FIRST-TRUMP#top..........Sound the alarm in Zion..... ...........................

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. A Priest sounds the alarm on a shofar

 

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THOUGHTS & COMMENTS

page 31


14Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you. (John 15:)



FRIEND


There's a song we used to always sing in church, and I suppose they still do in some old fogey churches (of which I belong, although they no longer sing the old fogey songs there any more either). The song I am referring to goes something like this: "What a friend we have in Je-sus." (Pardon my voice. I have a horse in my throat.)

Nice words, and a comforting thought; but it makes me think: from wince (a Biblical word, just showing off) do we get the idea that we can call Jesus "Friend"? I know, for me, if people come up to me who I don't know and call me "friend," I place my hand tightly over my pocket book.

Let us see if there is any Scriptural bases upon which we may rest our prerogative to call our Lord and Master: "Friend."


Below I have printed all the times Jesus called someone "Friend," or someone called Him friend.


There are two different words that have been interpreted friend as applied to this study. They are also noted here. Matthew, it appears, is the only one who uses the second word, and Luke and John use the first word.


Friend (Greek 5384#) An associate, neighbor, -- friend

(Greek 2083*) Clansman, comrade - fellow, friend

1For the kingdom of heaven is like unto a man that is an householder, which went out early in the morning to hire labourers into his vineyard. 2And when he had agreed with the labourers for a penny a day, he sent them into his vineyard. . . . . 10But when the first came, they supposed that they should have received more; and they likewise received every man a penny. 11And when they had received it, they murmured against the goodman of the house, 12Saying, These last have wrought but one hour, and thou hast made them equal unto us, which have borne the burden and heat of the day. 13But he answered one of them, and said, Friend, I do thee no wrong: didst not thou agree with me for a penny? 14Take that thine is, and go thy way: I will give unto this last, even as unto thee. (Mat 20:)*


This is a parable, and Jesus is not directly calling someone friend. However, by the context of the story, it appears as if He is referring to Himself as the speaker. The use of the word friend in this case is directed toward someone he merely hired off the streets, and I would suspect it has the lower meaning of fellow, rather than what we think of as friend.


1And Jesus answered and spake unto them again by parables, and said, 2The kingdom of heaven is like unto a certain king, which made a marriage for his son, . . . . 7But when the king heard thereof, he was wroth: and he sent forth his armies, and destroyed those murderers, and burned up their city. 8Then saith he to his servants, The wedding is ready, but they which were bidden were not worthy. 9Go ye therefore into the highways, and as many as ye shall find, bid to the marriage. 10So those servants went out into the highways, and gathered together all as many as they found, both bad and good: and the wedding was furnished with guests. 11And when the king came in to see the guests, he saw there a man which had not on a wedding garment: 12And he saith unto him, Friend, how camest thou in hither not having a wedding garment? And he was speechless. 13Then said the king to the servants, Bind him hand and foot, and take him away, and cast him into outer darkness; there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth. 14For many are called, but few are chosen. (Mat 22:)*


Again we have a parable where Jesus is apparently referring to Himself. In this case the stakes are considerably higher. We know, or at least we assume, that the ones who were first bidden to the King's wedding were the Jews, not just friends, but relatives of Jesus. What happened to the relatives that refused to attend the wedding? (verse 7).

Those derelicts called from off the streets, it is assumed, are the Gentiles, called "dogs" by the Jews, and by Jesus Himself. Had the Jews received their Lord, and by doing so "attended the wedding," there would have been no way Gentiles would have ever been invited.

We know that the Gentiles, that is the World, are not invited to the wedding. It is only through Jesus (the Door) that any of us can even consider attending the wedding. And Gentiles (and Jews as well who separate themselves from their heritage) who are bidden to the wedding are called Christians. Christians make up the Church, the body of Christ.


The New Testament is not a message to the World any more than was the Old Testament. The Bible is written as instructions to those who have enlisted into the Body of Christ. The Bible means nothing to unbelievers any more than does a Military Manual to a kindergartner.

By this reasoning it might be assumed that the one called "friend" here in this parable is a church member who had not sufficiently prepared himself to meet the Lord. You may think I am pressing a point that does not exist. And you might be right. We shall see one of these days.

Whatever the reality of the situation, I believe I can safely say that being called "Friend" by Jesus does not necessarily lead to desired rewards.


47And while he yet spake, lo, Judas, one of the twelve, came, and with him a great multitude with swords and staves, from the chief priests and elders of the people. 48Now he that betrayed him gave them a sign, saying, Whomsoever I shall kiss, that same is he: hold him fast. 49And forthwith he came to Jesus, and said, Hail, master; and kissed him. 50And Jesus said unto him, Friend, wherefore art thou come? (Mat 26:)*


Once again we have Matthew using the same word as in the above segments of Scripture. Earlier, when Judas is not with Disciples (having left to betray his Master), Jesus made a special effort to call the eleven "Friends" (using a different word than was used here, which will be shown later). And here again, referring to Judas, being called "Friend" by Jesus was not a compliment as we know it, and the fate of the one referred to as friend is not one we would hope for ourselves (disgrace and suicide).


