(Part 1 of 2)
And without controversy great is the mystery of godliness: (Rom 3:16)
In its original manuscript. I don't know about you but I have a problem with this designation. It appears that I don't have access to the "original manuscript," and I don't know of anyone who has such a manuscript. In fact the closest to the original manuscript I know of is what is known as the Dead Sea Scrolls, and from what I've heard and seen, they have a lot to be desired.
I've seen where the truth of the Scriptures has been supported by many external and internal proofs. For instance we see where people have gone deep into the Bible to nitpick it in effort to prove it. They have found that by using the Hebrew as numbers the Bible says something even more than those of us without such knowledge would miss. Going the other way we find those who search the heavens have seen the Scriptures, or patterns of the Scriptures, written in the stars.
I have no doubt but that there is such evidence available to us in these and more sources. And I'm glad there are people searching areas for information I would have never thought to look. I just wish there was someone looking into what God is trying to tell us with His plain and simple words, and that those who call themselves people of God (such as myself) were making an effort to do what is printed in black and white. Maybe in the doing, what the Bible is saying might become more evident.
The study of words (in this case, the Bible) is called Hermeneutics after the name of the messenger of the gods, Hermes, or in the Greek, Mercury, the man with wings on his feet, or on his cell phone, whatever. While many of our experts on the Bible have deduced that God is all love and no longer has any rules, they have come up with rules of their own that we, in order to understand the Bible as they understand the Bible, must follow. According to one set of rules (it appears to me there are several such sets, none it seems is actually followed by the ones espousing such a list) is that we must understand the PURPOSE of what is being presented. Here we would have to ask ourself: "Why am I bothering to read this big book of things I really don't care a thing about?"
Have you ever asked yourself why you read the Bible? Do you read the Bible because you're told a Christian must read the Bible to be a good Christian? Do you read the Bible because your church expects it of you and you want to look good, and appear informed in their eyes? Do you accept what you read in the Bible as true and accurate? Do you read the parts you feel are only history of an ancient people, or that tells you what you don't want to hear such as the devastation God has wrought upon His own people, and will again in the future? Why do you read the Bible?
What are you wanting to get out of your reading? What does the Bible say to you? Do you read the Bible to learn about God in order to know how to get the most out of Him with the least amount of effort? Or do you read the Bible to learn what God wants of you so you can make yourself into the person He wants you to be? Do you read the Bible as an important letter written to you, from one you love "more than these" and you want to learn what it takes to make the Lord happy?
What is the purpose of the Bible? Why did God take all the time He did in order to give us far more than we could ever understand (or even try to understand) in words and in vivid pictures and examples?
When we read the very first part of Genesis, the first book God wrote to us explaining the process He used to create us and the world, He gave us a very clear picture as to why He created this world, and what He expects of His special creation, man. Let's take a fresh look at the words God used to tell us what He made us for:
26And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth. 27So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them. 28And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it ["Bring under subjection, conquer"]: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth.
4These are the generations of the heavens and of the earth when they were created, in the day that the LORD God made the earth and the heavens, 5And every plant of the field before it was in the earth, and every herb of the field before it grew: for the LORD God had not caused it to rain upon the earth, and there was not a man to till the ground. 6But there went up a mist from the earth, and watered the whole face of the ground. 7And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul. (Gen 1&2)
In the above passages of Scripture we have both the reason God created man, what he is created of (earth), and what God expects of his creation. Man is to take care of the rest of creation, to subdue it (not abuse it), and to take dominion over the planet. Keep these facts in mind, they'll become important with further reading.
17And unto Adam he said, Because thou hast hearkened unto the voice of thy wife, and hast eaten of the tree, of which I commanded thee, saying, Thou shalt not eat of it: cursed is the ground for thy sake; in sorrow shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life; (Gen 3:)
Now we have the reason man was ejected from the Garden and the presence of the Lord. He had violated two of the rules God had given him. First he listened to a voice other than that of God (and Eve listened to another voice as well), and he disobeyed the one and only commandment he had been given. We see all through the history of the Jews where these two violations have caused them trouble and were the cause of their being punished and then finally kicked out of the Land of Promise. They listened to the voices of their neighbors, and although they were physically fulfilling the laws given to them that made them distinct as a nation (as so clearly demonstrated in the Pharisees), they were also delving into the world of the forbidden (Mat 15:8; Ezek 33:31). Then on top of this error they did not take care of the land they were brought to, which as we see here was the principle duty of mankind.
One of the reasons God is going to destroy the earth as we know it is because we have abused the earth, and if we were allowed to continue very much longer we will cause the world to be uninhabitable. We read:
18And the nations were angry, and thy wrath is come, and the time of the dead, that they should be judged, and that thou shouldest give reward unto thy servants the prophets, and to the saints, and them that fear thy name, small and great; and shouldest destroy them which destroy the earth. (Rev 11:)
9And the LORD shall be king over all the earth: in that day shall there be one LORD, and his name one. 10All the land shall be turned as a plain from Geba to Rimmon south of Jerusalem: and it shall be lifted up, and inhabited in her place, from Benjamin's gate unto the place of the first gate, unto the corner gate, and from the tower of Hananeel unto the king's winepresses. 11And men shall dwell in it, and there shall be no more utter destruction; but Jerusalem shall be safely inhabited. (Zech 14:)
I'm wondering if anyone has actually read this passage and given it more than a superficial consideration. There is so much said right here that I wish I could take the space to elaborate on it. I'll only say that if a person was to look at a map, they would see that the plain spoken of here is now rugged area, that lies between Jerusalem (parallel with the Dead Sea) and midway with the Sea of Galilee (about Nazareth). I wish I knew what the east and west borders of this plain will be, but as yet I haven't found where it has been recorded.
Perhaps this little bit of off-the-cuff information will help someone fill in a gap they have been wondering about.
