Exploring the History behind Christmas, and explaining why so many Christians see it as pagan and a sin against God to observe it.
The history of Christmas, as in the name Christmas, came from the Roman Church back in the 4th century A.D. during the time of the East Roman Emperor, Constantine (Roman Empire split into two empires -- East and West -- in 285BC). In Rome and throughout the Roman Empire there were many pagan rituals and festivals observed, which some of these festivals were held on December 25th or sometime around the date.
December 25th hosted two related festivals -- natalis solis invicti, which was the Roman “birth of the unconquered sun”, and the birthday of the Iranian “Sun of Righteousness”, Mithras, whose worship was popular with Roman soldiers. The winter solstice was another celebration of the sun, which fell just a few days earlier. Church leaders seeing that pagans were already exalting deities with some parallels to the True Deity they decided to introduce a new festival -- Christmas or “Christ’s Mass” -- for Christians to observe the birth of the Savior, Jesus Christ. The intention behind church leaders creating this new festival was to avoid Christians from falling into the pagan rituals and festivals that were popular at the time. As a result, Christians first celebrated Christmas on December 25th in 336 A.D. soon after the Christian baptism of Emperor Constantine, who then declared Christianity the empire’s favored religion.
That is the historical account of Christmas, but where does the argument for those opposed to Christmas and other Christmas traditions come from? To answer that question we must go to a particular Bible passage the majority of these “anti-Christmas” people use in justifying their viewpoint that Christmas, namely the “Christmas tree,” is of pagan origin; therefore, a sin against Almighty God for any Christian to partake in:
Jeremiah 10:1-4, “Hear the word which the LORD speaks to you, O house of Israel (2) Thus says the LORD, ‘Do not learn the way of the nations, and do not be terrified by the signs of the heavens Although the nations are terrified by them; (3) For the customs of the peoples are delusion; because it is wood cut from the forest, the work of the hands of a craftsman with a cutting tool. (4)They decorate it with silver and with gold; they fasten it with nails and with hammers so that it will not totter.’” (NASB)
Now, to understand this passage in the book of Jeremiah we must first understand the cultural background behind it. If you go on further in this passage you will clearly see that this pagan custom was a form of idol worship to the pagan god/s to represent (in a way) the One True Everlasting God. One of the most common examples of a tree idol was the Asherah, which is mentioned several times in the Old Testament.
Asherah was a pagan goddess that was worshiped throughout the Mediterranean region. She was considered to be the goddess of the sea and the mother of Baal. She was always represented as a tree or pole, either planted or erected, then decorated. There are many warnings in the Old Testament about the Asherah tree -- here are a couple of examples,
Exodus 34:12-14, “Watch yourself that you make no covenant with the inhabitants of the land into which you are going, or it will become a snare in your midst. (13) But rather, you are to tear down their altars and smash their sacred pillars and cut down their Asherim (14) for you shall not worship any other god, for the LORD, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God.” (NASB)
Judges 6:25, “Now on the same night the LORD said to him, "Take your father's bull and a second bull seven years old, and pull down the altar of Baal which belongs to your father, and cut down the Asherah that is beside it;” (NASB)
I believe these two examples along with Jeremiah 10 are clearly and specifically referring to idol worship, as they all relate to the pagan goddess Asherah. Therefore, to assume this has any reference to the modern-day Christmas tree is pure silliness, a manipulation of history, and taking the passage away from its contextual meaning. However, if by chance, there are people, today, setting up Christmas trees and then falling down and worshipping it as a god or goddess; or perhaps, a Christian adores their Christmas tree more than Almighty God -- then “Yes” -- there would be an issue of spiritual idolatry; therefore, the passage in Jeremiah 10 would be a relevant reference to use along side the 2nd commandment.
Needless to say, outside of these possible exceptions, I think it clear that most (likely), if not all (hopefully), Christians who set up a Christmas tree in their homes are NOT worshiping them as idols or any other such relation; and I am sure, they do not love them more than Jesus Christ. They are simply using the Christmas tree as a fun -- cultural traditional -- custom and/or as reminder of the true “reason for the season:” the birth of Jesus the Messiah.
It is unfortunate thing that many well-meaning Christians define something as sin when it is not anything of the short, and then try to enslave the minds of their fellow believers be instituting such a notion.
As an old 4th century theologian once said, “We hold this day holy, not like the pagans because of the birth of the sun, but because of Him who made it.”
Monday, December 21, 2009
Exploring the History behind Christmas, and explaining why so many Christians see it as pagan and a sin against God to observe it.
Posted by ForwardThought at 3:39 PM
Monday, December 7, 2009
Have you heard about this man
Who is now in glory and at peace with Him
He paid the price for the laws he didn’t abide
But when it was time to die
He made a choice to save his life
There is not much said about this man.
Only a one phase that he said
But his story is one that speaks
How with two simple words
You can be redeemed
Blessed was this man who was lost
Who was beside the Savior on the cross
When he turned and said, “Remember me”
Jesus replied, “In my paradise you will be”
No matter who you are
No matter where you are from
No matter what you did
You have a choice to live again
All you need is faith
To live in the Father’s grace
So turn to Christ like this man
And one day in paradise you will also stand
Written By ForwardThought (November 2007)
Monday, November 16, 2009
Traditionally, the book of Revelations has been held as the one book in The Holy Bible that presents the vivid picture of the Second Coming of Christ and other end time events that will one day take place; and in every manner, that is undoubtedly one message the book gives us. However, through various widely held traditional views and no thanks to Hollywood movies and prophetic book writers, many of us have been ingrained with the mindset that Revelations is only a book that relates to the end of times; and in part, has generated many other prophetic and symbolic beliefs that find no Biblical backing. Needless to say, if this is all we see Revelations as, then we will miss a crucial underlining message that speaks to all ages, not just to those in the end times.
Revelations is perhaps the most unique and most incredible book to read in The Bible; but at the same time, truly the hardest to understand. To even grasp some understanding -- in my opinion -- requires an in-depth study of how it relates to the Old Testament, historical events, and to much surprise, Greek mythology (the quite “colorful-not of this world,” symbolism does relate to the authors knowledge of ancient Greek mythology). Furthermore, Revelations should not be taken, as so many have pursued, as a collection of puzzles to connect to discover the symbolic mysteries that lie within -- Revelations was never meant for that and there is little, if any, spiritual profit in doing such things.
Throughout the centuries, there have been many ways some have attempted to interpret Revelation; some relate it to only future events while some relate it to only the first century, and some see it as a continuation through history until the end of time. These are the most popular noted interpretations held, which I might say are maybe considerable; however, my purpose in this blog is not to draw out the best interpretation or bring out a new one, but rather exemplify a message in Revelation that relates to all Christians in every era.
As the name indicates, the book of Revelations reveals things that would otherwise be unknown. Traditionally, the view has been held that the apostle John (one of the original disciples) was that writer of this book mainly due to certain geographic reasons and other writing style reasons. However, throughout the book nothing is made certain to indicate this view, as the writer only introduces himself as “John, a bond servant…” (Revelations 1:1). Nevertheless, the pros seem to out weight the cons in presenting the apostle John as the most likely of authors.
This revelation was originated in God and came from Jesus Christ then given to John sometime around the end of the first century (90s AD). John then passed this revelation on to a group of seven churches in the western part of Asia Minor with the purpose to shed light on things that would soon happen (Revelations 1:11).
By the late part of the first century, the churches in Asia Minor were already well established, presumably, based on the first missionary journeys recorded in Acts chapters 16-19. In Revelations chapters 2 & 3, we see the specific letters to these seven actual churches (personally speaking, there is nothing Biblically that I find that imply these churches are symbolic of seven church ages), which clues us in to what the conditions where during this time surrounding the region as a whole. These were, indeed, troubling times for the church, as persecution was strong towards the Christians.
From the very beginning of the first century church, persecution was a real and present danger to the Christians, but mainly, from the Jews. However, as time went on the Roman government officials added to the persecution where thousands upon thousands of Christians were either imprisoned, thrown into slavery, tortured, and killed because of their faith in Christ (John’s exile to a prison on the Island of Patmos is one example of this Roman persecution). The peek of all this persecution came around the 60s (AD) under the Roman Emperor Nero, and continued through the 90s (AD) during the time of Emperor Domitian.
These were, of course, testing times for all Christians -- persecution was at its height and oppression towards the Christians increased. More and more people were turning against the Christians, as the government enforced Emperor Worship. To make matters worse, false teachers started to stir up trouble within the churches by suggesting Christians to go along with pagan religions that practiced idol worship and other immoral sins. (Revelations 2:10, 13-14, 20; 6:9-11). Needless to say, the battles Christians were facing then were coming from every angle.
Many Christians, as a result, were becoming very discouraged and confused, and even some were renouncing their faith, as it seemed that the return of their King Jesus Christ was not coming as they expected to save them from such persecution. It seemed the real power was in the hands of the Emperor, and not Almighty God.
However, through John, Jesus reassured His persecuted followers that He was still very much in control, for He never left them with any false hope of a quick return; but rather, He prepared them for a greater endurance to come. Jesus revealed to them the extent of more troubles to come and the eternal reward that awaited for those who stay firm for Him. Jesus’ message to them, and all of us who follow, was that in God’s time, He will certainly return to judge the evil doers, save His people, and bring all His people into His rest of eternal peace and joy (Revelations 1:5; 12:10-11; 19:15-16; 21:1-4; 22:7).
There is no doubt that Revelations had a meaning to the Christians in the late first century, as it has meaning to all Christians since, and will have meaning to those in the end of all age to come. The symbolic pictures in the book are taken mainly from life under Roman rule, as John knew it; but the principles are for every Christian anywhere and anytime. Throughout the ages, Christians have been faced with persecution, anti-Christs, and false prophets; and we must be careful not to limit this book to our own favorite interpretation or try to strum up connections of modern-day events to these prophesies.
