Thursday, July 30, 2009

Fundamentals - The Holy Scriptures

The Holy Scriptures, Old and New Testaments, are the written Word of God, given by divine inspiration through holy men of God who spoke and wrote as they were moved by the Holy Spirit. In this Word, God has committed to man the knowledge necessary for salvation. The Holy Scriptures are the infallible revelation of His will. They are the standard of character, the test of experience, the authoritative revealer of doctrines, and the trustworthy record of God's acts in history.

2 Peter

19 And so we have the prophetic word confirmed, which you do well to heed as a light that shines in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts; knowing this first, that no prophecy of Scripture is of any private interpretation, 21 for prophecy never came by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit.

2 Timothy 3

10 But you have carefully followed my doctrine, manner of life, purpose, faith, longsuffering, love, perseverance, 11 persecutions, afflictions, which happened to me at Antioch, at Iconium, at Lystra—what persecutions I endured. And out of them all the Lord delivered me. 12 Yes, and all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution. 13 But evil men and impostors will grow worse and worse, deceiving and being deceived. 14 But you must continue in the things which you have learned and been assured of, knowing from whom you have learned them, 15 and that from childhood you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. 16 All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, 17 that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.

Ps. 119:105

Your word is a lamp to my feet And a light to my path.

Prov. 30:5

Every word of God is pure; He is a shield to those who put their trust in Him.

Isa. 8:20

To the law [10 Commandments] and to the testimony [the Bible]! If they do not speak according to this word, it is because there is no light in them.

1 Thess. 2:13

For this reason we also thank God without ceasing, because when you received the word of God which you heard from us, you welcomed it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God, which also effectively works in you who believe.

Heb. 4:12

For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.

... it doesn't get any better than the following, folks ...

John 17

Jesus Prays for His Disciples

6 “I have manifested Your name to the men whom You have given Me out of the world. They were Yours, You gave them to Me, and they have kept Your word. 7 Now they have known that all things which You have given Me are from You. 8 For I have given to them the words which You have given Me; and they have received them, and have known surely that I came forth from You; and they have believed that You sent Me. 9 “I pray for them. I do not pray for the world but for those whom You have given Me, for they are Yours. 10 And all Mine are Yours, and Yours are Mine, and I am glorified in them. 11 Now I am no longer in the world, but these are in the world, and I come to You. Holy Father, keep through Your name those whom You have given Me, that they may be one as We are. 12 While I was with them in the world, I kept them in Your name. Those whom You gave Me I have kept; and none of them is lost except the son of perdition, that the Scripture might be fulfilled. 13 But now I come to You, and these things I speak in the world, that they may have My joy fulfilled in themselves. 14 I have given them Your word; and the world has hated them because they are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. 15 I do not pray that You should take them out of the world, but that You should keep them from the evil one. 16 They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. 17 Sanctify them by Your truth. Your word is truth. 18 As You sent Me into the world, I also have sent them into the world. 19 And for their sakes I sanctify Myself, that they also may be sanctified by the truth.

Jesus Prays for All Believers

20 “I do not pray for these alone, but also for those who will believe in Me through their word; 21 that they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me. 22 And the glory which You gave Me I have given them, that they may be one just as We are one: 23 I in them, and You in Me; that they may be made perfect in one, and that the world may know that You have sent Me, and have loved them as You have loved Me. 24 “Father, I desire that they also whom You gave Me may be with Me where I am, that they may behold My glory which You have given Me; for You loved Me before the foundation of the world. 25 O righteous Father! The world has not known You, but I have known You; and these have known that You sent Me. 26 And I have declared to them Your name, and will declare it, that the love with which You loved Me may be in them, and I in them.”

... this is the first in a series of Fundamental Beliefs of Christianity. It is presented as a gift to the world ...

The Observer

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Easter Influences

As you may remember, I'm always saying something about differing Bible versions and how I have my favorite ones. You may be surprised but the King James contains a word I do not appreciate very much - EASTER!

It's not that I don't celebrate Christ's Resurrection (some modern Churches have given Easter Sunday the name Resurrection Sunday), it's because I don't like the bunnies, eggs, sunrise services, the day it's celebrated, and the name; Easter!

