Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Facebook: Metaphysical Café Forum

A close friend of mine, and fellow NBBI graduate, Jerry, has been debating New Agers on a forum on Facebook called The Metaphysical Cafe. Some of my friend's responses were aided by myself. The nonsense that these people respond to him with tempts me to re-open my Facebook account and join this forum just so I can correct their falsified and erroneous information and let these people know how foolish the nonsense they are repeating really is. However, I have no desire to join Facebook ever again. I will merely take some of the statements made by Larry, the owner of this forum, and respond to them. Larry's comments will be in green, representative of the poison that they are.
Jesus nullified the Old Testament. The books of Moses, the Pentateuch, are almost verbatim from the Torah, which is a copy of much older texts, mostly Assyrian and Zoroastrian. If you insist on believing all that's written in the Old Testament, it is incumbent on you to read the material it's based on. May I suggest the story of Gilgamesh, on which the story of the biblical flood is based. The Bhagabad Gita will also show you where Jesus' supposed ministry came from. This stuff was already thousands of years old in Roman times.
No, Larry, Jesus did not nullified the Old Testament; He fulfilled it: "Do not think that I came to abolish the Law or the Prophets [the entire Old Testament]; I did not come to abolish, but to fulfill" (Matt. 5:17). The Pentateuch is verbatim from the Torah, Larry, because they are the exact same thing! "Torah" is the Hebrew title for the five books of Moses, while scholars refer to these books as the "Pentateuch," which means "five books." The Torah is not a copy of any older texts. The Torah was written in Hebrew—not Assyrian. Zoroastrianism, by the way, is not a language or a nationality—it is a religion, named after its founder, Zoroaster (a Greek corruption of the old Iranian word Zarathushtra). The Torah is in no way based off this religion. Zoroastrianism emerged some 600 years before the birth of Christ Jesus and received its influence from Judaism (why its concepts of heaven and hell are so alike). Modern-day Zoroastrianism is far removed from what its founder initially held to, and these people have since venerated him to a position of worship.

The Bhagavad Gita was added late to the Mahabharata, sometime in the first century A.D. The rest of the Mahabharata was composed over an 800-year period beginning about 400 years B.C. Despite this fact, the Bhagavad Gita is the best known and most read of all Indian works in the entire world. The fact this story was added later to the Mahabharata is self-evident that Jesus' ministry clearly did not come from this work. It is incumbent upon you, Larry, to get your facts straight and to stop relying on hearsay, especially since the Bible is not based upon any other material.
Yahweh=Allah=God! All three are 'the people of the book', specifically the Pentateuch! common to all three faiths. Any differences are those of dogma not faith and have been behind the worst atrocities in human history. I trust no man who has to look outside himself to find God.
Yahweh equals God. Yahweh does not equal Allah and Allah does not equal God. The term "the people of the book" comes from the Qu'ran, Larry, and refers directly to Christians. The book in question is the Bible. The people of the book are Christians. The Qu'ran, on several occasions, directs its readers to ask the people of the book, which they would be wise to do more often rather than blindly following their false prophet and demon God. Concerning "dogma": "Although in many contexts 'dogma' and 'doctrine' are used interchangeably, in technical theological contexts 'dogma' has a narrower meaning: a doctrine which has been given official status by a religious body. Especially in the Catholic Church dogmas are required beliefs whereas many other less firmly established beliefs are only doctrines. Nonspecialists writing about religion often ignore the distinction, and call a doctrine which has not received such official status a 'dogma.' Since only some doctrines are dogmas but all dogmas are doctrines and since 'dogma' often has negative connotations, it’s safer in non-technical religious contexts to stick with 'doctrine.'" (Common Errors in English Usage: Dogma)

Clearly you have no idea what the Pentateuch is, Larry. You keep referencing it in your comments yet none of your comments reveal an ounce of knowledge in understanding what it is. The Pentateuch (or Torah) is merely a portion of the entire Old Testament. When the New Testament refers to "Moses and the Prophets", "Moses" is referring to the Torah/Pentateuch while "Prophets" is referring to the rest of the Old Testament. The God of the Pentateuch has nothing in common with the gods of any other religion, especially the Qu'ran.

The Qu'ran says in surahs 2:225, 16:106, and 66:2 that lying is acceptable. The Qu'ran also states that Allah is the greatest of deceivers. However, the 9th Commandment says "Thou shall not bear false itness" (Ex. 20:16). In other words, Do not lie! Scripture tells us that "God cannot lie" (Tit. 1:2) and that "God is not a man that He should lie" (Num. 23:19). God cannot lie because it contradicts and is contrary to His character and being, which is truth, righteousness, and holiness. Lying goes against all three of these. Scripture also tells us that "Lying lips are an abomination to God" (Prov. 12:22) and "All liars will have their part in the Lake of Fire" (Rev. 21:8). Further, Jesus said that Satan is the Father of Lies. So if Allah is the greatest of deceivers, then Allah is clearly Satan. Allah has deceived Muslims into worshiping a false prophet.

You seem to think that Allah and Yahweh are the same, Larry, but here is even more stark evidence that they are not: My God tells me to "Love your enemies and do good to them." (Luke 6:27; cf Matt. 5:44; Luke 6:35) The Muslims' god tells them to murder everybody—Jews, Christians, and pagans: smite the unbeliever (surah 47:4); fight the people of the book—Christians (surah 9:29); fight and slay pagans (surah 9:5); don't be friends with Jews and Christians (surah 5:51); kill any man who leaves Islam (surah 4:89—so much for freedom of religion: "If anyone desires a religion other than Islam, never will it be accepted of him!" [surah 3:85]). Those are just a handful of the many verses that command them to do such things—and that is not even looking at the Haddith!
This page is for those with an open mind and not those blinded by dogma. Stating that there is only one truth or only one way is narrow-minded at best and extremely dangerous at worse. It is this very thinking and practice which has alienated us from our own power. Accepting any intermediary to God; be they priest, imam, rabbi, or other title merely hands your personal power to someone else. Reclaim your power!
Is not that the pot calling the kettle black, Larry? You yourself are close-minded in following a particular dogma. You contradict what you say you believe and reveal yourself to be a hypocrite. You claim to be open-minded but you are clearly close-minded to anything I, as a Christian, have to say. I am open-minded enough in hearing what others have to say, but not so open-minded that my brains fall out. Yes, I am narrow-minded when it comes to the truth because Jesus said, "Enter by the narrow gate; for the gate is wide, and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and many are those enter by it. For the gate is small, and the way is narrow that leads to life, and few are those who find it" (Matt. 7:13). Jesus also said, "I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life; no one comes to the Father, but through Me" (John 14:6) because "there is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men, by which we must be saved" (Acts 4:12). Do not think that you yourself are not narrow-minded, Larry, because you clearly are.
I mentioned the story of the flood before, copied nearly verbatim from the myth of Gilgamesh, in ancient Assyrian or Acadian myth. Then there is the Egyptian story of Isus and Horus. Isus being a virgin impregnated by the sun god Ra begetting Horus; who, as a man, walked on water, cured the sick and lame, and performed miracles... Sound familiar? Every part of the Old Testament is lifted from earlier sources, so I ask you, which is myth?
Larry, your information is dead wrong and full of errors. After reviewing much of the information that you referred me to, I have noticed that you are getting your information not from legitimate sources but directly from the movie Zeitgeist. Are you aware that everything contained in Zeitgeist has been disproven and revealed to be erroneous and falsified? Apparently not, since you are quoting it without having done a shred of research for yourself. That is just plain lazy! You have heard the old saying about the word "ass-u-me," right? Well, you have definitely made an ass of yourself.

First of all, the biblical flood was not based on the Gilgamesh account. In fact, the reality is that the Gilgamesh account is based off the biblical account. You see, Gilgamesh is the Babylonian name for Nimrod and Nuh-napishtim (Atrahasis) is the Babylonian name for Noah. In the Gilgamesh account, Nuh-napishtim tells Gilgamesh all about the flood. Since Nimrod is Noah's great grandson, it makes sense that he would be telling him about it since he lived through it. Therefore, logic dictates that the obvious original account is that of the Bible.

Second of all, Isis was not a virgin nor was Ra the father of Horus nor did Horus walk on water. Osiris married his sister Isis and they had a son, Horus. The "sources" used for the Zeitgeist movie are outdated, unreliable, non-academic, non-scholarly, speculative, and/or conspiracy-laden tomes written by folks who are not trained in biblical scholarship, historical Jesus studies, Egyptology (or related fields), and/or rely on other non-scholarly, outdated, pseudo-historical books, and are therefore filled with errors. You can read more about the errors claimed in the Zeitgeist movie about Isis and Horus here. In fact, I would suggest you read the entire page.