The book of Revelation does give us the accounts to what is going to happen at the end of ages; however, is not just a book of symbolic prophesies for end times nor should we bother or debate over it. Was it not our Lord Jesus who told us to be concerned for today and not tomorrow? If all we see is “end times” we will overlook that Revelations was also given to strengthen, guide, encourage, and give hope to all Christians (past, present, and future) who will be going into the mist of oppression, persecution, and even, death for the name of Christ Jesus; so that they may see the relevance of John’s revelation to their own experiences.
The other purpose of Revelations is the blessed message of HOPE OF SALVATION during times of hardship and persecution from the first century Christian to the present century Christians, and to the future century Christians. In every age, Christians have triumphed over the forces of the anti-Christ through Christ’s victory on the cross (Revelations 12:11); and the final victory over the final anti-Christ will be when Jesus Christ returns to banish all evil and save His people for all eternity.
Posted by ForwardThought at 9:48 PM
Wednesday, November 4, 2009
I wrote this in response to a recent blog that condemns any other versions of The Bible besides the King James Version. I have nothing against the KJV, I grew up with that version; and although, my preference today is the NASB, I still refer to the KJV often and uphold it as one of the best translations for a Christian to use.
There are indeed many bad translations out there that have modified The Bible in horrible ways that have reduced The Bible to mockery. However, to say that the only proper translation is the KJV and everything else is Gnostic-philosophy junk is a fallacy; and in no way, can be proven. Furthermore, it undermines the changing power to Christ that many have experienced through these other great and equally accurate translations.
Casting doubt on what God actually says has been a huge strategy of Satan from the beginning; Genesis chapter 3, first of many examples. And casting doubt towards the validity of the words of The Bible would not be a far cry in this strategy of his--he loves to divide and conquer. Division is no stranger within the Christian body, and not only has division been caused over the proper version of the Bible, but in other such issues as commuinion and baptism. Sadly, though, all this division has steered us away into fighting amongst ourselves instead of fighting the real enemy.
My intention in this post is not to stir up more division, as I would be contridicting my beginning message; but rather give an explaination to why a person cannot conclusively state that one version of the Bible is the more accurate while all others are heresy trash that need to be “burned.”
Anyone translating between languages will understand one thing, it is quite an impossible feet to accurately translate between languages. The delimma for any translator is how to properly convey the original idea when wording and language identification can be different from one culture to the next; and more often than some, it is impossible to express the idea of one language in another.
Therefore, the original always supercedes the copy in accuracy; and in a sense, compromise is forced on the translation, as expression of idea is all in accordance to the personal ideas and understanding of the translator.
Many claim that the KJV (King James Version, 1611 AD) as the only true accurate Bible, asserting that the translators of the KJV were divinely inspired just as the original New Testament writers. Unfortunately, there is no conclusive evidence to support this claim (not personally claiming it wasn’t, sake of agruement). They also claim that the KJV was the only “perfect” Bible translated into English; but asserting this, does not take into account that word modification or word meaning has its cultural ties depending on the time: example below
I Thessalonians 4:15 (KJV), “For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep.”
I Thessalonians 4:15 (NASB), “For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord, will not precede those who have fallen asleep.”
The main difference, as I highlighted, are the words “prevent” used by the KJV translators and “precede” used by the NASB (New American Standard Version) translators. The word “prevent” changed meaning between 1611 and now; and if you did not know that, this verse in today’s English would cause some confussion.
The issue here are the words you think you know, but through time, have changed meaning; unless you are aware of such wording changes, you will definitely have problems reading the KJV. Furthermore, no hasitation from the KJV translators was given in applying their very culturally based thou’s and shalt’s words. These words do not take from the original idea; however, these words did not exist in the original Greek text. However, the issue of the best translation does not stop at translation word identification, it goes even deeper.
Two main lines of Greek texts exist, which most agree that both date back to the same time, first century AD. The text that was mostly used up until the 1800s was Textus Receptus (a.k.a: Majority or Bynzintine text) related to the Syria region. However, other Biblical manuscripts were discovered in Alexandria (Egypt-North Africa region), which many newer translations stem from; nevertheless, the question of its reliablity has been questioned for centuries.
Erasmus, Catholic Theologian, in 1525, compiled the first Greek text using manuscripts from the Textus Receptus. The Alexandrian manuscripts were available at the time, but for unknown reasons, the Alexandrian text was not used. However, in 1853, Brooke Westcott and Fenton Hort, were the first to compile a Greek New Testament, which took 28 years to complete. They, unlike Erasmus, relied heavily on the Alexandrian text; and what influenced them to go this route was that Alexandian text was written in a more polished Greek writing style, where as, the Textus Receptus seemed more paraphrased in style, which led them to question its’ reliablity.
So, which one is more reliable? Actually no one really knows; however, many studies of the two show that the texts are very must alike in both quality and quanity, agreeing 98% of the time, and that the 2% differences are so minor that they neither show up in translation nor affect understanding.
In conclusion, to assert that Alexandria text is a product of heresy, a rather interesting question can be posed, “Was the Alexandrian texts the only resource the Egyptian Christians had during the first three or four centuries?” If not, no problem; but if so (no evidence to say either way), then the conclusion would be that the Egyptian Christians only had access to this heresy version of God’s Word. But to take such a conclusion would essentially place the doctrine of preservation into a serious dilemma; and if you define preservation in terms of the Syrian Textus Receptus; you would be speaking poorly of God's sovereign care of the Christians in old Egypt.
My advice is this, we must have balance and no translation is 100% perfect, they all have their problems. This does not mean errors or inconsistencies exist in The Bible, but it is important to understand how your translation came to be, what methods were used in its creation, and what crediable Christian scholars and theologians have to say.
Nevertheless, the most important thing to consider in all of this, always seek the Holy Spirit of Christ on all questions; taking the pursuit on your own without the Spirit’s quidance can lead into crucial errors.
Wednesday, October 28, 2009
It is no shock, within the Christian community, that in the original Greek manuscripts of the Holy Bible--Old Testament and New Testament--that the word “hell” does not appears anywhere in it; so…
What is the origin of the word “hell”?
Why the change in translation to “hell” in the first place?
There is much truth that can be applied when one simply takes the time to investigate historical accounts on the “What…?” and “Why…?” certain things as we know them today came about. However, sometimes history does not offer the full conclusions or answers that we are looking for; and with that, it can be helpful to look to other resources that, perhaps, are deemed as mere fiction; but if you looked closely, meaning can sometimes be found to hints of truths.
Mythology: the study of myths
Myth: a story of great but unknown age which originally embodied a belief regarding some fact or phenomenon of experience, and in which often the forces of nature and of the soul are personalized; an anceint legand of a god, a hero, the origin of a race; a wonder story of prehistoric origin; a popular fable which is, or has been received as historical.
Most of us are familiar with the Scandinavian Vikings of Northern-Europe; and indeed they were very barbarian like, as most of us perceive; and in realm of religion, very pagan in their beliefs. Their main form of religion and religious rituals varied in geographic areas; however, the foundation of their pagan religion was seen through the mythological stories of Norse; and the god, Thor (god of lighting and thunder powered by his mystical belt and hammer), was the pride of their gods when it came to worship and sacrifice.
Furthermore, as with many other classic mythologies, such as the Greeks; and various established religions, such as Christianity, one major commonality seems to stand out in all them--life after death; a place of paradise and a place of torment--and the Norse mythology was no different. Within the Norse, paradise or the dwelling place of the gods was known as Asgard; and their place of torment or the dwelling place of the evil giants was known as Hel. Their belief in their pagan god/hero Thor was strong, but it was not strong enough; and due to the overwhelming coalitions of the Christian Crusaders to abolish pagan religions in Europe to establish Christianity, the Norse followers symbol the Hammer of Thor was replaced by the Cross of Jesus (1100-1200 AD); however, not all of the Norse mythology would be stripped away, but rather one aspect would remain even till today, which we will later see.
The word “hell” is not found in the original Greek text of the Bible; and likewise, the same is known of the first Latin translation in 4th century AD. The first English translation of the Bible is credited to Oxford professor, John Wycliffe, around 1380AD; and it is here when the first use of the word “hell” first comes on the seen. The origin of the word “hell” actually derived from the old English words “hel” or “helle”, which often referred to as a “nether world for the dead.” The words that were subsequently replaced by “hell” in the English translation from the original Greek Bible were “Gehenna” and “Hades” (some translations today do in fact keep “Hades”). However, this change in translations brings the question--“Why the change to ‘hell’ in the first place?”
This question, unfortunately, has led many over the centuries to theorize various conspiracies on the Christian origin of “hell” and although, entertaining these “hell” conspiracies maybe, all are speculative at best and simply imaginary tales created to discredit Christianity. But if a person is willing to take the time and look into history--the fog of speculations will be made clear in the historic facts.
If you are familiar with the New Testament and the history around that region (first century AD), you will know that the controlling influence was Rome; however, Rome’s influence was not solely their own. Before Rome came into power, a gentleman by the name of Philip II of Macedon (Southeast Europe-Northern Greece) set out to conquer the Greece region (336BC), which he succeeded; and soon after his death, around the same time, his son, Alexander (the Great) continued to expand the Macedonian empire even further-- south into Egypt and as far west to the borders of India. As a result of Alexander’s expansion, a multitude of Greek refugees spread throughout the entire empire, which in turn, led to an influx of Hellionistic thinking (Greek philosophy) to spread and adapt through the empire; and it wasn’t until the 100sBC when Roman rule would eventually conquer Macedonian’s empire and take over for the next 500 years (27AD-476BC).
