Friday, July 27, 2012

The Doctrine of the Trinity revisited

Some believe that: "You cannot be saved if you don't believe in the Trinity".

In the early church it wasn't long before true servants of God became a marginalized and scattered minority among those calling themselves Christians. 

The doctrine of the Trinity is considered so sacred and fundamental that many churches ... view it as a litmus test for defining who is and who isn't a true Christian. For example, author and theology professor James White writes; "We hang a person's very salvation upon the acceptance of the doctrine ... No one dares question the Trinity for fear of being branded a 'heretic' ... We must know, understand, and love the Trinity to be fully and completely Christian". 

The book Is God A Trinity has many more examples from teachers who insist that the unscriptural belief in the Trinity is essential to being a Christian.  Ironically, Christian churches say they base their doctrines on what the Bible teaches but still they insist on the validity of the doctrine of the trinity as if they have found proof of it in the Bible! 

The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia acknowledges that "'trinity' is a second-century term found nowhere in the Bible, and the Scriptures present no finished trinitarian statement" (1988, Vol. 4, "Trinity," p. 914). It further states that "church fathers crystallized the doctrine in succeeding centuries"—long after the apostles had passed from the scene. Is God A Trinity, printed in 2011, by United Church of God

A New Greek Doctrine 

The Harper Collins Encyclopedia of Catholicism states: "Today, however, scholars generally agree that there is no doctrine of the Trinity as such in either the OT [ Old Testament ] or the NT [ New Testament ] . . . It would go far beyond the intention and thought-forms of the OT to suppose that a late-fourth-century or thirteenth-century Christian doctrine can be found there . . . Likewise, the NT does not contain an explicit doctrine of the Trinity" Richard McBrien, general editor, 1995, "God," pp. 564-565

The New Encyclopedia Britannica, in its article on the Trinity, explains:"Neither the word Trinity nor the explicit doctrine appears in the New Testament . . . The doctrine developed gradually over several centuries and through many controversies . . . It was not until the 4th century that the distinctness of the three and their unity were brought together in a single orthodox doctrine of one essence and three persons" 1985 edition, Micropaedia, Vol. 11, p. 928

The New International Dictionary of New Testament Theology points out that "primitive Christianity did not have an explicit doctrine of the Trinity such as was subsequently elaborated in the creeds of the early church" Colin Brown, editor, Vol. 2, 1976, "God," p. 84

Here is a remarkable admission!


Even though Mr Luther admitted that the doctrine of the trinity is man made, yet he kept on preaching it as if it was found in the Bible.

Martin Luther, the German priest who initiated the Protestant Reformation, conceded, "It is indeed true that the name 'Trinity' is nowhere to be found in the Holy Scriptures, but has been conceived and invented by man" reproduced in The Sermons of Martin Luther, John Lenker, editor, Vol. 3, 1988, p. 406

Professor Charles Ryrie, in his respected work Basic Theology, writes: "Many doctrines are accepted by evangelicals as being clearly taught in the Scripture for which there are no proof texts. The doctrine of the Trinity furnishes the best example of this. It is fair to say that the Bible does not clearly teach the doctrine of the Trinity . . . In fact, there is not even one proof text, if by proof text we mean a verse or passage that 'clearly' states that there is one God who exists in three persons" 1999, p. 89

Ryrie goes on to state: "The above illustrations prove the fallacy of concluding that if something is not proof-texted in the Bible we cannot clearly teach the results . . . If that were so, I could never teach the doctrine of the Trinity" p. 90

I don't know why, but this statement by Charles Ryrie brought this picture to my mind. 

The Titanic is sinking and a child who is carrying a helium-filled balloon suggested that they could put her balloon under the ship to keep it afloat. Ryrie's statement and the girl's reasoning are each about as absurd as the other.

Professor Erickson ... states that the Trinity teaching "is not present in biblical thought, but arose when biblical thought was pressed into this foreign mold [of Greek concepts]. Thus, the doctrine of the Trinity goes beyond and even distorts what the Bible says about God".  From the United Church of God web page: 

This post could be made almost infinitely long by quoting Bible teachers who say they believe that the Trinity exists, but who, at the same time admit that such a teaching is not logical, not believable and not taught in the Bible.

In spite of the Bible's distinct teaching that there is no trinity people still worship Christ as if He was a God.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

I Am hungry; You Don't Care

If you have enough faith you will be financially well off

The idea that Christians are to be wealthy, or at least, be well off, is another one of those doctrines that many in the modern church teach because it makes the members feel comfortable in their selfishness.  To prove their stance, they quote verses from the Bible, such as the words of Christ, I have come that they might have life and that they might have it more abundantly. John 10:10.  Surely, it is agreed, by any spiritually mature person, that, in this case, Christ was not speaking of material wealth, but rather of spiritual fulfilment.

