כור את־יום השבת לקדשו׃ Or as it is said in the King James version, “Remember the Sabbath and keep it holy.” This phrase has shaped and lead to many of the deepest divisions and conflicts within the umbrella of Judaeo-Christian or as the Muslims say Bookish people. Even the Muslims themselves, as well as the Druze and Samaritans are affected. Remember the Sabbath. Keep it holy. These simple words weigh on people more than the injunctions against blasphemy or murder. But have any of the parties to this debate actually parsed the words well enough to form such divisive and rigid doctrines?

This is a command in two parts. The first seems plain enough. Remember the Sabbath, Shabbat, Shabbas to the Ashkenazi (Kenites?) among us, seems to be a reminder to honor and practice the Sabbath. That’s Saturday on the English calendar, right? Simple enough. But how do we practice it?

But wait. Most Christians tell us that the Sabbath is Sunday. Sunday? Saturday? Which is it?

Genesis tells us that God worked an elaborate week of creation and on the seventh day he rested. This is linked in scripture to the Sabbath in no uncertain terms. Thus Sabbath is the Seventh Day of the week. “Aha!” say the Adventists and others. Here is the answer Sabbath is Seventh and therefore Saturday. Jews and Adventists and even wildly heretical sects then seize on this and proclaim a day of study and worship. Church attendance and Hebrew Schul. Assemble yourselves and pray and fast and do the work of studying the Scriptures–

But wait! The Muslims interject at this point stating unequivocally that the Calendar, even the text of the Holy Book–the Bible, Injeel, Tanakh, Scripture, etc.–has been altered and the true day for study and prayer, fasting and abstinence is Friday. This just gets more controversial.

But let’s look at the greatest model of all. The one part of scripture these disparate groups tend to agree on. The first creation outline, the chiasm of Breshiit/Genesis. On the seventh day–we’ve established that is the Sabbath–God rested. Now the one unassailable ensample for the Mosaic monotheist is the Theos himself. God rested. God did not study, fast, pray or recite, sing, abstain or indulge, travel, or gather with his chosen companion, Adam. God rested. He halted his work and enjoyed the afterglow of relaxation.

This is where the divisions come from. The nature of the Sabbath has been forgotten. Supplanted by man made ideas of devotion, we have lost the memory of the Sabbath. We do not as a people, or as peoples if you insist, Remember the Sabbath. We fight with our kids and spouses, getting ourselves dressed to impress and marching or riding to an edifice of some sort the fellowship with peers and be seen to pray and worship and declaim our knowledge of scripture and our studious hearing–the effort and work we put into the Sabbath is appalling.

So, then let’s look again at the meaning of the word. Sabbath seems to derive from a little hebrew verb sabat, to halt. So proper observance is the stop, not work, not go, not study, just rest. Very un like the Jewish or Christian view. The Christians and Muslims even changed the Sabbath to Friday or Sunday so they could keep their work day named Sabbath, and no greater forgetting of the Sabbath could exist.

What of the second part of the commandment. Keep it Holy. Well what better proof one should be busy about Godly pursuits. Except Holy means set apart, kept separate, or set aside. That makes sense when one thinks of the Sabbath as a rest day. So Remember the Rest Day and keep it set aside. Now that makes sense. It even solves most of the divisive arguments. Yes Virginia, the Sabbath is Saturday–the seventh day–and you can have your prayer day on Sunday or on Friday as you see fit. But wait. What of the Rabbinical Jew. He’s still stuck with Friday night and Saturday till sunset.

I remember a local Synnogogue–Shul to some, Temple to the Reform–that had an interesting practice. Every Friday night most congregants lit the candles for Sabbath Seder. Every Saturday they were at there place of prayer and the boys–and girls–were at work learning Hebrew and the right way to tie a zitzit. But come 6pm they were all at the China Dynasty having shrimp and pork, the best California Chinese food in the county. It was spontaneous, not planned. But it underlined the issue. After all that work of doing the the Sabbath right they needed a break, a rest. The irony could slice beef.

So what’s a person to do? How can you obey the Law and the prophets and rest as Mosheh commanded? Simple. Mosheh did order a Day of Gathering–a day to come together and bring tithes and lesser sacrifice, to gather it all into the Levitical storehouses. To pray and be judged by Levite. To be taught by the teachers of the Torah. That day, was the First Day of the week. Sunday on the English Calendar. The Sabbath is for candles and rest. For staying home and enjoying your family. For relaxing and play. For enjoying the comforts of your spouse. For halting all work. When the sun sets next Friday. Remember the Sabbath and just–Stop!

Written on August 1st, 2017 , Musings Tags: , , , , , ,

I always find it ironic when one of the Ashkenazi repeat the mantra of doubt, “The Christian Bible isn’t my Bible.” There is a lot of of finagling on the part of Jewish teachers to arrive at that conclusion, which is then taken to heart by the uninformed congregant and repeated with the eye-watering fervor of a child wishing for a precious toy. I can certainly empathize with this position. Having argued with certain individuals who use fallacy and polemic to twist scripture so that it says whatever currently suits them, I know what it feels like to argue a known obvious truth with someone who simply changes the meaning to suit their conclusions. It’s like wrestling atop a pile of sand draining through a hopper. The domain of the topic can completely shift from one clause to the next, in a single statement by a deceitful polemicist.

This is the feeling they bring to the discussion, partly because the Mishnah is such a mishmash of opposing opinion all presented as divine prophetic revelation of the Almighty (bless his name). Partly such suspicion is bread by the mixed up mess of fad doctrines and movements that have left the western Church as churned up and unstable as a battlefield. One group will say that the deceased family and companions of Yeshua can hear and answer your prayers like half-gods. Another will tell you that you are a God in training and if you wish hard enough, sacrifice hard enough and block all niggling voices of reason, you can create the wealth, fame and power that your soul longs for. Yet another will tell you that once you have converted to Christ and been genuinely initiated into the process of molding and growth into his image, you can never be sad, depressed or grief stricken because the sacrifice of the cross means new life and to prove it your must always be “Happy, so very happy…”

Anyone, having been raised to revere the Torah and the Prophets would balk at such “off-scouring of pigs.” This hogwash distracts from the real work of negotiating your salvation in fear (yes Joel, fear means being afraid) and trembling. But the bigger issue is just how unlike the God of the Bible, the father of Christ, such teachings really are.