1In the mean time, when there were gathered together an innumerable multitude of people, insomuch that they trode one upon another, he began to say unto his disciples first of all, . . . .. 4And I say unto you my friends, Be not afraid of them that kill the body, and after that have no more that they can do. 5But I will forewarn you whom ye shall fear: Fear him, which after he hath killed hath power to cast into hell; yea, I say unto you, Fear him. (Luke 12:)#


So far, each time Jesus used the word "Friend" it was either in a parable, or spoken toward an individual who was far from being a friend at that moment. Here we have just the opposite: "An innumerable number of people" were gathered together. And to these people, who shortly thereafter (as best as I can tell since the chronology of John's Gospel is difficult to pinpoint) most of these "Friends" will forsake Jesus when He tells them they must drink His blood and eat His flesh. Here again I would venture to say that the meaning of "Friend" is not what we think of as we apply it to Jesus in song.


27John answered and said, A man can receive nothing, except it be given him from heaven. 28Ye yourselves bear me witness, that I said, I am not the Christ, but that I am sent before him. 29He that hath the bride is the bridegroom: but the friend of the bridegroom, which standeth and heareth him, rejoiceth greatly because of the bridegroom's voice: this my joy therefore is fulfilled. 30He must increase, but I must decrease. (John 3:)#


John the Baptist is here calling himself a friend of Jesus (at least I would suppose he is). It might be just a metaphorical statement John is making, but in any case the word John uses is the same as the one used above when Jesus was speaking to the masses.

In my own opinion, thus far nothing has been illustrated one way or the other as to the validity of calling Jesus "Friend." It is added here so that this study may be as complete as possible.


8His disciples say unto him, Master, the Jews of late sought to stone thee; and goest thou thither again? 9Jesus answered, Are there not twelve hours in the day? If any man walk in the day, he stumbleth not, because he seeth the light of this world. 10But if a man walk in the night, he stumbleth, because there is no light in him. 11These things said he: and after that he saith unto them, Our friend Lazarus sleepeth; but I go, that I may awake him out of sleep. 12Then said his disciples, Lord, if he sleep, he shall do well. 13Howbeit Jesus spake of his death: but they thought that he had spoken of taking of rest in sleep. 14Then said Jesus unto them plainly, Lazarus is dead. (John 11:)#


By all accounts available to us, if there was anybody Jesus would refer to as His friend it would be Lazarus. Again, however, the word used here is the same one as was used when Jesus spoke to the masses.


9As the Father hath loved me, so have I loved you: continue ye in my love. 10If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Father's commandments, and abide in his love. 11These things have I spoken unto you, that my joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full. 12This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you. 13Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends. 14Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you. 15Henceforth I call you not servants; for the servant knoweth not what his lord doeth: but I have called you friends; for all things that I have heard of my Father I have made known unto you. 16Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that ye should go and bring forth fruit, and that your fruit should remain: that whatsoever ye shall ask of the Father in my name, he may give it you. 17These things I command you, that ye love one another. (John 15)#


This is the last reference to "friend" that we have. And here, it would seem to me, is where we have developed the concept that we can call Jesus "Friend."

Here Jesus is not with the multitudes, nor is He with the 120 who will meet in secret in the upper room after His death. Jesus is with the twelve (minus Judas) and is giving them comfort just before He is to leave them.

We might assume that Jesus would give His Apostles, His special ambassadors who were with Him side-by-side for three years, a carte blanche acceptance. Yet even these who will later carry on Jesus' mission He said this to them:


"Ye are my friends, IF ye do whatsoever I command you."


A condition placed on the friendship they received from their Lord and Master.

Of course, there may be an "out" for those who wish to place themselves in the circle of those who wish to be Jesus' friends, and that is (according to most of the churches) Jesus didn't give any commandments. If that is the case, and since Jesus reportedly fulfilled all the Old Testament laws and regulations, all any of us are left with is free Salvation, and the right to call Jesus our friend.

If there are no commandments left for the Church to fulfill, what do you suppose Jesus meant when He required those He called "friends" to obey His commandments?

Maybe this will help:


"even as I have kept my Father's commandments"


Can you think of any commandments from the Father that Jesus kept? Didn't He say He kept all the commandments, and fulfilled them? Does that mean those who Jesus calls His friends must fulfill all those commandments as well?


Here is another bit of Scripture we find a little later in this chapter: right after Jesus tells those He calls friends that they will be hated, persecuted and killed for His Name's sake. Hmmm:

26But when the Comforter is come, whom I will send unto you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth, which proceedeth from the Father, he shall testify of me: 27And ye also shall bear witness, because ye have been with me from the beginning.


The ones Jesus calls His friends are those elect who the Father had given Him, and who followed Jesus "from the beginning."

It appears to me that the circle of Jesus' friends is getting harder and harder to find an opening into which to enter.


