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The purpose of this section is to deal with topics not covered in the other ones on this website.  It started off as a teaching moment to expose the errors in the secular world's thinking and arguments but has over time moved on to other areas of life but it will return to its original purpose.

The world claims to be experts, yet they use limited fields of study, limited evidence to support their arguments and limited thinking in investigating the past or other events.  Christians really need to step up to the plate, makes sure that they have done their work according to God's direction and standards and present their findings humbly, spiritually and without the false ideas that permeate the secular world's conclusions and studies.

The secular world's shield is usually their claim to 'objectivity;' yet that is a myth as even their own scholars’ reject such an ideal as they recognize that there is no such thing as total objectivity.  With God there is no such when one is presenting their findings, one is either on God's side or they are not and that eliminates objectivity as other influences play a part in one's studies.

Objectivity is impossible for the believer for once they stop doing things God's ways, they have started doing things the worlds and that skews the study right there and gives the secular world a chance to dismiss one's findings without consideration.  The believer needs to do their work according to God's instructions that way the unbeliever has no excuse and must deal with the truth.

Compromise does not work as that is letting evil in to influence the results and tarnish the findings and take away glory from God. Too many believers tend to compromise because they hope to bring someone to Christ, yet the usual result is the loss of respect for the believer and what they believe.

The believer needs to stand tall on God's ways, omit those things which are from the secular world that contradicts or hinders the discovery of God's truth.  They claim you cannot put God in a test tube which is why the supernatural is eliminated form scientific work but they cannot put the process of evolution in a test tube either, not only making it a supernatural item but hypocrisizing their refusal to include God.  Do not fall for such obvious attempts to block the truth from being discovered.

The believer needs to shun the teachings of the secular world for their is little of God in them and what they do find of God, the non-believer attributes to some other source.  It is good to analyze their work and point out the evidence for God and this error of false crediting BUT it is bad to follow their ways and thinking when searching for the truth.

That is what the believer needs to do--find ways and use them to proclaim the truth so all the world can here the correct answers.
 

Was the Bible Plagiarized?

It has been said by many scholars, who do not believe the Bible, that the ancient Israelites copied the Old Testament from secular societies.  More specifically, they say, these events were taken from the Babylonian archives during the Israeli captivity by that nation.

Plus, these scholars think that those who put the Old Testament together did so after the 8th century B.C., the dates vary depending on the scholar or archaeologist.  Yet these scholars (often called minimalists and sometimes Centrists) can never provide any proof for this claim nor can they provide any reason why the writers of the Old Testament would contradict their own teachings and steal from other sources/

These are two great hurdles opponents to God inspiring different men to write the books of the Old Testament cannot overcome.  Much like the Documentary Hypothesis and the ‘Q’ source theory, this idea of theirs is based solely on imagination, conjecture and an utter rejection of the truth.

It seems strange that those who take this position and point the accusing finger at the Israelites, who have a book which teaches to do right, not lie, be holy, etc., would assume that the secular societies, who have no real moral teachings to guide their actions, did not copy or steal.  In other words these experts have it backwards, crediting the sinful men of being honest and forthright and accusing the honest, holy men of sinning, with no reason for them to do so.

These ideas make no sense and are further undermined by Ronald A. Veenker who wrote in a paper entitled, Syro-Mesopotamia: the Old Babylon Period, found in the book ‘Mesopotamia and the Bible’ edited by Drs. Chavalas & Younger Jr. the following:

“The scribes of the Old Babylonian period were very zealous copyists and went to great lengths to preserve the literature that came down to them from the past…”

At no time in history do the Israelites earn a reputation of being copyists, yet here we have modern scholars who ignore this fact and the fact that the Babylonians had such a reputation.  One thing they point to as proof for their conclusions is the similarity of the stories with the ancient myths of the secular societies but why they automatically assume that the Israelites were the plagiarists can only be answered by the state of their minds.

The minimalists are unbelievers and do not accept anything about the Bible as true, as Phillip Davies said in one lecture ‘it did not happen…’ thus with this unbelief we cannot expect any honesty or any motivation, from the minimalist camp, to prove the Bible true or give accurate accounts of the actions of the Israelites.

There is a simple reason why there are such similarities between the Bible and ancient myths but we have to go back to the time where Noah and his family left the ark and started to re-populate the world.  Noah and his family would recount the flood event to their children, grand-children, great-grandchildren, and so on, so that all the original inhabitants of the world would have the same true narrative.

Then as people started to stray from God and became influenced by evil, it would not be hard to change the stories to make them what the new sinful people wanted them to be instead of what they really were. This became easier after Babel and the dispersal of the people as new societies emerged who forged their own traditions and ignored the truth.

Thus it was the Israelites who wrote down the true accounts while the secular nations of the world, copied their own versions for their own pleasures.  They all had the same source but only 1 nation had the truth.  In this fact we see God fulfilling His promise that His words would not pass away but would remain until the end.

We can, with confidence, dismiss the Sumerian, the Babylonian and other nations versions of the Biblical events because we can trace the Biblical history back beyond these nations' origins and can compare documents to see the difference.  Just the focus of the writings provides for us big clues; one brings glory to God and gives the credit to Him while the others do not.
 

A Word to the Wise

 

There is a trend that is taking place in the English language (and probably others) these past few years which is disturbing.  Too many people are putting their own spin, their own definitions on words, phrases and even sentences and distorting the true meanings.

This blatant bad use of language usually has a personal agenda tied to it so the speaker can obtain a desired result.  They may want someone locked up, institutionalized or follow their theory (on whatever topic) or whatever.  Normally, these distortions or changes in definitions are not for the benefit of the hearer but used in a manner for the speaker to gain some sort of advantage or reward.

When these mis-stated definitions are believed they lead people in all directions and allows them to draw false conclusions about other people, societies, even the past which then leads to trouble because the truth is hidden, for whatever purpose.

Here are a couple of examples that arose from a discussion about the location of Sodom and found in Genesis 13 (this does not mean that the Bible is wrong but that the distortion is from the reader’s side):

1.     Gen. 13: 10  “Lot looked up and saw that the whole plain of Jordon was well watered…”

Here some people take the words ‘saw that the whole plain…’ means that he saw all of the Jordon plain from his vantage point.  This is not the case, how could he see all the boundaries from near Ai? The verse does not say—‘he saw the whole valley’ but that it was well watered.  There are those, usually those who support the northern location theory, who take that phrase to mean that he saw the whole plain and that is what they teach.

This is completely wrong and misleading as the verse is quite clear, he saw that it was well watered.  One does not have to see the complete plain to know something is well watered. Nor does one need to know where all the boundaries are to make that same determination.

2.     Gen 13: 11a “ So Lot chose for himself the whole plain of the Jordon…” 

Here some people take this phrase to mean that he took what they want him to have taken, only that valley which they think Sodom is located.  They tend to think that the way the modern geographical area is exactly the same as the ancient one and question ‘why would Lot chose such bad land?’  He didn’t, these people forget that the land was destroyed and they do not factor that fact into their modern observations.

So they decide to limit the Jordon plain to the nice modern plush lands they see when they visit the area.  They feel that somehow, magically, the destroyed land was rejuvenated and restored to normal thus the wasteland they see next to it, can’t possibly be where Lot camped and lived.

When one chooses the whole of something for themselves, they do not have to see it all to make that decision.  There is nothing here which limits the plain of Jordon to a small little area  near  the Jordon river itself, it could have extended as far south as the Areor river and most likely did.

3.     Gen. 13:11b “and set out towards the east…”

This is an important one as it sets the very foundation for the northern location theory of Sodom.  Because this phrase says ‘sets out towards the east…’ the adherents of this theory feel he did only traveled to the east and did not turn south or north.  How they come to this idea is hard to figure as the Bible does not state that he stayed east, just that he ‘set out towards’.  Such words do not mean that he only traveled in one direction.

The adherents of the NLT need for Lot to stay east for that is where they hang their hats and if he didn’t, then their site is disqualified and they have wasted years promoting something that is not correct.

Problem is, for Lot to depart from Abram, and go across the Jordon River, he had to go east to cross it.  There is no other direction for him to go to do that plus nowhere does the Bible state that he stayed heading east or that Sodom is due east of Ai.  It is all conjecture and wishful thinking so one’s theory can be accepted as correct.

We know that Sodom is not due east of Ai because of all the other scriptures which provide clues.  One such clue is that the land destroyed with Sodom was never restored thus there is no possible way for the NLT to be correct.  All of the other scripture passages which refer to Sodom, talks as if it remained destroyed, this is from Moses on up to Peter and Paul, including Jesus’ own words.

But the northern supporters do not listen nor do they care as they want their theory to be correct and the Bible doesn’t matter. This is something one has to be careful with as how they define or redefine language, words, phrases impacts the truth as well as the meanings of God’s words.

People have to be watchful and not allow such distortions to change the Bible to what others want it to say, there is a lot more at stake than a location of a destroyed city.  This was just a Biblical example of what people do to God’s word, remember such distortions happen in everyday life as people take a look at an innocent action and distort it to what they want it to be and not what it was.

A man touching a girls’ shoulder could be labeled as a molester or sexual predator because someone didn’t like the idea of a man touching a girl.  They can’t read the man’s mind so they ‘interpret’ the action and label it from their own limited understanding of the event and possibly could ruin the man’s life because their own beliefs do not allow for innocence. The examples can go on and on and the truth is lost because people believe the wrong words, the wrong definitions or meanings.  Then people get hurt and that is just wrong.
 

False Accusations

On page xv of his introduction, to his book, America's Hidden History, Kenneth C. Davis has this to say: "The proverbial eight-hundred pound gorilla sitting squarely in the center of this story is religion, or more precisely, centuries of blood shed over beliefs."

It is quite clear that many secular people lay the blame for wars, death and other crimes squarely upon the shoulders of the different beliefs systems of the world.  God has been accused of killing more innocent people than Hitler and Stalin combined and this kind of thinking, false accusations, abound because people think religious beliefs are at the center of the problems of the world.

What the secular mind does not understand is that there is more at work here than just God.  Rarely does He get credit for the good things in life but if something goes wrong, He is the first to blame as secular people ignore the fact that the devil is at work in this world as well.  But thanks to the non-believers deciding that Satan does not exist, all the blame is placed solely at God's feet.

Plus we get statements like Mr. Davis' which do not delve beyond the surface   to see the reality behind people's actions.  Such observers are satisfied with a generalized label and lumping all religious people into one category.  These people are not interested in the facts or the reality which makes men do what they do in the name of God and their closed-mindedness robs them of learning the truth.

This reality is that those who commit such acts in the name of God are not doing it with God in mind or with Him at their side. Instead they have grabbed hold of an extreme interpretation or line of thinking or gone over the line into fanaticism and have allowed themselves to be easily manipulated into doing evil acts.

Whether such acts are murder, abuse or even starting wars does not matter.  What matters is that the cause of Christ is damaged by these acts because the secular world is not going to look beyond the surface but take the easy route and blame God.  It doesn't matter what you say to such people as generally their minds are made up and it is difficult to get the truth through to them.

Technically Davis is partially right though.  All conflicts are rooted in religion for a spiritual battle has been waged since God made Adam and Eve, as the devil has been attacking God's creation from the beginning.  What better way to get back at God and destroy His creation by getting the unbelievers to point the finger and falsely accuse God.

No matter how hard the secular world tries, they will not be able to stamp out religion, even with the false accusations they level at those who are misguided, who believe bad interpretations, which ignore other words of Christ to do what they think is right and not what He said is right.