Larry, you would do well if you attempted to research this stuff for yourself rather than regurgitating falsified information that is chock full of errors and lies. Your lack of ability to research these things for yourself earns you no respect in my eyes. If you are going to attempt to debate these issues with me, or argue against the truth, the least you could do is man up and look into the information for yourself!
I stand by everything I wrote and none of it came from anything called 'Zeitgeist'. I've never heard of it let alone seen the movie. And don't you dare accuse me of not researching my material, I have done little else! Unlike you, I went into this with an open mind and drew my conclusions from what I found. If you research with your mind already made up, you will find what you need to corroborate misguided assumptions.
If you stand by everything that you wrote, even in the face of the fact that it is all full of errors and falsified information, that just goes to prove that you are not open-minded, nor are you truthful or honest, nor do you have a desire to know the truth. You want nothing to do with the truth! It also proves that you are just as narrow-minded as I am, if not more. If you do your own research, prove it. Cite your sources. Thus far, you have not cited a single source. If you have never seen the movie Zeitgeist, and if you are doing any kind of "research" for yourself, it is clearly not from any reputable sources. Most likely your "research" consists of going to sites who write up their information from having watched the Zeitgeist movie and thereby you regurgitate falsified and erroneous information without even knowing it. If you did the least amount of research for yourself on these matters, Larry, Wikipedia would obviously be one of your primary sources to go to. It just so happens that if you look up Osiris, Isis, Horus, and Ra, that none of the information you posted can be found on any of the pages. Why? Because your information is illegitimate. It is untrue.
I'm afraid I can't agree with you on the veracity of the Bible any more than any other work of mythology, which the Bible essentially is. And whether someone named Jesus Christ ever existed is a matter for debate. The name itself is a clue coming from the Greek Jesu Cristos, translated as the 'Anointed One,' the same as the translation of the Hebrew 'Messiah.' The Holy Land under Roman occupation was rife with prophets, soothsayers, and magi, any or all of whom could fit the descriptions in the Bible. I find it interesting that nowhere in any Roman records is there any mention of anyone by that name even though the Romans were meticulous in their tax records and such. The first mention is from Josephus 200 years after the time.
If you did even the slightest bit of studying for yourself, Larry, you would find that history, archeology, and real science all corroborate the Bible as being true. In fact, the Bible is the only book that hangs its credibility on its ability to write history in advance—without any error. The Bible has been under attack for many, many years and it continues to verify and validify itself over and over again. It used to be believed that the Bible was in error because no such people as the Midians existed. That was until their capital city was dug up and their records found. It was claimed that there was never such a king named "David", until archeology dug up evidence to support the Bible once again. If you want to learn more about how history, archeology, and science prove the Bible, read my blog entries Defending Your Faith.

Whether or not Jesus ever existed is not a matter for debate. In fact, if you ever attempted to debate it, you would lose! Secular history verifies the existence of Jesus and everything the New Testament records. If secular historians wrote about Jesus and the things he was doing, you can be certain that He did exist and that everything the New Testament says about Him is true. You may want to look into the historical secular accounts of Cornelius Tacitus, Suetonius, Pliny the Younger, Thallus, Phlegon, and Mara Bar-Serapion, for evidence of Jesus' existence. Furthermore, once again you reveal the inaccuracy of your information. Josephus was not living 200 years after the time of Jesus. Josephus lived from 37 to 100 A.D. He wrote about the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 A.D. Josephus' mention of Jesus is accurate.

Do you know what probability is, Larry? Probability, also known as "odds", is a branch of mathematics that measures the likelihood that a given event will occur. For example:
  • Being struck by lightning in a year = 7 x 105 or 1 in 700,000
  • Being killed by lightning in a year = 2 x 106 or 1 in 2,000,000
  • Becoming president = 1 x 107 or 1 in 10,000,000
  • A meteorite landing on your house = 1.8 x 1014 or 1 in 180,000,000,000,000
  • You will eventually die = 1 in 1
As you can see, the probability of being struck or killed by lightning, becoming president, or having a meteorite land on your house, progressively increases, given the event; however, someone somewhere will be that 1 in 10x, and that someone could be you. You said that, "The Holy Land under Roman occupation was rife with prophets, soothsayers, and magi, any or all of whom could fit the descriptions in the Bible." What is the probability of one man fulfilling even 8 of the 300 prophecies that pertain to the Messiah in the Bible? Keep in mind that the time span between the prophecies of the Old Testament and the New Testament fulfillments is hundreds, even thousands, of years!

Old Testament Prophecy New Testament Fulfillment Probability
Christ to be born in Bethlehem
(Micah 5:2)
And Herod asked where Christ had been born ... they answered Bethlehem
(Matt 2:4-6)
2.8 x 105 or 1 in 280,000
Forerunner of Christ
(Malachi 3:1)
John the Baptist, the forerunner of Christ
(Mark 1:2-8)
1 x 103 or 1 in 1,000
Christ to enter Jerusalem riding on a donkey
(Zech 9:9)
Christ enters Jerusalem riding on a donkey
(Matt 21:4-11)
1 x 102 or 1 in 100
Christ to be betrayed by a friend
(Psalm 41:9)
Judas betrayed Jesus
(Luke 22:21)
1 x 103 or 1 in 1,000
Christ to be betrayed for 30 pieces of silver
(Zech 11:12)
Judas sold out Jesus for 30 pieces of silver
(Matt 26:15)
1 x 103 or 1 in 1,000
30 pieces of silver casted down and used to buy a potter's field
(Zech 11:13)
30 pieces of silver used to buy a potter's field
(Matt 27:3-10)
1 x 105 or 1 in 100,000
Although innocent, Christ kept silent when on trial
(Isaiah 53:7)
Jesus kept silent when questioned
(Mark 14:60-61)
1 x 103 or 1 in 1,000
Christ crucified
(Psalm 22:16)
Jesus was crucified
(John 19:17, 18)
1 x 104 or 1 in 10,000

In order to answer the question of the probability of one man fulfilling just 8 of the 300 prophecies, we need to multiply all eight probabilities together: (1 times 2.8 x 105 x 103 x 102 x 103 x 103 x 105 x 103 x 104). The result is 2.8 x 1028, or, for simplicity sake, 1 x 1028 or 1 in 10,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000. With Christ fulfilling all eight prophecies, what are the odds that the prophets were just guessing? So, you see, your statement is laughable ignorance.

"Christ" was not a part of Jesus' name, Larry, nor was it His last name. Christ is a title. It comes from the Greek Christos (Χριστος), which means "anointed". Messiah is also a title. It comes from the Hebrew Mashiyach (מית), which also means "anointed". Jesus, however, is Iesous (Ιησους), and is not similar in translation to either term. Ιησους means "Jehovah is salvation", i.e., "is the Saviour". Furthermore, Jesu Cristos (correctly, Jesucristos) is not Greek—it is Spanish!

What I find interesting is how you adamantly claim that you do "little else" but your own study, yet all your research bears out erroneous and falsified information. That tells me matter-of-factly that you do not do your own research, nor do you study these subjects honestly and truthfully. Someone who has genuinely studied these things out would not make the kind of blundered statements that you have repeatedly made and the false accusations that you have blindly assumed. Either your misinformation comes directly from the movie Zeitgeist, or, if you are doing any kind of so-called "research," it comes directly from those who have watched the movie and are merely parroting the regurgitated vomit they have swallowed hook, line, and sinker without thinking for themselves or looking into the so-called evidence and studying it for themselves. So, tell me, Larry, who is the one who has been brain-washed here? Who is the one believing in myths? If you can stomach the truth of the answer, you know it is you.
The Bible is your only source, which is fine if it proves to be 100% accurate.
This statement is entirely false, but even if it was true, why would I need any other source when the one I use has proven itself accurate 100% of the time? Again, the Bible is the only book that hangs its credibility on its ability to write history in advance—without any error. Since history, archeology, and science all verify the veracity of the Bible, what other source could be as reliable? The Bible is the only authority we need!
The fossil record indicates that human ancestry goes back nearly 5 million years and modern humans evolved about 200,000 years ago. Did God create dinosaurs just to put their bones in the rock to confuse us? The best guess is that the universe is 15 billion years old, we know that now because we have the technology to determine it, these time scale were inconceivable to the people of biblical times.
What fossil records are you referring to, Larry. The one the evolutionists have is fictionalized and does not exist. The fossils we do have do not go back 5 million years let alone 200,000 years. Humans never evolved. You have been made a monkey of if you think we evolved from monkeys. There was never such a thing as "cave men" who stumbled upon fire and eventually made the wheel. These are all bogus concepts that have been proven wrong hundreds of times over the past hundred years. Dinosaurs (correct term, dragons) walked the Earth with man (and still do, but in much smaller forms than before, except for those that are extinct). Try picking up Kent Hovind's videos or Dragons or Dinosaurs? and educate yourself on the truth. The "best guess"? Try the worst guess. At least the term "guess" is correct, since all the evidence suggests that it is less than 10,000 years old.
All history is revisionist, having been written after the events described, sometimes years after, and subject to the personal beliefs and whims of the author. And it is always written within the context of the times. For instance, the King James Bible was unlikely to contain anything that King James himself didn't approve. Same can be said for earlier versions, which is why gospels by Thomas and Mary Magdalen didn't make the cut, because they emphasized the human rather than the divine. This didn't serve the interests of the Church, which wanted to maintain control of the flock through fear. No Jerry, gnosticism was the true church, it was co-opted for political reasons in a vain attempt to save the Roman Empire. The God of the Bible as written now is a jealous, vindictive tyrant not the loving, forgiving God of fairy tales. These are human qualities not qualities one would expect from an eternal being.
Most history is revisionist—not all. Many of the historical people you believe in, the stuff you believe about them was written hundreds of years after they lived. You believe in Julius Caesar, yet there is nothing written about him from during his time. Same with Alexander the Great. You believe what you believe about these men after the fact. The Bible, however, was written by eye witnesses, especially everything pertaining to the New Testament. The Bible was not written hundreds of years later by foreigners of the events, like what you read about your favourite historical figures. As for the context of the times, you could not be more wrong. The King James Bible never sacrificed the text of the Bible. Your information is misconstrued once again, Larry. What the King James Bible does not include is the commentary that the Geneva Bible had included, which is not part of the original text. The reason being that King James did not like certain commentary notes and feared for his kingdom. However, the text between these Bibles is the same.

