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24 December 2007

Debates: Oneness v. Trinitarianism

On this Christmas Eve I want to write a few lines directing you to some powerful debates where the error of the trinity is exposed and the truth of One God (the Mighty God in Christ) is ably defended and presented. Enjoy!

From Apostolic Network Ministries:
Gordon Magee v. W.L. Toddy (March 1960)
Hicks v. Billingsly
Hicks v. Weaver
Hicks v. Woods
Bayer v. Jackson
Bayer v. Welch

From Apostoliclive.com:
David K. Bernard v. Gene Cook
Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4
Part 5
Part 6
Part 7
Part 8
Part 9
Part 10
Part 11
Part 12
Part 13

02 December 2007

The Expression of Redemption

A Slave Coffle

Exodus 6:1-9
1 Then the LORD said unto Moses, Now shalt thou see what I will do to Pharaoh: for with a strong hand shall he let them go, and with a strong hand shall he drive them out of his land.
2 And God spake unto Moses, and said unto him, I am the LORD:
3 And I appeared unto Abraham, unto Isaac, and unto Jacob, by the name of God Almighty, but by my name JEHOVAH was I not known to them.
4 And I have also established my covenant with them, to give them the land of Canaan, the land of their pilgrimage, wherein they were strangers.
5 And I have also heard the groaning of the children of Israel, whom the Egyptians keep in bondage; and I have remembered my covenant.
6 Wherefore say unto the children of Israel, I am the LORD, and I will bring you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians, and I will rid you out of their bondage, and I will redeem you with a stretched out arm, and with great judgments:
7 And I will take you to me for a people, and I will be to you a God: and ye shall know that I am the LORD your God, which bringeth you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians.
8 And I will bring you in unto the land, concerning the which I did swear to give it to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob; and I will give it you for an heritage: I am the LORD.

 
John 1:1-14, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life; and the life was the light of men. And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not. There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. The same came for a witness, to bear witness of the Light, that all men through him might believe. He was not that Light, but was sent to bear witness of that Light. That was the true Light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world. He was in the world, and the world was made by him, and the world knew him not. He came unto his own, and his own received him not. But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name: Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God. And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.”

 
Kathy Kiely, a newspaper reporter for the USA TODAY wrote these words on July 13, 2000: "Her name is Freedom, but she was cast in bronze and hoisted atop the U.S. Capitol by slaves. African-Americans helped erect not only the statue at the pinnacle of the Capitol but also the Capitol itself. They were never paid and, until now, never recognized for their work.”

 
Slavery existed within the boundaries of the present USA for over 200 years. It has been nearly 143 years since the slaves were set free in our nation in 1865. It is nearly impossible for men and women who were born in modern America to really know what it is like to be a slave.

 
To be enslaved…
  • There must be a slave master. There will be an individual who will become a slave.
  • Force will be used, fear, and punishment.
  • Deception will be incorporated to gain slaves
  • Lies told to cloud the reality of the horror of slavery.
  • A slave master will use the way of the whip (to drive the enslaved), the threat of the auction block (to place more fear of loss), and murder.
  • The slave’s mind is brainwashed to destroy his ability to think for himself and to replace his thoughts with the slave masters. Thus, losing a sense of self.
  • The Black slaves in the USA had no family names of their own, but they were known by their master’s name.[1]


 
They called it a “slave coffle.” This was a line of slaves chained together and then marched by the slave trader to some town where these enslaved humans would be auctioned off to the highest bidder.

 
Treated as merchandise - - as a thing - - men and women suffered at the hands of other humans because their skin color and their place of birth.

 
The children of Israel were enslaved by Pharaoh in Egypt. The Egyptians kept these children of promise in bondage, and their cry, groans, & sorrows were heard by the Lord.

 
God sees your state. He is aware of what it is that enslaves you. He knows where you are, and as Job said, “…He knoweth the way that I take…” (Job 23:10).

 
There are people in the church today who can testify to the freedom that Jesus gives.

 
People who were once enslaved by:
Jealousy
Envy
Hatred
Drugs
Alcohol
Gambling
Pornography
Illicit Relationships
Cigarettes
Gossiping
Back-biting
Strife
Digging up the past
Tale-bearing
Lying
Playing the busybody
Arrogance
Pride
Lust
Self-righteousness
Looking down on others
Spiritual superiority
Bad attitudes
Anger
Bitterness
Sickness
Disease
 

 
The Church is full of people who know what the Lord meant when He said, “If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed” (John 8:36).

 
Are you free? Do you really want to be freed from sin?
What do you want to be free from? Hell?
Lust? Pride? Arrogance? Ditch Digging?
These examples of unrighteousness are indicators that some people still need to be set free. Signs that some of are still enslaved in one area, or another.

 
Gal. 5:1, “Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage.”

 
Do you groan out to God for freedom from the slavery of sin and satan? Do you want the bonds of sin to be broken from your life?
Do you cry out in your bed of oppression at night?

 
Ps. 6:6-7, “I am weary with my groaning; all the night make I my bed to swim; I water my couch with my tears. Mine eye is consumed because of grief; it waxeth old because of all mine enemies.”

 
Four Expressions of Redemption (Ex. 6:6-7):
 
 
  1. "I will bring you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians" - Jehovah brought the Israelites out of Egypt and took the burden of slavery from off their shoulders. Jesus will bring you out of the world of sin and lift the burden of guilt that sin has set on your shoulders. You no longer need to suffer when Jesus frees you from sin.
  2. "I will rid you out of their bondage" - The LORD delivered the Israelites from the chains of slavery. Jesus will deliver you from those addictions and behaviors that seem to hang on you like chains. Romans 8:2, “For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death.”
  3. "I will redeem you with a stretched out arm, and with great judgments" - God showed Himself strong for the Israelites, revealed Himself to them by His redeeming name (Jehovah/LORD), and brought judgment on Pharaoh in Egypt and at the Red Sea. Jesus wants to show you His love and compassion by freeing you from the penalty of sin, by revealing His true nature to you, and by bringing judgment on those things that have enslaved you for so long. Isaiah 53:1-5, “Who hath believed our report? and to whom is the arm of the LORD revealed? For he shall grow up before him as a tender plant, and as a root out of a dry ground: he hath no form nor comeliness; and when we shall see him, there is no beauty that we should desire him. He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not. Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.”
  4. "I will take you to me for a people, and I will be to you a God: and ye shall know that I am the LORD your God, which bringeth you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians" - The children of Israel are known as God’s people - - the children of promise. Because of Jesus we are “a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light: Which in time past were not a people, but are now the people of God: which had not obtained mercy, but now have obtained mercy” (1 Peter 2:9-10).

 
When Jesus redeemed you He paid the purchase price for your release. Your freedom was purchased by another and it includes:
  • Healing (Physical, Spiritual, & Emotional)
  • Victory over sin
  • Salvation
  • Eternal Life
  • Deliverance

 
Jesus frees completely and wholly, not partially or half-way.

 
There’s no use trying to sidestep the issue. You’re either free, or you’re not – holy, or not – right, or not.

 
If you’re free then you need to remind yourself of who you are:
  • You are the head and not the tail (Deut. 28:13)
  • You are above only, and not beneath (Deut. 28:13)
  • You are more than a conqueror (Ro. 8:37)
  • You are a peculiar treasure (Ex. 19:5)
  • You are a citizen of a holy nation (Ex. 19:6)
 
 
Lionel B. Fletcher wrote, “The thoughts that are welcomed in our minds…are a reflection of our true selves as we appear in the sight of God.”[2]

 
Sometimes the slave trader, that old enemy the devil, comes to kidnap a free born citizen of the kingdom of God.

