Tuesday, January 29, 2008

The Hope of the Gospel

I could easily name this post "Why I Believe in a Pre-Trib Rapture". To do so, would indicate that I'm throwing my hat in the ring of debate. I have largely avoided speaking on the topic of End-Time events simply because of raging debate around it. It is fruitless, and promotes dissension among those who claim to love the same God. We spend so much time nit-picking and attacking, that debate seems to have evolved into a debate for debating sake. Truth gets lost in our own (as opposed to God's) translation. With that said, I'm taking up a seemingly lonely side, truth.

Since the teaching of Saint Paul, End Time events seem to have somehow been separated from it's original owner, Faith. Today we view biblical subjects in categories, in where we separate, and place boundaries. This has caused division amongst those who claim to believe the same God. As they place one "subject" or "area" over another i.e. Baptist; Pentecostal etc. The Salvation of mankind has been a wholesome, complete package designed perfectly by the One who gave His only Begotten Son for it. The expectation of Christ's return and Faith are intricately intertwined. Somehow Christ's return has been separated and categorized with "End Time" events as though one has nothing to do with the other. And during these debates, Faith has little or nothing to do with "End-Time" events.

Up until recently, End-Times events was little spoken of in mainstream churches. Timothy LaHaye and Jerry Jenkins of the "Left Behind Series", truly broke ground in making End-Time events an "approachable" topic for everyone. However, it has always been an approachable topic, Saint Paul spoke of Christ's coming frequently in conjunction with his ministering and teaching. He spoke as though he, himself, was expecting the return of Christ at any given moment. Both books of Thessalonians give us tremendous insight of Paul's expectation of Christ and what we have now come to call the "Rapture".

"But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope.

For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him.

For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep.

For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first:

Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.

Wherefore comfort one another with these words." -- 1 Thess. 4:13-18

"Therefore let us not sleep, as do others; but let us watch and be sober.

For they that sleep sleep in the night; and they that be drunken are drunken in the night.

But let us, who are of the day, be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love; and for an helmet, the hope of salvation.

For God hath not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ,

Who died for us, that, whether we wake or sleep, we should live together with him." - 1 Thess. 5:6-10
The Word is clear only those "who have the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen" (Hebrews 11:1) are deemed righteous and appointed to salvation. Now it has been assumed that there is only one kind of salvation, salvation from eternal separation from God, which is to say the second death. (Rev. 20:6; Rev. 21:8) If you read scripture from the viewpoint of the author, which is to read scripture within the context of the book, if not chapter, we can see that Paul is referring to salvation from God's wrath in 1 Thessalonians.

Saint Paul spoke and taught of Christ's return as IMMINENT in HIS time. This frame of mind is important to assume when reading and understanding 1 Thessalonians. Chapter 1:1-10 (the beginning of the book),it not only sets the tone for what comes afterward, but speaks of the profound hope He had to see the glory of Lord he was serving.

Reading within the context at your own convenience, look at what the last three verses of the first chapter say:

"For from you sounded out the word of the Lord not only in Macedonia and Achaia, but also in every place your faith to God-ward is spread abroad; so that we need not to speak any thing.
For they themselves shew of us what manner of entering in we had unto you, and how ye turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God;
And to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead, even Jesus, which delivered us from the wrath to come."


According to Paul, Jesus Christ had already delivered them from the wrath, that is to come. In other words, that had not happened yet, but was expected to happen. Reading further on in the second chapter, 2:1-19, at your own convenience take a look at verses 14-16.

"For ye, brethren, became followers of the churches of God which in Judaea are
in Christ Jesus: for ye also have suffered like things of your own countrymen,
even as they have of the Jews:
Who both killed the Lord Jesus, and their own
prophets, and have persecuted us; and they please not God, and are contrary to
all men:
Forbidding us to speak to the Gentiles that they might be saved, to
fill up their sins alway: for the wrath is come upon them to the
uttermost."


Now in chapter 5:8-9 Paul states very clearly, "we are not appointed to wrath, but to obtain salvation from our Lord Jesus Christ, who died for us"! (See the beginning of the post)

There are 4 things we need to recognize:

1. Paul believed and taught the imminent return of Christ at his time.

2. Paul established the salvation of the righteous (via Faith) from wrath.

3. Paul established who the wrath was for.

4. Paul edified the church by the teaching of Faith as a major proponent towards salvation.

"To the end he may stablish your hearts unblameable in holiness before God, even our Father, at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ with all his saints." -- 1 Thessalonians 3:13

The 2nd book of Thessalonians reiterates the first. Once again at your own convenience read the book in it's entirety. For the purposes of this post, I will be singling out verses 1:7-11. Paul in speaking of the persecutions of the Church in Thessalonica says:

"And to you who are troubled rest with us, when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels,
In flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ:
Who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power;
When he shall come to be glorified in his saints, and to be admired in all them that believe (because our testimony among you was believed) in that day.
Wherefore also we pray always for you, that our God would count you worthy of this calling, and fulfil all the good pleasure of his goodness, and the work of faith with power:"


Paul took great pains to define who the wrath was for. If the wrath is for those "who know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord" then it would make perfect sense that the "rapture" explained in the fifth chapter of the first book take place prior to the wrath, or the Great Tribulation that the entire world awaits for with bated breath. Let's not be silly. We all know that THE wrath, is the same wrath (tribulation) that marks the end of man's free reign on earth. It's the same wrath (tribulation) that the prophets of old prophesied of. The same wrath, Christ spoke of in Matthew 24. It's the same wrath Paul taught about. The same wrath that Revelations details.