The Gospels of Thomas and Mary Magdalen never made it into the Bible because they were never inspired and were never written by the people they are named after. Try doing your research on this. Have you ever read the Gospel of Thomas? I have. It is contradictory to everything you read in the Bible. I believe it was verse 14 that says if you pray you condemn yourself. And verse 114 where Jesus tells His disciples that He will make Mary into a man so that she can go to heaven. Do either of those sound like they belong in the Bible? Not in the least! Gnosticism was a heresy, Larry. The true church corrected the errors of Gnosticism repeatedly. You would think that about Gnosticism because you hold to a revised version of the heresy—New Age Mysticism.

The truth is, Larry, we are both narrow-minded. I am narrow-minded for the right reasons; you are narrow-minded for the wrong ones. And despite all the true facts and the correct information, you will "stand by everything [you] wrote" regardless of what the truth is. You see, the truth is that you have no desire to know what the truth is. You would rather believe falsified and erroneous information and lies instead of succumb to the truth. You claim to be open-minded but everything you have said and done reveals that you are anything but. You see, that is what logic is. It is noticing the illogical. Your own words are illogical. Everything you claim to stand for is what you actually stand against; and everything you accuse Christians of is actually what you yourself are guilty of. Ironic, is it?

Monday, July 30, 2012

Clichés

We have all been in church long enough to have heard that old cliché one hundred times over that God knows everything we think, hears everything we say, and sees everything we do because He is always with us. Yet, if we are honest with ourselves, most of us do not truly believe that. We may believe it with our heads but not with our hearts. Otherwise, it would impact the way we live.
For as a man thinks in his heart, so is he.Proverbs 23:7
You act the way you act because you believe the way you believe. You behave the way you behave because you think the way you think. How you believe determines what you do. Correct belief and correct thinking will result in correct action.

We can hear a truth one hundred times over and yet never have a full or proper understanding of that truth. The reason is because a little “tick” has burrowed its way inside our skulls and every time we hear one of those old truths or clichés, the tick begins to gnaw on our brain. The tick seems to distract us from ever grasping the depth of the truth that we are hearing.

The lyrics to this song by Nichole Nordeman illustrate pretty nicely what it means for God to be at our sides in every moment of life:
Pencil marks on the wall, I wasn’t always this tall
You scattered the monsters from beneath my bed
You watched my team win
You watched my team lose
You watched when my bicycle went down again
And when I was weak, unable to speak
Still I could call You by name
And I said, Elbow Healer, Superhero
Come if You can
You said, I Am

Only sixteen, life is so mean
What kind of curfew is at 10pm?
You saw my mistakes
And watched my heart break
Heard when I swore I’d never love again
And when I was weak, unable to speak
Still I could call You by name
And I said, Heartache Healer, Secret Keeper
Be my best friend
And you said, I Am

You saw me wear white by pale candlelight
I said forever to what lies ahead
Two kids and a dream, with kids that can scream
Too much it might seem when it is 2am
And when I am weak, unable to speak
Still I can call You by name
Shepherd, Savior, Pasture Maker
Hold onto my hand
You say, I Am

The winds of change and circumstance blow in and all around us
So we find a foothold that’s familiar
And bless the moments that we feel You nearer

When life had begun, I was woven and spun
You let the angels dance around the throne
And who can say when, but they’ll dance again
When I am free and finally headed home
I will be weak, unable to speak
Still I will call You by name
Creator, Maker, Life Sustainer
Comforter, Healer, my Redeemer
Lord and King, Beginning and the End

I Am
Yes, I Am
I have not lived a life like some have lived, with drugs and violence and what not, but the hard times that I have faced in my life, God has been there beside me through every single one of them. When I was filled with immense pain, I am sure He was not indifferent to the circumstance, thinking to Himself, “Meh.” Zephaniah 3:17, paraphrased, says that when a thought of us enters God’s mind, He sings over us with joy; and there is not a single moment that we are not in His thoughts.

When we are in pain, do we not think that God feels that pain? That He shares that pain? Because we are ignorant* human beings, we often question God. “If He feels my pain, why doesn’t He do something about it?” We have this false notion that everything here is about us. We think that we are the center of the universe. We are not. We are nothing. We are but dust. We are a vapour that lasts but a moment. Everything that happens happens for God’s glory, whether we understand and accept that or not. While we may not see the big picture now, everything that happens to us God is working together for our good. We will see it all in the end.

Another old cliché is that the blood of Jesus Christ covers our sins. We cannot truly believe it until it grasps our hearts. Read the following story shared by Joshua Harris in his book I Kissed Dating Goodbye. This will paint a pretty good picture of what it means to be covered by the blood of Jesus Christ:
In that place between wakefulness and dreams, I found myself in the room. There were no distinguishing features save for the one wall covered with small index-card files. They were like the ones in libraries that list titles by author or subject in alphabetical order. But these files, which stretched from floor to ceiling and seemingly endless in either direction, had very different headings. As I drew near the wall of files, the first to catch my attention was one that read “Girls I Have Liked.” I opened it and began flipping through the cards. I quickly shut it, shocked to realize that I recognized the names written on each one.

And then without being told, I knew exactly where I was. This lifeless room with its small files was a catalogue system for my life. Here were written the actions of my every moment, big and small, in a detail my memory couldn’t match.

A sense of wonder and curiosity, coupled with horror, stirred within me as I began randomly opening files and exploring their contents. Some brought joy and sweet memories; others a sense of shame and regret so intense that I would look over my shoulder to see if anyone was watching. A file named “Friends” was next to one marked “Friends I Have Betrayed.”

The titles ranged from the mundane to the outright weird. “Books I Have Read,” “Lies I Have Told,” “Comfort I Have Given,” “Jokes I Have Laughed At.” Some were almost hilarious in their exactness: “Things I’ve Yelled At My Brothers.” Others I couldn’t laugh at: “Things I Have Done In Anger,” “Things I Have Muttered Under My Breath At My Parents.” I never ceased to be surprised by the contents. Often there were many more cards than I expected. Sometimes there were fewer than I hoped.

I was overwhelmed by the sheer volume of my life I had lived. Could it be possible that I had the time in my twenty years to write each of these thousands, possibly millions, of cards? But each confirmed this truth. Each was written in my handwriting. Each signed with my signature.

When I pulled out the file marked “Songs I Have Listened To,” I realized the files grew to contain their contents. The cards were packed tightly, and yet after two or three yards, I hadn’t found the end of the file. I shut it, shamed, not so much by the quality of music, but more by the vast amount of time I knew that file represented.

When I came to a file marked “Lustful Thoughts,” I felt a chill run through my body. I pulled the file out only and inch, not willing to test its size, and drew out a card. I shuddered at its detailed contents. I felt sick to think that such a moment had been recorded.

Suddenly I felt an almost animal rage. One thought dominated my mind: “No one must ever see these cards! No one must ever see this room! I have to destroy them!” In an insane frenzy I yanked the file out. Its size didn’t matter now. I had to empty it and burn the cards. But as I took the file at one end and began pounding it on the floor, I could not dislodge a single card. I became desperate and pulled out a card, only to find it as strong as steel when I tried to tear it.

Defeated and utterly helpless, I returned the file to its slot. Leaning my forehead against the wall, I let out a long, self-pitying sigh. And then I saw it. The title bore “People I Have Shared The Gospel With.” The handle was brighter than those around it, newer, almost unused. I pulled on its handle and a small box not more than three inches long fell into my hands. I could count the cards it contained on one hand.

And then the tears came. I began to weep. Sobs so deep that the hurt started in my stomach and shook through me. I fell on my knees and cried. I cried out of shame, from the overwhelming shame of it all. The rows of file shelves swirled in my tear-filled eyes. No one must ever, ever know of this room. I must lock it up and hide the key. But then as I pushed away the tears, I saw Him. No, please not Him. Not here. Oh, anyone but Jesus.

I watched helplessly as He began to open the files and read the cards. I couldn’t bear to watch His response. And in the moments I could bring myself to look at His face, I saw a sorrow deeper than my own. He seemed to intuitively go to the worst boxes. Why did He have to read every one?

