James 5:1 (KJV) Go to now, ye rich men, weep and howl for your miseries that shall come upon you.

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Satan Wants Only One Thing From You: Your Soul

A New Post from Dr. Chambers at Paw Creek:
At the very foundation of every scheme of Satan is the hidden effort to buy your soul.
The youth of our world are selling their souls to this dark deceiver for 10 cents a dozen. This present generation of women will sell out to him just for the titillation of looking sexy. Our men today are so unmanly that their price is another toy to entertain them.

The New World Order under the “Mystery of Iniquity” is actually using Biblical language. The ancient city of Babylon will be the antiChrist’s capitol. When God judges this world order, one of their condemnations is the trafficking of souls. The world system is already talking that kind of language. A new movie called “Babylon 5” has a secondary title, “Rivers of Souls.” The idea of this movie is called “The Babylon Project.”

Never has the price of souls been so cheap to the world families. I can remember as a boy 60-70 years ago hearing a song on the “Grand Ole Opera” about this subject. One title I recall was, “Where the Soul Never Dies.” It seems to my memory that the value of a soul was considered priceless in that day. We did not cremate the dead because everything of life was much too respected. The Bible is very plain: “For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? Or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?” (Mark 8: 36-37)

The temptation of Jesus Christ reveals to us the extent of Satan’s control of this world. He is truly “the god of this world.” (II Corinthians 4:4) He is also the “prince of the air.” (Ephesians 2:2) Let’s look at the full text of Satan’s claim to Jesus Christ. It had to be true or Christ’s temptation would be false. If Jesus Christ was truly tempted the claims of the devil had to be believed by the Son of God. “And the devil, taking him up into an high mountain, shewed unto him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time. And the devil said unto him, All this power will I give thee, and the glory of them: for that is delivered unto me; and to whomsoever I will I give it. If thou therefore wilt worship me, all shall be thine. And Jesus answered and said unto him, Get thee behind me, Satan: for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve.” (Luke 4: 5-8) This is a clear picture of this world’s control by the devil. Not only is the power at his command but the glory is his to give.

Let’s list an array of world powers that Satan rules over. Most communities, cities, or nations have no idea of the behind-the-scenes movements. The Bible makes it plain that nothing happening in our world is an accident. We are commanded to acknowledge the Lord in all our ways so He can direct our path. “In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.” (Proverbs 3:6) No Christian should make one simple decision without seeking His will. The small things we take for granted may well lead to big things swiftly.

1. Satan uses wealth to ensnare multitudes. Nothing in the devil’s arsenal is more powerful than money. The Christian world claims their citizenship is in heaven but at the same time their treasures are in the world in banks, stocks and bonds, and stored in many worldly places. The devil must laugh at such carelessness. The biggest deception in the church is the “name it, claim it” crowd of wealth seekers. The preachers in this deception are facing incredible judgment for being used by the devil. Money can be stewardship or it can be poison for the soul.

2. Worldly pleasures are powerful snares to capture people. The Bible speaks powerfully of the danger in empty pleasures. Remember the warnings “lovers of pleasure more than lovers of God.” (II Timothy 3:4) Look at the ball stadium full of souls on the sacred day called “The Lord’s Day.” Again, Born Again Christians should never be in such a place on the Lord’s Day. Our pleasures must be sanctified and pure and limited to family times and pure experiences.

3. Nothing has captured the world as has sexy and skimpy dress. No one would be honest not to admit that the modern dress has created a lustfulness everywhere we look. Sex has taken almost complete control of the youth of this generation. The statistics of sexual activity among teenagers is staggering. Good common sense must admit the connection. Adult men and women dress like they have lost all control and decency. Satan holds this carrot right out in front of our modern world and he is buying these souls at a dirt cheap price.

4. Satan was the inventor of music and he uses it to the fullest. Elvis Pressley learned to sing in an Assembly of God Pentecostal church. He could have blessed the world with gospel music. Instead he made “Rock and Roll” the god of millions. When Satan was finished he sent him ahead of himself to await his arrival. I have watched precious families who had sweetheart children that became beautiful singers that were quickly bought by the “Mystery of Iniquity” and left the fundamental faith and sold out to the world. The only word for Satan’s fantasy with music and how he has purchased almost the entire church world with this lure is “heart breaking.”

5. Satan will promise to make you famous. Then he will give you exceptional talents to make people grovel at your feet, plus great treasures of the world but he must have your soul in exchange. He even lies about your final destination but the picture is too plain. His prize is always and in every instance your soul.

6. We live in an hour when the souls of men are actually on the slave market. The price has become dirt cheap and most of the world loves their slavery. Sin seems so much fun and the sexual pleasures are at the top of the list. Family values and Biblical morals have been trashed until they seem old-fashioned and repulsive. The worst of sins are now the greatest of excitement. To a saint of God truly “Born Again” it is sickening and heart breaking.

7. Satan wants you to spend eternity with him. Look throughout your Bible at the great men that sold their birthright. Esau and Judas are two that both sought repentance and could not find it. Many as the prodigal son repented and came back to the hope and promises of the Lord. Everything in your life, your decisions and all your plans, must be weighted by the perfect truths of the Holy Scripture. The wiles and tricks of Satan are hidden in almost every aspect of our lives.

Churches are full of schemes, plans, and theologies that have been devised by Satan and his antiChrist. No wonder the Lord warned us over and over to be overcomers. The Lord was quoted in Luke saying,“And take heed to yourselves, lest at any time your hearts be overcharged with surfeiting, and drunkenness, and cares of this life, and so that day come upon you unawares. For as a snare shall it come on all them that dwell on the face of the whole earth. Watch ye therefore, and pray always, that ye may be accounted worthy to escape all these things that shall come to pass, and to stand before the Son of man.” (Luke 21: 34-36)

You are in Satan’s cross hairs so watch and pray. He will offer you many things but every offer is full of lies, hidden lies to deceive.