In the Torah, the Old Covenant if you prefer, the word of the day was restitution. When a man stole an object of chattel property, he had to return it and pay interest. If it was grazing or mineral rights, he gave from his own. If it was livestock likewise. If it was livestock or goods that had already been consumed then the finest equivalent available had to be returned in multiples. Throughout the lot, there were fines, monetary damages that had to be paid. And all of it put you in wrong relationship with God. This was the scariest part, because all the blessings of God, all the love he sheds on his people, is conditional on having that right relationship.

Then–in the times of the Torah and the Writings–as now, people would be indifferent or ashamed of the harm they had caused. They would seek to cover up their crimes, their sins, and ignore the pleas and suffering of their victims. They may even have blamed the victim for being whiny, for not showing the presence of God in their lives, by moving on and simply accepting the loss. For the cynic there is ample ammunition for the bazookas needed to blast such people. One can call on the whining of the Hipiru, the Israeli refugees, during the 40 years nomad. For the Christian there’s plenty of ammo in Paul’s letters about enduring to the end, “pressing on,” “taking victory,” etc. And never forget Peter and the asp! “Just shake it off!” Such beautiful stoicism, just waiting–so long as you are willing to lift passages out of context, trample wholesale on the meaning the author intended by them and allegorize them into the witchcraft of the modern psychologist. Simple, make everyone responsible for their own wounds and exonerate the guilty from any responsibility. After all, it’s for your own good and anything else would just be–vengeance!

That leads into “Vengeance is mine,” and castigating the victim for wanting justice. And don’t forget the cynic’s favorite cherry, “You don’t want justice! Look at what would happen to you if God took Justice on you!” There is context where all of these things have their place, but that place is not in dealing with the injury done to a victim of the sins we call deuteronomical or the ten commandments.

In fairness, Christ was a perfect man and died for crimes he didn’t commit, so we could be forgiven for the ones we have. The Ashkenazi polemicist will argue that the common word for “sacrifice” in the Torah is Korbanah, offering, and point out that even the Hebrew root points to offerings being things that draw together or repair. Thus a sacrifice is a precious thing offered to repair relationship with God. Ironically, this is intended to refute the Messianic sacrifice of Yeshua. But as a believer we recognize that this was the core concept of Christ’s prophetic ministry.

And as such, how can we demand more? How can a victim, of adultery or the murder of a child reject the perfect sacrifice. God took the initiative, gave his own child, so that like the lamb that took Isaac’s rightful place, we could live as he died. The entire purpose was to draw us closer and repair the breach in the relationship with our creator and King. Just as we pointed out at the beginning, the Offering, is a Blood Sacrifice, a meal where we eat the roasted meat to take the death of innocence in and we give the blood and fat to God through the fire, so that in sharing the meal we are drawn together in good relationship with God our father. How can we presume to reject that Zevach/Zebach, blood sacrifice, as sufficient to bring the offender into relationship with God and therefore with us?

Of course we can not. The repentant must make restitution, because without restitution there is no repentance. Without repentance, there is no remission of sins. As Yeshua said, “If you come-to the altar and remember that your brother has anything against you, leave your sacrifice waiting and go make reconciliation with your [victim]” so that God will accept rather than reject your sacrifice. Or, “If you don’t forgive, you will not be forgiven.” But that of course is limited to those who have never been “saved,” never been converted to Christ and partaken of his death.

As Paul said, when I told you not to judge I meant don’t judge the world who have the excuse of not knowing Yeshua. But, of course, I judge the church. Anyone who calls himself a brother and continues to live in error is excommunicate and don’t even eat with such a one. I am minded of the role eating takes in the Zebach of Christ, where we are instructed to consume the matzos and wine of Passover as a memorial allegory of his Offering.

In Hebrews, there is a lengthy passage the Stoic and the Gnostic will use to argue that once partaken, no further sacrifice is needed, therefore sin in the life of a believer is simply an inconvenience rather than separation. This ploy might almost work, were it not for the fact that the passage is framed before and after with almost identical passages that when taken together say simply, “If after anyone has partaken of the good Offering of salvation in Yeshua and returns to his former life of habitual sin, there is then no further sacrifice for him, for it would require that Yeshua be crucified a second time and cause public shame on the name of Yeshua.”

Does this mean that if a Christian ever commits sin or enters habitual sin he can not be forgiven? I submit to you that Jesus, who lived by the presence of the Holy Spirit, the Ruach Hachodesh, said we would be indwelt with that same spirit and be gifted beyond the list of accomplishments that Christ performed.

No, the cross does not cover the new transgression of the Believer. You cannot crucify him again and be saved again. You must work out your salvation with fear and trembling. You must use the supernatural gifting of the Holy Spirit. You must contrive to make restitution in your own flesh, by the power of God, and incidentally be allegorically and incrementally crucified to the will to sin. You must leave communion, go submit to and make reconciliation with your victim and comfort him, then return to full communion–together.

The cynic will say, “But I wouldn’t want to stand in the way of anyone responding to Christ–” No. Nor would any authentic Believer in Yeshua the Messiah. But count the cost. Repentance costs restitution and without repentance there is no drawing together with God, no remission of sins. This is not a game, and eternity is in the balance. But really, isn’t good relationship with God and with your victim worth the discomfort, even pain or suffering reconciliation might cost? Isn’t Good relationship and the blessings of the Lord of Creation well worth any cost or struggle? Open the door, let him in and have a meal. Barbecue is blessing.

Written on March 15th, 2017 , Musings Tags: , , , , , , ,

Christian living is a complicated subject largely because it is a matter of interpolation. Jesus and to a degree the apostle Paul–a.k.a. Saul l’Tarsi–are role models, mentors to be imitated. We have their sermons and narratives to draw on to see how they lived and what doctrines and principals are to be applied. However, we are forced to then interpolate those principals and doctrines to our present day circumstances and then using sound interpretation apply the commands and instructions of scripture to our lives. It’s pretty complicated if you break it down and focus on every little step. If you are trying to accomplish it on your own it just doesn’t work. Likewise if you are completely uninvolved, believing that Grace is a big magic wand that frees you from responsibility to exert any effort in achieving the goal of be shaped in the form of Christ, you’ve failed before you begin.