Note also that Christ said that he who received much, of him much would be required.  If Christians, or local congregations, are fortunate enough to have ample financial blessings their duty is to supply the needs of the hungry and the destitute.  Their responsibility is certainly not to build superstructures that contain rotating choir stages or a few twenty-five foot waterfalls or other selfish, self-touting, superfluous physical adornments.  

To be sure, on the judgment day, those Christians who endorsed such selfishness will be reminded of the parable Christ told about the master who gave five talents to one, two talents to another and one to the next.  Each was to use what they received and thereby increase the master’s bottom line.  The one who received only one talent buried that talent in the ground and made no profit.  This is a picture of those who have enough money to feed the hungry but rather than doing that they build fancy, ornate buildings where they, supposedly, go to worship; they also go to see what other people are wearing, or what kind of cars they are driving.  Christ said, I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, ...and these will go away into everlasting punishment. Mat. 25: 42+46

Those who believe that Christians will be rich if they have enough faith should perhaps take a closer look at the saints throughout history. 

Do we associate the apostle Paul with faith?  Yet, he said that he knew what it was like to go hungry.  Was Saint John not a man of faith?  He did not live in a plush house with servants.  He was a prisoner, probably suffering beatings at the hands of Roman guards.  His faith did not make him financially well off.  The Book of Hebrews, in chapter 11, writes of the heroes of faith, and when he sums up the list, he writes, others were tortured, not accepting deliverance, that they might obtain a better resurrection. Still others had trial of mockings and scourgings, yes, and of chains and imprisonment. They were stoned, they were sawn in two, were tempted, were slain with the sword. They wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins, being destitute, afflicted, tormented— of whom the world was not worthy. They wandered in deserts and mountains, in dens and caves of the earth. And all these, having obtained a good testimony through faith, did not receive the promise. Heb. 11:35-39.

It goes beyond understanding how anyone, who has studied the Bible, can honestly maintain that God expects that all Christians, with enough faith, will live an affluent life.  The whole idea that Christians should be rich, is based on the selfishness of those who prefer being self-centered, to Christ, but they cannot quite let go of the idea that they are Christians.

In the book of The Revelation, the city of Babylon represents the materialistic selfishness of our modern society.  In The Revelation, Babylon is called a woman.

Immediately, after John saw the wanton pleasures of sinful Babylon, he heard a voice from heaven say, Come out of her, my people, lest you share in her sins, and lest you receive of her plagues. Rev. 18:4.  As God called Lot out of Sodom, Abram out of Ur and Israel's sons out of Egypt, so our God, in mercy, before it is too late, is calling to us, Come out of her.  He is saying to us, Come out from among them and be separate…Do not touch what is unclean, And I will receive you. I will be a Father to you, And you shall be My sons and daughters. 2 Cor. 6:17-18.  Is our love for pleasures and comfort so great that we willingly ignore our Lord, our Redeemer? 

It was in Babylon that man first built a tower to reach into heaven, now, at the end of time; our materialistic, selfish, Godless society has finished that tower. It is a tower of sin, for Babylon’s sins have reached into heaven. 18:5.  The cup of iniquity is full, the tower of sin is finished and God "has had it" with the corrupt lifestyle of the people of the twenty-first century.  It is deplorable that we, the church at large, have become so hopelessly entangled in the same selfish web in which non-Christians find themselves.  Note the mansions, the toys and vehicles of many Christians.  Note, how Christians “do” Christmas, all the while forgetting that there are starving children all around the world, including Canada.

She, in her pride, says I sit a queen over all the kings of the earth, 17:18, I will see no sorrow, 18:7.  In these words, it is easy to see the pope of the Roman Church foreshadowing the state of the final carnal church?  The fact that Babylon is the Mother of Harlots, indicates that she has offspring, her children are the harlots.  Some see in this picture the Roman Church as the Mother and her offspring as the carnal Protestant churches, which grew out of the Roman Catholic Church.  All of them together, the mother and the children, are so involved with pleasures that they cannot, or will not look into the future to see their doom.  Babylon is the mother of harlots, 17:5, selfishness is the ruler of kings. 17:8

The Bible lists, and condemns, our attitude towards these pleasures.  The merchants of the earth will weep because Babylon (the selfish lifestyle) is destroyed and is no more buying merchandise of gold and silver, precious stones and pearls, fine linen and purple, silk and scarlet, every kind of citron wood, every kind of object of ivory, every kind of object of most precious wood, bronze, iron, and marble; and cinnamon and incense, fragrant oil and frankincense, wine and oil, fine flour and wheat, cattle and sheep, horses and chariots, and bodies and souls of men. Rev. 18:12-13

In this regard, as in many other major doctrines, the church has closed her eyes to the truth, she refuses to believe that God will judge, in righteousness, and the church’s selfish lifestyle demands condemnation.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Is pacifism Biblical?