This belief/prophecy is not only stated in the books of Thessalonians. It is stated throughout the entire bible. From the prophecy of the prophets in the Old Testament to the declaration of Jesus Christ Himself.

Proverbs 11:4 "Riches profit not in the day of wrath: but righteousness delivereth from death."

John 3:18 "He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God" (This scripture goes hand in hand with what Paul states in 2 Thess. 1:7-11)

Revelations 3:10 "Because thou hast kept the word of my patience, (as Paul encouraged the Thessalonians to do) I also will keep thee from the hour of temptation, which shall come upon all the world, to try them that dwell upon the earth." (This scripture goes hand in hand with what Paul states in 2 Thess. 1:7-11)

Let's turn our attention to the fifth chapter of the book of Romans. The fifth chapter begins with "Therefore". You absolutely have to start at the beginning of the book to FULLY comprehend what Paul teaches in the fifth chapter. However, for the purposes of this post I will single out chapter 5. It starts with "Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ."

Because we are justified by faith, we have peace with God. What, then, would be the opposite of peace? Violence? Enemies? Unrest? Would those terms do for opposites? If we, then, are justified by faith and have peace with God, through Christ, WHY WOULD WE BE SUBJECTED TO HIS WRATH? Let's skip a few verses and go directly to 8-10. If this doesn't clear it up for us, God help us, I don't know what will.

"But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.

Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him.
For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life.

It makes no sense to me that I would experience the wrath of God upon examining on the whole concept of the gospel. The gospel, the good news is that we have salvation through Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whether we LIVE or DIE. Why would we experience the anger He has stored up for those who have rejected Him and His Son? It makes no common sense. The whole point of the gospel (Christ's sacrifice) was to be saved from the consequence of sin (death/eternal separation) and be justified in His sight (forgiven of sin). If we are forgiven of sin (which evokes the wrath of God) why would we be subject unto it??

When we separate parts of the gospel from the whole, we have in effect removed the HOPE of the gospel. Which Paul tells us to use as a "helmet". 1 Thess. 5:8 The "hope of salvation". What we have done instead is "remove the helmet" and make vulnerable our mind and thoughts, as we are attacked with doubts and confusion. When we divide the gospel asunder what we have in effect is a divided belief, which is evident in our varied, culture of professing Christ-Believers. When we dissect and categorize the gospel, we have made the "breastplate of faith and love" ineffectual against the fiery arrows that attack the heart and the hope that should be nourshied within it. In the end, we fail to "comfort another with these words", laying open to siege the TRUTH of Christ, by His enemy, that WILL experience the wrath of God.

It is any wonder that Christianity as a whole, ( I should say in America, Believers ARE being persecuted in other parts of the world, where they are the minority) is not experiencing the intense persecutions that Paul explains of the Thessalonians? Where is our "manifest token of the righteous judgement of God"? 2 Thess. 1:4-6 The pride and faithlessness of our Christian culture has led us right into the devil's trap, in where we are not a threat to him, as was the Church of Thessalonica. We are right where he would have us: Divided, Debating and Confused.

Makes me wonder...is this the reason for the general confusion regarding the rapture? The fact that modern day Christianity has not been "prohibited" from preaching the gospel as the Church of Thessalonica was, and "punished" accordingly by our own countrymen. Are we confused because we do not experience trials/persecutions in this fashion? That we cannot differentiate between the trials, Jesus prayed about in the 17th Chapter of John and the wrath that Paul speaks of throughout the gospels??

In any event, I've said my piece(peace).


"And you, who once were alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now He has reconciled in the body of His flesh through death, to present you holy, and blameless, and above reproach in His sight— if indeed you continue in the faith, grounded and steadfast, and are not moved away from the hope of the gospel which you heard, which was preached to every creature under heaven, of which I, Paul, became a minister." -- Col. 1:21-23




Author's Note:
All italics and bold in scripture are mine.


Friday, January 25, 2008

Calling All Former WCG Members

In my post "Confessions of a Former Worldwide Church of God Member", a former WCG member stumbled upon my blog/post. Now I would love to know where you are and what you're doing post WCG. If you are a former WCG member with a blog, I would like to add your link under the link list "Former WCG Members Blogs". Leave a comment and I'll check it out! Or if you know someone who was a former WCG with a blog, please leave a comment as well. Consider it as sort of a meeting place to see how others are faring in their post WCG "clean up"!