Finally He turned and looked at me from across the room. He looked at me with pity in His eyes. But this was a pity that didn’t anger me. I dropped my head, covered my face with my hands and began to cry again. He walked over and put His arm around me. He could have said so many things. But He didn’t say a word. He just cried with me.

Then He got up and walked back to the wall of files. Starting at one end of the room, He took out a file and, one by one, began to sign His name over mine on each card.

“No!” I shouted, rushing to Him. All I could find to say was “No, no,” as I pulled the card from Him. His name shouldn’t be on these cards. But there it was, written in red so rich, so dark, so alive. The name of Jesus covered mine. It was written with His blood.

He gently took the card back. He smiled a sad smile and continued to sign the cards. I don’t think I’ll ever understand how He did it so quickly, but the next instant it seemed I heard Him close the last file and walk back to my side. He placed His hand on my shoulder and said, “It is finished.” I stood up, and He led me out of the room. There was no lock on its door. There were still cards to be written.
The last cliché I’d like to discuss is one that most people do not want to face. The one most are not ready for and do not have an answer for, even though they claim the name of Christ. Out of the several thousand ways it could be done, how would you like to die? Most of us have never pondered that thought. When persecution comes knocking on your door because of your faith, what could your death possibly look like?
  • Would you be staked to a post, tarred, and lit on fire as a torch?
  • Would you be sewn inside the carcass of a dead animal and thrown to hungry lions?
  • Would you be held at gun point and told to spit on the Bible and denounce Christ?
  • Would you be tied up and tortured with individual fingers being cut off one by one until you denounced Christ?
  • Would you be thrown into prison and knifed by someone who does not like the fact you told them they are going to hell?
  • Would you be bludgeoned to the head as you were getting into your car by someone who did not like the fact you shared the gospel with them?
  • Would you be dunked in a vat of feces and urine until you drowned?
How would you like to die?

Here is the bigger question—the multi-million-dollar question. Are you ready to die? Have you truly found that Treasure that is worth far more than any other treasure on Earth? What does that Treasure mean to you?
For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for My sake shall find it.Matthew 16:25
While no one desires to die in any of the aforementioned manners, and while there would definitely be fear if such were the case, nevertheless it begs the question, “Are you ready?” If you belong to Christ, your life is forfeit for His name and glory. Is He truly your joy and hope? Is He truly your treasure?

If death came knocking on your door tonight through the venue of persecution because of your faith, how would you look it in the eye? If one of the aforementioned deaths was to be your death, how would you fare? Would your eyes gaze toward heaven with expectant hope of the joy that will soon be yours? Would you die this death for the life you will receive? Or would you deny Him to save yourself, thereby losing your life for eternity?

Death is inevitable for all of us. We are part of the great statistic. 10 out of 10 people die. While we would all like to die in a cozy manner, such as in our sleep, such will not always be the case. We can look at church history and see how the apostles, the early church fathers, and many other Christians were martyred for their faith. We can look at any region of the globe today and see how Christians are martyred for their faith. It is coming quickly to North America, and faster than we may expect. Are we ready for what Christ promised would be ours?
If the world hates you, you know that it hated Me before it hated you.John 15:18
They hate us because we bear, or we are supposed to if we belong to Him, His image. They hated Him for Who He was. They will hate us because we look like Him. Their hatred of Him killed His messengers, the prophets and apostles. For the last two thousand years we have seen what their hatred of Him does to us who are being conformed to His likeness. Their hatred will be kindled against us and no fairy tale will save us. Are we ready to face such deaths if that is the Lord’s will for our lives? Is He truly our hope and our treasure? That is what Paul meant when he said, “For to me to live is Christ and to die is gain.” It is beneficial if we remain in this world, but it is far better when we are at home with the Lord.

Every year you hear the same old story around Easter time. What does that mean for you? Do you believe it merely with your head, which will turn out to be your eternal death? or do you believe it with your heart, which is the reason for the hope that lies within you? If one of the aforementioned deaths has your name on it, you look toward heaven with your eyes fixed on Christ Jesus because He died for, and because of, your sins, being buried and having risen three days later. If He is risen, then we have hope because He will raise us also to be with Him.

We will live mundane lives until these truths have been grasped in our hearts and we truly believe them. Then will the joy of our salvation and our hope come alive within us. We will understand and appreciate what has been done for us, and no matter what happens here on Earth, we will be filled with that great joy and hope that comes from faith in Christ and living life by that faith.

Faith is the key, but that faith needs be placed correctly. Misplaced faith still leads to death. Muslims put faith in their works, Mohammed the false prophet, and Allah the demon god, yet they will die in their sins. Mormons put faith in their works and in Joseph Smith, claiming his blood was shed so that they could become gods, yet they will die in their sins. Jehovah’s Witnesses put faith in their works and in Charles Russell and the Watch Tower Society, yet they will die in their sins. Catholics put faith in the pope, in Mary, in the church, and in their works, yet they will die in their sins. Many Protestants put faith in having prayed a prayer, signed a card or having went to church all their life, yet they will die in their sins. Jesus and the apostles had one answer to the question, “How can I be saved?” The answer is to, “Repent and believe.” Repent toward God (make a U-turn in life; stop committing your sins and turn to God) and believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and His work on the cross (trust in Him the way you would trust a parachute to save your life). Before you can do that accurately, you need to see just how vile and wretched a sinner you truly are and how much you need a Saviour. So that you can see yourself in the mirror of God’s Word, read my article titled “The Gospel.


*Ignorance does not in any way, shape, or form denote or connote stupidity. The literalness of a word is its denotation; the broader associations we have with a word are its connotations. “A person can be ignorant (not knowing some fact or idea) without being stupid (incapable of learning because of a basic mental deficiency). And those who say, ‘That’s an ignorant idea’ when they mean ‘stupid idea’ are expressing their own ignorance.” (Paul Brians, Common Errors in English Usage, posted on <http://public.wsu.edu/~brians/errors/ignorant.html>).

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Lessons Husbands and Wives Can Learn

or Lessons Husbands and Wives Can Learn From Ephesians 4:25-5:33
  1. Speak the truth in love.
  2. Be angry, but do not sin in your anger. Do not let the sun go down on your anger. Deal with the problem. If you don’t, you give opportunity to Satan.
  3. Let no corrupt talk come from your mouths, but only such as is good for building each other up—as fits the occasion—that it may give grace to those who hear.
  4. Do not grieve the Holy Spirit!
  5. Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamour and slander (gossip) be put away from you, along with malice.
  6. Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving one another.
  7. Be imitators of God.
  8. Walk in love.
  9. But sexual immorality and all impurity or covetousness must not even be named among you, as is proper among saints. Let there be no filthiness nor foolish talk nor crude joking, which are out of place, but instead let there be thanksgiving.
  10. Do not associate with those who walk in darkness.
  11. Walk as children of light.
  12. Discern what is pleasing to the Lord.
  13. Take no part in unfruitful works of darkness, but expose them instead.
  14. Watch how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of your time because the days are evil.
  15. Understand what the will of the Lord is.
  16. Give thanks in everything.
  17. Submit to each other in reverence for Christ.
  18. Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Saviour. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands. Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, so that he might present the church to himself in splendour, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish. In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church, because we are members of his body. ‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.’ This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church. However, let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Canonicity of the Bible

Largely taken from Josh McDowell's The New Evidence That Demands a Verdict.

Who decided what books to include in the Bible and what books to exclude? This is a matter of canonicity. The word canon comes from the root word reed (English word cane, Hebrew form geneh, and Greek form kanon). The reed was used as a measuring rod, and came to mean "standard." It is important to note that the church did not create the canon; it did not determine which books would be called Scripture, the inspired Word of God. Instead, the church recognized, or discovered, which books had been inspired from their inception. Stated another way, "a book is not the Word of God because it is accepted by the people of God. Rather, it was accepted by the people of God because it is the Word of God. That is, God gives the book its divine authority, not the people of God. They merely recognize the divine authority which God gives to it."