You may view the latest post at
Best regards,
Joseph Chambers

Friday, November 28, 2014

Jewish/Arab Christians Join to Proclaim Messiah's Return

Wednesday, November 26, 2014 |  David Lazarus
A new generation of Arab and Jewish followers of Jesus met together last week to strategize on how to “turn Israel upside down.” 

Two hundred and sixty Messianic Jewish and Arab pastors, youth leaders, evangelists, Bible-school teachers and ministry leaders gathered for a three-day council to discuss, study, pray and work together to effectively bring the word of God in power to Arabs and Jews throughout the whole Land of Israel.
These seasoned men and women of faith embody decades of labor proclaiming the Gospel to local Arabs and Jews. Most have given up everything to preach Messiah to their unbelieving Muslim and Jewish families and friends. Despised because of their faith, they have lost jobs, suffered rejection and endured multiple other hardships, yet their passion to bring the Good News to their people remains unquenched.
“We will keep preaching and teaching the Word of God until it changes the people of Israel,” declared one leading pastor. “We must be willing to suffer for the sake of the gospel and keep going no matter what happens. God will accomplish His will through the power of His word.”

With tensions now raging in Jerusalem and across Israel, it was astonishing to witness firsthand the deep friendships between these Arabs and Jews. Even the cold-blooded murders in a Jerusalem synagogue that took place on the final day of the gathering could not separate these godly men and women from their warm fellowship in Messiah. 

In fact, the cowardly acts of terror and violence still raging in Jerusalem only served to move them to stand even stronger together and compelled them to more boldly declare the life-giving Word of God to both Muslim and Jew.

A regular theme throughout the gathering was the need to understand God’s prophetic word concerning the Last Days. 

Scriptures related to the Second Coming of Messiah were studied. There are many signs that we are living in the latter days, particularly the return of the Jewish people to their biblical land, and the leadership of the local congregations in Israel discussed the need to prepare God’s people for the Messiah’s soon return. 

All agreed that time is short, and the peoples of this land, both Arab and Jew, must hear the Word of God now.

It was mentioned that some local leaders are not teaching or preaching about the Second Coming. They do not want to stir up controversy or division over what can be a difficult subject. 

While there remains much debate in Christianity and among Messianic Jews as to what exactly will happen around the Second Coming of the Lord, all were in agreement that He is coming, and that the Gospel much be preached in boldness, especially in Israel, before it is too late, for He comes this time in glory and in judgment. 

According to many New Testament scriptures, the return of Messiah should unify believers, inspiring them to ready themselves in purity and holiness. It is seen as a cunning ploy of the enemy to cause so much confusion and division concerning the Last Days and Messiah’s return. 

The leadership of the local Arab and Jewish congregations in Israel prayed for unity of faith in the Messiah’s return and boldness to tell others of His coming Messianic kingdom, the only real solution to the Arab-Israeli conflict and the peace of Jerusalem.
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Thursday, November 27, 2014

Thanksgiving, by Arno Froese - Part 2

Thanksgiving of the Future. Acknowledging that God is the Creator and Sustainer of life is a fundamental principle.

Thanksgiving2“And the feast of harvest, the firstfruits of thy labours, which thou hast sown in the field: and the feast of ingathering, which is in the end of the year, when thou hast gathered in thy labours out of the field” (Exodus 23:16).

Three times we read in 1 Samuel 17 why David fought and won against Goliath.  “…Who is this uncircumcised Philistine, that he should defy the armies of the living God?” “Seeing he hath defied the armies of the living God….” And directly addressed to Goliath, “I come to thee in the name of the LORD of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom thou hast defied” (verses 26, 36, 45).

Goliath Defied God
goliath2Another great example of faith is revealed when David challenged Goliath the Philistine: “Then said David to the Philistine, Thou comest to me with a sword, and with a spear, and with a shield: but I come to thee in the name of the LORD of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom thou hast defied” (1 Samuel 17:45). The issue was not the nation of Israel and their potential defeat. Goliath defied the God of Israel. That was the reason for his defeat. Three times we read in that chapter why David fought and won against Goliath. “…Who is this uncircumcised Philistine, that he should defy the armies of the living God?” “Seeing he hath defied the armies of the living God….” And directly addressed to Goliath, “I come to thee in the name of the LORD of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom thou hast defied” (verses 26, 36, 45).

There are many other examples in Scripture, clearly documenting that the people in ancient times totally, absolutely, and unconditionally believed in the divine, albeit idols. These few examples should suffice to show that faith in the supernatural was as common as drinking water and eating bread.

In biblical times, the result of faith was often visibly demonstrated, particularly for the people of Israel. Think of the ten plagues in Egypt; the parting of the waters to escape from Pharaoh’s army; seeing water come out of the rock in the desert; manna from heaven; and many other important events throughout Israel’s history. They believed God, but they never broke through to a living faith. They saw the work of God but did not recognize His plan. Psalm 103:7 reveals the difference between Moses and Israel: “He made known his ways unto Moses, his acts unto the children of Israel.”

Decrease of Faith
What about today? Faith in God is definitely decreasing, and faith in man’s ability to solve all his problems is increasing. This is not surprising for Bible believers, for Jesus Himself stated, “…when the Son of man cometh, shall he find faith on the earth?” (Luke 18:8).

What is faith? Hebrews 11:1 reads, “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” That is one important reason why faith is decreasing—because our faith is “the evidence of things not seen.” Modern science, however, exhibits its products and inventions to the entire world. Seeing is believing, they proudly exclaim.

Biblical Thanksgiving
Contrary to the Christian world, where one or two days are set aside to give thanks for a bountiful harvest, the original Thanksgiving was quite different.