To complicate things further, there are several distinct heresies, movements and patterns of thought, that have plagued the church from its infancy. These are so toxic that Paul had to summarize, label and condemn these poisonous movements at the beginning. At some point we’ll have to go through these individually. They are: Christian Stoicism, Christian Epicureanism, Christian Gnosticism, and Christian Psychology. In addition, he made it clear that the secular forms of these beliefs, while outside the church, are toxic to society, and likely to pervert the unwary Christian by distorting his view of Christ and of the Bible.

But for purposes of this message, I need to focus on the results of these heresies and how they have shaped a minister who has allowed himself the cognitive dissonance of espousing all four to some degree and trying to teach Christian principles at the same time.

Rather than attempt to recount the last sermon I heard from him–an effort that might seem like a paper tiger defense–I’ll simply present to converse Biblical truth that counters his heresy. His hearsay–slander–I’ll leave for God to correct in his own time and immanent manner. Baruch El Shaddai.

The first counterpoint is this:

  • If you don’t believe a relationship with God is conditional, you don’t have one.

God loved the World so much that he sacrificed his only birthed son so anyone who places his faith in that sacrifice will live forever. (John 3:16) There’s a condition for relationship with God under the new covenant. You have to place your hope in Yeshua Hanasari, the Son of God and the Day of Atonement in his blood as a figurative lamb of sacrifice.

You must charge the direction of you life and go back the way you came toward righteousness. You must receive a mikvah or ceremonial bath, to be dipped or baptized, in the authority of Jesus, just as the Traditional Jew is dipped in the name of the Father and the Ruach Hakodesh–spirit of holiness. (Acts 2:38) Those are conditions on relationship with God under either covenant.

You must obey the moral commandments of the law. Many will try to say that under the new covenant they are exempt from the law. They will even distort Paul and try to say that adhering to the moral law of the Torah is sin and even a means of losing out on salvation. This is a satanic doctrine. The word obey appears appx. 33 times in the New Testament. Obedience appears appx. 16 times. In that context, scripture tells us that there is trouble and anguish for him who does evil, Jew or Gentile, and peace and good reputation for him that does good works. (Rom. 2:8-10) Further, the Wrath of God is poured out on those who are disobedient and do not live a righteous life after having received salvation through the holy spirit. (Eph 5:1-10) This is a condition on relationship with God. If you love me, keep my commandments. (Joh 14:15-21)

  • The second point is, if you don’t believe a relationship with God will make you a weirdo, you haven’t got one.

You are a peculiar people and a royal priesthood. (1Pet 2:9) The Spirit living in a believer is not the Spirit that pervades and rules the world at large. (Joh 14:16,17) Human psychology is at odds with God, because the idiosyncrasies of the human animal are opposed to right and healthy thinking, established from Godly perspective. The fleshly creature, that must grope along in the world, does so blindly because it is incapable of even comprehending the Law of Grace or the Moral Law and the Spirit that has inspired them. (Rom 8:7) So a fundamental conflict will be at work in the mind of the authentic believer, between the will to do right, by the power of the spirit and the will to do wrong, by the natural appetites. This weirdness, which inevitably will be visible to those who get close, makes us family with other authentic believers who are naturally going through the same evolution and the crises this engenders. But the world, who are continually seeking equilibrium in themselves and to quell the trouble in their spirits in order to be at peace with the naturally corrupt animal nature, will be appalled and reject such angst as a sure sign of instability and even evil. They will hate this aspect of the authentic believer, and attempt to fix or persecute her. (1Cor 1:23-27;2:14;3:19;Jam 3:12-17;4:4)

  • Lastly, if you don’t believe that all interpersonal relationships are conditional you don’t have one.

I can cite scripture for you. Verses that tell us to shun and disfellowship people over all sorts of disobedience and strife. I can show where Jesus even said to disobey and shun parents and members of family of origin, if such is necessary to follow his teaching and example. I can show where Jesus made one tiny window for divorce and Paul established standards for temporary separation, with church oversight and prayerful agreement by both spouses. But this one is–to be flippant–a no-brainer. Everyone can readily see that if a person is not friendly, she won’t have friends. If a person is contentious or ugly in personality, if he drives people away with rudeness and cruelty–such a person will not have relationships, whatever the context. Scripture supports this, but it is so obvious it does require a deep study to identify, at least from the outside.

Grace is not a magic wand that sets aside personal responsibility for how we act, speak and think. The things we do to others will be the salvation or the damnation of us. If we are mocking, cruel and cynical to fellow believers who have been victimized by the sin of others, we lack compassion and are nothing more than meaningless noise. If you remember that you have a sin against someone, don’t take communion till you have made it right or exhausted all efforts to submit yourself to the judgment of the one you have offended. This is Godliness. This is the fruit of the spirit. Without it you will not see the kingdom, rather you will experience the wrath of God and “many are sick among you.”

 

 

Written on November 10th, 2016 , Musings Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

In the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and in view of his appearing and his kingdom, I solemnly urge you: proclaim the message; be persistent whether the time is favorable or unfavorable; convince, rebuke, and encourage, with the utmost patience in teaching. For the time is coming when people will not put up with sound doctrine, but having itching ears, they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own desires, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander away to myths. 2TI 4:1 (bbe)

Never before has this been more true nor more confused and destructive. Television streams a constant barrage of every false and demonic doctrine packaged and presented with all the finesse of only a video studio can achieve, marketing lies and deception along with charms and keepsakes and vacations at amusement parks. People can have any flavor of false prophet or even build a personalized religion by sampling these media giants like a hungry child at an open buffet. There plates are full but when they eventually must regurgitate the tasty but malnutritious bounty, they ultimately go hungry and cannot reproduce. Being unfruitful (love, joy, peace, patience, gentleness, humility, etc.) they will ultimately be pruned from the vine and cast into the fire.

Strong language, I know, but not undue. Recently I was channel surfing and landed for a moment on a prophet of Lucre and Mammon who was trying to excuse his ministry, which is generally comprised of assuring rich oil merchants that their money is proof of God’s favoritism and their sinful lives are merely an inconvenience. It is serendipitous that the man is named for the god he preaches.