 
Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour” (1 Peter 5:8).

 
Once you find freedom, don’t forget where God has brought you from.

 
Jesus met with some Jews one day and found that they’d forgotten their origin and who it was that delivered them from slavery. Jesus ignored their obvious mistake and went to the heart of the matter - - their slavery to sin.

 
John 8:30-36
“Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on him, If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free. They answered him, We be Abraham's seed, and were never in bondage to any man: how sayest thou, Ye shall be made free? Jesus answered them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Whosoever committeth sin is the servant of sin. And the servant abideth not in the house for ever: but the Son abideth ever. If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed.”

 
Jesus properly identified satan when he said, “The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly” (John 10:10).

 
The devil is a slave master who wants to take from you all your strength, vitality, purpose, and destiny; but Jesus is The Expression of Redemption for you today:
  • He alone is the spoken Word made flesh.
  • He alone is the Savior and Redeemer
  • Isaiah 49:26, “All flesh shall know that I the LORD am thy Saviour and thy Redeemer, the mighty One of Jacob.”
  • Isaiah 43:11, “I, even I, am the LORD; and beside me there is no saviour.”
  • The word “LORD,” as used in this passage refers to Jehovah. This is the redeeming name of God in the Old Testament.
  • When the angel told Mary that the child in her was to be called Immanuel he was signaling that He who was to be born was “God with us.” This simply means that Jehovah of the Old Testament is Jesus Christ of the New Testament.
  • He alone is the “express image” of God (Heb. 11:1-3).
  • “There is one God, and one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus, who gave himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time” (1 Tim. 2:5-6).
  • 1 Tim 3:16, “…God was manifest in the flesh, justified in the Spirit, seen of angels, preached unto the Gentiles, believed on in the world, received up into glory.”
  • “Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved” (Acts 4:12)

 
Listen to me, Friend. You are not a slave. You are a child of God. Your condition is slavery. You were created to have dominion over all the earth.

 
This is a true story:
Eliza was a pretty girl. Her master was her father and her mother was a slave. When the girls in the big house had suitors come to visit them, they’d ask, “Who is that pretty gal?” So they decided to get rid of her right away. The day they sold her, at the auction block, they stripped her to be bid off and looked at. The man that bought Eliza was from New York. The slaves in the community had enough money together to buy her freedom, but they wouldn’t let that happen. There was a big Swedish man there who bid for Eliza that day as well. He always bid for the pretty slave girls and bought them for his own use. He asked the man from New York, “What you gonna do with her when you get her?” The man from New York said, “None of your business, but you ain’t got money enough to buy her.” After the man from New York paid for her, he turned, looked at Eliza and said, “Eliza, you are free from now on.”[3]

 
John 8:36
So if the Son sets you free, you will indeed be free.” (NLT)
So if the Son frees you, you will really be free!” (The Complete Jewish Bible)
So if the Son of Man sets you free, you will really be free.” (New International Reader’s Version)

 
Jesus came to Nazareth one day and opened the scroll of Isaiah and read:
The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised, To preach the acceptable year of the Lord. And he closed the book, and he gave it again to the minister, and sat down. And the eyes of all them that were in the synagogue were fastened on him. And he began to say unto them, This day is this scripture fulfilled in your ears” (Luke 4:18-21).

 
The Expression of Redemption is Jesus for He came “to give his life a ransom for many” (Matt. 20:28).

 
____________

SOURCE:
[1] Lester, Julius. (1968). To Be A Slave. Dell Publishing Co. Inc.: New York, NY.

 
[2] Fletcher, Lionel B. (1933). The Pathway to the Stars. Hunt, Barnard & Co., Ltd: London, England. p.25.

 
[3] Lester, Julius. (1968). To Be A Slave. Dell Publishing Co. Inc.: New York, NY.

27 October 2007

The Recovery of Purity

Romans 5:12-21
12  Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned:
13 (For until the law sin was in the world: but sin is not imputed when there is no law.
14 Nevertheless death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over them that had not sinned after the similitude of Adam's transgression, who is the figure of him that was to come.
15 But not as the offence, so also is the free gift. For if through the offence of one many be dead, much more the grace of God, and the gift by grace, which is by one man, Jesus Christ, hath abounded unto many.
16 And not as it was by one that sinned, so is the gift: for the judgment was by one to condemnation, but the free gift is of many offences unto justification.
17 For if by one man's offence death reigned by one; much more they which receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness shall reign in life by one, Jesus Christ.)
18 Therefore as by the offence of one judgment came upon all men to condemnation; even so by the righteousness of one the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life.
19 For as by one man's disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous.
20 Moreover the law entered, that the offence might abound. But where sin abounded, grace did much more abound:
21 That as sin hath reigned unto death, even so might grace reign through righteousness unto eternal life by Jesus Christ our Lord.

 
In the beginning God made Man perfect and complete in His image and after His likeness (Gen. 1:26).

 
Man (Adam & Eve) was absolute in his spirit, soul, & body.

 
ABSOLUTE = “Perfect in quality or nature; complete. Not mixed; pure. Something regarded as the ultimate basis of all thought and being.” [1]

 
Synonyms include “unadulterated, undiluted, uncontaminated, total, unconditional, unquestionable finality, unequivocal, definite, sure.”[2]

 
There are absolutes of truth, which are held by all true orthodox Christians (Christians who follow the teachings of Jesus, first century Apostles, and the prophets), and these truths include:
  1. The eternality of the Word of God: “For Ever, O LORD, thy word is settled in heaven” (Ps. 119:89).
  2. One God
  3. The Bible standard of salvation: “…Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost” (Acts 2:38).
  4. The necessity of the “born again” experience: “Jesus answered…Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God” (Jn. 3:3).
 
With the existence of these (and other) absolutes, there is also another truth. The devil wishes to pervert the beauty of Man’s original design and separate him completely from his Maker.
 
The spirit of perversion is at work today and began with Lucifer and his rebellion against God, moved to the Garden of Eden and the serpent’s tactic of questioning and corrupting the relationship between Man and God.
 
PERVERSION in 1388 was defined as “action of turning aside from truth, corruption, distortion (originally of religious beliefs).”[3]
 
This is the devil’s tactic; to subvert, corrupt, bend, misshape, and distort what God calls “good” into something perverse. Perversion is not, of necessity sexual in connotation, but it is the turning of something pure into a wrong use.
 
The Fall of Man resulted in the perversion of our original state into a nature - - the Adamic nature. Because Man has fallen so far from his original state we find examples in the bible of many types of perverseness (one such illustration is the Jezebel spirit found in 1 Kings 16:31-21:25; 2 Kings 9:7-37; & Rev. 2:20-23). Trinitarianism, cessationism, & the Jezebel spirit are all perversions, but Jesus has given the Church the power and authority to help bring those stuck in error back to completeness in God and in truth.
 
Sin is the state of perversion from the original design and purpose of Man. The account of the Good Samaritan can be viewed as Jesus’ attempt to warn the Apostles and Church of the dangers of perversion.
Jesus came to return what was once perverted back to its original state, by His love: “For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. For scarcely for a righteous man will one die: yet peradventure for a good man some would even dare to die. But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (Ro. 5:6-8).

 
Because of Jesus Christ we now have the opportunity to walk in right relationship with Him. You’ve never met a man like Jesus. He never withdrew Himself from the lost sinners of the world (as many in the church do once they are “saves”). Instead, He went to the perverted (in spirit, soul, and body) who were looking for a change and a return to purity. He did not condemn the world, but He saved it through the work of redemption and reconciliation. He did not revile the perverse, but He removed the crookedness in them and returned them to a state of completeness. He, as the Potter, took the misshapen clay and created vessels of honor. Jesus heals, delivers, sets the captive free, restores broken homes, and places His love into right relationships.