With the spread of Greek philosophy in the entire Alexander-Roman empire; everything Greek, the language, culture, and traditions, including their mythology, followed, which is one major reason that answers the question--“Why the change in translation…?”
Origin of “Hell”
In Greek mythology, the place of torment for the damned was known as “Hades”; and this important to know, because, many who are not familiar with Greek mythology and the influence it had on the NT cultural times see “hades” and “hell” as two different places--hell for the devil and his angels and hades for Godless humans--but that is all related to some Bible translation swapping around hades and hell; needless to say, the same place is being referred. “Gehenna”, as I mentioned before, is the other word that is replaced by “hell”; and the significance of this word is directly related to Jewish--Old Testament--history. Gehenna, unlike Hades in Greek mythology, was an actual place where many horrific situations of torment, sacrifices, and genocide were performed (also known as the “Valley of the son of Hinnom,”--read Joshua 15; II Kings 23; Jeremiah 2). So, when the NT Jews heard the word “Gehenna”, more than likely, drew an instant picture of a terrible and scary place.
So, of course, Jesus being God, Jewish, and growing up in this first century Greek influenced culture was very familiar with such Greek myths and Jewish history; and He used these two places symbolically to describe an actual place of eternal punishment and death so that both the Greek and the Jew could easily grasp a vivid picture to what He was saying (symbolism such as these are seen throughout the Bible to describe the unscribable--not uncommon). And thus, this brings me back to the Norse mythology and its relationship with the modern English term “Hell.”
Greek mythology, though still present in knowledge in the 1st century, was on a steady decline mainly due to increase of other Greek philosophies, Roman mythology, and the Christian movement; and eventually, through the turn of the first and second centuries, Greek mythologies soon become a forgotten memory of meaning. Moreover, with Christianity growing more and more apart from Judaism, the thought of “Gehenna” stuck with the Jews, but lost any and all meaning with the Christians around the middle ages (500AD).
In light of these lost meanings, John Wycliffe when translating the Latin Bible to English in 1380AD decided to pick a known term at the time from the old Norse mythology “Hel/Hell” to provide, as Christ did for the Greeks and the Jews in the first century, a symbolic representation that created a vivid meaning of a horrific place of torment to the fourteenth century Christian. Nevertheless, call it Gehenna, Hades, or Hell--whatever you like-- it was and is all the symbolic picture of an indescribable place of endless punishment for those who choose to believe in themselves rather than the One God and His only Son, Jesus.
So, all the conspiracies, made up stories, and speculative assumptions about “hell” are nothing more than fictional mythologies themselves that hold no truth; and all it took was a little look at history and the mythology found in it to give us the true answers of the origin of “hell.”
**Source Information: The Human Venture, Fifth Edition; Anthony Esler
And please, by all means, if there is anything you would like to add or take away; this is an open forum--your comment is welcome.
Posted by ForwardThought at 2:45 AM
Tuesday, October 13, 2009
“Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter through it. (14) For the gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to life, and there are few who find it.”>>Matthew 7:13-14
Most Christians would agree that this passage in Matthew chapter 7 is perhaps one of the most widely known. The principle that Jesus was portraying is simple; there are two ways that every human will follow.
One way is the broad way--the easy way--that many will take. The people who go this way will put their faith on themselves and/or false teacher rather than in Jesus Christ. This way is full of deceit, denial, self-satisfaction, and hopelessness. This way can bring its bright moments for those who chose it; however, in the end, this broad-wide path will ultimately lead to the gate of eternal destruction.
The other way is the narrow way--the hard way--that few will take. Those people who go this way put their faith only in Jesus Christ and deny all selfish desires. This way is full of truth, love, humbleness, self-sacrifice, and hope. This way can bring isolation, ridicule, persecution, or even death for those who chose it; however, in the end, this narrow-small way leads to the gate of life everlasting.
I am sure the depictions of these to ways are nothing new to most of us; and more often then some, we often in vision these two ways as two road from a fork in the road; and then, branching of into two separate directions--one wide leading to hell and a one narrow leading to heaven.
But is there really a fork in the road leading people into two separate roads; or perhaps, just one road leading people into opposite directions?
All humanity, from birth, inherits the nature of sin; and its consequence--“Therefore, just as through one man [Adam] sin entered into the world, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men, because all sinned” (Romans 5:12). There is no way around it, we all receive it. So, at birth, all humanity starts walking the same way; and that way is the broad way, which leads to the sin consequence of destruction. However, God through the loving sacrifice of His only Son, Jesus, made it possible for humanity to one day choose to overcome this inherited sin and walk another way--the narrow way, back to Him, which leads to eternal life.
The few, who come to the realization of Jesus’ sacrifice, and then, humbly accept it; instantly stop in his or her tracks on the broad way, take a 180 turn, and start walking the opposite way. Indeed, this opposite way becomes very small and narrow; the new Christian is now going against the grain and has to start dodging, weaving, and maneuvering around the many who are going still going the other way-- the broad way.
To give an analogy: Have you ever been immersed in a large crowd exiting out the same door; but then, you realize you forgot something and you have to turn around go back in? Needless to say, it is not going to be easy; and many obstacles, difficulties, and push backs in squeezing and maneuvering around every one instantly becomes your reality; but eventually, through perseverance, you will make it. Well, this is similarly the Christian’s reality in his or her narrow way--many obstacles, many difficulties, and many push backs (set backs) will come; but through perseverance in the Lord, the Christian will make it.
So, I encourage you Christian, as we walk our narrow way; to always seek the Lord for strength because there are many obstacles fighting against us; and we are going to need that added perseverance to get around them.
“Blessed is a man who perseveres under trial; for once he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him.”>>James 1:12
Monday, September 21, 2009
“If anyone speaks, he [or she] should do it as one speaking the very words of God. If anyone serves, he [or she] should do it with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To him be the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen”>>I Peter 4:11 (NASB)
I have been a Christian for some time now and my life’s focus, even through the darkest of times, has revolved around my Christian faith. My Christian faith does not come from any type of superstitious fear or tradition, but by a strong inward commitment and trust towards my Eternal Savior, Jesus Christ; as only given, through His Holy Spirit. I am a simple person, a simple Christian--no Theology degree here--and all my everything as a Christian, father, husband, musician, and writer comes from the pure passion to serve my Savior.
My life’s focus is to always glorify The One Triune God--The Father, The Son, and The Holy Spirit--and to convey the Christian message in the most understandable way to anyone who is willing to open his or her heart. I want to break the notion that Christians are nothing but judgmental--"Bible Thumping"--hypocrites, who force their faith on others; but in all the while, not live up to the same principles they apply others to live.
Indeed, there are those Christians who portray this unfortunate hypocritacy. The problem with the “hypocrite” is that they inwardly fail to “Seek first the Kingdom of God and all His goodness”; but rather, cling to man made traditions which then results in outwardly misrepresenting the very nature of Jesus Christ. However, there are many who are faithful Christians which earnestly “Seek first...” ; and in doing so, outwardly project the glorious “fruits” of the nature of Jesus Christ--outward expressions are always connected to true inward commitment.
True Christianity, unlike all the other religions in this world, serves no manmade images made out of stone, clay, or precious materials; but rather serves the One True God, The Biblical God of Jacob, the One who Creator of all things and still ever present today. We need nothing manmade, all created things speak to His presence around us. Christianity also speaks of the One Divine Savior, Jesus, God the Son; the One who is God and everything that is of God, The Messiah, The Christ--the One who sacrificed His life only to rise on the third day for the salvation of mankind to all that believe.
The true Christian does not need to symbolize his or her faith by any “proper” method of religious acts, works of good, or look to a statue of a man still nailed to a rigid cross; but rather, we symbolize our faith by our outward projection of the characteristics of Jesus and look to an empty cross of a risen Savior who, by the power of God the Father, overcame death so that we will one day overcome the same.
Christians are everyday people that experience everyday problems; however, with each problem, we seek the Lord’s guidance to see His way through it to persevere and overcome it. Christians are not perfect, we are not made sinless; though some may feel we should be, but that is simply not true. Christians make mistakes just like everybody else, but with each mistake comes a sense of humble acceptance to correct that which we wronged and to blot it out of our life entirely.
In all, what a faithful and committed Christian brings to the world around him or her is the present eternal hope of Jesus Christ that all the worries and problems this world can bring--whatever the severity--are only temporal; and that a true--never failing--sense of peace through a loving spirit, a committed heart, and a life filled with purpose can be gained.
“But the fruit of the Spirit [Jesus’ Holy Spirit] is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh [no longer relying on self] with its passions and desires. If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit. Let us not become boastful, challenging one another, envying one another. “>>Galatians 5:22-26 (NASB)
Posted by ForwardThought at 2:21 PM
Friday, September 11, 2009
“While attending a black fraternity party, I recently learned it’s a bad idea to profess one’s affinity for Glenn Beck, Bill O’Reilly, Rush Limbaugh, and Sean Hannity. Worse, according to current polls, it appears I may be the only black 22 year old in America who will be voting for Sen. John McCain.
It’s not that I was unaware that being a black conservative Republican puts me in the ultimate “minority.” After all, Shelby Steele’s classic article “The Loneliness of the Black Conservative” has become an article of faith that I’ve all but committed to memory. But I guess I had made the mistake of buying into all that liberal yammering about being “open minded” and supporting “diversity” that I’d deluded myself into believing that a civil, discussion about the herd-like ideological mentality of so many of my contemporaries suffer from was possible.
Boy, was I wrong. Big time!