On this particular day he was prophesying from Galatians, a much misinterpreted book because taken out of context several verses are so filled with hyperbole’ that the meaning is lost, until you read the following passage which corrects the course and intention of the passage. Mr. Money had the Scripture saying that since, Jesus death was to bring about relationship and, since human’s ultimately fail in obeying the law on their own, the law is valueless except as a contrast with the life of license to live without conscience, which he assures us is the meaning of grace. Now I know from other of his broadcasts that he does teach that God’s Standard of Holiness is a necessity in the Christian life. But in the moment, confused by the unintelligible babble of the so called amplified Bible, he over stated Paul’s indictment against legalism and Judaizing of the Church, with a license to be free of the Law as a School Teacher to show us what a Holy God disapproves in the life of his children. Like so many others he misunderstood Paul.

As peter said:

These are fountains without water, and mists before a driving storm; for whom the eternal night is kept in store. For with high-sounding false words, making use of the attraction of unclean desires of the flesh, they get into their power those newly made free from those who are living in error; Saying that they will be free, while they themselves are the servants of destruction; because whatever gets the better of a man makes a servant of him. For if, after they have got free from the unclean things of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, they are again taken in the net and overcome, their last condition is worse than their first. For it would have been better for them to have had no knowledge of the way of righteousness, than to go back again from the holy law which was given to them, after having knowledge of it. They are an example of that true saying, The dog has gone back to the food it had put out, and the pig which had been washed to its rolling in the dirty earth. 2PE 2:17-22 (bbe)

Mr. Money’ take on Galatians would necessitate a discrepancy, that Peter’s Gospel and Faith are at odds with Paul’s in effect a different religion. God changed his mind. Instead, we live by faith and that means we know that our sins were forgiven on the cross, even the ones we’ll commit after salvation and therefore we are never accountable as long as we believe. Well God might be displeased; it might hurt our relationship–but he’s patient so it’s all good, all the time.

But let’s look at what Galatians really says. At the heart of Paul’s thesis he makes the following statement:

Being conscious that a man does not get righteousness by the works of the law, but through faith in Jesus Christ, we had faith in Christ Jesus, so that we might get righteousness by faith in Christ, and not by the works of the law: because by the works of the law will no flesh get righteousness. But if, while we were desiring to get righteousness through Christ, we ourselves were seen to be sinners, is Christ a servant of sin? In no way! For if I put up again those things which I gave to destruction, I am seen to be a wrongdoer. For I, through the law, have become dead to the law, so that I might be living to God. I have been put to death on the cross with Christ; still I am living; no longer I, but Christ is living in me; and that life which I now am living in the flesh I am living by faith, the faith of the Son of God, who in love for me, gave himself up for me. GAL 2:16-20 (bbe)

“So that we might get righteousness by faith. . .” Some would have you believe this means that the righteousness gained by faith is not a works righteousness because if you ever do right, then you are being legalistic. But Paul asks, rhetorically, “Is Christ a servant of sin?” The answer is a resounding no. Christ was sinless, this is the very basis of his substitutionary death on the Cross. The whole point is our identification with Christ on the Cross is the death of our carnal nature and slavery to living in sin. “I have been put to death on the cross with Christ. . .and that life which I am now living in the flesh I am living by faith. . .” Our human life is crucified and the spirit empowers us to live a holy life, not by ignoring sin and legislating it away. How more legalistic can one be, than a pardon without a transformation. The guilty murderer pardoned of his crime and all future crime to commit murder again and again without remorse and without punishment? Is this what the God in Christ bore the suffering and humiliation of the cross for? Of a certainty it is not! Instead Christ died that, living through us, replacing our broken, human spirit with a new inspiration of God’s breath, we could be made new like Adam before the fall, free to live sinless by letting Christ live through us and kill each sinful habit and trait one by one, perfecting us in his grace. This is the grace unto salvation the Victory in Jesus. It is the power to trust and to obey, for it is obedience not offerings of money, land, goods, produce or even blood, that pleases God.

Imagine, for a moment, you are a parent. You love your child with the whole of your being. That child goes off to school in the morning and comes home that night with a shapeless limp of clay, malformed and sickly, glazed so poorly the bubbles have burst exposing cavities that go down to the ceramic beneath. Your child holds this miserable creation out to you and with a fearful smile and shameful eyes says, “here mommy”; “here daddy–.” There’s a pause then, “I made this for you!” And a tiny glimmer of hope lights in the back of childish eyes that are all to well aware of the inadequacy of the offering. Do you reject the pot; dash it against the wall and try to teach the child how to make better pottery?

In the same way, “Our heavenly father rejects neither our offerings, nor our works.” Instead he blesses them and sets them in a prominent place, so he can say, “My child made that for me!” With all the pride of a daddy showing that first pot, or Christmas tie, or photo of a gangly teen with pimples and greasy hair.

The cross is adoption, but grace is the growing. Eventually you will make fine pottery or master works of what ever craft you choose, because the Christ living in you will live through you growing ever more righteous. Take the burden of your sin to God, one thing at a time and shed it. Let him crucify it dead and never to be remembered by him or by you and thereby committed again. As Peter says don’t return to your wallow and be destroyed, worse off than before, because there is no remaining means of salvation for you.

Written on May 17th, 2013 , Musings Tags: , , , , , , ,

Recently I was confronted by a man who made an Apology, in the debate sense, for insuring that people in his congregation seek a shallower experience of God presence in his services. Clearly the man is in error to the point of rebellion, but it called to mind the fact that there is an increasing trend, in the wake of heretical extremism, to dampen down the strange fire and excess. This man’s error is to avoid strange and wild practices by insuring that the presence of God was given so little freedom to move on his people that no fire would occur.

For the uninitiated, Fire is a metaphor for the intense emotional and physiological responses that can occur when a believer encounters the incorporeal presence of the Holy Spirit, first hand. If you think back to that “warm fuzzy” you got the first time you had a crush on someone, and filter out the sexual response entirely, that is essentially what the prophet referred to as “having fire shut up” in his bones. This is normative for those who have been baptized in the Holy Spirit, as well as those who are receptive but fail to take the next step, and if there is a reliable initial evidence other than the fruit of the spirit I’d like to argue for this.

That said this man (I can’t in good conscience call him a pastor) is clearly not baptized in the Holy Spirit, the Ruakh Elohim, that filled the prophets of the Old Covenant and flowed out of the prophet of the New. No Godly man, filled with the Spirit and in right relationship with God, would ever seek to curb the activity of the Spirit. What this man said was, “here we have order and you can practice your gift at home alone.” Such an egregious challenge to the authority of God’s spirit is unconscionable. Yet, in the wake of counterfeit revivals such as Brownsville Texas, Orlando Florida, Toronto Canada and Broken Arrow Oklahoma–there is an increasing trend, even in the bastions of orthodox Christian faith, to suppress the will of God and the relationship with his people, to avoid the embarrassment of such sacrilege as Barking, Laughing on Command, and selling artifacts imbued with “prayer”.

