All posts by Chris L. Verschage

Chris L. Verschage is the co-founder and President of Following Messiah Ministries. Chris is a writer, ordained minister, and ex-community college English & Humanities Professor, enjoys exploring various topics, particularly those dealing with the Scriptures, Judaism and Christianity. Chris' wife, Karen, is the founder and author of her own blog, Karen's Shofar. Chris & Karen have been married since 1981, and are the parents of four children and grandparents of five grandchildren.

WHAT’S GOD’S NAME?

WHAT’S GOD’S NAME?  Have you ever asked yourself that question.  There are so many who are going around arguing this question, such as “the Sacred Name Movement” or “the Assembly of Yahweh,” and there are some within these groups and others who have made it into a salvation issue.  Although I don’t God’s Word presents the exact spelling and pronunciation of God’s name as a salvation issue, but because of the teachings of these cults who are creating names that are NOT in the Bible and, therefore, are creating false names (i.e., “false gods”) in place of the God of the Bible, it has become a salvation issue.  But not only is it now a salvation issue, but it’s also an educational issue, and since they are attempting to divide the body through their teaching, it’s also become a unity issue.

But let me say up front that the “Messianic Jewish Movement” and the “Sacred Name Movement” are TWO DIFFERENT MOVEMENTS; they are not the same.  They have two different beliefs and agendas.  However, those who are in the “Sacred Name Movement” tend to hang out or attend Messianic groups.  So although they may appear together, they are really not.  And since most mainstream pastors, teachers and evangelists aren’t that familiar with either group, they really don’t know the difference between the two groups.

Again, I believe what is more important than the exact spelling and pronunciation of the name is the God behind the name.  What we should be seeking to know is the character and nature of God.  What is He like?  What are His values? His beliefs? What does He like and what doesn’t He like?  What kind of things does He think about?  Have you ever tried to view and understand God as an individual? What is His heart like?  In essence, this is what Moses is trying to understand when he meets God at the burning bush.  So rather than focus on all the false names that are out there, let’s see what the Bible actually teaches since it’s supposed to be our standard of truth.

MOSES AT THE BURNING BUSH

In Exodus 3, Moses (Heb. Mosheh) discovers a bush that appears to be burning, but there’s something odd about this one.  It’s burning, but it’s not being consumed.  So he goes to investigate this odd sight.  As he approaches the bush, God begins to speak to him from the midst of the bush:

Moses, Moses…take off your shoes from off your feet, for the place whereon you stand is holy ground…I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.  (Exodus 3:4-5)

Moses discovers that God has used the burning bush to gain his attention, and unlike the gods of Egypt, this God actually speaks.  And He identifies Himself as “the God of your fathers, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.”  During this conversation, God has told him that He was going to send him back to the land of Egypt to lead His people, Israel, out of bondage back to this mountain.  After several failed attempts to get out of this, Moses then says to God,

Behold, I am going to the sons of Israel, and I shall say to them, “The God of your fathers has sent me to you.” Now they may say to me, “What is His name?” What shall I say to them?  (Exodus 3:13)

It seems like a simple question, doesn’t it?  However, the word translated “name” doesn’t really focus so much on what to call Him, but its focus is more on learning about His character, His nature.

ABOUT THE MEANING OF THE WORD “NAME”

In addition, according to the ancient Hebrew mindset, only what we can experience has a name; therefore, in asking this question, Moses is really saying here that since the Israelites have not experienced God for 215 years, they no longer know or understand who He is, or what His character or nature is like.  Consequently, Moses is wondering what do I tell them?

THE FIRST NAME OF GOD

God then gives Him the following response:

I AM WHO I AM.”  And He said, “Thus you shall say to the sons of Israel, “I AM has sent me to you.” (Exodus 3:14)

In this verse, the phrase “I AM WHO I AM” is the English translation of the Hebrew ‘Ehyeh asher ‘Ehyeh.  And then He says, “Thus you shall say to the sons of Israel, “I AM (or ‘Ehyeh) has sent me to you.”  Consequently, the first name that God gives to Moses in response to his question, is the name ‘Ehyeh (“I AM” or Aleph-Hey-Yodh-Hey).

Many people assume or mistakenly think that when God said, “I AM,” that it is the name YHVH (Heb. “yodh=hey-vahv-hey”), but it’s not.  “I AM” is the Hebrew name ‘EHYEH. And in the Gospels, this is the name that Jesus used to identify Himself.  For example, in John 8:58, Jesus (Heb. Yeshua) says, “Verily, verily, I say unto you, Before Abraham was, I AM.”  In Hebrew, He was identifying Himself as ‘Ehyeh (“I AM“).  The same ‘ehyeh (“I AM“) that spoke to Moses out of the burning bush.

Since this was God’s first response to the question, this seems to imply that this is how God views Himself.  It is His character and nature.  He is ‘Ehyeh (“I AM“), the Eternal One who is ever present. To help to understand this, I often think of those display boards kids buy for school for their presentations that have three sides: the left, the middle and the right.  Think of the left side of the board as eternity past, the middle as the present, and the right as eternity future.  God is standing outside of Time, Space and Matter, also represented by this board, and He is able to see the past, present, and future all at the same time, so as a result, He is the eternal “I AM” (or ‘Ehyeh).

Interestingly, to also help to understand His initial response, many times, when people ask me my name, I will respond with my nickname “Chris,” rather than with my proper or legal name “Christopher.”  Why?  I simply prefer the name “Chris.”  And in the past three years, when the Lord has spoken to my wife or I, He uses the name “I AM.”  Perhaps, like many of us, God has a “nickname” that He prefers and uses with His friends, just a thought.

THE SECOND NAME OF GOD

The name that many people tend to think about, YHWH (Heb. “yodh-hey-vahv-hey”), doesn’t actually appear until the next verse, verse 15, and I believe that in the same verse, there’s perhaps a third name given as well.

And God, furthermore, said to Moses, “Thus you shall say to the sons of Israel, The LORD, the God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, has sent me to you.”  This is My name forever, and this is My memorial-name to all generations.  (Exodus 3:15)

In this verse, the English phrase “The LORD” in all capitals is the Hebrew YHWH (Heb. Yodh-Hey-Vahv-Hey or “Yeh-wah”) .  I transliterated the Hebrew as Yehwah, rather than Yahweh, which is how it is usually transliterated into English, for the following reasons:

  • The consonant letters are the same in both, my transliteration and the traditional transliteration: YHWH.  But the real difference is in the two vowels.
  • In the Hebrew text, there is a vocal shewa (it looks like a small colon) under the first letter yodh (“Y”; the letter yodh in Hebrew looks like an apostrophe in English, and it’s the smallest letter in the Hebrew alphabet).  According to Gary D. Pratico and Miles V. Van Pelt’s Basics of Biblical Hebrew Grammar,

The Vocal Shewa maintains a hurried pronunciation and sounds like the a in amuse.  It is transliterated either as an upside down e (bǝ) or as a superscript e (be ). (11)

In either case, the vowel sound is an “uh” sound.  In my English classes, I use to explain to my students that the English schewa, just like the Hebrew vocal schewa, makes the “uh” sound.  I told them, “It’s the sound you make when you don’t know what to say. Uhhh.”  Consequently, I’ve chosen to use the superscript e since that transliteration format is used in many Jewish publications.

  • The other vowel in question is the qamats (it looks like a small capital T in English) located under the vahv (the “w”) in the original Hebrew text.  According to the same Hebrew grammar book, it is pronounced like the “a as in father” (Pratico and Van Pelt 10).  I have not found anything that explains why it is often transliterated with an “e,” when the letter there is clearly a qamats (or “a”).

Therefore, based on the Hebrew text there in Exodus 3:15, it should be transliterated as Yehwah (pron. “Yuh-wah”).  There are some who argue that the vahv should be seen as a vowel rather than a consonant, and should be transliterated as Yahuah.  However, this violates one of the basic syllabication rules in Hebrew.  The rule states, “Every syllable must begin with one consonant and have only one vowel” (Pratico and Van Pelt 17).  In the word “Yahuah,” there are three syllables: “Ya-hu-ah.”   The last syllable does not begin with a consonant; therefore, this transliteration and pronunciation must be wrong.

Consequently, then, we see that in His response to Moses’s question, God here has given to Moses two inter=related names: ‘Ehyeh and YHWH, and both names are derived from the infinitive verb, “To be.”  And what the exact relationship is between these two names is the great theological mystery of the ages.   KJ Cronin, in his website, “The Name of God as Revealed in Exodus 3:14: An Explanation of Its Meaning,”  does a really good job in diving into this complex topic and trying to explore it.

So let’s think about this, if God Himself has given to Moses two interrelated names for Himself in response to Moses’ one question, then how could He only have “ONE CORRECT FORM” of His name, as some people try to argue?  Also, the one form they try to argue, I can’t find in the biblical text, so how can it be correct?  But it just doesn’t stop there.

A MEMORIAL NAME?

In addition to these two names, I believe that there’s also a third name given here: “The God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.”   I do not believe that this series of phrases is just an added identifier.  When my wife and I got married (a type of covenant), she took my last name to be her’s.  And in the biblical period, when God entered into covenant with Abram (Actually “Avram” in Hebrew), Abram and Sarai each got an “H” from God’s name, changing their names to Abraham (lit. Avraham) and Sarah.  But God got also got a name change, Abraham’s name became a part of His name forever: “the God of Abraham.”

THE PARITY COVENANT

This covenant that God made with Abraham is called a PARITY COVENANT: “A covenant made between two equal parties.” Now sometimes the word “friend” in the Bible has the meaning that we give to it today, and there’s other times when it’s being used for one’s covenant partner.  For example, both of these uses is seen in Proverbs 18:24,

A man that has FRIENDS must show himself friendly: and there is a FRIEND that sticks closer than a brother.

Even though the word “FRIENDS” and “FRIEND” appear to be the same in English, in Hebrew they are actually two very different words that are being used.   The word “FRIENDS” is the English translation of rea or reya (Strong’s #7453),  and it has the meaning of “friend” like we typically use it today.  But the second word “FRIEND” is the English translation of the word ‘ahav (Strong’s #157), and it’s the term that’s used for one’s covenant partner, or “one who sticks closer than a brother.”

Throughout the Scriptures, Abraham is called “the FRIEND of God,” because God entered into a parity covenant with him.  For example, in Isaiah 41:8, we read,

But you, Israel, are My servant, Jacob whom I have chosen, the seed of Abraham MY FRIEND.

We can also see this in 2 Chronicles 20,

Are not You our God, who did drive out the inhabitants of this land before Your people Israel, and He’s given it to Abraham Your FRIEND forever. (2 Chronicles 20:7)

Again, the word “friend” in each of these passages is the Hebrew word ‘ahav, the parity covenant term for one’s covenant partner.  And this identification as Abraham being “the friend [or parity covenant partner] of God” is also seen in the New Testament.  For example,

And the Scripture was fulfilled which says, Abraham believed God, and it was imputed unto him for righteousness: and he was called the FRIEND of God. (James 2:23; Emphasis Mine)

Another type of parity covenant is marriage.  For example, in Song of Solomon, the Shulamite woman says about her husband:

His mouth is most sweet: yes, he is altogether lovely.  This is MY BELOVED, and is MY FRIEND, O daughters of Jerusalem.  (Song of Solomon 5:16; Emphasis Mine)

He is her “friend” because he’s her marriage or parity covenant partner.   Most parity covenants were non-sexual, but marriage is the one exception to this.

This same parity covenant was then passed down to Isaac and then Jacob, so that God became the “God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob” or sometimes it’s expressed as the “God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.”  This is His “memorial name,” because it recounts the original relationship covenant (or PARITY COVENANT) that God established with Abraham, and then it was passed down to his son, Isaac, and then his grandson, Jacob.

THE SUZZERAIN OR VASSAL COVENANT

However, the Mosaic covenant (Exodus 19 – Deuteronomy 34) is not a PARITY COVENANT, but a SUZZERAIN OR VASSAL COVENANT: “a one-sided disposition imposed by a superior party upon an inferior party.”  This type of covenant was used when a King would conquer a nation of people or would rescue them from trouble.  This type of covenant would benefit the nation, but it’s NOT a relationship covenant, not like the PARITY COVENANT.  And the covenant terms for the Suzzerain or Vassal covenant is “Lord/Master” for the King and “slave/servant” for those in the nation.

Did you know, for instance, that God is never called in the Bible “the God of Moses”?  Nor is Moses ever referred to in the Bible as “the FRIEND of God”, not even once?  Abraham, on the other hand, is called “the friend of God,” but not Moses.  Instead, Moses is called “the servant of God,” as is appropriate for the type of Suzzerain or vassal covenant that God entered into with the people of Israel at Mt. Sinai.

And because most Christians don’t know the difference in the four types of covenants that are used in the Bible (yes, we’ve just discussed two of them here), they have traditionally misidentified the correct relationship covenant.  For centuries, they have identified the Mosaic Covenant as the relationship covenant when, in truth, the great relationship covenant of the Old Testament is the Abrahamic Covenant.

THE NAMES OF THE PATRIARCHS – A PART OF GOD’S CHARACTER AND NATURE?