Here's why:

One of the most favorite historical figures within "traditional Christianity" is Constantine the Great, the first Christian Roman Emperor - so-called. Over the centuries, a mythos has been created surrounding Constantine. The Roman Church sees him as a Christian hero who proclaimed the public acceptance and validity of Christianity to the known world at that time.

In reality, Constantine was a political opportunist who found a way to solidify his power by co-opting and melding Christianity within the Pagan framework of Roman life, while still publicly worshipping Sol Invictus (the ultimate Sun-god). BTW, this combining of Monotheism, Polytheism, and Monolatry is called Syncretism. The mythical "stories" surrounding Constantine actually come in 4 different versions. I'll cover those in a later blog. Constantine is mentioned here because of his affect on Easter.

In the year 321 A.D. Constantine decreed that SUNDAY, "the day of the sun", would be a legal day of rest and worship. All other days for rest and worship were forbidden; on pain of death! Just 50 years earlier, the Roman Emperor Aurelian declared December 25th as the birthday of all the assimilated sun-gods. ... does that day sound familiar? ... hmmmm

Enter: The Council of Nicaea;

The year was 325 A.D., just 4 years after the infamous Sunday decree. Presiding over the Council was Constantine, of course, and most of the Roman Bishops. Prior to this Council the Christian world celebrated Passover. The Church celebrated Passover in a way that should be familiar to most Christians - not exactly like the Jewish Passover, although those elements were there - but by re-creating the Lord's Supper! You know, WDJD? (what did Jesus do).

In addition to the traditional Jewish Passover they participated in the breaking of bread and partaking of wine as symbolic representations of the body and blood of Christ; and, they washed each others feet. ... sound familiar?

Passover occurs on the 14th Day of Nisan. This day from the Jewish calendar straddles the "Roman" months of March and April. Most folks don't seem to remember, a year was once well established as 360 days of 24 hours each with 30 days per month (the Romans botched this one also). The original Passover can fall on any day of the week. It varies ...

So ... the Council (Constantine) decreed that "Passover" would fall on the first Sunday of the full moon, or what's called the Vernal Equinox, a pagan holiday. What is today recognized as Easter often occurs far from the actual day of Passover. Before 325 A.D. Christians never celebrated any day called "Easter".

So where did it come from? You've probably guessed already - a Pagan fertility goddess!

History tells us that the English word Easter is derived from Eostra. Like the various sun gods, fertility goddess' from multiple cultures end up being related. Eostra is associated with Astarte, or Ashtaroth (this one's spoken of in biblical text - none too kindly). "She" was first introduced in the British Isles by the Druids (another fun bunch). You know, like the Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams.

Easter is also another name for Beltis or Ishtar of the ancient Babylonians, and can be traced all the way back to Hathor, the cow goddess of Egypt. Egypt also had a bull god; Apis. You may recall these two as a combined god for the ones who grew tired of waiting for Moses and decided to build a golden calf to worship.

Heathen Anglo-Saxons called the 4th month "Esturmonath" after Eostra and pre-Christian Germanic people had an important spring festival dedicated to the goddess Ostara, sometimes called Eostra. It's interesting, but there exists right now a "New Age" organization in California called Astara. I wonder if there's a relationship? Ostara's name suggests "east" and thus dawn, or morning light.

This Eostra devotion was ultimately linked to the springtime celebration of Diana and Artemis, the Roman and Greek goddess' of fertility, respectively. The myth states that the fertility goddess (pick whichever name you want) turned a bird into a hare! Now we're getting somewhere. We have a hare, a bunny, with the ability to lay eggs! Yes, that would be Easter Eggs!


So ... Next time you're invited to a sunrise Easter service, asked to face the rising sun and say a prayer, and while you're enjoying the little children as they hunt for eggs; just remember, you are probably NOT celebrating Almighty God! All of us have to decide if these pagan connections to Christianity are important or not.

The Observer

Monday, July 13, 2009

Baptism - Is It Important?

Tiger, I believe in God already. Isn't being Baptized just another ritual?

Mark 16:16 (NKJV, unless mentioned otherwise)

He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned.

But Tiger, I believe I've received the gift of the Holy Spirit already - Baptism is not necessary!