Let's change our perspective a little. We have been looking at the friendship of Jesus from Jesus' perspective. Let's turn it around and see what the Apostles had to say of themselves. Surely they must have taken great pride in their exclusive relationship with Jesus, wouldn't you think? Surely so. After all, those of us living 2,000 years later, snuggled up on our comfy sofa watching TV take great pride in our ability to call Jesus our friend willy-nilly. I should think it would be a simple matter to find the many places in the Bible where the Apostles call Jesus their Friend. Let's see, shall we?


I find as I look through the concordance only a very few places where the Apostles made reference to their relationship with Jesus, other than saying that Jesus is: Lord, Lord and Master, our Example, our Savior, and other such relationships.

Twice in the Epistles I see James being referred to as the brother of our Lord.

And, oddly enough, in the Epistles the word "friend" is almost never used, and then only in reference to our relationship with one another.

There is one exception to this. In James 2:23 we are told that Abraham was called: "the friend of God." But I see no way this verse can be torqued to fit us marshmallow Christians of the 21st Century; although I have no doubt there are preachers with the skill to do so.

Many times in the Epistles the word "brother" or "sons" has been used. Other than the two references above, all these Scriptures tell us how we are to behave one to another as brothers and sisters, and as obedient children.


I did find, however, several places where the Apostles referred to their relationship with Jesus. In fact many Epistles began with an introduction making it clear what the writer's relationship is with Jesus. Below I have reprinted some of these verses:


1Paul, a servant of Jesus Christ, called to be an apostle, separated unto the gospel of God, 2(Which he had promised afore by his prophets in the holy scriptures,) 3Concerning his Son Jesus Christ our Lord, which was made of the seed of David according to the flesh; 4And declared to be the Son of God with power, according to the spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead: (Romans 1:1 and almost all other of Paul's Epistles)


1Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, to the strangers scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, 2Elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through sanctification of the Spirit, unto obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ: Grace unto you, and peace, be multiplied. (1Peter 1:)


1Simon Peter, a servant and an apostle of Jesus Christ, to them that have obtained like precious faith with us through the righteousness of God and our Saviour Jesus Christ: (2Peter 1:1)


1Jude, the servant of Jesus Christ, and brother of James, to them that are sanctified by God the Father, and preserved in Jesus Christ, and called: (Jude)


1The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave unto him, to show unto his servants things which must shortly come to pass; and he sent and signified it by his angel unto his servant John: 2Who bare record of the word of God, and of the testimony of Jesus Christ, and of all things that he saw. (Revelation 1:)


As you can see, every one of the Apostles that we have legitimate record of who Jesus called "Friend," including Paul who was not with the eleven, were not so bold as to refer to themselves as a "friend of Jesus." They all considered themselves honored and privileged to be persecuted "servants" of Jesus.


When in the Military Service, if I, as a common soldier, were to have a father, a brother, or a best friend who was of high rank in the service as well, I could not approach him or converse with him as a friend. I must follow the same protocol every other enlisted man must follow when in their presence.

This is one of the great fallacies of the church. We have lost this understanding. We have forsaken the awe, the fear, and the reverence due our Creator. If God chooses to look upon us as special, as He did: the Apostles, Jacob over Essau, Moses at birth, Paul of Tarsus, and many others, then we must consider ourselves very blessed - but not deserving. Feeling deserving is the sin the Pharisees committed. And unfortunately it is the sin the churches are propagating to their congregates. Jesus made it very clear that we must look down upon ourselves and be servants of the lowest if we are to be seen favorably in the eyes of God. Job is an excellent example of this very thing. Job was perfect in the eyes of God. His problem was he was righteous in his own eyes as well. This self-righteousness had to be knocked out of Job before he could be made perfect. Peter had to experience the same demeaning process.

The churches say we are King's sons, that we are to rule and reign. They go so far as to tell us we should see ourselves as perfect because we are "Christians."

If we see ourselves as the churches say we should, then we delude ourselves and we are strutting down the wide road to oblivion.


Does it seem by the above that I am against singing such songs as: "What a friend we have in Jesus"? I'm sure it does.

I sing the song all the time. It is a very lovely and moving song. But this song, along with every other song I sing, I study for truth and for error. And I keep in mind that it is just a song I am singing and not Scripture or Truth. And as I sing the song, I also keep well in mind that I am singing to myself and not to God. If I sing such a fallacious song as a prayer to God, then I would feel in danger of falling into other falsehood as well, which becomes a backwards road to becoming reprobate.


ARGUE


"I think this whole Christianity thing is a farce. Your preachers are a bunch of liars, your Bible is nothing but a bunch of fairy tales, and if Jesus ever did exist, he was nothing but another teacher like all the other religious leaders."


"You may be right. I certainly can't argue with you."


"What do you mean he's right!? He's not right and you know it! Why don't you set him straight like you're supposed to do?"