May Peace and Joy be multiplied through your faith in Christ Jesus of Nazareth!

Hannah

(There is no more :))

Monday, January 21, 2008

Martin Luther King Jr.

Today, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. is remembered as a man who instilled social change under the the instrument of peace. He is a man admired for his amazing self-control and dedication to social change via peace and truth. He is one of the very few people that lived (or live) on this earth I can say without a doubt, I truly admired and respected what he was about.

My admiration stems not from his speeches, which in itself it absolutely awe-inspiring. Neither from his peaceful mission in a violent world. Nor his various degrees of intellect. My admiration comes from the fact that he indeed was a man of the Faith and a promoter of Love. A rare gem in a world gone astray.

I love that he was a nonconformist, surrounded by a bevy a churches, who, as he personally testifies, refused to help in his quest of much needed social change.


"The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy."
Martin Luther King Jr., Strength to Love, 1963US black civil rights leader & clergyman (1929 - 1968)

There a book written by Dr. King that rarely gets mentioned, called "Strength to Love". This book is absolutely amazing in truth and scripture. It gives you a wonderful picture of who he was and what he was about.

On this day, I state, that I too am a nonconformist by the Liberty that was given to by His Spirit (2 Corinthians 3:17) and the blood shed sacrifice of the Holy Lamb.

"And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God." -- Romans 12:2

.....Amen.....

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Church - A Stumbling Block to Faith?

In my post, Confessions of a Former Worldwide Church of God Member, I made a statement that I wish to expound further on:

"Quite honestly, I say this knowing full well some of you, if not most will be offended by this statement, I find church attendance can be a hindrance to a believer's walk in faith"

Before moving on let's clarify what exactly a "Stumbling Block" is.
"an obstacle or hindrance to progress, belief, or understanding"

"An obstacle or impediment"

"a difficulty that prevents progress"

Source:
American Psychological Association (APA):
Stumbling Block. (n.d.). Kernerman English Multilingual Dictionary. Retrieved January 16, 2008, from Dictionary.com website: http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/Stumbling Block
Chicago Manual Style (CMS):
Stumbling Block. Dictionary.com. Kernerman English Multilingual Dictionary. K Dictionaries Ltd. http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/Stumbling Block (accessed: January 16, 2008).
Modern Language Association (MLA):
"Stumbling Block." Kernerman English Multilingual Dictionary. K Dictionaries Ltd. 16 Jan. 2008. .


In Greek:
proskomma pros'-kom-mah from 4350; a stub, i.e. (figuratively) occasion of
apostasy:--offence, stumbling(-block, (-stone)). - Strong's
Greek Lexicon



Rest assured, that my statement comes not from anger, or someone who has been spurned by church at large. I've taken complete responsibility/accountability for my OWN relationship with the Lord. Over the years, I've come to realize that I cannot, and SHOULD not depend on a church/pastor to define WHO and WHAT God IS. I understand that when Christ sacrificed His body to overcome the sting of sin, which death, the veil in the temple was "rent" in two, (Luke 23:44-46) symbolizing free access to all who believe and confess Jesus, the Son of God. (Romans 10:8-12).

Having said this, my statement does not come from an attitude of anger, but, personal experience and observances. As a matter of fact, this observation started out quite innocently. After I left WWCG, I started studying the Word more avidly than I had previously. When speaking to other "mainstream Christians" about the Bible, they would often contradict what I had learned, by quoting their own doctrines, or by using scripture out of context. That would always drive me back to the Word for clarity and truth.

Since leaving WWCG, I've had many conversations with mainstream (not considered a cult by Christianity overall) church-goers. There are several things I've noticed they say, or don't say, regardless of church/religion affiliation:


1. Promoting concepts along with scripture (which is usually taken out
of context) from what they have read by a Christian author, or heard
in a sermon from their pastor/minister.

2. Promoting their specific church/pastor/religion than or over Christ Jesus as a whole.

3. The inability/confusion to dialogue conceptually regarding scripture,
outside of what they've heard in a sermon or read in a book

4. Largely ignorant of the history of Christianity and the destruction/pain that it's caused on secular society.

5. More inclined to defend the culture/traditions of Christianity, than "contending for the faith" as described by the Word. Book of Jude, verse 3



These are the things that I've notice consistently since leaving WWCG. I've always been encouraged to find the "right" church, which is absolutely un-biblical Ephesians 4. Again, I must emphasis that my statements are my consistent, personal observations that I've experienced over the past ten years (approximately) with various Christians from various affiliations! I am motivated to edify, not condemn.

"Even so ye, forasmuch as ye are zealous of spiritual gifts, seek that ye may excel to the edifying of the church." -- 1 Corinthians 14:12 (note: church is spoken here as singular, not plural)


Having said all this, I must return to my original thought, CAN modern (modern as opposed to original as defined by Acts 2 and promoted in Ephesians 4) day church be a stumbling block to the Bible-Believing Believer and the Jesus-Seeker? I MUST say absolutely yes, it can be.