My official “Negro” card got stripped away. I instantly lost my “blackness.” And now, consequently, I now am greeted with this: “Hey, y’all, here comes The Black Republican.” And that’s when I think to myself, hmmm…so this is how it feels to be an "Uncle Tom." Still, being labeled “The Black Republican” is undoubtedly a promotion from: "Hey, why are you dressed so nice? You got a job interview or something?" Or, worse, “Man, why are you talking like that? You sound white? Who do you think you are? A conservative Kayne West?”
But my path to ideological emancipation began where all the most important things always begin—with my father and mother. Growing up, my Army drill sergeant father was a firm believer in tough love. My parents instilled in us Christian values. But I believe that first part—having an involved mother and father—was critical. With 70% of all black babies being born out-of-wedlock, it’s no wonder black poverty remains entrenched, welfare has become a way of life, and that many of my fellow young black male counterparts choose gangsta life over college.
But it wasn’t until college that I realized I had been ensnared in what John McWhorter calls the “Cult of Victimology.” One of my professor’s pointed me toward a world of literature I’d never been introduced to: Thomas Sowell, John McWhorter, Shelby Steele, Star Parker, Angela McGowan, Larry Elder, Walter Williams—they obliterated the Leftist foolishness that floods my community.
It was then that my eyes were opened to the truth, a truth that my father was willing to give his life for, a truth that hundreds of thousands of American soldiers have paid the ultimate price to pass on to future generations. And that truth is this: America remains the greatest country that God gave to man.
So imagine me, a member of various organizations that largely consist of young black Americans, most of whom are womb to the tomb Democrats and liberals, speaking openly about the many opportunities and blessings we enjoy in our great nation and refuting Michelle Obama’s supposition that America is a “downright mean place..”
Can you say…..social suicide?
"So Jerome,” the partygoers asked, “you’re REALLY a Republican?!"
Of course I’m a Republican! And your great grandparents were too!
Yes, I’m a member of the Anti-Slavery Party, the party responsible for: the 13th (abolished slavery), 14th (gave former slaves full citizenship rights), the 15th Amendment (gave slaves voting rights), the Civil Rights Act of 1871(protecting southern blacks from the Ku Klux Klan), the Reconstruction Acts, and the 1866, 1875, 1957, 1960, and 1964 Civil Rights Act.
And no, my brothers and sisters, yesterday’s Southern Democrats are NOT today’s Republicans! If so, former Klansman, Sen. Robert Byrd—the highest ranking senate Democrat and President Pro-Tempore of the Senate—apparently didn’t get the memo and forgot to switch parties.
But it’s more than just the history. I’m proud to stand for self-empowerment, personal responsibility, strong family values, small government, low taxes, free markets, a strong military, and individual achievement etc.
And don’t even get me started on which side stands up for the precious 1.4 million unborn children (32% of whom are black), who will be casualties in the war inside the womb. When I see these so-called “black leaders” bashing conservatives for “racist policies,” I wonder how they justify cheering on the political team who proudly defends the annihilation of 13 million black children since 1973.
And conservatives don’t care about black people? I don’t think so!
No, I think I’ll ride with the team who says enough with the welfare cancer that has destroyed people’s innate desire to achieve. Yes, I’ll ride with the folks who respect me enough to consider me their equal and not insult me with Affirmative Action racism. Yeah, I’ll ride with the gang who would rather create effective policies than emotional “feel good” symbolism that robs individuals of their desire to aspire.
So while it may take a little getting used to walking into college parties where I’m known as “The Black Republican,” I now realize I am a newly inducted member of a rich tradition of ideologically emancipated black conservatives. And guess what? I’m more than cool with that. I’m proud, actually.
“The conservative Kanye West”?
Has a nice ring to it, doesn’t it?”
Written by Jerome Hudson, a Christian, a Republican, a Conservative, and a sophomore at Tallahassee Community College
Posted by ForwardThought at 3:10 PM
Thursday, September 3, 2009
On Tuesday, Sept. 8, at 12:00 noon Eastern Time; President Obama will be broadcasting an address directly to students in the nation’s public schools for age’s kindergarten to sixth grade. The text of Obama’s school speech has not been made available to parents at this point, although lists of classroom activities for elementary school students and older students are available at the Department of Education website.
This is not the only broadcast Obama has planned. Today, Sept. 3rd at 9:00 am EST, Obama is making a nation wide televised broadcast to many or all public schools to welcome the kids back--a co-worker of mine called his children’s school; and the school did confirm that this was indeed happening today at the above stated time.
I am sure that Obama’s “Welcome back to school” broadcast is just a prelude skem to set up his broadcast for next week; nevertheless, on September 8th, I know my children, who are ages 7, 9, and 11, will be taking that day off. Please take note, Christian parents; this is not just a speech, but a full out program--it’s “Obama Day.” I have been hearing through many--call you local school for the details (I will be)--that before and/or after his speech children will have available literature to “read up” on Obama and/or his agendas and ask questions if they choose. If this concerns you; please, don’t sit on it; call or write your local school and let them know your feelings of concerns (Christian: know the difference between expressing your convictions and attacking with your convictions).
This is blatant--by definition--propaganda by Obama to manipulate our children to his ways. His ratings are at an all-time low (47% approval) and he is desperate to gain back his once “Hopeful” (Hopeless) message. Going after our child proves his lack of respect for the home. I am not “shocked” that our public school system is allowing this propaganda; after all, they are a state governing system. However, though I am aware of this and choose to send my children to a public (“secular” a more appropriate term) school--I do not have to stand for it. Principle alone, whether you agree or disagree with Obama, should strike a core to many; however, many have been fooled for the past eight months and just don’t see anymore.
Train up a child in the way he should go, even when he is old he will not depart from it. Proverbs 22:6 (NASB)
Just a thought: “Why is his second speech focused to elementary age children and not to junior-high school ages?” Well, it’s simple; any body that has a thinking brain knows the elementary age children are most influenced by the world around them; and typically, if the child have caring parents, by junior-high school age children have somewhat a level grasp on things. However, our teens are not being left out from Obama’s propaganda: “What is one major teen influence besides their peers?” You guessed it: Music. Obama is calling on the music industry to push support for him and work with him to promote his agendas.
If a man or woman has to resort to tactics of propaganda; it truly speaks to the nature of person he or she is. Scripture and history tells us, “Don’t trust them…”
President Obama and his team’s deceit show no boundaries or limits; they will go to any measure to get done what they will. They have proven this time and time again by all their various smoke screens, propaganda, and careful, always planned-out, wording. Obama and most of our other government “leaders” only serve themselves and only care about their “needs”; but we all should known, true leaders, serve and care for the needs of others. May God be with us all who see and know the truth.
Lead me, O LORD, in your righteousness
because of my enemies—
make straight your way before me.
Not a word from their mouth can be trusted;
their heart is filled with destruction.
Their throat is an open grave;
with their tongue they speak deceit.
Declare them guilty, O God!
Let their intrigues be their downfall.
Banish them for their many sins,
for they have rebelled against you.
Psalms 5:8-10 (NASB)
Friday, August 28, 2009
1> Work toward a healthy sense of who you are. Remind yourself that you are striving for progress, not perfection. God does not expect perfection; only progress.
2> Jump start your heart with an attitude of gratitude. Count your blessings daily and practice random acts of kindness.
3> Chose to live in the “now” and not in the past. Let go of yesterday and quit worrying about tomorrow because yesterday is gone and tomorrow will take care of itself. Slow down, take a breath and appreciate what God brings into your life today. Practice saying “no.”
4> Let go of hurts and disappointments, which are the “garbage” of the past. When you make mistakes learn to forgive yourself. Forgiveness means freedom.
5> Smile at yourself in the mirror. Smile at others. Give compliments generously and openly. Receive compliments gracefully.
6> Gently poke fun at yourself and learn to laugh at your mistakes. A little silliness will help you relax and become less self-conscious.
7> Hang around with positive, optimistic, and up-beat people who enjoy both work and play and know how the get the most out of each.
8> Set realistic goals on a regular basis. Beginnings and change help create exciting energy and new experiences rejuvenate your spirit. Take time to celebrate accomplishments, then reward yourself with a break from the normal hustle and bustle of life.
9> Try to keep your life balanced by prioritizing your wants and needs, and keeping them clearly defined. Need and wants are different; recognize that fact of life. Pray for wisdom and courage to know the difference.
10> Feed your soul at least once a week by doing something you love.
Posted by ForwardThought at 8:23 AM
Sunday, August 23, 2009
In the wake of the violence of the Bolshevik Revolution, a member of the Russian Imperial Diplomatic Corps immigrated with his family to Paris. His teenage son found himself adrift in the sudden shift from fighting hardship and danger to the relative ease of safety and peace. Happiness seemed meaningless if there was no purpose behind it. He decided that if he did not discover a meaning for his life within a year, he would commit suicide. As he neared the end of the year with nothing to show, the young man asked to attend a lecture by a Christian speaker. He did not believe in God and had absolutely no use for the Church, and the lecture did nothing to change his convictions. Angry at what he had heard, he went home and asked his mother for a Bible so that he could check to see if the Gospels truly supported these views or not. He chose to read the Gospel of Mark because it had the fewest chapters and he did not want to waste any unnecessary time. He was in for a surprise:
‘I do not know how to tell you of what happened. I will put it quite simply and those of you who have gone through a similar experience will know what came to pass. While I was reading the beginning of St. Mark's gospel, before I reached the third chapter, I became aware of a presence. I saw nothing. I heard nothing. It was no hallucination. It was a simple certainty that the Lord was standing there and that I was in the presence of him whose life I had begun to read with such revulsion and such ill-will.....This was my basic and essential meeting with the Lord. From then I knew that Christ did exist. It was in the light of the resurrection that I could read with certainty the story of the Gospel, knowing that everything was true in it because the impossible event of the Resurrection was to me more certain than any event of history.’