"Let me ask you this: if I was to argue the point with this man that the Bible is true, what good would it do? If I could somehow get him to agree with me, would that bring him any closer to being saved? Saving people is not a job that has been given to me. I am just a planter, and a water bearer. God is the one who makes His plants to grow, and He chooses which plants He wants cared for. If I were to argue, the most I could possibly do is feed my ego, and by doing so, I become the loser in the long run.

"Another question I will ask: what do any of us have with which to prove that God, Jesus or the Holy Spirit is real? Isn't it our experience of Them that convinces us? If we, you and I, have had experiences in our life that have proven to us that God is real and in our life, and that is our proof, then how could mere words convince this person, or any other that God is Who He is without them having some similar experience?

"Let's leave the arguing to God. He has either chosen this man to be one of His own, or He hasn't. If God has chosen him, then we, and he must wait God's timing, and then God will provide this man his Damascus road experience. If God hasn't chosen this man, than anything you and I say will only prove itself worthless.

"And a third question I will ask you: if you and I are correct in our belief, and we know we are, then our rewards are going to be great, if we fulfill our duties as God has given them to us. If this man is right, then the best he can ever hope to acquire at the end of his life is a hole in the ground. And the worst he can expect is an eternity in a very hot place. Add to this the fact that with this man's attitude toward God, regardless of whether you and I are right, or he is right, he will be unable to be anything but the loser, because he refused to seek the Truth as we know it to be.

"With this knowledge, that this man can gain nothing but what he surely does not want, and there is no chance that he can gain any more, and if that doesn't convince him to seek the Truth: then what is there that you or I could say that might possibly convince him to see things our way?"

THE ROAD TO HELL


"But, you don't understand! I want to read the Bible, but I don't have any time. I work two jobs, I have a family to take care of, I'm very active in my church where I also teach Sunday School, I'm a member of the City Council, and I am chairman of the PTA. I don't even have time for recreation or to read the newspaper. You just tell me, how am I supposed to read the Bible with all these important activities?"


"You're right. All those are fine activities and they serve you well for the doing of them. But you must realize, that these are your reasons for not reading the Bible. They do not serve as an excuse any more than would they if your son was to tell you that the reason he is getting bad grades in school is because he has no time to study because of all the wonderful things he is doing. Regardless of how fine a person he might be, and in spite of all the good he does, he still won't receive a diploma."


Excuses only convince ourselves that we are excusable. They do not convince the one we are making the excuse to.

Reading the Bible, as important as it is, is not the point I am trying to make. The point of this piece is the priorities we set for ourselves. Are our priorities such that God will accept them when we are judged? Or are our priories only right in our own and in society's eyes?

Excuses tell the world what our priorities are. We should listen to what we are telling the world.

God does.


"The road to hell is paved with good intentions."


ANGER


While researching for one of my studies I came across a website that dedicated itself to proving that the Bible and Christianity is wrong. With great delight these people listed the many, many errors in the Bible, and the many, many charges that could be leveled against Christians.

The anger these people hold for Christianity literally exudes from their words. I could almost feel their hostility.

The websites in which I found this attitude were Atheist and/or Muslim oriented. And, considering the status quo with these groups, it is not surprising that one should feel anger toward Christians expressed on their websites.


However, Atheist and Muslim sites are not the only places I find great anger toward Christians. Not by a long shot. I have found many, many others, and distressingly enough these websites I am referring to are ... Christian. I find Protestants angry with the Catholics. I find Catholics angry with the Protestants. I find the Fundamentalists angry with the Evangelicals. I find the Pentecostals angry with the non-Pentecostals. I find the Baptists angry with Baptists who venture even slightly from Baptist doctrine held by the writer of the blog.

In fact I find Christians angry with most all other Christians.

But what I rarely find is, surprisingly enough, Christians angry with the Atheists or the Muslims.


It appears to me that the most dangerous position to hold when conversing with a Christian is that of being a Christian of a different denomination. And the way to converse safely with a Christian of almost any denomination without fear of conflict or risk of being proselyted is to be a non-Christian.


Is there something wrong with this picture?


FREE WILL, ASSURANCE & VOMIT


Those who preach Free Will usually preach Assurance as well. Free Will and Assurance: is it possible to have both at the same time? As a non-Christian we supposedly have free will, although there is an abundance of Scripture that shows we don't have free will. But the teachings of so many churches today indicate what Free Will we supposedly had as a lost sinner, we lose when we become a Christian. In their minds, the lost are eternally lost, and the saved are eternally saved.


If this is true, why all these Scriptures about Backsliding?


Let's look at a few:


Luke 9: 62And Jesus said unto him, No man, having put his hand to the plow, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.


2Pet 1:9But he that lacketh these things is blind, and cannot see afar off, and hath forgotten that he was purged from his old sins. 10Wherefore the rather, brethren, give diligence to make your calling and election sure: for if ye do these things, ye shall never fall: 11For so an entrance shall be ministered unto you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.