Yes there are those who unspeakable acts in the name of God but God is not to blame, He did not tell them to go contrary to His words, He did not command them to shoot others and so on.  He does not give permission to His people to commit sin, people do that on their own, with influence from the devil, because they have carried the words of Christ to the wrong conclusion and purpose.

Religion, and by proxy God, takes a lot of blame for the blood spilled yet such accusations are generally without merit because the accuser refuses to differentiate between all the different religions of the world and lump them into one category.  Then they refuse to compare the words and actions of those committing the crimes or wars with the Bible or other the religious works of the criminal's declared faith and see the difference. 

Such work would then allow the accuser to place the blame where it belongs--on the one committing the sin, the unspeakable act or war. But such honesty is not in the mind of the unbeliever, no, they would rather just make the false accusation generally for then they have their excuse to continue leading a sinful life.

These people are generally not interested in the truth but want to point a finger at someone else so they feel justified in living the life that they do and feel no compulsion to make a change.  As the Bible says, 'man loves darkness rather than light...' and such finger-pointing allows them to stay in the darkness they love.

It is time to challenge these people so that they realize they have no excuse, even if a famous Christian makes a mistake or if a common one does something that is against God's word and hurts others.

False Authority

I am reading a book, written by what seems to be minimalists, entitled 'The Deuternomistic History' by Anthony f. Campbell & Mark a. O'Brien and right in the introduction there is a statement which sets the tone for the rest of the book and demonstrates the attitude most secular scholars have concerning the Bible and Christians:

"The interpretation of that final biblical text is too complex and too significant a task to be left to preachers alone." (pg. 5)

This is a demonstration of arrogance and a false authority which declares who can or cannot discern what the Bible means.  The Bible is not the sole possession of the academic elite, it was written for everyone and it was written in a simple manner so that everyone can understand it. Who cannot understand- "For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son, that whosoever believes in Him shall not perish but have everlasting life"

There are no complexities that bar the reader from grasping the meanings from the texts and if they do their reading right will find the answers to their problems.  Most will argue the point that there are too many contradictions for common people to sort through.  That is just a false notion and is based upon superficial reading a of the text without the guidance of the Holy Spirit.

Mostly such a statement that is quoted above comes from those who wish to think and feel more important than they really are, so they invent different problems with scripture to give off the aurora that superior intelligence is needed to grasp the deeper meanings of the Bible.

That just is not so and the quoted statement shows a deep lack of understanding of who preachers are or who they are supposed to be.  They are called of God to be the shepherds of the flock and they are gifted in areas, that the authors of that book do not consider, to be able to perform their duties.  Most preachers are not just some man up there who took a job, this position goes far beyond that simplistic attitude and carries with it deeper responsibilities which observers do not realize.

It also carries a heavy accountability factor as these men have been called to a position which no other matches and it is not a position for the faint of heart or the weak.  One cannot dismiss these men as unqualified to determine what a text means, since they are educated, trained and look to the Holy Spirit to lead them to the correct meanings and words to pass on to their charges.

The authors of that statement need to remember that it is 'not by might nor by power but by My Spirit saith the Lord' thus they can pontificate, explore, research all they want to and still come up empty handed when trying to determine what a passage means. 

True meanings come from God not man and certainly not through man's methods.  Yes study is important, God says to do that, but how and what one studies is what is important.  If one follows man's ways and thinking then they will take a long and hard journey to find the truth, but if one uses God's, like most preachers, then they will come to the correct meaning sooner, easier and  simpler.

In reality, the meaning of the passages of the Bible should not be left in the hands of those who do not believe, and who ascribe to the secular sciences as the final authority but to those who listen to God and follow the guidance of the Holy Spirit.

The Ramifications

In another section is a general article on the effects of culture on our lives today.  Many people teach, taught and have been taught to view the Bible through cultural eyes and not as a book which teaches the truth for today.

There are many ramifications for this idea, all of which helped to undermine the mission of the church and makes their work far more difficult.  Let's take a look at some of these ramifications:

1. It opens the door to allow anyone to change what God has said.

2. It opens the door to following the wrong ideas or conclusions

3. It opens the door to wrong interpretation

4. It calls God a liar

5. It removes the right to declare what is true or false teachings

The final two are the most important here as if a believer starts calling God a liar, then they are saying that they do not believe what God has said and that they have the right to change His words to fit what is the popular idea of the moment. Also it implies the conclusion, ' what good is God if His own believers call Him a liar or change His words?'

Christians are to be a light to the world, yet they cannot do so if they keep changing what they say they believe or undermine the very book they say they follow. Such thinking as described above also shakes the confidence of the believer, weakening them to the point where they do not know how to stand with God or if God is really going to answer their prayers.

Point 5 is especially dangerous because now who is to say that Mormonism or Buddhism are wrong? One has so undermined their own position that it is nearly impossible to stand up and declare the truth because they have opened the door for other ideas to enter, ideas which are not consistent with the Biblical message and are dangerous to the spiritual health of a believer.

Nor can one say '...well this passage can be interpreted culturally and that one can't...' for that then says that the believer is picking and choosing what they want to believe.  This, again, tells the world that the believer doesn't truly believe everything they say they do and such thoughts provide excuses for the unbeliever to continue in their unbelief.

It must be noted that we believers DO NOT have the instructions anywhere in the Bible to use culture as an interpretative tool.  If we did and could, then God would be unfair, unjust and His word would be subjective to the culture of the time and stop being the revelation of God and the message for salvation. Then God would have sinned and no longer be God.

The ramifications are immense when believers stray from what God has said, commanded and instructed and it brings to mind to the unbeliever the piercing question: "why should I believe if Christians do not believe either?'

This isn't about being legalistic but it is about representing God and His word correctly so the unbelievers receives the correct message of God and learn about salvation and what they must do.  It is NOT trying to look good to the world but about proclaiming God's words so they world gets the message correctly and have the right information to make their decision.

Culture is not an authority when it comes to God's word nor is it an interpretative tool which allows people to change what God has said so believers can practice what they are not supposed to practice. They are to show the world the difference between God and the devil and how much better it is.
 

Whom to Follow

The recent death of Tammy Faye Bakker brought back to mind a comment ne Christian lady made about her when she and Jimmy were in their prime.  The lady said, 'Tammy Faye has made it okay for christian women to wear make-up...' (Or something very similar).

There is a problem with that as Ms. Bakker did not have the authority to change what God has said about dressing like the world.  Yet this has been a problem throughout the ages, not so much the wearing of make-up or dressing in fine clothes, but the taking the eyes off Jesus and His words and putting them upon man.

Paul dealt with this very problem in 1 Cor. 3 as the ancient believers did the exact same thing as today.  They started to look to the man of God, the servant of God and not God nor what he wanted them to learn.  God uses men to bring the truth to His followers, to bring 'food' to them and to help guide them on their way to deeper faith in Him BUT at no time are we instructed to stop following Jesus and to start following His messengers.

We are instructed that 'we shall know the truth and it shall set us free' and that is what we need to look for in all these people's messages-- the truth.  If there is a lot of truth in a person's speaking that does not mean we have permission to ignore God and look to the human for our daily needs. One is still required to follow Jesus.

Men and women will fall and sin; they will make errors in judgement and do things that are embarrassing and will ruin their work plus they will also say things that God did not authorize and such words can be detrimental to a person's faith and life.

Men and women do not have the authority to change what God has said believers are to do or follow.  There is not one passage of scripture that gives permission to follow anyone but Jesus and God and one must be careful not to allow their eyes to be distracted or repositioned, for once they do so, then confusion and fights enter into the kingdom and people lose sight of the truth, lose their way, become disillusioned and soon become inactive or leave the faith.

Such conclusions are not what God intended when he raised up spiritual leaders, their job is to lead people to the truth, to Jesus and to keep the faithful on the right path.  Each has a special role they must fill and each do not have a monopoly on the truth.  Even their words must be checked against the criteria God gave in the Bible to make sure that what is being heard is of God and not some false message designed to deceive them.

The believer must look through these men's words and find what God wants them to learn, to find the truth so they will not be lead astray and to be encouraged in their faith that their are men who know enough and are strong enough to do battle with evil. But at no time are these men to be elevated to positions God did not intend nor are they substitutes for Christ.

Their purpose is to help fellow believers know what is right or wrong and help them to be strong enough to choose what is right.  Tammy Faye Bakker was wrong, God said NOT to dress like the world but to work on how one is on the inside so that you draw attention to GOD not yourselves. Ms. Bakker gave into her desires and the world's idea of beauty and shunned God's ways.

It is a dangerous thing to allow one's eyes to be drawn from Christ down to man for man, no matter who he is, is still subject to the fall and sin.  Christ is not, thus it is wise to hear what God says and keep His messengers in the proper perspective.

Putting one's eyes on the messenger opens the door to the believers mind and heart allowing false teachings to enter in and that is not a good thing.  Keep your eyes on Christ just as Peter was to do when he left the boat to walk on the water to meet Christ.  Taking your eyes off him, means one will fall, just like Peter did.

The messenger of God is just that, a messenger.  He brings the news that God wants but at no time is he a replacement for Christ.  Learn from them and become strong so you can defeat evil in your own lives.

 
Speaking to a Muslim

To really understand what is being said here one needs to buy the video lecture Honor and Shame by Richard Rohrbaugh offered by the Biblical Archaeology Society as the roots of this art5icle are found there and the explanation is much clearer and more specific than can be accomplished here.

How does one speak to a Muslim or an Arab about the gospel of Jesus or God's word in general?  You use their culture to frame one's presentation.  Since the Middle East is based upon the honor and shame thought, western people do not understand why Middle Eastern people act or respond in the manner that they do.  It is for the simple reason that the western people have grown up and have been taught a different way to live and have very little grasp or knowledge of the Middle Eastern ways.

Which then makes the western ways incapable of making the inroads one wants because the western methods have not been adapted to Middle Eastern thinking and miss the opening that is there. I will let the video explain the details here as the speaker is far more eloquent than I could be but what follows is one strategy to use when talking to the Muslim people.

Gifts, honor and age are very important to Middle Eastern friendships and the older a person is the more honor they receive, but how does this help in presenting the gospel? In Arabic culture, gift giving from older people to younger is being given an honor and with God being older, of higher stature than the Muslim has provided a gift for all mankind, including the Muslim.  At no time did Mohammad express that he was a gift from God.  The Quran does not claim that Mohammad was a gift from God but merely a prophet. This is a big opening for the believer to use to get the Arab people to listen to what they have to say.

Once the Muslim follows after Mohammad they have effectively insulted God by rejecting His gift to them. The Bible states that 'God gave His only son...' a gift which the Muslim have rejected and trod upon by demeaning Jesus' rightful place and honor.  God is higher in stature than any Muslim, He is older than any Muslim and so what Mohammad has done is rob the Arab people of gaining favor with God by masking the gift He has given to them and removed their opportunity to respond in the proper manner.

A person speaking with the Muslim people needs to focus on this idea of gift giving and honor when dealing with the Islamic people.  It is a way for them to understand what God has really done and it opens the door to have the Arabic people listen to the good news of the gospels. One can also ask the Muslim if God is fair and just and if they respond that he is, then one can ask, then why would God allow for the people to have the words of Mohammad 6-700 years later than Jesus. 

Is that fair to all the people who came before Mohammad?  Especially in light of the fact that neither the Old or the New Testament spoke of another prophet coming in a few centuries after Jesus to add more words to what has been spoken already?