Why?? From what I've seen, it promotes a comfort zone in two ways:

1. Traditions - which can result in familiarity or routine.

2. Relationships - Can cause the Believer/Seeker to seek a personal relationship with God vicariously through church attendance and/or the pastor.

Traditions itself, is not bad in any way, but it can be a inhibitor in how God may move His Laborer where He may, as He wills, if His Laborer is "stuck" in a comfort zone in which they will not consider moving from. Traditions can be a negative factor only if it becomes our comfort zone, in which we look to stability, define our faith and limit thinking capacity within those boundaries.

Likewise, Relationships are, of course not bad in and of itself, but we MUST realize the purpose of Christ suffering was so that we could have a DIRECT relationship with God the Father. It becomes negative when we do not recognize or accept our personal accountability TO GOD to HAVE a direct relationship with HIM. Reading, meditating, praying in submission to, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit independently and intimately with Him. Seeking Him first AND waiting on Him.

When we look to Saint Paul as an example, we understand what it means to be a Believer, by Biblical definition, and not a Christian, by modern standards/traditions.

"Of the Jews five times received I forty stripes save one.

Thrice was I beaten with rods, once was I stoned, thrice I suffered shipwreck, a night and a day I have been in the deep;

In journeyings often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils by mine own countrymen, in perils by the heathen, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren;

In weariness and painfulness, in watchings often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness" -- 2 Corinthians 11:24-27

"For this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me.

And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.

Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ's sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong." -- 2 Corinthians 12:8-10


It is extremely difficult for me to associate the faith that I've seen today to the Faith that Paul has demonstrated in the Word. Yes, the world that Paul lived in then and the world today is vastly different, but the "power of Christ" should not be different.
Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and to day, and for ever. -- Hebrews 13:8

If the "power of Christ" is not different, then what is???


Author's Note: I believe in the power of God, in stating that, I DO believe that there are independent churches that do not limit a Believer's walk as I've described here. HOWEVER, as I stated above, I have consistently seen otherwise. The power of God is beyond any measure that mankind may have. It can overcome the most false of doctrines and teachings to be exemplified for HIS own Glory! May He be praised always! If you find yourself questioning your faith, your church, turn to the one who created FAITH and CHURCH! Who else higher than the creator of FAITH and CHURCH would you seek for such answers? May God bless you and grace you with His knowledge in your quest for Him!

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Home Birth is a Safe Option, but is is Safer?

I have a blog that I started a few months ago. It was called The Vineyard of Prayer and was supposed to be a prayer blog, however, it did not evolve as I expected and has been mostly dormant. Upon finding out that I am expecting my sixth child, I rededicated The Vineyard of Prayer to my pregnancy and has now become a parenting blog.

I renamed it TheOliveParent. Like, In Spirit and In Truth, it is a faith based blog, but doesn't necessarily cater to professed Believers only. It focuses on parenting issues as well as pregnancy, childbirth, home birth, breastfeeding and any topics associated with it.

I wrote a post today regarding home birth and the safety of it compared to a hospital birth for low-risk women. Because of the nature of the post, I thought it would be fitting for this blog as well. So please take a moment and read today's post on TheOliveParent, Home birth is a Safe Option, but is it Safer?.

God Bless!

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Confessions of a Former World Wide Church of God Member

Now some of you may have heard of The World Wide Church of God. For those of you who haven't here's a brief, basic, summation of WWCG, as described by Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia:

"The Worldwide Church of God (WCG), formerly the Radio Church of God, is a Christian church currently based in Glendora, California, USA. Founded in 1933 by Herbert Armstrong as a radio ministry, the WCG under Armstrong had a significant, and often controversial, influence on 20th century religious broadcasting and publishing in the United States and Europe, especially in the field of interpreting biblical end-time (eschatalogical) prophecies. However, within a few years after Armstrong's death in 1986, the succeeding church administration, led first by Joseph W. Tkach, Sr. and then his son, Joseph Tkach, Jr., examined and changed the doctrines and teachings of which the WCG held fundamental differences with more mainstream Christianity. Many members and ministers left the WCG to form churches that conformed to most, if not all, of the church's former doctrines. The WCG claims 64,000 members in 860 congregations in about 90 countries as of June 2007. The WCG is a member of the National Association of Evangelicals.[1]"