Romans 1: 20For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse: 21Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened. 22Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools, 23And changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and fourfooted beasts, and creeping things. 24Wherefore God also gave them up to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonour their own bodies between themselves: 25Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen. 26For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature: 27And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompense of their error which was meet. 28And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient; 29Being filled with all unrighteousness, fornication, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, debate, deceit, malignity; whisperers, 30Backbiters, haters of God, despiteful, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, 31Without understanding, covenantbreakers, without natural affection, implacable, unmerciful: 32Who knowing the judgment of God, that they which commit such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but have pleasure in them that do them.


2Peter 2: 17These are wells without water, clouds that are carried with a tempest; to whom the mist of darkness is reserved for ever. 18For when they speak great swelling words of vanity, they allure through the lusts of the flesh, through much wantonness, those that were clean escaped from them who live in error. 19While they promise them liberty, they themselves are the servants of corruption: for of whom a man is overcome, of the same is he brought in bondage. 20For if after they have escaped the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, they are again entangled therein, and overcome, the latter end is worse with them than the beginning. 21For it had been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than, after they have known it, to turn from the holy commandment delivered unto them. 22But it is happened unto them according to the true proverb, The dog is turned to his own vomit again; and the sow that was washed to her wallowing in the mire.


Rev 2: 3And hast borne, and hast patience, and for my name's sake hast laboured, and hast not fainted. 4Nevertheless I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love. 5Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do the first works; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will remove thy candlestick out of his place, except thou repent. 6But this thou hast, that thou hatest the deeds of the Nicolaitanes, which I also hate. 7He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the tree of life, which is in the midst of the paradise of God.


Rev 2: 19I know thy works, and charity, and service, and faith, and thy patience, and thy works; and the last to be more than the first. 20Notwithstanding I have a few things against thee, because thou sufferest that woman Jezebel, which calleth herself a prophetess, to teach and to seduce my servants to commit fornication, and to eat things sacrificed unto idols. 21And I gave her space to repent of her fornication; and she repented not. 22Behold, I will cast her into a bed, and them that commit adultery with her into great tribulation, except they repent of their deeds. 23And I will kill her children with death; and all the churches shall know that I am he which searcheth the reins and hearts: and I will give unto every one of you according to your works. 24But unto you I say, and unto the rest in Thyatira, as many as have not this doctrine, and which have not known the depths of Satan, as they speak; I will put upon you none other burden. 25But that which ye have already hold fast till I come. 26And he that overcometh, and keepeth my works unto the end, to him will I give power over the nations: 27And he shall rule them with a rod of iron; as the vessels of a potter shall they be broken to shivers: even as I received of my Father. 28And I will give him the morning star. 29He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches.


Rev 3: 1And unto the angel of the church in Sardis write; These things saith he that hath the seven Spirits of God, and the seven stars; I know thy works, that thou hast a name that thou livest, and art dead. 2Be watchful, and strengthen the things which remain, that are ready to die: for I have not found thy works perfect before God. 3Remember therefore how thou hast received and heard, and hold fast, and repent. If therefore thou shalt not watch, I will come on thee as a thief, and thou shalt not know what hour I will come upon thee. 4Thou hast a few names even in Sardis which have not defiled their garments; and they shall walk with me in white: for they are worthy. 5He that overcometh, the same shall be clothed in white raiment; and I will not blot out his name out of the book of life, but I will confess his name before my Father, and before his angels. 6He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches.


Rev 3: 14And unto the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write; These things saith the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of the creation of God; 15I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot. 16So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth. 17Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked: 18I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear; and anoint thine eyes with eyesalve, that thou mayest see. 19As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent. 20Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me. 21To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne. 22He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches.


I have a question for those who preach Assurance. If a Christian is instantly provided full assurance and security the moment they are baptized and offer their confession of faith, why then did God waste so much effort in telling us we had better be overcomers and not backslide into perdition?

The New Testament (in fact the entire Bible) is written for the Church, not to the World. Time after time this is pointed out in the introduction of each epistle, and especially of Revelation. We can take from this that the writers of the Word are referring to members of the Church, to those who have performed the rituals, that have done all in order to become a part of the body of Christ. It is not written to those of the World.


In the days of these writings, to be a Christian in any part of the world meant to be persecuted, abused, looked down on and even killed. One did not choose to become a Christian and take their decision lightly. They believed, as supposedly we do today, that the expected rewards for their decision will be given to them in the next life, not in this.

Yet above are many verses of Scripture which clearly indicate that such believers had better behave themselves or lose their salvation, their "assurance," that so many are resting on in this day and age.


How can someone lose something that can't be lost? According to those churches that teach Assurance, there is no way to lose your salvation, not even if you backslide into hell itself because we are "sealed" by God, and God can't lose what He has sealed.


Some will say that what these writers are referring to are those of the World, not born again Christians. A problem here: first: the Bible is written to the Church, not the World. And second: those of the World can not backslide from that which they never had in the first place.


And again, many have stated that these verses are written to people who think they are saved, but in actuality never were saved because they were not sincere when they performed the rituals.

This is certainly understandable: except for two things.