 
Although tempted in all things, Jesus is our perfect example of a sinless life, and His obedience is what has reconciled Man to God. This ministry of reconciliation is the recovery of purity in our relationship with God.

 
“Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new. And all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation; To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation. Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ's stead, be ye reconciled to God. For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him” (2 Cor. 5:17-21).
____________
SOURCES:
[1] Absolute. (n.d.). The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition. Retrieved October 26, 2007, from Dictionary.com website: http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/absolute
[2] Absolute. (n.d.). Dictionary.com Unabridged (v 1.1). Retrieved October 26, 2007, from Dictionary.com website: http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/absolute
[3] Perversion. (n.d.). Online Etymology Dictionary. Retrieved October 26, 2007, from Dictionary.com website: http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/perversion

20 August 2007

God "Tries" the Righteous

The psalmist David wrote, “The LORD trieth the righteous: but the wicked and him that loveth violence his soul hateth.”[1]

In this passage, when we read that God “trieth” it simply means that this is God’s way of “examining, scrutinizing, proving, and testing” the hearts of those who are His people, and these tests are for the purpose of preparing us for greater responsibility and spiritual growth.[2]

The apostle Paul makes it quite clear that the process of being approved by God follows a particular process: “Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ: By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God. And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience; And patience, experience; and experience, hope: And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us.”[3]

As this process takes place we witness the varying degrees of preparation God places us in as they accomplish, work out, and achieve God’s purpose for our lives. Therefore, in the end, what we think of as pressures, stressors, or trials are tools God uses as a means to bring about a patient, enduring, sustaining, perseverant, and steadfast quality to our Christian character. When this quality is part of our spiritual nature we have become God-proven because our character has been tried and He can then trust us for greater measures of responsibility and authority.

This experience results in the establishment of hope in our lives, which is the “joyful and confident expectation of eternal salvation” and the understanding that because I came through previous trials intact then I’ll make it through this one as well because God is with me.[4]

____________

Sources:
[1] Psalm 11:5

[2] Brown, Driver, Briggs and Gesenius. "Hebrew Lexicon entry for Bachan". "The KJV Old Testament Hebrew Lexicon". http://www.biblestudytools.net/Lexicons/Hebrew/heb.cgi?number=974&version=kjv.

[3] Romans 5:1-5

[4] Thayer and Smith. "Greek Lexicon entry for Elpis". "The KJV New Testament Greek Lexicon". http://www.biblestudytools.net/Lexicons/Greek/grk.cgi?number=1680&version=kjv.

21 July 2007

FYI: Revitalization Movements

Since I cannot seem to finish (or come to an acceptable conclusion) this essay, I've labeled it "FYI." I hope it is as interesting to you as it is to me. Be Well!

 
In the middle of the last century (1900s) Anthony F. C. Wallace, the historian and anthropologist, developed the concept of "Revitalization Movements." Here are a few of his ideas:
  • A revitalization movement is defined as a deliberate, organized, conscious effort by members of a society to construct a more satisfying culture. Revitalization is thus, from a cultural standpoint, a special kind of culture change phenomenon: the persons involved in the process of revitalization must perceive their culture, or some major areas of it, as a system (whether accurately or not); they must feel that this cultural system is unsatisfactory; and they must innovate not merely discrete items, but a new cultural system, specifying new relationships as well as, in some cases, new traits.
  • ...Cultures can change within one generation; and the process...is the revitalization process.
  • The term "revitalization" implies an organismic analogy.
  • "Stress is defined as a condition in which some part, or the whole, of the social organism is threatened with more or less serious damage."
  • "Messianic Movements" emphasize the participation of a divine savior in human flesh in the mazeway transformation.

The presence of these movements are seen throughout history, and it can even be argued that the Scriptures make reference to language and events that are Revitalistic in nature. For example, Isaiah 30:19-23 (vs. 21, "...the is the way, walk ye in it, when ye turn to the right hand, and when ye turn to the left").

Wallace coined the term "revitalization movements" to explain some particular historical phenomena that have taken place in the past, and according to Wallace, revitalization movements have specific identifiers:
  1. When a culture has reached its lowest point a prophet/statesman will arise to help the people gain what has been lost.
  2. This leader makes a plea and call to return to the conservative and fundamentalist ideas of the past.
  3. The result is the formation of a religious method that renews the culture and continues to grow even after the prophet dies.

Some examples would be:
  • Handsome Lake, the Seneca Prophet (1799), called for an end on reliance of European goods, and a return to traditional ways.
  • Jonathan Edwards preached "Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God" at a normal tone of voice at a wicked and perverse time in New England and universal repentance erupted in the audience.
  • John Wesley and his methodism was a call to renewed holiness.
  • Jesus Christ formed a new method that hearkened back to some of the principles and spirit of the Old Testament (i.e. Golden Rule) and boldly declared, "I am the way, the truth, and the life..." (John 14:6) while establishing Himself as the only "divine savior in human flesh."

Moses reminded the Hebrews of Jehovah's directive to them concerning their responsibility to Him and their reward for obedience and faithfulness: "Ye shall observe to do therefore as the LORD your God hath commanded you: ye shall not turn aside to the right hand or to the left. Ye shall walk in all the ways which the LORD your God hath commanded you, that ye may live, and that it may be well with you, and that ye may prolong your days in the land which ye shall possess" (Deut. 5:32-33).

Unfortunately, Jewish history is rife with stories of their backsliding and falling headlong into idolatry and depravity. They did not cherish their faith, not wholly, which is why the Lord said, "All day long I have stretched forth my hands unto a disobedient and gainsaying people" (Ro. 10:21).

The Old Testament prophets even took pains to draw the backslidden people of the Divided Kingdom back to Jehovah through language that echoes the idea of what Wallace called "a religious revival." Jeremiah does so with this portion of text: "...stand ye in the ways, and see, and ask for the old paths, where is the good way, and walk therein, and ye shall find rest for your souls. But they said, We will not walk therein" (Jer. 6:16). the problem here was that the call was made for revitalization but the people did not want it. The result for their rebellion was captivity and dispersion.

Thankfully, God had another plan and through His prophets prepared a way out of captivity and a return to Jerusalem for a remnant, who would help to usher in the arrival of the only true Savior of Mankind -- Jesus Christ. This God-man divested Himself of His Heavenly glory to manifest Himself in flesh and become the Savior, but even He spoke out when he addressed Jerusalem and said (Matt. 23:37), "O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not!"

In today's society it is vitally that we continue to move forward without letting loose of core faith values. This can only take place when each generation of Oneness Pentecostals has a first generation experience, which, I think, will continue the march of revitalization and revival in our movement and the world. The Apostolic Movement is more than a subculture. It is a counter-culture - - a new culture based on the teachings of our Messiah.

01 June 2007

Law of Sacrifice





Ex. 29:38-46, “38 Now this is that which thou shalt offer upon the altar; two lambs of the first year day by day continually. 39 The one lamb thou shalt offer in the morning; and the other lamb thou shalt offer at even: 40 And with the one lamb a tenth deal of flour mingled with the fourth part of an hin of beaten oil; and the fourth part of an hin of wine for a drink offering. 41 And the other lamb thou shalt offer at even, and shalt do thereto according to the meat offering of the morning, and according to the drink offering thereof, for a sweet savour, an offering made by fire unto the LORD. 42 This shall be a continual burnt offering throughout your generations at the door of the tabernacle of the congregation before the LORD: where I will meet you, to speak there unto thee. 43 And there I will meet with the children of Israel, and the tabernacle shall be sanctified by my glory. 44 And I will sanctify the tabernacle of the congregation, and the altar: I will sanctify also both Aaron and his sons, to minister to me in the priest's office. 45 And I will dwell among the children of Israel, and will be their God. 46 And they shall know that I am the LORD their God, that brought them forth out of the land of Egypt, that I may dwell among them: I am the LORD their God.”