I realise that the bulk of Christendom does not support pacifism, but if you knew my background, you would understand why I am including pacifism among the false doctrines.

Pacifism is an ideal, which we trust will attend us in our future life.  It is impossible to imagine what the sociological world would look like today if all good people were pacifists.

The Nazis would have overrun the world and all the Jews would have been exterminated.  The terrorists in the world today would have free sway to destroy all the world’s democracies and economies.  Women’s and children’s rights all around the world would be extinct and all decent religious groups would be condemned and executed.

Pacifism stems from an unreal dream world.  Neither the Old Testament nor the New Testament teach that doctrine.  Most significantly Christ did not teach it either!  It is true that Isaiah spoke of a world, in which peace abounds, but even to him, that was an idealistic dream, which will be coming in the future.

One needs only read the Old Testament to notice that the Lord blessed His chosen people, when, or should we say, because, they killed their enemies. Many times the Lord told His people to kill them.  Many of the songs of the Jews thank the Lord for victory over mortal enemies.  In fact, in the Sanhedrin 72 are found these, straight to the point, words. If someone comes to kill you, anticipate him and kill him first. 

In the New Testament, Paul frequently uses word pictures that portray war.  Not only that, but nowhere do the New Testament writers teach that Christians do not have a right to protect their possessions and country by using force.  What they do teach is that we are not to be the aggressor, the one who starts a fight or a war. 

Bless them that persecute you: bless, and curse not. Rom. 12:14  
See that none render evil for evil to any man: but ever follow that which is good towards each other and towards all men. 1 Thes. 5:15
Not rendering evil for evil, nor railing for railing, but contrariwise, blessing: for unto this are you called, that you may inherit a blessing. 1 Peter 3:9  

Also in other verses of this nature, the thought is concerning seeking personal revenge against someone who has wronged us; these verses do not have any reference to pacifism.

Christ, also had very little to say in that regard.  On the night in which Christ was betrayed He said to Peter, Put your sword in its place, for all who take the sword will perish by the sword. Mat. 26:52.  This statement has absolutely nothing to do with non-resistance.  Christ was merely stating a fact: Peter, do you think that, with one sword, you can withstand the Roman army? Peter, if you try it, you will die.

To insist that Christ was a pacifist is to overlook that Christ said, Do not think that I came to bring peace on earth. I did not come to bring peace but a sword. Mat. 10:34.  Christ also told His disciples to purchase some swords; and he who has no sword, let him sell his garment and buy one. Luke 22:36

In the Sermon on the Mount Christ said, Thou shalt not kill. Mat. 5:21.  This statement is used to teach that Christ taught pacifism.  Christ, however, was quoting Exodus 20:13 (the sixth commandment), which means that He was using the Hebrew language.  In Hebrew, one word for "kill" is ratzach and it means to dash in pieces, that is, kill (a human being), especially to murder: - put to death. Strong H7523.  This is what the sixth commandment is condemning and what Christ was warning against. 

If Christ would have been preaching pacifism He would have needed to use the Hebrew word harug which means justifiable homicide, ... to taking the life of an enemy soldier in war. See Strong H2026.  The sixth commandment very precisely prohibits murder, but it does not speak against the taking of a life in defence of oneself or others.

I was brought up as a pacifist and have heard many sermons and all the arguments for pacifism.  So it was actually a huge relief for me to learn that the soldiers who had fought in wars had actually not gone against the teachings of the Bible concerning this issue.  

Pacifism, in the world in which we are living, is just not tenable or even desirable.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Was Christ crucified on a Friday?

That the Roman Catholic Church is wrong in very many of its doctrines is not at all surprising.  That the Protestants (those who protested against the Roman Catholic Church doctrines) have, seemingly, without thinking, accepted so many of the Roman Catholic’s false doctrines is surprising.  The belief that Christ suffered crucifixion on a Friday is a case in point.  Here we investigate that teaching.

Chronology of the Passion week

Mr. Roy M. Allen in his book, Three Days in the Grave, has written a treatise that completely answers the question; on which day of the week did Christ’s crucifixion take place.  He knocks holes into the theory that Christ died on Friday, and also into the theory that (as some allege), Christ died on Wednesday.

If one follows the chronology of the last week of Christ’s pre-crucifixion life, as given in the Gospels, the only way the Christ could have died on Wednesday is if Christ made His triumphal entry into Jerusalem on the Sabbath.  Mr. Allen infers that Christ would not have done that because in every other respect, Christ always obeyed all the laws of Moses and He would not carelessly disregard the law of the Sabbath during the last week before His death.