The Old Testament provided a way of salvation for all people and spoke of Jesus' coming. Jesus spoke of salvation and so did all of the New Testament yet not once is the Islamic method of salvation even hinted at or that there would be a change in the coming centuries.  One can ask if that is fair to all those who were born and died prior to Mohammad’s preaching?

Honor demands justice and fairness so it is easy to see that honor is missing from the ways of Mohammad while God has retained His by being fair and just to all no matter when they were born. His gift to mankind also shows an honor being given to all humans and if rejected by people then what is going to happen?  God will be insulted and respond with punishment just like the Muslims do when they are insulted by people from different cultures.

Culture doesn't interpret the Bible but it can be used to present the good news so that all will understand its message and that the listener is then without excuse if they reject the gospel and decide for an alternative. People need to understand what is being said to them so that they can make intelligent decisions from fair and just opportunities and not reject the gospel because of a robotic presentation that is the current fad.

The church needs to listen to God how to present His message instead of listening to the latest studies or intellectual thoughts of those who do not know God. His ways are not our ways and He is the one that needs to be listened to if the church wants to make the impact they desire.
 

Were They All Christian?

In a lecture entitled, 'Discovery of Lost Gospels-2001, Bart Ehrman kept referring to almost all religious groups of the ancient times as Christian.  He is not the only one to do so as there are many other biblical scholars, atheists and unbelievers who do the same.

This lumping together of all people into one category titled 'christian' can be confusing to the unwary and distort the reality of the past, the people's teachings and also devalue the teachings of Christ.  In fact, this generalization tends to obliterate right and wrong by making all teachings 'right'.

It also removes the distinctions of what is true doctrine and what is false.  To help them in their quest, the biblical scholars invent a fictitious religious war and justify the omission of the alternatives works from the biblical canon by saying the victors got the say.

The problem with this is that it does not deal with the reality of the spiritual world, ignores the fact that the devil played a hand in developing the alternatives and that God played no role in preserving His word while diminishing the teachings which lead people astray.  It also tries to make the true Christian out to be the bad guy who ignores their own teachings by resorting to sinful practices to get their way.

But such facts do not matter to the unbeliever; they find it more interesting to create a conspiracy than to honestly deal with the past. They make false accusations against the true participants, they deride the reality that the ancients had intelligence to know the difference between true and false teachings, opting for the truth and dismissing what was false. Plus they do not produce any real evidence that their conspiracies, false charges and theories are correct.

Any true believer in Christ knows that the ancient world was rife with people who, like today, could not accept the truth but had to alter it to fit their sensibilities or personal desires.  Now you should take note that it wasn't until the late 2nd century a.d. that most alternatives took root and were able to prosper.  Why is that so? Because the many eye-witnesses to the truth did not die out till the early 2nd century and they could dispel any argument raised by those who did not accept what really took place.

This is important because until the last eye-witness died out there would be no room to fudge the details, to make false claims against the disciples and other biblical writers and to publish their works.  Remember these eye-witnesses were not all friends to Jesus and His disciples and not 1st century or early 2nd century work was produced by them which countered one word said by Jesus or the Biblical writers.

So these alternative groups had to wait before sowing their deceitful seeds and claims.  This happens today as much as it happened 2,000 years ago as many people say they are Christian, preach a form of the gospel but in reality have made changes to fit their own sensibilities and ideals.

Were all ancient groups and mss. Christian?  NO! How could they be? They bring a different gospel than the one the disciples taught and it serves no good purpose to lump all groups under one category.  Generalizing and labeling everyone christen only shows laziness on the part of the scholar and demonstrates the rejection of the truth for alternatives that provide no hope of real salvation.

Why do we have their writings still? One reason is that God gave people the right to freely choose and they cannot choose if there is only 1 option to choose from.  Another reason could be that people are being tested and God is seeing who will choose for Him and His words or who will reject Him and His words. Whatever the reason the fact remains people have a choice, they can choose to believe that all the religious ancients had some for of truth or they could pick the only one that has all the truth.

Just like today where we have myriads of sects who proclaim to be Christian, the ancient world faced the same problem and they found their answers to this problem in the teachings of Jesus, the disciples and Paul.  Also like today, not everyone who claims to be a Christian is one and we can see through their deception using the warnings and criteria given to us in the Bible. Unfortunately the secular world ignores those criteria and warnings and come to the false conclusion that there is a diverse Christian theology under one umbrella when there isn't.

When you omit the warnings and criteria found in the Bible, it is not hard to lose one's way and assume that Christianity is broader than it really is.  Time to stop listening to those who refuse to use the biblical rules and place their words aside because they are not right and are not of God.
 

Ancient Misunderstandings

In the modern age it is not difficult to find those professionals who think the ancient world was a lot different from today.  They draw their conclusions from very little evidence; often reading into what they have found because they cannot accept the past for what it was but must change it to fit what they want it to be.

Kenneth Kitchen in the first pages of his book, The Bible in Its World, explains the minute amount of evidence that has been uncovered.  Others have done the same as they all try to keep what has been found in perspective.  Yet there are those who try to define the ancient world as something different than our modern one.

This is evident in their theories which are based upon what they do not find and not what they have found. Now some things we will never find  or were never done so at times this line of thinking will be correct but it is not 100% correct as there are too many mitigating factors which hinder us from finding all that the ancients did or thought in the past.

One of the areas that is greatly misunderstood is the intelligence, the desires, the thinking of the ancients as most modern (I am being general on purpose) scholars or archaeologists feel that there has been some development in those areas over the past few millennia.

Such ideas are just not true as the Bible tells us that God made man 'after His own image' and we find no where in the bible where God made ancient man different from the modern.  We find nothing that says God implemented changes in how He made man AFTER the initial creation thus the believer must accept the fact that ancient man was not different than we are today.

Both Biblical and secular works tell us that ancient man built cities, monuments, farmed, ranched, were merchants, bought and sold and went to school, etc.  ecc. tells us that 'nothing is new under the sun...' which tells us that the desires we have today were also present in the ancient world. There was no difference and just because we cannot find physical evidence to prove a lot of this does it mean they weren't talked about, acted upon or developed.

Too often, archaeologists look at 1 ancient society and transpose the beliefs, attitudes and practices to all societies but that just isn't fair.  That would be like judging America or Great Britain on the evidence found in North Korea.  We know that different societies had different rules, just like today.  The ancient Minoans seemed to enjoy a lifestyle similar to the Americans of today while others suffered under harsher conditions.

To say that ancient man was inferior to modern man is an insult to God and His creative work and states that he did not create all men the same.  History just doesn't bear this out as the achievements of ancient man rival, if not surpass the achievements of modern man {this includes construction, exploration, government, education and so on}.  One will find that God's creative act was the same for all people and that the ancients were granted the same rights & abilities as modern man enjoys and one of those rights is freedom of choice.  That freedom, which is fueled by evil or good desires, is what provides the framework for what we see has taken place in the past. 

Both ancient and modern man get to choose to follow God's ways or evil's and those choices have left behind the evidence we discover today and draw our conclusions.  If we do not have the truth in us then it is highly unlikely we will not find the truth in the evidence discovered but seek to replace it with our own interpretations and conjectures.

Ancient man was not different, less intelligent, or deprived of anything that modern man enjoys, just because they did not discover the exact same technology as we have doesn't mean they were inferior.  It does mean they had different priorities, applied their desires a bit differently or had no use for such items.  There are many reasons why an ancient society did not display progress as the modern world defines it and that is because their definition was better, different, healthier or whatever.

It is pure arrogance on the part of modern man if they think they can elevate themselves above the ancients but such promotions to superiority are based solely on partial evidence not a complete exposure of the past civilizations.  A Christian needs to consider God in all of this and not follow the world's thinking about the past.

If they do then they two will not have the truth but a secular view which is far from the reality and pass along a distortion which is not honoring to God. All men, both ancient and modern, were created the same and are under the same fall of Adam and their desires and thinking are also influenced by evil, just like today and the believer needs to get the proper perspective if they want to be able to deal with those who do not believe.  One cannot answer false accusations if they do not now they are actually false.
 

The Social Gospel

Three words which strikes fear in the hearts of conservative Christians. Why?  Because they focus more on the 'Great Commission' and feel that doing any other method is less than spiritual and bordering on being 'liberal' (another word which makes a conservative afraid).

Why certain Christians sweep this aspect of evangelizing under the rug or keep it secret is anyone's guess.  It may be that the stigma of those labeled as 'liberal' is too much for them and they want to be seen as spiritual and not as someone with alternative ideas to the Gospel of Christ. Though this is changing as Billy Graham's son, runs Samaritan's purse and there are social organizations within the evangelical denominations the change is not happening fast enough.

Yes many churches respond in the time of MAJOR disasters and carry out the work of Christ in helping those in need, one is always wondering what ulterior motive is behind their acts or if such are done to make the organized church look good and not God or they are just avoiding criticism for their non-action at these times.

Yet this is not an angry rebuke of the organized church as they do many things that are NOT seen by others and much does go on behind the scenes which only God knows about BUT this does not mean that helping someone with their physical needs has surpassed the participation in the accepted forms of evangelism.

Thirty years ago it was popular to go door to door using the 4 spiritual laws then that was replaced by evangelism explosion or the TV. campaign of 'I found it.'  Yet not once was someone invited or encouraged to go out in groups and meet the physical needs of those who have become over-burdened by the things of this world.

The priority and focus was always on presenting the gospel message via preaching no matter how hungry, how much in need a person was.  A gospel band was excited that they 'converted' someone who hadn't eaten in 3 days.  Trouble was, they didn't realize that the 'conversion' was for the group’s benefit so that the hungry person could be let go so they could continue their quest to find something to eat.

This attitude demonstrated by the gospel group was and probably is still the dominant point of view in the church today. Even despite the many verses which talk about helping the poor and the needy. The book of James is the most popular cited work when one talks about meeting physical needs of others, yet we find the same type of references in the book of Proverbs (31:20) and also a very powerful one in Isaiah:

"If you do away with the yoke of oppression,and if you spend yourselves in behalf of the hungry and satisfy the needs of the oppressed, THEN your light will rise in darkness and your night will become like the noonday. The Lord will guide you always." Is. 58:9-11

Here is a clear cut command or instruction coupled with a great promise.  Notice that this passage does not say omit the preaching of the gospel and that the passage holding the words to the 'Great Commission' do not cancel out this directive.  The two basically work with each other and neither is less important than the other though the instructions found in Isaiah carry a promise NOT given with the Great Commission.

One can do the Great Commission and still please God but that is what is expected of those who follow Christ.  Yet if one takes it further and uses their belief to help those who cannot help themselves, then they see a greater impact upon the world and oneself. 

Fulfilling the Great Commission is an act of personal obedience and helps oneself BUT the act of helping those who are oppressed is a generous act that goes beyond simply preaching the words to all those who will sit still for a few minutes or will pause in their daily quests of survival.

It is showing a deep concern for others beyond one's selfish desires and displays a sacrifice similar to the one Christ made for us. Also in the life of Christ we have a prime example as to how this should be done.  Whenever Jesus was confronted with physical needs, the feedings of the 5,000 & 4,000 plus other events, HE STOPPED PREACHING and met those physical needs.

He knew that the people would stop listening once they saw that their physical needs were not important to Him and when their hunger pangs or other pains overcame their patience.  One can preach and preach but if the people are distracted by their physical demands then they will turn to others to find relief and dismiss the preacher.  Then an opportunity is lost, making it harder to regain it again.

