Saturday, September 3, 2016

The Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil?

When God created Adam and Eve, he put them in the Garden of Eden and told them they could eat from any tree they wanted, except from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. The day they ate of it, they would surely die.

And, you know how the story went: Eve was tempted by the serpent, ate the fruit, gave some to Adam, and because they sinned, they were separated from God, kicked out of paradise, death entered the picture, all creation was sent into upheaval, and everyone born of the seed of Adam, that's us, are under the same curse, born into sin and fallen from grace. Way to go, Adam.

But wait a second: If God is all-knowing, and he knew that eating the fruit would result in the fall of mankind, why'd he even put the tree there in there in the first place? Isn't this his fault? Well you know, Adam tried blaming God, too. "The woman you put here with me gave me some of the fruit and I ate it!" Guess how that went for him?

In Psalm 119, David said, "Oh, how I love your law! It is my meditation all the day." In other words, there is great joy when we obey God. Adam and Eve lived in perfection, and God showed His goodness all the more by giving them a command to obey that they would experience the greatest joy imaginable, needing nothing else but God.

Then the devil came along and convinced them that God and all his blessings were not enough. God is selfish and is keeping something from you, he said. So they ate the fruit, believing they needed something other than God to be satisfied.

Such is the case with our sin, too. We are all willing participants in Adam's sin. But God so loved us, He sent His Son Jesus to destroy the work of the devil. All who believe in Jesus have their sins forgiven and will be restored to eternal paradise with God when we understand the text.

Saturday, July 9, 2016

Mark of the Beast?

In Revelation 12 and 13, the Apostle John described an unholy Trinity, an imitation of Triune God, consisting of the dragon or Satan, the first beast who is the Antichrist, and a second beast, the false prophet. The second beast makes all the earth worship the first beast, performing great signs and deceptions, and causes those who wouldn't worship the beast to be slain.

"Also it causes all... to be marked on the right hand or the forehead, so that no one can buy or sell unless he has the mark, that is the name of the beast or the number of its name. It is the number of a man, and his number is 666."

The most popular theories about the mark of the beast pop up in end-times fiction. In the old film, "A Thief In the Night," the mark is a binary code for 666. In the Left Behind series, it's a computer chip in the back of the hand or the forehead.

But is it possible this mark is not something physical but spiritual? Notice the beast causes all people to be marked, and the mark is on the right hand or the forehead.

In Deuteronomy 6, God told Israel, "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes." And Isaiah 41:13 says the Lord God holds our right hand.

We are marked by the deeds we do with our hands and the thoughts we think with our mind. Are you doing the works of God or the works of the devil? Are you thinking with the mind of man or with the mind of Christ? This calls for wisdom, and something we should consider all the time, though it may also have a future fulfillment, when we understand the text.

"Also it causes all, both small and great, both rich and poor, both free and slave, to be marked on the right hand or the forehead, so that no one can buy or sell unless he has the mark, that is, the name of the beast of the number of its name. This calls for wisdom: let the one who has understanding calculate the number of the beast, for it is the number of a man, and his number is 666." Revelation 13:16-18

"Hear, O Israel: the Lord our God, the Lord is one. You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates." Deuteronomy 6:4-9

"But turning to his disciples, he rebuked Peter and said, 'Get behind me, Satan! For you are not setting your mind on the things of God, but on the things of man.'" Mark 8:33

"By this it is evident who are the children of God, and who are the children of the devil: whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor is the one who does not love his brother." 1 John 3:10

Sunday, July 3, 2016

Christians Swearing?

Is it okay for Christians to swear? No, it isn't. "But wait, what about that time Paul said I count all things as dung in order to win Christ! Isn't that the same thing as, you know, a certain swear word that means the same thing?"

Nice try, but no. Elsewhere, Paul gives a very clear instruction in Ephesians 4:29, "Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear." So for the Christian, our words are not to tear down but build up, speaking grace to others.

Think about what you communicate when you curse. By using the harshest of words to describe a person or situation, you are actually cursing God. A person is made in the image of God, and you would curse that image? The Bible says to be thankful and rejoice in all circumstances (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18), and you would tell God that his way isn't good enough?