[A side note here: I think you can tell that I'm directing my writings toward those who are seeking the fulness of the Word as I am, and I'm trying to give glimpses of information as it is given to me. I know there's others out there who have been given bits and pieces as I have, and that by working together we will be able to assemble the pieces as the Holy Spirit moves us. As for anyone just reading what I write for curiosity's sake, I'm sure a lot of what I say sounds like gobbledegook.]
1Woe to her that is filthy and polluted, to the oppressing city! 2She obeyed not the voice; she received not correction; she trusted not in the LORD; she drew not near to her God. 3Her princes within her are roaring lions; her judges are evening wolves; they gnaw not the bones till the morrow. 4Her prophets are light and treacherous persons: her priests have polluted the sanctuary, they have done violence to the law. 5The just LORD is in the midst thereof; he will not do iniquity: every morning doth he bring his judgment to light, he faileth not; but the unjust knoweth no shame. (Zeph 3:)
This is not a picture of the world; it's God's city, His people who have treated God the same way Adam treated Him. Read about Babylon in the book of Revelation and see if you don't find almost the same words used to describe that city. Now, look at the churches today and see if this description can fit them and the direction they're all taking.
24And I will render unto Babylon and to all the inhabitants of Chaldea all their evil that they have done in Zion in your sight, saith the LORD. 25Behold, I am against thee, O destroying mountain, saith the LORD, which destroyest all the earth: and I will stretch out mine hand upon thee, and roll thee down from the rocks, and will make thee a burnt mountain. (Jer 51:)
The picture becomes even more vivid here. There is no doubt as to which city is being referred to in this verse.
Consider that we are made of earth. God is concerned with His planet, but I suspect He's more concerned with these little balls of clay that He has commissioned to take care of His planet, and to care for each other. When we help our neighbor, we're helping to keep the "earth" as we've been commissioned to do.
The churches are filled with dirt being told they are the righteous of God, even though they haven't turned a hand toward making themselves into the vessels God intended them to be. Dirt pollutes. God wants His House to be filled with His Spirit, not the pollutions of the world.
16Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you? 17If any man defile the temple of God, him shall God destroy; for the temple of God is holy, which temple ye are. (1Cor 3:)
5To deliver such an one unto Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that the spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus. (1Cor 5:)
Satan's job is to destroy the flesh, to rid the church, God's Temple, of all "self, ego". There is to be no leaven (dust), in these temples, the dwelling place of God. If we feel Satan working on us, it's because we have some dirt in us that needs to be cleared out so the Holy Spirit can have a clean place in which to dwell. By our no longer having instruction to this effect, we no longer feel the draw of our conscience to perfect ourselves so we'll be in a form fit to stand before God. Preaching has become easy these days because there's no one to preach to. If a person is sitting in the congregation, and has payed his or her tithes, they are deemed perfect. For some reason the Lord doesn't deal with me in this way. He has a sharp boot He uses in order to keep me moving toward what His Son was, which is a demonstration of what we are to be.
Jesus said we teach what we know. Since I don't hear the need for sanctification being preached but rarely, I assume there is no one (or few at least) teachers who are themselves sanctified.
Dominion means "Rule, reign, tread down." We see in the very beginning of Genesis that man was created with the intent that he have dominion over God's creation. Let's take a close look at other places the Bible speaks of dominion and see if we can get a clearer understanding of what He meant by this. I believe we'll have to do a better job of having dominion, as well as obeying the Voice, than did our first predecessors. Remember, the word for dominion has also been translated "tread":
3And ye shall tread down the wicked; for they shall be ashes under the soles of your feet in the day that I shall do this, saith the LORD of hosts. (Mal 4:)
Do what? What is God saying He will do in this verse?
1For, behold, the day cometh, that shall burn as an oven; and all the proud, yea, and all that do wickedly, shall be stubble: and the day that cometh shall burn them up, saith the LORD of hosts, that it shall leave them neither root nor branch. 2But unto you that fear my name shall the Sun of righteousness arise with healing in his wings; and ye shall go forth, and grow up as calves of the stall....
We of the Church(s) add "except" to God's warning. Except if we've been baptized with the right words pronounced over us. Except if we attend the right church and espouse the right doctrine. Except if we're not.... whatever.
It's those who fear God's name who will be spared the "oven." Today we're taught that God is all love, and wouldn't hurt a flea, certainly not us delicate Christians of the modern age. Well, perhaps Malachi is speaking to the Jews and not to us. Could it be?
4Remember ye the law of Moses my servant, which I commanded unto him in Horeb for all Israel, with the statutes and judgments. 5Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the LORD: 6And he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers, lest I come and smite the earth with a curse....
These are the very last words of the Old Testament that serve as a lead-in to our Church age. Do you think they apply to us? Are all Israel of Israel (Rom 9:6)? Should we be listening do you think? But this speaks of the law, and we are now lawless, aren't we?
31Behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah: 32Not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt; which my covenant they brake, although I was an husband unto them, saith the LORD: 33But this shall be the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel; After those days, saith the LORD, I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and will be their God, and they shall be my people. 34And they shall teach no more every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, Know the LORD: for they shall all know me, from the least of them unto the greatest of them, saith the LORD: for I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more. (Jer 31:)
Is this us? If it is (and I should surely hope it is), then what about the law? What if we are without the law written on our heart, or if we refuse to obey the law we've been given? What if we claim there is no more law? What happens if we still have to listen to others to learn what God desires (and demands) of us? Are we then part of what is spoken of here? Or are we part of what in Malachi God calls stubble?
