 Since God has the authority to define both marriage and the right use of our sexuality, the debasement of human sexually expresses a denial of God’s authority and is always to our own detriment. 


We all know God created Adam and Eve.  God said concerning Adam: 
For Adam no suitable helper was found. So the LORD God caused the man to fall into a deep sleep; and while he was sleeping, he took one of the man’s ribs and then closed up the place with flesh. Then the LORD God made a woman from the rib he had taken out of the man, and he brought her to the man. 
The man said, “This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called ‘woman,’ for she was taken out of man.” 
That is why a man leaves his father and mother and is united to his wife, and they become one flesh. (Genesis 2: 20– 24) 
This is the acceptable, established, and the biblical sexual relationship between male and female. Jesus himself affirms: 
Have you not read that He who created them from the beginning made them male and female,  and said, ‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh?  (Matt. 19:4-5; Mark 10:6-8) 
The pattern of intimacy should always be between a male and female who have committed to each other.  The intimacy between a man and a woman is also a picture of intimacy between Christ and his followers: 
Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything. 
Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. After all, no one ever hated their own body, but they feed and care for their body, just as Christ does the church— for we are members of his body. “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.” This is a profound mystery— but I am talking about Christ and the church. However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband. (Ephesians 5: 22– 33) 
In the following passages, Paul gives advice about marriage and the role that spirituality plays in the intimate marriage relationship between a husband and wife. 
Now for the matters you wrote about: “It is good for a man not to have sexual relations with a woman.” But since sexual immorality is occurring, each man should have sexual relations with his own wife, and each woman with her own husband. The husband should fulfill his marital duty to his wife, and likewise the wife to her husband. The wife does not have authority over her own body but yields it to her husband. In the same way, the husband does not have authority over his own body but yields it to his wife. Do not deprive each other except perhaps by mutual consent and for a time, so that you may devote yourselves to prayer. Then come together again so that Satan will not tempt you because of your lack of self-control. (1 Corinthians 7: 1– 5) 

Those in favor and defend the gay lifestyle will say that the word homosexuality is not in the Bible.  True.  Though we never find the word "homosexuality” in the scriptures, there are passages that refer to homosexual acts.  In the Old Testament God specifically forbids sexual relations between men (and by implication, between women too): 
You are not to lie with a man, as with a woman—that is an abomination (Leviticus 18: 22)
 If a man has sexual relations with another male, as he would with a woman, both have committed a repulsive act. They are certainly to be put to death. (Leviticus 20: 13) 
In the Old Testament God said that sexual acts between men are such an abomination that it called for the death penalty. 

The New Testament specifically reaffirms the position that the same-sex acts, as a whole, are not acceptable: 
For this reason God gave them up to shameful passions. Even their women exchanged natural relations for what is against nature.  Likewise the men abandoned natural relations with women and were burning with passion toward one another—men committing shameful acts with other men and receiving in themselves the due penalty for their error. (Romans 1:26– 27) 
The word "natural" does not mean if it's natural for you to have sex with the same gender, then it's okay.  God defines what is natural.  The biblical word natural in the above passage means "God's created order" (see Genesis 2: 24).   Sexual union between a husband and wife, as God intended and established it to be, is to act 'according to nature'.  On the other hand, to have a sexual relationship with those of the same gender is to act 'against nature'.   

God does something to those who act against nature.  He gives them over to a depraved mind: 
Just as they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, so God gave them over to a depraved mind, so that they do what ought not to be done. They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit and malice. They are gossips, slanderers, God-haters, insolent, arrogant and boastful; they invent ways of doing evil; they disobey their parents; they have no understanding, no fidelity, no love, no mercy. Although they know God’s righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death, they not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practice them. (Romans 1:28– 32) 
The scriptures are clear that there are grave sins that will keep us from receiving the gift of immortality and entering eternal life in the kingdom of God (note: this kingdom will be on the earth [Ps. 37:11; Ps. 37:29; Matt. 5:5] not in heaven as most think loved ones are floating around waiting for us).  The grave sin includes homosexuality within the list: 
You know that wicked people will not inherit the kingdom of God, don't you? Stop deceiving yourselves! Sexually immoral people, idolaters, adulterers, male prostitutes, homosexuals, thieves, greedy people, drunks, slanderers, and robbers will not inherit the kingdom of God. That is what some of you were! But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of our Lord Jesus the Messiah and by the Spirit of our God. (1 Corinthians 6: 9– 11) 
Of course, we know that the Law is good if a person uses it legitimately, that is, if he understands that the Law is not intended for righteous people but for lawbreakers and rebels, for ungodly people and sinners, for those who are unholy and irreverent, for those who kill their fathers, their mothers, or other people, for those involved in sexual immorality, for homosexuals, for kidnappers, for liars, for false witnesses, and for whatever else goes against the healthy teaching that agrees with the glorious gospel of the blessed God, which he entrusted to me.   (1 Timothy 1: 8– 11) 