By saying that names “Abraham, Isaac and Jacob” are an intricate part of His “memorial-name,” I believe God is saying that a central part of who He is, His character and nature, is that He is a God who remembers His Covenants, not just the parity covenant, but all covenants that God has made.  This is so much the case, that He made their names a part of His name: “The God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.”

But He also remembers all His covenants, since He specifically says in Deuteronomy that He KEEPS HIS COVENANT AND HIS LOVINGKINDNESS to a THOUSAND generations.

Know therefore that the LORD your God, He is God, the faithful God, WHO KEEPS HIS COVENANT and His lovingkindness to a thousand generations with those who love Him and keep His commandments. (Deuteronomy 7:9; Emphasis Mine)

A generation is about 40-45 years, so a “THOUSAND generations” would be 40,000 – 45, 000 years.  Obviously, since it’s only been more than 3, 500 years, it’s not even been 10% of the time God says He keeps His covenants.  In fact, God has not only promised to keep His covenants to them, the Jews and non-Jews who were standing there at Mt. Sinai, but He also states that His covenant to them is so He can keep His covenant with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob:

that you may enter into the covenant with the LORD your God, and into His oath which the LORD your God is making with you today, in order that He may establish you today as His people and that He may be your God, just as He spoke to you and as He swore to your fathers, to ABRAHAM, ISAAC, AND JACOB. (Deuteronomy 29:12-13; Emphasis Mine)

God here clearly connects His covenant with Moses, the children of Israel, and the “mixed multitude” of Gentiles (non-Jews; see Exodus 12:38) as a fulfillment of the promise of what He swore to the fathers: ABRAHAM, ISAAC, and JACOB.  But His promise to them that day at Mt. Sinai, as well as the connection to the fathers, was not just for those who were there, but also for all those who were not there:

Now not with you alone am I making this covenant and this oath, but both with those who stand here with us today in the presence of the LORD our God and with THOSE WHO ARE NOT WITH US HERE TODAY (Deuteronomy 29:14-15; Emphasis Mine)

Moses is saying here that this covenant was being made with not only the people who were there (Jews and non-Jews alike), but it was also being made for all people (Jew and non-Jew alike) who were not there at that time.  This would be for all people from that time forward, including people today.  In other words, the Mosaic Covenant is the result of the Abrahamic Covenant (or the relationship covenant).

This promise, then, would not only include all future Jewish people into the promise, but it would also include all non-Jews as well:

For this reason it is by faith, that it might be in accordance with grace, in order that the promise may be certain to all the descendants, not only to those who are of the Law, but also to those who are of the faith of Abraham, who is the father of us all.  (Romans 4:16, NASB)

And if you belong to Christ [Messiah], then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.  (Galatians 3:29)

Note in the Galatians passage, Paul did not say “if you are in Christ [Messiah], then you are heirs according to the promise.” Instead, by us “belonging to Christ [Messiah],” then we are “Abraham’s seed,” and then, therefore, “heirs according to the promise.”  But why did God set this up this way?  Why is it important that we are to be a part of “Abraham’s seed”?  Why couldn’t we just “belong to Christ [Messiah]?”  Why is it necessary to connect the two?  He did it this way, so that He could open the way for all people of all nations to become a part of His promise to Abraham: “And in you shall all the families of the earth be blessed” (Genesis 12:3c).

So if we are in Messiah, we are part of Abraham’s seed, and therefore, a part of Abraham and Abraham’s family, so that we, together with the Jewish people, can enjoy not only the promises of the Abrahamic covenant but also get to experience the blessings and the responsibilities of Mt. Sinai as well.  One God, One Call, One Family, One Mission, and One Destiny for all.

THE GOD WHO IS MORE THAN ENOUGH

But not only did God share these three names with Moses, but He shared a fourth name with Him as well, the name ‘El Shaddai.

God spoke further to Moses and said to him, I am the LORD; and I appeared to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, as God Almighty [Heb. ‘El Shaddai], but by My name, LORD [YHVH], I did not make myself known to them.  And I also established My covenant with them, to give them the land of Canaan, the land in which they sojourned. (Exodus 6:2-4)

In this verse, God makes it quite clear that even though He did enter into covenant with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, He did not reveal His name YHVH or Yehwah to them; instead, they knew Him by the name of ‘El Shaddai.  By revealing Himself to Moses and the children of Israel as ‘Ehyeh and YHVH at Mt. Sinai, He was revealing something new about Himself to them that the Patriarchs never got to experience.

So why do we see the name “YHWH” (“LORD”) in the book of Genesis, if the patriarchs did not know Him by that name?  Because Moses wrote the book of Genesis, and God had revealed to Him the name YHWH to him at the burning bush.  Therefore, Moses used the name that God revealed to him when writing the events of the book of Genesis.  It doesn’t mean that the people at that time knew this name, since God Himself said that they didn’t.  Moses wanted to merely identify which God was at work during creation and during the lives of all those mentioned in this first book of the Bible.  It’s not that hard to understand.

CONCLUSION

Obviously, if God has these four names that He gave to Moses in the Scriptures, then how could He have only ONE CORRECT FORM?  But I am praying that by reading this article, you will realize that there are deeper truths and realities than what we read in the English translations of our Bible, and why it is important to study the Scriptures, so that we can discern the truth from deception, half-truths, and lies, as well as discern the different covenants that we see at work within the Bible.

 

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THE ALTAR CALL: A CHRISTIAN DECEPTION?

THE ALTAR CALL – A DECEPTION?  Many people may find this statement shocking, even heretical, but the problem is not the altar call itself, but what pastors, ministers, and evangelists say at the altar call.   I have experienced and observed many, many altar calls growing up in church, and they all usually end up with the person conducting the altar call saying after the “sinner’s prayer,” “Now that you’ve prayed ‘the sinner’s prayer,’ you are now saved.”  And there’s the problem.

SALVATION IS AN EXODUS JOURNEY – NOT AN EVENT!

This concept that we are saved simply be making a decision for Christ is NOT taught anywhere in the New Testament.  Jesus does not teach “accept Me,” but “follow Me.”  And following involves A LIFE-LONG PROCESS, not an instantaneous event. For example, i John 8, Jesus taught Jews who believed in Him,

IF YOU CONTINUE IN MY WORD, THEN ARE YOU MY DISCIPLES INDEED; and you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free. (John 8:31-32; Emphasis Mine)

Notice that Jesus didn’t tell these “believing Jews,” “Hey, good going, guys.  You believed, so now you are all set to go to heaven.”  No, He doesn’t.  He tells them, “if you CONTINUE in My word,…”  Jesus places the emphasis on whether we are CONTINUING WITH HIM, NOT on whether or not we begin.

Salvation is NOT AN EVENT, but it is an Exodus, a life-long journey that we experience with God and Jesus Christ.  It is not some microwavable deed that we do in a few minutes at the altar that guarantees us anything, except that we’ve begun the journey.  But if we don’t continue the journey, then we can lose what we’ve attained by starting it.

THERE’S MORE TO REPENTANCE THAN SAYING, “I’M SORRY.”

There’s many people who would argue that what I just said is not true, but then, they would be arguing with the Bible, because it says otherwise.  Many people today think that “to repent” means to tell God they are sorry for their sins, but that’s only partially true.  It also involves “turning away from sin.”  If there’s no turning away from sin, then you may have been sorry for what you’ve done, and you may have even felt guilty for doing it, but you have not repented UNTIL you have turned away from the sins you have committed and started walking in OBEDIENCE to God.

REPENTANCE IS A TWO-WAY STREET

Repentance is NOT an event, it’s a life-long journey, and we are deceiving people if we teach anything else.  For example, a key passage in teaching us about TRUE REPENTANCE is Ezekiel 18.

But if the wicked man turns [or repents] from all his sins which he has committed and observes all My statutes and practices justice and righteousness, he shall surely live; he shall not die.  All his transgressions which he has committed will NOT be remembered against him; because of his righteousness which he has practiced, he will live.  (Ezekiel 18: 21-22)

As we can see here, we must do more than say, “I’m sorry.”  We must turn away from our sins and walk in obedience to God and ALL HIS WORD, from Genesis to Revelation, and not just a few verses in the New Testament.  But if we turn away from our sins and begin walking in obedience to God, then our transgressions will NOT be remembered.  Obviously, this is more than what can happen at one particular altar call.

But there’s another aspect of repentance that most people don’t know or understand, because in all the years I’ve grown up in church, I have NEVER, EVER heard even one minister teach it.

But when a RIGHTEOUS (or SAVED) man turns away from his righteousness [his obedience to God], COMMITS INIQUITY [sin] and does according to ALL THE ABOMINATIONS THAT A WICKED MAN DOES?  ALL HIS RIGHTEOUS DEEDS which he has done WILL NOT BE REMEMBERED for his treachery which he has committed and his sin which he has committed; FOR THEM HE WILL DIE.  (Ezekiel 18: 24; Emphasis Mine)

REPENTANCE happens NOT when you say “I’m sorry,” but at the point you change your behavior.  Saying “I’m sorry” is the FIRST STEP, but it is NOT the whole thing.  Therefore, if you’ve been living your life in obedience to God, but then change your obedient lifestyle for a SINFUL LIFESTYLE, doing the same things that other sinners do, then by changing your lifestyle from obedient to disobedient, you have REPENTED of following after God and, therefore, all of your previous RIGHTEOUSNESS (“RIGHT STANDING WITH GOD”) will be FORGOTTEN and, therefore, YOU WILL DIE IN YOUR SINS.

THE CROSS DID NOT CHANGE THE STANDARDS OR WAYS OF GOD

Now some may say, “Well, that’s Old Testament.”  But the implication from this is that due to the crucifixion that God has changed, which is NOT the case.  God does NOT change (Malachi 3:6), nor has His standards or way of doing things changed in any way.  For example, in Matthew 3, we can see this in the ministry of John the Baptist.  For example, the Scriptures teach us,

But when he [John the Baptist] saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming for baptism, he said to them, “You brood of vipers, who warned you to flee from the wrath to come?  Therefore BRING FORTH FRUIT IN KEEPING WITH REPENTANCE;…” (Matthew 3:7-8; Emphasis Mine)

Did you know that REPENTANCE, if it is REAL, will produce “fruit”?  And what is that “fruit”?  A changed life and a lifestyle of obedience to God.

Not only does John the Baptist teach this, but so does the Apostle Paul.  In Corinthians 6:9, Paul writes, “Or do you not know that the unrighteous [those living in disobedience to God] shall NOT inherit the kingdom of God.”  He then gives examples of various sins in I Corinthians 6:9-10; Galatians 5:19-20; and Ephesians 5:5 that if people are doing these things, they shall NOT inherit the Kingdom of God (i.e., heaven).   Obviously, if these people are still committing these sins, then they have NOT REPENTED, and just as Ezekiel 18 teaches, they shall die in their sins and NOT INHERIT THE KINGDOM OF GOD.

In fact, in I Corinthians 6:11, Paul writes,

And such WERE some of you; but you were WASHED, but you were SANCTIFIED, but you were JUSTIFIED in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, AND in the Spirit of our God.

Notice that it takes being WASHED, SANCTIFIED, and JUSTIFIED, both in the name of Jesus Christ AND in the Holy Spirit to accomplish TRUE REPENTANCE.  We see this again in Galatians 5:21.  After giving his sample list of sins (Galatians 5:19-21a), he says,

and things like these [so this is not the complete list], of which I forewarn you just as I have forewarned you that THOSE WHO [CONTINUE TO] PRACTICE SUCH THINGS SHALL NOT INHERIT THE KINGDOM OF GOD. (Galatians 5:21; Emphasis Mine)

Although the words “continue to” in brackets are not explicitly stated, the verb “practice” is a present participle tense verb, which means it indicates “repeated” or “continuous” action, which is why I included it in the text.  Obviously, again, if they are continuing to commit these sins, they have NOT REPENTED.

And finally, in Ephesians 5:5-6, Paul again makes the same point:

For this you KNOW WITH CERTAINTY, that NO IMMORAL OR IMPURE PERSON of covetous man, who is an idolater, HAS AN INHERITANCE IN THE KINGDOM OF CHRIST AND GOD.

In this passage, Paul does not say, “There’s a chance you might not make it in if you are living in sin,” but instead, that this was something we can “KNOW WITH CERTAINTY.” If someone has NOT brought forth the “fruit of repentance,” a changed life, then they have NOT truly repented, indicating again, that TRUE BIBLICAL REPENTANCE is A PROCESS, and not something that can happen in a few minutes at the altar.  An alter call, again, is the FIRST STEP, but it’s not all there is to REPENTANCE.

WHAT ABOUT JAMES 2:10?

Anytime someone mentions that to truly repent, we need to live our lives in obedience to God’s commandments, there’s always someone who brings up James 2:10,

For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles in one point, he has become guilty of all.

Christians will quote this verse to dissuade people from trying to be obedient to God, because it’s a lost cause.  They argue, even if you could obey 99% of it, but you mess up on one commandment, then you’ve blown it.  However, is this what James is actually saying?