The word Thanksgiving appears 20 times in the Old Testament and 8 times in the New Testament. Of particular interest is the fact that a ministry was created within the Temple service for the very purpose of Thanksgiving. Thus, we read in Nehemiah 12:8, “Moreover the Levites: Jeshua, Binnui, Kadmiel, Sherebiah, Judah, and Mattaniah, which was over the thanksgiving, he and his brethren.” Based on our understanding, these Levites’ task was to speak and sing thanksgiving songs in honor to God for His everlasting and eternal grace to His people Israel.

Giving thanks in all circumstances is a clear mark of the born-again person. Colossians 2:7 reads, “Rooted and built up in him, and stablished in the faith, as ye have been taught, abounding therein with thanksgiving.”

Thanksgiving is realizing one’s dependence on the God of Heaven, the Creator and Sustainer of all things. In doing so, our reliance on Him grows day-by-day, of whom we read in Revelation 7:12, “Blessing, and glory, and wisdom, and thanksgiving, and honour, and power, and might, be unto our God for ever and ever. Amen.” In the midst of this seven-fold glorification of God, we find the word thanksgiving.

Thanksgiving, therefore, is not a day set apart, but Thanksgiving means being thankful 365 days a year. That is what real Thanksgiving is all about.

mitzbah2The Three Feasts
We already read at the beginning of this article the original instruction in the book of Exodus. We note in chapter 23:17, “Three times in the year all thy males shall appear before the Lord God.” It speaks of three special feasts. The first is the Feast of Passover, the second the Feast of Pentecost, and the third, the Feast of Tabernacles. These three important feasts are aimed at the God of Israel. He is the reason for Thanksgiving.

1. Feast of Passover
We should all be familiar with the Feast of Passover, giving thanks to God for the redemption of Israel from the slavery of Egypt.

To get a better picture of Thanksgiving, let us read the instruction God gave to the people of Israel after they came out of Egypt, “In the fourteenth day of the first month at even is the LORD’S passover. And on the fifteenth day of the same month is the feast of unleavened bread unto the LORD: seven days ye must eat unleavened bread. In the first day ye shall have an holy convocation: ye shall do no servile work therein. But ye shall offer an offering made by fire unto the LORD seven days: in the seventh day is an holy convocation: ye shall do no servile work therein” (Leviticus 23:5-8).

We immediately recognize the stark difference between our Thanksgiving and the Passover Thanksgiving. No work was to be done. In modern language, all shopping centers would be closed. Objectively speaking, this was not good for the economy. But here we are dealing with God’s instruction. It shows with clarity that the center of all celebrations, of all holidays should be the Lord God, the Creator of heaven and earth. Israel was ordered to totally concentrate on God, the Redeemer who brought them out of slavery in Egypt.

The Passover was not without blood. That was the very substance by which Israel was saved from the angel of judgment, which destroyed all firstborn males throughout the land of Egypt; the only exception were those who had the blood of the Lamb applied on the doorpost and lintels.

What a tremendous prophetic picture of our Lord. It is the blood of the Lamb of God who finalized this prophetic event, as we can read in Revelation 5:9, “And they sung a new song, saying, Thou art worthy to take the book, and to open the seals thereof: for thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation.”

2. Feast of Pentecost
The Feast of Pentecost is an agricultural feast, known in Hebrew as Shavu’ot or the Festival of Weeks. Let us read from Leviticus 23:10, 15, and 17, “Speak unto the children of Israel, and say unto them, When ye be come into the land which I give unto you, and shall reap the harvest thereof, then ye shall bring a sheaf of the firstfruits of your harvest unto the priest…And ye shall count unto you from the morrow after the sabbath, from the day that ye brought the sheaf of the wave offering; seven sabbaths shall be complete…Ye shall bring out of your habitations two wave loaves of two tenth deals: they shall be of fine flour; they shall be baken with leaven; they are the firstfruits unto the LORD.”

This order was given before Israel entered the Promised Land.

Such feasts or celebrations would again be out of the question in our modern age; it would be called economically unfeasible. This seems like a contradiction, because today we have our modern machinery and time-saving devices. We should have plenty of time to dedicate ourselves to the things of God, but in actual fact, we don’t. That again shows our own technology is creating a manmade god. Ultimately, all mankind will worship it, according to Revelation 17:13.

Furthermore, Pentecost is actually the Church’s birthday. We read of it in Acts 2:1-4, “And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place.  And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting. And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.”

This sign of the “cloven tongues like as of fire” is a one-time event, not to be repeated; it’s part of the foundation of the Church. Pentecost illustrates the new birth, the change from the old to the new, from dying of self to the rebirth.

Here we must mention that the rebirth does not include our flesh and blood birth; it’s the spirit that is new. The flesh and blood remains sinful and is condemned to die. However, this flesh and blood serves as the temple of the Holy Spirit and should be sanctified by the believer.   

3. Feast of Tabernacles
Let us read about this festival from Jewish perspectives:

sukkot2“Sukkot (Feast of Booths, Feast of Tabernacles) is a biblical Jewish holiday celebrated on the 15th day of the month of Tishrei (varies from late September to late October). It is one of the three biblically mandated festivals (shalosh regalim) on which Hebrews were commanded to make a pilgrimage to the Temple in Jerusalem.

“The holiday lasts seven days (eight in the diaspora). The first day (and second in the diaspora) is a sabbath-like yom tov (holiday) when work is forbidden, followed by the intermediate Chol Hamoed and Shemini Atzeret. The Hebrew word sukkot is the plural of sukkah, ‘booth or tabernacle,’ which is a walled structure covered with s’chach (plant material such as leafy tree overgrowth or palm leaves).”

It is a feast of joy and gladness to God for causing the Israelites to harvest bountifully, so their food supply would be assured, as well as that of their livestock.

When we read the Scripture, we immediately notice that Thanksgiving is to be throughout the year. It’s not a one-day event. Thanksgiving, as already mentioned, is part of being a Christian. Literally, we are eternally thankful.