Acts 10

44 While Peter was still speaking these words, the Holy Spirit fell upon all those who heard the word. 45 And those of the circumcision who believed were astonished, as many as came with Peter, because the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out on the Gentiles also. 46 For they heard them speak with tongues and magnify God. Then Peter answered, 47 “Can anyone forbid water, that these should not be baptized who have received the Holy Spirit just as we have?” 48 And he commanded them to be baptized in the name of the Lord. Then they asked him to stay a few days.

No Tiger, Baptism is just a matter of personal opinion.

Yes! It is all about personal opinion, but it's Christ's opinion that matters, not ours!

John 3:5

5 Jesus answered, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God.

Luke 7

24 When the messengers of John had departed, He began to speak to the multitudes concerning John: “What did you go out into the wilderness to see? A reed shaken by the wind? 25 But what did you go out to see? A man clothed in soft garments? Indeed those who are gorgeously appareled and live in luxury are in kings’ courts. 26 But what did you go out to see? A prophet? Yes, I say to you, and more than a prophet. 27 This is he of whom it is written:

‘ Behold, I send My messenger before Your face,
Who will prepare Your way before You.’

28 For I say to you, among those born of women there is not a greater prophet than John the Baptist;
but he who is least in the kingdom of God is greater than he.”29 And when all the people heard Him, even the tax collectors justified God, having been baptized with the baptism of John. 30 But the Pharisees and lawyers rejected the will of God for themselves, not having been baptized by him.
Ah Ha! I've got you now, Tiger! The "Thief" was never Baptized!

Yes! And people sometimes die before they get around to Baptism. Pastors and Priests give last rites on death beds, young people die in war, etc. Have you ever noticed, the "Thief" never had a chance to right his wrongs, to return the stolen goods. It's interesting that people will use legalistic arguments while complaining about others being "legalistic", isn't it?

God holds us responsible for what we can do and realizes the limitations of "dust". He doesn't require a physical impossibility. How do I know this?

Psalm 103:14

14 For He knows our frame; He remembers that we are dust.

Ezekiel 33:15

15 if the wicked restores the pledge, gives back what he has stolen, and walks in the statutes of life without committing iniquity, he shall surely live; he shall not die.

So, what you're really saying is that Baptism is what "saves" me?

No, Baptism itself does not save anyone, but refusing Baptism when one should be Baptized means disobedience to God.

Hebrews 5:9

9 And having been perfected, He became the author of eternal salvation to all who obey Him,
I was Baptized as a baby, Tiger - I'm cool!

Sorry, no. No one should be Baptized unless he (1) knows the truth of God, (2) believes it, (3) has repented, and (4) has experienced conversion. (See Acts 8: 34-40) A child cannot do this.

Note: Your Bible version may not have Acts 8:37. If this is true, I would get another Bible. I recommend the New King James. Your Bible doesn't have verse 37 because that particular denomination or sect wanted to justify infant Baptism and uses that "tainted" (incomplete) version.

OK Tiger, but I've been sprinkled, anointed with olive oil, been "dipped" 3 times, been baptized over the phone, paid for and received my baptismal certificate in the mail, have had wine poured on my head, and have been doused with salt! I'm good now - right!

No, sorry. You know the popular saying don't you, WWJD, "what would Jesus do"? IMO, it really should say WDJD, "What Did Jesus Do"! Another good one is, WDJS, "What Did Jesus Say"!

For reference I'll ask the reader to look these up: John 3:23 and 1 Peter 2:21. BTW, the Greek word used in the Bible for Baptism is "Baptizo". What does it literally mean?

"to dip under or submerge or immerse"
Some Parting thoughts ...

The Holy Bible is replete with what are called "types", or allegories. The Great Flood in the days of Noah was an allegory to an "earthly" Baptism; a renewal. Moses' people were "Baptized" while crossing the Jordan River into the promised land. Remember that Moses himself was not allowed. Does that mean he is not saved? No, I don't think so. John the Baptist baptized Jesus and others. Countless disciples have done the same over time.

What is the final Baptism? A Baptism that none can refuse? The Bible says quite clearly - it's a Baptism of Fire.

The Observer

Monday, July 06, 2009

UPDATED: The E.U. Must Keep Sunday, Says Catholic Church

... From Their Own Mouths ...
November 18, 2008

The Catholic Church wants Sunday observance enshrined in EU law. The European Parliament is debating changes to its Working Time Directive. The Vatican wants a clause in this law that would force every citizen in the European Union to rest on Sunday.