17And the seventy returned again with joy, saying, Lord, even the devils are subject unto us through thy name. 18And he said unto them, I beheld Satan as lightning fall from heaven. 19Behold, I give unto you power to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy: and nothing shall by any means hurt you. 20Notwithstanding in this rejoice not, that the spirits are subject unto you; but rather rejoice, because your names are written in heaven. (Luke 10:) (see Mark 16:15-18)
In Gen 3:15 we read: "I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel." We like to direct everything to Jesus, to place all the heavy load on His shoulders, and carry the marshmallows and ice cream on our own. But when the Bible speaks of the seed, as it is here, it's talking about us as well. The body is just as much a part of the person being spoken of in the Bible as is the Head. The Head precedes the body, but the Head is not an entity in itself. If we don't learn this....!?
We have the attitude that Jesus did it all. Jesus cleared the road and made it passable. We have to walk the road He has prepared (Mal 3:1-2; John 14:2).
We read in the first book of the Bible that the serpent is representative and the spokesman of Satan. Satan works through his ministers of wickedness called "principalities and powers" which are not demons but are those people in high places as illustrated by how the authorities of Jesus' day directed all their effort to preventing Him from doing God's work (2Cor 11:13-15).
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. (Rev 2:)
Everyone thinks, and so we've been told, that we all will rule and reign in Heaven. I don't think this is what John is saying here. I see words such as "Overcome," "Keep my works until the end." This tells me that I need to get on the stick, not go to sleep in the pews.
Who will be broken to shivers? Is it those who are being ruled over? That's what I always thought, but that conflicts with loving one's neighbor, it certainly doesn't sound like the gentle and fair ruler we should be over our family and church. Let's see if the Bible tells us any more about being broken:
43Therefore say I unto you, The kingdom of God shall be taken from you, and given to a nation bringing forth the fruits thereof. 44And whosoever shall fall on this stone shall be broken: but on whomsoever it shall fall, it will grind him to powder. (Mat 21:)
2And whosoever shall exalt himself shall be abased; and he that shall humble himself shall be exalted. (Mat 23:)
24And when he had given thanks, he brake it, and said, Take, eat: this is my body, which is broken for you: this do in remembrance of me. (1Cor 11:)
15O Lord, open thou my lips; and my mouth shall show forth thy praise. 16For thou desirest not sacrifice; else would I give it: thou delightest not in burnt offering. 17The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: a broken and a contrite ["To collapse, break"] heart, O God, thou wilt not despise. (Psalm 51:)
29Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. 30For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light. (Mat 11:)
2For all those things hath mine hand made, and all those things have been, saith the LORD: but to this man will I look, even to him that is poor and of a contrite spirit, and trembleth at my word..... Yea, they have chosen their own ways, and their soul delighteth in their abominations. 4I also will choose their delusions, and will bring their fears upon them; because when I called, none did answer; when I spake, they did not hear: but they did evil before mine eyes, and chose that in which I delighted not. (Isaiah 66:)
When was the last time you heard a sermon preaching against sin, other than the sins and the sinners outside your church who are considered not saved because they don't believe as you do? We see here that God is looking for people who will listen to Him even when we don't hear what we want to hear and that we're ok just the way we are:
8Behold, ye trust in lying words, that cannot profit. 9Will ye steal, murder, and commit adultery, and swear falsely, and burn incense unto Baal, and walk after other gods whom ye know not; 10And come and stand before me in this house, which is called by my name, and say, WE ARE DELIVERED ["Rescued, saved, defended"] TO DO ALL THESE ABOMINATIONS? 11Is this house, which is called by my name, become a den of robbers in your eyes? Behold, even I have seen it, saith the LORD. 12But go ye now unto my place which was in Shiloh, where I set my name at the first, and see what I did to it for the wickedness of my people Israel. 13And now, because ye have done all these works, saith the LORD, and I spake unto you, rising up early and speaking, but ye heard not; and I called you, but ye answered not; 14Therefore will I do unto this house, which is called by my name, wherein ye trust, and unto the place which I gave to you and to your fathers, as I have done to Shiloh. 15And I will cast you out of my sight, as I have cast out all your brethren, even the whole seed of Ephraim. (Jer 7:)
Does this sound like what is going to happen to Babylon in the future? God has a reputation for bringing harsh punishment on the people who go by His name. This is the Babylonian church of today, as it's been since the beginning after the Apostles were taken out of the way. (Isn't that interesting? Taken out of the way. I'm right in the middle of writing "He Who Withholdeth. Perhaps I have a new wrinkle to add to that story.)
13For, brethren, ye have been called unto liberty; only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another. 14For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this; Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. (Gal 5:)
4And that because of false brethren unawares brought in, who came in privily to spy out our liberty which we have in Christ Jesus, that they might bring us into bondage: (Gal 1:)
14But their minds were blinded: for until this day remaineth the same veil untaken away in the reading of the old testament; which veil is done away in Christ. 15But even unto this day, when Moses is read, the veil is upon their heart. 16Nevertheless when it shall turn to the Lord, the veil shall be taken away. 17Now the Lord is that Spirit: and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. (2Cor 3:)
We're taught that we have liberty, which is true.... IF we have the Spirit of God working in us. If we don't have the Spirit of God, then we can neither understand the Scriptures, nor do we have the Voice of the Lord teaching and directing us. If we do have the Spirit of God working in us, then we surely won't be dabbling in sin or unrighteousness without our conscience bothering us no end. The flesh will try to continue doing what it's enjoyed in the past, but those with the Spirit of the Lord will be fighting this impulse with all their might, not because it's looked down on by others, but because it displeases the Lord. Paul describes a wretched ("Miserable, enduring trial") man experiencing just such a battle in the second chapter of Romans.
If the people, certainly the eldership, of a church isn't enduring such a trial, and they're not teaching that such a trial will be undergone by the congregation, what should that tell us?
Liberty is not given to the lawless, but to those who have the law written on their heart, and are serving others and not themselves.