The Word of God contains specifications for how the Hebrews could go about fulfilling a perpetual/continual sacrifice unto God (Numbers 28 & 29).

Altars play a central role in the Word of God. It is the place where man meets his Maker. It is a hallowed place necessary for the relationship between the man and his God to flourish.

The Law of Sacrifice is that we are to be in constant communication and prayer with God. Altars play an important role in fulfilling this law.

Exodus 20:24, “An altar of earth thou shalt make unto me, and shalt sacrifice thereon thy burnt offerings, and thy peace offerings, thy sheep, and thine oxen: in all places where I record my name I will come unto thee, and I will bless thee.”

According to Walter L. Wilson, "It is called an altar of earth because it belongs strictly to this earth. God makes no provision for forgiveness and salvation after death. No sacrifice of any kind is available to the lost sinner after he dies. There is no altar in hell."[1]

There is no altar in hell! In hell you become totally and eternally cut-off from God.

There can be no relationship without communication.

Psalm 66:18-20, “18 If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear me: 19 But verily God hath heard me; he hath attended to the voice of my prayer. 20 Blessed be God, which hath not turned away my prayer, nor his mercy from me.”

To paraphrase this passage in a more common vernacular: “If I hold with affection an evil or unjust act, God will not listen to me.” God is not going to listen to my prayer when He knows that I am insincere about my relationship with Him and that I enjoy sin.

The Apostle Paul put it another way when writing of those who “did not like to retain God in their knowledge” and were “full of all unrighteousness,” by stating: “Who knowing the judgment of God, that they which commit such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but have pleasure in them that do them” (See: Romans 1:18-32).

These regarders of iniquity and seekers of sinful pleasures will not be heard by God when they pray to Him in their insincerity, but for the sincere the psalmist did write, “But verily God hath heard me; he hath attended to the voice of my prayer” (Ps. 66:19). Why? Because the psalmist cried out to God and extolled Him (Ps. 66:17). He was retaining God in his knowledge - - acknowledging God and prioritizing Him above all else.

Ps. 84:1-4, “1 How amiable are thy tabernacles, O LORD of hosts! 2 My soul longeth, yea, even fainteth for the courts of the LORD: my heart and my flesh crieth out for the living God. 3 Yea, the sparrow hath found an house, and the swallow a nest for herself, where she may lay her young, even thine altars, O LORD of hosts, my King, and my God. 4 Blessed are they that dwell in thy house: they will be still praising thee. Selah.”

Vs. 3 = A Deserted Altar

Again, Wilson writes, "God’s people had forsaken both the worship and the service of the Lord to such an extent that the fires had gone out, the altar was cold, and no priest was near. The birds felt so much at home around these altars that they built their nests where the priests should have been serving, and the fires should have been burning.[2]

The people of the Name failed to make Him the true Lord and King of their life and lost their intimacy with Him.

They allowed idols to replace their time at the altar of God.
When do you pray?
Where do you pray?
How often do you pray?
Have you a specific place of prayer?
Is your daily and continual desire to be in constant communion with the Lord?
What is the constant in your daily affairs?

You can’t hear God clearly if you are not listening to Him.

Active Listening is part and parcel of continual prayer, which is why the Apostle admonished the early Church to “pray without ceasing” (1 Thess. 5:17).

However, it is often too true that we allow the cares and troubles of life to gather in the place we once dedicated to God and now those birds and nests live in the place where once we came regularly for fellowship, repentance, communication, and relationship with God.

2 Cor. 10:3-6 contains what should be our response to the nesting birds that attempt to lodge themselves into our lives: "3 For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh: 4 (For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds;) 5 Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ; 6 And having in a readiness to revenge all disobedience, when your obedience is fulfilled.

Two men in the Old Testament found themselves in opposite positions of relationship to God due entirely upon their habits regarding the altar and the law of sacrifice.

ABRAHAM:


  1. Gen. 19:27, “And Abraham gat up early in the morning to the place where he stood before the LORD.”
  2. Do you have a place where you daily stand before the Lord? A lifestyle of faithfulness in communion with the Lord?
  3. The Akedah (binding of Isaac) & The Seven-Fold Blessing of Abraham (Gen. 22).
    Abraham prioritized his relationship with God above all things, and the Lord revealed to him an attribute of His character - Jehovah-jireh (“Jehovah sees”).[3]
  4. Abraham is known in Scripture as the friend of God.


JOAB:


  1. 1 Kings 2:28, “Then tidings came to Joab: for Joab had turned after Adonijah, though he turned not after Absalom. And Joab fled unto the tabernacle of the LORD, and caught hold on the horns of the altar.”
  2. There is no other passage in the OT where a pattern of prayer and sacrifice was established by Joab.
  3. He had no resources to pull from because he had no relationship with God. He attempted to gain the mercy and the authority of the altar without first building a foundation of relationship with God.
  4. God was not his priority.
  5. Joab’s first allegiance was to himself.


Jesus Christ has paved the way for our access to the Divine with His sacrifice on the altar of Calvary. He said, “And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me” (Jn. 12:32). This “lifting” refers to the lifting up of the sacrifice upon the brazen altar by the priests. Because of Christ’s sacrifice we have been granted an avenue of access to God that Man lost in the Garden of Eden.

Hebrews 4:14-16, “14 Seeing then that we have a great high priest, that is passed into the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our profession. 15 For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin. 16 Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.”

Heb. 13:15-16, “By him therefore let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of our lips giving thanks to his name. But to do good and to communicate forget not: for with such sacrifices God is well pleased.”

The continual faithfulness of Abraham carried eternal significance for himself, his lineage, and the rest of mankind. Our prayer habits also carry eternal weight, not only for ourselves but for others as well. When we begin to comprehend this truth we can understand the wisdom of that great missionary Billy Cole, who espoused the following ideology: “The reward for sacrifice is more sacrifice.” He also opined that “Until Jesus Christ comes there is no end to sacrifice,” which is, in this author’s opinion, the definition of the law of sacrifice because it contains the necessary ingredient of constancy.[4]


__________________

SOURCE:
[1] Wilson, Walter L. (1957, 1999). A Dictionary of Bible Types. Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers, Inc. p. 9-11.

[2] Ibid.

[3] Brown, Driver, Briggs and Gesenius. "Hebrew Lexicon entry for Y@hovah yireh". "The KJV Old Testament Hebrew Lexicon". Retrieved: 1 June 2007. http://www.biblestudytools.net/Lexicons/Hebrew/heb.cgi?number=3070&version=kjv.

[4] Cole, W.H. “Billy.” (2006). Teachings By Billy Cole. InstantPublisher.com

30 May 2007

God's Masterpiece

The following essay is from a wonderful and revelatory book written by Bishop Garfield Thomas (G.T.) Haywood, who was the Presiding Bishop of the Pentecostal Assemblies of the World from 1925-1931. Haywood was a pioneer of truth and an influential leader of the Oneness Pentecostal movement in the early years of its restoration in North America. I thank God for men of his high caliber.