As a young child, my mother read and explained Bible stories to me, because of that I developed a belief in Jesus Christ as the Son of God and the Savior of my soul. Prior to my mother's passing, she started watching Mr. Herbert W. Armstrong on Saturday mornings. I remember this to be particular annoying because it would interfere with my Saturday morning cartoons. My older sister, Joan, became a follower of the WWCG and Mr. Armstrong right after my mother passed. She started teaching me their doctrines and beliefs. A few years later, as a young teen, I, along with another sister joined WWCG. As a member, I was taught to keep the "true" Sabbath, which was on Saturday. We observed the Sabbath which started at sundown Friday evening to sundown Saturday. During the Sabbath we were to avoid certain (if not most) activities. In addition to observing the Sabbath, we observed "Holy Days" such as Pentecost, The Day of Atonement, The Days of Unleavened Bread, Passover and The Feast of Tabernacles. We avoided major Christian holidays, such as Christmas and Easter, which we considered pagan. We weren't allowed to celebrate birthdays as well. As strange as it sounds, always prayed in Jesus' name and considered ourselves Christians. We also considered ourselves, the "True Church" because we kept the "Holy Days" and recognized Jesus Christ as God's Son. Although, I was always confused as to what role Jesus played in everything, since we focused so much on the keeping of "Temple Laws" and the observing of "Days". End-times event was BIG in WWCG. There was a lot of preaching about it, and it was always scary and confusing.

I "studied" the Old Testament and the New Testament while a member, as a teen, but was always confused between some the verses I read and the doctrine that was being taught. Not only that, most of the congregants of the Chicago West Church of WWCG (then, local church) were extremely judgemental, self-righteous and arrogant. I simply could not conceive that Jesus Christ, whom we preached would return to His church (WWCG) would be happy with the attitudes and behaviors I witnessed there. My questions and doubts began to grow, until a major doctrine changed occur and the church splintered again for the umpteenth time in 20 (?) years.

It was then I learned my most valuable lesson in all of my years as a member. It all started with a simple answer from the pastor. I'll never forget that day. It was the most vital day in my walk towards my Father in heaven. It was a day of freedom, in which the shackles of my mindset were loosened. A defining moment in a beginning of a new walk, a different kind of walk, FAITH, not works.

As the pastor sat across me, he looked so uncomfortable and flushed as I asked him my question.

"Why did Jesus have to die?"

His eyes darted upward, and then across the ceiling and back. I knew he was searching for an answer. After a few moments of silence, he looked slightly defeated and said, "I don't know."

A thought dawned, as the sunrise sheds light across a sleepy town, "If he doesn't know, who in the world does?" Who IN the world indeed??? With my parents passed on, and weak/non- existent familial ties, who can be my counsel? My source of knowledge? I knew I needed to search the Word, and ask the only One I could TRUST for truth and clarity! Thus began the start of a BEAUTIFUL relationship! I left WWCG shortly after (1995).

I've heard many label it, then, as a cult. Was it a cult? I would have to say yes, while not to the extreme as David Koresh or some other famous names, anything that leads you away from God and His truth I would think should be considered a cult. Since, leaving WWCG, I joined/attended several non denominational churches. I can't say I've found mainstream Christianity any better than WWCG.

I'm sure some of you noticed that I'm pretty dogmatic about the Word, the whole Word and NOTHING, but the Word :) I have personally witnessed, and experienced the devastation caused by false doctrine.

My life no doubt has been God-led and defined. I cherish all that I've learned and experienced. As a member of WWCG I met my husband at the tender age of 13, who then was also 13, 5'3, with curly hair (who now stands at 6'4"). Who would have known then, that we would be powerhouses for the Lord? That we would go on to share five, soon to be six, blessed children together? God be Praised indeed!

What I promote, oppose to a lot of other Christians who have a propensity to promote a church/denomination/doctrine, I promote a PERSONAL relationship with Christ, by FAITH alone. I promote PERSONAL accountability to diligently seek Him, by FAITH. (Hebrews 11:6) I promote TRUTH by FAITH and not by sight (earthly/fleshly wisdom). I promote the HOLY SPIRIT of POWER, who is God HIMSELF the teacher of all Truth. (1 John 2:27)

We give TOO much power to those who claim to be Godly men and women, and not ENOUGH accountability on our own selves to seek and pursue the knowledge of God through our OWN heartfelt FAITH, and not the self-proclaimed faith of others, though it be GENUINE or NOT. Do we not have access to the SAME spirit of God? If not, then Jesus died only for the ministers and pastors of the Body and was deceitful when He declared:

"Nevertheless I tell you the truth; It is expedient for you that I go away: for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send him unto you.
And when he is come, he will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment: "- John 16:7-8

No. We ALL have the equal access to the Spirit of the Holy God, courtesy of our Lord and Savior Christ Jesus of Nazareth. HOWEVER, mindsets and attitudes NEED to be truthfully examined by our own accord (something, a pastor cannot do for you) because God indeed resists the proud and gives grace unto the humble:

"But he giveth more grace. Wherefore he saith, God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble.
Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you." -- James 4:6-7

The fear of the Lord IS the beginning of Wisdom. Proverbs 1:7

Quite honestly, I say this knowing full well some of you, if not most will be offended by this statement, I find church attendance can be a hindrance to a believer's walk in faith. Let me explain:

We have become a totally different type of "church" that was defined by the Spirit's power in Acts 2. We have evolved into a culture, more like a social club, and sometimes I can even say a "self-help" counseling center. When we require, or demand church attendance, as a condition of salvation, we give our God-given, personal responsibility to establish a relationship of Faith/Trust in God, to our pastors. Thus, we become "lax" after all we are "going to church" every Sunday. How many times have you heard people associate church attendance with being saved? On my end, numerous times!! When in fact, it is a completely un-biblical concept.