The Law of the Feast of Tabernacles
“And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying, Speak unto the children of Israel, saying, The fifteenth day of this seventh month shall be the feast of tabernacles for seven days unto the LORD.  On the first day shall be an holy convocation: ye shall do no servile work therein.  Seven days ye shall offer an offering made by fire unto the LORD: on the eighth day shall be an holy convocation unto you; and ye shall offer an offering made by fire unto the LORD: it is a solemn assembly; and ye shall do no servile work therein. On the first day shall be an holy convocation: ye shall do no servile work therein” (Leviticus 23:33-36).

When reading these instructions given by God, one notices that work is not to be our most important occupation, as it is in our days. Taking time to recognize the Life-giver was a priority for the people of Israel.

Remaining Thankful
When we analyze this both objectively and subjectively, we immediately realize that the worship of God, concentrating on Him and His blessings, should be priority number one. Everything else is secondary.

Here we are reminded of the words of our Lord Jesus Christ in Matthew 6:33, “…seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.”  That is what Thanksgiving is all about.

The children of Israel were commanded to observe these feast days to celebrate and always remember that liberty comes from God. That is Thanksgiving.   

Unfortunately, most of the world’s “Thanksgiving” has little to no relationship to Biblical truth. Often, it is just gimmick or tradition, powered by commercialism. Some of this applies to America’s Pilgrim Thanksgiving, which has been ordered as a national holiday. But in reality, it has no relationship to biblically-based Thanksgiving.

Our modern Thanksgiving, no matter where it is celebrated and in what country, is centered on self—on our amazing technology that is able to supply food in abundance to the majority of the 7 billion people on planet Earth.

Thanksgiving of the Future
Acknowledging that God is the Creator and Sustainer of life is a fundamental principle. For that reason, we read in Zechariah 14:16-17 that the nations will be required to keep the Feast of Tabernacles in Jerusalem, “And it shall come to pass, that every one that is left of all the nations which came against Jerusalem shall even go up from year to year to worship the King, the LORD of hosts, and to keep the feast of tabernacles. And it shall be, that whoso will not come up of all the families of the earth unto Jerusalem to worship the King, the LORD of hosts, even upon them shall be no rain.”

This almost sounds too simple, too primitive. Yet with all the technology and our proud slogan, “The sky is the limit,” the real limit is “shall be no rain.”

During the last few decades, much is being spoken about the environment, global warming, depletion of fresh water and endangered species, but in reality, all depends on whether the Creator gives rain.

Also, there is political, economic, and financial turmoil, plus various local wars, trouble, confusion, and danger the world over. Yet all that is secondary. When rain fails, life fails; the end has come. The Creator has the last word. It will not be global warming or anything else but “upon them shall be no rain.” Such a simple statement would cause shortage of food, hunger, starvation, the end of life.

For the world, there is no hope outside the God of Creation. In light of that fact, politically active Christians should realize that all of their work is in vain. The world in which we live will not be saved, nor will America return to God, as some urge us to fight for. The world, all of it, is destined for destruction, for judgment, because sin requires judgment. Again, Scripture says, “He that sins is of the devil”; and since all have sinned, there is no hope.

Yet—and this is extremely important— there is one escape and that is the sin-bearer, the sin-forgiver, the Lamb of God who poured out His life in His blood on Calvary’s Cross. Faith in the eternally accomplished work of redemption by Jesus Christ our Lord guarantees eternal blessings, even spiritual blessings here and now on earth. Let us follow the instruction given in Holy Scripture, “And they that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts. If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit. Let us not be desirous of vain glory, provoking one another, envying one another” (Galatians 5:24-26).

Midnight Call - 11/2014

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by Arno Froese
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Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Thanksgiving by Arno Froese - Part 1

Thanksgiving - Part I 

Written by 

From Dependence on God to Dependence on Man. Thanksgiving for the people of Israel involved much more than a one-day celebration.

“And the feast of harvest, the firstfruits of thy labours, which thou hast sown in the field: and the feast of ingathering, which is in the end of the year, when thou hast gathered in thy labours out of the field” (Exodus 23:16).

Thanksgiving for the people of Israel involved much more than a one-day celebration. Thanksgiving, in plain words, means acknowledging God for granting crops to grow and harvest.

Ancient Thanksgiving
It is not our intention to research ancient festivals related to giving thanks to a deity for a bountiful harvest. However, we will point to a few to show that it is quite normal for man to thank God for food.

An amazing volume of information is available on the internet relating to ancient Thanksgiving feasts:

First Thanksgiving in Ancient Greece
The Greeks held this festival over three days in the month of Pyanopsion, or October. Many of the rituals of this festival were kept secret, but scholars know some of the customs. A good part of the Thesmophoria was conducted in torchlight…While the Greeks gave thanks that Demeter gave a good harvest so they would not starve in the winter during this time, it is in large part a fertility festival carried out by free, married women to ensure the fertility of the earth as well as of humans and animals. However, it seems that during the Thesmophoria the people also gave their wishes that Demeter would bring a good harvest again.

The Roman Thanksgiving Celebration
The Romans held a similar festival to the Greeks. In Rome, the goddess of grain was named Ceres and her festival was called Cerelia. This holiday was also held in early October, possible a bit earlier than the Greek Thesmophoria. The first fruits of the harvest were offered to Ceres in honor and thanks. Unlike the Greeks, the Romans included music, parades, games, and a big feast in their celebration.

God Gives Food
All celebrations relating to Thanksgiving for food originate with the realization that God gives food. That is why believers, even today, give thanks to God before they eat their meal.

At the very beginning, God provided food for man, “And God said, Behold, I have given you every herb bearing seed, which is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree, in the which is the fruit of a tree yielding seed; to you it shall be for meat”  (Genesis 1:29). Needless to say, man before he fell into sin was designed by God to be a vegetarian. However, thereafter God said, “Every moving thing that liveth shall be meat for you; even as the green herb have I given you all things” (Genesis 9:3).

overflow2It is God who gives life and it is God who sustains life. That fact today is virtually ignored in the scientific world. Man has achieved so many marvelous things and produces so much food that there is an overabundance available in most countries of the world. Nevertheless, that does not change the fact that man totally depends on God’s grace to send rain so vegetation can grow to feed man and animals. But in general, man does not acknowledge that simple fact.