Bishop G. T. Haywood - “God’s Masterpiece[1]

Man is a threefold creature, consisting of Spirit, soul, and body. All that is visible is the body. Man is the masterpiece of God's workmanship, and is "wonderfully and fearfully" made. Nothing like him has ever been brought into being.

The body was formed from the dust of the ground. God breathed into his nostrils the breath (spirit) of life, and he became a living soul. The union of the Spirit and the body apparently produced the soul. (Gen 2:7.)

The soul is never separated from the body. It is the seat of affections. It is the subconscious realm of human activity. On it is impressed the desires, or affections gathered by the spirit through the mental realm, and afterwards carried into actions by the body. The soul is to the body what the records are to the phonograph. (See Rom. 1:20.) Whatever is imprinted on the soul will be acted out unconsciously by the body.

When the spirit of man begins to reach out after evil things, evil impressions are stamped upon the soul, thus resulting in evil deeds, wicked works and practices. The Psalmist says man is "estranged from the womb; they go astray as soon as they are born, speaking lies." Psa. 58:3. The soul is often spoken of as the "heart". (Gen. 6:5; Psa. 51:10; 84:2.)

The preaching of the gospel stirs one's spirit to seek after righteousness. Though the spirit may be inclined towards righteousness, yet it cannot do the things they desire to do on the account of the soul being, as it were, filled with evil engravings of past affections. Hence there is a struggle between the spirit and the body, because the body is inclined to fulfill deeds recorded on the soul, while the spirit endeavors to perform the works of righteousness. (Rom. 7:9-24.) This is genuine conviction unto god­ly sorrow, working repentance unto salvation.

There is nothing that can remove those evil records engraved upon the soul, or heart, but faith in the blood of Jesus, the Bishop of our souls. The true cry of a penitent spirit is, "0 wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death?" "Create in me a clean heart, 0 God; and renew a right spirit within me!" "What must I do to be saved?" When a soul reaches that state he should be taught full faith and obedience in the command of God, "Repent and be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit," and God will confirm His word.

When the soul is cleansed the Holy Spirit comes in to help the spirit to place new records on the soul, that the body might perform the will of God, walk­ing in the newness of life. Through the Holy Spirit He will "put My laws in their minds (spirit), and write them upon their hearts" (soul). See John 14:26; 16:13; Heb. 8:10. The mind is the realm of the spirit's activity, while the heart is the seat of the soul's affections. Thus by having new records on the soul it becomes as easy for a man to walk and live righteous as it was for him to live wickedly in his former life. Many are cleansed and filled with the Spirit, but fail to get God's truth hidden, or engraved in their hearts. Psa. 119:11; Hos. 4:6. They need the TRUTH, and not tradition! John 8:32; 17:17.


The modern purchasing plan beautifully illustrates the purpose of spirit, soul, and body, and their final disposition. Whenever an article is purchased the salesman writes out the price, date, and description of the article on two bills at one writing,—an original and a duplicate bill. When the goods are delivered the duplicate goes with the article purchased, while the original is signed and returned to the Company that gave it. Should any question arise over the goods they are returned with the duplicate, which is immediately compared with the original, and judgment is rendered according to the records of the two bills. Thus it is with the spirit, soul and body.

The body is the article of purchase. The spirit and the soul are the two bills,—original and duplicate, respectively. The records of bodily action originate with the spirit, and are duplicated on the soul. When the body is delivered up to death and the grave, the deeds of the body are still imprinted on the soul. The soul and body enter the grave to­gether. (Job 33:18, 22, 28, 30; Psa. 16:10, and Acts 2:27, 31. Psa. 49:14, 15.) But the spirit returns to the God that gave it. (Ecc. 3:21; 12:7; Lu. 23:14, and Acts 2:31; Acts 7:59, 60.) The dead know not anything that is transpiring in this life after their departure, but they do know what is transpiring in the realm wherein they are confined. The spirit of the wicked is tormented by remorse, being conscious of his future destiny. His soul is harassed while sleeping, like a man with wicked, horrible, tormenting dreams, but unable to awake. And when he awakes on the morning of the second resurrection (Rev. 20:10-15), he will awake expecting relief, but will find that his punishment has in reality just begun. (See Luke 16:22-31.)

As for the righteous their spirit departs to be with Christ in Paradise (Phil. 1:23), while the soul is at rest sweetly sleeping in Christ like "one who has folded the drapery of his couch about him and laid down to pleasant dreams." And in the resurrection morning he "shall be satisfied when he awakes with His likeness." His spirit and soul will be united in "a glorious body" and shall enter into that realm of life eternal, where there shall be no death, no night, no sleep, no sorrow to break in on the feast of unending joy in the presence of the Lord. (See Psa. 17:15; Isa. 26:19; Dan. 12:1-3; 1 Cor. 15:49-55; 1 Thes. 4:13-17.)


[1] Haywood, G.T. (n.d.). The Finest of the Wheat. “God’s Masterpiece.” Christ Temple Book Store:Indianapolis, IN. Ch. IV. P. 12-15.

Links to other messages, hymns, and essays by G. T. Haywood:
A Gospel Message of Hope
The Mystery of God Only Known By Revelation
Jesus, the Son of God

**Please post a comment if you know of other sites having messages, hymns, or essays by G.T. Haywood, thanks.**

26 May 2007

The Law of Harvest & the Law of Distribution



Gal. 6:7-10
7
Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap. 8 For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting. 9 And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not. 10 As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith.

The Law of Harvest:
Gal. 6:7, “…Whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.”

Consider your seed:
What are you sowing, or planting in your life?
What habits are you developing?
What behavior do you manifest outwardly to others on a day-to-day basis?
What are the secret thoughts that you consider in the privacy of your mind?
What types of music, television programming, movies, and Internet sites do you allow to enter your spirit being through your sense gates?
What kind of conversations do you entertain?

Whatever answers you may have to these questions, one thing is certain; you will reap what you’ve sown:
Sow love and you’ll receive love
Sow hate and you’ll receive the same
Sow kindness and you will receive it in turn
Sow cynicism and others will mistrust you as well

The Apostle is clear on this one issue:
You get what you sow.
You can’t plant an orange tree and expect apples.
You can’t alter the inevitable law of harvest - - like begets like.

Romans 6
1
What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound? 2 God forbid. How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein? 3 Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death? 4 Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. 5 For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection: 6 Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin. 7 For he that is dead is freed from sin. 8 Now if we be dead with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with him: 9 Knowing that Christ being raised from the dead dieth no more; death hath no more dominion over him. 10 For in that he died, he died unto sin once: but in that he liveth, he liveth unto God. 11 Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord. 12 Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that ye should obey it in the lusts thereof. 13 Neither yield ye your members as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin: but yield yourselves unto God, as those that are alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness unto God. 14 For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace. 15 What then? shall we sin, because we are not under the law, but under grace? God forbid. 16 Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness? 17 But God be thanked, that ye were the servants of sin, but ye have obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine which was delivered you. 18 Being then made free from sin, ye became the servants of righteousness. 19 I speak after the manner of men because of the infirmity of your flesh: for as ye have yielded your members servants to uncleanness and to iniquity unto iniquity; even so now yield your members servants to righteousness unto holiness. 20 For when ye were the servants of sin, ye were free from righteousness. 21 What fruit had ye then in those things whereof ye are now ashamed? for the end of those things is death. 22 But now being made free from sin, and become servants to God, ye have your fruit unto holiness, and the end everlasting life. 23 For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

The inevitable law of harvest declares that you will end up in one of two places.
You Choose: Heaven or Hell

The choice of Hell, which designates you as a servant of sin, will reveal certain undeniable indicators in your life (i.e. the works of the flesh: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like [Gal. 5:19-21]). When you yield yourself to these you are making a decision to do so.