James himself lived his life in accordance to the teachings of God’s commandments his entire life.  At no point, did he ever give up his belief that the Law was necessary for his relationship with God.  For example, Eusebius (260/265-340 A.D.), one of the early church historians, recorded in his ECCLESIASTICAL HISTORY, not only how James died, but also a written description of him from a previous historian who lived close to the time period of the Apostles, by the name of Hegesippus (110 – 180 A.D.).  He writes,

James, the brother of the Lord, who, as there were many of this name, was surnamed the Just by all, from the days of our Lord until now, received the government of the church with the apostles.  This apostle was consecrated from his mother’s womb.  He drank neither wine nor fermented liquors, and abstained from animal food.  A razor never came upon his head, he never anointed with oil, and never used a [public] bath.  (Book 2, Chapter 23, 4-5).

From this we can see that James was raised a NAZARITE (see Numbers 6) from conception, much like Samson, Samuel and John the Baptist.   But James took his devotion and commitment to the extreme.  Hegesippus goes on to say,

He alone was allowed to enter the sanctuary [the Temple].  He never wore woolen, but linen garments.  He was in the habit of entering the temple alone and was often found upon his bended knees, and interceding for the forgiveness of the people; so that his knees became as hard as camel’s.  And indeed, on account of his great piety, he was called the Just, and Oblias (or Zaddick and Ozleam) which signifies justice and protection of the people; as the prophets declare concerning him. (Book 2, Chapter 23, 6-7).

James was an extreme Orthodox Jew who made sure to keep even the smallest detail, or as the expression goes,  he “crossed his t’s and dotted his i’s.”  So why would such an observant Orthodox Jew try to dissuade people from the law, when he, himself, obeyed it so zealously?  The meaning that Christians give to James 2:10 violates not only the text, but also the person and beliefs of James, who wrote the epistle.

So to see James’ true intent in making this statement, let’s put it back into its original context.

If, however, you are fulfilling the royal law [God’s commandments given at Mt. Sinai], according to the Scripture, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself” [Leviticus 19:18; qtd. by Jesus (Matthew 5:43; 19:19; 22:39; Mk. 12:31, 33), by Paul, Romans 13:9; Galatians 5:14)], you are doing well.  But IF YOU SHOW PARTIALITY, you are committing sin and are convicted by the law as transgressors.  For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles in one point, he has become guilty of all. (James 2:8-10; Emphasis Mine)

If we place this back into context, James makes this statement about keeping the whole law, yet stumbling in one point, NOT TO DISSUADE OBEDIENCE TO THE LAW, as Christians often use it, but to ENCOURAGE FURTHER OBEDIENCE TO THE LAW, which is how Christians DO NOT USE IT.  In other words, this statement does not mean what Christians often says that it means.  We do NOT need to keep the whole law, but only those parts of the law that deal with us personally.

For example, Jesus did not keep those commands dealing with menstruation, because He was not a woman.  Nor do we have any record of Him going into the Temple, cutting up the sacrifices, and offering them on the alter; therefore, none of those laws He performed either.  And yet, Jesus lived His life without sin; therefore, the traditional Christian interpretation of James 2:10 is shown to be faulty by Jesus’ own sinless life.  So, therefore, we can live in obedience to God without having to keep all 613 commandments handed down by God to Moses on Mt. Sinai.  But this realization has escaped the Christian mind for over 1, 900 years.

CONCLUSION

There is more to repentance than what we are often taught in the church.  It is not as simple as going forward to the altar and saying “the sinner’s prayer.”  This is where our journey begins, but to say after saying the prayer that “we are saved,” and that there’s nothing more we need to do to be saved and to go to heaven is NOT BIBLICALLY TRUE.  We need to change what we are doing during the altar call.  We need to tell people that this is only the first step; it is not the whole journey.  We then need to tell them what more they need to do on this Exodus journey called “salvation.”

 

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The Law of Sin: A Hardware Problem?

The human heart is the most deceitful of all things, and desperately wicked. Who
really knows how bad it is?
” (Jeremiah 17:9, New Living Translation)

SIN HAS A LAW?

What is “sin”?  What is “the law of sin”?  Many people think these two things are the same thing, but they are not.  They are different.  For example, gravity and the law of gravity are also not the same thing.  The law of gravity is actually an explanation of how gravity works.  In much the same way, the “law of sin” explains how sin works.  The interesting problem in understanding many of Paul’s phrases in his writings is that he doesn’t stop to define terms too often.

WHAT IS “SIN”?

Let’s start here.  “Sin” is defined repeatedly in the book of Leviticus as “to do any of the things which the LORD has commanded not to be done” (see Leviticus 4:2, 13, 22, 27; 5:17). In addition, there is a New Testament parallel to this definition found in the epistle of I John:

Whosoever commits sin transgresses [violates or breaks] also the law: for sin is the transgression of the law. (I John 3:4)

In the United States, if someone breaks “the law,” then that person has committed “a crime,” and one who commits “a crime,” we call “a criminal.” However, in God’s kingdom, if someone breaks one of His laws, then then that person has committed “a sin” (i.e., “a crime”), and if someone has committed “a sin,” then God and His Word says they are “a sinner” (i.e., “a criminal”).  But understand that even though the terms differ, their essential definitions are really the same.  In other words, when we compare these terms, sin/crime and sinner/criminal,  they are essentially synonymous terms.

But who determines what is “sin”?  Through all the years that I have spent studying the Scriptures, I have not found even one verse or passage that teaches that we have the right to decide what is a sin or what is not a sin.  Only God has the right to make that determination.  The problem with any religion, including Judaism and Christianity, is that we have created our own ideas of what is or is not sin, and in so doing, we have added to the Scriptures, but we’ve also deleted portions of those same Scriptures.  For to add to or delete from the Scriptures is in itself an act of sin.

YOU SHALL NOT ADD to the word which I am commanding you, nor TAKE AWAY FROM IT, that you may keep the the commandments of the LORD your God which I command you.  (Deuteronomy 4:2; Emphasis Mine)

Whatever I command you, you shall be careful to do; YOU SHALL NOT ADD TO NOR TAKE AWAY FROM IT.  (Deuteronomy 12:32; Emphasis Mine)

Consequently, for us TO ADD TO or TO TAKE AWAY FROM any of the commandments of God is, itself, a sin.   Therefore, for any Christian to say, even from behind the pulpit, that “the Law has been done away,” “the Law is not for the Christian,” “the Law ended at the cross,” etc., is to “TAKE AWAY FROM” the commandments and, therefore, constitute a sin.  So am I saying that Paul sinned?  If our interpretation of Paul was correct, then yes, it would be a sin; however, since our interpretation is wrong, then Paul is not the one who has sinned, but us, in the church, through our misinterpretation of his teaching.

WHAT IS “THE LAW OF SIN”?

What we do see Paul arguing against in the New Testament is not the “law of God,” but the “law of sin,” and it’s a concept that’s expressed in several different ways.  For example, he refers to it as our “sin nature,” “our old man,” “the law in my flesh (or members),” “the law of sin,” or simply as “sin.” The root cause of human sin is a multi-level defect in our human hardware.  The “law of sin” is the central topic of the book of Romans and is foundational to properly understanding the book of Galatians.  For example, in Romans 7:25, he writes,

So then with the mind I myself serve the law of God;  but with the flesh the law of sin.

Notice in this verse, Paul identifies two different laws: the law of God and the law of sin. This is only one of many references in the New Testament that demonstrate that the law of God, given to Moses on Mt. Sinai, did not, in fact, end at the cross as Christianity has taught since the mid-second century, C.E.   If it had ended as they contend, then why is Paul serving “the law of God” with his mind?  The “law of God” and the “law of sin” are not the same. (contrary to some who teach that “the law of sin and death” is the Ten Commandments.)  Therefore, if we are going to understand his argument, we need to have a clear definition of “the law of sin.”

The problem with the way society, psychology, sociology, education, and even many religions approach sin is that they all approach it as a “software” problem – not a “hardware” problem.  From their perspective, the reason people “sin” (or “do bad things”) is because they’ve not been taught or trained properly or because of the environment that they have been raised in, not because that there’s something wrong with the individual himself or herself.

Although this may explain some surface level issues in people, it really does not get at the heart or root of the problem.  The heart or root of the sin issue is not found in humanity’s “software” (teachings, understandings, or habits) but in our “hardware.”  It is a defect in every aspect of our being, who we are mentally, emotionally, spiritually, socially and physically.  It permeates every aspect of who we are, even further down than our very own DNA,  every second of every minute of every day.  People will say, “But I’m not a bad person,” but in comparison to whom?  Perhaps in comparison to murderers, rapists or thieves, but what if God were to compare you to Himself?  How would you do then?

According to the Bible, humanity was created “in the image and likeness of God” (Genesis 1:26-27).  This means that when you stand before God on judgment day, He will not be comparing you to your family, neighbors, or the bad people in town, but He is going to compare you with Himself.  We were created to reflect “His image and likeness” in the earth.  The central question He will be examining in our lives is, How well have you reflected His image and likeness in your own life, to your family and friends, and to the society around you?  In considering this question, the Bible tells us,

For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.  (Romans 3:23)

Even in the Psalms, we are told,

The LORD looked down from heaven upon the children of men, to see if there were any that did understand, and seek God.  They are all gone aside, they are all together become filthy: there is none that does good, no, not one. (Psalm 14:2-3; Psalm 53:2-3; Romans 3:10-12)

Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin my mother conceived me.  (Psalm 51:5)

The wicked are estranged from the womb; these who speak lies go astray from birth.  (Psalm 58:3)

Even in the first book of the Bible, we are given this view of the condition of humanity:

And God saw that the wickedness of man [humanity] was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.  (Genesis 6:5)

Some may say, “I’m not THAT bad; I don’t think ‘evil continually’.”  That depends on your definition of “evil.”  In God’s view, if He is not at the center of your thoughts and life, then it’s “evil.”  Remember, you were created to reflect His “image and likeness,” so how are you doing that if He is not at the central core of all that you are thinking about and doing?

“HOW DID THIS START?”

To explain this, let me give an analogy.  Suppose a new phone company came up with a model I-Phone that would revolutionize our world and lives.  They had developed their new prototype and manufacturing was all set to begin the next day.  However, that night someone broke into the plant and caused a defect in both the original prototype and the computers involved in its manufacturing.  Not knowing what had happened, the owner okayed the beginning manufacturing of the product.  Thousands were created and sold around the world.  Soon complaints were coming back to the owner regarding this hidden defect.

Did the owner intend to sell thousands of defective products?  Of course not.  As far as He knew, He had created an awesome product, but something happened which changed something good into something less than good.  In much the same way, God had created Adam and Eve (Heb. Chavah) as something good, as people who were made to reflect His image, likeness and character within the earth.  However, something happened.  Another being got involved who tempted them to disobey God [the serpent], and when Adam and Eve disobeyed, it caused a defect to occur within them, and through them, all of humanity.  And since that time, God has been working on correcting this defect in the lives of each and every person who turns to Him in faith.

HOW DOES THE DEFECT WORK?

Our human defect, which the Bible calls “the law of sin,” works by taking anything that God has given to us to be a blessing, and it altars, changes, distorts, or perverts it into something other than what God intended.

For example, consider what Isaiah teaches in the following:

Woe to those who call evil “good,” and good “evil;” who substitute darkness for light and light for darkness; who substitute bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter! Woe to those who are wise in their own eyes, and clever in their own sight!  (Isaiah 5:20-21)

As we can see, there’s an inversion that occurs in sin: good becomes evil, and evil becomes good.  And we can blatantly see this. not only in American society, but in the American church as well.

But the hard truth is that as long as the “law of sin” is in operation within our lives, then God’s design can never be fully realized within our lives.  And one of the reasons why Jesus died was to provide the means for God to correct this defect in our lives.  Although this was not the ONLY reason for His death (contrary to what Christianity teaches), it was one of the main reasons.

Let me give you some examples to illustrate my point of how “the law of sin” operates.  For example,

  • God gave us speech to be able to speak with Him and to be a blessing to others.  Instead, the law of sin distorts this into us denying God’s existence and swearing, cursing, blaspheming God, and speaking evil of others by means of slander, lying, and deceit, etc.
  • God gave us hands to care for and be helpful to one another and to care for the earth.  Instead, the law of sin distorts that into brutality, fighting, war, maiming, killing, and ripping apart and destroying the earth.
  • God gave us the ability to express love, but instead, the law of sin distorts it into lust, fornication, adultery, homosexuality, incest, bestiality, anger, bitterness, and rape.  “Our human defect” [“the law of sin”] takes the goodness of God and turns it into an abomination and a curse.