One fact that he points out is that the Jews chose the Passover lamb on the 10th day of the month of Nisan and then sacrificed it four days later, on the 14th.   At length, Mr. Allen shows that the typology of the Old Testament is exactly accurate in the New Testament.  Why then would this one case not follow true to form?  
He also shows that Christ, the Passover lamb, rode into Jerusalem on a donkey on the first day of the week.  We call that day Palm Sunday. The Jews rejected this Passover Lamb and four days later, they killed Him.  It is interesting to note that Wednesday is only the third day after the tenth and Friday is the fifth day.  Therefore, the only allowable day for the crucifixion is Thursday.  He also has other indications, drawn from the Bible, which dispel the theory of a Wednesday crucifixion.

However, a more pressing theory to dispel is that Christ died on a Friday.

It is true that every Gospel has words to the following effect; Now when evening had come, because it was the Preparation Day, that is, the day before the Sabbath, Joseph of Arimathea, a prominent council member, who was himself waiting for the kingdom of God, coming and taking courage, went in to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus. Mark 15:42-43.  Based on these words, we have learned that Joseph asked for the body of Jesus on the day that we call Friday, because, that is the day before their Sabbath, our Saturday. 
However, what Bible teachers have failed to notice, or have not been willing to tell us, is that during the week of the Jewish Passover there are two Sabbaths.   In this case, the word Sabbath, means “a day of rest” but not necessarily Saturday.  In the Passover week (in some years) those two days fall on (what we call) Friday and Saturday.  Mr. Allen writes: Let it once be admitted that the special Passover Sabbath and not the seventh-day Sabbath is the one which caused a cessation in the embalming process, and the effect on Friday as the day of the crucifixion is obvious. …the Passover could occur on any day of the week. It just so happened that in that year the Passover occurred immediately before the Sabbath.

Therefore, it is easy to see that Joseph could have asked Pilate for the already crucified body of Jesus on Thursday evening.  In accepting this, we allow the Bible to mean what it says about Christ being entombed for three days and three nights.

Bible students tend to date the year of Christ’s death in accordance with His birth.  That, however, makes it very arbitrary.  Christ’s birth year is given as early as 7 BC in The Jerusalem Bible and as late as 4 BC by some Protestant scholars.  The Jerusalem Bible in its chronological chart, presumably in order to defend a Friday crucifixion, writes, on the eve of the Passover, i.e. 14th Nisan, a Friday death of Jesus. (The Passover fell on the Saturday, April 8, in 30 (AD) and April 4, in 33 (AD): the second date is too late).  This argument, however, does not make it conclusive that Christ died on Friday.   There is no proof that Christ died in 30 AD.  
In the chronological chart of The System Bible Study, the year of Christ’s death is given as either 30 (or 29) AD.  With this option open, and all other evidence, pointing towards a Thursday crucifixion, it seems logical to accept that, in the year Christ was crucified, the 14th of Nissan, the Passover, fell on a Friday.  Hence, the crucifixion happened on a Thursday.

The Bible argues against a Friday Crucifixion:

Another convincing argument for a Thursday crucifixion is the Gospel’s presentation of the Passion Week.  The Gospel writers spell out every day of the week, at places almost hour by hour.  If one accepts a Friday crucifixion, there is one day of that week, Thursday, which is not even mentioned.  
Considering the exact schedule recorded by the writers, it is unbelievable that they would completely fail to mention one complete day. (Of all four Gospels combined about 33 percent is spent recording the events of the Passion Week.  Since, the writers, were so intent on giving such detail of that week, could all four of them inadvertently fail to mention one complete day?)  However, if we allow that the crucifixion happened on Thursday that one unmentioned day is accounted for.

As Mr. Allen says: There is not one passage of Scripture in any of the four Gospels which does not fit properly into this chronology, centering around Thursday, the day of the crucifixion.

Throughout Christendom, the crucifixion of Christ is commemorated on Friday and His resurrection is celebrated on Sunday, only two days later.   Christ distinctly said, For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the great fish, so will the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.
Matthew 12:40.  It just does not work to expand the two days allotted into the three days needed till Christ’s resurrection.  There must be a different, and a right, answer, in spite of what the church has taught us.