Church and Christianity today has evolved into something other than the scriptures define and command. Ephesians 4 It has been so for a long time. For one thing, there are SO many divisions and sects of Christianity. If this alone does not send off warning bells, or at least promote CAREFUL assessment of a doctorine/church, I don't know what else can.

Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils;

Speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared with a hot iron;

Forbidding to marry, and commanding to abstain from meats, which God hath created to be received with thanksgiving of them which believe and know the truth.

For every creature of God is good, and nothing to be refused, if it be received with thanksgiving:

For it is sanctified by the word of God and prayer.

If thou put the brethren in remembrance of these things, thou shalt be a good minister of Jesus Christ, nourished up in the words of faith and of good doctrine, whereunto thou hast attained. -- 1 Timothy 4:1-6


I'm not promoting anything other than what I've listed earlier on this post. I believe, as the Word teaches, wherever the "Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty". - 2 Corinthians 3:17 After all, I was a former member of a cult church...sort of...

"Who is he that overcometh the world, but he that believeth that Jesus is the Son of God?" -- 1 John 5:5

AMEN!!




Author's Note:

There may be ads from Google purporting Herbert W. Armstrong's doctrine. These ads are independant from this blog. I have no control over what ads may appear.

Monday, January 7, 2008

Something Extra to Share - A Response to a Comment

The Comment on the Something More to Share post states:

"Some say the KJV is better because of its language. It is true that the modern English language seems to be going somewhat downhill with a lot of people - not that that's a bad thing completely - it's just that there won't be so much beauty to words and appreciation for words if the English language eventually turns into text message and IM language where words aren't fully spelled out.

I believe that proper English speech and grammar are very important and should have more importance in schools (even though I'm not the best at practicing them - I wish I were). This said, some people might prefer the KJV because they think of it as proper English and don't like the way newer versions are cutting down the text, like the NLT.

I appreciate the KJV even more for its language because it's part of history and I think the language is beautiful. Besides, I think that reading and interpreting (or gaining understanding from what you read) should always be easy. If you have a harder time reading the KJV, maybe it will motivate you that much more to look for its meaning and search for God's purpose in it.

A version is not more or less accurate based on its language and whether or not it's more relative to the current day. Much of the Bible seems to be irrelevant to modern day, but it isn't (that's another topic in itself). What we should base the accuracy of a version on is its content. How much of it has been changed? How accurate are the changes? Is it translated or paraphrased? etc."


For me, it's simple. I could care less about whether the language is "modern" or "archaic". I just want the truth. I would prefer not to have the concepts and principles of the Word restated for me in a way that it compromises the very message of the Word. Give me a good old fashioned King James Version any day and with the Holy Spirit as my forerunner and my faith as my shield, discernment and truth come alive!

I have to respectfully, but strongly, disagree with the statement that "reading or interpreting should always be easy". As a matter of fact, this thought process, has led to the wide, varied translations we see today.

The Word of God is not to be easily understood by our standards, but by HIS standards.

"For what man knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of man which is in him? even so the things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God.

Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God.

Which things also we speak, not in the words which man's wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual.

But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned --1 Corinthians 2:11-14

"For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD.

For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts". -- Isaiah 55:8-10


Needless to say, the Holy Spirit is needed for interpretation and discernment. But, only by faith, can it (Holy Spirit)be received.

The problem, I believe, lies in the "intellectualizing" of man. We have become a culture (I'm including Christianity as well) that places our "faith" in our (and others) education and knowledge that we are moving farther away from God as a whole. As Christians, we have a strong tendency to "lean on our own understanding" when the Bible clearly tells us not to, thus. we fail to instill the vital component when studying the Word....TRUST, in another important word...FAITH, in what HE SAYS regardless of understanding it's meaning/principle or not.

"If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him.
But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering. For he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed.
For let not that man think that he shall receive any thing of the Lord.
A double minded man is unstable in all his ways. " --James 1:5-8



"Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding.
In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths." --Proverbs 3:5-6

When we acknowledge the Word to be such a profound, life-altering source, we are humbled in this knowledge, of it's Author. We know, as mere men and women, our limited minds can only conceive of so much, we then, trust that the Lord is an examiner of our hearts, and will reveal, by His Spirit, the truths and understanding He has for us at HIS time and HIS discretion.

And when someone restates or paraphrases what can ONLY be spiritual discerned, and attempts to repackage the Living Word of the only God in a chewable format, what we get is a glut of translations attempting to make the knowledge of God (Word) fit in our fast-paced, modern life a bit easier. The only result that I (my own personal observances) can see from having a large variety modern translations is confusion, and in some translations, downright misleading others away from the truth, as Christians, pick and choose versions they "like", or are "easier" as opposed to diligently searching for the mind, and knowledge of God regardless of personal preference. Under this "personal preference" mindset, the person choosing a bible assumes ALL versions are created equal, hence, one of the many problems that plague the culture of modern Christianity.