15And the seventh angel sounded; and there were great voices in heaven, saying, The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of his Christ; and he shall reign for ever and ever. (Rev 11:)
There's some strange wording here that's often overlooked and ignored because it doesn't make sense to the carnal ears. What is the Lord's Christ? Isn't the Lord the Christ, the Anointed One? Have you read in the Bible where the Church is the body of Christ? Is the Christ the head of the body only, and the body is something different?
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:)
28So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loveth his wife loveth himself. 29For no man ever yet hated his own flesh; but nourisheth and cherisheth it, even as the Lord the church: 30For we are members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones. 31For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh. [See Mat 19:27-30; Luke 14:26; Mark 3;34] 32This is a great mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and the church. (Eph 5:)
26And he that overcometh, and keepeth my works unto the end, to him will I give power over the nations: (Rev 2:)
We are to be bone of His bone and flesh of His flesh. That means we're to be just like Him! We're not saved so we can do our own thing without any sting of conscience. We're called to a much higher calling than were the Jews. The Jews were living the best of the carnal life there was available. But God wants a Spiritual people He can commune with. Jesus was the first of these people, the first fruit, the seed. We are to be striving to be just like Him. Of course we can't possibly even attempt such a feat if we don't have the Spirit of God working within us as Jesus has. But that's why Jesus sacrificed Himself, so we might attain to the condition He has attained to. This it the "place" Jesus said He must go in orders to prepare a place for us. He went to the cross, and by so doing He planted the seed of the Holy Spirit in the field, which is us, the Church. Unfortunately the Church recognizes itself to be the field, but it doesn't realize it's barren ground with no life in it. If it did realize it had the life of God in it, it, the churches, would be doing all it could to press for the mark of the high calling, and doing what Paul said to do, that is to rid itself of leaven and stop calling the leaven, the filth of the world, into the pews of the churches. It would refuse to use worldly means with which to attract the world into the church, then make the world comfortable by offering it worldly entertainment, donuts and soft speeches.
We're looking at passages of Scripture concerning dominion, which the Lord has created man to have, just in case you've forgotten:
9And they sung a new song, saying, Thou art worthy to take the book, and to open the seals thereof: for thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation; 10And hast made us unto our God kings and priests: and we shall reign on the earth. (Rev 5:)
Where did they say they will reign? Aren't they in Heaven? Why would they be glad to reign on the earth if they've already been in the best place imaginable? Why would they want to return to grass when they can walk on streets of gold and see God face-to-face? Does this make sense to you? Even as a child it didn't make sense to me, and as an old man it even makes less sense.
4And I saw thrones, and they sat upon them, and judgment was given unto them: and I saw the souls of them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus, and for the word of God, and which had not worshipped the beast, neither his image, neither had received his mark upon their foreheads, or in their hands; and they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years. (Rev 20:)
I have a question for you: Here we have people who have died and are in Heaven. These people are going to rule and reign on earth. Yet we see the judgement isn't until the end of the Millennium. That means the resurrection isn't until the end of the Millennium. Doesn't this sound confusing to you? Of course I know we have stories of other judgements taking place, some even stating that everyone is judged when they die. I don't read that in my Bible. I do see a resurrection spoken of that some use as a picture of a pre-trib rapture, but that's in order to escape the Tribulation. In this again I have a question. If I have a resurrected body that can't experience pain or death, then what would I care if I was here on earth during the Tribulation, or up in Heaven? Here I could do the Lord some good, up there I could only be a horrified spectator as I watched what was happening to my loved ones and those I should now be seeking so diligently to help. I'm sorry, I just don't get it.
6Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection: on such the second death hath no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with him a thousand years. (Rev 20:)
5But the rest of the dead lived not again until the thousand years were finished. THIS is the first resurrection. (Rev 20:)
Did you catch that? The first resurrection isn't until after the Millennium, yet we find saints who will be in their resurrected bodies ruling during the Millennium. How do the churches explain this? I'm serious. I don't know what they have to say about it.
I just read a commentary on this event; it says this is a "parentheses" between what was said before (verse 4), and verse 11. I haven't given this idea any consideration so I can't comment on it.
Recently I've been listening to a long series of tapes recorded in the mid 70's when supposedly the world was sitting on the brink of destruction and everything was in the ready for the Lord to come. At that time there was much ado as to what was happening throughout the world. Many books and movies were sold saying absolutely that the world was at the ready. Many "facts" were given that set everyone on the edge of their seat waiting for the end, and for the secret rapture. Well, that was 40 years ago and almost every "fact" proved to be fiction. The teacher on the tapes was very persuasive in his manner and his voice. And he was filled with knowledge in regards to the traditional views of the Bible and the end times. It was clear that he had been doing a great deal of reading. It brought me to tears. No, I wasn't crying because of his speaking ability or because he was hitting on some points that were meaningful to me. I was crying because of the complete lack of Spiritual understanding he had of the Word. And he was teaching a class where some people I know and care about were in attendance. This same view is popular today, in fact it's the same view as was held then in the tradition churches. In other words, we haven't grown, and that is why we are falling backwards. We still crave milk and refuse the meat. Paul made it clear that milk is for babes, and meat is for those who are mature and growing into perfection (Heb 6:1). Since everyone who has been baptized is considered perfect, there is little to no preaching that pushes those in the pews to strive for perfection. And it's perfection that will make the difference at our judgement, not how hot the water was in the pool we were baptized in.