Also, not only does the law of sin twist and distort the use of our own bodies, but it also twists and distorts things God gives to us to help us into something evil.  For example, in Numbers 21, the children of Israel has started complaining again about God and Moses.  They said,

Why have you brought us up out of Egypt to die in the wilderness?  For there is no food and water, and we loathe this miserable food.  (Numbers 21:5)

In response to this, God sends “fiery serpents” that are poisonous among the people, and many of them are bit and die.  The people then come to Moses and confess that they have sinned against him and God, and they ask him to intercede on their behalf (Numbers 21:6-7).  In response, the LORD gives Moses the following instructions:

Make a fiery [bronze] serpent, and set it on a standard [pole]; and it shall come about, that everyone who is bitten, when he looks at it, he shall live.  (Numbers 21:8)

Moses does this, and when the people look upon the bronze or fiery serpent, they are healed.  Now let’s go ahead about 950 years to the reign of Hezekiah in 2 Kings 18.  He was twenty-five years old when he began his rule and reign over the southern kingdom of Judah.  In verses 3-5, we read,

And he did right in the sight of the LORD, according to all that his father [ancestor] David had done.  He removed the high places and broke down the sacred pillars and cut down the Asherah.  He also broke in pieces the BRONZE SERPENT THAT MOSES HAD MADE, for until those days the sons of Israel burned incense to it; and it was called Nehustan.  He trusted in the LORD, the God of Israel; so that after him there was none like him among all the kings of Judah, nor among those who were before him.

950 years after Moses makes the bronze serpent, Hezekiah destroys it because people had been worshiping it as an idol.  They even gave it a name: Nehustan.  What God had given to be a source of healing, the people turned into a god and worshiped it.  That’s how messed up the law of sin is within each and every one of us.

This is the law that Jesus died to set us free from, NOT the law of God.  The church has traditionally confused these two laws.  For example, in Romans 6:14,

For SIN shall not be master over you, for you are not under law, but under grace.

What “laws” are we not under?  Paul tells us in the first part of the verse: “SIN SHALL NOT BE MASTER OVER YOU.”  In other words, the “law of sin.”  In fact, in Romans 6-8, Paul is answering the question: “Are we to continue in sin that grace might increase?” (Romans 6:1)  All three chapters are Paul’s answer to this question.  And in this discussion, from Romans 6:1 – 13, there’s absolutely NO MENTION of God’s law in the text at all.  So obviously to include “God’s law” into that statement is to read into the text someone’s own idea, rather than what the text says itself.

SO WHAT’S THE SOLUTION?

The solution to the law of sin is given by Jesus: “FOLLOW ME.”   Notice that Jesus does not say, “ACCEPT ME,” but “FOLLOW ME.”  In other words, the solution lies in the process of discipleship to Christ.  But this involves more than just going up front to the altar and praying “the sinner’s prayer.”  That is just where the process begins.

The solution comes as WE ARE SANCTIFIED (made holy) by the blood of the cross, by the Holy Spirit, the washing of water by the Word of God (Ephesians 5:25-27), and by daily spending time in prayer with God.  These four things have to work together as we follow Christ for our “defects” (the law of sin) to be corrected.  There is NO INSTANTANEOUS CURE for the “law of sin.” The “sinner’s prayer” at the alter will NOT CORRECT the problem, contrary to what many pastors, ministers, Bible teachers and evangelists are teaching.  The “sinner’s prayer” again is where the journey, or process, begins – it is NOT the full journey.

 

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Is American Christianity Becoming “An Adulterous Whore”?

Do not be conceited, but fear; for if God did not spare the natural branches, neither will He spare you” – The Apostle Paul to the Gentile believers, Romans 11:20-21.

The American Christian Church is NOT the pure, spotless Bride pictured within the New Testament.  Rather than “a pure virgin,” she’s becoming an “adulterous whore,” turning her attention to every sensual pleasure she can embrace.  ADULTERY is having an intimate relationship with someone other than your spouse, and a WHORE, by definition, is “a prostitute; or a woman who is sexually promiscuous.”  The American Christian church is cheating on God with other lovers which she enjoys more, while giving lip service to God and Jesus Christ.

IDOL #1 – SPORTS

Sports, for example, is an idol for many Christians; in fact, there are many Christian men who would rather watch the football game on Sunday night than they would go to church or spend time with God praying or reading the Bible.  In fact, sports is so much an idol for many Christians that churches had to quit having Sunday night services due to the lack of attendance.

IDOL #2 – PROHIBITED SEXUAL PLEASURE

Another idol in the church is prohibited sexual pleasure.  For example, there’s homosexual priests and pastors, Christians who are involved in fornication (pre-marital sex), adultery, incest, and more recently, those who believe that positions within the church should be given to people from the LGBTQ community, and all in the name of “love, acceptance, and inclusion.”

Also, according to recent studies, 60% of Christian men, including pastors, ministers, Bible Teachers, and TV evangelists, are addicted to porn, and in the next generation, these numbers are expected to greatly increase.  And one gay pastor says that it’s perfectly normal and okay for people to be involved in premarital sex.  But we have to wonder when priests are sexually abusing young boys, pastors and deacons are cheating on their wives, or even famous TV evangelists are visiting prostitutes, then where are the examples of holiness for people to follow?  If the leaders are not living holy lives as examples, then how can we expect those under their leadership to be living holy lives? It’s sad to think that these people believe that God is fooled and is not aware of these people’s sinful behaviors and actions, when the truth is that He’s not fooled at all.

IDOL #3 – GREED, WEALTH AND MATERIALISM

Another idol within the church is greed, wealth, and materialism.  Rather than seeking the Presence and holiness of God, people are seeking more money, bigger houses, fancier cars, and even an airplane or two.  Several years ago, my wife and I went to a nearby church to hear a famous TV evangelist who would be speaking there.  We were looking forward to hearing Him preach and talk about God, but instead, he spent the entire time talking about his new airplane that he had just bought.  No mention of God, Jesus, the Holy Spirit, or anything from the Bible, just his airplane.  My wife and I left severely disappointed.

IDOL #4 – CAREERS & FAMILY

A fourth idol we see in the church is the dedication that people have to their careers and family.  It’s not bad to have a career or a family, but when they are placed on a higher level of priority than spending time with God, then they’ve become an idol within that person’s life.

WHAT IS “SPIRITUAL ADULTERY?”

To place anything in our life of higher importance or priority than God, Jesus and the Bible is to commit adultery against God.  And just like ancient Israel placed idols in place of God, and even alongside God, God still accused them of committing adultery against Him.  For example, in Ezekiel,  God tells Israel, “But you did trust in your own beauty, and played the harlot because of your renown [fame], and poured out your fornications on every one that passed by; his it was” (Ezekiel 16:15).

But the modern Christian, like ancient Israel, is confident in its own position, thinking that God would never punish them for their sins, but like ancient Israel too late discovered, there are many Christians who will discover too late that they are likewise wrong.  It is just as easy for God to cut off the Christian from His Kingdom as it is for God to cut off the unbelieving Jew.

THE DECEPTION OF REPLACEMENT THEOLOGY

To rationalize its own sin and rejection of God’s Word, most expressions of Christianity continue the DECEPTION of REPLACEMENT THEOLOGY by teaching that the New Testament (representing the church) has replaced the Old Testament (representing Israel); therefore, by continuing this DECEPTION, most Christians believe that none of the laws that God gave in the Old Testament, particularly those in the first five books, apply to Christians.  They erroneously teach that they all ended at the cross; therefore, freeing Christians to ignore everything that God taught prior to the New Testament.

However, now there are pastors, ministers, Bible teachers and TV evangelists who are teaching people that Jesus and His life and ministry was also under “the Old Testament,” so therefore, nothing that He taught applies to Christians either.  The only thing that applies, they teach, is what is taught from the cross on.  Therefore, the biblical Jesus has likewise been eliminated from Christian teaching.

THE DECEPTION OF “ANOTHER JESUS” AND “ANOTHER GOSPEL”

Instead, the modern church has created for itself “another Jesus” and “another gospel.”  Rather than the biblical Jesus, who lived an obedient, holy life by keeping God’s commandments as our example of what we are to do, their “Jesus” lived a rich, wealthy lifestyle, violating the commandments whenever they contradicted His “love message.”  And instead of the biblical Jesus who died in our place, paying the penalty for our sins as our holy sin-offering, and as our example of how we are to carry our crosses and die to self daily, the modern church Jesus,” when He died, His “righteousness” was imputed or transferred over onto Christians.  So they reason, if we are already the “righteousness of God in Christ,” then what reason is there for us living an obedient, holy life when Jesus already did it and then transferred all that “righteousness” over to them?   So now, they have all of that righteousness without them having  to do anything at all, except “to believe what they’ve been told.”

Interestingly, even though “all His righteousness has been transferred to them,” they believe, do they demonstrate the reality of this by living obedient, holy lives?  No, these same Christians commit the same sins and abominations as those who have rejected Christ.  And yet, they say, because they went down to the altar and said “the sinner’s prayer,” at some point in their life, they now have “an automatic ticket to heaven,” regardless of how they live their life because after all, they say, they and all their sins are now “hidden” in Christ, so God doesn’t see them or their sins anymore.  These people are going to be extremely shocked when they die and stand before Christ, because they are going to learn too late that what they were taught was not true, but was a huge DECEPTION.

THE DECEPTION OF THE ALTAR CALL

Going up to the altar and saying “the sinner’s prayer” is not all that you need to do to be saved. That is only step #1.  You still need to be baptized in water (step #2), and you still need to develop a relationship with Christ.  Why are we so dumb to believe that God is going to allow people in heaven who have not taken the time to follow through on their repentance by getting baptized and by developing a relationship with Him?   How many of you, I wonder, call yourself “a Christian,” but you don’t think enough of God to spend any time praying or even reading the Bible, so you can learn who He is and what He’s like?   There are Christians who are dying every single day and going to Hell, because they believed this DECEPTIVE LIE that the “sinner’s prayer” at an altar equals a “free pass to heaven.”

When will we learn that there’s no getting into heaven unless we’ve had an inner transformation, an inner change of heart and behavior, resulting in us living sanctified, holy lives before God?  Without that, you’re not getting into heaven and neither am I.  This is what it takes.  Even Hebrews 12:14 says, “without holiness, no man shall see the Lord.”  How do you expect to get to heaven and not see the Lord?  Simply put, a two minute prayer, if that, at an altar where you’ve repeated it after a minister or an evangelist doesn’t save you.  It can be the first step in this process, but it alone won’t do the job.  And I think by looking at the lives of those people in the church today that I’ve described, we can see that this is, in fact, a DECEPTIVE LIE.

THE CHURCH HAS MISERABLY FAILED

The truth that no one seems to want to acknowledge is that the church has miserably failed to positively influence American society as “the light of the world” or as “the salt of the earth.”  Instead, American society has negatively corrupted the church to the point that there’s no longer a distinction between those who are “not saved” outside of the church and those who “are saved” within the church.   I’ve even heard many times, Christians say that they’re no different than those who are no saved.  So if there’s “no difference,” then why bother with Christ at all?  And unfortunately, within the church, there are Christians who are more interested in Girls Gone Wild and 50 Shades of Grey than they are in spending time with God in prayer or in reading their Bible.

THE DEVASTATING IMPACT OF BIBLICAL ILLITERACY

According to recent statistics and studies, 80% of people in the church have not even read through the Bible once.  In fact, in a recent survey about what people know about the Bible, there were people who thought that Joan of Arc was Noah’s wife, Sodom and Gomorrah were husband and wife, and even Pinocchio and Harry Potter were stories based on the Bible.  Our extremely high level of biblical illiteracy in this country is not only clearly evident within the church, but it’s also evidence among students attending Bible colleges as well.   In Kenneth Berding’s online article “The Crisis of Biblical Illiteracy & What We Can Do About It,” one Bible college student didn’t know the difference between King Saul in the Old Testament and the Apostle Saul in the New Testament, and another thought that Joshua, the successor of Moses, was the son of “a nun.”   In response,  Berding writes,

I can’t imagine such a thing happening to a group of German Lutherans in the 16th century, or to English Puritans in the 17th century, or to Wesleyans in the 18th century, or to modern Chinese-mainland Christians even if they only have access to a few Bibles in their house church. Or even to our believing great-grandparents in the United States. My paternal grandfather, who never came into personal relationship with Jesus Christ, read his Bible regularly and had many passages committed to memory.

Several years ago, I was speaking to a pastor who had the job of teaching the Old Testament to a group of students who were studying to get their ordination as pastors.  He asked them, “How many of you have read the Old Testament?”  Out of a whole room of people, only two of them raised their hand.  How are these pastors supposed to teach their congregations about the Bible when they haven’t even read the whole Bible for themselves?

In his article, Kenneth Berding goes on to write,

In the book of Amos, people who experienced a “famine of hearing the words of the Lord” are portrayed as undergoing divine judgment. Amos paints a picture of people without access to God’s revelation searching for a message from God like desperate people — hungry and dehydrated — in search of food and water (Amos 8:11–12). In Amos they want it, but are not permitted it. In our case, although we have unlimited access, we often don’t want it.

As  Berding noted here in his article, to be without God’s law, His Words, in our life is, in actuality, to be under God’s curse and judgment. How can we sit there and boast, saying, “Thank God, we’re not under the law anymore!” (meaning the Law of God) and not realize we’re thanking God for being under His curse and judgment?  There’s not a single passage of Scripture anywhere where being without God’s law, His Word, is a blessing – NOWHERE!

JESUS AND GOD’S LAW ARE ONE

In fact, did you know that in Romans 10:4, Paul writes, “For Christ is the END of the Law for righteousness to everyone who [continues to] believes.”  The verb “believes” is a present participle, which refers to “continuous” or “repeated action,” which is why I wrote “continues to” in brackets.   Also, the word “end” here does not mean “the termination of,” which is how most Christians read this verse.  Instead, the Greek word here means “goal, purpose, or aim.”  In English, when we speak of our “endgame,” we are talking about our ultimate goal, and the word “end” here is being used to mean the same thing.  “Jesus is the ‘endgame’ or the ‘goal’ of the law for righteousness to everyone who continues to believe.”