In the spiritual world, we do not know how many opportunities we will get and even if we only plant the seed, we know that that opportunity is still open for the next person of God to come along and help reap the harvest.  One's work will not be in vain, whereas it can be if one ignores the signs given off by the listener.

Pay attention to the physical needs of those one meets and seek to make your light shine as you will get an opportunity to preach but sometimes it comes after you set people physically free from oppression.
 

For Men

In this modern world there are many temptations that try to lure men away from their responsibilities and duties as a husband, father or even a boy friend.  These temptations are too easily accessed and the really know how to spark the wrong desires in men so that they behave in a manner that is not Christian and undermine their claims to having any faith at all.

The Bible tells us to ‘not walk in the counsel of the ungodly’ (Ps.1) and too often Christian men forget that simple instruction as they lower themselves to trying to be ‘one of the guys’ and to ‘fit in’ with their buddies by doing or saying things that is NOT what Christ would want them to say.

Trying to fit in with the non-Christian crowd is not what a Christian is to do, the two worlds are NOT compatible and such actions usually end up in disaster as the non-believers reject Christ anyways, for the Christian is too much like them or that the Christian walks away from his beliefs. It is a very dangerous road to walk for a Christian man as his actions affect more than just himself.  They affect his family as well.

The Christian man is placed in a position by God to be the leader of the home, the leader of society, and ‘to be the light of the world as well’ but they cannot execute these duties well when they abdicate their positions or allow themselves to be compromised by following their uncontrolled desires .  Too many people rely on the husband/father/boyfriend for him to bow to the pressures of the world.

How can one expect their families to have confidence in Him if he listens to what the world says is good and proper and ignores what God says?  He can’t.  The Christian man needs to put off the trappings of the world, to set aside those desires which do harm to himself and subsequently to his loved ones and seek God’s help in living a life that he should.

It has been said that America has run out of heroes and that there are no real role models for boys to follow and sadly this is true as many Christian men do not live a life pleasing to God but partake in the attitudes and activities that the world finds to be fun.  Many of these  are found in the treatment of women as sexual conquests, used for 1 or 2 things only then discarded for the next pretty face, or the pursuit of pleasure over the taking care of one’s family, or other sinful activity whose purpose is to destroy what God wants to see take place.

The Christian man has to make a choice, to follow the world’s ideas or God’s, there is no in between here, no compromise for once a Christian man has compromised himself, he has lost, and though he may still keep his family their potential, their impact for God is diminished.  God does not judge success by one’s bank account, sexual conquests, the abuse of women or children, or the number of ‘toys’ a man has acquired.

He counts success by how a man is, whether he obeyed Jesus or not, led his family, how he treated others and how he conquered sin with Christ’s help.  The world does not have the same goals or agenda that Christ has and it is imperative that the Christian man learn the difference and stand up to be real men, instead of the world’s idea of what a man is.

The world, not just America, needs real men to stand up for what they believe, to lead their families right, to lead their employees properly and to teach others what it means to be a man. America and the world do not need heroes, they need Christ and the only way they will see Christ in action is if Christian men learn to be true followers of Christ, implementing His ways with the guidance of the Holy Spirit.

Shunning what the world offers is just the start, shunning what the world accepts or desires is the next step, shunning the world expectations and standards follows the previous two, putting on what God says throughout the New Testament is vital and part of the process.

It is time for Christian men to stand up and set the example for all the world to see.
 

Education or Accreditation

 

In recent years the rise of distance education has allowed many people to obtain an education they would not normally have had access to because of expense, location or other factors.  With this accessibility, a debate has sprung up about the quality of these programs and if they are worthwhile.

For many, the unaccredited status of many of the institutions, naturally disqualify the content of the degree program and invalidates the education received.  To them, education is defined by rigid formality and not innovation.

{For a thorough and honest evaluation of accreditation here is an article found at http://mdivs.edu/insights.html and start reading below the light blue words headed by the word ‘recommendation’. }

Many years ago, it was common to hear people speak on who they found to be the most educated.  The ones picked rarely had a university degree, in fact most of them were lucky to make it to high school.  Why is that?  Simply that education is not solely found in formal training and study.  Nor is it a monopoly of the accredited institutions, in fact those who have accredited degrees often use accreditation as a hammer to oppress those who have chosen alternative routes and that is just not right.

Yet, the information studied in unaccredited institutions is not different than what is found in accredited ones. History doesn’t change because a university is unaccredited, nor does math or language.  Nether does the intelligence of the person, their I.Q.’s are the same no matter which university they attend. Their ability to learn does not change thus there is very little advantage.

Textbooks and other research material used by accredited institutions are readily available for anyone thus those who opt for a non-traditional route still has access to material vital to education.

Now some may argue about the quality of the curriculum but if one uses their intelligence, they can see, if they are honest, the difference in institutions.  Those who go to those institutions that cater to those who wish to be less than stellar are not the focus of this discussion (such schools prey upon those whose character are less than honest and are looking for the easy way out).

Education is not obtaining a degree and thinking one has learned it all.  It should spark one to continue to learn more about their chosen field, finding the truth so one can act in accordance with what they learned, providing the best for others. It is also not an elitist tool to deprive qualified people from employment or further studies. 

The Bible tells us to get wisdom, understanding and knowledge and to be educated one needs all three especially if they want to be a teacher, for knowledge alone does not help to apply what one has learned nor when to properly apply it.

Anyone can get an accredited degree but that does not mean that they are educated, it just means they met the requirements to be granted said degree.  It is said that one learns more outside of school than they do inside thus those who base their prestige upon the ‘right accredited’ institution have a lot to learn.  It isn’t the status of the degree but how and what one learns.
 

Simple Obedience

There is a passage of scripture which causes a lot of women a lot of problems as their desires to look good opens them up to temptation.  They see how the secular women dress and they want to be thought of as beautiful themselves thus they find ways to justify their following the women of the world.

This passage is quite clear in its meaning as it is directing women on how NOT to dress and what they should be doing to look beautiful.  The passage in question is 1 Tim. 2:9-10 and it reads:

"9I also want women to dress modestly, with decency and propriety, not with braided hair or gold or pearls or expensive clothes, 10but with good deeds, appropriate for women who profess to worship God."

Does this mean that women must go around in sackcloth and thread bare clothing?  No, it means one does not dress to draw attention to their looks as in doing otherwise, the ramifications are many. Some are: 1. providing temptation to men; 2. causing envy and jealousy in other women; 3. taking people's eyes off God; 4. causing people to sin and so on.

This is not good plus women do not realize it but their bodies are for their husbands only.  They are not for every man to ogle and lust after.  The women needs to learn to bring respect to themselves and their families by dressing accordingly and not look like a prostitute, whose shame is upon all members of their family.

The late Tammy Faye Bakker did not do women any favors as she flaunted her use of make up and clothing. She did not have any authority to change what God is saying here and women who follow her, or others like her, example are not following or obeying God.  They are obeying their own desires.

This is a key to that passage for it is a matter of simple obedience on the part of women.  If a woman cannot submit herself to this simple command, how can it be expected of her to submit herself to the other commands and instructions of Jesus and God?

One cannot use 'cultural practices' as an excuse here as women have been trying to draw attention to themselves through make-up and other ways since almost the beginning of time.  They may NOT have had chemicals to use but they had dyes, fruit juices and other concoctions to put upon their bodies to make themselves appear more attractive to men. (So they think)

God's instructions are not for a certain time and place but for all of His followers no matter which era they live.  God's ways do not change because the culture changes, His standards are the same no matter what as the world needs to see the difference between their ways and God's.  Women who accept and follow after the world's ideas are not following God but evil and show that God has nothing to offer secular women.

The second part of that passage is quite clear on how women should dress and act.  It is more important to implement that than it is to use make-up and fine clothes for then God gets the attention, God is glorified and women will receive their reward for their humble and simple obedience.  The Bible also tells us 'it is better to obey than to sacrifice' which places the importance upon obeying even the above passage.

Yes, women and men want to be accepted by the world BUT it is far better to be accepted by God for it is He who holds your salvation in His hands not the world's and it is He you have chosen to follow NOT the world.  It is an easy decision to follow God if one gets to do everything the world does but it is another thing to chose for God and live by His rules.

So it would be wise not to think that Paul hates women or that he wants them ugly, it is better to think that God has given a simple instruction that needs to be obeyed by His followers for it is protecting one's soul and life. 

As a side note, it would be wise for men to do the same. Dress in a manner that brings honor to your family, wife and not draw attention to oneself through clothing or the lack of it, or using jewelry etc. But act in a manner that pleases God, obeys His word and not lead others to temptation or sin. It too will save you from many problems and protects your souls as well.
 

The American Dream

This is not another attack on American ideals or hopes rather it is a work comparing how far from God many American thoughts lead people.  Whenever someone analyzes American life, their actions it seems that an army of angry American zealots rise up and attack those who dare to expose the corrupt and sinful nature of America to the public's attention.

They seem to want to live in some unrealistic world, thinking that they have the perfect country, the perfect life, the perfect law system and so on. Sadly they do not, for much of the American way takes people's eyes off Christ and gets them to walk paths that are sinful and wrong.  The American 'Dream' is no exception.

In its simplicity, this dream seems to present an ideal for the average American person, have a good job, a wife, 2.5 children, a dog, two cars and a house. On the surface there doesn't seem to be anything wrong with this as even the Bible tells us to have children and blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them, and that finding a wife is a good thing.

Where this ideal goes wrong and sends people in the wrong direction is that God is not in the picture and people are to pursue the American dream before seeking God's will.  This is a direct contrast to what the Bible says as Gods very clear on how people should act.

He said: 'Seek ye first the kingdom of God and all these things shall be added unto you.'  It is very clear, the American dream is not on God's list to be pursued and people should be more concerned about serving God than they are in achieving financial security, and a place to live. God has given a promise that those who seek God's will and kingdom first will not be deprived of the items found within the American dream.  They will enjoy those things without having to make them a priority and sacrificing God in the process.

It needs to be said that owning a house is not wrong, owning a business or being employed is not against God's will and it is not wrong to have a wife, kids, pets, a car and a home but it is wrong to seek those things before God's kingdom.  The order of how things are to be done is set and the believer needs to come to grips with the contrast and the influence to do things the world's way and prepare themselves to make the right decision.

It is common for parents to urge their children to get a home, a family etc. because they want the best for their children, yet parents can do a dis-service to their offspring by encouraging the disobedience of God's word. People need to be strong in God and His ways to be able to withstand the pressure of doing something wrong, plus they need to be clear-headed to make sure that the advice given to them from family and friends is not God's way of providing the direction that they should go.

Not all advice is contrary to God's will, one just has to be able to tell the difference and not be stubborn if they have chosen the wrong way.  They just need to confess their error, repent, ask for forgiveness then look to God's leading to return to the correct path God wants them to take.  They should not hang onto their possessions (not talking about spouses, kids or pets here) if it hinders them from returning to God's will.

One needs to be able to sell their home and move if God so desires after all, the Christian serves God and does His will He does not serve them nor do their will.  But this takes prayer, careful consideration, guidance and not done on the spur of the moment, it all goes according to God's timing and God. It is not done out of fear or fanaticism nor does it mean uprooting one's family at that precise moment unless it is very clear that is what God wants one to do.