I can empathize with this man’s stated motive, while not agreeing with the solution, one that clearly indicates his lack of faith and suggests that his motives may be far less sincere. But the insurance against such excesses is simple and effective. Every congregation must be led by a board of deacons and elders who are themselves so on fire as well as genuine, that they can discern in the Spirit when something is not Godly and genuine, and curtail it as it begins. Every church must be led by a Pastor or Rector who is Baptized in the Holy Ghost and clearly gifted not with teaching or administration, but with prophecy and discernment of spirits.

Churches were never meant to be so large that the members do not know one another intimately. Heresy and excess are born in the shadows produced by impersonal mega church congregations and small groups, where small misinterpretations of scripture by uncalled leaders grow unchecked into heretical dogmas. Ministry leaders have ceased to be Pastors with the intimacy of knowing each member and sharing each member’s struggles and knowing their rate of growth and learning, to being showmen and entertainers with crowds who follow them while starving for lack of real personal ministry. They’ve farmed this out to others and there is no connection between the pastor who will be held accountable and the members who suffer for lack of personal attention.

Another solution that has arisen is to have each prophet submit or deliver his prophecy to the pastor for evaluation, before delivering it cold and on queue, when the pastor has chosen to make room for it between the announcements and the last song. Imagine telling Jesus, “now tell us what are you going to say to those Sadducees? hmmm. Dogs is a bit strong, they may think you are calling them male prostitutes– How about deeply mistaken brothers. Doesn’t that sound like what God is really saying? Now about this word thieves–”

The key to insuring good order is to submit more fully and genuinely to God. God is not the author of confusion. He uses foolish things to stump the wise, but have a little faith! The Holy Spirit is a gentle spirit and gentleman. He’ll never create confusion, no matter how the congregation babbles while praying in tongues. The only insurance the church has against false prophets, on the order of A A Alan, Cyril of Alexandria, Joseph Smith and Elen G White, is the presence of the Holy Spirit. You have to ask yourself who really benefits from quenching the fire, and silencing the gifted members. Shouldn’t we all seek the baptism so that there will be more who are qualified to discern to the false and counterfeit fire, the false prophet, the deceiver?

From the voice of many counselors is wisdom. This is the defense against strange fire insuring that the whole congregation is baptized in the Spirit and sensing his presence, not relying on emotions and human reason to decide what feels right, insures that the strange and the anti-Christ will be evident. Seek the spirit and find a church where the pastor isn’t too important to have coffee with you, and is filled with the spirit with the evidence of prayer in tongues, gift of prophecy, and spiritual fruit such as humility.

Be a part of God’s solution!

Fred

Written on October 14th, 2012 , Musings Tags: ,

Trying new software for musings. Musings go back to a day before I had discovered the dreaded blog, and I never had the will to automate the process of updating. I edited each musing as a separate file and then cut and pasted the content of the formatted text into a web editor. This produced adequate results and I was satisfied. Recently I’ve been exposed to several blogs and have found the packaged blog software to be impressive, so I’m hanging up the ol html editor and moving up to a wysiwyg plugin on a SQL driven blog portal. I think I’m going to like it here. Lord willing and the rapture delays, I’ll be adding new musings this year. Lord bless you all.

Fred

Written on September 21st, 2012 , News Tags: , , ,

One of the most hotly debated topics of Christian faith is the interpretation of apocalyptic prophecies, in particular the Revelation of John. Ironically, those groups who are most inclined to denigrate the prophecy are quickest to refer to John as The Revelator. The confusion abounds and the ignorant revel in expounding wild or pagan interpretations or denying the authenticity and authority of the prophecy.

Whatever your personal views and perspectives on apocalypse, there are certain points that are undeniably clear: A peace maker called Anti-Messiah or Anti Christ, A unified totalitarian world government and commercial system, and the persecution of Bible believers Christian and Jew alike at the hands of the new world order.

Anti Christ and his mark are nearly inseparable and the source of the most confusion for readers and interpreters. What we know is that he will be a peacemaker, a diplomat and leader who forges alliances between disparate groups who have warred for generations. Rather than a figure of Godly authority and the establishment of a harmonious future, this peacemaker, by the venality of compromise, will spread ungodliness and a pure satanic Dominion.

Associated with this figure, is an even more cloudy foretelling, the Mark of the Beast and

it’s attendant context. People love to focus on the riddle, “Let him who considers himself wise consider … the number of his name is 600, three twenties and six.” Today you commonly see those who have voluntarily allied themselves with Satan, or those who foolishly consider the Bible and it’s faiths to be superstition, tattooing themselves with 666. Many municipalities have ordinances making it illegal to use 666 as an address, while others ignore it or even as in 666 West 57’th street, NY, NY allow a business to acquire it and use it for commercial purposes. That particular business made great sums of money from music that was dedicated as hymns and odes to Satan and his messengers. Again this was from a crass mercantilism that denied the reality of Satan while using his name and message to sell merchandise.

On the other side of the same coin you have “prophecy hounds” who capitalize on John’s revelation with books designed to titillate or frighten readers with the coming Dominion of Stan followed wrath of God and destruction of the world. Comic books and novels present a heterodox interpretation complete with second chances, thrilling escapes and easy martyrdom.

In this cloud of pagan confusion, atheistic folly and greed, the real message of the prophecy has been lost. Let me just admonish you, if you get “left behind” by all means avoid the mark, don’t confess the world religion, and try to face the torture with the dignity necessary to die in a state of grace. But don’t count on that being possible. If you are left behind, it’s because you weren’t in a right relationship with God and the Ruach Elohim, the Holy Spirit will be withdrawn in that time. You’ll be doing it under your own steam. Don’t count on being able to endure. Don’t allow yourself to be left behind. Live like it’s happening tomorrow and get your life right with God. Now!