It matters not what part of the world, or what type of religious belief; most publicly and openly confess that life depends on a good harvest and that God (or in most cases, idols) is responsible for granting us sustenance for life.

God or Science?
Belief in the supernatural, belief in the divine—regardless of whether pagan or believing in the living God who created heaven and earth—this inherent belief was fundamental but is now being replaced by so-called scientific facts and technology.

Take, for example, the English naturalist Charles Robert Darwin, born 12 February 1809, died 19 April 1882, educated at Christ College, Cambridge (1828-1831). He is credited to be one of the most famous originators of a theory called evolution. No scientist since that time has presented a foolproof scientific case proving that evolution is a science. Yet, without exception, the whole academic world teaches evolution as a scientific fact, while in reality it is based primarily on faith.

human2We acknowledge the many achievements of science, its understanding of the intricate functions of life in plants, animals, and man. But the more man learns how God created things, the more he becomes independent from God. That is today’s natural process; away from God, closer to self. The better we can explain our world geologically and topographically, and understand the multi-functioning and interconnected operations of planet Earth, the less we need the Bible and the Author of Holy Scripture, the Creator of all things. That is the sad fact.

Nebuchadnezzar Example
Let us now take a closer look at FAITH in the Bible.

In Daniel chapter 2, we find world history recorded in 49 verses. The king had a dream. No one could interpret that dream because the king had forgotten what he dreamed. Then came Daniel on the scene; he prayed to God and verse 19 says, “Then was the secret revealed unto Daniel in a night vision. Then Daniel blessed the God of heaven.” This rather peculiar dream consisted of an image made out of gold, silver, brass, and iron.

King Nebuchadnezzar is special. He is the gold medalist of Gentile rulership; thus, we read, “Thou, O king, art a king of kings: for the God of heaven hath given thee a kingdom, power, and strength, and glory” (verse 37).

This statement is strange because in our time we look down on the primitive nations which were ruled by rude dictators. True from human perspectives, but not from heavenly because Nebuchadnezzar is the superior leader of the Gentile world, “Thou art this head of gold.” We must keep that in mind even when analyzing our world today.

Nebuchadnezzar Believed
Daniel’s interpretation, which he had received from God and passed on to the king, must have touched the soul of Nebuchadnezzar, “The king answered unto Daniel, and said, Of a truth it is, that your God is a God of gods, and a Lord of kings, and a revealer of secrets, seeing thou couldest reveal this secret” (Daniel 2:47). What a tremendous statement by the first Gentile world leader, “your God is a God of gods, and a Lord of kings.” Nebuchadnezzar converted, but not to a living faith.

The next chapter begins with Nebuchadnezzar building an image, not according to the dream, but according to his own imagination, “Nebuchadnezzar the king made an image of gold, whose height was threescore cubits, and the breadth thereof six cubits: he set it up in the plain of Dura, in the province of Babylon” (Daniel 3:1). Nebuchadnezzar is the recipient of the blessing of God: he is the “head of gold.” He even recognized the God of heaven, yet that was apparently not enough; he needed more, so he created his own image of gold. The purpose—all had to worship the image.

daniel32Most of us are familiar with the story of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, who were thrown in the fiery furnace but came out untouched. Again, the king recognizes God, “Then Nebuchadnezzar spake, and said, Blessed be the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, who hath sent his angel, and delivered his servants that trusted in him, and have changed the king’s word, and yielded their bodies, that they might not serve nor worship any god, except their own God”  (Daniel 3:28). For the second time, Nebuchadnezzar recognized God—but did not KNOW Him.

God Must Know Me
It is not sufficient to know God, but God must know you. This fact is particularly fitting for our days, when multiple millions follow the Christian religion, praise Jesus, do great works, even miracles. But that is not sufficient. We find the record in Matthew 7, where believers in the Lord Jesus do many wonderful works, cast out devils, prophesy in the name of Jesus, yet they have never attempted to really know this Jesus. Subsequently, Jesus did not know them. We read this shocking verse, “And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity” (Matthew 7:23). The words, “I never knew you” clearly show that Jesus must know me personally after I have known Him.
In Nebuchadnezzar’s case, it was obvious that he only recognized God based on his experience, but went no further.

Nebuchadnezzar’s Conversion
His downfall began when he gave credit to himself instead of to the God of heaven; thus, we read, “The king spake, and said, Is not this great Babylon, that I have built for the house of the kingdom by the might of my power, and for the honour of my majesty?” (Daniel 4:30).

That is precisely what is happening today in our modern world. It’s “I,” “me,”  “my.” In other words, we have achieved great things; we have become independent from God.

Nebuchadnezzar had to be debased to the level of an animal. Finally, his testimony concluded, “Now I Nebuchadnezzar praise and extol and honour the King of heaven, all whose works are truth, and his ways judgment: and those that walk in pride he is able to abase” (Daniel 4:37). That is the reason Nebuchadnezzar is the greatest Gentile leader—the head of gold.

Sailors Believed
From the Book of Jonah, we learn of the faith of the pagan sailors. When Jonah went aboard the ship on his way to Tarshish, instead of Nineveh, God sent a great storm. We read, “Then the mariners were afraid, and cried every man unto his god, and cast forth the wares that were in the ship into the sea, to lighten it of them. But Jonah was gone down into the sides of the ship; and he lay, and was fast asleep.  So the shipmaster came to him, and said unto him, What meanest thou, O sleeper? arise, call upon thy God, if so be that God will think upon us, that we perish not” (Jonah 1:5-6). The shipmaster surely believed that this storm was subject to a higher power; thus, he challenged Jonah, “What meanest thou, O sleeper? Arise, call upon thy God.”