Jesus doesn’t REPLACE the Law, but He is a living example of what it is trying to accomplish within our lives.  Therefore, logically, the more like Jesus we become, the more obedient to the Law we become, and the more obedient to the Law we become, then the more like Jesus we become.  We also see this idea in John 1:1-2,

In the beginning was THE WORD, and THE WORD was with God, and THE WORD was God.  The same was in the beginning with God.

This WORD was ultimately written down and described in the Scriptures.  This is why Jesus tells the religious leaders,

You search the Scriptures, because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is these that bear witness of Me; and you are unwilling to come to Me, that you may have life. (John 5:39-40)

But what Scriptures are they searching?  There was no New Testament, so obviously, they are looking at the Old Testament, and Jesus says here, that the Old Testament is what bears witness to Him.  Did you know that?  Do you see Jesus all over the Old Testament, or do you also have “a veil” over your eyes as well?  And then just a few verses later, He tells them,

Do not think that I will accuse you before the Father; the one who [continues to] accuse you is Moses, in whom you have set your hope.  For if you believed Moses, you would believe Me; for He wrote of Me.  But if you do not believe his writings, how will you believe My words. (John 5:45-47)

What Jesus says here is “mind-blowing” to the modern Christian.  Jesus connects Himself and His teachings to Moses.  He says, “if you believed Moses, you would believe Me,” and why?  Because He says, “He wrote of Me.”  In other words, the written law of God (the first five books of the Bible), Jesus says, is a written description of Him, and I’m not talking about just the sacrifices, but all of the five books.  He’s throughout all of it.  He’s, in fact, the living embodiment of all that it teaches.

And not only that, but Moses’ writings are foundational for understanding Jesus.  He says, “if you do NOT BELIEVE his writings,” then Jesus asks, “how will you believe My words?”  So by rejecting God’s law that was handed down by God to Moses on Mt. Siani, you reject the foundation and context you need to understand and believe what Jesus   taught.  You can’t separate Jesus from God’s Law, for they are ONE.   To reject the Law of God is to reject Christ, and to reject Christ is to reject the Law of God.

A king and His law are one, and Jesus is King and God’s law is the law of His Kingdom.  The King embodies His laws, and the laws reflect the character and nature of the King.   So whatever part of the Law you reject is a part of Christ you reject, and if you only accept the New Testament as being for today, then that means that you’ve rejected 60% of who Jesus is.

Also,  throughout the Bible, God says, “If you love Me, keep My commandments,” but Christianity says, “we can love God without keeping His commandments.”  The question is do we obey our church and denomination, or do we obey God and His Word?  I wish I could say their teachings are in agreement, but they are not.

JESUS REPRESENTS THE LAW, THE PHARISEES RELIGION

Christians erroneously believe that the Pharisees in the New Testament are a picture of the Law, but they are NOT, Jesus is.  He is the perfect picture of God’s KINGDOM, and the only one who truly kept the Law of God.   The conflict between Jesus and the Pharisees was over the issue of CONTROL.  The Pharisees had been working for about two hundred years to place Israel under the submission to a RELIGION, but Jesus wanted to return Israel back to KINGDOM.  The KINGDOM, not RELIGION, was the focus of all that Jesus did and taught.

So if anything, the Pharisees are a perfect picture of RELIGION, those who distort, and even replace. the meaning of the Law with their own teachings for their own convenience.  In many ways, the Pharisees are a picture of the modern RELIGION of Christianity.  For just like the Pharisees, the modern Christian church has likewise distorted and replaced the teachings of God’s law with their own.

They’ve replaced the biblical Sabbath with their own day of worship, Sunday; they’ve replaced the biblical feasts given by God with their own man-made holidays that are steeped in paganism and the occult (Christmas, Lent, Easter, Halloween).  They contradict God’s food’s laws with their own belief they can eat whatever they want, and they even expect God to bless something, He specifically told them not to eat.  And none of these changes, I might add, can be defended from the New Testament, once we place the text back into its original Greek context and language.

And instead of living of sanctified, holy lives before God, they’ve replaced that with their own belief that Jesus did it for them, so they don’t have to, and it’s okay for them to sin then, because after all, God doesn’t see them or their sin anyway, all He sees is “Jesus.”  And again, rather than this belief pushing people towards becoming more obedient, more holy in their lives, Christians only end up going in the opposite direction: they become more disobedient, more sinful, more evil.

THE AMERICAN CHURCH IS LOST AND HEADING TO HELL

The American Christian church is going down the BROAD WAY that leads to death, destruction and hell.   In Matthew 7, Jesus describes two ways: one way leads to life and the other leads to death and destruction.  He says,

Enter by the narrow gate; for the gate is wide, and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and MANY are those who [continue to] enter by it.  For the gate is small, and the way is narrow that [continues to] lead to life, and FEW are those who [continue to] find it. (Matthew 7:13-14)

There are TWO GATES  (a wide one and a narrow one) and TWO WAYS (a broad one and a narrow one).  There’s the WIDE GATE and BROAD WAY that many are entering, but they are all on their way to death and destruction, for just as the Bible teaches, “there’s a way that seems right to a man, but the end thereof is death” (Proverbs 14:12).

But then there’s the SMALL, NARROW GATE and the NARROW WAY that leads to life.  Jesus is the SMALL, NARROW GATE, but an obedient, sanctified, holy lifestyle is the NARROW WAY that leads to life.  The NARROW WAY is the hard road, which is why Jesus said that “FEW are those who find it.”  Most people want the “easy way,” which is why they take the BROAD WAY, but the easy one is the one that leads to death.

There’s been many Christians who have properly been through the SMALL, NARROW GATE (Christ), but then they leave the NARROW WAY, because of its difficulty, and they go back to the BROAD WAY.  The problem is that they mistakenly believe that because they came through the NARROW GATE (Christ) that this will automatically entitle them to LIFE, when they are on the BROADWAY to DEATH and DESTRUCTION, which is not true.

We not only need to accept Christ as our Lord and Savior and be baptized, but there also needs to be an inner transformation, an inward change in our attitude and behavior towards sin, which is becomes evident by us staying on the NARROW WAY, and NOT going back to the BROAD WAY.

THERE’S STILL TIME TO GET ON THE WAY TO LIFE

If you are on the BROAD WAY right now, I want you to know that there’s still time for you to make the right choice – to get off the BROAD WAY that leads to death – and to come back to Christ, the NARROW GATE, and to this time, stay on the NARROW WAY that leads to life.  The choice is yours: life or death?  And contrary to the popular theology being taught, that salvation is FREE, Jesus makes it clear that following Him comes at a cost.  He gave His all for us, so in return, we are to give our all to Him.

We are to die to self daily, placing our lives and all that we have on the altar, as living sacrifices.  Paul writes,

I urge you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship.  And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect. (Romans 12:1-2)

Jesus says, in the Gospel of Luke, Jesus says to those wanting to follow Him,

Whoever does not carry his own cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple [i.e., cannot be a Christian].

There is a cost to following Jesus (Luke 14:26-35), but it’s only in following Jesus where you will ultimately receive life.  He also taught that this NARROW GATE (Himself) will not be open forever.  That there will come a time where He will no longer accept anyone who comes to Him:

Strive to enter in to the NARROW DOOR (GATE); for many, I tell you, will seek to enter and will not be able.  Once the head of the house gets us and shuts the door, and you begin to stand outside, and knock on the door, saying, “Lord, Lord, open up to us!” Then He will answer and say to you, “I do not know where you are from.”  Then you will begin to say, “We ate and drank in Your Presence, and You taught in our streets;” and He will say, “I tell you, I do not know where you are from; DEPART FROM ME, ALL YOU EVILDOERS.” (Luke 13:24-27; Emphasis Mine)

If the American church keeps going on the path that it’s on, it will become a part of the “Great Whore” described in Revelation, as well as find itself receiving the Mark of the Beast.  I’ve already one pastor tell his congregation that even if they did take the Mark of the Beast that god would still forgive them, and they would still be allowed to go to heaven.  This pastor is DECEIVED, and he LIED to his congregation since the Bible makes it clear that there’s no forgiveness from God once a person takes the Mark of the Beast (Revelation 13:16-18; 14:9-11).

Right now, the door is still open, but the time for God to shut it is right around the corner.  You don’t have too much longer to decide because soon, it will be too late.  And just as God shut the door of the Ark, and then the floods of destruction came, so now, the day is coming when God again will shut the door, and then His judgment will again come upon the earth.  You don’t want to be here when that happens.

CONCLUSION

What can you do?  Do what Peter told the crowds to do when they asked him the same thing:

Repent, and let each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins: and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.  For the promise is for you and your children, and for all who are far off, as many as the Lord our God shall call to Himself.  (Acts 2:38-39)

REPENT – Confess your sins, accept the death of Jesus on the cross as your sin-offering, thanking Him for dying in your place, and ask Him to forgive you of your sins and for liberating you from their power and control over your life.  Then complete your repentance by being baptized in water, dying to your old life and coming up again out of the water as a “new creation in Christ.”

DEVELOP YOUR RELATIONSHIP WITH GOD by spending time in prayer, reading your Bible, sharing what’s God’s done in your life with others, and by attending a church where you can gain further insight in your study of the Bible, and by gaining encouragement from fellow believers.  Just make sure that you attend a church that believes that ALL of the Bible is for today, both Old Testament and New Testament.  The amount of churches that believe in the Whole Bible is continuing to shrink, so this may take some time.  Just don’t give up.  Ask Jesus to lead you to the right one.

 

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“Did Jesus Become Sin for You on the Cross?”

There’s a dominant teaching in Christianity that there was a great exchange that happened on the cross: Jesus took our sins upon Himself, and we received His righteousness.  But on what is this teaching based?  It’s actually based on only one verse of Scripture: 2 Corinthians 5:21.

He [God] made Him [Jesus Christ] who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.

On the surface, this looks like Christianity’s interpretation seems to be correct; however, if we place this idea back into context with the rest of Scripture, there are some major flaws with this doctrine.  However, in saying that, I’m not saying Paul was wrong, but our interpretation and translation of what Paul said is problematic.

A MODERN COMPARISON

Can a person who is innocent and not guilty of anything becomes a criminal without committing any crime?  In our culture, when you break the law, you’ve committed a crime, and a person who commits a crime is called a criminal.  But in God’s Kingdom, if you break one of His laws, you’ve committed “a sin” [crime] and a person who commits a “sin” is called “a sinner” [criminal].    But in this traditional Christian interpretation, our sins [crimes] has been transferred to Him, and His innocence has been transferred to us who are guilty.

But when Jesus was on the cross, did He literally become an idolator for us?  Did He become a murderer?  An adulterer?  A thief?  Did He become a homosexual?  Is that what we are saying?  If Jesus had to identify with us in everything to atone for us, then does that mean He cannot heal broken bones since “not one of His bones were broken”?

CERTAINTY OR CHANCE?

In examining this, let’s look at the least significant evidences first.  To begin, the infinitive “to be” in the above phrase was added by translators, it’s not in the original Greek text.  This is why it is italicized in many English translations, including the King James Version.

Next, the phrase “might become” does not mean what many Christians communicate by this doctrine.  They use it to indicate that there was a transference that happened here, “Jesus became sin for us” and we became the righteousness of God in Him.”  However, the problem here is that the word “might” does not indicate certainty at all, but only a possibility or chance of.  I mean, when we say that something “might happen,” we are not saying “it will happen,” but that there’s a possibility or chance that it could happen.  If Paul was saying that this “transference” was a certainty, he would’ve said that “we shall become the righteousness of God” or “we will becomes the righteousness of God,” but that’s not what he wrote.  He wrote that we “MIGHT become the righteousness of God in Him.”  Although this raises many questions, the next two points are the most important.

SIN OR SIN-OFFERING?

Throughout the Old Testament Scriptures, the Hebrew word, chatt’ah (Strong’s #2403), and it’s Greek equivalent Hamartia (Strong’s #266), is used for “sin, transgression, sin-offering, and punishment.”  In the Hebrew mind, of course, this was completely logical, since if you “sinned” or “transgressed God’s commandments,” then you automatically fall under the “punishment” for sin and need “a sin-offering.”  And in the Greek translation of the Pentateuch, Greek speakers would’ve understood that hamartia was used for both “sin” and “sin-offering,” and that context was how they determined which one was meant.  And it is the same Greek word for “sin” and “sin-offering” that’s used here in 2 Corinthians 5:21.

WHY IS THIS DISTINCTION IMPORTANT?

This distinction is important because in Leviticus 4-6, God establishes His instructions and laws on what would constitute a valid sacrifice for sin.  In these various sacrifices, God instructs us that the sacrifice must be without spot or blemish prior to its death (Leviticus 3:1; 4:3, 28, 32; 5:15); in fact,  in “the law of the sin offering,” that the sin-offering is “most holy” (Leviticus 6:25).