Take these verses in consideration:
"My son, if thou wilt receive my words, and hide my commandments with thee;
So that thou incline thine ear unto wisdom, and apply thine heart to understanding;
Yea, if thou criest after knowledge, and liftest up thy voice for understanding;
If thou seekest her as silver, and searchest for her as for hid treasures;
Then shalt thou understand the fear of the LORD, and find the knowledge of God." --Proverbs 2:1-5


Having said all this, I believe I may have answered the questions in the comment above: "What we should base the accuracy of a version on is its content. How much of it has been changed? How accurate are the changes? Is it translated or paraphrased? etc."
Obviously, I cannot answer these questions with specific answers, but I do know Someone who has ALL the answers :) I can only share of my own personal testimony (which can be found at Translation vs. Paraphrase) of how I learned the NLT that I have been studying out of for so many years was paraphrased. I was lead by the Holy Spirit to this understanding after so many years of confusion of what I was reading in the NLT. The difference in "concepts" became clear when my husband gave me a People's Parallel Bible, which has the NLT and KJV side by side. I switched completely after consistent (more like persistent) differences, which was a period of a year or two. Only after, I switched, did I read the preface of a NLT bible which stated that it was paraphrased, and confirmed the Spirit's prompting of my studies in the NLT. My only answer to those questions is to be diligently faithful in search of the truth. Lean not on your own understanding, in all your ways acknowledge Him and He will direct your path.

May God bless prosper you in His Knowledge, by His Son. Amen




Related Posts:

Translation vs. Paraphrase
Degree of Faith




Saturday, January 5, 2008

Something More to Share

During my blog silence a few months ago, which translates in September of last year, A young college student happened upon my blog and emailed me with two questions they had for me.

"So, if you believe in a young earth I was wondering if you could explain why?
As well, if you believe in an old earth creation instead I was wondering if you could explain why?

My second question, I was wondering why you and other Christians alike continue to use the inaccurate old English King James Bible? This is not to say one version is necessarily the “correct” version but for someone who believes in the infallible word of God, as do I, the KJV can be very inaccurate because of the KJV and New King James Version alike who both use a language or non-modern language not used anymore AKA Old English and old text not as useful. I really don’t care too much but this was something that came to mind when you had written that you use the KJV."


(Please note that the above quote is a quote and not the email in it's entirety.)

I thought that it may be good to share my response to him with the rest of you. It gives a little bit of insight on how I study and receive the Word of God. For the sake of privacy, the personal information of the person who contacted me will be edited out.

RE: Open Discussion on two different Subjects‏
From: Hannah (xxxxx@hotmail.com)
Sent: Sat 9/08/07 12:13 AM


Hello!

Thank you for your questions. I apologize for the length of time it took to respond to your questions. I'm sure as you know that I am a mother of five and I check this account every other day. In any event, in order to answer your first question. I'll need to answer your second question first.

I cannot speak for other Christians, I can only speak for myself as to why I consider the KJV superior to other versions.

Your determination that the KJV (as well as the NKJV) is incorrect is based "a language or non-modern language not used anymore"? Do I have the correct understanding of why you consider the KJV erroneous? If that is so, I would have to point out that it is not the language we need to be concerned of, but the translation.

I've found the translation of the KJV conveys the principles and concepts consistently. I wrote a post a few weeks ago called "
Translation vs. Paraphrase" http://confessionsofanunchurchedbeliever.blogspot.com/2007/08/translation-vs-paraphrase.html

For the longest time, I've been studying out of the NLT which I found out later in years that it was a paraphrased Bible, NOT a translated one.

An example of differentiating passages can be found here:

Romans 8:1 in both of these versions comes out different.

Romans 8:1 KJV says "There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit"

Romans 8:1 NLT says "So now there is no condemnation for those who belong in Christ Jesus."

The NLT does not have the rest of that passage. The eighth chapter of Romans speaks specifically about "walking after the spirit", but this portion is missing, simply because the NLT is a Bible that is paraphrased (principles and concepts restated). I don't know about you, but that is a serious problem for me.

For me, a more "modern" language does not mean "better". As a matter of fact, in these for profit, politically-influenced, economically-minded times, I am MORE suspect of Bible translated today than I am, of the KJV.

Having said that, as you know I believe in the infallibility of the Word of God. I believe the Bible should be taken literally, when it speaks literally. I believe it should be taken symbolically when it speaks symbolically. MORE importantly, I believe the Word of God should NEVER, NEVER be taken out of context of it's content. It should be read with grammatical and historical understanding and significance.