Many tens of thousands of ships sail the oceans every day; all rely upon the technology created by man. When there is a storm, they are relatively sure in which area and, in most cases, they will avoid it. But no captain would tell the passengers to call upon God. When the ship is in trouble, the “shipmaster” calls the Coast Guard.

Also, it is interesting that Jonah “was fast asleep.” In the midst of this mighty storm, Jonah is resting, sleeping. We realize Jonah’s absolute faith in the Living God. He certainly knew God personally.

Nineveh Believed God
Jonah got a second chance; thus we read in Jonah 3:1, “And the word of the LORD came unto Jonah the second time….”

What happens next is absolutely amazing. Jonah comes to Nineveh and begins to proclaim a simple message, “yet forty days and Nineveh shall be overthrown.” Surely no one in their right mind would take seriously a person proclaiming imminent destruction. But the people of Nineveh did.

How did the people know that Jonah was sent by God? They were idol worshiping pagans. We do not know how he looked after having spent three days and three nights in a fish, which spit him out on the land. He certainly must have appeared strange to the people of Nineveh. There is no record as to how long he traveled. We do know that he arrived in Nineveh and preached.

What was their reaction?

“So the people of Nineveh believed God, and proclaimed a fast, and put on sackcloth, from the greatest of them even to the least of them” (Jonah 3:5). There is no second guessing here; the people believed God. They believed the prophet who spoke in the name of God. They did not consult any of their idols, prognosticators, or soothsayers, but they simply “believed God,” the Bible says.

Man Depends on Technology
That would be out of the question today. Most religions are segregated, and one would definitely not listen to the others. Besides, today we have sophisticated systems, being able to communicate instantaneously around planet Earth at any time. Religion, faith in the Living God, or even faith in idols, is no longer decisive because we have technology to inform us about anything happening the world over. At this point in time, there are thousands of scientists working on ways to forecast earthquakes. Man in his quest for more knowledge will continue to eagerly investigate details about God’s creation, but without acknowledging Him.

Politicians Believe
Here in Nineveh, it’s not only the people but also the political authorities as well. Jonah did not need to go to the palace asking for permission to speak, or request an audience with the king. The people of Nineveh told the king the things Jonah proclaimed: “For word came unto the king of Nineveh, and he arose from his throne, and he laid his robe from him, and covered him with sackcloth, and sat in ashes” (Jonah 3:6).

Believing in a higher power was as natural as eating bread and drinking water. Atheists apparently had not come on the scene yet.

Philistines Believed
Another example in the Bible showing faith in the divine is recorded in Judges 16. It was during the time Samson judged Israel. A man with supernatural strength, but in the end, he was deceived by a woman and captured by his enemies the Philistines. Here is what we read in verses 23-24, “Then the lords of the Philistines gathered them together for to offer a great sacrifice unto Dagon their god, and to rejoice: for they said, Our god hath delivered Samson our enemy into our hand.  And when the people saw him, they praised their god: for they said, Our god hath delivered into our hands our enemy, and the destroyer of our country, which slew many of us.” The Philistines gave credit to “Dagon their god” for capturing Samson the Israelite.

The Philistines believed in a higher power.  

Syrians Believed
Another event that needs to be mentioned relates to the king of Syria, the enemy of Israel. Benhadad had gathered a mighty army with 32 kings allied to him. The destruction of Samaria was all but assured.

Then comes the prophet and makes this announcement to King Ahab, “Thus saith the LORD, Hast thou seen all this great multitude? behold, I will deliver it into thine hand this day; and thou shalt know that I am the LORD”  (1 Kings 20:13). King Ahab was rightfully frightened and discouraged, therefore he astonishingly asked, “By whom?” The prophet answered, “Thus saith the Lord, even by the young men of the princes of the provinces.” How many were there? “Then he numbered the young men of the princes of the provinces, and they were two hundred and thirty two: and after them he numbered all the people, even all the children of Israel, being seven thousand” (1 Kings 20:15). A great multitude against a handful of only 7,232 men. There was no hope for Israel to win against the Syrians’ superiority. But verses 20-21 record a different story: “And they slew every one his man: and the Syrians fled; and Israel pursued them: and Benhadad the king of Syria escaped on an horse with the horsemen. And the king of Israel went out, and smote the horses and chariots, and slew the Syrians with a great slaughter.”

After Syria was defeated, we read the following: “And the servants of the king of Syria said unto him, Their gods are gods of the hills; therefore they were stronger than we; but let us fight against them in the plain, and surely we shall be stronger than they” (verse 23).

The Syrians most certainly believed in a higher power and the power of their gods.

There is no doubt whatsoever the servants, advisers, princes, counselors, priests and kings, all believed that Israel’s “gods are gods of the hills.” They were fully convinced that the ultimate authority was to be found in the invisible world. In this case, they gave the “gods of the hills” the credit.

One year later, Benhadad was ready to fight Israel again. The unequal challenge is documented in verse 27, “And the children of Israel pitched before them like two little flocks of kids; but the Syrians filled the country.” And the outcome? “And they pitched one over against the other seven days. And so it was, that in the seventh day the battle was joined: and the children of Israel slew of the Syrians an hundred thousand footmen in one day” (verse 29).

We must take note of the reason for the defeat of the Syrians, “…Because the Syrians have said, The Lord is God of the hills, but he is not God of the valleys” (verse 28).

While King Ahab and Israel deserved just punishment, victory is recorded nevertheless. The reason? The Syrians insulted the God of Israel.

Collective Judgment
This should be a lesson to each of us, regardless of what your fellow man does or does not do, particularly your fellow Christians. Be very cautious when using judgment against anyone in the family of God you dislike—you are touching God. He has saved that person, cleansed him with the blood of His Son, and called him His own. Whenever we blanketly judge a group of people, we are also judging His children, who are among the ones we may call our enemies.