A hideously socialist piece of legislation, the Working Time Directive currently makes it illegal for those working, with some exceptions, in the EU to work for more than 48 hours a week. Workers in the UK are currently allowed to opt out of its provisions.

The bill is being revised. During the second reading, in October, seven Members of the European Parliament tabled an amendment saying that the minimum rest period “shall in principle include Sunday.” The Brussels-based Commission of the Bishops’ Conferences of the European Community (comece) agrees, recommending the directive should say “the minimal weekly rest must include Sunday.”

The amendment stated, “The likelihood of sickness in companies that require staff to work on Sundays is greater than in companies that do not require staff to work on Sundays. The health of workers depends, among other factors, on their opportunities to reconcile work and family life, to establish and maintain social ties and to pursue their spiritual needs. Sunday, as the traditional weekly rest day, contributes to these objectives more than any other day of the week.”

The amendment never went to vote, drawing criticism from Catholic bishops across Europe. Piotr Mazurkiewicz, secretary general of comece, was incensed. The protection of Sunday, he said, “is a cornerstone of the European social model and an issue of central importance for workers and their families.”

The Working Time Directive will be discussed once more in December, and Europe’s Catholic bishops want this issue brought up.

The pope has been a strong advocate of the revival of Sunday keeping. “Without Sunday [worship] we cannot live!” Pope Benedict xvi declared during a mass on September 9 last year, stating that it was a “necessity” for all people.

The prospect of a European government so powerful that it could declare one specific day a day of rest is a frightening one. This would be an EU willing and able to enforce lifestyle changes on its subjects, whether they liked it or not. It would be a Europe that enforced a state religion—Catholicism. The enforcement of Sunday worship will be the mark of a powerful, Vatican-allied, European superpower.

For more information, see our article “The Pope Trumpets Sunday”.

... the conflict between Christians concerning Sabbath worship CANNOT be overstated or IGNORED. It WILL be a determining factor in the end times ...

Here is an American equivalent to the ongoing efforts in Europe. Below is a cut/paste of their "about us" page:

Our Mission: The Lord’s Day Alliance of the United States exists to encourage Christians to reclaim the Sabbath–the Lord's Day–as a day of spiritual and personal renewal, enabling them to impact their communities with the Gospel. (They mean Sunday)

Our History: The Lord's Day Alliance of the United States (LDA) was founded in 1888. That year representatives of six major Protestant denominations met in Washington, D.C. to organize the American Sabbath Union; this name was later changed to The Lord's Day Alliance of the United States. The LDA has been the one national organization whose sole purpose is to maintain and cultivate the first day of the week as a time for rest, worship, Christian education and spiritual renewal.

Over its life, the LDA has worked toward the goal of preserving and protecting worker's rights to time away from work responsibilities to worship and honor the Lord.

Today, The Lord's Day Alliance stands on the edge of a great opportunity to proclaim the message of the Sabbath, a message of spiritual renewal and personal well being, in this fast-paced 24/7, 21st century American culture. (They mean Sunday)

Our Leadership: The LDA is led by a Board of Managers comprised of clergy and laity from Christian churches and includes persons from Baptist, Catholic, Episcopalian, Friends, Lutheran, Methodist, Non-Denominationalist, Orthodox, Presbyterian, and Reformed traditions. (imo, images of the Beast)

Brian W. Hanse, a CPA and attorney from Wayne, New Jersey, and a third generation member of the Board, is the current President.

Co-directors Tim Norton and Rodney Petersen provide staff guidance to the LDA.

... until much consternation and critique arose, this organization actually promoted legislation to enforce Sunday worship on Americans, which is essentially the same as making Catholicism the National Religion of the United States. The Bible is very clear and has been repeated over and over on this site; Jesus (God) is the Lord of the Sabbath (Saturday) - Not MAN!

The Observer
Question: Is it proper for a "church" to impress financial direction upon the nations of the world?

Saturday, July 04, 2009

Tim Hughes- Here I Am To Worship

2 Corinthians 3:17

Now the Lord is the Spirit; and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.

Have A Happy 4th of July!