I know what I have written so far will not be very popular with those who are involved in sexual immorality who are outside the church, nor inside the church for that matter. The word "church" does not refer to a building, but rather to people who profess to be brothers and sisters in Christ.  We have people who claim to be believers in Christ and yet live in sexual immorality and claim, "God loves everyone and that it does not matter if you have sex with the same gender because God is love." That may be their opinion, but it is not the opinion of God the Father.  Again, it all boils down to authority and whose authority we will listen to and obey.  God gives the boundaries of proper sexual activity and that is between a man and a woman in the confines of marriage. 

For believers, we are warned in scriptures: 
I wrote to you in my letter not to associate with sexually immoral persons— not at all meaning the immoral of this world, or the greedy and robbers, or idolaters, since you would then need to go out of the world.  But now I am writing to you not to associate with anyone who bears the name of brother or sister who is sexually immoral or greedy, or is an idolater, reviler, drunkard, or robber. Do not even eat with such a one. For what have I to do with judging those outside? Is it not those who are inside that you are to judge? God will judge those outside. “Drive out the wicked person from among you.” (1st Cor 5:9-11). 
The warning for believers not to associate with those who are sexually immoral within the church, but also with greedy, idolaters partying, drunkenness, or swindling people as well.  We are not to associate or even to share a meal with such a person who claims to be bear "the name of" a brother or sister in Christ who do these things!  But to them that are without, God will judge.  And since Jesus is head of the church, we have the format for judging and disciplining which starts in the house of God. 
For it is time for judgment to begin with the household of God; and if it begins with us first, what will be the outcome for those who do not obey the gospel of God? (1 Peter 4:17) 
Do not be surprised to find certain levels of persecution from relatives, friends, co-workers, and those who call themselves Christians because you do not want to get drunk with them or live and believe in a chaste and monogamous relationship when cheating and other sinful behavior has become the norm. 
For the time that has passed was sufficient for you to do what the non-Christians desire. You lived then in debauchery, evil desires, drunkenness, carousing, drinking bouts, and wanton idolatries. So they are astonished when you do not rush with them into the same flood of wickedness, and they vilify you. (1 Peter 4:3-4) 
To vilify means to speak ill, slander or say anything to defame you because you will not participate in sinful behavior that could cause us to lose our life (gift of immortality),  in the kingdom to come when Jesus returns. Remember what Jesus said: 
Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.  Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you. (Matthew 5:10–12)

Monday, April 9, 2018

Literal Pre-existence of Jesus?