The choice of Heaven, designating you as a servant of righteousness, will be seen by the presence of the Fruit of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance (Gal. 5:22-23). Yielding to the Holy Ghost is also a conscious decision that you make.

The Law of Distribution:
Gal. 6:10, “…let us do good unto all men…”

1 Cor. 7:1-24
1 Now concerning the things whereof ye wrote unto me: It is good for a man not to touch a woman. 2 Nevertheless, to avoid fornication, let every man have his own wife, and let every woman have her own husband. 3 Let the husband render unto the wife due benevolence: and likewise also the wife unto the husband. 4 The wife hath not power of her own body, but the husband: and likewise also the husband hath not power of his own body, but the wife. 5 Defraud ye not one the other, except it be with consent for a time, that ye may give yourselves to fasting and prayer; and come together again, that Satan tempt you not for your incontinency. 6 But I speak this by permission, and not of commandment. 7 For I would that all men were even as I myself. But every man hath his proper gift of God, one after this manner, and another after that. 8 I say therefore to the unmarried and widows, It is good for them if they abide even as I. 9 But if they cannot contain, let them marry: for it is better to marry than to burn. 10 And unto the married I command, yet not I, but the Lord, Let not the wife depart from her husband: 11 But and if she depart, let her remain unmarried, or be reconciled to her husband: and let not the husband put away his wife. 12 But to the rest speak I, not the Lord: If any brother hath a wife that believeth not, and she be pleased to dwell with him, let him not put her away. 13 And the woman which hath an husband that believeth not, and if he be pleased to dwell with her, let her not leave him. 14 For the unbelieving husband is sanctified by the wife, and the unbelieving wife is sanctified by the husband: else were your children unclean; but now are they holy. 15 But if the unbelieving depart, let him depart. A brother or a sister is not under bondage in such cases: but God hath called us to peace. 16 For what knowest thou, O wife, whether thou shalt save thy husband? or how knowest thou, O man, whether thou shalt save thy wife? 17 But as God hath distributed to every man, as the Lord hath called every one, so let him walk. And so ordain I in all churches. 18 Is any man called being circumcised? let him not become uncircumcised. Is any called in uncircumcision? let him not be circumcised. 19 Circumcision is nothing, and uncircumcision is nothing, but the keeping of the commandments of God. 20 Let every man abide in the same calling wherein he was called. 21 Art thou called being a servant? care not for it: but if thou mayest be made free, use it rather. 22 For he that is called in the Lord, being a servant, is the Lord's freeman: likewise also he that is called, being free, is Christ's servant. 23 Ye are bought with a price; be not ye the servants of men. 24 Brethren, let every man, wherein he is called, therein abide with God.

According to Pastor Michael Seebaugh, of Parkersburg, WV, the beauty of this passage on marriage is that it reveals to us a beautiful present that is best described as the Gift of Perspective:
1. Your experiences prior to conversion and the subsequent ones afterwards give you a particular point-of-view that is unique to you.
2. Paul’s writing concerning marriage gives us insight into the fact that married couples, single individuals, divorced people, widows, and widowers all have various experiences that can benefit others.
3. Couples married for 50 years have wisdom in their perspective that the young married couples would be wise to heed.
4. The Church body is full of people who have many types of experiences and these are necessary for the distribution of the Gospel to the whole world.

What has God given to you that has been vitally important in your continual walk with Him?

Something He gave to you that you couldn’t have made it without?

Jesus?
Mercy?
Grace?
Godly Examples?
Pastors?
Holy Bible?
Godly Parents?
Salvation?
Love?
Faith?
Fruit of the Spirit?
Church?
Family?
Strength?
Prayer?
Praise?
Worship?
Holy Ghost?
Desire?
Wisdom?
Knowledge?
Apostles?
Evangelists?
Teachers?
Prophets?

These examples of God’s gift to you are the very things that He desires you to distribute to others. We need to learn how to distribute to others what God has produced in our lives.

Heed these words of wisdom:
The mercy you show is the mercy you’ll know.” – LouAnne Kuntzman

Rev. Seebaugh also suggests the following as Principles of Distribution:

1. You can’t distribute (give, divide, disperse, administer, bestow) what you don’t have.
Look at the seven sons of Sceva (Acts 19:13-20). God will bring exponential growth to what you do have if you give it to Him (John 6:1-14)

2. You don’t have to produce the product, but you do need to be able to access it for yourself and for distribution. God is Love. You don’t produce that, but you do possess it, and can access it. You need seed if you intend to sow.

3. You need to be located where people can access your product easily. Are you approachable? Don’t hide behind your “shyness.”

4. You should be focused on how to get the product to the client. Are you “soul conscious?” Do you look for opportunities to distribute?

5. You need to have lots of room for your product. Your product is the testimony of God’s goodness in your life - - It is like seed to the sower. Sow seed by distributing it anywhere and everywhere you possibly can.

The diversity of gifts and offices were distributed for the purpose of Christian maturity in the Body of Christ - - the Church.

Eph. 4:11-16
11 And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; 12 For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: 13 Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ: 14 That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive; 15 But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ: 16 From whom the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love.

The law of harvest and the law of distribution are cyclic -- they are similar to the law of cause and effect (causality).

Eph. 6:8, “Knowing that whatsoever good thing any man doeth, the same shall he receive of the Lord, whether he be bond or free.”

Luke 6:35-36
35
But love ye your enemies, and do good, and lend, hoping for nothing again; and your reward shall be great, and ye shall be the children of the Highest: for he is kind unto the unthankful and to the evil. 36 Be ye therefore merciful, as your Father also is merciful. 37 Judge not, and ye shall not be judged: condemn not, and ye shall not be condemned: forgive, and ye shall be forgiven: 38 Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom. For with the same measure that ye mete withal it shall be measured to you again.

This passage (verse 35) is the ultimate test for some: “…love ye your enemies…do good, and lend, hoping for nothing…”

You cannot hold back from sowing into others for any reason.

Verse 38 is significant because it contains the promise of harvest for those who distribute what they have to others, and your level of harvest is directly linked to your level of distribution.

Don’t distribute as rich people do, but as the certain poor widow: “For all they did cast in of their abundance; but she of her want did cast in all that she had, even all her living” (Mark 12:44).

Jesus Christ has distributed to you the Holy Ghost, which is Christ in you, and you are responsible to distribute the Gospel of Jesus Christ to others, in order that they can experience the same phenomenon.

This is why you are commanded by Jesus to “go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.” It is here where we plainly see the law of distribution working in tandem with the law of harvest: “He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned. And these signs shall follow them that believe; In my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues; They shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover” (Mark 16:15-18).

You are not told that every one will believe and obey the Gospel, but you are told that those who do receive what you distribute will receive an unprecedented harvest.

Refuse the excuse, “I have nothing to give.” Distribute what God has already given freely to you and you will witness a harvest. It is inevitable.

09 May 2007

Water Baptism in the Name of Jesus:

Guest Author: James Anderson

 
This topic is often discussed, but I have been conversing with someone with an opposing view and here are some of my notes.