TESTS FOR INCLUSION IN THE CANON
  1. Was the book written by a prophet or God? "If it was written by a spokesman for God, then it was the Word of God."
  2. Was the writer confirmed by acts of God? Frequently miracles separated the true prophets from the false ones. "Moses was given miraculous powers to prove his call of God (Ex. 4:1-9). Elijah triumphed over the false prophets of Baal by a supernatural act (1 Kings 18). Jesus was 'attested to ... by God with miracles and wonders and signs which God performed through Him' (Acts 2:22). ... [A] miracle is an act of God to confirm the Word of God given through a prophet of God to the people of God. It is a sign to substantiate his sermon; the miracle to confirm his message."
  3. Did the message tell the truth about God? "God cannot contradict Himself (2 Cor. 1:17-18), nor can He utter what is false (Heb. 6:18). Hence, no book with false claims can be the Word of God." For reasons such as these, the church fathers maintained the policy, "if in doubt, throw it out." This enhanced the "validity of their discernment of the canonical books."
  4. Does it come with the power of God? "The Fathers believed the Word of God is 'living and active' (Heb. 4:12), and consequently ought to have a transforming force for edification (2 Tim. 3:17) and evangelization (1 Pet. 1:23). If the message of a book did not effect its stated goal, if it did not have the power to change a life, then God was apparently not behind its message." The presence of God's transforming power was a strong indication that a given book had His stamp of approval.
  5. Was it accepted by the people of God? "Paul said of the Thessalonians, 'We also constantly thank God that when you received from us the word of God's message, you accepted it not as the word of men, but for what it really is, the word of God' (1 Thess. 2:13). For whatever subsequent debate there may have been about a book's place in the canon, the people in the best position to know its prophetic credentials were those who knew the prophet who wrote it. Hence, despite all later debate about the canonicity of some books, the definitive evidence is that which attests to its original acceptance by the contemporary believers." When a book was received, collected, read, and used by the people of God as the Word of God, it was regarded as canonical. This practice is often seen in the Bible itself. One instance is when the apostle Peter acknowledges Paul's writings as Scripture on par with Old Testament Scripture.
REJECTED BOOKS
There are two types of books that were rejected from the canon. The first type is known as Apocrypha, from the Greek apokruphos (ἀπόκρυφα), meaning "hidden or concealed." Old Testament Apocryphal books were rejected for these reasons:
  1. They abound in historical and geographical inaccuracies and anachronisms.
  2. They teach doctrines that are false and foster practices that are at variance with inspired Scripture.
  3.  They resort to literary types and display an artificiality of subject matter and styling out of keeping with inspired Scripture.
  4. They lack the distinctive elements that give genuine Scripture its divine character, such as prophetic power and poetic and religious feeling.
New Testament Apocryphal books were rejected for these reasons:
  1. None of them enjoyed any more than a temporary or local recognition.
  2. Most of them never did have anything more than a semi-canonical status, being appended to various manuscripts or mentioned in tables of contents.
  3. No major canon or church council included them as inspired books of the New Testament.
  4. The limited acceptance enjoyed by most of these books is attributable to the fact that they attached themselves to references in canonical books (e.g., Laodiceans to Col. 4:16), because of their alleged apostolic authorship (e.g., Acts of Paul). Once these issues were clarified, there remained little doubt that these books were not canonical.
The second type is known as Pseudepigrapha, from the Greek pseudēs (ψευδής), meaning "lying" or "false," and epigraphē (ἐπιγραφή), meaning "name" or "inscription" or "ascription." Thus, when taken together it means "false superscription or title." Pseudepigrapha are falsely attributed works or texts whose claimed authorship is unfounded; whose real author attributed it to a figure of the past.

Gnostic writings are generally not accorded any status, not even a negative one: they are ignored. No wonder. Let us take a look at the Gospel of Thomas and see why it was not included as inspired Scripture. Verse 14 reads: "Jesus said to them, 'If you fast, you will bring sin upon yourselves, and if you pray, you will be condemned, and if you give to charity, you will harm your spirits. ...'" Does that sound like it belongs in the Bible? Not in the least! The Bible is filled with prayer. Jesus often went off alone in order to pray. He instructed His disciples how to pray. Clearly, this shows that the Gospel of Thomas is not the Word of God, neither was it written by the disciple, Thomas. Verse 114 reads: "Simon Peter said to them, 'Make Mary leave us, for females don't deserve life.' Jesus said, 'Look, I will guide her to make her male, so that she too may become a living spirit resembling you males. For every female who makes herself male will enter the kingdom of Heaven.'" Does that sound like it was spoken by Jesus? God forbid! Do women really need to become men in order to go to heaven? Not in the least! Read what the Bible says about women and you will see a drastic contrast. The Gospel of Thomas does not belong in the Bible!

The witness to the Old Testament canon can be seen from Jesus' and the apostles' reference to and quotation thereof. "As the Scripture said" (John 7:38) is all the introduction a text needed to indicate the general understanding that a saying, story, or book was the very Word of God from the prophets of God. Jesus told the disciples "that all things must be fulfilled, which were written in the law of Moses, and the Prophets, and the Psalms concerning Me."

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Are We Born Without Sin?

In the 5th century A.D., a man by the name of Pelagius—a teacher in Rome though British by birth—began a teaching regarding man’s nature. This man taught that people have the ability to fulfill the commands of God by exercising the freedom of human will apart from the grace of God. In other words, a person’s free will is totally capable of choosing God and/or to do good or bad without the aid of Divine intervention. The prevalence of sin is to be accounted for upon the ground of evil example and surroundings. Accordingly, it is possible for men to lead lives of such complete freedom from sin that they may stand in no need of redemption or of regenerating grace. This, of course, is a bold-faced lie in light of the Scriptures!

Pelagius taught that man’s nature is basically good. Thus, he denied original sin, the doctrine that we have inherited a sinful nature from Adam, and any necessary connection between the sin of Adam and the character and actions of his descendants. He said that Adam only hurt himself when he fell, and that all his descendants were unaffected by Adam’s sin. He taught that a person is born with the same purity and moral abilities as Adam had when he was first made by God. That people can choose God by the exercise of their free will and rational thought. God’s grace, then, is merely an aid to help individuals to come to Him. Again, this belief is nothing but a lie and is repudiated by all evangelical churches!

If one takes one’s child and places him/her in a room with a bunch of children who are sharing, one’s child will not learn to share. But take one’s child and place him/her in a room with a bunch of children who are biting, one’s child will learn to bite. This is evidence of our sinful nature. If one isolates one’s child from the rest of the world, one can teach one’s child everything that is good, and yet one’s child will still learn to lie. This, again, is evidence of our sinful nature. Man tends toward evil. Man is not as bad as he could be because the Spirit of God lifts up a standard to protect us. But, in the last days all perverse thoughts of men will utterly come to fruition. Man will be as bad as he can be.

Pelagius failed to understand man’s nature and weakness. We are, by nature, sinners (Eph. 2:3; Psalm 51:5). We all have sinned because sin entered the world through Adam: “Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned” (Romans 5:12). Furthermore, Romans 3:10-12 says, “As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one: There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God. They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no, not one.” Therefore, we are unable to do God’s will (Rom. 6:16; 7:14). We were affected by the fall of Adam, contrary to what Pelagius taught.

The doctrine of Pelagianism has been condemned by numerous councils throughout church history. Here is a small sample of such councils:
  • Councils of Carthage (412, 416 and 418)
  • Council of Ephesus (431)
  • The Council of Orange (529) Council of Trent (1546) Roman Catholic
  • 2nd Helbetic (1561/66) 8-9. (Swiss-German Reformed)
  • Augsburg Confession (1530) Art. 9, 18 (Lutheran)
  • Gallican Confession (1559) Art. 10 (French Reformed)
  • Belgic Confession (1561) Art. 15 (Lowlands, French/Dutch/German Reformed)
  • The Anglican Articles (1571), 9. (English)
  • Canons of Dort (1618-9), 3/4.2 (Dutch/German/French Reformed)
Selfishness is a sign of sin. If one has ever paid any attention to one’s children, one will have seen the signs of their selfishness from the moment of their birth. Whenever a baby cries, he/she is saying, “Feed me! Change me! Hold me! Give me attention!” This is selfishness. This is sin. One’s question to me, then, would probably be, “So if my child is born sinful, does that mean that if he/she died he/she would go to hell?” The answer is simple. No. A child is not accountable (judged and damned) until he/she reaches consciousness, that moment when he/she knows right is right and wrong is wrong. That is why God told the Jews to celebrate the rites of passage—the Bar Mitzphah. It was symbolic of them knowing right from wrong (becoming a man). At that moment (whenever it actually is), they know that disobeying is not wrong because they will get a spanking, but that it is wrong because it is intrinsically wrong. At that moment, they understand sin.

The recognition of the reality of sin, not only in the sense of actual disobedience, but also in the sense of innate sinfulness, is essential. For only thus can be seen the necessity for a special revelation, and only thus are men prepared to accept the gospel of salvation in Christ. To deny that man is born with a sinful nature is to allow such thoughts as “God would not send me to hell, I am a good person” to run rampant. It encourages the false thought that men can earn salvation by their works. The Bible declares that “we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags” (Isa. 64:6). If it were possible for a man to live nothing but a good life, which it is not, his entire life is as a filthy rag before God, and God still accurately calls that man a sinner. Why does one suppose that is?

Likewise, God has stated that “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked” (Jer. 17:9). Jesus repeated these words saying, “For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, [and actions]” (Mark 7:21). The “heart” is not a bodily artery. It is the core essence of each individual.

In Romans 5:19 Paul said, “For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous.” Many people misread this verse and then try to argue with their finite and faulty thinking. They claim that if many were made sinners, then it must stand that many were made righteous. Read the verse again and pay close attention to the English language used. Regarding Adam, it says “were made,” while regarding Christ it says “shall be made.” With Christ, a condition exists that was not required with Adam. That condition is faith (Heb. 11:6— “But without faith it is impossible to please him”)!