After two days was the feast of the Passover, and of unleavened bread: and the chief priests and the scribes sought how they might take him by craft, and put him to death.
Mark 14:1.   About this verse Dr McGee in Thru the Bible Commentary says, The Passover was observed on the fourteenth day of the first month, which is the Jewish month Nisan and corresponds to our April. “In the fourteenth day of the first month at even is the Lord’s Passover” (Lev. 23:5).  Then the Feast of Unleavened Bread was on the fifteenth day of the same month and it continued for seven days thereafter. “And on the fifteenth day of the same month is the feast of unleavened bread unto the Lord: seven days ye must eat unleavened bread. Lev. 23:6
Following this reasoning, we see that the feast of unleavened bread was on the Sabbath (our Saturday) and the Passover was always the day before, on Friday. Mark 14:2 continues, But they said, Not on the feast day, lest there be an uproar of the people.  So the Jewish leaders decided that they would not crucify Christ on the Feast day, (Friday) so they had to crucify Him on Thursday.  Why, than, does the Church still keep Friday as the day of the crucifixion?

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Satan Is Not An Angel

One of the errors that the church is forced to uphold, because she believes that there is only one God, is that Satan is an angel.  When Satan, one of the Gods, took up arms against Jehovah, the war in heaven took place. That war is recorded in Isaiah 14, Ezekiel 28 and in The Revelation

Greek and Babylonian mythology has much to say about the various gods and their continual striving with each other.  They had their wars on earth and in heaven.  It seems that these myths were based on earlier Babylonian stories, (as the Bible also is).   

The Babylonian story says in part, Then joined issue (to engage in battle) Tiamet and Marduk, wisest of gods. They strove in single combat, locked in battle...After he had slain Tiamet, the leader, her band was shattered, her troupe broken up. Some sources place the wars between these two groups at 10,000 to 12,000 years (ago). 

Surely, we would like to throw out stories like this as ancient fiction, but they are not so easily discarded, for in the Bible we also read of God doing battle with Satan and winning the war.  

A story like this makes absolutely no sense if we insist on believing that God is Omnipotent and that Satan is merely an angel.  There could be no meaningful contest between two contestants so unequally matched.  The image that presents itself to the mind is that of a professional wrestler in the ring, trying to defend his title against a newborn baby.  I repeat; The Gods spoken of in the Bible are not all that we have been taught to believe they are, and conversely, Satan is not an angel but rather one of those Gods.

Milton, in Paradise Lost, had much to say about the fall of Satan.  Some of it sounds as if Satan fell from heaven in a burning spacecraft.  He trusted to have equal’d the Most High, if he oppos’d; and with ambitious aim against the throne and Monarchy of God rais’d impious war in Heaven and Battel proud with vain attempt. Him the Almighty power hurld headlong flaming from th’ Ethereal skie with hideous ruine and combustion down to bottomless perdition, there to dwell in Adamantine Chains and penal Fire, who durst defie the Omnipotent to Arms. 

In Milton’s poem, after Satan had lost the battle, and having regained consciousness in Hell, notices that the army that had been fighting them has been recalled to Heaven, perhaps because they have run out of ammunition.  But see the Angry Victor hath recall’d his Ministers of vengeance and pursuit back to the gates of heaven: The Sulphurous Hail shot after us in storm...Hath spent his shafts, and ceases now. 

Perhaps this is exactly what Job had in mind when he said, His hand pierced the fleeing serpent. Job 26:13. Is it possible that the producers of Star Wars were simulating scenes from ages before modern human history began?

The teaching of the forces of good and evil opposing each other is completely coherent with the Bible’s statements; war broke out in heaven: Michael and his angels fought with the dragon; and the dragon and his angels fought, but they did not prevail, nor was a place found for them in heaven any longer. So the great dragon was cast out, that serpent of old, called the Devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world. The Rev. 12:7-9.  

Where and why did all this contention begin?  Some Bible teachers say that Isaiah 14:4-23 refers only to the King of Babylon, but many say that the deeper meaning of these verses is about the fall of Satan.  How you are fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning!... For you have said in your heart: ‘I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God; I will also sit on the mount of the congregation On the farthest sides of the north; I will ascend above the heights of the clouds, I will be like the Most High.  

Jehovah and his angels are the occupiers of the Mount of the assembly and that war between the two forces broke out because Satan wanted the place where the Lord’s throne is.

If Satan is just an angel how is it that he has a throne?  Michael and Gabriel do not have thrones.  Only potentates have thrones.  Nowhere does the Bible teach that Satan is an angel.  That is merely a supposition the church has handed us because she believes there is only one God.

Satan also said, I will sit on the mount of assembly in the far north.  Who is on the mount of assembly?  Common theology has placed God there.  Billy Graham even suggested that the reason there are no stars in the north is because, that is where God’s throne is.  Considering that, according to Church theology, Jehovah is omnipresent, is His confinement to a throne in the Northern hemisphere logical?   Is Jehovah closer to the Northern hemisphere than He is to the Southern hemisphere?