 
I would not say that there was a codified baptismal formula in the primitive church. Myself and most Oneness teachers should indicate it was developed, in some sense. However, I do believe that scripture and history indicate to us that the name of Jesus was invoked or implied, in literary devices, by or over the baptized. I think most scholars realize this but disallow it by marginalizing it to, now, include the Matthean titles (28:19; Father, Son, and Holy Spirit) and thus giving a sense of credibility to the Trinitarian method. If we study history accurately we should understand that no biblical or primitive NT believer was baptized using the titles. Biblical and historical evidence explicitly indicates that the name "Jesus" was actually used in baptism and not a recitation of the actual instruction of Christ in the Matthean passage, instead actual obedience to His instruction, e.g. "baptizing them...in the name..." (c.f. Matthew 28:19, NKJV).

 
In connection with this it is interesting to note the Lukan Great Commission as well. Luke records: "and that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem." (Luke 24:47, KJV) Both the Lukan and Matthean passages indicate that a single, known name was used in Christian baptism. As the below sources will show, this is the only form used by the Disciples and early believers.

 
The Anchor Bible Dictionary is a landmark work of scholarly thought. It clearly states:

 
"It is relatively certain that in the early Church one commonly referred to baptism as being done "into the name of the Lord Jesus" or "something similar." (1)

 
The Bible knows of no Christian in the New Testament who had not been baptized, either by John or in the name of Jesus. Consequently, as modern New Testament believers we should feel compelled to follow that same Biblical method. Christian baptism was from the first administered “in the name of Jesus”. The trinitarian formula of merely repeating, not obeying or properly interpreting, Matthew 28:19 is not found in the scriptures. Anyone baptizing in titles or any other method that does not include the name of Jesus is without scriptural support, there is simply no text that demonstrates or gives license for such aberrations. Baptism identifies us with Jesus Christ and brings us into the Body of Christ, therefore it is logical to conclude that we should have the name of Jesus invoked over us in baptism.

 
The reason that we are baptized in Jesus’ name is that we are being baptized into Jesus. We are taking on his name, similar to the way a woman takes on her husband's name at marriage. We are saying that we belong to Jesus and we are identifying with Him in His death and burial. Paul said, “Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Or were you baptized in the name of Paul?” (1 Corinthians 1:13) Paul’s thinking here is to exalt the name of Jesus Christ. If we follow his logic it becomes obvious that he is telling the Corinthians that Christ was the one crucified for them and so they, too, were baptized in the name of Christ. The believers at Corinth as well as those in Rome were baptized in Jesus’ name.

 
We may contest that there was no EXACT formula for baptism in the New Testament, but such a statement is only partially true. As mentioned prior, in all occasions of baptism the name Jesus is used, in the name of the Lord or in the name of the Lord Jesus, etc. Whether “Christ” or “Lord” is used all the references refer directly to the only saving name—Jesus (Acts 4:12). How can we expect baptism to be efficacious for one if the name of Jesus is not invoked then? It seems then that anything else would be...unbiblical.

 
In Acts 22:16 we read, "And now why tarriest thou? arise, and be baptized, and wash away thy sins, calling on the name of the Lord." (Acts 22:16, KJV) There is other debates concerning this passage, but none as relevant as the one we are discussing now. The Greek word for "calling" here is epikaleomai. This word is defined "idiomatically, denoting that one person belongs to another whose name is attached to him…literally have someone’s name called on someone, i.e. belong to,"(2) Therefore, the name of Christ is important in every sense of salvation and not just in professing Him as Lord. This name should be "called on" as we are baptized into Christ; we arise with His name attached to us and are His people.

 
Epikaleomai is used to mean a literal invoking in several New Testament passages. In Acts 9 we see the story of Paul after being blinded on the road to Damascus, "And here he has authority from the chief priests to bind all who call on Your name. (15) But the Lord said to him, Go, for he is a chosen vessel of Mine to bear My name before Gentiles, kings, and the children of Israel. (16) For I will show him how many things he must suffer for My name's sake." Acts 9:14-16 NKJV

 
The early Christians were preaching and baptizing in the name of Jesus. They literally uttered the words, there was no non-verbal reflection upon the name—it was a literal calling on the name of Jesus. Paul (formerly Saul) was commissioned by the Priests to persecute those who were calling on the name of Jesus. After being blinded Paul is taken to Ananias. Ananias is told by the Lord that Paul is a "chosen vessel" to "bear" the name of Jesus to the Gentiles. Paul also was to suffer for this name. The name of Jesus is so intrinsically involved in the process of salvation and our subsequent lives, how can we, then, abandon this name at our baptism?

 
Some assume that the trinitarian formula for baptism, which invokes the titles—Father, Son, and Holy Spirit--are indeed the biblical method. This may cause one to ask, "Was the trinitarian formula used in New Testament times?" The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia answers this for us:

 
"No record of such use can be discovered in the Acts or the epistles of the apostles. The baptisms recorded in the New Testament after the Day of Pentecost are administered "in the name of Jesus Christ" (Acts 2:38), "into the name of the Lord Jesus" (Acts 8:16), "into Christ" (Rom 6:3; Gal 3:27)." (3)

 
James Hastings indicates:

 
"The original form of words was ‘into the name of Jesus Christ’ or ‘the Lord Jesus.’ Baptism into the name of the Trinity was a later development."(4)

 
Self-admittedly then trinitarians confess that the form of words used in an oral invocation in the rite of baptism was done by, the very least, using the name of Jesus, in some sense. Signifying that the Apostles as well as those following their death used the saving Name—Jesus.

 
Often the words, "in" or "into" are used with being baptized in or into the name of Jesus. Both terms are prepositions which are used to connect nouns or pronouns in an adjectival or adverbial sense. Example: the babe lying in a manger, the sun sets in the west. They denote being in or into something, such as baptized into or in the name of Jesus. When used in an adjectival or descriptive sense it is describing the method or the how of what is being said. How were the early Christians baptized? Answer: in the name of Jesus. Therefore, we enter into or in the power or person of Jesus by using His name.

 
In the New Testament, specifically in the historical book of Acts we see baptisms that involve an actual verbal invocation using wholly, partly, or by implications (Lord) the name of Jesus. Otto Heick a church historian wrote in his book, "A History of Christian Thought" (1,53), that "At first baptism was administered in the name of Jesus, but gradually in the name of the Triune God: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit." Today, as modern New Testament believers, it is imperative that we hold the teachings of scripture paramount, rather than relying too heavily upon extra-biblical sources or church councils, creeds, dogmas and catechisms. When we stand before God in the Day of Judgment, we will be accountable to His Word.

 
In Acts 4:12 Peter uses the word "must" which is the Greek preposition dei. In this passage it literally means "it is necessary."(5) "Must" here is an emphatic word indicating compelling necessity and it is joined with "name" which is part of the "must." Not only is there only one way to get salvation, e.g. through Jesus Christ, but there is only one saving name in baptism—Jesus Christ.

 
Many New Testament passages speak of healing done in Jesus’ name (Acts 3:6, 16; 4:9–10), signs and wonders through His name (4:30). Some preached in His name (8:12) or spoke boldly in His name (9:27–28). This being so, it seems that historical and theological bias exist in order to assert that baptism is not to be done by invoking the name of Jesus. Baptism in the name of Jesus was and still is the correct name to administer over one who is to be baptized or by the baptized. Historically and biblically, all competent accounts point us directly to Jesus name.

 
Here is a syllogism to conclude:


  1. Biblical and historical sources indicate that baptism was done by orally invoking, in some sense, the name "Jesus". Further, the historical evidence confirms that extra-biblical change was made to include titles.
  2. The Bible also places soteriological emphasis on the name of Jesus that it "must" be a part of a believers experience.
  3. Therefore, it is logical to conclude, from evidence, that baptism in the name of "Jesus" is both valid and necessary.