Christians are allowed to have things, they just can't let those things become a priority over God and His ways in their lives but in purchasing items, a believer must make sure that it will not hinder, harm, or stop their christian growth or draw them away from their faith in God or doing His will. Paul told us that 'we are free to do many things BUT all things are not expedient' (from memory) which means that we need to be wise, discerning and strong when obtaining things of the world.

Children need to be taught how to do things right and parents need to be able to withstand their children's pleas when they want something their friends have or what they have seen advertised on TV. The Bible tells us to seek wisdom, knowledge and understanding and parents need a lot of each when they raise their kids because their children need to be taught the ways of God not the freedoms of sinful man.

It is important for families to shun the trappings and temptations of the American dream, making God and His kingdom a priority because their family and the secular world needs them to do so.
 

Bible Codes

Recently I encountered a bunch of people on an internet forum who believed in Bible codes. Now the fad hit back in the late 90’s and culminated in a book titled The Bible Codes but 13 years later after these have been debunked there are still those who claim to be Christian or are misguided Christians and hang onto the idea of codes in the Bible foretelling the future.

What follows is a brief overview of this issue starting with a brief definition of Gematria (number values of Hebrew letters), moving then to the origins of system, then onto some of the problems  that encompass this idea and finally what God has to say on the matter.

The problem the church faces today is that too many people are desperate and latch onto to anything that provides them help with their faith and unfortunately some have taken these codes to heart.

Since there are multitudes of Bible believing Christians who delight in each new support for the Scriptures, it should be no surprise that there is great interest in a current attempt to prove that God is the divine author of the Bible.1

A believer needs to be cautious when someone comes along and makes fantastic claims such as the ones which are found in the Bible Code book. Believers need to consider the source first, and then test the spirits that come with it, using God’s criteria, not their own understanding before accepting something that claims to be of God.

If what is proclaimed does not meet God’s criteria, if what is touted as Biblical is not consistent with God’s character, message, and ways then the believer needs to dismiss those claims, and avoid becoming entrapped by them and refuse to pass them on as solid Biblical teaching when they are not.

As shall be shown, there is nothing biblical about these codes and those who promote them and any believer who has accepted and followed their claims need to stop, repent from following false teachings and rid themselves of everything that has to do with those false teachers and their false doctrine.

This is not a non-serious issue as in today’s world too many believers have compromised themselves and have ignored God and His word, rendering them basically useless and worthless for God and His work. There is a spiritual war going on right now but too many modern believers just do not take it seriously as they only want to be involved in the good things, the fun activities and refuse to roll up their sleeves and get dirty for God.

Bible codes are just one aspect of this spiritual war, a war we are called to fight by God, and are part of the Christian life which can no longer be ignored. Time is short and the believer in God must take up their duty, shed themselves of the world teachings and make a stand with God. Here is what is wrong with these Bible codes and Gematria.

Definitions:

First we have;

Gematria: “that is the use of the letters of a word so as by means of their combined numerical value to express a name, or a witty association of ideas. The term is usually explained as an adaptation of the Greek word geometria, that is, “geometry,” but Dalman (Worterbuch, under the word) connects it in this application of it with grammateia”2

Then there is:

Bible Codes: “Selected words are searched for by computer in a chosen version (supposedly only a Masoretic text will work) of the Torah (Pentateuch). The method uses a skip code commonly referred to as equidistant letter sequencing (ELS), which requires the separation of the searched-for letters of the key word or words by an equal number of letters. The search scans s the continuous Hebrew letters from Genesis 1:1 through Deuteronomy. Various ELS codes are assigned until the key word is found”3

What we can see by these two definitions are a clear manipulation of the texts and a restriction of the texts that can be used. If these codes and Gematria were true and from God, it would not matter which text was used and we would not need manipulation.

Sources:

For believers we must be careful not to blindly accept anything that claims to have its foundation or roots in the Bible. As the NT warns us constantly, there are false teachers and men who follow after what they want to hear forsaking sound doctrine and the church must be cautious as it hears words that contradict what the Bible teaches.

For Gematria and the Bible codes, we have several sources that should have caused believers to be alert to false teachings. The origin of these ideas has their roots not in the teachings of Jesus, the disciples or even in any of the prophets or of God Himself. Unfortunately, when people hear the word Bible, there seems to be an automatic shut-off switch in their heads and all caution and defenses a they have become inactive allowing the believer to be lead astray.

The origins for Gematria are very old as the following states:

Numerical symbolism, that is, the use of numbers not merely, if at all, with

their literal numerical value, or as round numbers, but with symbolic

significance, sacred or otherwise, was widespread in the ancient East,

especially in Babylonia and regions more or less influenced by Babylonian

culture which, to a certain extent, included Canaan. It must also be

remembered that the ancestors of the Israelites are said to have been of

Babylonian origin and may therefore have transmitted to their descendants

the germs at least of numerical symbolism as developed in Babylonia in the

age of Hammurabi.4

Other sources can be found within ancient Israeli roots as the following says:

In Hebrew, each of the 22 letters of the alphabet has a numerical value. A code called Gematria, developed in Jewish apocalyptic and mystical circles, draws connections between two otherwise unrelated words based on the total numerical value of the letters in each word5

And in,

A similar system of Gematria was common in Greek. For example, a bit of graffiti at Pompeii reads, “I love her whose number is 545” (letters phi-mu-epsilon in Greek, probably someone’s initials).6

Notice that not one source is found in Jesus, His disciples, God and the Bible. In fact there is no teaching found in the Bible concerning these codes and numerical values and God would have told us about them if they were from Him. He would not let us stumble around in the dark nor would he have let them lay hidden for 2,000 years if he was their author.

The secular world is not the holders of the keys to the Bible and what it says nor do they are they in charge of the truth and believers need to be aware of this fact. It doesn’t matter how much education, experience or other qualifications a non-believer has, if they do not follow Jesus then the believer is to ignore their counsel for their teachings, no matter how modern or ancient, are not founded in God or His truth.

Problems:

When it comes to prophecy and the prophet claims to be of God, He better be very sure that is so for God takes a dim view of those who speak for God when he has not given them His words. Plus the prophet of God has to be right 100% of the time, there is no room for error for the prophet of God. The consequences and ramifications are too great for error to be part of the equation.

There are several problems that come with Gematria and the Bible codes. First, with Gematria there is confusion. Many names of people will add up to 666 making it impossible for the student of this field to pick the correct person who is to be the anti-Christ. These names range from Nero up to the modern day Kissinger.7 The believer must remember that God didn’t say that the anti-Christ’s name added up to the number 666, so to label a person as the anti-Christ based upon just the numerical value of their names is just wrong and not of God.

A series of quotes that follow will highlight some more problems that have arisen with these codes and field of Gematria:

Drosnin abuses the language of the Hebrew Bible. The code featured on the book’s cover and mentioned dozens of times in the book includes a biblical law about the cities of refuge that says, “so that a murderer who murders his neighbor inadvertently may flee there” (Deuteronomy 4:42). Drosnin translates “murderer who murders inadvertently” as “assassin that will assassinate” and finds by his statistical method the encrypted name of Yitzhak Rabin. Drosnin mistranslates the Hebrew to arrive at his sensational conclusions8

And,

Rips and Drosnin misuse the biblical text. Both men believe that the biblical text in their computer is “the original Hebrew version of the Old Testament, the Bible as it was first written.” Drosnin makes this very clear. He states that “all Bibles in the original Hebrew language that now exist are the same letter for letter” and that “the Bible code computer program uses the universally accepted original Hebrew text.” All of these statements are false. In fact, we do not have the original Hebrew version of the Old Testament, and all ancient manuscripts of the Hebrew Bible that we do have differ in the number of letters9

Then there is,

The fact that Yeshua Shemi ("Yeshua is My Name") is found encoded in Isaiah 53 and Dam Yeshua ("the blood of Yeshua") appears in Leviticus has been hailed by some evangelicals as the greatest discovery  and most convincing proof ever revealed. Unfortunately, researchers have subsequently demonstrated that using the same methodology, "the blood of Mohammed" and even "the blood of [David] Koresh" are also found in Leviticus and many additional times throughout the Torah. (Mohammed is found 2,328 times, Krishna 104 times, and Koresh 2,729 times in the Torah, using skip sequences up to 1,000 let ters.) Even Buddha is found in Genesis and Lenin and "Rev. Moon" in Daniel. Moreover, the "code" is being used by some rabbis to prove that Jesus was a false Messiah: Yeshua and Mechashif (sorcerer) and Nabi Shekr (false prophet) are found in the Torah with identical skip sequences and even overlapping10

And finally we have,

Contrary to the complexity of the Bible codes, God hides His truth "from the wise and prudent" and reveals it "unto babes" (Lk 10:21). It would therefore be out of character for God to provide a "pro of' so complicated that one would have to be an expert in mathematics and statistics and computers and cryptography in order to understand it-and still find oneself in disagreement with other equally qualified experts11

There are more problems but these should suffice and give you the idea that there is more to this idea than it let on. These problems would not exist if the codes and Gematria were of God but since they are not Christians need to avoid them and not accept their results.

The Biblical Teachings:

As mentioned earlier, there is no Bible teaching given on Gematria or Bible codes and all the verses that come close to mentioning anything done in secret do not even address these ideas nor instructs the follower of God to seek them out and adopt them into their lives. Here is a list of those verse: exodus 7;11,22; 8:7,18; Isaiah 45;19; 48:16; Ezekiel 28:3; Mark 4:11; John 18: 20; 1 Corinthians 2:2-10; 4:11; 2 Corinthians 4:2; Philippians 4:12 and finally 2 Thessalonians 2: 7

None of these scriptures can be used even remotely to justify the adherence to and acceptance of Gematria or Bible codes. The one verse that does mention something about calculating, Rev. 13:18 is not telling the believer to establish a new field of study and is taken greatly out of context, liberally interpreted and mis-applied to justify or excuse the following of that which is not of God.

One person said that it is okay to study these codes as a hobby12 but that needs a lot of qualification for that to take place. It is important that the believer does not study these fields as a valid alternative to the Holy Spirit’s leading. Instead if these fields are to be studied then they should be done by those believers who seek to find their errors and the truth about them in order that the people of Christ may be truthfully and honestly informed of their secular roots and non-Christian message. Plus they need to clearly demonstrate that these fields and their contents are not of God.

One cannot open the door to allow evil to come in and have a foothold in the believer’s life thus they must be careful when they study anything that is not of God and they must rely on the Holy Spirit in order that they learn what God wants them to know.

Conclusions:

There are two things that believers need to remember. First, one has to know or be told that a code is in use or being used. In wartime codes are used all the time and everyone knows it and has evidence for them but with the Bible codes, God did not say He used a code, He did not imply that He used a code and the Bible does not teach that a code is in play thus for the Christian to accept Bible codes means that they are not following God or the Bible.

All we have is secular speculation that these codes actually exist and that is not enough for the believer to disobey God and accept these false teachings. These codes are meant to lure vulnerable and weak Christians away from the truth as they are not of God.

These codes do not exist and are the product of manipulation, author confusion, and support an elitist attitude, among other things, which tells the believer that they are not true not of God and need to be dismissed.

Their origin is of the secular world not of God, Jesus or the disciples and the Bible is very clear about listening to secular people and false teachers. It does not matter if they claim to have converted, if they still preach the wrong doctrines, the wrong ideas or the wrong philosophies, etc., then they are not to be listened to and not followed. Believers are to follow the Holy Spirit to the truth and He will not lead people to that which is not of God.