If, during Satan’s temptation of Christ in the wilderness, he would have won the victory over Christ, he could forever after have taken it easy because all the souls of all the people in the world would have been his.  True, he has lost his throne in the heavens, but, according to Milton, Satan said, Tis better to rule in Hell than serve in heaven. 

The book of Job starts by telling of the riches and the family of Job.  It continues Now there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the Lord, and Satan also came among them.  We notice that, sons of God, is written in plural, and that Satan was among those named as sons of God.  In an earlier post we learned that, in the Bible, the word God should really be written as Gods.  

We also understand, from the Bible, that Jehovah has only one Son, and yet the Bible speaks of the sons of God, in plural.  Does it not seem obvious, than, that there are other gods than Jehovah?  

It is interesting that of eight different translations of the Bible that were checked, in this regard, only three leave this phrase as the sons of God.   One of them has a footnote, which says sons of God means angels.  Five of the translations use the word, angels, but as a footnote, they say that in the Hebrew language it reads, sons of God.  This is a good example of how easily Bible translators can shape or reshape theology. 

Perhaps it also shows how ingrained our beliefs are.  We, almost, cannot let go of the ideas we grew up with, although the Bible tells us otherwise, but really, it is time to think again.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Is Satan an angel?

 Angels are created beings.  They do only whatever their creator orders them to do.  They are very complex, programmed robots.  Different angels have different functions and belong to different Gods.  In my earlier posts I wrote about the plurality of the Gods written about in the Bible.  

In the Bible we read of the angel of the Lord.  Conversely, that statement tells us that there are angels which do not belong to Jehovah.  Jehovah is the proper name for the God of Israel.  To think of angels as being robots is not at all out of line with the idea we get from the Bible. 

Angels were created to do certain things, and as pre-programmed robots, they do those things.  The works of angels, according to Mr Thiessen, are:

a) they worship God
b) they protect and deliver God’s people: 
c) they guide and encourage God’s servants, 
d) they interpret God’s will to men, 
e) they will gather together the elect at the return of Christ. 

This sounds like clear, straightforward, Bible teaching but it does raise a few questions. 

If God is all-powerful and if he is everywhere at the same time why does he need helpers?  The common answer that is given, well, we just don’t understand God’s way is just not satisfying. 

If Jehovah, who is only good, made all the angels, how is it that now, there are good angels and bad angels?  It is here suggested that each of the Gods made their own angels (helpers), and each God programmed his (or her) angels to obey his (or her) wishes. 

The angels, who were fabricated by Satan, were programmed to obey his voice and consequently, work evil for him.  If that approach seems far-fetched and unacceptable, notice the contradiction that Mr Thiessen, a Mennonite theologian, imposes on the subject of angels.  The angels were created perfect. This means that every affection of their hearts was directed toward God; their wills were inclined toward God...We must therefore conclude that the fall of the angels was due to their deliberate, self determined revolt against God.  

Has any theologian ever done an about face, as fast as this one was done?  First he says that every affection of their hearts was directed toward God and then, a few sentences later he writes, We must therefore conclude that the fall of the angels was due to their deliberate, self determined revolt against God.  Maybe this kind of contradiction satisfies some people when it comes to Bible study. However, the question remains, what is the real answer, since that one obviously cannot be?

Bible students have written much about the sons of God of Genesis 6 as being angels.  Some, opposed to the idea, say that the sons of God were the righteous descendants of the line of Seth and that the daughters of men were the unrighteous descendants of the line of Cain.  

They continue by saying that the recorded fact that there were giants in the earth in those days grammatically stands alone.  Those same students declare that that statement is not connected with the fact that the sons of God took as wives the daughters of men.  

Their argument overlooks the next statement in the Bible.  When the sons of God came in to the daughters of men, and they bore children to them; these were the mighty men who were of old, men of renown. Gen.6:4. Since when has a person been a mighty man just because he had a godly father and an ungodly mother?!

The point of view that the sons of God, who were the fathers of the mighty men of renown refers to angels seems a bit far-fetched to some.  They claim that the statement Christ made about people in heaven proves that angels are sexless.

He said, For in the resurrection they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like angels in heaven. Mat. 22:30.  Some claim that this statement made by Christ means that the angels are neither male nor female.  However, Christ did not say that, all he said is that angels do not marry.  

Why do they not marry?  This is not necessarily, because they are sexless.  Perhaps all angels are males and so have no one to marry.  It is quite possible to believe that the angels in Genesis 6 were Satan’s angels only and that Satan was planning to thwart the plans of Jehovah.  Since each angel responds to his creator’s voice, it should have been an easy thing for Satan to command his angels to do that.