It has become popular lately to blanketly condemn all Arab and Islamic people, but by doing so, we are condemning His children as well. We must not forget there are many Christians in the Muslim world. Here the words apply, “For he that toucheth you toucheth the apple of his eye” (Zechariah 2:8). The honor of God is at stake. When we blanketly denounce a group of people, we touch the apple of His eye.                                            

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Tuesday, November 25, 2014

The Case Against Combining Law and Grace - Galatians

This entry is part 1 of 1 in the series Galatians Study
A Bible Study by Jack Kelley

Paul’s Letter To The Galatians

Today we begin a study of Paul’s letter to the Galatians which I’ve subtitled “The Case Against Combining Law And Grace.” Scholars are divided as to the date of this letter. Some place it in the late 40’s and others in the early 50’s. Either way it one of Paul’s earliest letters, perhaps even his first, and predated the Council of Jerusalem where the issue of Gentile converts to Christianity was the main agenda item (Acts 15).

The primary purpose of this letter was to contend against a group called the Judaizers, early Jewish Christians who taught that Gentile converts to Christianity also had to observe certain Old Testament rites, specifically circumcision. Some even argued that the only way for a Gentile to become a Christian was to first convert to Judaism, be circumcized, and go under the Law.

The Judaizers said Paul was not an authentic apostle but a false teacher who, in order to make the gospel more acceptable to Gentiles, had ignored the legal requirements of Judaism in his presentations. They felt it was their responsibility to follow Paul around and explain the “real gospel” to the Gentile churches he had planted.

One of the things that prompted me to undertake this study now is the growing number of comments I’ve received from certain elements in Christianity voicing those same opinions today, and for the same reason. Some Christians are once again claiming that we are obligated to observe Old Testament rites and regulations, and that Paul was not an authentic apostle.

In his letter to the Galatians, Paul presented a powerful defense of the essential New Testament truth that we are justified by faith in Jesus Christ alone. We do not sanctify ourselves by religious works or Jewish legalism, but are sanctified by faith in the grace and power of God, made manifest in the work of Jesus Christ, and energized in our life by the Holy Spirit.

This will be an in depth study of the Letter to the Galatians and we’ll need several installments to get through it, so let’s get started.

Galatians 1

Paul, an apostle—sent not from men nor by a man, but by Jesus Christ and God the Father, who raised him from the dead—and all the brothers and sisters with me,
To the churches in Galatia:
Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ, who gave himself for our sins to rescue us from the present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father, to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen (Galatians 1:1-5).

Acts 13-14 records the churches of Galatia as Pisidian Antioch, Iconium, Lystra, and Derbe. They were all geographically located in the south central part of what was then the Roman province of Galatia, known today as Turkey.

The Greek word translated “apostle” means “a delegate or messenger, one sent forth with orders.” Paul always took pains to say he was not appointed an apostle by men but by the Lord Himself.

According to Acts 13:2 the Holy Spirit commissioned Paul and Barnabas to begin their first missionary journey and led them to Cyprus and then into the cities of Galatia where they formed the churches mentioned above.

Paul’s letter was his response to the Galatian churches concerning the Judaizers who visited these churches after he left.

I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting the one who called you to live in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel— which is really no gospel at all. Evidently some people are throwing you into confusion and are trying to pervert the gospel of Christ. But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let them be under God’s curse! As we have already said, so now I say again: If anybody is preaching to you a gospel other than what you accepted, let them be under God’s curse! (Galatians 1:6-9)

Pay attention to what Paul said here. He pronounced a curse on anyone who tries to promote a gospel other than the one he has presented. Some translations render this as Paul saying, “Let him be eternally condemned.” The Greek word is “anathema” and means “cursed, doomed to destruction.”

We would expect him to come out strongly against the pagan religions that were prevalent at the time, but that’s not what we’re dealing with here. Paul said any so called gospel message that contradicts the doctrine of salvation by grace through faith alone as presented in his letters is by definition a different gospel and puts those who teach it under a curse that dooms them to destruction. That means they aren’t saved, nor can they be. Where did he get the authority to say something like that?

Am I now trying to win the approval of human beings, or of God? Or am I trying to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a servant of Christ. I want you to know, brothers and sisters, that the gospel I preached is not of human origin. I did not receive it from any man, nor was I taught it; rather, I received it by revelation from Jesus Christ (Galatians 1:10-12).

Paul said what has become known as the doctrine of salvation by grace through faith came straight to him from the Lord Himself. That’s where he got His authority.

For you have heard of my previous way of life in Judaism, how intensely I persecuted the church of God and tried to destroy it. I was advancing in Judaism beyond many of my own age among my people and was extremely zealous for the traditions of my fathers (Galatians 1:13-14).

Paul was a Pharisee, taught by Gamaliel who was one of the most highly regarded teachers of the time.  Paul was a rising star in Judaism who was gaining a reputation as a relentless pursuer of the followers of Jesus, showing no mercy to those he apprehended.

But when God, who set me apart from my mother’s womb and called me by his grace, was pleased to reveal his Son in me so that I might preach him among the Gentiles, my immediate response was not to consult any human being. I did not go up to Jerusalem to see those who were apostles before I was, but I went into Arabia. Later I returned to Damascus (Galatians 1:15-17).

One of the great fears of the day in Jerusalem was that belief in Jesus would spread to Damascus, a major commercial hub in the region. It was feared that if this new faith took root there it would quickly spread in all directions and there would be no stopping it. Paul agreed to go to Damascus to make sure that didn’t happen. He was on the way when He had a personal encounter with the risen Lord that changed everything. Instead of rounding up the believers in Damascus when he got there, he began teaching that Jesus is the Son of God, which so angered the Jews that they conspired to kill him.
With the help of friends, Paul escaped from Damascus and traveled into Arabia. Some say he went to Mt. Sinai and stayed in the same cave Elijah had used during his time on the mountain of God (1 Kings 19:8-9). If so, the place where Moses received the Law would have been the same place where Paul received his revelation from the Lord concerning the doctrine of salvation by grace through faith. After that Paul returned to Damascus where he continued teaching.