Second, believers need to be educated in the right areas of the Christian life. They need to get wisdom, understanding and knowledge and not be child-like forever. They need to become grown-up Christians who are not vulnerable to such silly ideas and can teach those younger what to watch out for, how to avoid falling into those traps and generally protect other followers by being aware, cautious and investigative.

Believers do not blindly follow anything, no matter how good it is for we are to try the spirits, we are to test the teachings, and God has given us the criteria to use to differentiate between true and false teachings. That criterion is not limited to the confession of the claim, ‘I am a Christian too.’ Anyone can make that claim and believers need to be astute when it comes to new things being taught and they must be prepared to let go of any false teaching once it has been shown to be false.  We are allowed to judge what others are saying so that we do not allow evil to get into the congregations and wreck havoc on the church or the individual lives.

But believers must make sure that at first they have the truth and are being led by the Holy Spirit and cannot judge without the characteristics God has said we need in His followers lives. One must be careful that they do not reject something or someone who actually has the truth (even though it sounds a bit different than what one is used to hearing). Culturalism, traditions, denominational theology or party lines, and so on, do not over-rule the truth.

Be careful when new ideas like the Bible codes or old ones like Gematria are presented to the congregation because the church has a responsibility to find and defend the truth not accept everything that is presented to them simply because the Bible is being used or the person making the presentation claims to be a follower of Jesus. Not every false teacher is easy to discover and they are not as blatant as some cults but can be very subtle in their approach as they tell people what they want to hear not the truth or sound doctrine.

Be wise so you know how to deal properly with those who seek to add ideas that are not of God and lean on God’s ways not man’s when addressing the people bringing the wrong doctrine or gospel. How a church or congregation responds says a lot to those who quietly observe.

Be knowledgeable so that you get it right and do not make a mistake and reject what is true and of God. You do not serve the denomination, you do not serve the pastor, you serve God and follow Jesus, they are the ones who are to be pleased and obeyed. Thus if your godly actions bring you in opposition to the procedures of humans and their organizations then stand firm for God and Jesus over-rule them and are the final word on the matter. (This of course is not an excuse to disobey or implement one’s own ways into the church for when one opposes a denomination or pastor, they must be right and truly God lead.)

Finally, believers proclaim the gospel and they do not proclaim the ideas of man. Consider the source for you may be unwittingly advancing that which is not true. The Bible codes are not truth, they are not of God and the believer should have no part of them save to find how to refute them and prove them wrong to unwise and vulnerable believers. Anyone can use the Bible to justify their actions and ‘Christian’ supporters do so and end up misusing the Biblical verses, misapplying them and cause a lot of problems in the congregation.

Remember, no one has been given the authority to retranslate God’s word or change their meanings and God did not say to always use the original languages in one’s use of the Bible. Such activities are not immune from the devil’s tricks to deceive believers and lead them away from God. We need to know the original languages so that we can keep the secular scholars honest and at bay so that they do not confuse the church but we do not use the original languages to get our own way or to follow false doctrines and ideas.

It is the Holy Spirit that leads believers to the truth and believers must make sure it is of the Spirit before accepting whatever it is that is being taught. For the believer it is always God’s ways and God’s rules for it are His kingdom and the believer has chosen to serve Him.

Endnotes:

1. The Berean Call - February, 1998 Back to the Bible "Code"? By: Dave Hunt and T.A. McMahon http://members.cox.net/wwcw/q-torahcodes.html

2. I.S.B.E. Vol. 7 L to Oz pg. 1190 – #6. Gematria AGES Software Albany, OR USA

Version 1.0 © 1996

3. Op Cit The Berean Call

4. Op Cit I.S.B.E. pg. 1178 #5 Significant Numbers

5. Editor, H. S. 2004; 2004. BR 15:06. Biblical Archaeology Society

6. Ibid

7. Ibid

8. Editor, H. S. 2004; 2004. BR 13:04. Biblical Archaeology Society

9. Ibid

10 Op Cit The Berean Call

11 Ibid


 
The Demise of the Big Bang Theory

The secular world is forever trying to find an alternative to God and the Biblical account of creation and the latest, most accepted theory is the Big Bang. In short, this theory holds that all the matter we see in the universe today was contained in one small localized area and some force propelled it outward, expanding the universe as it goes.

There are several problems with this idea and those problems come with unanswerable questions. Questions like: where did this matter come from? Into what territory is the universe expanding into? What was this force and how big and powerful was it to force all those planets, stars, comets, galaxies into a perpetual outward motion?

These questions are not the focus of this study and are reserved for another time. They are merely present to show the weakness of the Big Bang theory in its present form. The actual focus is on what has given this theory credence and credibility and that subject goes back to Edwin Hubble and what is known as Hubble’s law:

For 2 years Hubble and Humason continued to put in grueling nights at the telescope, pushing the technology to the limit. Their efforts paid off, and they managed to measure galaxies that were 20 times as distant as any they had reported in their 1929 paper…There was no escaping the implications of the data. The universe was expanding, and in a systematic way. The proportional relationship between a galaxy’s velocity and the distance became known as Hubble’s law.{Singh: 2004:255-6}

This law is also used to determine one other vital statistic the Big Bang theorists need in order to accept their theory over the Biblical account and that is found here:

The second implication of Hubble’s constant is that it tells the age of the universe {Singh:257}

There are major problems with both of these ideas and applications. In looking at the first quote, we see that the standard of measurement is not the universe itself but galaxies. This data is being extrapolated to the universe even though there is no evidence showing that the universe itself is in fact expanding.

No one has measured nor actually knows the actual boundaries of the universe and they would certainly not know the original boundaries from 14 billion years ago. There is no data on either concepts, from ancient sources or modern.

What Hubble and Humason did was take a known factor (galaxies) and observed their  action then made a very large leap to a conclusion when their research presented no legitimate reason to make such a leap. Let me illustrate.

One is riding in a car in Russia and they see other cars moving away from them, and some coming closer. One ignores the fact that those coming closer actually will disprove their eventual theory and call them anomalies and focus on the other vehicles moving away from them even though they are moving as well.

Then the researcher in the car, without taking note of the actual Russian boundaries, either its original or modern day ones, makes the claim that the Russian borders are expanding simply because vehicles are moving away from them. It is a ridiculous claim for important data, the Russian borders both past and present, is missing- the actual expansion of those borders.

Nothing in Hubble’s and Humason’s research actually shows that the universe is expanding. They did not find the borders of space, they did not find the original boundaries but rely solely on the fact that galaxies are moving away from the Milky Way. There is no possible way that they can claim that the universe is expanding based upon such limited information for they did not measure the universe itself but some unrelated object that has room to roam.

As far as we can tell, there is no expanding universe. The boundaries of it are a mystery withheld from us as it is not important for us to know. What we can tell is that God has made the universe so big that even the galaxies have room to avoid any gravitational complication and avoid possible destruction.

Just like one cannot measure the movement of motorized vehicles and conclude the nation’s boundaries are expanding outward, simply because they happen to be in an area of the country where they do not see the actual borders and verify their thinking. One cannot make the claim that the universe is expanding simply because galaxies are moving outward (if that is even the case) simply because the astronomers are in an area of space where they cannot see the actual (if it has any) boundaries of the universe.

As far as we know the universe is not expanding and what we see is God’s foresight in making the universe large enough to avoid catastrophe.

Now the second quote presents an interesting concept. The secular astronomer uses Hubble’s work to claim that they can determine the age of the universe and depending upon which variable one puts in as the constant, the conclusion varies.

The problem with this concept is that it depends upon a very big and unverifiable assumption. An assumption first put forth by Lemaitre and Friedmann:

So according to Hubble and Humason’s observations, all matter in the universe was concentrated into a relatively small region in the universe roughly 1.8 billion years ago and has been expanding outward ever since. This picture completely contradicted the established view of an eternal unchanging universe. It reinforced the notion put forth by Lemaitre and Friedmann that the universe began with a Big Bang {Singh:258}

The idea is that the further away the galaxies are from the earth, the more time was needed to arrive at that point indicating that the time needed translated into the age of the universe. This big assumption makes plenty of errors as it assumes that all the matter started in one place at one time and that they are all going in the same direction but astronomers ignore the supposed anomalies of galaxies heading in a direction bringing them closer to the Milky Way.

It also assumes many other factors mentioned in the unanswerable questions which lead this article off. There is no way to verify that Hubble and Humason (or any other astronomer who holds to their views) were correct. There is no way to produce any credible evidence to show that all the galaxies started off at one small point in the same quadrant of the universe and were propelled outward by some unseen and undiscoverable force .

Nor can they provide any credible evidence that demonstrate the universe’s original boundaries, let alone its present borders, which allows an astronomer to determine the age of the universe. What is missing is the actual historical reference point needed to make any age related determinations. In other words, we do not have a start date for the universe thus we cannot date backwards and say this is when it took place.

The direction, velocity, and distance do not provide anyone with the correct data to make any determination of the age of the universe. Too many mitigating factors apply and important data is missing. One such factor is the actual original placement of the galaxies, and another is their actual original distance from the Milky Way. We cannot assume that they started off together, nor can we assume that they were all placed near each other for the evidence doesn’t support such thinking.

The determination of age of the universe is an impossibility because God did not make that knowledge known for it is not an important piece of information. What is important is that we believe God when He said in Genesis 1- ‘In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.’ We will not be able to declare how old the earth is for we are not to focus on that distraction, we are to focus on God and His power and His act.

Unfortunately, the secular world does not want God as part of the truth {Bible and Spade:16:36} but for the believer we must seek the truth so we can refute the deceit of those who reject God and use His creation against Him and His word.

There is no Big Bang and the theory does not hold up to close scrutiny for it uses apples to describe oranges and draws conclusions from data that is missing important details which are required to make the correct discovery.
 

The Conflict of Jude with Enoch

“As is well known, it is quoted in the Epistle of Jude (14, 15),”

{http://www.earlyjewishwritings.com/1enoch.html}

This is what many people believe. They have come to the conclusion that since certain words are included in the Biblical text and similar words are found in an ancient manuscript then the Biblical writers must have copied from the ancient secular source. Or Jesus based His teaching and ministry on secular ancient works:

Thus, it is hard to avoid the conclusion that Jesus had not only studied the book, but also respected it highly enough to adopt and elaborate on its specific descriptions of the coming kingdom and its theme of inevitable judgment descending upon "the wicked"–the term most often used in the Old Testament to describe the Watchers.

{http://www.nazirene.org/About_Enoch.htm}

What are the ramifications of this type of thinking. Well one, the Bible is not the infallible word of God and uses sinful ideas to base its message. Jesus wasn’t God, did not come to earth with a true message but had to rely on human sources for His mission. All of which means we would not be able to trust the Bible as the word of God or truth.

Before going any further, it would be wise to post the texts in question so everyone can see what is being talked about. First the passage from the book of Enoch, then the one from Jude:

And behold! He cometh with ten thousands of His holy ones To execute judgment upon all, And to destroy all the ungodly: And to convict all flesh Of all the works of their ungodliness which they have ungodly committed, And of all the hard things which ungodly sinners have spoken against Him

{http://www.jesus-is-savior.com/Wolves/book_of_enoch.htm}

14 Enoch, the seventh from Adam, prophesied about them: “See, the Lord is coming with thousands upon thousands of his holy ones 15 to judge

everyone, and to convict all of them of all the ungodly acts they have committed in their ungodliness, and of all the defiant words ungodly sinners have spoken against him.”[e] 16 These people are grumblers and faultfinders; they follow their own evil desires; they boast about themselves and

flatter others for their own advantage

{http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=jude&version=NIV}

Of course you can see the difference between the two translations and if you look at the context for the first quote, which is found in 1 Enoch 1:1-9, you may have a hard time relating that passage to Jesus’ return for in verse 3 we read:

The Holy Great One will come forth from His dwelling, 4 And the eternal God will tread upon the earth, (even) on Mount Sinai, [And appear from His camp] And appear in the strength of His might from the heaven of heavens.