That said I’d like to clear some of the confusion. When the various perspectives and interpretations are cleared aside and the distinctives of given denominations and faiths are factored out, we are left with three main elements regarding the Mark of the Beast. One it is the number of his name. Two it is the means by which commerce can occur on a global basis. Three accepting the Mark and the global economy that it opens up will insure that you cannot be rescued or allied with the Messiah –Anointed Rescuer of God– and you will spend eternity live, conscious and imprisoned in a prison constructed for the celestial beings known colloquially as Satan and his Angels. This is the “second death.”

Knowing these three essentials the specifics that are touted by various teachers are irrelevant. We know it’s the number of “his” name, so it is incumbent on us to thwart and oppose all efforts at any consolidated identification system which uses numbers rather than an individual’s name and person. The more fragmented and disorganized the ID systems in place the less like that we were warned of. Figuratively throw some shoes in the works, it is your Christian duty and for our Jewish cousins yours as well. When has a global conqueror, even a “benign” one using commerce and diplomacy, ever missed his chance at killing the Chosen of God? Lawsuits, protest, fasting and prayer – these are your duty soldier. Do them.

Secondly, the globalization of the economy is a thing of evil. Resist. Without a global economy, the antichrist cannot consolidate his power and authority. Armies will never conquer the globe, but currency and trade will. Protectionism; balkinization; diverse, independent economies are the absolute necessity — not only to enforce democratic ideals but to delay the advent of Antichrist. The longer he can be delayed the more souls can be reached and the longer before the totalitarian nightmare republic he will establish.

Lastly resist trends toward globalization, and the elimination of physical, and diverse currencies because without the unified (most likely electronic) currency of the global economy he cannot begin to consolidate power. Do not accept any system that links all your accounts to a single ID, do not accept any system that allows the use of electronic ID in place of your physical, original signature. Do not accept the elimination of physical currency or the use of biometrics and smart chips to make transactions.

Let the Holy Spirit lead you and do not give in to pressure to be apolitical. The word of God tells us that we wrestle, not against “flesh and blood” but against “nations and spirits”. Get up! Stand up and fight for your Christ! This is the religious duty you were sealed for when you were converted.

Written on August 1st, 2010 , Musings Tags: , ,

One of the most prevalent and toxic counterfeit doctrines to plague the Christian Church in the modern era, is the thaumaturgical impulse to use the promises and prophetic names of God to manipulate and coerce him. The inclination and practice are so thoroughly ingrained into God’s people that they are difficult to distinguish from the normative practice and dogmas of the core, apostolic Gospel. Those who recognize the practice will generally note it in the Word Faith movement’s attempts to use the promises of the Old Covenant to grow rich and self satisfied. That is of course a serious breach and one that needs to be addressed. If for no other reason than to point out the fact that if you claim the blessings you are bound by the commandments and liable for the curses. Claim the Abrahamic blessing of wealth and you incur the responsibility for obedience and sacrifice, and the curse of rejection, blindness and separation for failure.

However that is not the focus of this letter and though it is related, it tends to eclipse an equally serious breach. The New Covenant contains many promises for intimacy with God, blessings in life and most of all assurance of God’s competency to save your soul and protect it from the attack and thievery of Satan. These promises are affirmative and reliable just as certain as death. The error comes when people, lacking the baptism of the Holy Spirit and bound by the carnality of the new-born, milk-fed Christian begin to teach.

No matter how thick and defensive we may be, it is impossible to teach the scriptures for any length of time before one notes that a teacher is to be held to a higher standard than the members of the congregation. When the teacher is confronted with this reality he is forced to seek the means to meet that standard or make excuse for why he is exempted. Inevitably this leads to misusing the passages regarding the blessed assurance to give license to live a life of rebellion and disobedience.

This heresy, variously called Eternal Security, Perseverance of the Saints and Once in Grace Always in Grace ultimately takes the form of tacitly using the promises of security to coerce God into modifying his New Covenant to allow sin to go unrepentant in the life of the Believer, or to suggest that the capacity TO sin is sign that one was never genuinely saved. The one is thaumaturgically coercing God to change his mind, despite his clear assertion,

Written on May 1st, 2010 , Musings Tags: , ,

It’s ironic the subtlety and grace with which I’ve been admonished for some errors in my last musing. I say ironic, because in at least three cases those who have been so gentle are the same individuals who have spit bile and vitriol over God-given and textually sound musings in the past. The recent comments have been no less public but a good deal less ugly and the difference is noted and appreciated.

That said, let me confess to having poorly edited the prior musing and as a result an internal contradiction crep into the text. This was partly due to a problem with the spell checker and file converters in my word processor, and partly due to my inattention to detail. Because of this a block of text that should have been there wasn’t and a word or two was substituted (e.g. eventually typoed as venually? got corrected to venially) much to my chagrin.

The upshot was that the text could be read as if I were stating that only a believer who had received the Baptism of the Holy Ghost was capable of falling from grace, and that any backslidding or slippage after Baptism resulted in immediate fall from grace. This was not the intent of the text and not what God told me to write.

The text now reads as it should have, but all these months later, it is a bit more long winded in the reading. Pardon my slip.

Written on November 21st, 2009 , Musings Tags: , ,

I have been anonymously contributing citations to support some passages in the Wikipedia article on Pentecost or as they insist on calling it Pentecostalism. Wiki has a standard that requires citations for many things that are simple fact. Ironically one of the critical comments that is often used by editors is {{fact}} which goes to show that wiki insists on opinion not fact. And I’ve often observed that if they could get away with it they’d try to force you to prove blue is blue.

All facetiousness aside, the problem is a serious one. More authority is given to an uninitiated even unsaved “scholar” than those who are eye witness to events and movements. I understand the interest in objectivity, but if primary sources are rejected out of hand, valuable data are never presented for analysis and a horribly skewed perspective is presented. This has been illustrated most clearly by a dialog that I’ve been having with another editor who self identifies as “a pentecostal believer”.

Several years ago when we came to this article it was a morass of cheap attacks and misinformation supported by the worst sort of yellow journalism coming from the BBC, CBC and NatGeo among others. The picture it painted with unsubstantiated claims was that all Pentecostals and Charismatics were essentially identical and practiced snake charming and drinking rat poison as sacraments. I spent a bit of time anonymously patching this, but I didn’t get to finish before other issues drew me away.

In the interim this editor came to the article and began a total rewrite and he has done a good job on the whole.

Our points of contention arose over his classification of movements. Now I grew up in the Assemblies of God and my family for generations have been clerics in first the Wesleyan Holiness movement and later the Assemblies of God. I not only have primary sources close at hand, I have the memories of what I was taught in Sunday School and the pulpit, as well as an Assemblies of God university.