For people to use the faulty thinking that if we are sinners because of Adam we are righteous because of Christ, they must take it a step further. They cannot ignore one without the other. They must also believe that since we die because of Adam, we must also live (regardless of belief in Christ) because of Christ. And in so believing, how do they explain man’s death? They cannot. Ergo, their line of thinking and system of belief is false.

In chapter 6 of By Divine Design by Michael Pearl, he attempts to take the most extreme action of man’s sinfulness and tack it on to man’s nature. He claims that if we have a sinful nature, then murderers and rapists, upon receiving freedom from prison, will say, “It’s my nature to be this way” and continue doing it. Sorry, but it does not work this way. Murder or rape is not man’s nature. They are the result of man’s nature, which is sinful. To claim them as man’s nature is to say that all men must commit murder or rape, which is false. All men are capable of murder or rape, but God’s grace keeps many from committing such actions.

To claim sinfulness as man’s nature and to state that all men must commit sin is a true statement. All men do sin. “What then? are we better than they? No, in no wise: for we have before proved both Jews and Gentiles, that they are all under sin” (Rom. 3:9). “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God” (Rom. 3:23). “For God hath concluded them all in unbelief, that he might have mercy upon all” (Rom. 11:32). “But the scripture hath concluded all under sin, that the promise by faith of Jesus Christ might be given to them that believe” (Gal. 3:22). God has had mercy upon all. “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life” (John 3:16).

When Jesus said “They that are whole have no need of the physician, but they that are sick: I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance” (Mark 2:17), he was not claiming that there are men who are utterly righteous, because the Bible declares this false. He was referring to those men who think they are righteous. Because they think they are righteous, Christ has nothing to offer them. It is only the man who realizes that he is sinful from the very core of his being whom Christ can do anything for; because this man knows that he is lost without Christ.

“To claim sinfulness as man’s nature and to state that all men must commit sin is a true statement.” —If this statement is not true, then I challenge anyone to find one man or woman in all of history who defied this statement. If you can find one, then this person was capable of dying for all humanity and God had no need to take on humanity Himself.

Many advocates of this line of teaching have quoted Ezekiel 28:15 as proof text: “Thou wast perfect in thy ways from the day that thou wast created, till iniquity was found in thee.” The use of this verse is taken entirely out of context and such a use is called eisegesis—a reading into the text something that is not there. For the learned Bible student, all he/she has to do is read one verse prior. No man is an anointed cherub. This verse is speaking of Satan prior to his fall. Not man. For man was judged under Adam. Adam is our head. But Christ is the head for those who receive Him.
In the early church, false teaching was to be rejected utterly and completely and not to be encouraged in any manner whatsoever (2 John 7-11). Paul similarly spoke strongly against exposing the people of God to false teaching in Romans 16:17, “Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them.” He wrote to his young disciple Timothy and instructed him to deflect false teaching away from the church, “Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away” (2 Timothy 3:5). True teaching was to be received and teachers of truth were to be encouraged, shown hospitality and welcomed because of their love of truth (3 John 8). When John penned his third epistle, a man named Diotrephes, in pride seeking to have pre-eminence, was controlling the church and not allowing even as prominent and faithful a teacher as John the Apostle access to the pulpit. John wrote his third epistle to encourage Gaius because he was known as a man who welcomed truth into his heart, welcomed men of truth into his home and had a reputation for walking in the truth and working for the truth.1
False teachers are becoming more and more aggressive in their attempts to influence the children of God. Christians need to pray for wisdom and discernment as they study their Bibles. Read Second and Third John for the balanced approach in rejecting the false and receiving the true. False teachers have nothing to teach the believer in Jesus Christ.


1John Hoag, Open Bible Bulletin (Vol. 48, No. 1, January 2007), p.1

Monday, July 23, 2012

Misrepresenting Hebrews

I have recently listened to a few sermons and read a few articles and "commentaries" online dealing with the book of Hebrews that caused a great many red flags to be raised for me. In a number of these, it was suggested that the author of the book of Hebrews was writing his warnings of apostasy to genuine born-again believers. This interpretation/understanding/belief presents a colossal danger. The idea was that the author was warning genuine born-again believers against drifting and neglecting "so great a salvation" (Heb. 2:3). There are several problems with this interpretation/understanding/belief. Let's modernize it in order to apply it to today so that we can better understand it.

Let's say I converted to Christianity from Islam, Hinduism, Communism, or whatever and that I was being severely persecuted because of it. Let's say that due to that persecution I desired to return to my old religion. Let's say I remained faithful to my old religion until the day I died. If the warnings in Hebrews are written to genuine born-again believers warning them about returning to an old system of belief that could never save, what happens if I actually do return to that old system and remain faithful in it until the day I die? Was I or am I a true born-again believer? Am I going to heaven? If I am, then it does not matter what I practice in my religion and faith; I merely have to make a profession of Jesus and I am good to go. If I am not, then it is possible that I can lose my salvation.

Let's say I convert to Christianity and then slowly drift away from the things I was taught and initially received until I no longer hold to any of it and no longer practice any of it. Let's say I continue living this life until the day I die. If the warnings in Hebrews are written to genuine born-again believers warning them about drifting away, what happens if I actually do drift away completely never to return? Was I or am I a true born-again believer? Am I going to heaven? If I am, then it does not matter whether I follow Jesus whole-heartedly, half-heartedly, or not-at-all-heartedly. If I am not, then it is possible that I can lose my salvation.

Imagine that half the hearers to the book of Hebrews listened to the warnings while the other half ignored them and returned to their previous religious system or continued to drift away or whatever else. If they are all genuine born-again believers, how do we reconcile the ugly truth staring us directly in the face? If the second half end up in hell, then they lost their salvation. If the second half end up in heaven, then it does not matter how we live or what we practice religiously as long as we have accepted Jesus. No matter how it is diced, you end up with a real problem on your hands. Clearly, such an interpretation/understanding/belief poses a grave error.

The passage in Hebrews 2:1-4 says, "How shall we escape if we neglect so great a salvation?" Let's stick with the literalness of that question. If we neglect this salvation, we will not escape. That is the point! This is not a hypothetical question. The warnings against apostasy in the book of Hebrews are not hypothetical arguments. Either a believer can or cannot lose his/her salvation. If he/she cannot, then a hypothetical argument based on something that cannot occur is absolutely ridiculous. If they can, then we have a whole other problem to deal with.

In order to understand this issue better, please refer to the series of posts made in March regarding apostasy.

The fact is, the book of Hebrews, and every other New Testament book, is written to presumed believers. Any time Paul refers to them as "brothers," "saints," "believers," etc., he qualifies his statements. This is especially brought forth in the Greek grammar. He is saying, "You are what I have called you (brothers, saints, believers) IF these things are true of you." The same is true with regard to the author of Hebrews, which I personally believe to be Paul. The fact of the matter is, we do not know the hearts of the people who have made a confession of Christ Jesus. We can judge them according to their fruits (evidences), but if they make a profession and are good at deceiving us by their works, then we will not be able to tell whether they are or are not brothers/sisters. We will refer to them in the same way the authors of the New Testament did (brothers, saints, believers), but we should always qualify our statements rather than make blanket statements assuming they are genuine when it may be that they are not. In any gathering of Christians, there are going to be professors of Christ Jesus who do not possess Him. Until we know of a certainty that they are not born again, we will address them as "brothers/sisters."

To claim that the warnings of apostasy contained in the book of Hebrews were written to genuine born-again believers makes absolutely no sense. Such a position must by necessity hold to a belief in either loss of salvation or universalism. It is the logical outcome from such a position. Why? Because if the hearers/readers are true, genuine born-again believers, what happens if they do return whole-heartedly to their previous religion or they do drift away entirely? If they end up in hell when they die, then they obviously lost their salvation. If they end up in heaven when they die, then the entire New Testament is nullified by how it declares that a Christian should live. It also declares that you can accept Jesus and then follow whatever religion you want without following Christ Jesus and you will still end up in heaven. The logical end of that argument is heresy, like it or not.

Another argument is made that the author includes himself in the warnings against apostasy and therefore must be referring to genuine born-again believers, but this argument is made without foundation. In the English language, we talk this way frequently. We speak in a way as to include ourselves within a specific group of people but that does not necessarily mean we are specifically addressing ourselves. For example: "We ought to be preaching the gospel more." Whether this is a statement made by one Christian to another, or by one Christian to a group of Christians, does not mean the speaker is directly referring to himself/herself and/or the hearer(s). He/she is merely speaking of the general classification of Christianity. He/she is saying that Christians in general ought to be doing this. He/she is not saying that himself/herself and his/her hearer(s) are especially guilty of not doing this (although this could be the case). Imagine someone like Charles Spurgeon or Paul Washer speaking those words. By saying that, are they meaning they themselves do not do it enough? While it could be the case (no matter how much they are already doing it, they may feel they do not do it enough), it is more logical that they are speaking more broadly with regard to Christianity as a whole, and not specifically about themselves and whoever might be listening to them.