Then after three years, I went up to Jerusalem to get acquainted with Peter and stayed with him fifteen days. I saw none of the other apostles—only James, the Lord’s brother. I assure you before God that what I am writing you is no lie (Galatians 1:18-20).

Paul is going to great lengths here to differentiate himself from the Judaizers. They were simply repeating the traditions they had been taught by men. But Paul was sent by God with a gospel he received directly from the Lord Jesus.

Then I went to Syria and Cilicia. I was personally unknown to the churches of Judea that are in Christ. They only heard the report: “The man who formerly persecuted us is now preaching the faith he once tried to destroy.” And they praised God because of me (Galatians 1:21-24).

Paul visited Syrian Antioch and Tarsus in Cilicia, the city of his birth. While he was in Tarsus, Barnabas came to visit him from Antioch and took him back there. Together they spent a year teaching and ministering to the believers in Antioch. It was there that believers were first called Christians. And it was from there that Paul and Barnabas would later begin their missionary journey into Galatia under the call of the Holy Spirit (Acts 13:2).

Galatians 2

Then after fourteen years, I went up again to Jerusalem, this time with Barnabas. I took Titus along also. I went in response to a revelation and, meeting privately with those esteemed as leaders, I presented to them the gospel that I preach among the Gentiles. I wanted to be sure I was not running and had not been running my race in vain. Yet not even Titus, who was with me, was compelled to be circumcised, even though he was a Greek. This matter arose because some false believers had infiltrated our ranks to spy on the freedom we have in Christ Jesus and to make us slaves. We did not give in to them for a moment, so that the truth of the gospel might be preserved for you (Galatians 2:1-5).

Apparently, the Lord told Paul to meet with the Church leaders in Jerusalem to confirm that the Judaizers were not speaking on behalf of the Church in Jerusalem. This is an interesting point. Paul was given a direct revelation from the Lord about the gospel he was to preach (Galatians 1:12). Even so, he was sent to the Church leadership for confirmation. Remember that the next time someone tells you he or she has a word from the Lord for you. Always seek confirmation. Every matter must be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses (Deut. 19:15, 2 Cor. 13:1).

As for those who were held in high esteem—whatever they were makes no difference to me; God does not show favoritism—they added nothing to my message. On the contrary, they recognized that I had been entrusted with the task of preaching the gospel to the Gentiles, just as Peter had been to the Jews. For God, who was at work in Peter as an apostle to the Jews, was also at work in me as an apostle to the Gentiles. James, Peter and John, those esteemed as pillars, gave me and Barnabas the right hand of fellowship when they recognized the grace given to me. They agreed that we should go to the Gentiles, and they to the Jews. All they asked was that we should continue to remember the poor, the very thing I had been eager to do all along (Galatians 2:6-11).

Paul’s revelation having been confirmed, he returned to Antioch and continued his work there.
When Peter came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face, because he stood condemned. For before certain men came from James, he used to eat with the Gentiles. But when they arrived, he began to draw back and separate himself from the Gentiles because he was afraid of those who belonged to the circumcision group. The other Jews joined him in his hypocrisy, so that by their hypocrisy even Barnabas was led astray (Galatians 2:11-13).

There were 6 cities named Antioch in Biblical times. Of those, two are named in the Bible, Pisidian Antioch, location of one of the churches in Galatia, and this one, sometimes called Syrian Antioch. It was the third most prominent city in the Roman Empire, behind Rome and Alexandria.

By the phrase “certain men from James” Paul meant Jewish Christians from Jerusalem. Some commentators identify these men as Judaizers but I don’t think so because Paul said they came from James. As we saw above, James and the other leaders had already confirmed Paul’s teaching. More likely they were Jewish Christians who were there on an official visit from Jerusalem. But either way, their presence caused Peter, Barnabas, and other Jewish believers, who had been fraternizing with the Gentile believers, to withdraw from them and resume their tradition of separation. Paul saw this as hypocrisy and called them on it.

When I saw that they were not acting in line with the truth of the gospel, I said to Peter in front of them all, “You are a Jew, yet you live like a Gentile and not like a Jew. How is it, then, that you force Gentiles to follow Jewish customs? 

We who are Jews by birth and not sinful Gentiles know that a person is not justified by the works of the law, but by faith in Jesus Christ. So we, too, have put our faith in Christ Jesus that we may be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the law, because by the works of the law no one will be justified”

  (Galatians 2:14-16).
Three times in two verses Paul stated in no uncertain terms that whether Jew or Gentile, we are not justified (rendered righteous) by the works of the Law but by faith in Jesus Christ. We know that Paul was not trying to marginalize the Law because in places like Romans 7:12 he said the Law is holy, righteous and good. But he was arguing against the improper use of the Law as the basis by which we are made acceptable to God. We are not justified by observing the Law but by faith in the completed work of the Lord Jesus Christ (Romans 3:21-24).

But if, in seeking to be justified in Christ, we Jews find ourselves also among the sinners, doesn’t that mean that Christ promotes sin? Absolutely not! If I rebuild what I destroyed, then I really would be a lawbreaker.

For through the law I died to the law so that I might live for God. I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. I do not set aside the grace of God, for if righteousness could be gained through the law, Christ died for nothing!” (Galatians 2:17-21).

I’m convinced that learning how the Levitical Feasts were observed in Biblical times, and how Jewish wedding customs provide insight into the relationship between the Lord and His Church, can be very helpful to our spiritual growth. I myself have benefited greatly from doing so. But for anyone who believes that keeping the Law is a necessary component of their salvation, I pray this study will convince them otherwise. Because if righteousness could be gained through the Law, Christ died for nothing.

So far Paul has made some pretty strong statements against combining Law and Grace, but as we’ll see next time, he’s just getting started. See you then. 11-15-14

To read the rest of this series go HERE