The following is taken from Chapter 6 in my book, “Can We Handle The Truth?”
 Literal Pre-existence?
   Most churches argue for the literal pre-existence of Jesus. Pre-existence is defined as: “existence in a former state or previous to something else.” However, where it concerns Christ, it is regularly taught that Jesus literally pre-existed as the second person of the triune God before he became a man in the flesh. However, there is a vast difference when we have the Hebrew understanding of “pre-existence” vs. the influence of Greek culture of a “literal physical pre-existence.” To believe the literal physical pre-existence of Jesus is to abandon the Jewish concept of pre-existence.
You might be thinking at this point, “Well, what is the Jewish concept of pre-existence?” I will give you a few examples. The first example can be taken from John 17:5 where Jesus says:
Now, Father, glorify me together with Yourself, with the glory which I had with You before the world was.
This is supposed to prove that Jesus literally existed with God before he became a human being here on earth. Unfortunately, the context is ignored. The context shows us where Jesus gives this same glory to future believers who are not yet alive (v. 22):
I do not ask on behalf of these alone, but for those also who believe in me through their word…The glory which You have given me I have given [past tense] to them.
If we were to remain consistent with the interpretation that promotes a literal pre-existence, then we would have to conclude we also pre-existed!
The passage does not establish Jesus pre-existed. Jesus was glorified when he was raised from the dead, and he speaks of it as if he already has it. If we go back to John 7:39 we read:
Now this he said about the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were to receive, for as yet the Spirit had not been given, because Jesus was not yet glorified.
In Luke 24:26 we read:
Did not the Messiah have to suffer these things and then enter his glory?
But here in John 17:5, Jesus speaks of his glorification as though he already has it. In addition, we saw that Jesus has given (past tense) this same glory to his disciple and future disciples who end up believing through their word. Therefore, the glory Jesus had “before the world was,” has to do with God’s purpose that is assured to be fulfilled.
We can have something, in Jewish ways of thinking, “with God,” meaning that it is planned and promised for the future. John 17:5 means that Jesus desired that God give him the glory which he had stored up in God’s plan for the future.
Another example can be taken from 2 Cor. 5:1:
For we know that if our temporary, earthly dwelling is destroyed, we have a building from God, an eternal dwelling in the heavens, not made with hands.
None of us would think that we already have an eternal body in heaven. One may talk themselves into believing that they are literally up in the heavens, but it does not make it so. Like Jesus, we have it in God’s promise. One day we will have a glorified body given to us at the resurrection when Jesus returns even though scripture says we have it now. We have it in the sense that we possess it in God’s promise.
The apostle Paul is known as the “Hebrew of Hebrews” and was not void of the Hebraic concept of pre-existence. He states in Romans 4:17:
As it is written, “I have made you the father of many nations”—in the presence of the God in whom he believed, who gives life to the dead and CALL INTO EXISTENCE THE THINGS THAT DO NOT EXIST.
What Paul says here provides the strongest evidence that supports the traditional Hebraic concept and meaning of pre-existence in his description as God who calls those things that do not exist as though they did. It is not a literal pre-existence but has everything to do with God’s promises that are assured to come to pass.
For those who promote a literal pre-existence, what do they do with the book of Revelation where it says:
And all that dwell upon the earth shall worship him, whose names are not written in the book of life of the Lamb [The Messiah] SLAIN FROM THE FOUNDATION OF THE WORLD. (Rev. 13:8)
For those who uphold a literal pre-existence, this would mean Christ was slain twice! The Messiah did not literally exist until he was born.
Another major proof text to try to prove the literal pre-existence of Jesus is John 1:1. It is also worth noting the blatant bias by capitalizing the W for word:
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
How can we have “the word was WITH God, and then say, “the word WAS God?” The word “with” means “accompanied by.”  If the “word” is supposed to be Jesus, it should read like this:
In the beginning was the Son, and the Son was with God and the Son was God.
“The Son was with God and the Son was God?” This is a classic example of eisegesis. Jesus (Son) is read into the text when it does not mention him at all. The word “word” is “logos” in the Greek.
Lexical definitions for the Greek word logos are:
  • utterance
  • statement
  • question
  • proclamation
  • command
  • revelation
  • decree
  • plan
  • expression of the mind
  • creative thought
  • purpose
  • promise
  • reason
This is not an exhaustive list, but you will notice that nowhere is the “word” (“logos”) ever referred to as a person distinct from the Father.
The word has to do with God’s utterance, his plan, his creative power. It was the logos which was in the beginning with God; it does not say it was Christ.
Everyone is thankful to William Tyndale for giving us our first English translation of the bible based on the Hebrew and Greek text. His New Testament was published in 1526 and revised to its final state in 1534. However, William Tyndale would probably be considered a heretic for translating John 1:3-4 as:
In the beginning was the word and the word was with God and the word was God. All things came into being through IT, and without IT nothing was made that was made.