But not only must it remain spotless or blemishless before its death, but it can’t be tainted, blemished or made unclean while its dying, because after its death and sacrifice, the priests are to eat a portion of it (Leviticus 6:26, 29).  In fact, 6:29 says, “All the males among the priests shall eat thereof: it is MOST HOLY” (Emphasis Mine).

Therefore, in order for the sacrifice to be acceptable to God, it had to remain spotless, blemishless and holy BEFORE ITS DEATH, DURING ITS DEATH, and AFTER ITS DEATH, for it became blemished, tainted, or unholy, or unclean anytime during the process, then it was no longer an acceptable sacrifice for sin.  Consequently, then, if Jesus literally became sin on the cross for us, as many Christians teach, then at that moment, He ceased being an acceptable sacrifice for sin, and we are all still damned and going to Hell.

However, if He didn’t literally become sin, but a SIN-OFFERING, remaining pure, blemishless, spotless and holy BEFORE, DURING, and AFTER His death, then His sacrifice does fit the biblical pattern, and He remains an acceptable sacrifice for sin, and our sins are not only forgiven, but we’ve been liberated from their power and control over us, by us putting our faith in Him, and therefore, we can now go to heaven when we die.

So does the distinction matter?  Absolutely!!

WHERE WAS GOD AT THIS TIME?

There are those who claim that God abandoned and turned His back on Jesus while He was on the cross.  They base this on one of the seven statements that Jesus makes while on the cross: “My God, My God, Why have you forsaken Me?” (Matthew 27:46; quoting Psalm 22:1).  However, there’s again a problem with this view.

In 2 Corinthians 5:19, just two verses before 2 Corinthians 5:21, Paul writes,

To wit, that God was IN CHRIST, reconciling the world unto Himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation.

How could God have abandoned and turned His back on Christ, while at the same time, being “IN CHRIST reconciling the world unto Himself”?  A more reasonable explanation for His statement is that the Hebrew word, ‘azav’tani, whose root means “to loosen, relinquish, and permit,” so the question “My God, My God, Why have you forsaken Me?” could be translated to mean “My God, My God, Why have you loosened and relinquished Me, permitting this to happen to Me?”

“God is there in Christ” during His suffering and torment while on the cross, but instead of acting to defend Him, to come against those who have caused Him such suffering, God does not act.  We can tell that this is the intended meaning, since the very next lines are the following:

Far from my deliverance are the words of my groaning.  O my God, but Thou dost not answer; and by night, but I have no rest.  (Psalm 22:1-2)

Then in the next section of voices, David contrasts how the fathers cried out and God came to their rescue, but God was not coming to his (Psalm 22:4-5).  And what is true for David is likewise true for David’s greater son, Jesus, the son of David.

So did God abandon His Son?  No, He was there within Him the whole time,  but He did not act or prevent His suffering.  And haven’t we all had those moments in our times of suffering when we wondered why God didn’t act on our behalf?  Where was He?  Jesus knew where He was, and that was His suffering.

JESUS’ DEATH OPENED THE WAY

Through His death on the cross, Jesus liberated us from the power and control of sin in our lives so that we can walk in obedience to God through the power of His Spirit.

In Romans 6-8, this section answers the question found in Romans 6:1, “What shall we say then?  Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound?”  In this section, Paul responds by saying absolutely not!  He says, “How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer there?” (Romans 6:2).  He continues to elaborate on this throughout the rest of chapter 6, and then in chapter 7, He uses marriage as an illustration of how we’ve been freed from the control and power of sin, because we’ve died to it in Christ.  And then, Paul completes the argument in Romans 8.  So contrary to traditional Christian interpretation, Paul in this section is NOT arguing that Jesus brought the law of God to an end, but the law of sin and death.

OBEDIENCE LEADS TO RIGHTEOUSNESS

By Jesus dying to set us free from the law of sin and death, Jesus opens the way for us to live our lives in obedience to God, as “servants of righteousness,” which then results in “righteousness:”

For SIN shall not have DOMINION [rulership and control] over you: for you are not under the law [of sin and death], but under grace.  What then?  Shall we sin, because we’re not under the law [of sin and death], but under grace?  God forbid.   Know you not, that to whom you yield yourselves servants  to obey, his servants you are to whom you obey; whether of SIN AND DEATH, or of OBEDIENCE unto RIGHTEOUSNESS.   But God be thanked, that you WERE the SERVANTS OF SIN, but you have obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine which was delivered [to] you. Being then MADE FREE FROM SIN, you became the SERVANTS OF RIGHTEOUSNESS.  (Romans 6:14-18)

Although the word “law” is not explicitly identified as “the law of sin” or “the law of sin and death,” it’s understood here by the context and content of chapter 6:1-13, but by the end of chapter 7 and in chapter 8, that context is explicitly identified and made.

In this passage, Paul makes it clear that it is SIN that will not have DOMINION (or rulership and control) over us.  There’s no mention of God’s law anywhere in Romans 6:1-13, so why would 6:14 suddenly be about the law of God when Paul had not been discussing it in the previous thirteen verses?  Those who believe that 6:14 is about the law of God demonstrate their lack of skill and understanding that things must be interpreted within their given context.

RIGHTEOUSNESS LEADS TO HOLINESS

In Romans 6:19, Paul continues the next phase of the process:

I speak after the manner of men because of the infirmity [weakness] of your flesh: for as you have yielded your members [of your body] servants to uncleanness and to iniquity [sin] unto iniquity; even so now yield your members servants unto holiness.

Paul makes it quite clear here that since Jesus has died and freed us from the power and control of sin, that we now can choose to live in obedience to God and His Word, and it is our new obedience to God that results in RIGHTEOUSNESS, and by us continuing to be servants of RIGHTEOUSNESS that this, in fact, is yielding ourselves to being “servants unto HOLINESS.”

Then in verses 20-21, Paul reminds us that before we were “servants” [lit. “slaves”] to sin, and as a result, we willingly yielded our members to sin; however, now we need to yield our members to holiness [God and His Word] instead.

For when you were the servants of sin, you were free from righteousness [you didn’t do righteous things].  What fruit had you then in those things where you are now ashamed?  for the end [result] of those things is death.

HOLINESS RESULTS IN ETERNAL LIFE

And now in verse 22, we come to the conclusion of the process.

But now BEING MADE FREE  FROM SIN, and become SERVANTS TO GOD, you have your fruit unto HOLINESS, and the end EVERLASTING LIFE.

Notice that Paul is again telling us that through Christ’s death that we have been MADE FREE FROM SIN, not from God’s laws, but SIN and its POWER AND CONTROL over our lives.  SIN is no longer a “have-to;” instead, if we SIN, it’s because we’ve chosen to do it.  And now that we are FREE FROM SIN, we can now live our lives as SERVANTS TO GOD, living SANCTIFIED, HOLY LIVES, and what will be the end result of our lives in service to Him: EVERLASTING (or ETERNAL) LIFE.

And it is at the end of discussing this life-long process that Paul summarizes it all up with Romans 6:23, which is often quoted, again, apart from its context:

For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

So just as the end result of sin is death, so the end result of God’s gift of Christ’s death that opens the way for us to journey this process is eternal life.  It’s at the altar that we begin the first step on that journey by repenting, confessing our sins, asking God to forgive us of our sins and asking Jesus to be our Lord and Savior.  Again, this is STEP 1 of the journey that Paul discusses and describes in Romans 6-8.

CONCLUSION

So did Jesus become “a sin” for us on the cross?  No, He didn’t.  He came our “sin-offering” on the cross, and since He paid the penalty for our sins in our stead, then we are no longer under punishment for those sins.  The price has been paid, and as a result, our sins has been expunged from our heavenly record.

And because of His death, we have been liberated from THE LAW OF SIN AND DEATH, and SIN NO LONGER HAS ANY POWER OR CONTROL OVER OUR LIVES; therefore, the way has been opened so that we can begin the process of living in obedience to God,  including to His commandments and laws, which results in RIGHTEOUSNESS (that we might become, as stated in 2 Corinthians 5:21), and as servants to RIGHTEOUSNESS it then leads us to HOLINESS, and then the fruit and end result of HOLINESS in our lives is ETERNAL LIFE.  And this is in agreement with Hebrews 12:14,

Follow peace with all men, and HOLINESS, WITHOUT WHICH NO MAN SHALL SEE THE LORD.

His death liberated us from sin and the law of sin and death, and the Spirit, which we receive because of His death and resurrection, empowers us to be able to walk this journey of obedience to righteousness to holiness to the end result, eternal life.

 

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Does Christmas Encourage People to Honor God?

There are many American Christians today who are going around saying that “Jesus is the reason for the season,” or that we need to “Keep Christ in Christmas,” but when we look at what the Christmas celebration encourages both in the lives of Christians and non-Christians alike, would it honor God by conforming people to the teachings of the Bible?  Does it conform to the character and nature of God?  Would He give this holiday a “thumbs up” or would He give it a “thumbs down”?

“DOES GOD ENCOURAGE MATERIALISM?”

Materialism is an intricate part of the Christmas season: trees, lights, ornaments, and all kinds of things that are bought as gifts, extravagant parties, etc.  As soon as Thanksgiving hits, sometimes even before that, the focus of people’s minds and hearts are on things.  Things that they can buy, things that they can receive, bigger and better things.  Although there may be a manger scene here or there, or someone singing a Christmas carol, they are usually lost in the hustle and bustle for things.   In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus specifically said that we “cannot serve both God and mammon” (Matthew 6:24).  “Mammon” is an old Early Modern English word for “money and material wealth.”  In this verse, Jesus says,

No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other.  You CANNOT serve God and mammon (“money and material wealth”).

But doesn’t the Christian view of Christmas teach the exact opposite: you can have both?  After all, we’re allegedly celebrating Christ’s birth while pursuing our materialistic desires and wants.  Aren’t we, in actuality, pursuing both in His name, while at the same time, violating His own teaching?

DOES GOD ENCOURAGE COVETING?

Growing up as a child, I remember going through the Christmas catalogues that use to come in the mail, and my sister and I would construct our “Christmas toys” that we wanted.  Then we would sit around wishing and hoping for that toy, that game, or whatever it was that we’ve placed on our list.  In the Ten Commandments, the last commandment is “not to covet” (Exodus 20:17).

Even though the examples in the commandment speak about coveting things that belong to one’s neighbor, it basically is teaching us to be content with what we have, instead of going around desiring what everyone else has.  This is stated more explicitly in the New Testament:

Let your character be free from the love of money, BEING CONTENT WITH WHAT YOU HAVE; for He Himself has said, “I will never leave you, nor will I ever forsake you.”  (Hebrews 13:5; Emphasis Mine; see also Philippians 4:11)

“DOES GOD ENCOURAGE GREED?”

It used to be on “Black Friday” that the Christmas season would officially begin, but it’s now got pushed back to “Black Thursday.”  A day when people get up extremely early in the morning, like 3 or 4 am, to stand in line to be sure to be the first ones in, so they can grab that “great deal.”  Sometimes, people will spend the night on the streets just to insure that they’re the first in line.

But then, once those doors are open, there’s a stampede of people crushing into the stores, even running over people in the process.  There’s been numerous people who have been badly hurt by people pushing them or stepping on them, trying to be the first one to get that special “Christmas gift.”  And then once inside, how many times have we seen people fight one another over one of these “gifts”?  People pushing, shoving, screaming, fighting, and even punching one another for these material things.  God defines this as “greed.”

“DOES GOD ENCOURAGE LYING?”

In addition to materialism, coveting, and greed, Christmas also encourages people to lie.  For example, parents lie to their children and tell them that Santa Claus and his reindeer are real.  They “guilt” their children into being good by telling them, if they aren’t good, then Santa won’t be giving them a gift this year.  After all, we lie again, and tell them that Santa knows when they are awake or asleep, or if they’ve been good or not; the same qualities which belong to God.

Then in telling the story of the Nativity, there are lies told there as well.  We tell people that “Three Kings” came to the manger when Jesus was born; however, the Bible teaches they came “into the house” and “saw the young child,” not “an infant in the manger” (Matthew 2:10-12).

There are other biblical proofs that the Wise men did not see Jesus at the time of His birth but when He was a toddler (1 1/2 – 2 years old) are the following:

Herod’s Inquiry & Killing of the Infants

Based upon his discussion with the wise men, Herod angrily sent out his troops to kill every child that was two years old or under when the wise men did not report back to him to let him know the identity of the child.  (Matthew 2:7, 16)  We can infer from this that the wise men had told Herod that they had been traveling about 1 1/2 to 2 years, and therefore, the reasoning for Herod specifying the age of “two years and under.”

Mary’s Temple Sacrifices

Another proof that the wise men did not see Jesus at his birth is the animal sacrifice that Mary offered at the Temple.  According to Luke 2, she offered “a pair of turtledoves” upon the completion of “her purification” (Luke 2:22-24).  According to Leviticus 12:4, the time period of her purification was 33 days, and then the offering of “two turtledoves” or “two young pigeons” was the offering that poor woman was to bring for her burnt offering and her sin offering who could not afford a lamb (Leviticus 12:6-8).