Am I old earth creationist, or young? Let me first ask you this, do you believe that Christ will one day return to earth to reign? If you do, then you know that the earth as we know it will be replaced with a new earth. What, then, is the point of engaging in debates such as these? What is the point of taking one position of a debate or another? How in the world is anyone supposed to know how old the earth is, or how young?

"But foolish and unlearned questions avoid, knowing that they do gender strifes." 2 Timothy 2:23

"But avoid foolish questions, and genealogies, and contentions, and strivings about the law; for they are unprofitable and vain." Titus 3:9

Let's say that the Lord God reveals to us the earth's exact age. What then? What changes? How have we grown? All that time we spend debating amongst ourselves, we have not ministered the gospel to lost souls, as He has commanded us. Other than, feeling a bit self-righteous upon finding that we were right or feeling embarrassed that we were wrong. It's a waste of time and bores me silly.

Typically, debates like these, get heated and intense, they are sorely lacking in spirit and in love. So I have no interest in them. My ministry is strictly unto the edification of those who love the Lord and desire His will.

Thank you once again for your questions. May God bless and keep you.

Hannah

Author's Note:
For personal or lengthy comments, or questions you are more than welcome to contact me. I ask for your patience and understanding as I may not respond immediately to your email, should you choose to contact me. Your privacy is always ensured. God Bless!

Update: Please go the "contact me" page for questions and private comments. Thank you!

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Another Year of Beginnings

To my brothers and sisters of the faith, created by Jesus Christ of Nazareth, I wish you blessings of a joyful New Year! As I review 2007, my husband and I are in complete agreement, it was a spectacular year of trial by fire, and in no way we will celebrate the end of a tumultuous year. Instead, we celebrate the growth it brought us as His children. Indeed our faith is MUCH MORE precious than gold, as it says in 1 Peter 1:7. The question we both discussed and entertained throughout the year was there a "mindset" or an "attitude" that we needed to acknowledge? At the year's end, it was clear to the both of us, by the Holy Spirit, that it was a simple trial of our faith.

"Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you:
But rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ's sufferings; that, when his glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy." -- 1 Peter 4:12-13


And what a trial of our faith it was! I cannot speak for my husband, he has his own testimony, but there were times when I wondered if we were left to fend for our selves in this cruel, heartless world. There were times when I wondered if we were left defenseless, surrounded by a faithless society who constantly criticized our lifestyle of "walking by faith and not by sight" (1Cor. 5:7). And in no uncertain terms, prodding us to worry, fret and take control of circumstances that was beyond our control.

Yes, our faith was all we had to hold on to, it kept us safe from from the stress and turmoil that we could have experienced in our spirit and psyche. It kept us safe on the path He has planned for us. It kept us grounded on the race track towards His future revelation of His Glory. It is one thing to read and study scripture and quite another to experience it when it manifests itself unto undeniable, unchangeable truth. Faith indeed is born of the heart. In all of my wondering and moments of despair, there was something that just wouldn't break, a stability I felt in the depths of my very being. I KNOW that He would never forsake me, because He dwells within me! To remove my faith would be to change the very root of me... the heart and soul that makes me and everything I am. Yes, faith is born of the heart. It is not created by good works and good intentions. It is not sparked by the keeping of certain days. It is created by the reconciliation of a child to it's parent. It's a bond, an unbreakable bond, which is love.

I am reminded of this scripture:

For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted of the heavenly gift, and were made partakers of the Holy Ghost,
And have tasted the good word of God, and the powers of the world to come,
If they shall fall away, to renew them again unto repentance; seeing they crucify to themselves the Son of God afresh, and put him to an open shame.
For the earth which drinketh in the rain that cometh oft upon it, and bringeth forth herbs meet for them by whom it is dressed, receiveth blessing from God:
But that which beareth thorns and briers is rejected, and is nigh unto cursing; whose end is to be burned.
-- Hebrews 6:4-8

If we agree that the Word of the Living God is not contradictory, then we understand the word "impossible" in this scripture is describing the impossibility to fall away after a very intimate relationship with the Lord and not the POSSIBILITY of losing our salvation. If you are familiar with the Parable of the Sower found in, Matthew 13, verses 7 and 8 of Hebrews 6 makes perfect sense. ( I wrote two posts about the Parable of the Sower, you are more than welcome to revisit these posts. Parable of the Sower (8/11/07) and Parable of the Sower Addendum (8/16/07))

What a blessing 2007 was for us! I've seen the Lord's hand and His Glory! In the end, I have seen other's faith blossom by the trials and testimony He has given us. How can we rejoice at year's end, but uplift and uphold that the LORD IS RIGHTEOUS in His stead? My faith IS more precious than gold, it is truly all that I have of everlasting value. Where would I be without my belief that He is my Father and I am His daughter? What hope do I have if I have no belief in His Word? I would be as hopeless, as peace less as those who have rejected the only Son of God. I am truly a stranger in a foreign land.

I pray that that new year brings many new beginnings for you, mostly that you would prosper in the name of Jesus Christ, the Author and finisher of our Faith. Amen.

"Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid." --John 14:27