When I presented this to my friend she got upset and said, “So God is now an it!
Tyndale used “it” rather than “him” and so does the Matthew’s Bible of 1537, the Great Bible of 1539, the Geneva Bible of 1560, and the Bishop’s Bible of 1568, which she probably did not realize. From what I understand, “it” is a translation of the Greek “autou” meaning “he, she, or it.” Since Tyndale did not read Jesus the Messiah into the “logos,” it shows he was not influenced by the Latin Vulgate of Jerome.
God (Yahweh) spoke creation into existence. If you read Genesis chapter 1, note how many times we read, “God said.”
I recently read where someone argued that the “beginning” in John 1:1 refers to the beginning of Christ’s ministry, and to support this interpretation he used the passage in 1 John 1:1. However, the Gospel of John in chapter 1 is drawing from Genesis 1 as we can see by verse 3, which refers to God and not Christ.
Now, in the last part of the verse we read:
and the word was God.
This is where we see that the “word” belongs to the sphere of God; it is not a separate being from God. We do not separate the word from the person. We can see samples of this In Psalm 33:6:
By the word of the LORD were the heavens made; and all the host of them by the breath of his mouth. (Ps. 33:6)
For he spake, and it was done; he commanded, and it stood fast. (Ps. 33: 9)
…so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it. (Isa. 55:11; see also Ps. 107:20; 147:15, 18, 19)
We cannot separate the word from God. The word was fully representative of God, “the word was God.” Author Chuck LaMattina has well stated that John 1:1-3 could accurately be paraphrased like this:
In the beginning God had a creative and redemptive plan. And this plan or purpose revealed his heart and was fully representative of all that God is. All things were made through this plan and without this divine plan nothing was made.[1]
As an architect draws his plan for a building on a roll of paper, it is not until he starts construction that the building becomes a reality. So too, it is not until we get to John 1:14 that this plan became a reality. This plan becomes a living-breathing human being revealed in the promise, by God, of the coming Messiah for God’s people. This was done by the holy spirit overshadowing the virgin Mary that resulted in a unique pregnancy.
So though the Jewish concept believes in the pre-existence of the Messiah, they did notbelieve it as a literal physical pre-existence, but rather it had to do with the plan and mind of God, which always included the coming Messiah.
 “Sent” Does Not Mean Dropping Out Of The Sky
There is another passage used to try to prove the literal pre-existence of Jesus. When trying to uphold the trinity teaching, we will often muddle the meaning of simple words by redefining them. For instance, take the word “sent.” Scripture states that Jesus was “sent into the world” by God (Jn. 10:36). This is supposed to prove he existed as the divine Son of God before he came into the world.
Now, if we are to stay consistent with the trinity teaching and its interpretation, we must also conclude that John the Baptist also pre-existed prior to his birth for we read:
There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. (John 1:6)
Being “sent” or “sent into this world” does not mean a spirit being dropped from outer space into a woman’s womb.
Jesus also said:
For the bread of God is he who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world. (John 6:33)
I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever. And the bread that I will give for the life of the world is my flesh.” (John 6:51)
Did Jesus come down as literal bread from heaven? Also, if Jesus was a literal person on this earth, then he existed in the flesh up there in heaven prior to his birth!  Yes, it is absurd if we must think this way.
Jesus said in John 8:42:
If God were your Father, you would love me, for I came from God and I am here. I came not of my own accord, but he sent me.
Think about it. If Jesus is God, how can he “come from God” and be “sent by God?”
In John 3:13 we read:
No one has ever gone into heaven except the one who came from heaven—the Son of Man.
Many read these passages and think of literal pre-existence. The Biblicalunitarian Websites states accurately:
The Jews would not have taken John’s words to mean that Christ “incarnated.” It was common for them to say that something “came from heaven” if God were its source. For example, James 1:17 says that every good gift is “from above” and “comes down” from God. What James means is clear. God is the Author and source of the good things in our lives. God works behind the scenes to provide what we need. The verse does not mean that the good things in our lives come directly down from heaven. Most Christians experience the Lord blessing them by way of other people or events, but realize that the ultimate source of the blessings was the Lord. We should apply John’s words the same way we understand James’ words—that God is the source of Jesus Christ, which He was. Christ was God’s plan, and then God directly fathered Jesus.
There are also verses that say Jesus was “sent from God,” a phrase that shows God as the ultimate source of what is sent. John the Baptist was a man “sent from God” (John 1:6), and it was he who said that Jesus “comes from above” and “comes from heaven” (John 3:31). When God wanted to tell the people that He would bless them if they gave their tithes, He told them that He would open the windows of “heaven” and pour out a blessing (Mal. 3:10 – KJV). Of course, everyone understood the idiom being used, and no one believed that God would literally pour things out of heaven. They knew that the phrase meant that God was the origin of the blessings they received. Still another example is when Christ was speaking and said, “John’s baptism—where did it come from? Was it from heaven or from men?” (Matt. 21:25). Of course, the way that John’s baptism would have been “from heaven” was if God was the source of the revelation. John did not get the idea on his own, it came “from heaven.” The verse makes the idiom clear: things could be “from heaven,” i.e., from God, or they could be “from men.” The idiom is the same when used of Jesus. Jesus is “from God,” “from heaven” or “from above” in the sense that God is his Father and thus his origin.