Following is a quote from the Book of Enoch, which sheds light on the topic of angels.  In the book, the pseudo Enoch calls the angels the guardians of heaven. Enoch said, they bore me up into the heavens. I entered and walked until I came to a wall built of crystal stones and surrounded by tongues of fire, and they began to strike terror into me...and I heard the voice of the Most High: ‘Fear thou not, Enoch, thou righteous man and scribe of righteousness ... go thou and speak to the guardians of heaven who have sent thee in order to intercede for them. For they should really intercede for men, and not men for them!’ (Say to the guardians) ...why have ye left the lofty holy heavens, slept with women, defiled yourselves with the daughters of men, taken wives unto yourselves and done like the children of earth and beget sons like giants? Although ye were immortal, ye have defiled yourselves with the blood of women, and beget children with the blood of the flesh, lusted after the blood of men and produced flesh and blood as they do who are mortal and perishable.

This quotation clearly states that, according to the Book of Enoch, it is possible for angels to become the fathers of earthly babies.  Could it perhaps be these angels that Jude is referring to when he said, And the angels who did not keep their proper domain, but left their own abode, He has reserved in everlasting chains. Jude 6.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Earth's Eternal Throne

For whoever gives you a cup of water to drink in My name, because you belong to Christ, assuredly, I say to you, he will by no means lose his reward. Mark 9:41. 

Christ made this statement in retort to John’s assertion that someone who was not following Christ was casting out demons.  Christ said that even non-followers, who do good deeds, will be rewarded for their good deeds.   If they are not born again they will not enjoy heaven and if they are rewarded they, also, cannot be in eternal torment.  One possible explanation is that they will be on the new earth.

woe to that man by whom He is betrayed. Luke 22:22 

Why is it worse for Judas than for any unbeliever, if all unbelievers partake of the same eternal punishment?  This adds one more assertion to the argument that good non-Christians will not spend eternity in torment, but rather on the new earth.

Do you not know that the saints will judge the world? 1 Cor. 6:2 
we shall reign on the earth. Rev. 5:10

When will the saints judge the world if all the saints are in heaven eternally, and all “non saints” are in eternal torment because they did not accept Christ? A reasonable answer is that there will be people (good non-Christians), living on the new earth throughout eternity, and those are the people who will be judged by the saints in Heaven.

Nevertheless we, according to His promise, look for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells. 2 Peter 3:13 

Peter very distinctly tells us that there will be good people living on the new earth.  Some are waiting for that new earth in a similar manner as we, who are born again, are waiting for heaven.  

I once talked to a saintly lady who said that she did not want to go to heaven.  She was born a cripple and had never had the chance to climb a tree, and she was so looking forward to the opportunity to climb a tree, which, she must have assumed, would not be possible in heaven.

the dead were judged according to their works. Rev. 20:12-13. 

This is a judgment that comes on all people.  This judgment is in payment for works done, and for the lifestyle that was lived while on earth.  This verse does not say that all those thus judged, will spend eternity in torment.  The purpose of this judgment is to determine a person’s “standing” on the new earth, or in heaven, throughout eternity.  Conversely, if all non-Christians are in eternal torment the idea of rewards has no meaning to.

The Lamb is its light. And the nations of those who are saved shall walk in its light, and the kings of the earth bring their glory and honour into it. ...there shall by no means enter it anything that defiles, ...but only those who are written in the Lamb’s Book of Life. Rev. 21:23-27.  The kings who are ruling on the earth after the rapture of the Church will bring their glory into it (the city of God, heaven). 

The nations who ... walk in its light (the people who walk in the light shed on the new earth by the holy city) are the subjects of the kings of the earth who bring their glory into heaven.  This happens after the rapture of the church. He continues on to say that only born again people will enter heaven.

If all non-Christians are in eternal punishment, and all Christians are in the eternal city, who are the people whose kings bring their glory into heaven?   This must refer to people living on the new earth forever.  

One thousand years seems insignificant in view of the fact that heaven will last forever.  Furthermore, this scene is portrayed as happening after the thousand-year reign of peace was finished.  The only conclusion, is that it refers to the people living on the new earth, who have righteous rulers, and bring their glory into the city of God. 

The Old Testament is teeming with passages, which speak of the eternality of the coming Kingdom, and of the fact that the kingdom will be on earth and not in heaven.  Here we will look at just a few of them.