4And they shall see his face; and his name shall be in their foreheads. 5And there shall be no night there; and they need no candle, neither light of the sun; for the Lord God giveth them light: and they shall reign for ever and ever. (Rev 22:)
This is not talking about everyone who goes to church or who pays their tithes. It's referring to those who overcome as Jesus overcame. It's those who are bone of His bone and flesh of His flesh. Unfortunately (a poor choice of words) by the time the people who are counting on their church doctrines to save them discover they were deceived, it will be too late, and they will have forever to think back to what they should have done (Mat 8:12). I have regrets that gnaw at me now, some of those regrets occurred when I was very young. Someday those regrets will be past, and I may have even greater regrets when my time to stand before the Throne of Judgement comes. I won't be judged for those things that bother me now, they're past in the eyes of the Lord. But those things I continue to do now, even though much of it is only in mind due to habit, I know will be brought up to me. I have every reason to have success in my war with my flesh, but in spite of my understanding, I still have my moments of failure. I suspect my "saving grace" will be that I acknowledge these failures and am trying to deal with them. I'm not listening to my pastor who tells me they are no longer a problem because they're covered by the blood. They may be covered with blood, but that makes them all the more obvious to me, and all the more a problem (Heb 10:26-32; 6:4-6).
Again I want to make it clear that I'm not talking about salvation. I don't know anything about salvation, the salvation the churches are striving for. I'm looking at what Paul saw and was striving for. And I'm assuming those who read what I write are after the same thing or they (you) would just stick with what your church says and wouldn't be reading what I have to say. I placed this warning on the introductory page of this section, and I assume it has been read and accepted by those who enter this site.
1Whosoever believeth that Jesus is the Christ is born of God: and every one that loveth him that begat loveth him also that is begotten of him. ...
This is a popular verse with the churches because it tells them what they want to hear. Of course they have to degrade the words "believe"and "love" to something so minimal as to hardly exist. I think of the difference between Paul saying he believes, and when someone stone-drunk in a bar says he believes. The words are the same, but the meaning is entirely different. Which do you think is the type of belief spoken of here?
Let's read on and see what comes next:
2By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God, and keep his commandments. 3For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments: ...
"If we keep His commandments." How do the churches get around this?
and his commandments are not grievous....
They certainly aren't, not according to the churches anyway. In fact they're done away with. All we have is freedom to do whatever we want and reap the greatest rewards:
4For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world: ...
Now for me, I read this to say: because I'm born of God I struggle to overcome the world. And if I succeed in overcoming the world, then I have become an overcomer, just as Jesus was an overcomer and there was none of Adam in Him. The churches read this to say that if a person is a baptized Christian, they automatically become an overcomer, and therefore qualify for all the blessings offered to the overcomer.
Incidently, it should be obvious that when I speak of "the churches," I don't mean all of them. I've seen exceptions to this rule. However, I notice that although the one preaching understands these things, and is struggling to attain to what he sees, the congregation is sleeping, waking occasionally to shout a Hallelujah! One such church I attended for a time, when the on-fire pastor left and another pastor of a worldly sort took his place, the congregation (with some exceptions, who left as did I) didn't even know the difference, and even welcomed the change. True Christianity is an individual thing, it can't be delegated to any organization as it had been to the Jews. The purposes of God, this Church age, is a Spiritual endeavor, not a physical one that can be acted out or understood with the carnal mind.
and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith....
What is faith? It appears fairly obvious to me that faith to most Christians means they believe enough to come to church and sacrifice a few hours a week of missing golf or their TV. Most Christians don't even believe to that degree. To me this is like saying I have faith that the schools are doing a good job because I belong to the PTA, or that my government is doing all it can for me because I belong to a political party.
5Who is he that overcometh the world, but he that believeth that Jesus is the Son of God? (1John 5:)
This is the big one the churches cling to. This simple, obscure verse gives them the confidence that their do-nothing religion is going to get them to the Throne of God. Again, what is belief? The Apostles demonstrated their faith by facing abuse and even death. They left everything for their belief. This we see of the early Christians and the martyrs of old. And we find this same sacrifice in other countries today. But here in America sacrifice involves giving up a morning cup of coffee to dash off to church, or to watch a TV evangelist in their bathrobe.
20For if our heart condemn us, God is greater than our heart, and knoweth all things. 21Beloved, if our heart condemn us not, then have we confidence toward God.
Oh boy! Here's another goody the churches love to harp on. If this were so, and if I was to read this the way the churches preach it, then it would mean that before I became a Spiritually led (I won't say "Spiritually filled" because I don't believe I've reached that stage by any means) I was more of a Christian than I am now. Before I was apprehended by the Lord, I was able to follow my lusts wherever they led me and my conscience didn't bother me one bit. In fact I felt a confidence that I was doing the right thing and in the will of God. Now I feel guilty for the most insignificant of infraction I participate in. It's in the lack of confidence I place my trust rather than my lack of conscience. When and if I ever reach the stage where I no longer sin or displease God, then I'll have attained to what is described in this passage of Scripture.
22And whatsoever we ask, we receive of him, because we keep his commandments, and do those things that are pleasing in his sight. (1John 3:19) When I began listening to the Lord, and reading the Bible in all seriousness and discovering what sin is and how it effects God, then my conscience began to pain me greatly. I read this verse to say, if I'm in the will of God, and I'm doing what He tells me to do, and I confess and repent when I fail to obey, then my conscience will be free and I can have confidence toward God.
33These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world. (John 16:)
Because Jesus has overcome the world, as we're to strive to overcome the world, we have the opportunity to experience peace. But in the world we will have tribulation. The churches seek to harmonize with the world and thereby achieve peace with the world. That's just the opposite of what Jesus is telling us to do. If we're at peace with Him, then the tribulations of the world won't effect us.
OVERCOME means to "Subdue, conquer, get the victory." What are we to get the victory over? Some people think getting the victory means having people kowtow to them. We call such people bullies or sometimes bosses, teachers or government officials. But I don't think this is what Jesus means when He says we should overcome, especially since He was an overcomer, and His drive was to be humble, not bossy.
7He that overcometh shall inherit all things; and I will be his God, and he shall be my son. (Rev 21:).