 

 
NOTES:

1. Freedman, David Noel. The Anchor Bible Dictionary. New York: Doubleday, 1996, c1992.
2. Friberg, T., Friberg, B., & Miller, N. F. (2000). Vol. 4: Analytical lexicon of the Greek New Testament. Baker's Greek New Testament library (Page 164). Grand Rapids, Mich.: Baker Books.
3. "Baptism" International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, Electronic Database Copyright (c)1996 by Biblesoft
4. "Baptism" IV (a.) A Dictionary of the Bible, Edited by James Hastings, M.A., D.D., Vol. 1, Hendrickson Publishers, Inc.
5. Exegetical Dictionary of the New Testament © 1990 by William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company. All rights reserved

 
- James Anderson is a full-time student at Liberty University and owner of a design firm in the East Texas. He is also a licensed minister in the UPCI and ministers at New Life UPC, where his father pastors, in Mt. Vernon, TX.

 


 

20 February 2007

Uzziah's Epitaph

Uzziah, also called Azariah, became king of Judah at the tender age of sixteen (2 Chronicles 26:1) and ruled for 52 years (2 Kings 15:2).


During his reign he made significant contributions to the realm and was successful in many endeavors, but his life ends with a mark upon him that history has not been able to erase – he died a leper.


If we take a look at Uzziah’s leadership style we will discover early influences that molded him into the leader he was, his positive and negative characteristics as a ruler, and the affect his leadership had on his son and grandson.


It would be impossible to reflect on the direction Uzziah took as a leader without first looking to his upbringing. The adage is still as true today as it was when originally penned, “Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it” (Pr. 22:6).


The closest and most influential people in anyone’s life will usually be their parents. Amaziah was Uzziah’s father and a great influence on his life. The Bible speaks of Amaziah as a man who “did that which was right in the sight of the LORD, yet not like David his father” (2 Kings 14:3).


Another passage records, “he did that which was right in the sight of the LORD, but not with a perfect heart” (2 Chronicles 25). The reason this is written is due to the fact that towards the end of his reign he turned to the idols of the people of Seir and because he decided to “turn away from following the LORD” the LORD decided to destroy him. It was this failure to recognize who was truly responsible for Judah’s victory over the Edomites that caused Amaziah’s downfall. He rejected the prophet of God and did as he wanted by worshipping other gods and hiring soldiers from Israel. His was a sin of pride, disobedience, and a divided heart.


As Uzziah enters the pages of the Scriptures we see him as a king to be admired. In fact, one writer informs us that, according to 2 Chronicles chapter 26, Azariah ruled “with God's help (verse 7) he became very successful as a builder (verse 9), farmer (verse 10) and a military leader (verse 11). So much so, that his fame spread far and wide.


The Bible issues a statement that gives us an idea of why Uzziah began to fall when it states, “he was marvellously helped, till he was strong. But when he was strong, his heart was lifted up to his destruction: for he transgressed against the LORD his God, and went into the temple of the LORD to burn incense upon the altar of incense” (2 Chronicles 26:15-16).




John L. Kachelman, Jr. offers us an accounting of Uzziah’s characteristics and accomplishments before his downfall:


1. His respect for God’s messenger (2 Chron. 26:5). A key to Uzziah’s success is his desire to seek God. It seems that the influence for this is attributable to a prophet or priest named “Zachariah.” This unknown prophet was able to know, understand, and explain God’s will so the King (and others) would understand and obey. As long as Uzziah was influenced by these forces to follow God’s will, he knew success and happiness. It was a good time for Judah! 2. His role as STATESMAN (2 Chron. 26:6-15). No politician could dream of a better tenure as a chief executive of a nation. Prosperity was enjoyed in all areas of life.a. POLITICALLY Uzziah’s leadership resulted in amazing successes. His armies were victorious (v. 6-8). His projects and programs were successful (v. 9-10).b. MILITARILY Uzziah’s leadership was superb (v. 11-15). He was an amazing military mind – organized, prepared, and inventive. Everyone studied his maneuvers and learned brilliant strategies of warfare.c. PERSONALLY Uzziah’s fame spread throughout then entire known world. He was famous and recognized. His “strength” was envied by other Kings (v. 8b, 15b).


In the midst of all this success we find that Uzziah rebelled against his God when he failed to acknowledge the source of his strength, and in so doing he attempted to presumptuously and proudly take God’s glory by offering incense in the Temple instead of allowing the priests to do their duty. We would do well to steer clear of the sin of presumption and pride becasue the Bible clearly states “that no flesh should glory in His (God’s) presence” (1 Corinthians 1:29).


Uzziah failed to realize that you don’t own God’s glory or favor because it is a gift from Him to you.


Why this change in Uzziah? The qualities that he learned from his father manifested themselves when Uzziah took his eyes off of the LORD and allowed pride to rule him.


Kachelman writes that Uzziah’s rebellion appears when we read the word “until”. Many times it appears that people are doing well and serving God faithfully “until” they forget who the source of their strength is. The irony is that Uzziah’s very name - "my strength is Jehovah" – was not enough to remind him of God’s hand on his life because pride will always take your eyes off of God and onto self.


God cursed Uzziah with leprosy because of his pride. It is significant that we never read of Uzziah repenting for his sin and it is possible to become so wrapped up in self and in our own arrogancy that we, like Uzziah, find that we cannot turn from sin.


One writer, Wilbur Wright, says that “the antidote for pride is humility. Humility is the measure of a leader whom God can use and it should be an ever-growing quality in their life and ministry. God places a very high premium on humility and its close companion of meekness (Matthew 5:5) and lowliness (Matthew 11:29).”


All Uzziah had to do was obey a simple principle, but he did not and consequently he was not healed of his leprosy. "Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time" (1 Peter 5:6).


It is interesting that Jotham, as king of Judah following his father Uzziah, never went to the Temple. He was a mighty man and “he did that which was right in the sight of the LORD, according to all that his father Uzziah did: howbeit he entered not into the temple of the LORD” (2 Chronicles 27:1-2). Perhaps this was due to a fear that he deveolped as a result of what happened to his father. Sometimes people see the Church as a place of wrath and fail to realize that sin is what brings judgment because God loves those who he chastens. In actuality, Uzziah's judgment was an opportunity for mercy, but he failed to take advantage and passed onto his son a mistrust of God.


Jotham was a man who prepared, set-up, erected, established, and set forth his ways before God, but he allowed the people of Judah to continue in their corruption (idol worship and backsliding). Because of his father’s rebellion and judgment he did not see the house of God as a place of worship, but of wrath and attributed that to God instead of to his father’s self-glory.
As we follow the path of Uzziah’s faithlessness we come to his grandson Ahaz. The Bible informs us that Ahaz was a wicked an unjust king who “did not that which was right in the sight of the LORD” (2 Chronicles 28:1).


Ahaz not only sinned against God at every opportunity but he also sacrificed his children to other gods and “gathered together the vessels of the house of God, and cut in pieces the vessels of the house of God, and shut up the doors of the house of the LORD, and he made him altars in every corner of Jerusalem. And in every several city of Judah he made high places to burn incense unto other gods, and provoked to anger the LORD God of his fathers” (2 Chronicles 28:3, 24-25).
This then is the final end of all those who lift themselves up in pride against the LORD – destruction of self and others.


It mattered not how great Uzziah was or even how many accomplishments are attributed to him because his pride was a catalyst that spawned a family and a nation of rebellious backsliders. All he had to do to remove this possibility was repent, but he did not.


“But when he was strong, his heart was lifted up to his destruction: for he transgressed against the LORD his God, and went into the temple of the LORD to burn incense upon the altar of incense” (2 Chronicles 26:16).


Who do you attribute your strength to today?