When we speak in the English language, our usage of the word "you" can be singular or plural, inclusive or exclusive, general or specific. By using the word "you" plurally, inclusively, and generally, it does not mean I am speaking directly to or specifically about the person listening to me. We need to not only have a solid grasp of the depths of our own language and how it is used, but if we are going to do the passages in the book of Hebrews justice we need to have a good grasp of the Greek and how it was used, too. We need to have a good sense of logic about ourselves and to think toward the logical conclusion of our ideas/interpretations. If it does not make sense from beginning to end of the logical train, then it is most likely a bad interpretation. Why would you warn true, genuine born-again believers against doing something that they cannot possibly do? If they can do it, then their salvation was not eternal and we can lose our salvation.

The hypothetical argument and the argument that the author is addressing genuine born-again believers are illogical and have dangerous premises. Let us be careful in how we handle the Word of God. Whether we mean to or not, we can make it say some very dangerous things if we are not careful and study it thoroughly and honestly. We need to be willing to let go of whatever feelings, opinions, or pre-suppositions we are holding to in favour of conforming ourselves and our beliefs to the truth. If we uphold our feelings, opinions, and pre-suppositions in opposition to the truth, then we will not do God's Word any honest justice when we study it. When handling the Word of God, we had better have a great fear about us in mishandling, misinterpreting, or misrepresenting it. Ours is a serious endeavour.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Gilgamesh and Horus

A great many ignorant fools have watched the movie Zeitgeist and accepted the information presented in it as being factual and true. However, for anyone who actually does any research, they will find the information contained in the movie Zeitgeist to be entirely erroneous and falsified. In fact, the sources for the Zeitgeist movie are outdated, unreliable, non-academic, non-scholarly, speculative, and/or conspiracy-laden tomes written by folks who are not trained in biblical scholarship, historical Jesus studies, Egyptology (or related fields), and/or rely on other non-scholarly, outdated, pseudo-historical books, and are therefore filled with errors. Were these people not raised not to believe everything they read, hear, or see? If you do not want to look like a complete fool when debating with someone on these issues, make sure you do your homework and study the subject yourself from reputable sources. Do your own research rather than blindly relying on the falsified information of liars.

GILGAMESH:
It is claimed that the biblical flood account is based off the flood account contained in the Epic of Gilgamesh, which is said to be dated around 2750-2500 B.C. However, this is faulty dating. This dating would put Gilgamesh before the flood, which is inaccurate since he was not born until after the flood. "This ancient Babylonian clay tablet was created more than four millennia ago and contains one of the most important inscriptions from the earliest days of humanity. The Deluge Tablet is the eleventh book of the Chaldean Epic of Gilgamesh (dated 2200 B.C.). The person known as Gilgamesh is called Nimrod, the builder of the original city of Babylon, as recorded in Genesis 11. The epic poem, Epic of Gilgamesh, recounts the story of the flood as given to Gilgamesh by an older relative, a man named Nuh-napishtim (also called Atrahasis), known as 'the very wise or pious.' This Nuh-napishtim is the Babylonian name for Noah."1 Ergo, Gilgamesh was the great grandson of Noah. So it makes sense that Gilgamesh would have heard about the flood from his great grandfather, seeing as how he went through it. As such, which is most likely to be the original flood account?

It is often attempted to be argued that because there exist over 400 different flood accounts from around the world, that the Bible stole its story from these sources, even going so far as to copy the names of Noah's sons. Anyone with an ounce of logical sense will see immediately the flaw in this argument. The fact that there are over 400 different flood accounts attests to the fact that the Bible is true in its record of a world-wide flood. The fact these records share the same names further lends credibility to the biblical account. The surviving descendants of the flood would have recorded it, which is why there are so many accounts from around the world. The difference of languages can be attributed to the confusing of language as recorded in Genesis 11. The existence of all these other flood accounts merely goes to prove that the biblical account is accurate and true.

"The biblical account alone has the factual ring of history rather than myth. It fits the rest of the Bible and agrees with what we know of mankind's history to the present time. Thus the biblical account stands on one side and all of the others, in spite of their similarities to the Genesis story, stand together in opposition to it. That distinction between the Bible and all other accounts is significant. It indicates that the biblical account was not borrowed from the others. Clearly, all non-biblical accounts originated from the same historical events, and their differences developed later. The pagan myths all vary from one another, so none can be trusted as authentic. They must have all become perverted in one way or another. Inasmuch as the biblical account is consistent with the rest of the Bible, it can claim the same infallibility of inspiration as all of God's Word. The pagan accounts are similar enough to confirm the biblical account, but different enough so that the later stands alone as the only authentic record. The biblical account does not originate from oral tradition handed down from generation to generation (and thus it escapes the inevitable error inherent in such a process); but it was given by inspiration of God."2

The Epic of Gilgamesh was not written by Gilgamesh himself, but was written about 450 years later by a man named Shin-eqi-unninni. It was written in Akkadian on 12 clay tablets, which were later found in the library of Ashurbanipal of Assyria (669-633 B.C.). Gilgamesh was a historical king of Uruk in Babylonia, which, as we have seen, is the same man called Nimrod in the Bible. Ergo, however inaccurate the details of the Gilgamesh account, it lends credibility to the truthfulness of the information contained in the Bible regarding the flood and Nimrod's life.

HORUS:
It is claimed that the life of Jesus was stolen directly from that of Horus. It is claimed that Horus' mother, Isis, had a virgin birth; that Horus had 12 disciples; walked on water and performed miracles; and was the son of Ra, the sun God. But none of this has been substantiated. With regard to the supposed virgin birth of Horus, here is what various Egyptian scholars have had to say:
  • "...drawings on contemporary funerary papyri show her as a kite hovering above Osiris, who is revived enough to have an erection and impregnate his wife." (Lesko, Great Goddesses of Egypt, p. 162)
  • "After having sexual intercourse, in the form of a bird, with the dead god she restored to life, she gave birth to a posthumous son, Horus." (Dunand / Zivie-Coche, Gods and Men in Egypt, p. 39)
  • "Through her magic Isis revivified the sexual member of Osiris and became pregnant by him, eventually giving birth to their child, Horus." (Richard Wilkinson, Complete gods and goddesses of Ancient Egypt, p. 146)
  • "Isis already knows that she is destined to bear a child who will be king. In order to bring this about, she has to revive the sexual powers of Osiris, just as the Hand Goddess aroused the penis of the creator to create the first life." (Pinch, Handbook of Egyptian Mythology, p. 80)
If one looks at the information contained on Wikipedia in regard to Osiris, Isis, Horus, and Ra, one notices that Ra is never connected with the story whatsoever. All the information presented on Wikipedia reveals the information contained in the Zeitgeist movie to be erroneous and falsified. The information states that Osiris and Isis were brother and sister and that they married and had a son whom they named Horus. The accounts of how Horus was conceived vary between them all, as seen above.

Evangelical biblical scholar Ben Witherington, in a critique of the Zeitgeist movie, writes on the sources used by the filmmakers: "What do we notice about this list of sources? Not a single one of these authors and sources are experts in the Bible, biblical history, the Ancient Near East, Egyptology, or any of the cognate fields. Many of these sources are quite old, and the arguments they present have long since been shown to be weak.... The point of my listing these sources is that they are not reliable sources of information about the origins of Christianity, Judaism, or much of anything else of relevance to this discussion." (from The Zeitgeist of the 'Zeitgeist Movie') Some of those sources are as follows:
  • Acharya S, Suns of God and The Christ Conspiracy.
  • Gerald Massey, The Historical Jesus and Mythical Christ (orig. c. 1900) and Ancient Egypt: The Light of the World (orig. 1907).
  • Thomas Doane, Bible Myths and Their Parallels in Other Religions (orig. 1882).
  • James Frazer, The Golden Bough (1st ed. 1890; 2nd ed. 1900; 3rd ed. in 12 volumes, 1906-1915).
  • Freke and Gandy, The Jesus Mysteries.
A self-proclaimed atheist, writing a response to the claims of the Zeitgeist movie, concluded: "...I find the comparison between Horus and Jesus to consist of the following: they were of royal descent, they allegedly worked miracles and there were murder plots against them." Scholars agree; there are no similarities between Jesus and Horus such as those that the movie Zeitgeist claims. The supposed healing miracles of Horus are associated with Horus-the-Child. Horus never had 12 followers and he never walked on water.

There is much more that can be, and has been, said on this issue. Look into it for yourself and study the facts. Too often people repeat stupid information they have picked up from somewhere else without actually looking into the veracity of that information. It was once put to me that the Bible was written 400 years after Jesus by Constantine. That statement is utterly laughable, and I would laugh in the face of any person dumb enough to repeat it. A couple clicks of the mouse and you can find all sorts of information that proves that statement to be sheer stupidity. Come on, unbelievers! God gave you a brain for a reason, please try using it.


1 Grant R. Jeffreys, Unveiling Mysteries of the Bible, 47.
2 Dave Hunt, In Defense of the Faith, 121-122.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Dragons and Dinosaurs

Dragon legends are in every tribe, nation, and people group. Most anthropologists will tell you that legends and myths are based on actual truth. Legends can become sensationalized—which is what the pagan religions often do by attaching meanings to these things (e.g., a dragon being responsible for the tides), but if you strip all of the sensationalism away, there is a consistency throughout all the dragon legends. Most dragons in these legends do not fly, but the ones that do have wings like a bat. The dragons from these legends look like big reptiles, with long tails and scales, having sharp teeth and claws (quite often only three, as we see on many dinosaurs). In fact, these descriptions are actually consistent with what we call "dinosaurs" today. When you read the descriptions of these dragons in these legends, or in historical writings, they sound exactly like the dinosaurs we see in picture books.