The idea of coming from God or being sent by God is also clarified by Jesus’ words in John 17. He said, “As you sent me into the world, I have sent them into the world” (John 17:18). We understand perfectly what Christ meant when he said, “I have sent them into the world.” He meant that he commissioned us, or appointed us. No one thinks that we were in heaven with Christ and incarnated into the flesh. Christ said, “As you have sent me, I have sent them.” So, however we take the phrase that Christ sent us, that is how we should understand the phrase that God sent Christ.[2]
Dear reader, as you search these verses[3] in the footnote, you will begin to understand that “sent,” “sent from God,” or “send” does not prove that Jesus the Messiah literally came down from heaven and is God. Jesus “sends” his disciple in the same manner as the Father sent him into the world (John 20:21).
It is unfortunate that most churches abandon and conceal the true Hebraic concept of pre-existence. This leaves the sincere Christians in ignorance of Jewish understanding of the New Testament, especially in the Gospel of John. The New Testament was written by Jews. Could it be that the suppression of the Jewish ways of understanding the scriptures damage the orthodox dogmas that have developed over the centuries?
We have seen that the term “logos” has many definitions that are more understandable and logical than the biased rendering of the “Word” as it is defined and upheld in mainstream orthodox Christianity to this day.
It is crucial that we understand scripture from within its context of what was written because the authors, who were Jews, wrote within a Hebraic framework. Therefore, it is critical to interpreting the bible with this in mind. The prime example is the Gospel of John where most trinitarian teaching is drawn from that abandons the Hebraic mindset of the New Testament authors. When this happens, the outcome has many disastrous interpretations, the use of nonsensical language, and definitions that end up having to be explained by analogies to try to get the listener to understand a doctrine that is said to be incomprehensible by many who embrace the doctrine of the trinity. The Gospel of John ends up grossly misinterpreted and distorted because of the failure to apply the proper context and its interpretation within the Judaic mindset.
Traditional Christian theologians who choose to conceal, whether ignorantly or deliberately, the Hebraic concept of pre-existence, gives birth to students who end up believing in either a “Triune God” or in some cases, a “Biune God.” In either case, it erroneously teaches that Christ is God Almighty.
How unfortunate to have gone down this path that has led to much dissension, controversy, debate, and even believers of the truth being put to torturous death over the centuries. This perversion of the truth began at least one hundred years after the death and resurrection of Christ when false doctrines began to infiltrate and plagued the church. All because church leaders have abandoned the Hebraic understanding of scriptures and have clung to the influences of Greek philosophy (also known as “Hellenism”).
The idea of pre-existence would have us believe that Jesus was really alive and conscious in heaven and active in the affairs of the Old Testament patriarchs before his birth in Bethlehem, is a deception. Jesus is and has always been authentically a human being like us. He was not an angel who became a man or some spirit being who entered Mary’s womb and became a man, nor an eternal Son of God who gave up his heavenly realm to come to earth and become a man, or the third part of a “godhead” that made a conscious decision to come to earth.
I would also like to add a note that some of the brethren would consider it blasphemy to call Jesus a man, and therefore was just a mere man or only a man?  They like to give their spin by asking, "So you think Jesus was just a mere man or only a man?"  Well, let me ask, "Was Jesus anything other than a man?" No. He was a human being just as we are a human being. Certainly, he is a unique human being by the fact that he was directly begotten by the Father and not through the normal process of procreating. He is just as human as Adam was human. The scriptures never fail to emphasize how much Jesus is like us in every respect to his being. If Jesus is something else, then he cannot rightly be called a man. Jesus himself said he was a man and referred to himself as the son of man. In 1Tim. 2:5, Jesus is called a man. Everything about him was human. The only reason to mock the brethren who believe Jesus was a human being like the rest of us is that they hold to the belief that God became a man and therefore had two natures that made him fully man and fully God. That is why they have the problem of thinking of Jesus as a man, a human being like the rest of us. Until they can prove from scripture that teaches Jesus was ontologically different from his brethren, then they might have my ear.
[1] APPENDIX 1-John 1:1-3 by Chuck LaMattina
[2] Buzzard, pp. 154-157; Norton, pp. 246-248 as cited on
[3] Matthew 10:40;  Mark 9:37; Luke 4:18; Luke 9:48; Luke 10:16; John 1:6; 4:34; 5:24; 5:30 ; 5:36; 5:37; 6:38; 6:39; 7:16; 7:28; 7:29; 7:33; 8:16; 8:18; 8:26; :29; 8:42; 9:4; 11:42; 12:44-45; 12:49; 13:20; 14:24; 15:21; 16:5; 17:18; 17:21; 17:23; 17:25; 20:21