So if the wise men had, in fact, arrived during the time of Christ’s birth and given Him the gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh, then she would have had plenty of money to present a lamb for her sacrifice, as opposed to the sacrifice of a poor woman who could not afford it.

As Christian parents, we need to be very careful what we tell our children.  If we tell them that Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, and the Tooth Fairy are all real, and at the same time that God and Jesus are real, then obviously, when they discover that there is no Santa Claus, no Easter Bunny, and no Tooth Fairy, then it’s only logical for them to conclude that there is no God or Jesus either.  And telling someone that something is true, when it is not, is a lie.

“DOES GOD ENCOURAGE GLUTTONY OR DRUNKENNESS?”

Another aspect of Christmas is people going out to party and committing gluttony or getting drunk, or sometimes do both.  Both of this occur during the Christmas season, and both of them are spoken against within the Scriptures.  In both cases, there’s something missing in that person’s life or an emptiness they are trying to fill, either with food or with alcohol.  I’ve often found it interesting that many people who commit gluttony will point their finger and condemn the alcoholic, even though what they are going is no less a sin.

As we’ll see in next item, partying, gluttony, drunkenness and revelry were all a part of the original Roman Saturnalia and Sol Invictus feasts that were “Christianized” and brought into the Church.  Although these pagan celebrations were “Christianized” and renamed “Christmas,” these aspects of the feast have not changed.   However, the Bible teaches us against all such behavior (Deuteronomy 21:19-20; Proverbs 23:20-21; Ephesians 5:18; I Corinthians 5:11; I Corinthians 6:19-20).

“DOES GOD ENCOURAGE US TO USE PAGAN TRADITIONS?”

Originally, what we call the “Christmas Season” was known as two Roman pagan idolatrous feasts: the “Roman Saturnalia” and “Sol Invictus.”  There are many credible sources that demonstrate that the origin and roots of Christmas are derived from the Roman Saturnalia, such as the decorating of the tree, the exchanging of gifts, singing songs from house to house, eating baked goods [such as cookies] shaped like people, feasting, merrymaking, partying, and getting drunk.

Examples of sources to consult about the pagan origins and connections of Christmas are many.  For example, one could read the article “Saturnalia” at History.com, or the article “Is Christmas related to Saturnalia” at the Christian website, gotquestions.org, or even an older Christian source, Ralph Woodrow’s Babylon Mystery Religion: Ancient and Modern (1966) in his chapter on “The Winter Festival.”  And these are just a few of the sources that are out there.  In fact, according to the Christian source on gotquestions.com, during the time of the Roman empire, “the word Saturnalia became synonymous with immorality and carousing” (“Is Christmas related”).

The Christmas holiday also finds its roots in the Roman celebration of Sol Invictus (“Invincible Sun”) that celebrated the renewing of the Sun King [i.e., the sun god], Mithra, on December 25, and was linked to the winter solstice (“Is Christmas related”).

PAGAN FEASTS IN THE CHURCH?

During the time of the 4th century, A.D., there were large groups of people leaving the church to celebrate these pagan festivals to these other gods and goddesses.  In response, the Roman Catholic Church decided the best way to keep these people in the church was to create a “Christian alternative,” a mass for Christ – “Christ-mass” or “Christmas” – to these pagan festivals, much like modern churches are doing with Halloween.  In fact, the earliest mention of December 25 commemorating the birth of Christ is 354 A.D.  Obviously, then, “Christmas” did not originate with Christ or with the writings of His early disciples, and in contrast to Christian belief, Jesus is NOT “The Reason for the Season.”  Instead, He was artificially imposed into the whole thing.

The leaders of the Roman Catholic Church did eliminate some of the practices of the Saturnalia before bringing it into the church, such as people getting drunk, chasing women, going around naked as they sung songs from house to house, etc.  In addition, they changed December 25 from the renewing or birthday of the sun-god to the birthday of the Son of God, and then “Christianized” the reasoning for the other pagan-related activities, such as connecting the giving of gifts to the gifts given by the wise men.  This is likewise confirmed by the Christian site, gotquestions.com:

The early motive for celebrating Jesus’ birth on December 25 was the same that inspires modern churches to hold “Fall Festivals” or “Bible Costume Pasties” on October 31.  That is, to provide a spiritually positive alternative to what they perceive as a pagan celebration.  (“Is Christmas Related”)

Although this conservative Christian website readily acknowledges the pagan roots and connections of Christmas, it goes on to say,

So, Christians readily and comfortably acknowledge that the date, traditions, and long-term history of Christmas are connected to the pagan holidays of Saturnalia and Sol Invictus.  Yet, like a family celebrating a Bible Costume Party on October 31, it’s the people celebrating who decide what the celebration means.  (“Is Christmas related”)

Every pastor that I have personally spoken with about the pagan roots and connections of Christmas (as well as Lent, Easter, and obviously Halloween) have taken the same position:  The origins of the holiday does not matter; all that matters is what is in the heart of the individual.

THE BIBLE IS NOT THE STANDARD OF WHAT WE DO?

Of course, this raises an important question: What is the basis and standard for what we do?  Is it the Bible, or is the secular world right and Truth is only relative and subjective, so that there isn’t any absolute standard of right and wrong.  It seems when it is convenient for Christians, they will say that the Bible is their only standard of faith and conduct, but when that same Bible contradicts and challenges what they are going, then it’s up to the individual.

CHRISTMAS – A VIOLATION OF SCRIPTURE?

But I question their position for a number of reasons.  First of all, I question it because the creation of “Christian alternatives” to pagan feasts is, in fact,  a violation of Scripture.  In Deuteronomy 12, God says,

When the LORD your God shall cut off the nations from before you, wherever you go to possess them, and you succeed them, and dwell in their land; take heed to yourself that you be not snared [trapped] by following them, after that they be destroyed from before you; and that you enquire not after their gods, saying, HOW DID THESE NATIONS SERVE THEIR GODS? EVEN SO WILL I DO LIKEWISE. YOU SHALL NOT DO SO UNTO THE LORD YOUR GOD: for every abomination to the LORD, which He hates, have they done unto their gods; for even their sons and their daughters they have burnt in the fire to their gods.  What thing so ever I command you, observe to do it: you shall not add thereto, nor diminish from it.  (Deuteronomy 12: 29-32; Emphasis Mine)

This is not merely a passage forbidding child sacrifice; instead, the sacrifice of children is one example of pagan practices that He is addressing.  There are two basic principles here that we are being taught within this passage:

  • Do NOT use the customs, traditions, practices, forms of worship, etc., that other nations use with their pagan gods, and use them with the LORD; and
  • Whatever God has commanded in His Word, that is what we are to do.  We are not to add to it, nor are we to subtract from it.

However, most churches get around this prohibition by teaching that the Law of God ended at the cross; therefore, this prohibition, they say, is no longer valid or relevant to them.  The other possible common response to get around this prohibition is their teaching that the Law of God is only for Israel, and it does not apply to the church, even though the Bible teaches that God’s laws were given to both Jews and non-Jews.

“DOES THE END JUSTIFY THE MEANS?”

Another explanation offered for churches participating in these “Christian alternatives” is that by the church offering these alternatives, unsaved people come to church who normally would not and, therefore, have the opportunity to hear the gospel and get saved.  This sounds feasible and good, until you realize that “in the name of salvation,” Christians are disobeying God and His Word.  Consequently, then, Christians endorse the idea that “the end justifies the means.”

CHRISTMAS – A PROFANING OF GOD’S HOLINESS?

Even after reading this, some may argue that this is all just my opinion on the matter since no one actually knows what God really feels about these “alternatives” that Christianity has brought into the church.  However, that is not so.  God has spoken to my wife, Karen, and He has also spoken to me in different ways reconfirming the fact that God is not only deeply offended by these pagan celebrations being brought into the church, but He also says that they profane His holiness.  The following is what God has spoken about this “holidays” by His Spirit:

I do not want My people dabbling in the things which I have said were unclean and unholy.  How can I, a holy God, be among the things that are unholy?  My people, you are profaning My name and causing Me to want to take you and remove you from My Holy Presence.  I cannot, and will not, I say, keep dwelling among a people who do not covet the same holy things that I covet.

Yes, I have in My commandments which I gave to Moses on Mt. Sinai, which says to not covet what is not yours, says God Almighty.  These wicked holidays that you are claiming to be yours are detestable in My eyes, says God Almighty.  How can you not see this in the Word of God that I have given you as a manual to understand the very heart of Me, says God.  I do not wish for any one of My children to have anything to do with the things of this world.  I will go farther than this, I can’t continue in a relationship with you because you are grieving the Holy Spirit that has come to be your Helper and to be your Guide.

Don’t profane My name and say you are trying to take something bad and turn it into something good for the sake of the church.  This is not true, says God.  You are doing it because you don’t care about hurting Me, says God.  If you cared about Me, you would see that I detest all the things you’re trying to push Me into.  I do not accept what you have done, and I don’t want anything more to be involved or put My name to that which is unholy and unacceptable to what My Word teaches. (“God Says: ‘My People Are Profaning My Name'”)

WHY DO WE CELEBRATE PAGAN FEASTS AND NOT GOD’S FEASTS?

It seems clear that God does NOT endorse these “Christian alternatives” of pagan feasts and practices.  They offend Him to the point where He feels like spitting His people out in disgust.  The church needs to repent and to stop celebrating these pagan feasts.  I believe the question must be asked, “Why are we celebrating these ‘Christian alternatives’ to these pagan feasts and practices — Christmas, Lent, Easter, and more recently, Halloween – when God Himself has designed and given to us 7 feasts (and I personally would add Purim and Hanukkah) for us to enjoy and celebrate?

If we were to not do “Christmas, Lent and Easter,” and celebrate the 9 feasts that God has given in His word, we would have THREE TIMES the amount of holidays to celebrate and to invite people to church to enjoy them with us.  In addition, we could bring the Bible to life in ways that we are not even coming close to doing presently.  So with at least those two benefits and there are more, it doesn’t make sense why we insist on setting aside what God Himself has given to us to celebrate feasts and practices whose origins and roots are pagan.  We need to repent, turn away from our sins, and begin walking in holiness and obedience to God and to His Word.

Works Cited

“Is Christmas related to Saturnalia?”  gotquestions.org.  Got Questions Ministries. 2017.  Web.  <http://www.gotquestions.org/Christmas-Saturnalia.html>

Nuwer, Rachel.  “The First Nativity Scene Was Created in 1223.”  Smithsonian.com.  Dec. 14, 2012.  Web.  <http://www.smithsonianmag.com/smart-news/the-first-nativity-scene-was-created-in-1223-161485505>

“Saturnalia.” History.com.  n.d.  Web.  <http://www.history.com/topics/Saurnalia>

Verschage, Karen.  “God Says: ‘My People Are Profaning My Name.”  Karensshofar. wordpress.com.  June 19, 2016.  Web.  <http://karensshofar.wordpress.com/2016/06/19/god-says-my-people-are-profaning-my-name>

Woodrow, Ralph.  Babylon Mystery Religion: Ancient and Modern.  Riverside, CA.: Ralph Woodrow Evangelistic Association, Inc., 1978.  Print.

 

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What is Satan – A Seraph, A Cherub, or an Angel?

In my last post, called “What are the Three Types of Created Being’s We’ll See in Heaven?” I discussed the differences between the Seraphim, Cherubim, and Angels, and at the end of it, I asked the question, “Which of the three do you think Satan is?”  So in this article, I want to give my answer to that question, and on what evidence from Scripture do I believe supports that position.

WHAT IS SATAN’S NAME?

The word “Satan” is actually NOT a name, but a title, and it means “Adversary.”  Many believe that Satan’s name is LUCIFER, which is seen in the following verse:

How are you fallen from heaven, O LUCIFER, son of the morning! How are you cut down to the ground, which did weaken the nations!  For you have said in your heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north: I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the Most High.  (Isaiah 14:12-14; Emphasis Mine)

However, contrary to the beliefs of many, the word “LUCIFER” is actually a Latin word that’s not part of the actual Hebrew text.  The Hebrew word here is actually hêlêl (Strong’s #1966) or “morning star.”  Some have suggested the translation of “morning star” is a conspiracy to deny the deity of Messiah (Christ) since He is the only true “Morning Star.”  However, if there’s a conspiracy, it was committed by the King James translators who kept a Latin word in a Hebrew text, rather than just translating the Hebrew term.

I believe that we are not supposed to know his name because by denying him a name, it is a way for God to completely strip him of any identity, any status, any influence or position.  And who knows?  Maybe, Satan influenced the KJV translators here to retain the Latin term so that he could give himself a name and, therefore, attempt to reclaim for himself what God originally intended to deny him.

WHAT ABOUT THE NAME “BEELZEBUB”?

After Jesus casts out a blind and dumb demon, and healing him, He was accused by the Pharisees of casting “out devils, but by BEELZEBUB the ruler of the demons” (Matthew 12:22-24; Mark 3: 20-21).  In response, Jesus says,

Any kingdom divided against itself is laid waste; and any city or house divided against itself shall not stand.  And if Satan casts out Satan, he is divided against himself; how then shall his kingdom stand?  And if I by BEELZEBUB cast out demons, by whom do your sons cast them out?  Consequently they shall be your judges.  But if I cast out demons by the Spirit of God, then the kingdom of God has come upon you.