The word "dinosaur" did not exist until the mid-1800's. Prior to this, the word that was used was "dragon." We have many stories of knights fighting dragons. Obviously the myth is based on a truth. People tend to dismiss this when they hear about dragons breathing fire. But wait a moment... the Bombardier Beetle shoots fire from its butt! "Fire breathing" does not necessarily mean the kind of fire we see depicted today. Something similar to what the Bombardier Beetle shoots can easily be described as fire as it burns you. If people who encountered these dragons described it as like fire, a hearer could easily repeat it as "fire breathing." Most of the images conjured in our minds tend to be of the sensationalized dragons and their literal fire-breathing.

In a national park in Nebraska, there are structures made in the side of the rocks that look like cork screws. Scientists, in their ever-changing "great wisdom", attributed these to plants. Once they started to excavate them, they found fossils of beavers at the bottom. Evolutionary time lines would put these beavers as being extinct 30 million years ago, yet Native Americans saw them first hand. Had scientists asked the local Native American tribes what had made these structures, they would have been told, "Beavers". So-called "science" looks at these people and historic people as if they are complete idiots. This just goes to show "science's" pre-conceived narrow-minded mindset of "billions of years". Another example revealing this: if you drill into the ice and notice the many layers, "science" attributes these to years, whereas any intelligent person living in the area or observing it regularly will tell you they represent thawing and freezing. There is no such thing as "millions" and "billions" of years for our Earth and the universe. It is all less than 10,000 years old! But I digress.

Another Native American  tribe tells a tale of a giant eagle. So-called "science" mocked these people and said they had no clue what they were talking about until they actually verified that their words were true and a giant eagle did indeed exist. If these people were right about seeing these things—the beavers and the giant eagle, what about other things they have recorded as having seen? Do we dismiss it just because we do not understand it?

The Epic Poem of Beowulf describes two monsters that sound identical to two dinosaurs: the Pteranodon and a bi-pedal sauropod dinosaur, most likely Tyrannosaurus Rex. Pteranodons (the smaller species) were pests in England and to the North and Central American Indians and others. 
'dinosaurs', in the form of flying reptiles, were a feature of Welsh life until surprisingly recent times. As late as the beginning of the present century, elderly folk at Penllyn in Glamorgan used to tell of a colony of winged serpents that lived in the woods around Penllyn Castle. As Marie Trevelyan tells us: 'The woods around Penllyn Castle, Glamorgan, had the reputation of being frequented by winged serpents, and these were the terror of old and young alike. An aged inhabitant of Penllyn, who died a few years ago, said that in his boyhood the winged serpents were described as very beautiful... He said it was "no old story invented to frighten children", but a real fact. His father and uncle had killed some of them, for they were as bad as foxes for poultry. The old man attributed the extinction of the winged serpents to the fact that they were "terrors in the farmyards and culverts".'
"After the Flood", Bill Cooper
Alexander the Great talked about a giant lizard that frightened his army. Marco Polo recorded having seen dragons when he was in China. Herodotus heard rumours of winged creatures and, showing the mettle of a true historian, went to check it out for himself and recorded it in his work. Flavius Josephus writes about dragons. Many historians recorded these facts but modern humans brush it aside as fables (because of the sensationalism attached to it) while accepting everything else written without question. These respectable historians have wrote in their books, "This is what I have seen; this is what I have witnessed." The descriptions in their records sound just like dinosaurs, yet were clearly labeled as "dragons". The words of these reliable historians should be taken at face value. What reason would they have to lie? Why would they make it up? What would it benefit them?

In order to understand about Julius Caesar or Alexander the Great, we need to rely on historical accounts. Many of the historical figures we know of come from second-hand information written years after the fact, having no eye-witness accounts (unlike the Bible, which was written by first-hand eye-witnesses and has been attested to repeatedly by history, archeology, and science). Much of the information we have about dragons comes from eye-witnesses who wrote down their experiences (e.g., Herodotus, Marco Polo, etc.). We will believe everything else they write, but when they write about dragons we dismiss it as "miss identification". Funny how we make every people group prior to us out to be completely stupid and imagine ourselves to be great geniuses. Yet, we cannot for the life of us figure out how ancient civilizations built the pyramids and temples and other structures. Our best machinery today could not do the job. The fact is, we are dumber today than people were years ago. The American S.A.T.s are proof positive. They have been dumbed down compared to years past. Many of the things we think are new inventions today really are not. For example, Egyptians had batteries hundreds of years before we created what we have today.

Before the flood, they built cities, they had musical instruments, and they had tools of iron and brass. That means that before the flood they had to find, mine, and smelt the metals for their tools the same as we do today. Let us not accuse them of being unintelligent and untechnological. When I traveled to Peru, at one of the tourist locations in Puno, I saw some huge rocks that had been transported from a long distance away (see Fig. 1). How they moved these rocks, we cannot figure out. But that is not the most amazing part. The Inca's would some how get these huge rocks up on top of another rock and some how cut it perfectly to fit the one below it in their structure (see A and B of Fig. 2—B is about an inch drop). They were smooth and perfect, as if cut by a laser. Then, they had to hoist it up on top of the others, some 15 feet up and higher (see Fig. 2). The post-Inca burial towers were sloppy, as if done by amateurs (see Fig. 3).


Fig. 1

Fig. 2

Fig. 3
Evolutionism dictates that we must conclude these ancient people and historians were all wrong. "They could not possibly have seen what they claim to have seen because we 'know' that they have been extinct for millions of years." The Evolutionists "know" nothing. "Millions of years" is a conjecture—not a fact. Evolutionists believe these people are wrong because they believe these things have been extinct for millions of years. In order to keep their theory alive, Evolutionists have to make liars out of these ancient people and historians; they have to treat the information dishonestly.

Most people would say that dinosaurs are extinct, but there have been numerous eye-witness accounts from around the world in recent decades that challenge that thought. Most "dinosaurs" are extinct, but not all. Many of them simply do not get as large as they once used to. Lizards, turtles, octopus, and squid never stop growing. Give them the perfect environment and they will grow much larger than we currently see them. Our oceans are largely unexplored. On an episode of Monster Quest, they went looking for large squid, testing legends of the past. What they caught on camera shocked and amazed all of them. They captured an image of a squid larger than anything on record today. Some of their episodes are actually worth watching, while most are sensationalized with mythical garbage (such as The Jersey Devil, American Werewolf, and Aliens).

When Westerners go to the Congo or Indonesia, they automatically assume the people living there are idiots and do not know how to identify their animals correctly. Yet, when shown animals in books, they can readily identify which animals are local to their region, which animals are distant from their region, and which animals they have never seen. They can also identify certain photos of dinosaurs as being creatures they have seen. In fact, while the Western world is brain-washed with the false religion of Evolution, the rest of the world laughs at us mockingly and asks, "How can you say this does not exist? I have seen it with my own eyes."

The Bible is right yet again, revealing that man and "dinosaurs" (dragons) lived together (Job 40:15; 41:1), which science is trying to explain away despite the evidence. They have found footprints of man and dinosaur together in the mud. They tried saying someone forged it, yet when they excavated some rock, those prints continued together underneath. Science agrees that man and mammoths walked together, but deny that man and dinosaurs walked together. Yet, evidence has been found showing a mammoth and a dinosaur engaged in battle together, which apparently was not supposed to be. So, if man and mammoths walked together, and dinosaurs and mammoths walked together, then clearly man and dinosaurs walked together.

If you look around the globe, you will find carvings, etchings, and hieroglyphs of images that look exactly like dinosaurs. If dinosaurs went extinct 65 million years ago, and the first dinosaur skeleton was not discovered until the mid-1800's, how is it that every nation, tribe, and people group could draw the exact same thing? A stone temple in Cambodia from 1186 A.D has a carving of a Stegosaurus on it. How did these people, 800 years ago, carve an image that looks so exact to the Stegosaurus? Obviously dinosaurs were not extinct when we are told they were. This is one of over 80 instances around the world where the people would have to have seen it to reproduce its anatomy so perfectly. A cathedral in the UK has a bishop who was buried there over 600 years ago. On his tomb are carved a number of animals, including sauropod dinosaurs. How could these images get there if they were extinct 65 million years ago? These people obviously saw these creatures for themselves.

How is it that all these people groups could draw the exact same myth, and yet they are separated by distant time and distant geography? Dragons and dinosaurs are the exact same creatures. They have always lived alongside mankind and still do today, although the majority of them are now extinct. You cannot take modern day fictionalizations of dragons and attempt to conclude that the use of such terms are automatically mythical. This is an unscientific approach. Modern representations of dragons are what is mythical; dragons themselves are not.