This young man became Father Anthony of Sourozh, who established the Russian Orthodox diocese of Great Britain and Ireland. Although he was not looking for Jesus when he went to the Bible, he found Him nonetheless; or perhaps, more accurately, Jesus found him. He was examining the "pieces" of the Bible's witness to Christ, but it was the reality of the risen Christ that revealed God to him which then enabled him to read the rest of the Scriptures in relationship to this central reality.”
An excerpt from the book--Life With God, by Richard Foster--which truly speaks to what can happen when the doors of biasness and pride are closed; and the door of possibility becomes open…God bless you and thank you for reading.
Monday, August 3, 2009
There are, of course, other definitions one could find in defining the atheist; however, in a nutshell, this has to be the simplest form and one that both the Christian and Atheist can agree on. Although simple this definition maybe, the atheist has proven that it can go evermore deeper or broader--if you will--of the true nature of one who claims the title: Atheist.
What you are about to read is a compilation derived from my own personal experiences; either through books, articles, blogs, personal studies, and conversations. If you are an atheist reading this; I just want you to know that I, throughout all my various experiences, have made something of a habit to step out of my religious box of thinking in order to maintain an objective approach; and in every instance, I have never once ran to my religious security blanket because the other truth scared me. In fact, I became more confident of my Truth, the only Truth, every time. Is there absolute truth? Indeed, there is.
With most atheists, the issue of people believing in God bothers them. What is it about atheists that would compel them to spend so much time, attention, and energy refuting something that they don't believe even exists? What causes the atheist to do that? They often attribute their intentions for caring for those poor, delusional people who believe in God in order to help those poor people realize that their hope is completely ill-founded. Atheists have also proven to go a bit further within their intentions; it is as if, they purposely place--out of deep curiosity--a challenge to those who believe in God to simply see if the God-believers can convince them otherwise. However, there is yet, an even deeper intention, as I have come to know; it seems they seek to become free from the question of God; and their persistence to convince the other side of their right thinking speaks to this. In other words, if they could conclusively prove to the God-believers that they are right, then the issue is off the table--debate won; and now, they can stop fretting about disproving God and live free to go about their life.
Nevertheless, what the atheist does not realize is that the reason why the topic of God weighs on their mind is because God is really pressing the issue--God wants to be known, not rejected. God created every one of us with the intention that we should know Him. He has surrounded us with evidence of Himself to keep the question of His existence right before us. It seems as though the atheists with all their blogs, books, and other writings cannot escape from thinking about the possibility of God. In fact, it might be that the underlying reason atheists are bothered by people who believe in God is because God is actively pursuing them.
Malcolm Muggeridge, Socialist and Philosophical Author: “I had a notion that somehow, besides questing, I was being pursued.”
C.S. Lewis, Author: “...night after night, feeling whenever my mind lifted even for a second from my work, the steady, unrelenting approach of Him whom I so earnestly desired not to meet. I gave in, and admitted that God was God, and knelt and prayed: perhaps, that night, the most dejected and reluctant convert in all of England.”
Understanding the full existence of God is an impossible task for us in this life. God cannot and never will be fully comprehended by human minds; and the very nature of an infinite reality can never be understood by a finite mind: “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the LORD (9) As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.”>> Isaiah 55:8-9
The Creator-God, The Biblical-God, The God of Abraham--The One and Only God of this universe--gave humanity that which is physically visible in order to gain the knowledge Him and His existence. To deny that is just mere excuses and the biggest error one can make. So, if you haven’t already, just open your mind and your heart to the possibility and see what you will find…What will it hurt?
“…that which is known about God is evident within them; for God made it evident to them. (20) For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse. (21) For even though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God or give thanks, but they became futile in their speculations, and their foolish heart was darkened. (22) Professing to be wise, they became fools,”>> Romans 1:19-22
Monday, July 6, 2009
A special commentary from United States Senator Jim DeMint:
“A few months ago, I was on CNN talking about the future of the Republican Party. As I always do, I predicted that we could certainly regain our national majority, if we first rally around our great, unifying principle of freedom. The anchor cut me off: “What the h--- does that mean? … Freedom?”
Anyone wondering why America is losing its freedom can find an answer in that question. After all, how can we preserve and defend freedom if we don’t even know what it is?
Freedom is not a gift from government, but a right given to us by God. We believe that every human being is endowed with “certain unalienable Rights,” including “Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness.” In 1787, our Founding Fathers met in Philadelphia to forge a new system of government, designed to “form a more perfect union” and guarantee Americans, in the words of Ronald Reagan, “the maximum of personal liberty consistent with order.”
Paramount among the reasons this system succeeded in America was our political and religious culture that accepted the inextricable connection between personal freedom and personal responsibility. It was understood that, for every question in life not answered by government, individuals, families, and neighborhoods must work out answers for themselves. The Founders knew that the natural order of things was for government to expand at the expense of personal liberty, so their Constitution was based on an implicit bargain – the less government does for you, the less government can do to you.
Today, our once-limited federal government has betrayed those founding principles. It tries to be all things to all people, yet despite its good intentions, government action usually does more harm than good. Look around: every system Washington touches – health care, education, energy, infrastructure, mortgage lending – quickly begins to break down. In some recent cases, including the automobile bankruptcies and the Wall Street bailouts, even the rule of law itself has been subordinated to the good intentions of politicians and bureaucrats. And yet government’s solution to the problems it causes is always … more government. To solve problems created by government’s role in our schools or health care, Congress now proposes a complete federal takeover of these systems!
What Washington refuses to understand is that government systems will always fail because they are not free. Private schools perform better than public schools. Private health insurance provides better care than government programs, and controls its own costs. And on and on. Without the competitive pressures and transparency of a free market, government agencies have no motivation to improve their services. After 10 years in Washington, I have concluded that both parties are slow to recognize this one simple fact: freedom works, and government doesn’t.
That’s why I wrote Saving Freedom. Washington simply will not change on its own. To change our politics, we first have to change our culture. We need to remember that freedom demands responsibility. We need to reject politicians who promise us something for nothing, and instead take back both our freedoms and the responsibilities that go with them. We must not only end our growing dependence on government; we must become independent in our own right.
Given the space and choices to make our own decisions, whether in education, health care, civil society, or in business – the American people will thrive, as they always have. But the political class in Washington will not easily return the power it has taken from us – we must take it back, in two ways.
First, we must remake America’s culture of responsibility: in our family life, in our communities, and in our businesses. We must prepare our nation for its rebirth of freedom, so that when government finally does begin to change, our culture and economy can hit the ground running.
And second, this cultural renewal must assert itself in the political arena. Elected politicians are only as unresponsive as their constituents allow. They know that every letter and email and phone call represents hundreds more just like them. They know that Big Government’s worst enemy is an informed citizenry, ready at the next election to punish anyone who infringes on our God-given and constitutionally-guaranteed freedoms. Get involved, and I promise – we will see results.
Freedom can be saved, but it can’t free itself. Like the patriots of Bunker Hill and Philadelphia, of Gettysburg and Normandy, our generation must now take up that banner for ourselves. Saving Freedom is never easy, but it’s always worth it.”
Posted by ForwardThought at 3:50 PM
Tuesday, June 30, 2009
The Apostle Peter in his second Epistle states that Paul is a “beloved brother” and that Paul’s writings are “Scripture.” Paul writes in I Timothy that “All Scripture is God inspired”: so why do you deny Scripture in proving a point? The foundation to any Gospel heresy is always rooted in the denial of Scripture. You claim that Paul’s message was different than Christ’s; however, Christ taught that the foundation of all things is Love; and likewise, Paul taught the same thing (I Cor. 13). Christ also taught us to deny and humble ourselves; and likewise, Paul taught the very same thing (Rom. 6; Eph. 4). There are many other likenesses, which speak of the very same message; however, your willingness to believe historical propaganda prevents you from seeing this.
Paul never denies Jesus Christ; in every way Paul esteems and glorifies Jesus our Lord. Paul never states that it is from him that he proclaims the Gospel, but consistently declares that it is only through Christ Jesus he declares the Gospel. The problem is that you biasness blinds your eyes to the truth in seeing Paul’s message in application to what Christ taught. Paul’s message of the Gospel was no different than the other apostles; however, the fact is--Paul’s words do not fit your religious rhetoric; so you must deny him to justify yourself.
Those of us who believe that Paul was divinely inspirited through Christ Jesus are not slaves to his words, as you imply. Paul's words are an inspired account of a man faithfully and lovingly following Christ's words, which is really why we trust Paul to begin with; because we see in his writing the requirements of the Gospel of Christ being lived out in the first century. Paul is no longer among us, but his words are still more powerful than any one of us, and they have influenced and continue to influence more people towards following Christ, in a positive way, than ours are ever likely to.
I know that through faith in Christ--works and word--that we find eternal life, and not through faith in Paul. Paul is a solid witness-a humble servant inspired by God's Spirit. However, it is Christ who preached freedom, the freedom we are all holding to, and it was Christ who preached life, love, mercy, and so many things that have enlightened our hearts and minds.
Whoever hears the word of Christ and believes Him who sent Him has eternal life. He does not come into judgment, but has passed from death to life, for the law and the prophets were until John, but whoever keeps Christ's word shall never taste death, and his word is not burdensome. I assure you that should you judge according to every jot and tittle, you shall be judged according to every jot and tittle yourself, for with the measure you use, it shall be measured to you--with extreme solemnity.