In this passage, it seems like the words “Satan” and “Beelzebub” are being equated; however, the word “Satan” here is being used in a generic sense, rather than specifically referring to “THE SATAN.”   The word “Satan” means “Adversary” or “Opponent,” and the proof that Jesus is using this term in a generic sense, rather than referring to the specific Satan is the second use of the word Satan in the phrase “if Satan casts out Satan.”

Jesus just cast out a blind and mute demon, and He is calling this demon “Satan,” so if the second “Satan” in the phrase can be used to refer to a blind and mute demon, then it’s just as likely that the first “Satan” in this phrase, referring to Beelzebub, can likewise be someone other than “THE SATAN” as well.  He could be one of Satan’s generals for all we know.  But the point that Jesus is making here that any kingdom that’s divided, or working against itself, cannot stand and endure.

“IS ISAIAH 14:12-17 ABOUT SATAN?”

This passage is a TAUNT [MOCKING] against the King of Babylon.  As we’ve discussed, the name “LUCIFER” is a Latin word, and it’s not part of the actual text.  Once you remove that from the text, then the only other thing to explain are the five “I WILL” boasts within the text:

But you said in your heart, “I will ascend to heaven; I will raise my throne above the stars of God, and I will sit on the mount of the assembly in the recesses of the north.  I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will make myself like the Most High.  (Isaiah 14:13-14)

But in spite of these boasts of what this individual will do, God responds by saying,

Nevertheless you will be thrust down to Sheol [the grave], to the recesses of the pit.  Those who see you will gaze at you, they will ponder over you, saying, “Is this THE MAN who made the earth tremble, who shook kingdoms, who made the world like a wilderness, and over three its cities, who did not allow his prisoners to go home.  (Isaiah 14:15-17; Emphasis Mine)

In fact, we can see a parallel of this in the life of Nebuchadnezzar.  In Daniel 4, God gives Nebuchadnezzar a dream warning him about what would happen to him due to his pride in thinking that he was solely the one who can be credited for Babylon’s greatness (Daniel 4:4-23), and what was prophesied to happen to him due to his pride:

This is the interpretation, O king, and this is the decree of the Most High, which has come upon my lord and king:  that you be driven away from mankind, and your dwelling place be with the beasts of the field, and you be given grass to eat like cattle and be drenched with the dew of heaven; and seven periods of time will pass over you, until you recognize that the Most High is ruler over the realm of mankind, and bestows it on whomever he wises.   And in that it was commanded to leave the stump with the roots of the tree, your kingdom will be assured to you after you recognize that it is Heaven that rules.  (Daniel 4:24-26)

And one year later, just as God warned would happen and Daniel explained, the king was glorying in himself by saying, “Is this not Babylon the great, which I myself have built as a royal residence by the might of my power and for the glory of my majesty?” (Daniel 4:30), and as soon as he said those words, his dream came to pass (Daniel 4:31-33).

I can see people scoffing and laughing as “the Great King Nebuchadnezzar” who ruled with such glory and power, now lost his sanity, and they watch as he forages for grass to eat like cattle.  Am I saying that Isaiah 14:12-17 is about Nebuchadnezzar?  I’m just saying that the prophecy and what happens in Daniel seem to match, so it’s at least a possibility. Also, since the taunt identifies it as being aimed at a MAN, rather than a spiritual being, I don’t believe there’s enough textual evidence here to say that this text applies to more than just the king of Babylon.

IS SATAN A FALLEN ANGEL?

The typical description by most Christians of Satan is that he’s “a fallen angel.”  Part of this speculation comes from 2 Corinthians:

For such men are false apostles deceitful workers, disguising themselves as apostles of Christ.  And no wonder, for EVEN SATAN DISGUISES HIMSELF AS AN ANGEL OF LIGHT.  Therefore, it is not surprising if his servants also disguise themselves as servants of righteousness; whose end shall be according to their deeds.  (2 Corinthians 11:13-15; Emphasis Mine)

Obviously, if SATAN DISGUISES HIMSELF AS AN ANGEL OF LIGHT, then an “Angel of light” is not who he truly is.  It’s a mask, a false front, a disguise, something that he pretends to be.  So if he’s pretending to be an “angel of light,” then logically, he must be  something else other than an “angel.”

In the Scriptures, Satan is pictured coming before God with the angels, the sons of God (Job 1:6; 2:1), but nowhere does it identify him as an angel.   Also, in Zcehariah 3, when Joshua is standing before the Angel of the Lord, and Satan on his right hand to accuse him, it still does not identify Satan as an angel.

Instead, in Revelation 12:9, we learn the following:

And the great dragon was thrown down, the serpent of old who is called the devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world; he was thrown down to the earth, and HIS ANGELS were thrown down with him. (Emphasis Mine)

Although the Bible does not identify Satan as an angel, it does teach that there are angels who work for him and serve his needs.

“IS EZEKIEL 28 ABOUT SATAN?”

Although Ezekiel 28 is specifically addressing the overthrow of the “king of Tyre,” I do believe that there is enough textual evidence here to support the idea that this passage is discussing more than just the king of Tyre.   Instead, I believe that a portion of this text about the fall of the king of Tyre is also being used to present us with a picture of the fall of Satan.

In Ezekiel 28:13, this verse begins by saying, “You were in Eden, the garden of God.”  Obviously, there’s no chance that the king of Tyre could have been in Eden; however, we know that the serpent, who is called Satan (Revelation 12:9), was, in fact, in the garden of Eden.

The passage then goes on to describe him:

Every precious stone was your covering: the ruby, the topaz, and the diamond; the beryl, the onyx, and the jasper; the lapis lazuli, the turquoise, and the emerald; and the gold, the workmanship of your SETTINGS AND SOCKETS, was in you.  On the day that YOU WERE CREATED they were prepared. (Ezekiel 28:13; Emphasis Mine)

There’s three things I want to point out about this verse:

  1.  Four of the jewels that are listed here as “his covering” are also used as the “foundation stones” of the New Jerusalem that will come down out of the New Heaven: the topaz, the beryl, the jasper, and the emerald.  Therefore, at least alluding to a heavenly connection to this individual whose covering is being described.
  2. There is a dispute on how the phrase translated in the NASB as  “SETTINGS AND SOCKETS” should be translated.  Many translators claim that this phrase in the Hebrew is extremely difficult to interpret.  For example, many translations translate the phrase the same way as the KJV as “TABRETS AND THY PIPES,” but one translation, the Orthodox Jewish Bible, translated it as “HAND DRUMS AND OF THY WIND INSTRUMENTS.”   While others, like the Amplified, the New International Version, the Christian Standard Bible, the Tree of Life Version and others translate it like we find in the NASB.  Many people believe that Satan was the worship leader based on the KJV, OJB, and others which describe these as musical instruments, but if the other translations are correct, then there’s no basis for such a claim.
  3. Another indication that this is alluding to someone other than the “king of Tyre” is the statement that “on the day that YOU WERE CREATED were they prepared.”  If this was a man being discussed, God would have said on the day you were CONCEIVED, or on the day that you were BORN, but not “on the day that you were CREATED.”  This again suggests that Ezekiel is alluding to more than just a human king.

In verse 14, we are finally given information about this heavenly being.

You were the ANOINTED CHERUB who covers, and I placed you there.  You were on the holy mountain of God; you walked in the midst of the stones of fire.  (Ezekiel 28:14; Emphasis Mine)

Obviously, a man, the king of Tyre, is NOT an “ANOINTED CHERUB;” indicated that both the king of Tyre and this ANOINTED CHERUB suffered a similar fate, they both were thrown down from their positions of power and authority, which is why the king of Tyre is being used to present us with a glimpse into the fate of this ANOINTED heavenly being.  Consequently, I believe that as we continue on, we will find that there’s more textual evidence to strongly suggest that this heavenly being, who was cast down from his position of power and authority, is Satan.  And as a result, then, this identifies Satan, not as one of the Seraphim or a “fallen angel,” but as a fallen Cherub.

As a cherub, then, this means that Satan also has a human form with “four faces and four wings.” His legs are straight, and his feet are “like a calf’s hoof.”  He, like the other cherubs, have “the face of a man, the face of a lion on the right and the face of a bull on the left, and the face of an eagle” (Ezekiel 1:5-12).  This is definitely not the way that Satan is also pictured.  There’s no horns, no tail, and no pitchfork, and he definitely isn’t red all over.  Much like the angels and cherubs, the picture of Satan that’s often presented does not line up with the biblical record.

In verses 15, we read,

You were blameless in your ways from the day you were created, UNTIL unrighteousness was found in you.

When God originally created Satan, he was “blameless in his ways.”  He was not created as a sinful, evil being, but like humanity,  it is apparent that all of the heavenly being created by God were also given the freedom of choice.  Satan was perfect, “blameless in his ways,” UNTIL he chose to rebel, and Satan must be quite a charismatic speaker because he convinced one-third of the angels to join him in his rebellion (Revelation 12:4); therefore, proving that the angels, likewise, have the freedom to choose.  And then Satan, the serpent, deceived the first man and first woman, Adam and Eve (Heb. Chavah) to make the same choice that he and the one-third of the angels who followed him made, to rebel against God.  And since that time, Satan and his angels have been convincing people to do the same thing over and over and over again.

But let’s continue,

By the abundance of your TRADE you were internally filled with violence, and you sinned; therefore I have cast you as profane from the MOUNTAIN OF GOD.  And I have destroyed you, O COVERING CHERUB, from the midst of the stones of fire. (Ezekiel 28:16; Emphasis Mine)

In this verse, we read, “By the abundance of your TRADE you were internally filled with violence, and you sinned.”  What was this “TRADE“?  And how did it internally fill him “with violence,” and result in him “sinning”?   The word translated as “TRADE” is the Hebrew word r’chullatecha (Strong’s #7404), and means “traffic” or “merchandise.”  Today, I think we could include the idea of “peddling.”  But what the king of Tyre and Satan were each “peddling” led to their downfall, and as we will see, also led to the downfall of others.  It is for this reason, that God cast him as something “profane” (common, average; opposite of holy) from the “MOUNTAIN OF GOD.”

And God destroyed him, “O COVERING CHERUB,” so again, God identifies him as a CHERUB, but this time as the “COVERING CHERUB.”  Perhaps, Satan was originally one of the two covering cherubs over the throne of God, but due to his sin, he was stripped of his name, his office, his position, and even his authority in heaven, and he was branded with the name “SATAN” (Adversary, Opponent).

And what led him to believe that he could his own god?  We are told in the next verse:

Your heart was lifted up because of your BEAUTY; you corrupted your wisdom by reason of your SPLENDOR.   I cast you to the ground; I put you before kings, that they may see you. (Ezekiel 28:17; Emphasis Mine)

Satan got wrapped up in his own beauty and splendor, and as a result, he thought he could be a god as well, and that all those in heaven should bow down in reverence to him as they do God.  And so his pride and narcissistic belief that he should be the center of all things were the seeds that led to his downfall.  And apparently, he was not only beautiful to behold – contrary to the ugly, hideous picture we commonly have of him – but he was also extremely charismatic and convincing.

By the multitude of your iniquities, in the unrighteousness of your trade, you profaned, you profaned your sanctuaries. (Ezekiel 28:18a)

The term “sanctuaries” may be a reference to not only to God’s temple in heaven, the three heavens, but the angels who were corrupted into following him.  So what did God do as punishment besides throwing him down from the “Mountain of God”?

Therefore I have brought fire from the midst of you; it has consumed you.  And I have turned you to ashes on the earth in the eyes of all who see you. (Ezekiel 28:18b)

According to the text, God brought “fire from the midst of you,” the fire of his pride, anger, hatred, jealousy, and it consumed him, turning him “to ashes on the earth.”  The word “ashes” here is a description of his appearance.  He is now burnt, dark, ashen in appearance, the opposite of the beauty that he once possessed.  The statement that he would be thrown “on the earth in the eyes of all who see you” is yet future.

In Revelation 12, we are told that there will be a war in heaven between Michael and his angels, and Satan, the Great Dragon, and his angels.  And that Satan and his angels would be thrown down to earth  (Revelation 12:7-9).

All who know you among the peoples are appalled at you; you have become terrified, and you will be no more. (Ezekiel 28:19)

During the tribulation, Satan will be on the earth with humanity, but he will know then that his time will be short, so he will seek to destroy as many of God’s people as possible.  Believers will be “appalled” at him, but once the Lord returns, he will be “terrified,” realizing his coming punishment in the bottomless pit and, then, into the Lake of Fire and Brimstone where his memory among God’s people “will be no more.”

CONCLUSION

As we’ve seen, the best textual evidence seems to point to Satan originally being one of the covering cherubs over the throne of God.  However, he became enamored with his own looks and beauty, became filled with pride and rebellion, and began to spreading it to the angels within God’s Kingdom.  A third of the angels joined him in his rebellion and were cast out of heaven, and their names were erased from the writings of God.

His appearance was changed by the hideous fire that burned within him to a dark, black, ashened figure, and no longer the beautiful being that he once was.  He now rules as Satan, “the adversary,” the “god of this world,” and “the prince of the kingdom of darkness.”

 

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