The major promises go to those who overcome. What are overcomers? In the letters to the churches Jesus gave instructions and warnings to the churches and to those in the churches. Then after each letter He shifted gears and talked about (and to) another group altogether. I believe the first part of the letter is speaking to the Babylonian churches. The last part of each letter is speaking to those within each of the churches He gave His warnings to, that being the ones pressing for the mark as Paul described, and who will hear His voice when He says to "come out of her my people."
Here is a list of the places the word overcomer is used if you would like to look them up. Most of them I've printed out here and have commented on. But you may wish to bypass my observations and check them out for yourself, a wise thing to do even if you do read what I have to say.
Rev 2:7,11,17,26; 3:5,12,21; 21:7; 12:11; John 16:33; 1John 2:13-14;5:4-5; Rom 3:4; 12:21.
1What advantage then hath the Jew? or what profit is there of circumcision? 2Much every way: chiefly, because that unto them were committed the oracles of God. 3For what if some did not believe? shall their unbelief make the faith of God without effect? 4God forbid: yea, let God be true, but every man a liar; as it is written, That thou mightest be justified in thy sayings, and mightest overcome when thou art judged. (Rom 3:)
There are people certain they're going to escape the judgement because of the badge they wear. Peter said that judgement will begin with the Church. Here Paul is telling the churches that they'd better prepare for overcoming at the judgement. I for one want to overcome here and now. I'm failing miserably. Maybe if I went on a strict Spiritual diet and lost some of this "flesh" it might help me in my quest.
There are many times I wish God would just free me of my temptations to sin, give me a fresh start like the churches say He does. But if He did this, then what would I have to overcome? How could I then become an overcomer?
One of the important functions of the Jewish religion was to keep the Word of God pure. At this they succeeded marvelously. And that was one thing they set as their prime target. There were times in their history when they were unable or unwilling to follow the laws of God. One such time was when they were in Babylon. Apparently they lost the scrolls during that time, or they were unable to take a copy with them because they were hauled off to Babylon with barely the skin of their teeth. Whatever may have been the cause, we read in the 13th chapter of Nehemiah that they read the "book," and they saw something they were unaware of previously. In their best of times every Jew would have known the Scriptures inside and out before they reached puberty.
In Babylon, and when the Church is in an apostate (fallen, backslidden) condition the Word of God loses its meaning. The word are there, and they're read, but the intent of what is being read has nullified. Amos tells us:
11Behold, the days come, saith the Lord GOD, that I will send a famine in the land, not a famine of bread, nor a thirst for water, but of hearing the words of the LORD: 12And they shall wander from sea to sea, and from the north even to the east, they shall run to and fro to seek the word of the LORD, and shall not find it. (Amos 8:)
Water, water everywhere, and not a drop to drink. This is said of someone stranded in the ocean, with water to drown in, but nothing that can be taken into the body. This is the condition of the church today. We have the Word of God in many forms, and we hear it every Sunday. And hopefully some of us are reading it regularly. However, although the Word is plentiful, there are very few who understand what they're hearing and reading. In order to understand, we must be willing to do what we hear. Have you ever noticed that someone can give you very explicit instructions on how to do something, but until you try to do it yourself, you just can't make sense of it? The Word is just like that. In order to understand what the Bible is telling us, we have to walk out what we've been shown. It's a step-by-step process. Since everyone seems to already be where they think they ought to be, and they know everything they need to know, they neither look any farther, nor do they go anywhere.
There have been times in history, and even today in some places, where the Bible was outlawed and anyone who owned a Bible either had to surrender it or be killed. I suspect such a day is on its way very soon. Where will people go to hear the Word when they need it most? Don't you think those who have taken the time to memorize as much of the Bible as possible will be needed in those days? Not everyone will have all the Bible set to memory, but if you have one piece, and I have one piece, and someone else has another piece, together we will be able to retain the Word in our midst. Of course today we have people who can quote the Bible almost word-for-word it seems. But they aren't living what they know, and they have no Spiritual understanding of what they have set to memory. Such information is useless in this form. And what's even worse, some of the most knowledgeable people are making attempts (quite successfully I might add by the looks of it) to undermine and devalue the Bible. These people would be worse than useless in event of the famine described here.
12I write unto you, little children, because your sins are forgiven you for his name's sake. 13I write unto you, fathers, because ye have known him that is from the beginning. I write unto you, young men, because ye have overcome the wicked one. (1John 2:)
30Hereafter I will not talk much with you: for the prince of this world cometh, and hath nothing in me. 31But that the world may know that I love the Father; and as the Father gave me commandment, even so I do. (John 14:)
How would you like to be able to make a statement expressing even a fraction of what Jesus said here? John said he was talking to young men who overcame the wicked one. This tells me two things. For one it takes more than a dip in the pool to become an overcomer (I'm stretching the point here I know, but I hope not without good cause). The other thing I find interesting about this verse is that there are those who have overcome the wicked one, and therefore it must be possible for me to do the same. Perhaps if I were a "young man" before I had allowed my wicked ways to take root, I might have found it easier to become an overcomer. I'd like to think that might be the case, but knowing myself as I do, I doubt I could have managed this feat even then.
21Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good. (Rom 12:)
This elaborates on what John just said. And we learn of a way we can add to our chance of being an overcomer, which is to overcome evil (done toward us I take this to mean) with good. That of course takes a lot out of a person. But Jesus did it, and so must we.
51Behold, I show you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, 52In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. 53For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. 54So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory. 55O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory? 56The sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin is the law. 57But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. (1Cor 15:)
Victory is one of the definitions of dominion, which is what we're looking at here. It's through Jesus we're able to get the victory. It's through Jesus we are able to become an overcomer.
An interesting note: The word "mystery" is used 27 times in the New Testament, and often it is explaining something left incomplete or hidden in the Old Testament. Consider this when you realize that the word mystery was not used at all in the Old Testament.