The first of these is: according to: 1st Corinthians chapter 5, and: 1st Timothy chapter 1 the principle procedure for dealing with those who are converted Christians but continue to sin is to put them out of the Church in order that Satan can straighten them out (which, by the way, says something about the ability of Satan to touch a Christian). Since this is the case, why then all these verses of Scripture talking about losing one's Salvation instead of instructions on corrective measures? And if it is up to the Holy Spirit to bring us to perfection, and Him alone, then why bother with instructions at all since our maturity is in the Lord's hands, and not ours?

And secondly, if the people being spoken to here, who have done all they are supposed to do, and believe at the pain of death that they are fully born again Christians: if they were not actually Born Again but are self-deceived - then what assurance can we have that we are not also self-deceived and not actually Born Again?

Where is the Assurance? The Security? The peace we are to enjoy when we are making no effort to bring ourself to perfection but waiting on God to do it for us?


There are many fantasies preached that claim the Bible as their source. Of these there are perhaps a small handful of vague Scriptures that might point to a possible support of the biggest and most accepted of the Fantasies of Christianity. And of these Scriptures, most are clearly referring to something else other than the Fantasy being set forth. These Fantasies are: the doctrines of Lucifer being the devil, a fallen angel; the Rapture of the Church as a flight of birds into Never, Never Land; and Heaven as a Pie In The Sky eternal holiday.

Yet these Fantasies are firmly believed and counted on as promises from God.

Here, concerning the backsliding of the Christian and the fate thereof, we have a multitude of Scriptures very clearly telling us that we can lose that Salvation if we do not treasure it and build upon it; and these warning Scriptures are dismissed offhand as not meaning what they say, or that they are written to someone else.


Is it any wonder that God has a day coming when He will take reckoning with His Church, His Bride; and with those who have taken it upon themselves to corrupt the Words of God and lead His sheep into false pastures?


OLD TESTAMENT AND THE CHURCH


Many, if not most of the churches and commentators of the Bible are confused as to the importance of the Old Testament as it applies to us, the Church of today.

The main reason there is so much confusion is because the Old Testament contains Scripture that disagrees with what the church or commentator is trying to teach.

At the same time these people are attempting to dismiss the O.T. as not for the Church today, they are also very quick to quote those portions of the O.T. that seem to support their view.


Is there a way by which to reconcile this difference of opinion concerning the validity of the Old Testament? Is there perhaps some place in the New Testament that shows us how we should view the Old Testament?

I believe there is.


For one thing, those churches who claim the O.T. is not for us today state that it was intended strictly for the Jews, and that its purpose expired with Jesus.

Yet Jesus' entire ministry was not only a fulfilment, and demonstration of the Old Testament, but a ratification of it as well. Time after time Jesus quoted and explained what was meant in the Old Testament Scriptures. In fact, to my way of thinking, Jesus brought about nothing new to the Church except to end Temple worship as they knew it of old, and instead established service to God through the hearts of those who wish to worship and serve Him, which was the unrecognized Truth of the Old Testament.

And the second thing Jesus accomplished was to take away the preeminence of the Jews as God's chosen people and share that privilege with the Gentiles, that is, the world.


Of course it could be said that Jesus' life here on earth was a fulfilment of the O.T. and can not therefore be used to exemplify what God is doing with His Church in this age. Is this the case? If it is then apparently the Apostles did not know it because they continually preached what they had learned from Jesus during their walk with Him for three years.

It could also be stated that it was not the eleven Apostles who instituted the Church for us, the Gentiles, but Paul. If this stance is taken then once again we have to consider that Paul, like Jesus, continually quoted the Old Testament and said that the Church is the fulfilment of the "Mystery" of the Old Testament.

I, for one, do not see any separation between the Old and the New testaments. One book blends seamlessly into the other. In fact, the New Testament makes no sense whatever without a deep study and understanding of the Old Testament.

Trying to leave out the Old Testament as an instrument of instruction to the Church makes no more sense than leaving the wheels off a car and still expecting it to carry you to your destination.


God, in preparation for His appearance to the World, used a special people through which to make His Truths known, and through whom He preserved His Words. It was His apparent intent that such people should be well informed and prepared for His arrival. Obviously they were not. They had taken God's Words, covered over His meanings with their own interests, and made a religion of their own interpretation. They, rather than worship God, turned their worship to the Temple and the humans massagers who God used to rescue them and bring them the Word.

Unfortunately, this very same situation is occurring in the churches today. God's Word to us is lost in doctrine and self-will, and the church will not be prepared to recognize their Redeemer. The churches have been instructed to look for a wrong set of events, and they have been told to expect their Redeemer to arrive from a direction other than the one He has told us He will be coming. This is exactly what happened with the Jews: they were looking for a soldier on a white stallion coming from the South, and missed their Messiah who rode upon a donkey from the North.

I find, in order to understand the New Testament I must look into the Old Testament and see how what I am studying fits into what God has said from the beginning. If what I am considering does not fit the pattern, and if I can't find clear types and shadows verifying my findings, I count my findings as wrong or incomplete.