Much to my surprise I found that the other editor, who I’ll call Bill just to make things simpler, had claimed that the Church of God in Christ (CGOC) and the Assemblies of God (AG) were part of disparate movements. The claim was that the CGOC was Wesleyan Holiness but that the AG were part of a movement called “Higher Life” (HL). Now I had never heard of this Higher Life movement. Odd that I was a member of a movement that I’d never heard of. Knowing, as I did that the AG was founded by white CGOC members who separated over the issue of racial segregation laws, I was surprised that those men had somehow magically become something else between receiving their ordination in the CGOC and the first General Council of the AG.

Looking into it further I found that the official Assemblies of God history agreed with me (of course facts don’t change because a new theory is put forward by a historian or sociologist) and I fixed the text. This lead to a revision war with Bill that ended with a compromise. We agreed that we’d say that the AG started as Wesleyan Holiness but drifted till it became Higher Life.

Since I’d agreed to this I realized I better go check on the movement. What I found was that the HL was a movement in Britain that differed from Holiness in the understanding of Sanctification. HL taught the same Wesleyan doctrine of a Second moment called Sanctification. The only difference I could find was that it arose from the Wesleyan Holiness movement, as a book and a movement begun by William Boardman in Britain and arising from the American expression of the Wesleyan Holiness movement.

Ironically the only source I could find about HL was on wikipedia and we must remember that the AG was founded in the US, in Hot Springs, Arkansas. Many delegates were from as far away as Egypt, but it was an American birth. To claim that it was founded in the US from a movement founded in Britain, based on a movement in the US, but based on the Wesleyan Holiness Movement which originated in Britain. . . You can see how silly it gets. So my initial assertion stands, the AG was birthed in the heart of the Wesleyan Holiness movement.

Now why worry. The issue came up because Bill was struggling with the issues regarding Sanctification. Now I remember the old timers testifying how blessed they were because God’s grace made them, “Saved, Sanctified, and Filled with the Holy Ghost.” It was formulaic and we all knew this was the same as Wesley’s First, Second and Third “moments” of grace. And we knew that the first moment was sufficient to save. The second blessing or second moment was requisite to the third and the third was requisite to the infinite growth available to the believer.

Our view of sanctification like Wesley, follows the Pauline model of initial legislative act followed by pruning and improvement. Most agree Paul was pretty thoroughly removed from the opportunity of sin and was sound enough by his own standards to rebuke not only the bishops and elders under his direct tutelage (Turkey and Anatolia) but others of the twelve (e.g. Peter) on issues of both faith and baptism. Paul never the less felt compelled to confess fault and sin, where most of us would have seen perfection. This wasn’t depression, it was the fact that God takes us beyond simple sanctification into greater perfection as we allow him. “Be perfect as I am perfect,” is the command of our God.

On the other hand

However, like Wesley, Arminius and Paul before that, we Pentecostals have always taught and believed that it was possible to backslide and that the unregenerate, or those who backslide after receiving the Baptism, must surely be cut off. We see in Jesus own words that many who had the supernatural gifts of the Baptism of the Holy Spirit will be cut off and Jesus will say, “I never knew you.” How is this possible, except by eventuality of disfellowship.

There are a couple of fallacies in this argument. First is the idea that it is Baptism in the Holy Spirit, Wesley’s Fire Baptism, that is the gift of the Holy Spirit mentioned in Heb 6:4-6 (kjv). The second is the ease with which damning disfellowship can occur. A close examination of the passage in Hebrews shows that it contains a Hebraic parallelism. In Hebrew poetry there is the concept of repeating yourself one or more ways in order to add nuance or imagery to the subject. What we have in this passage is:

who were once enlightened, and have tasted of the heavenly gift, and were made partakers of the Holy Ghost, and have tasted the good word of God, and the powers of the world to come”. This is not a laundry list of criteria, but repeating the same concept four ways because of the abject horror the author feels that anyone could be so foolish. Enlightenment, the heavenly gift, the presence of the spirit, the power of the world to come – these are all references to the coming of the Paraclete and the salvation he brings. Rather than the gift of Pentecost received by the 120, this is the pentecostal gift of salvation received by the crowd who heard Peter’s sermon and believed.

In other words, falling from grace is not reserved for those fortunate enough to receive the fire baptism as a requisite to ministry. Instead, it is an opportunity available to any believer who is rebellious or careless enough to choose that path.

However, in verse 6 we see it is “If they shall fall away,” that this horror will befall them. If is a contingency, not a certainty. Salvation comes only once, “for it is impossible. . .to crucify Christ afresh”. But it is not easily lost even through disfellowship. In 1 Corinthians 5:5 (kjv) we are instructed to “deliver such an one unto Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that the spirit may be saved” in Jesus’ own good time.

Why disfellowship? God is omniscient and holy. This holiness is so profound that in biblical times, the officiant would wear bells as he entered the holy of hollies to bring the blood of sacrifice. If the bells stopped they knew the presence of God had killed the priest and he would be dragged from the holiest place by a rope tied to his ankle. To claim that those who face the judgment seat of God could manage to lie, even to save themselves, is a logical absurdity. Holy God cannot abide lying or any form of wickedness and more importantly it can’t abide in his presence. Thus the claims of these erstwhile miracle workers must be true, yet they are damned along with Satan and his angels.

How can such a one have been saved, yet lose salvation. We know that “nothing can snatch [us]” from God’s hand. We cannot be taken, but as beings of free moral agency and the image of our creator, we can choose to rebel. The loss of salvation due to unrepentant, habitual sin leads eventually to a state where God must remove his grace. We see this in the passage where the rebel is compared to a Dog returning to eat it’s own vomit, but we also see it in the parable of the sower.

Much time has been given to the seed that falls on good ground, as well as that which falls among the thorns or on the path. The commentaries bulge with explanations but any honest analysis shows us that Jesus meant the seed to be the word of God, and the soil to be the lives of men. That naturally makes the stalks that sprout, the new life of salvation. But notice tends to pass over the seed that falls on shallow soil. Like the good soil and the path, the shallow soil is unencumbered by poisonous weeds or thorns. Like the good soil the seed finds fertile ground to sprout and begin to grow. But the hard stoney heart of such soil causes the tender shout of salvation to die and dry up. In the end, even the seed is gone and what soil there was has been corrupted by the dead roots of the faded wheat.