Will outsiders believe you when you say you trust God's way and then swear when things don't go your way? Or when you say you love others and then curse them?

Paul said to put away obscene talk from your mouth, and to walk in wisdom toward outsiders. Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer each person (Colossians 3:8; 4:5-6). James said if a person can't control his words, even when he's alone, his religion is worthless (James 1:26). The Lord hates perverted speech.

Jesus said out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks. So pray as David prayed: "Let the words of my mouth and meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer" (Psalm 19:4), when we understand the text.

"[The tongue] is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse people who are made in the likeness of God. From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. My brothers, these things ought not be so." James 3:8-10

"The fear of the Lord is hatred of evil. Pride and arrogance and the way of evil and perverted speech I hate." Proverbs 8:13

Monday, June 27, 2016

Modern Apostles?

In the Roman Empire, a person who was given the power to speak on behalf of the Emporer was called apostolos, or "apostle," meaning "sent one."  Likewise, an apostle of Jesus Christ was given the authority to speak the very words of God.

To disobey the word of an Apostle was to disobey God, and that's still true today. When we read the New Testament, we're reading the words of the apostles as given by God. Ephesians 2:19-20 says that the church has been "built on the foundation of the apostles and the prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone."

An apostle had the power to speak in other languages, heal diseases, cast out evil spirits, and were given prophetic visions. The word of an apostle was the word of the Lord, equal in authority to the Old Testament Scriptures. And an apostle established and governed the church under Christ.

To be called an apostle, one had to meet two qualifications. They had to have been a witness to the risen Lord, and they had to have been personally appointed as an apostle by Christ himself.

Today many false teachers will claim to be apostles or that God will appoint new apostles. They'll say they've seen the risen Lord and were personally appointed by God. Some might not use the word apostle, but they will claim to have seen Christ and been given new revelation you won't find in the Scriptures. Avoid such liars and heretics.

The office of apostleship is closed. Paul said in 1 Corinthians 15:8 that he was the last apostle to be appointed. No others would come after him. When the Apostle John died at the end of the first century, the apostolic age came to an end. But their authority remains as having given us the word of God when we understand the text.

"For I would have you know, brothers, that the gospel that was preached by me is not man's gospel. For I did not receive it from any man, nor was I taught it, but I received it through a revelation of Jesus Christ." Galatians 1:11-12

"So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone..." Ephesians 2:19-20  

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Divine Personal Encounters With God?


Jesse Duplants: "Jesus is between 5-11 and about 6-foot-one. He's taller than I thought he was! ...And he put his hand on this shoulder. And he looked at me. He said, 'Go tell my people I'm comin'.'"

Mike Bickle: "I stood there, and uh, I was at the Lord's left hand, and this was not a dream, it was as real as life here... And he said, 'Young man!'"

Kim Walker-Smith: "I can feel him, like, it's like he's walking up to me across the room and just tapping me on the shoulder, 'Kim.' ...And I'm standing with Jesus. And I see God the Father in front of me."

There are teachers who will claim to have had a face-to-face conversation with God himself. But it's a lie. How can we know that? For lots of reasons. But in short, because Jesus warned that false teachers would claim such things.

"If anyone says to you, 'Look, here is the Christ!' or 'There he is!' do not believe it. For false christs and false prophets will arise and perform great signs and wonders, so as to lead astray, if possible, even the elect. See, I have told you beforehand. So, if they say to you, 'Look, he is in the wilderness,' do not go out. If they say, 'Look, he is in the inner rooms,' do not believe it.

"For as the lightning comes from the east and shines as far as the west, so will be the coming of the Son of man" (Matthew 24:23-27). The next appearance of Christ will be seen by the whole world -- not a select few in secret.

Joseph Smith claimed God the Father and Jesus Christ appeared to him and told him the church had become an abomination. So Smith started his own church full of destructive heresies. He was a charlatan, and so is every other modern day false prophet claiming to have had a personal audience with God. We will hear in their teaching many other lies when we understand the text.