God says He does not change. Because of this, I know that if what I believe conflicts with something God has said or illustrated, I can't change God, but I must do the changing.

Denominations are designed to be just the opposite. Instead of checking with God to see what He says or wants, they twist the Words of God, or obliterate them somehow until they seem to agree with their own views.

And all who change God's Words, and distort His meanings, will be judged for having done so.


BAD RELIGION


There are many who consider the Bible a tragic example of man's inhumanity toward his fellow man. Within the pages of the Bible we find examples of the genocide under the direction of God Himself. We find examples of wars and of hate and of destruction, all brought about by God because of His anger toward mankind. In one incident, we are told, God wiped out every living creature except for eight souls with a mighty flood.

Then we have individual portrayals of God's dealings with man that seem unfair at best. We have Job, a man God pronounced as special and even perfect in His own eyes. And how does He treat this special person? He wipes out his family and all his belongings. He gives him boils and great suffering. And to top it off, He turns Job over to the worst creature ever invented, the devil.

And speaking of the devil, God created this miserable "enemy to mankind", then "cast him down" to us poor innocent and ignorant souls to deal with. Does that sound fair to you?

Then, as an ultimate demonstration of how He works, God turned His only begotten Son over to His enemies, who also happened to be his family whom He served and sacrificed for, to be tortured and killed.

Then, to cap it all, God said that all who follow Him and love Him will be treated the same as was Jesus: abused, beaten and killed.


And all of this from the One we call a "Loving God."


Is it any wonder that the World shies away from Christianity and the Bible?


All other religions (for the most part) teach humility and treating others with respect and dignity. And these religions the World turns to for guidance and instruction. And is it any wonder? The Eastern religions of the Orient are geared toward the perfecting of one's better nature. They seek to teach one humility and peacefulness, the very qualities sought after by the World today. And because the World looks toward peace on the human level, it looks to the East.


It would seem the logical place to find the answer to world peace and brotherly love would be the Bible and God. And if this is true, then where better to look for such answers and examples of peace and compassion than to Christianity?

However, the worst atrocities and the most heinous of crimes throughout history have been committed under the Christian banner. And not only have Christians been mean to non-Christians, but they have been even more hateful and destructive toward other Christians who differ slightly in their view of how God should be seen and worshiped.

And this attitude continues to this day, and it is growing even more so day by day.


As a religion, I believe I can safely say Christianity is a bad example.


INSPIRATION


Occasionally when I am writing these studies or listening to the Bible on tape, an understanding of some portion of the Word will hit me like a frying pan wielded by a temperamental mother-in-law. It's as if I had never seen or heard the Words before, almost as if someone had snuck the Words into the Bible when I wasn't looking.

The fact of the matter is that I had seen the Words many times, but I hadn't connected them as I had at that moment.


There are times as well that while in the situation above, after giving a moment of thought, I realize that not only had I noticed the Words before, but I had received the same understanding of them as well: just not as deeply as I now understand them.

Someone else hearing my "astounding revelation" might think: "So what, everybody knows that already."


I was struck in just this way a moment ago as I was researching for The Emperor's New Clothes.

We know that Moses said there would be one like him to come. And we know that the One to come is Jesus.


15The LORD thy God will raise up unto thee a Prophet from the midst of thee, of thy brethren, like unto me; unto him ye shall hearken; (Deut 18:)


PROPHET (H5030) :"An Inspired man"

INSPIRATION (G2315) : "Divinely breathed"

7I said, Days should speak, and multitude of years should teach wisdom. 8But there is a spirit in man: and the inspiration of the Almighty giveth them understanding. 9Great men are not always wise: neither do the aged understand judgment. (Job 32:)

16All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: 17That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works. (2Tim 3:)


Moses was told by God that he would be as God to Aaron, his brother, who was elected by God to be High Priest to God's people (the Church: "Called out ones; Congregation; Synagogue").


15And thou shalt speak unto him [Levi, the High Priest], and put words in his mouth: and I will be with thy mouth, and with his mouth, and will teach you what ye shall do. 16And he shall be thy spokesman unto the people: and he shall be, even he shall be to thee instead of a mouth, and thou shalt be to him instead of God. 17And thou shalt take this rod in thine hand, wherewith thou shalt do signs. (Ex 4:)


Moses was a representative of God to mankind, God speaking through a human body. Jesus said that He too was a spokesman and a representation of God the Father.


8Philip saith unto him, Lord, show us the Father, and it sufficeth us. 9Jesus saith unto him, Have I been so long time with you, and yet hast thou not known me, Philip? he that hath seen me hath seen the Father; and how sayest thou then, Show us the Father? 10Believest thou not that I am in the Father, and the Father in me? the words that I speak unto you I speak not of myself: but the Father that dwelleth in me, he doeth the works. (John 14:)


The Words that Jesus spoke were not His of Himself, but the Father speaking through Him..


12I have yet many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now. 13Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will show you things to come. 14He shall glorify me: for he shall receive of mine, and shall show it unto you. (John 16:)


We are to be to be Priests, representatives of the people to God; and we are to be prophets, the voice of God (through Jesus) to the people (the Church).