You deny Paul’s words and claim he is a “False Teacher”; but I am sure that many of you, like a lot of us, were lead by the Holy Spirit to the salvation of Christ through the very inspired words of Paul that you now deny--his words were good enough then, why aren’t they now. To deny Paul as an apostle of Christ Jesus is claiming Jesus a liar--the truth hurts, but it can also heal; so please, come back to the truth and stop denying our “beloved brother” Paul whose faithfulness to the Gospel lead multitudes to seek Christ Jesus.
**I want to thank my good friend and dear brother in Christ J.L. McKinney for his additional writing contribution in putting this blog post together.
Posted by ForwardThought at 3:26 PM
Thursday, June 4, 2009
The Commandments including the requirement to keep the Sabbath day were “nailed to the cross” along with all the rest of the Law of Moses. God gave a covenant at Mount Sinai through Moses to the Jews, known to mostly today as the “Old Covenant.” The Ten Commandments are the visible representation of this Old Covenant which was replaced by a New Covenant called, among other things, “the Law of Christ.” No part of the Old Covenant remains in force since the resurrection of Christ.
No one prior to Moses--from Adam to Abraham--ever heard of the Sabbath law or much less kept it. The very first time that anyone was commanded to keep the Sabbath was in Exodus chapter 16. The word “Sabbath” is not even found in the book of Genesis. Genesis 2:2-3 was written by Moses to tell Jews the meaning behind WHY they were to keep the Sabbath, not when the Sabbath was instituted.
Notions of Errors concerning the Sabbath:
>Notion # 1--Constantine changed the Sabbath to Sunday in the 4th century AD.
Constantine’s decree--"On the venerable Day of the Sun let the magistrates and people residing in cities rest, and let all workshops be closed." (Constantine, March 7, 321. Codex Justinianus lib. 3, tit. 12, 3; trans. in Philip Schaff, History of the Christian Church, Vol. 3, p. 380, note 1)
In reading Constantine’s decree, you can see that there is nothing to say that Constantine changed anything. Constantine was actually making a civil decree because Christians were already meeting on Sunday, as they were doing since the first century, which Christians should not work on Sunday.
>Notion # 2--The Roman Catholic changed the Sabbath from Saturday to Sunday.
Yes, the Catholic Church does outwardly claim that they changed the Sabbath; however, they also claim that the apostle Peter was the first pope. Interesting enough, those who emphasis that Christians should keep the Sabbath day, reject this Catholic claim that Peter was the first pope; therefore, they are in grave error for accepting the Catholic claim to changing the Sabbath to Sunday.
Furthermore, to insinuate, assume, or interpret that “He” in Daniel 7:25--“He will speak out against the Most High and wear down the saints of the Highest One, and he will intend to make alterations in times and in law; and they will be given into his hand for a time, times, and half a time.”--in relation to Revelations 13 represents the Catholic Church and/or the Pope is merely personal interpretation based on no foundation and nothing more. No one--I mean “NO ONE”--knows that for sure or can claim that as fact.
>Notion # 3--The Sabbath is called "The Sabbath of the Lord"; therefore, it is not simply the Sabbath of the Jews, but for all Christians to keep.
Exodus 20:10, “But the seventh day is a Sabbath of the LORD your God; in it you shall not do any work, you or your son or your daughter, your male or your female servant or your cattle or your sojourner who stays with you.”
The Old Covenant was an agreement between God and Israel, which Exodus 19:4-6 gives the fundamentals of that agreement between God and Israel. Let it be known that all the Old Covenant Commandments are commandments of the Lord; but, they were for Israel alone.
So was there anything set by God to mankind before the Commandments? Indeed there was; however, many Christian are unfamiliar with these “Universal laws” or better known as the “Noachian Laws”, which are binding to all mankind: Genesis chapters 2-9
1>Not to worship idols
2>Not to blaspheme the name of God
3>Establish courts of justice
4>Not to kill
5>Not to commit adultery
6>Not to steal
7>Not to eat the flesh that had been cut from a living animal
Notice that there is absolutely no affiliation to “religion” or religious rituals in these Laws, other than to honor the true God. In addition, note that these laws are quite comparable to the Ten Commandments, but with an exception--Honoring the Sabbath day.
The Noachian Laws were well understood by the Jews in Jesus’ day; and for that matter, by the disciples of Jesus--Acts 15 speaks to this. Of course, the Sabbath is the “Sabbath of the Lord”; however, God was not addressing all of mankind when He gave the Commandments including, of course, to honor the Sabbath day--He was addressing only those He brought out of Egypt from their bondage--the Israelites.
While the Ten Commandments remain as good and sound fundamental rules for Christians to follow, many are intended as religious laws for Israel, never intended for Gentiles, which that includes the Sabbath day command. While it is not wrong for Christians to worship on the Sabbath day, doing so may detract from the freedom we have in Christ; but if one begins to judge other Christians for not keeping the Sabbath that strict religious adherence to the Sabbath then becomes wrong.
Lastly, I have included below documentation and historical writings by Christians which all--but one--date before the time of the supposed Constantine--“changed the Sabbath”--myth; and they clearly prove that Sunday has been observed by Christians since the first century.
Jeremiah 17:10, “I, the LORD, search the heart, I test the mind, even to give to each man according to his ways, according to the results of his deeds.”
>HISTORY OF THE CHRISTIAN CHURCH: The celebration of the Lord's Day in memory of the resurrection of Christ dates undoubtedly from the apostolic age. Nothing short of apostolic precedent can account for the universal religious observance in the churches of the second century. There is no dissenting voice. This custom is confirmed by the testimonies of the earliest post-apostolic writers, as Barnabas, Ignatius, and Justin Martyr. (Philip Schaff, , vol. 1, pg. 201-202)
>HISTORY OF THE CHRISTIAN CHURCH: Hence, the first day was already in the apostolic age honorably designated as "the Lord's Day." ...it appears, therefore, from the New Testament itself, that Sunday was observed as a day of worship, and in special commemoration of the Resurrection, whereby the work of redemption was finished. The universal and uncontradicted Sunday observance in the second century can only be explained by the fact that it has its roots in apostolic practice. (Philip Schaff, , vol. 1, pg. 478-479)
>220 AD Origen "Hence it is not possible that the [day of] rest after the Sabbath should have come into existence from the seventh [day] of our God. On the contrary, it is our Savior who, after the pattern of his own rest, caused us to be made in the likeness of his death, and hence also of his resurrection" (Commentary on John 2:28).
>200 AD TERTULLIAN: Let him who contends that the Sabbath is still to be observed a balm of salvation, and circumcision on the eighth day because of threat of death, teach us that in earliest times righteous men kept Sabbath or practiced circumcision, and so were made friends of God. .. ...Therefore, since God originated Adam uncircumcised, and inobservant of the Sabbath, consequently his offspring also, Abel, offering Him sacrifices, uncircumcised and inobservant of the Sabbath, was by Him commended... Noah also, uncircumcised - yes, and inobservant of the Sabbath - God freed from the deluge. For Enoch, too, most righteous man, uncircumcised and inobservant of the Sabbath, He translated from this world... Melchizedek also, "the priest of most high God," uncircumcised and inobservant of the Sabbath, was chosen to the priesthood of God. (An Answer to the Jews 2:10; 4:1, Ante-Nicene Fathers Vol. 3, page 153)
>150 AD JUSTIN: "And on the day called Sunday, all who live in cities or in the country gather together to one place, and the memoirs of the apostles or the writings of the prophets are read, as long as time permits; then, when the reader has ceased, the president verbally instructs, and exhorts to the imitation of these good things. Then we all rise together and pray, and, as we before said, when our prayer is ended, bread and wine and water are brought, and the president in like manner offers prayers and thanksgivings, according to his ability, and the people assent, saying Amen; and there is a distribution to each, and a participation of that over which thanks have been given, and to those who are absent a portion is sent by the deacons. And they who are well to do, and willing, give what each thinks fit; and what is collected is deposited with the president, who succours the orphans and widows and those who, through sickness or any other cause, are in want, and those who are in bonds and the strangers sojourning among us, and in a word takes care of all who are in need. But Sunday is the day on which we all hold our common assembly, because it is the first day on which God, having wrought a change in the darkness and matter, made the world; and Jesus Christ our Saviour on the same day rose from the dead. (First apology of Justin, Weekly Worship of the Christians, Ch 68)
>150 AD JUSTIN: We are always together with one another. And for all the things with which we are supplied we bless the Maker of all through his Son Jesus Christ and through his Holy Spirit. And on the day called Sunday there is a gathering together in the same place of all who live in a city or a rural district. (Apology, 1, 67:1-3, 7; First Apology, 145 AD, Ante-Nicene Fathers , Vol. 1, pg. 186)
>155 AD Justin Martyr "[W]e too would observe the fleshly circumcision, and the Sabbaths, and in short all the feasts, if we did not know for what reason they were enjoined [on] you--namely, on account of your transgressions and the hardness of your heart. . . . [H]ow is it, Trypho, that we would not observe those rites which do not harm us--I speak of fleshly circumcision and Sabbaths and feasts? . . . God enjoined you [Jews] to keep the Sabbath, and impose on you other precepts for a sign, as I have already said, on account of your unrighteousness and that of your fathers" (Dialogue with Trypho the Jew 18, 21).
>225 AD The Didascalia "The apostles further appointed: On the first day of the week let there be service, and the reading of the Holy Scriptures, and the oblation, because on the first day of the week our Lord rose from the place of the dead, and on the first day of the week he arose upon the world, and on the first day of the week he ascended up to heaven, and on the first day of the week he will appear at last with the angels of heaven" (Didascalia 2).