{http://wesley.nnu.edu/sermons-essays-books/noncanonical-literature/book-of-enoch}

The words ‘The Holy Great One’ are not specific enough to absolutely apply to Christ, though I am sure a case could be made for that application. BUT the question that needs to be answered is, why would Jude need to quote from anon-scriptural work? We have no record of any of the Biblical writers doing such a thing. Jesus did not, nor did the disciples BUT we do have clear testimony that ALL of scriptures and all prophecies form the prophets came from God and the biblical writers followed the Holy spirit in their work.

Thus it makes no sense for Jude to resort to quoting works that were not inspired nor written by God and the same applies to Jesus. There is no doubt that Jude quoted Enoch and the source of that quote would be from God but it is highly doubtful that Jude quoted the actual book. It is out of the question that Jesus based His ministry upon the book of Enoch, as that would have rendered His teaching, His message human and His sacrifice upon the cross meaningless.

His resurrection would easily be dismissed as well. Now one of the problems that comes with this quote is the assumptions that 1 Enoch was considered scripture:

The Book of Enoch was extant centuries before the birth of Christ and yet is considered by many to be more Christian in its theology than Jewish. It was considered scripture by many early Christians. The earliest literature of the so-called "Church Fathers" is filled with references to this mysterious book

{http://reluctant-messenger.com/enoch.htm}

This is a very bad assumption for many secular biblical scholars today quote from the Bible, do they consider them scripture? No, they just classify the Bible as a religious text like all the other religious texts from the many different false religions in existence today. Do Christian scholars who quote secular works consider those works scripture? Of course not, all they are doing is quoting a passage to illustrate a point, make a rebuttal, use as an example and so on.

Just because ancient authors quote an even more ancient book doesn’t mean the book in question was considered scriptures. It means it said something worthy of noting and commenting upon. This brings us to another problem. Does inclusion in the oldest manuscripts mean it was an original piece of the book? After all fragments of the Book of Enoch were found among the Dead Sea scrolls.

Not necessarily because we know for a fact that many ancient false cultic groups edited their original writings to look more attractive to the followers of Jesus and get in on the popularity of the truth found in the Bible. It is called ‘conning’ people and all successful cons need elements of the truth within its story to trick people into giving up something of value (usually money). If the con was a complete lie, then the charade would be easily found out and the con artists arrested, etc. (Archaeology and the Unwary Believer by Dr. David Tee, pg. 160}.

So it stands to reason, and is quite logical, that the people who accepted the Book of Enoch as scripture, edited it AFTER Jude was written to include the passage referring to Enoch and his prophecy. In other words, the secular authors of Enoch did the copying not Jesus or Jude. This is evidenced by the following quote:

Various Qumran caves have yielded for the first time the original Aramaic text of one of the major Pseudepigrapha, the Book of Enoch…Qumran Cave 4 has yielded seven copies of the writing attested by, but not strictly identical to, the Ethiopic, and four further copies of the related Book Of Giants…The differences they display concern partly the structure of the work, e.g. the astronomical sections is more developed in parts than the text from which the Ethiopic Enoch LXXII – LXXXII was made, while the Book of Parables (chaps. XXXVII- KXXI) with its Son of Man speculation is completely lacking at Qumran.

{The Complete Dead Sea Scrolls in English pg. 545- bold mine}

With this lack of inclusion at Qumran, we can rightfully say that it is possible that the Son of Man section was added after the short book of Jude was composed and circulated. There is no reason for the Biblical authors to copy or take their work from earthly sources. The trouble that would cause is immense and would undermine the work of the Gospel but there is everything to gain for the cultic members to copy from the truth found in the biblical pages.

God does not need to copy nor does Jesus and they do not need their human authors to copy either. Thus it is best to say that Jude did not quote the Book of Enoch but that the authors of the Book of Enoch copied from the Bible and its authors.

It is better to say that Jude recorded the real Enoch’s prophecy with the help of the Holy Spirit for that would be consistent with God’s word and keep the divine in the authorship, words and message of the Bible and making Jesus’ life and sacrifice mean what it does and impossible to dismiss.
 
 
A Word to Sunday school Teachers
(and other teachers)

In 1 Corinthians 12:27-31 we read the following words:

“Now you are the body of Christ and each one of you is part of it. And in the church God has appointed first of all apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then workers of miracles, also having gifts of healing, those able to help others, those with gifts of administration, and those speaking in different tongues. Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Do all work miracles? Do all have gifts of healing? Do all speak in tongues? Do all interpret? But eagerly desire the greater gifts.”

The bolded words highlight the importance that God places upon the profession of teaching and those who teach. They are third in the church hierarchy which means that those who wish to be teachers are wishing for a great responsibility where much will be required of them.

It is a position that grants people the opportunity to frame the thinking of very young and eager minds and point them in a direction which they should follow. Teachers have an enormous access to those who want to learn and that access can give them a lot of power over their charges but it also provides the teacher with a lot of temptation to manipulate and turn the student down paths they should not go.

Given the high priority that God placed upon teachers that status should be a huge motivation for the person wanting to teach to learn how to do it right, learn how to do it well and motivate them to seek the best material for their students so that when the students leave the classroom, they know they were given the truth and instructed how to use it.

How does this apply to Sunday school teachers? First off, we do not see God dividing the teachers up into sub-categories. He does not say Public School teachers are number three and Sunday school teachers are number 11. God puts all teachers into the same group. A teacher is a teacher no matter if they are in a prestigious university or a small Sunday school classroom and their position in the church remains the same.

What does this mean to the Sunday school teacher? It means that their responsibility for that short time in church is very important and carries with it ramifications and benefits not always seen each Sunday.  The importance of the Sunday school teacher can be seen as they can help the pastor and parents out by teaching proper materials in their hour with so that they can cover other biblical areas in their time.

This complimentary work allows the child to learn far more and maximizes their training to be prepared when they face their friends and other people outside of the church and home. BUT this does not mean that they only tell Bible stories aided by cute little pictures that do not present the whole story or the truth.

Not at all. Sunday school teachers should be well aware of what their young students are going to face in the world and talk to the parents of each child in the class to make sure they can present the correct information to the children. Far too often the Sunday school hour is look upon as a time to keep the children busy, play with friends, and have a good time singing a few songs and so on.

The time to train young Christian minds slips away each week and as the Sunday passes another opportunity to train up strong believers is gone, wasted as the church opts for the easier and more fun curriculum. Sadly, too many children grow up into adulthood unprepared to face the secular onslaught they will face in their university classes and workplace. Then when faced with these opposing ideas, they cannot withstand the attack and eventually leave the church and Christ.

To train young people in the church takes a concentrated effort on the part of the Pastor, the parents and the Sunday school teacher. The first two should be aware of the material to be taught in the classroom and how it will be presented plus they should give their permission to allow the Sunday school teacher to present ideas from the secular world then show how it is wrong and how the Bible is right.

The Sunday School teacher, then, should prepare themselves by knowing what the world says about Biblical things, i.e. creation, flood etc., and then seek out how to refute it in a manner that is instructive to the Christian student. Plus they need to be prepared for and ready to answer any questions the child may have. As they answer the questions they need be able to show why the Bible is right and that secular science is wrong.

They can do that by pointing out to the children the words of God which state what a believer does and does not do. For example they do not follow secular science or science over God for that is not what God said for His followers to do. Christians are not to follow the world for the world does not have the truth. Then the Sunday school teacher, or the parents, teach the children how to follow the Holy Spirit to the truth.

Over the generations too many Christian children and young adults have been lost to evil because they were not properly trained by their parents, their pastor or their Sunday school teachers. By training I mean that they were not prepared to face the unbelieving thinking, skepticism, the ridicule and so much more hurled at them by those who rejected Jesus or know nothing about him.

In other words, the young Christian learns the truth about their faith, they learn the truth about what the secular world thinks and they learn how to defend their faith so that they are not lost to the unchurched world and end up believing that Jesus, God and the Bible lied or is not true. This means that the Sunday school teacher needs to be well immersed in the truth themselves, treat their class seriously and make sure they can present it well defending the faith so that their young charges can see how it is to be done.

The opportunity to teach children is limited for the church and it is in competition with the world in getting the attention of its children and young people. The Sunday school teacher has to compete against TV. music, video and computer games and so much more but we get their attention by teaching the truth and doing it honestly letting the Sunday school student know that they are important and that they are being prepared for their future.

We do not bring the world’s ways into the church. We do not let evil get a foothold into what is God’s thus the Sunday school teacher must be strong and ready. I am reminded of what the verses, Mt. 18:6; Mk. 9:42; & Lk. 17:2 says about those who try to turn the belief of little ones away from Jesus & I paraphrase: It is better for the person to commit suicide than to turn a child’s faith away from Jesus.

Sunday school teachers may or may not be turning the student’s faith away from Jesus but if they do not prepare the students properly, provide them with the truth, help them learn how to defend their faith and remain strong in it; then the Sunday school teacher (and others) are keeping the students vulnerable for those who will turn the faith of the Christian away from Jesus.

It is time to strengthen those in the church before sending them out to the wolves.
 
 

What Has Become of Forgiveness?

 

In today’s modern era, we hear of things like zero tolerance, 3 strikes, and other harsh methods of dealing with wrongful acts.  We also hear of many lawsuits over minor offenses or violations of the unwritten political correctness code. The word ‘offended’ is now the new benchmark in deciding when to sue a school, business or person.

 

Recently, we have a serious of tweets that were labeled as racist and it wasn’t long before the fanatical people came out of the woodwork threatening violence over a few words emotionally sent electronically; escalating the issue from a molehill into a very large mountain.

 

With all of this emotional outrage comes the mentality to retaliate in kind or worse ways.  So many lessons of the past on how to deal with those people who go too far in expressing their thoughts have been lost in search of a get rich quick payday or some superiority standing over another nationality. (I do not believe in different races so I will use the words nationality or something similar quite often)

 

In times past, parents would talk to their children on how to deal with those insensitive people.  Some would use the old adage, ‘Sticks and stones may break my bones but names will never hurt me.’ As a way to show their kids that name calling is very harmless and won’t go anywhere unless the child reacts in kind or takes it a step or two further.

 

Other people use the Bible to help their children deal with those who like to be abusive. One main verse used is ‘turn the other cheek’ which requires the receiver of the unkind act to just brush it off and continue on with their lives emotionally unscarred. Retaliating doesn’t end the conflict but escalates it as the original offender must now find another way to seek revenge for the retaliation they received for their wrongful act(s).

 

If no one stops it, this conflict just continues and hatred builds up not only in the hearts of the two participants but also in the hearts of their friends and possibly their relatives as well. Eventually, more violent acts take place and illegal acts only deepen the problem and causing a great divide. Not only in the families but possibly on higher levels as well—neighborhoods, towns, cities and on it goes.

 

Through all of this, one biblical command is rarely seen anymore as people invent excuses to not let their offender off the hook for their supposed slights or bad deeds.  When Jesus was questioned on this topic, He response included the words 70 x 7 one is to forgive. This was meant that the victim does not stop forgiving, even if the wrongful acts continue for years.