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

But For the Grace of God Go I

Is this saying another way to blame God? One day I was reading the newspaper about a tragic accident that happened on I-95 where a six-year-old child was killed. The driver was the father who had a car load of children on their way to a church function. All came out fine except for the death of the father's child. One of the children said to another, "God was with us," which those around were in agreement and with much thankfulness. But I can't help but think, was God not there for the six-year-old who was killed? And what about the grieving family?
Grace go IHow many times have we heard, "There but for the grace of God go I?" Often we hear that phrase when it has to do with escaping some horrible accident, escaping death, various addictions, or some type of disaster. We may hear something similar, "By God's grace" He helped me find a job, find a spouse, pay my bills, that my house didn't get flooded during the storm, etc., etc..
I used to have a co-worker who used that phrase quite often. I couldn't help but cringe every time she said it. Finally one day I asked her, "What about those who were not as fortunate to experience all of this supposed grace? What about those who end up with flooded homes, no job, or loss of a child in some horrible accident, etc. etc.? " I could see I caught her off guard and she stumbled for an answer.
I have never noticed anyone using the phrase directly at the person experiencing the horrible tragedies in their life.  Could using the phrase be an unintentional smug remark when others are faced with disaster, disgrace, or other misfortunes, as a result of their choices or no fault of their own? Does it not imply that the person making the remark could have been in the same position but was fortunate enough to escape such disasters because God favored them more than the other? Is such an expression Biblical or implied? I have yet to find it.
I have a friend from Germany who needed help with the grammar of this expression. He could guess from the context but didn't get the exact meaning. He said the sentence would not work in his native tongue.  My reply to him is that one could explain it as a person who experiences bad things in life, but to the other person, it could have happened to them, but it didn't because God was watching over the "favored one." For example, one year my neighbors around the corner from us were flooded out of their homes from a week long rainfall. I could easily have said, "There but for the grace of God go I." It's another way of saying, "Too bad God wasn't watching over and protecting you, but God protected me instead from such disaster.
I think it is such a terrible saying for those who face a string of personal catastrophes and to think we come out unscathed because God favored us over them. It is one of the dangers of attributing an event to God's direct involvement when it could have been natural causes.
Another danger of this kind of thinking is concluding that disastrous events did not happen to you because of your good relationship with God, or by those who think they have a relationship with God. There is one thing I do know. Jesus said,
“That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust." Matthew 5:45.
It is not a matter of who is getting blessed and who isn't. Or who is enjoying life and who is not. As someone has aptly said,
"God is not rewarding the unjust with his rain, nor is he trying to frustrate the just by raining on the unjust. It is simply a testimony to God’s impartiality."

Saturday, July 9, 2016

The Hope of the Saints is Not Going to Heaven

The HOPE of the righteous is RESURRECTION FROM THE DEAD. It is NOT the hope of “going to heaven,” for nowhere in scripture does it say heaven is our destination when we die no matter how this unbiblical teaching is reinforced in hymns, at funerals, in literature, in the pulpits, and Hollywood movies.