>250 AD IGNATIUS: "On the day of the preparation, then, at the third hour, He received the sentence from Pilate, the Father permitting that to happen; at the sixth hour He was crucified; at the ninth hour He gave up the ghost; and before sunset He was buried. During the Sabbath He continued under the earth in the tomb in which Joseph of Arimathaea had laid Him. At the dawning of the Lord's day He arose from the dead, according to what was spoken by Himself, "As Jonah was three days and three nights in the whale's belly, so shall the Son of man also be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth." The day of the preparation, then, comprises the passion; the Sabbath embraces the burial; the Lord's Day contains the resurrection." (The Epistle of Ignatius to the Trallians, chapter 9)
>300 AD Eusebius of Caesarea "The day of his [Christ's] light . . . was the day of his resurrection from the dead, which they say, as being the one and only truly holy day and the Lord's day, is better than any number of days as we ordinarily understand them, and better than the days set apart by the Mosaic Law for feasts, new moons, and Sabbaths, which the Apostle [Paul] teaches are the shadow of days and not days in reality" (Proof of the Gospel 4:16:186).
>345 AD Athanasius "The Sabbath was the end of the first creation, the Lord's day was the beginning of the second, in which he renewed and restored the old in the same way as he prescribed that they should formerly observe the Sabbath as a memorial of the end of the first things, so we honor the Lord's day as being the memorial of the new creation" (On Sabbath and Circumcision 3).
>597 AD Gregory I "It has come to my ears that certain men of perverse spirit have sown among you some things that are wrong and opposed to the holy faith, so as to forbid any work being done on the Sabbath day. What else can I call these [men] but preachers of Antichrist, who when he comes will cause the Sabbath day as well as the Lord's day to be kept free from all work. For because he [the Antichrist] pretends to die and rise again, he wishes the Lord's day to be had in reverence; and because he compels the people to Judaize that he may bring back the outward rite of the Law, and subject the perfidy of the Jews to himself, he wishes the Sabbath to be observed. For this which is said by the prophet, 'You shall bring in no burden through your gates on the Sabbath day' (Jer. 17:24) could be held to as long as it was lawful for the Law to be observed according to the letter. But after that the grace of almighty God, our Lord Jesus Christ, has appeared, the commandments of the Law which were spoken figuratively cannot be kept according to the letter. For if anyone says that this about the Sabbath is to be kept, he must needs say that carnal sacrifices are to be offered. He must say too that the commandment about the circumcision of the body is still to be retained. But let him hear the apostle Paul saying in opposition to him: 'If you be circumcised, Christ will profit you nothing' (Gal. 5:2)" (Letters 13:1).
Posted by ForwardThought at 10:22 AM
Wednesday, May 27, 2009
The Judaizers were one of the earliest, most widespread, and most dangerous attack against the Gospel of Christ. This group insisted that to be truly justified, Gentiles (non-Jewish people) needed to observe certain Old Covenant (Old Testament) rituals, festivals, and Mosaic Laws--namely at the time, the most emphasized was the rite of circumcision, which was the physical sign for the Jews in the Old Testament as God’s chosen people.
The letter of Galatians is the Apostle Paul’s answer to this Gospel heresy. Paul starts his reply to the Judaizers in chapter three by pronouncing a divine curse on their false gospel. This same false teaching is also seen in Acts, in the book of Hebrews, and in various other New Testament Epistles. As you can see this false doctrine is seen as quite an error and one of the first examples of false doctrine that rose up from within the New Testament church.
The Judaizer’s doctrine, at first glance, seems to be a subtle error which hardly seems worth the fight. However, that subtle error undermines the very principle of justification through faith in Jesus Christ. Here is the break down of the Judaizer doctrine of salvation compared to the Gospel’s doctrine of salvation through Christ:
The Judaizer says that a man must--first--repent and believe in Christ AND--secondly--observe certain Jewish-Mosaic Laws the best he can over his lifetime, and then he will be justified by God.
The Gospel of Christ says that a man must--first--repent and believe in Christ AND THEN he is justified before God, at which he will immediately, through the Holy Spirit of Christ, proceed to keep the Law of God--Love God and love you neighbor.
Did you catch the difference? I think it is clear that the Judaizer believes that merely repenting and believing in Christ is only one-half of justification of sin, which the second-half is based on your works afterwards through observing certain Jewish-Mosaic laws--salvation to them is a two step 50/50 process. Now, the Gospel of Christ gives no other means besides repenting and believing in Christ by which to gain justification of sin--simply repent and believe and your sins are justified through the Blood of Christ and your salvation is sealed forever in Him. These verses from Paul clearly speak to justification by faith alone:
Ephesians 2:8-9, “For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; (9) not as a result of works, so that no one may boast.”(NASB)
Titus 3:5-6, “He saved us, not on the basis of deeds which we have done in righteousness, but according to His mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewing by the Holy Spirit, (6) whom He poured out upon us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior,” (NASB)
Indeed, the false teachings of the Judaizers are breaking new ground today; this age-old heresy is growing like a disease within Christianity in this modern age and it needs to be stopped. I have come across various sects within the modern-day Judaizer movement, who continue to twist the Gospel of Christ in each their own way; but no matter what their various twists are, they all break down the same--believe in Christ AND observe Jewish-Mosaic Law to be justified by God. However, out of all these sects there is one group who has recognized various biblical contradictions to the--by definition--Judaiser doctrine; therefore, they have placed a new spin on this old false teaching in order to mask its falsies to make it perceive more as Gospel teaching.
Now, granted; they are not so blatant to deny one’s salvation for not following Jewish Law as the true Judaizer; but nevertheless, the distortion of the Gospel is still there and should never be tolerated.
They state that justification for a one’s sin is only by the repenting and believing in Christ (sounds like the Gospel), but the purpose for following the Jewish Laws (here comes the deceit), such as observing only the Jewish-Sabbath Day (Saturday), not eating pork, and/or not properly proclaiming the Hebrew names “Yahweh” (God) and “Yeshua” (Jesus) the person will then avoid “grieving the Spirit,” and in return, reap blessings and favor from God. Although this group, at first, seems to be more in line with what the Gospel of Christ says; however, their error is the suggestion and the criticism towards other Christians that not following Jewish Laws is somehow displeasing to God. Nice try, but there is still no biblical backing for this group, and their Judaiser roots of heresy are still present: it’s all nothing more than just pure manipulation of Scripture candy-coated to further deceive.
The problem with the Judaizer--old or new--is not merely that they disagree with the Gospel of Christ, but that their disagreement involves such a vital point. The Gospel of Christ hinges on the very position that the Judaizer denies, which is, that sinners are justified solely on the basis of what Christ has already done on our behalf, and not in any way because of anything we must do for Him.
Galatians 3:8, “The Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel beforehand to Abraham, saying, ‘ALL THE NATIONS WILL BE BLESSED IN YOU.’”
Galatians 3:11, “Now that no one is justified by the Law before God is evident; for, ‘THE RIGHTEOUS MAN SHALL LIVE BY FAITH.’”
Gaining God's favor was never achieved by the Law of Moses, it was only a means for which one could recognize sin; faith has always been the means of gaining favor with God. Abraham was blessed because of his faith not because he followed the law and David was blessed because of his faith not because he followed the law. Hebrews chapter eleven gives us many other examples of those who by faith gained God’s favor.
The way the apostle Paul dealt with these Judaizers then is the only right way to respond to any false teacher who corrupt and compromise essential elements of the Gospel of Christ now--they must be exposed for what they are, and their doctrine must be refuted. Paul was very clear in his letter to the Galatia church that only faith in Christ was the way for salvation and that living by Christ's Spirit was the only means for righteous living--never by observing any laws.
Those principle elements were true then and are still true today.
Galatians 2:19-21, “For through the Law I died to the Law, so that I might live to God. (20) I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me. (21) I do not nullify the grace of God, for if righteousness comes through the Law, then Christ died needlessly."
Galatians 3:5-6, “So then, does He who provides you with the Spirit and works miracles among you, do it by the works of the Law, or by hearing with faith? (6) Even so Abraham BELIEVED GOD, AND IT WAS RECKONED TO HIM AS RIGHTEOUSNESS.”
Posted by ForwardThought at 3:15 PM
Thursday, May 14, 2009
“For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires, (4) and will turn away their ears from the truth and will turn aside to myths.” [II Timothy 4:3-4]
It concerns me to see that some professed Christians either claim there is no hell or say that hell is only a temporal punishment for the wicked and unbeliever. And that, when the day of final judgment comes, all will be redeemed into glory--not just believers. My concern here is for those who deny the very essence of Biblical doctrine, and to have them remember, "Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not unto your own understanding" Proverbs 3:5.
Did you just overlook the teachings of Jesus Christ on hell in The Bible? Did you know that Jesus talked more about hell than He did about Heaven? Did you also know that Jesus talked more about hell than all of the prophets and apostles combined?
Hell is not man's doctrine, its Biblical doctrine--straight out of the lips of Jesus Christ. Jesus in several passages within the New Testament Gospels (Matt 5, 8, 9, 18, 25; Luke 16--just to name a few) clearly gives warnings of a place of everlasting--not temporal-- torment called hell. How can you consider denying the teaching of Christ?
The parable of Lazarus and the Rich Man (Luke 16:19-31), gives us a clear picture of hell, which was told--dare I say it-- by Jesus Christ. Even though you might discount this as only a parable, here is a little thing to notice about this parable: it was the only parable that Jesus told where He used actual names from actual people--Why?--because it actually happened. If hell is not real, why would Jesus use a false doctrine to teach truth? In addition, if Jesus--the Son of the Living God--is not enough for you, the New Testament apostles also wrote of such a place called hell: II Peter 2:4, 9; Jude 6, 7.