24Know ye not that they which run in a race run all, but one receiveth the prize? So run, that ye may obtain. 25And every man that striveth for the mastery is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a corruptible crown; but we an incorruptible. 26I therefore so run, not as uncertainly; so fight I, not as one that beateth the air: 27But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway. (1Cor 9:)
In my mind Paul is an example of a person determined to be an overcomer. And what is it he's working to overcome? It appears to me it's his own body, his own nature he's trying to subdue.
17For the time is come that judgment must begin at the house of God: and if it first begin at us, what shall the end be of them that obey not the gospel of God? 18And if the righteous scarcely be saved, where shall the ungodly and the sinner appear? (1Peter 4:)
Wouldn't it be great if Peter had left an escape clause to his statement? Well, Peter may have forgotten to leave such a clause, but the churches haven't.
What do you think Peter meant when he said "obey not the Gospel? He must be referring to the unchurched, the unbeliever, right? But then, who would expect an unbeliever to obey the Gospel? And what did he mean by the righteous being "scarcely saved"? Again, he must be talking about something other than what it looks like he's talking about. We know that a baptized Christian is saved regardless of how unrighteous he is, don't we?
Peter says "the time has come" that judgements begins at the house of God. But that was almost 2,000 years ago. We haven't seen any judgement yet have we? Could he be talking about what Paul said?
31For if we would judge ourselves, we should not be judged. 32But when we are judged, we are chastened of the Lord, that we should not be condemned with the world. (1Cor 11:)
Those who are not obedient to the Lord are condemned already. They are the world. If we judge ourself we won't have to be judged. We're being judged, by ourself, here and now. Our judgement has already begun, as Peter is saying here. We have taken dominion in preparation to rule and to reign, not over others, but over our own will and our own Adamic nature that opposes God (Rom 8:2-9; James 4:4-8)
31For if we would judge ourselves, we should not be judged. 32But when we are judged, we are chastened of the Lord, that we should not be condemned with the world.6But Christ as a son over his own house; whose house are we, if we hold fast the confidence and the rejoicing of the hope firm unto the end. (Heb 3:)
1Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand; 2By which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain. (1Cor 15:)
"Unless ye have believed in vain." Faith, that is belief, is what saves us. Isn't that what you've been taught to believe? Peter says we must be careful we haven't believed in vain. How can that be? Isn't knowing there is such a possibility sufficient reason to look deeper into this matter?
I suspect you're wondering why I titled this study Without Contradiction. If you've figured it out already, you're a very clever person. I began this study describing some of the rules for Hermeneutics. One of the rules, the one I've been working on here, says that the reader must take into consideration the purpose of what they're reading. We find that a big part of the purpose for God giving us the Bible is to instruct us in the why's and the wherefore's of overcoming our fleshly nature. This is where Adam failed, and where Jesus succeeded, and where we must succeed if we are to return to the Garden.
I was intending to present this picture later in this writing, but I think the subject has already been broached, so I'll jump ahead and bring the last part to the present.
If we're going to bother with studying the Bible and give it any credibility we first have to determine if the Bible is true, if it is the Word of God, and if it is complete. There are those who will say the Bible isn't the actual Word of God. They say it has been altered, it has lost its meaning, or it has become obsolete because it doesn't take into consideration the times in which we now live. I can't see God creating this world, and us, and not being able to keep His Word in the form He intends us to have it. As for the many translations that dumb down or alter the Word, those who read such versions aren't very likely to be looking for the truth anyway or they would be seeking the Lord for His "advanced" training rather than His nursery rhymes. As to alterations, there may be, but I have yet to find an alteration that made a hair's breadth of difference in what God is telling us. What might be missing in one place is easily found elsewhere. Besides, our problem is not in the words we're reading, but in the voice behind the pulpit and our own desire to hear what pleases us the most. For most Christians I suspect a comic book version of the Bible would be best fitted for them.
There exists what are called "spurious" books that line the Bible book shelves. What of these? I've read many of them, and as far as I can tell (other than maybe a couple) they would be good candidates for the comic books previously mentioned.
Some Bibles like the Catholic versions have books called the "Apocrypha" that isn't included in the Protestant Bibles. Are we Protestants missing out on something? I don't think so for a couple reasons. First, the text of these extra books. If you've read any like Bel and the Dragon (a story about two gods worshipped in Babylon that Daniel supposedly had to contend with) or Maccabees 2, then you understand why I don't think these are books God has provided.
Many commentators have made a point of describing the number of writers who have written parts of the Bible over thousands of years, writing on many complicated subjects, and how they all agree with one another. I have to agree with their observation, however, I don't see where they are preaching what they say they believe. As far as I can see almost every preacher I've read or heard yanks a piece of Scripture from here and adds it to another obscure verse there, then demands that everyone agree with their muddled conclusion. This behavior is never more evident than in the Articles of Faith every church clings to.
As for the number of books in the Bible, we have 66 books. 66 means a lot to me for the reason I'll explain in a moment. First I have to explain that I'm aware of the fact that originally the books of Kings were one book, and that Nehemiah was originally a part of Ezra and called 2nd Ezra. But I'm not one for accidents. I think everything works for the purpose God intends of it. We have 66 books, for whatever reason that might be. Man was created on the 6th day. There are 6 days in which man is to work, and he's to rest and spend time with God on the 7th day, His day of rest. At the end of the 6th day, these 6,000 years, God will reinstall His original program, that is, the program He established with the Jews. Then, after that period of a thousand years, He will bring us back to where we started in the very beginning, but that I'll elaborate on in a moment.
The Bible is a manual intended to accompany God's creation, Man. Six is man's number. We now have a manual with 66 books for man to use in order to understand ourself, and our Creator. This book also has explicit instructions informing man how he can re-establish his relationship with his Creator, and how he can reenter the Garden of Eden.