This fall from grace, illustrated in the dead straw that can only be cleared by burning, is permanent and irremediable, as it would require that we “crucify Christ afresh.” This is an impossibility and as a result those souls that reach this unlikely state are never able to be renewed. One might believe this is harsh, but it is not. God grants those who are saved a supernatural power as a free gift associated with grace, “the power to become the sons of God.”

Associated with the sanctification is the power to resist temptation, to avoid occasion to sin and to repent of those sins. Repentance requires that one entirely stop engaging in the given sin, and that one make restitution to one’s victim(s), and finally that one dedicate one’s life to preventing such sins from being repeated by others. Again, God grants the power, he only demands willingness to obey.

But some sins are just too precious to us. For instance, a Christian believer might have been tempted so badly that he or she marries another believer who committed the sin of divorcing his or her spouse. So we have a case where a Believer has married a believer who has a believing former spouse. This is an abomination before God. Jesus said that the couple are living in open and unrepentant adultery. The only option for them is to divorce. Though God doesn’t view the legal agreement as a marriage in the first place and as such there’s nothing to divorce. The only option for this couple is to dissolve the fraudulent marriage and reconcile with the previously married partner, if the former spouse is willing and able, and on the former spouses’ terms.  If the former spouse is not amenable then enforced celibacy by the (now twice) divorced spouse is the only path. God in the person of Jesus Christ in Matthew 19 is the Judge.

This follows the pattern I mentioned because the couple have victimized the former spouse by committing adultery, which the Bible views as a form of robbery. Your body, regardless of your gender, is the chattel property of your spouse and you do NOT have the choice. You can come to an agreement to remain celibate for a time, or make accounting for the incapacity of one spouse, but you cannot refuse your spouse otherwise. It is rebellion and theft.

Now I know there are practicalities of mood and arousal etcetera, and I’m not suggesting you ignore those, only that you have to make a good faith effort to accommodate your spouse, every time. That’s love. Love does not promote it’s own mood, by refusing or forcing. But legalistically it is sin to refuse. And the fact of guilt will damage your soul just as the fact of adulterous guilt or murderous guilt will. So mature Christians will voluntarily accommodate their spouses’ need for sex out of Love. Period.

Some have suggested that you can never reach a point of losing your salvation. That it’s a “finished work” and therefore you can never escape God.

This is a doctrine of Demons. It is intended to allow the unrepentant to as Paul put it, “leaven the whole lump” meaning the whole church. It sounds loving, and kind. But the Devil used to be an Angel, he knows how to fake grace and love in a religious context. The Devil has been in the business of religion for an awfully long time. By encouraging the sinful to feel like they are okay just as long as they pray a little rote prayer of repentance, or confess to a priest, eventually, he encourages the unrepentant to get closer and closer to the edge every time they slip

The eventual outcome is a damned soul who looks good, and speaks well, and may have supernatural gifts of the Spirit, but who is a fraud.  As a fraud, he’ll have replaced the fruit of the spirit with the sorcerous tripe found in psychology text books and magazines.  He’ll label self sacrifice as codependency, Chrstian love as enabling, patience as ambivalence, etc.  But worst of all, he’ll replace faith with belief in a kind of magical emmination, instead of simple trust in the character and compassion of the divine spirit we serve.

Or, conversely, he may claim there is no answer to prayer and God does move miraculously.  HIs brand of Christianity denies the power of Godliness.

Why do they have gifts? Because, “the gifts and callings of the Lord are without repentance.” God never takes the gifts away, and even uses the gifted but lost to reach others who are lost and redeem the presence of the gift. It is possible to find a gifted Evangelist who heals the sick, preaches the gospel and leads many to Christ – who is himself lost because he blasphemed the spirit by calling another man of God a demoniac. Such a man becomes delusional. As the Bible puts it, “that they believe a lie.” And his conscience becomes seared to the point he never struggles to improve his walk or cares about his pet sin. Even Satan stops tempting him very hard because he’s “in the bag” like a game bird.

And he’ll start teaching sin and false grace. Grace that is not a precious commodity to be cherished and protected through obedience, but Grace that is a faded tattoo that can never truly be lost.

This counterfeit grace is a stain and it marks the fraud, the servant of antiChrist, like a beacon. Bear in mind this is not a burden placed on the lost and unregenerate. This is a responsibility given to those whom God has supernaturally gifted to be able.

How does this relate to Bill? Well Bill’s sources were a pair of authors I am personally acquainted with, although I haven’t had contact with one in 14 years and the other in 11 years. These men, like myself, grew up in the Assemblies of God and were educated in the same institutions I was. But, unlike myself never achieved that third moment of grace, the Baptism in the Holy Spirit, prior to becoming influential authors. As such, they were on the outside looking in so to speak. Lacking the perspective to understand the experience they accepted a Charismatic Doctrine that substituted emotional response in place of supernatural experience and gifts.

I have debated this issue with the both of them, though they are likely to have forgotten me among the hundreds of authentic Pentecostals who tried to teach them. So, like the expert skydiver who has never jumped, they teach what they do not know. They are part of a movement that has attempted to eradicate the Pentecostal message from Pentecostal churches and replace it with a Charismatic (second wave) theology which is reformation Evangelical rather than orthodox Arminian (not to be confused with the Armenian Orthodox Church).

This insurgency is designed, like those we’ve faced in every generation going back to Paul, to divert the church from the simple gospel of Christ into pagan philosophies, psychological sorceries and compromised witness without the power of the Holy Spirit working visibly in the gifts of the prophets.

Remember “the gift of the prophet is subject to the PROPHET”! Gifts are given to individuals, as a reward for their obedience and faith, for the benefit of the church. Prophets, which we seem more comfortable calling preachers, have been the target of every great move to destroy or distort the church. Eliminate the prophets and you eliminate the gifts, as he has done every time in the past. When you eliminate the office of prophet, established in the scriptures, cited in the Didache, and made manifest in the Pentecostal movements through the ages. God removes his spirit and his blessing from the church and the land. God is not obliged to gift where we decide, because people have established protocol demanding God gift their elected leaders. God will move and gift where HE sees fit. As he always has done.

God bless you as you seek his face,

Fred

Written on April 1st, 2009 , Musings Tags: , ,

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Dear Timothy,