“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.”[John 3:16] God is--indeed--a loving God, and because of His love, He gave His Son, Jesus, as sacrifice for all mankind. However, it is a two-way street: those who choose His Son’s sacrifice, they will gain “eternal life”; but those who deny His Son’s sacrifice, will “perish.” And please, stop using I Timothy 2:4 which states, “[God] who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.” as the all points’ verse that suggests all of mankind will be saved. My “desire” one day is to own a Porsche, but that doesn’t mean it will happen. The point is: of course God “desires” or “wills” (found in other versions) that all of His created mankind will accept His great salvation; but He knows, and we know through Scripture, that will not happen--all will not accept.
Of course the New Testament is not the only reference to a place called hell, let us not forget the Old Testament, which in several passages gives us a clear picture of a place of eternal torment or hell, "everlasting burnings"--Isa. 33:10-14; “to some eternal life, but to some eternal shame and disgrace”--Daniel 12:2.
Now, the notions that the word “hell” was incorrectly placed in most versions of The Bible through lack of bad translation or that the translators for some reason wanted to create a place called hell is a complete farce. Though this might--at first glance--be a good argument, it still does not erase the strong warnings of Jesus Christ of a place of torment and darkness, where there is weeping and gnashing of teeth and the fire is never quenched--Matthew 8:12, and 13:41-42
If Jesus and the apostles intended to depict hell as temporal, then I am sure they would have used different imagery and wording. Furthermore, if hell is temporal than why such strong warnings? Hell is eternal, I do not think there is any side or forgotten meaning where “eternal” means “temporal,”--Revelations 14:11, "And the smoke of their torment goes up forever and ever; and they have no rest day and night, those who worship the beast and his image…”. And yes, "ever knee shall bow and every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord,”-- no doubt that believers and unbelievers alike will confess; but for the unbelievers, who chose to deny Christ in the here and now--it will be too late.
Moreover, if hell is not a real place or only temporal, and that all will be eventually redeemed, then what is the whole point of the Great Commission and what is the point of even serving Christ? In The Bible, Christians are taught to love, respect, witness, and to pray for those who are unbelievers; so why are we told to do that--what is the point any of it?
The devil is a very strong, smart, and deceiving adversary, and this has to be his biggest deception to mankind. PLEASE TAKE NOTE--to deny, disregard, or manipulate the clear teachings of Jesus would be calling Him a liar or perhaps, in so much to say, to deny His very deity. The fundamental hope of Christianity is that through accepting Jesus Christ as Savior, we will in turn, live eternally with Him. To take away that hope and say that all believer and unbeliever alike will have this hope, breeds the questions--“What is the point then to witness and proclaim this Hope to the lost?”
“Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, this he will also reap. (8) For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life.” [Galatians 6:7-8]
Posted by ForwardThought at 3:49 PM
Friday, May 8, 2009
The roles of Jesus Christ can be expressed in a fourfold way--Savior, Healer, Sanctifier, and Coming King. When we speak of Jesus being the Savior, most Christians have a good grasp of what that means; and most--if not all--evangelical churches would agree that it is an absolute necessity to have the experience of Christ as Savior in one’s life. In the same regards, most Christians have a good grasp on the understanding of Jesus the Healer and Jesus the Coming King. However, when we speak of Jesus being the Sanctifier, confusion and disagreement often set in among the Christian community.
For years, I was always under the impression that sanctification (“to be made clean” or “to be separate”) was essentially intertwined with salvation--one in the same. When we receive the Holy Spirit of Christ, the indwelling nature of the Holy Spirit helps us to clear out the “mud” in our life in our new walk towards righteousness. My past understanding was not totally incorrect, in regards to the general scope of the indwelling power of the Holy Spirit once we receive Christ. However, the underlining error in my understanding lied in the full understanding of what it is meant to be truly sanctified through the Holy Spirit. The relationship between salvation and sanctification is apparent--you cannot have one without the other--but there lies a distinct difference between them within a Christian’s life.
In the Gospel of John, it is recorded that when John the Baptist saw Jesus walking down the road, he shouted--“Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!” (John 1:29). In John’s statement, he is clearly proclaiming Jesus as the Savior; moreover, in just a few verses later, John shouts a second statement--“…this is the One who baptizes in the Holy Spirit.” (John 1:33). In John’s second statement, he is also proclaiming Jesus as the Sanctifier. Now, there are some Christians that would disagree with these two points; however, it seems clear to me that John the Baptist had a pure understanding that there was not one gift, but two great gifts, Jesus was bringing to His people--salvation and sanctification.
When we come to know Jesus as our Savior, we experience the deliverance from the penalty of sin, which is eternal death and separation from God. However, when we come to know Him as our Sanctifier, we experience the deliverance from the power of our inherited sinful nature. In other words, salvation in Jesus Christ--the indwelling of the Holy Spirit--releases us from the guilt of our past, brings freedom from eternal death, and then, brings life everlasting; but sanctification--the filling of the Holy Spirit--brings us freedom to live in the power of Christ’s Spirit and equips us to resist the temptation of sin that will come in our Christian walk in the here and now.
At the point of Salvation, Christ lives in us by the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. At the point of sanctification, Christ starts to live through us because we are now filled with the Holy Spirit. The distinction lies in understanding the crucial difference between “indwelling” (salvation in Jesus Christ) and being “filled” (sanctification through Jesus Christ) by the Holy Spirit.
*Side note: when I say “filled,” I am not implying anything about speaking in tongues or that it is proof of being “filled by the Holy Spirit”--perhaps the case for some, but not for all. My experience was at first crying because of my weakness, but then, the tears turn to pure joy of the strength of Christ--nothing miraculous, just a sense of pure humbleness.*
In all of this so far, a question perhaps comes to mind, “Is there two types of Christians?” Indeed there are--Christians who are Spirit-filled (completely control by Christ’s Spirit) and Christian who are not Spirit-filled (still controlled by the human spirit). Paul makes the distinction in I Corinthians 3:1-3, “And I, brethren, could not speak to you as to spiritual men, but as to men of flesh, as to infants in Christ. (2) I gave you milk to drink, not solid food; for you were not yet able to receive it. Indeed, even now you are not yet able, (3) for you are still fleshly.”
Paul is clearly pointing out in this passage two types of Christians--“spiritual men” (Spirit-Filled Christians) and “men of flesh” (not Spirit-filled Christians). The Holy Spirit of Christ is equally indwelling both types of Christian (the “seal” of salvation in Christ); however, the “spiritual men” have went the step further to surround their human spirit completely to the control of Christ’s Spirit, whereas, the “men of flesh” still live under the control of their human spirit of fleshly desires; and until they complete surround is made, they will always be mere “infants in Christ” unable to eat “solid food” to gain their full potential as Christians.
Please, do not get me wrong, I am not implying that Christians who are not filled with Christ’s Spirit are still living wicked--the intentions are good and pure, but the control of the human spirit is still “pulling the string” which often causes confusion and uncertainty in the Christian walk. Paul, in Romans chapters 7 and 8, brings into play the battle that goes on inside us when we accept Christ as our Savior--the Holy Spirit and our human spirit are at war. Paul states that the only way to overcome the battle properly is to totally surrender our human spirit to the Holy Spirit--it won’t always be “roses” but if the Holy Spirit is in complete control the battle inside is better “managed,” so to speak.
Dear Christian brothers and sisters, are you in a state where the “joy of the Lord” is lacking right now in your life, do you feel that your service to the Lord is suffering because of it; is there bondage, sin, or something else in your life that is always present and it seems you cannot shake it loose? You are not alone; there are many Christians who feel the very same way--I know, I have been there.
Just this past Saturday night, during the altar call at my church, the Holy Spirit of Christ convicted my heart for me to give my all. For the last four years, my soul has been burning for more of Christ, my desire to study God’s word, pray, help others, and serve Him was strong; however, at the beginning of this year much conflict, distress, and the lack of desire and passion manifested itself in my life as the months went by.
It was not until two weeks ago, after a conversation with a dear friend and brother in Christ, the reading of I Corinthians 3, and through the conviction of the Holy Spirit when I realized that all my desires in the past were all partly due to my own drive and not completely from the Lord; I do believe though, that God in all it was also setting the table for something greater for me. I truly was one of the, as Paul wrote, “infants in Christ” living off the simplicity of spiritual “milk,” but now, through all the various conflicts of this year, God helped me to see that spiritual “solid food” is needed in my life; and the only way I am going to be “ready to receive it” is to completely let go of the “fleshly” controlled me (my human spirit), and seek the complete fullness of Christ’s Spirit.
Great is He--the Lord Most High--for since last Saturday night, my (His) desire and passion just shifted into a new and wonderful gear of a more fulfilling walk with Jesus--Praise God!!!
Paul wrote in Ephesians 4:30, “do not grieve the Spirit” which is the foundational piece in all of this--if there is something in your life that is grieving the Spirit, the only way to live by the Spirit is to get rid of it. So, I encourage you--if there is a sense of weakness in your Christian life, give all of you--not “it”--to the Lord; and He will in turn, give all of Him to you and all the “its” in your life causing your weakness will shed away. In addition, if you haven’t yet accepted Jesus Christ as your Savior, but you want to experience the fullness of Christ’s Spirit--you must believe and accept Him first (read John 3 and Romans 10).
Matthew 5:6, “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.”
When we start to “hunger and thirst for righteousness” the full embodiment of Christ’s Spirit will render us a new and glorious fullness in our Christian walk with Jesus our Savior, Healer, Sanctifier, and Coming King.
Posted by ForwardThought at 11:08 AM