5And from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, and the first begotten of the dead, and the prince of the kings of the earth. Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood, 6And hath made us kings and priests unto God and his Father; to him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. (Rev 1:)


10He that descended is the same also that ascended up far above all heavens, that he might fill all things.) 11And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; 12For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: 13Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ: (Eph 4:)


God spoke to the people through the Shekinah Glory, that is, His Holy Spirit.


10And it came to pass, as Aaron spake unto the whole congregation of the children of Israel, that they looked toward the wilderness, and, behold, the glory of the LORD appeared in the cloud. (Ex 16:)


15And Moses went up into the mount, and a cloud covered the mount. 16And the glory of the LORD abode upon mount Sinai, and the cloud covered it six days: and the seventh day he called unto Moses out of the midst of the cloud. 17And the sight of the glory of the LORD was like devouring fire on the top of the mount in the eyes of the children of Israel. 18And Moses went into the midst of the cloud, and gat him up into the mount: and Moses was in the mount forty days and forty nights. (Ex 24:)


28And it came to pass about an eight days after these sayings, he took Peter and John and James, and went up into a mountain to pray. 29And as he prayed, the fashion of his countenance was altered, and his raiment was white and glistering. . . . . they saw his glory, and the two men that stood with him. . . . . . . 34While he thus spake, there came a cloud, and overshadowed them: and they feared as they entered into the cloud. 35And there came a voice out of the cloud, saying, This is my beloved Son: hear him. (Luke 9:)


28And he was there with the LORD forty days and forty nights; . . . . when he came down from the mount, that Moses wist not that the skin of his face shone while he talked with him. 30And when Aaron and all the children of Israel saw Moses, behold, the skin of his face shone; and they were afraid to come nigh him. . . . . . 33And till Moses had done speaking with them, he put a veil on his face. 34But when Moses went in before the LORD to speak with him, he took the veil off, until he came out (Ex 34:)


8And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. 9And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid. (Luke 2:)


The Bible tells us that we, too, are to be spoken through by the Holy Spirit.


19But when they deliver you up, take no thought how or what ye shall speak: for it shall be given you in that same hour what ye shall speak. 20For it is not ye that speak, but the Spirit of your Father which speaketh in you. (Mat 10:)


Jesus had a twofold anointing of the Holy Spirit.


34Then said Mary unto the angel, How shall this be, seeing I know not a man? 35And the angel answered and said unto her, The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God. (Luke 1:)


15And as the people were in expectation, and all men mused in their hearts of John, whether he were the Christ, or not; 16John answered, saying unto them all, I indeed baptize you with water; but one mightier than I cometh, the latchet of whose shoes I am not worthy to unloose: he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost and with fire: (Luke 3:)


9And it came to pass in those days, that Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee, and was baptized of John in Jordan. 10And straightway coming up out of the water, he saw the heavens opened, and the Spirit like a dove descending upon him: 11And there came a voice from heaven, saying, Thou art my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. 12And immediately the Spirit driveth him into the wilderness. (Mark 1:)


We are to have the anointing of the Holy Spirit or we are "none of His."


8So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God. 9But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his. (Rom 8:)


Jesus was led by the Holy Spirit.


24God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth (John 4:)


9Jesus saith unto him, Have I been so long time with you, and yet hast thou not known me, Philip? he that hath seen me hath seen the Father; and how sayest thou then, Show us the Father? 10Believest thou not that I am in the Father, and the Father in me? the words that I speak unto you I speak not of myself: but the Father that dwelleth in me, he doeth the works. (John 10:)


We are to be led by the Holy Spirit.


15If ye love me, keep my commandments. 16And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever; 17Even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him: but ye know him; for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you.

18I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you. 19Yet a little while, and the world seeth me no more; but ye see me: because I live, ye shall live also. 20At that day ye shall know that I am in my Father, and ye in me, and I in you. 21He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me: and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him. 22Judas saith unto him, not Iscariot, Lord, how is it that thou wilt manifest thyself unto us, and not unto the world? 23Jesus answered and said unto him, If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him. 24He that loveth me not keepeth not my sayings: and the word which ye hear is not mine, but the Father's which sent me.

25These things have I spoken unto you, being yet present with you. 26But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you. 27Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid. (John 14:)


God is Spirit, Who must be worshiped through the Spirit.


24God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth (John 4:)


16Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much. (James 5:)


29The LORD is far from the wicked: but he heareth the prayer of the righteous. (Prov 15:)


31Now we know that God heareth not sinners: but if any man be a worshipper of God, and doeth his will, him he heareth. (John 9:)


Except one.


13And the publican, standing afar off, would not lift up so much as his eyes unto heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying, God be merciful to me a sinner. 14I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other: for every one that exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted. (Luke 18:)


Who are you listening to? Is your understanding of the Word "God breathed"? Or is your knowledge of God's Word Man breathed through doctrines and interpretations of the Word?


 

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