God is going to renew this earth and promised that the righteous are going to "inherit the earth." Jesus repeated this promise: 
"Blessed are the meek, for they are going to inherit the earth" (Matthew 5:5).
This renewed earth is the reward and inheritance of all the saints.
"For evildoers will be cut off, but as for those who wait for the LORD, they will inherit the earth. Yet a little while and the wicked man will be no more; and you will look carefully for his place and he will not be there. But the humble will inherit the earth and will delight themselves in abundant prosperity...The LORD knows the days of the blameless, and their inheritance will be forever... For those blessed by Him will inherit the earth, but those cursed by Him will be cut off...The righteous will inherit the land and dwell in it forever...Wait for the LORD and keep His way, and He will exalt you to inherit the land; when the wicked are cut off, you will see it" (Psalm 37:9-34).
Question:  Just curious....what about when Jesus said, "This day, you shalt be with me in Paradise?"  And, "In my Father's house there are many mansions."
Good question.  There is so much to cover, but I will try to give it to you in a nut shell. 

One of the scriptures you are talking about is John 14:1-3

Concerning preparing a place, it says, 

“Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me. In My Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to myself; that where I am, there you may be also” (John 14:1–3).
Just to make some points.
  1.  Heaven is never referred to as "my Father's house." (Allusion to the temple)
  2. Jesus is not talking about taking them to heaven when they die. If this were so, we would have Jesus “coming back” many times after each person dies and individual resurrections.
  3. We know that Jesus is not literally building buildings or mansions (translated “dwelling places”) There is no construction work going on in heaven.  
But Jesus does promise to prepare a place for us. A question to ask is, Where is this place? It will be here on earth when he returns, thus fulfilling a prophecy given by the angels in Acts 1:11. It is also in harmony with Jesus in 1 Thess. 4:13-17 where we will be united with Christ at the “second coming.” The coming of Christ fulfills a multitude of prophecies of the “Kingdom of God” in the Old and New Testaments. 

All the saints will have important position of authority in the coming Kingdom, the Millennium, which will be initiated by Jesus’ Coming (Rev.19:11-20:6; Isa. 9:6-9; Ps. 2; Acts 3:21). The saints will judge the world and angels (1 Cor. 6:2-3). Jesus restores life to conditions seen in the Garden of Eden (Rev. 20:1-6; Is. 2:1-4; 9:6-9; 11:1-16; 51:1-8; 60-62; 65:17-25; Ps. 2:6-12; 110:1-7; Mt. 5:5; 6:10; 17:11; 19:28; Acts 1:6; 3:21).

As far as the thief on the cross, this is really no problem. The thief on the cross said to Jesus, 

“Lord, remember me when you come into your kingdom” (Luke 23:42). 
Again, there is nothing in there that says anything about going to heaven. It's about a “Kingdom.” "...come into your kingdom."

When Christ died, he didn't go to heaven, but was in the grave and it was on the third day that God raised (resurrected) him from the dead. Christ was raised to a life of immortality, which is promised to all those who believe the gospel about the Kingdom that Christ preached. 

Jesus responded to the thief,

“Assuredly, I say to you, today you will be with Me in Paradise” (Luke 23:43).
We have a system of punctuation in the English that was not used in the Greek language. There is a big difference when a comma is moved or not in the correct place. The translators give us the impression that Jesus went to heaven the day he died, as well as the thief. To get a correct reading, and which “harmonizes” with other passages of scripture, it should read, 
“Assuredly, I say to you today, you will be with me in Paradise.”
Now, if paradise is in heaven, neither the thief or Jesus went to heaven that day. Christ was three days in the grave and after his resurrection Christ said to Mary Magdalene, “I have not yet ascended to My Father.” So I can say with confidence that the comma is in the wrong place. That simple comma where the translators has placed it makes other passages of scripture contradict. 

Paul received a vision of paradise (2 Cor.12:3-4), the garden of Eden. Paradise will be the restored garden of Eden, which contains the tree of life: 
“To him who overcomes, I will give to eat of the tree of life which is in the midst of the paradise garden of God” (Rev. 2:7; 22:2). 
God never promised eternity in heaven as a reward for the saved, but a promise to “enter the Kingdom.” Jesus preached about the Kingdom of God, the Kingdom of his Father. When Jesus comes again he will reign on earth and we, as coheirs, will reign with him (compare for example - Romans 8:17; 2. Tim. 2:12; Hebrews 1:1-2; 2:5-11; Rev. 5:10; Revelation 21:7). 

So ultimately, we inherit the entire universe, “inherit the earth.”