Take your Bible and open it to the first two chapters of Genesis. Notice how these chapters describe the creation of the world and man. Pay attention to the Garden and how it's laid out, and how its established. Now jump to the last two chapters of Revelation. Do you see where they're saying almost the same thing? Look at chapter 21. In Genesis 1 we see where the heavens and the earth are created. Now, in Revelation, we see a new heaven and a new earth established. We also see a new form of light illuminating this new creation. In the Genesis account the light was physical, just as was the heaven and the earth. Here we see where the light is Spiritual, of God, rather than physical. The physical aspects of creation has been done away with, beginning with Jesus. And now it's a Spiritual realm we're looking at. Adam, a carnal being, failed to live up to expectations. In this new heaven and earth we find only those who have succeeded where Adam failed. These are those who have overcome their flesh and have fed their Spiritual nature. Where are those who are merely "saved"? Read the last two chapter carefully. You'll see them getting what they asked and worked (refused to work) for. Jesus described these people many times and in many different ways. But because of the blinders we all love to wear, we can't see what's right in front of our nose.
Moving ahead in Genesis, and backward in Revelation, notice how the third book from each end of the Bible deals with a serpent, the devil and those who work for him.
Now, move to the forth chapter of Genesis and the 19th chapter of Revelation. We see the beginning of the wickedness of man in Genesis, and the end of wickedness in Revelation. The first murder is committed, and the return of Jesus who ends all evil is presented.
In Genesis we find a description of how man multiplies and becomes more and more wicked until God has to eradicate every living creature from the world. In Revelation we see much the same scenario, but with a difference. Instead of man multiplying, God is using various means to lower the number of humans on the earth.
Noah is provided a means for salvation, but in order to be saved he must do two things, he must be righteous, and he must build the means by which he will avoid the devastation God is about to bring. His good looks and his belonging to the "right" church isn't what saved him.
In Revelation we see a woman clothed with the sun. The Church that has followed the Lamb wherever He goes, is protected from the onslaught of the Tribulation and the devil's false doctrines (the flood). Meanwhile there are 144,000 Apostles spreading the Message of The Kingdom to the world. Noah, we read, was also preaching to the world while he built his ark.
[I know I'm throwing in some unsubstantiated information here that I haven't covered elsewhere. If you can't accept these concepts, just set them aside and try to follow what I'm presenting. Don't let peripherals get in the way of the message.]
After the flood we see where Nimrod built a tower to God in a land called Babylon (meaning "Confusion, babel"), then Abraham, the one who would begin a new direction for God's people and purposes, is called out of Babylon into a land that would someday be his own. In Revelation we see a people called out of Babylon as well, which is the state of the churches in their confusion and their inclination to babel instead of preach the Word. These called out ones will begin a new world.
Now we move to where Moses, as a representative of God, delivers the law to the people, and prepares them for entry into the Promised Land. In the 2nd and 3rd chapter of Revelation Jesus instructs the Church and gives warnings and promises, one to Babylon, and one to the overcomer, as described earlier.
After their wilderness testing the Israelites experienced a series of successes and failures. They were driven from the land by the land's owner, God (Rev 5:4-9; Dan 12:4; Jer 32:10-15,42-44). In the New Testament we see where Paul and the other Apostles were striving to keep the message the Lord presented pure, and the people from backsliding and the church from becoming apostate.
Then came David's Kingdom, which he had to struggle to establish, working against enemy forces from every side, and from within (Saul specifically). Jesus, the One the Kingdom was set up for, also had to fight against His own people. But contrary to David, who prevailed in the end, Jesus sacrificed Himself for the people so His ministry could go on. He handed His Kingdom over to those who would carry on the Father's work, as we're to do. As Paul describes, we, the branches of the Church, the Vine, are building a Temple of living stones in which God will dwell, the which Jesus is the Cornerstone (John 15:5; Zech 6:12 Keep in mind that the Christ, the Vine is one unit, of which Jesus is the Head). David turned his kingdom over to his son, who would build the Temple God would dwell in (1Cor 3:10).
The Greek New Testament reads from left to right, as do our books. The Hebrew on the other hand reads from right to left, just the opposite of our (the Greek) books. In other words, if we placed the Greek New Testament on top of a Hebrew Old Testament, Genesis to Malachi would read in the same direction as would Revelation to Matthew.
Where Malachi ends with the prediction of Jesus and John the Baptist, the New Testament begins with the arrival of Jesus and John.
This has been a very quick and brief outline of what I'm seeing. My purpose here is to show why I believe we have the Bible, the Word of God, in a complete and accurate form. It takes us from the beginning, to a climax, then to the end of the story, which is in fact the beginning. I can't see this being anything but God's design. It can't be a coincidence.
The Bible cannot contradict itself. This is one of the big rules of Hermeneutics. I think this stands to reason and that we will all agree with this stipulation. What I can't understand is how those who espouse this set of rules can at every turn violate the rules they created in order to produce doctrines that oppose the Book they say they're trying to support. If someone on my team had such a fallible sense of dedication, I would be very careful not to turn my back on that person.
In the first several pages of this study I presented many passages of Scripture that I believe counters the doctrine that states all those who claim to be born-again converts are destined for the rewards they expect because they have been promised them by their church or denomination. The following are some other doctrines and the verses I believe conflict with their conclusions. My point in presenting these apparent contradictions is not to press my own view, but to show that there are contradictions, therefore there is a strong possibility that the wrong road has been taken. In my mind every church has taken wrong roads, and because of these wrong roads they are destined for oblivion. The only way to find the truth is to admit the possibility of being wrong, and investigate new areas of possibilities with the guidance of the Holy Spirit. I can't see this ever happening, but I can do what I can and give it my best shot. It's my contention that God has placed bits and pieces of His Truth in each of the churches. And the only way to come to the knowledge of the truth is for the churches to come together and compare notes. Of course that will never happen except with Ecumenicalism, which is a downhill road, not one leading to Heaven.
"God is all love and wouldn't hurt anyone:"
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