 

Why did Jesus make this act of forgiveness unending? One reason is that it stops the offended party from committing sin. God hates sin and He does not want His followers to do sinful acts to others, for such things will harden unbelievers’ hearts and turn them off of Christ and salvation.

 

The believer must see the bigger picture in Jesus’ words and not stop at justifying their own desires for a given situation. There is more to the issue than just the offending act and getting even. In fact, Jesus further instructs His followers to not even think about getting even as He says to ‘return good for evil’, ‘pray for those who do evil’ and to do unto others as ye would have them do unto you.’

Returning good for evil is punishment in God’s eyes as the believer does not stoop to the level of the secular person and shows a different way to react to the world. Praying for those who do evil, allows God to work unimpeded by human invention and thinking. He gets the glory and the world gets an opportunity to see that God does exist and is interested in their lives.

 

Then doing unto others as you would like to be treated only helps you as well. No one wants bad things done to them thus they should not do bad things to others, even if humanly the situation or act calls for retaliation. The believer does not follow the human world any more but the divine which means that they need to find Christ’s alternatives when dealing with bad people and their behavior.

 

It makes sense to do things God ways then one will be held blameless and stumbling blocks are not erected by human hands, leaving them not responsible for the unbeliever’s rejection of Christ and salvation.

 

Another facet of the act of forgiveness that is important is that it allows the believer to keep things in perspective and not blow problems out of proportion. In other words, it enables the believer to ‘remove the beam from their own eyes’ before trying to help the other person. Forgiveness helps the believer obey God and His commands.

 

This is especially important when passing sentence upon a person who has broken the rules. Forgiving first allows the one in charge of punishing offenders to reach a just and appropriate sentence for the crime committed. This applies in the legal, political arenas as well as in the schools, and the home.

 

Being just is very important and leaves the sentence free of any wrong doing and curtails the desire to over-punish because of one’s emotions or personal involvement in the offense.  Punishment is not just if it is influenced by those mitigating factors that are fueled by hatred and loathing.

 

One thing to note about Jesus’ admonition to forgive is that it has no exception clauses.  The vilest offender committing the most vile crime is included in that teaching and deserve to be sentenced justly just like a child who breaks a favorite vase while disobeying a parent’s instruction.  Punishment, according to the Bible, is done to bring repentance not to harden the heart of the offender so that they continue to offend long after their sentence has expired.

 

Too many people ignore that part of meting out discipline simply because it does not allow them to exercise their own hatred against the person they are judging.  It should not be ignored or left out of the process of punishing offenders and the simple reason for that is that repentance stops crime. 

 

When an offender repents from their sinful ways, they look to replace such behavior with the right things to do. Injustice, lack of mercy, zero tolerance, 3 strikes and so on do not achieve that objective.  Doing discipline the correct way, the biblical way, using forgiveness as a tool to help determine the punishment goes a lot further in creating a crime free society than any human ideology could hope to achieve.

 

People know when they have broken the rules and done wrong, they also know when they have been treated justly and honestly. Including forgiveness, turning the other cheek and other biblical instructions may not always stop a person from committing a crime or offense but it does plant a seed that God can use, bringing His desired results at the right time.  The believer needs to work with God not against Him and forgiveness helps the believer to accomplish that task.
 

Baby On Board

 

The Simpsons t.v. show made a cute song about this phrase found on a lot of cars these days.  It has been a fad for a couple decades now to advertise to all, whether they want to know or not, that a baby is inside the car.

 

It may make the parents feel good and give them a false sense of security as they think other drivers will be more cautious around their vehicles. Usually it does not achieve that desire as most people do not care who is in your vehicle especially if the parents drive so slowly or maneuver through traffic too cautiously that they create a dangerous situation because of their revised driving habits then there is a problem and it is with the parents who advertise their occupants not the other drivers.

 

But it isn’t just driving with children that alters an adult’s behavior. This mentality spills over into other more important issues like smoking, drinking or forcing one’s views upon others simply because a child will be present. Yes people should be more aware of their own behavior when others are around but hiding behind one’s child while advocating others change is cowardly and dishonest.

 

I have read non-smokers’ comments about how they do not want their children to breathe smoke filled air, as they fanatically fight to stamp out smoking in public places—even outdoors. Such arguments are ridiculous and show a totalitarian mentality in people once they have spawned their next generation.

 

They think that having children gives them permission to dictate to others how they should behave. It doesn’t, though those new parents are free to change their own lifestyles, they are never free to force their ways upon others.

 

For the Christian it goes a little deeper. They should not be caught up in secular movements simply because children are used as the justification for the removal of the rights of others.  The verse, ‘do unto others as ye would have them do unto you’ applies to those with children as well as those without.

 

In other words, if you want to be treated well, respectful, and have your rights protected then you must do the same for others. If you have children but do not smoke, do not remove the right to smoke from smokers for you never know when the backlash will come and which of your rights will be removed by another group of angry or fanatical people.

 

Also, bearing children does not grant those parents the over-ruling right to make choices for other people or infringe upon their freedoms. The former star of I Dream of Jeannie and Dallas, Larry Hagman, was reported to go to restaurants with a small personal fan, which he used to blow the cigarette smoke that drifted over to his table back at the smokers. This is disrespectful of the smokers for they had the right and freedom to smoke in those eating establishments.

 

The owner and the laws were such at the time that smoking was allowed while one ate. Mr. Hagman did not have the right nor the freedom to repel said smoke. He did have the freedom to move to another table, ask politely if the smokers would desist while he was sitting there, or go to a different restaurant.  There are options available and though not always attractive, one still does not have the right to force their ideology upon those who do not share that belief.

 

Christians do have the right to practice their beliefs as do many other religious groups but they do not have the right to force their agenda upon those who have rejected their beliefs for some false alternative. The Bible never teaches that the Christian can use the law to force people to follow after Christian ideals.

 

The Bible does outline the proper procedure for believers to follow in order to maximize their impact, bring glory to God and save souls. To opt out of following those divine guidelines allows for sin to get into the believers’ lives and efforts and weaken the message, raise stumbling blocks to Christ and harden hearts so that those souls are lost for eternity.

 

The Christian has to be careful in what they do when those acts affect the public. Religious people who gain political power are not there to force their ideology upon the electorate, nor are they there to implement the corporate desires of those businessmen who are often seen as conservative people that are business friendly and people unfriendly.

 

Reaching governing status means that the believer needs to be wise for he has to govern all people and is not elected to be a dictator to implement the ways of what may be a minority group.  Jesus told His disciples and followers that His people are to be the light unto the world but they cannot be that light when they allow it to be turned off or dimmed as they turn on their own personal lights or the lights of the elite or favored.

 

As you can see it is the same the attitude, whether it is done in a large arena like politics or a small one like your neighborhood. Having a baby doesn’t promote a believer, or anyone else, to being the parent of the others. Their actions will bring the same results as those described earlier. Some people may be positively influenced for eternity and other could be hardened and all opportunity for salvation lost.

 

The believer needs to remember that earthly situations do not alter or remove biblical instruction. Nor are there escape clauses that allow suspension of those teachings when the other person is not desirable or does some horrific crime. Jesus’ words apply to the Christian life at all times and all situations. The believer is not at liberty to decide when they are to be used nor make excuses for the failure to implement them.

 

Using words like ‘God will understand’ or ‘I know I am not supposed to say/do this but…’ just do not work and are not part of biblical life and teaching. If Christians do not follow God’s word then they cannot expect the secular world to pick up the slack. Christians are the light to the world, they just need to humble themselves and follow Jesus’ way over their own and the world’s.
 

Why Tebowing and Similar Acts are Wrong

 

If anyone has followed the sporting news in 2011, they would have heard about ‘Tebowing’ and its practice throughout the National Football League season.  This act is not new. Similar things have taken place over all sports for decades now.  It is not uncommon for religious athletes to make a gesture or strike a pose that in their minds thanks God for their success.

 

What is uncommon is the popularity of Tim Tebow’s actions as it has gone further than those players who acted in this manner prior to his demonstrations of his faith. There are several problems and questions that arise from this act of gratitude or tebowing.

 

One problem is that it sends the wrong message.  It says God is only to be thanked or praised when one succeeds and that is not what the Bible says at all. I have noticed that Mr. Tebow (and other christian athletes) only Tebow or give signs of gratitude when they score and are as sad, angry or silent when the other team has a successful play against them. Not one word of gratitude comes from their lips when they are beaten and lessons are to be learned.

 

It is this hypocrisy that creates stumbling blocks to Christ.  It also raises questions in the minds of the observers. Such questions are: What about the Christians in the losing team? What did they do or how bad are their lives that they lost favor with God and lost the game or didn’t stop the drive? Doesn’t God like them or their faith?

 

Tebowing presents a very big problem and can send doubt the way of the believing athlete who was not on the successful side. They now question their own faith and wonder why they weren’t good enough to stop the opposing players from scoring. On the successful side, tebowing can give rise to pride and arrogance over others as their egos take off and claim how much better they are than their teammates or opposing players.

 

How an athlete responds can determine if a person is turned off of Christ or a seed is planted in their hearts. There are so many better ways to be grateful to God for success, whether it is a win or a score. People will already know that an athlete is a Christian, the media will make sure the world hears about their faith. They do not have to make gestures or strike religious poses on the field for the fans to get the message about their faith.

 

In athletics humbleness is often over-looked as a key factor in winning but it is not over-looked by God. When one scores, one just needs to humbling acknowledge the event and then get ready for the next play. There is no need for celebration because the game is not over nor the season thus any celebration can look foolish if premature, especially if a team loses the game or does not win the championship.

 

The question remains about what a player is to do when things do not go their way? They do not score a touchdown, they do not catch the ball or they do not score a basket or goal. What celebration do they have for failure?  Should they get angry and act like a childish spoiled brat? Of course not, for that would send the message that Christians do bad things when they do not succeed and do not follow what they believe.

 

To be able to score a goal, make a basket, score a touchdown, or hit a home run, an athlete must fail in some capacity. They are blocked, stopped, tackled or struck out so what is the appropriate action for these situations?  They humbly learn from their mistakes and find the solution to their failure. God doesn’t just use a touchdown or a home run to further His kingdom and falsely give the impression that if you are a believer everything will be a bed of roses. No, God uses failure to teach the believer or Christian athlete important lessons so that they can improve. do things correctly, be successful and let the glory go to God.

 

God gives the talent to play sports to everyone. Not just the believer and the lessons for success are available to all, not just the believer. What the believer does differently is give the credit to God for we know everything comes from Him. This gratitude is not limited to home runs, touchdowns, baskets or goals; nor is it limited to great plays, fantastic shots, or leaping , sliding grabs.

 

This gratitude goes back to the opportunities for lessons learned when God used the players’ failures to teach them how to be better athletes. Those failures are also to teach the player humility and to keep success in perspective. The Bible tells us that pride and arrogance go before a fall and destruction thus the Christian athlete should not be tebowing when they score or make a great play, they should be humbled that they learned the lessons that God wanted them to learn and give the glory to Him.

 

For representing God, and turning the attention to Him is part of what a Christian is to do. Another part is learning that Christianity and its teachings still apply when the believer loses or screws up and needs to be demonstrated honestly so that the Christian is not vilified for being a sore loser or ungrateful athlete.

 

Success in Christianity is not measured by the world’s standards but by God’s thus the believer must be prepared to live by its rules even when things are not going their way.