Of the increase of His government and peace There will be no end, Upon the throne of David and over His kingdom, To order it and establish it with judgment and justice From that time forward, even forever. Isaiah 9:7 

Then they shall dwell in the land that I have given to Jacob My servant, where your fathers dwelt; and they shall dwell there, they, their children, and their children’s children, forever; and My servant David shall be their prince forever. Moreover I will make a covenant of peace with them, and it shall be an everlasting covenant with them; I will establish them and multiply them, and I will set My sanctuary in their midst forevermore. My tabernacle also shall be with them;…The nations also will know that I, the Lord, sanctify Israel, when My sanctuary is in their midst forevermore. Ezekiel 37:25-28 

in the days of these kings the God of heaven will set up a kingdom which shall never be destroyed; and the kingdom shall not be left to other people; it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand forever. Daniel 2:44 

So, the Lord will reign over them in Mount Zion from now on, even forever. Micah 4:7 

David’s throne will be set up on earth, not in heaven, and it is that throne that will be established forever!  The purpose of that kingdom is to be a home for all those that are not in heaven and yet, because of their lifestyle, are not condemned to eternal punishment.

In the next post we ask the unthinkable question, "Is Satan really a bad angel"?

Friday, July 13, 2012

We Shall All Be Changed

Continuing with Mr Thiessen's arguments.

He quotes from Isaiah 26.  Come, my people, enter your chambers, And shut your doors behind you; Hide yourself, as it were, for a little moment until the indignation is past.  Mr Thiessen suggests that the indignation speaks of the great tribulation, and that hiding indoors, represents the rapture of the church. 

Did Mr. Thiessen not notice the words, for a little moment?  The effects of the rapture are not just for a little moment, they are eternal.  If he wants to take portions of Scripture out of context, and apply them where they do not belong, he should at least follow through with that method and try to make it all fit, not just the words that suit his ideas.  

When a Bible teacher tries to prove ideas that the Bible does not endorse, that teacher must “grasp at straws” or else he ends up with nothing in his hands.

Mr Thiessen then turns his attention to the twenty-four elders around the throne of God in The Revelation.  One argument that he uses that these represent the redeemed is that twenty-four priests served in the temple in Jerusalem at one time.  He saysthey are representatives of all the saints of Old and New Testament times up to the rapture.  What, in this wide world, does that have to do with the Church or with the time of Christ’s return?

The Seventh Trumpet

In the Revelation there are seven trumpets that sound.  Each one signals the start of a new period or a new style of tribulation.  The seventh one is recorded in 11:15.  When the seventh trumpet sounds six facets of the great tribulation period are already past.  

In 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17 Paul mentions only the seventh trumpet; that is the trumpet sound that signals the return of Christ.  Paul wrote, For the Lord himself will come down from heaven with a commanding shout, with the call of the archangel, and with the trumpet call of God. First, all the Christians who have died will rise from their graves. Then, together with them, we who are still alive and remain on the earth will be caught up in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air and remain with him forever.  Since Christ is coming back at the sound of the seventh trumpet, the great tribulation, which is heralded by the first six trumpets, must already have taken place before the last trumpet sounds.

Paul Strandburg, a defender of the Pre-tribulation doctrine uses the following example to explain the disagreement concerning the seventh trumpet. If your friend John said he went to his favourite restaurant last night, and another friend Larry said he also went to his favourite restaurant last night, is it logical for you to assume they both went to the same restaurant? Obviously not, because even though John and Larry went to their favorite restaurants, they may have had two different eating establishments in mind. The same logic should apply with the word trumpet. 

His example might have some meaning except for the fact that in the Bible, the trumpets are specifically named.  In Strandburg’s example, this equates to John saying, “the restaurant on the corner of 5th and James.” Larry, however says, “the restaurant on the corner of James and 5th”.  Even though the wording is different, the location is the same.  It is like that with the trumpets of the New Testament.  Paul spoke of the last trumpet blast; St. John, speaking of the last trumpet blast, called it the seventh trumpet blast.  Since there are only seven mentioned, they were speaking of the same event.

We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound. 1 Cor. 15:51-52

To the Corinthian Christians, Paul wrote that at the last trumpet’s blast Christ would be returning, and we know that in The Revelation, there are seven trumpets, each one of which heralds a tribulation.  John tells us that the seventh trumpet heralds the return of Christ.  It is easy to correlate the two references to the last trumpet blast.   

It is a common error not to think of Christ’s return as being a tribulation.  It is the greatest of the tribulations because after that there is no more time for repentance and forgiveness for those who have not yet become Christians.  How anyone cannot accept that the “last trumpet blast” of 1 Corinthians is the same as the “last trumpet blast” of The Revelation goes beyond belief. 

Brian Scheurtley writes: Although the pre-tribulation rapture theory is very popular today, given arguments that are offered in support of this doctrine we must declare Pre-tribulationalism to be contrary to the clear teachings of Scripture. Simply put, there is not one shred of evidence that can be found in the Bible to support the pre-tribulation rapture. The typical Pre-tribulational arguments offered reveal a pattern: of imposing one’s presuppositions onto a text without any exegetical justification whatsoever; of finding subtle meaning between words and/or phrases that were never intended by the author; of spiritualizing or ignoring passages that contradict the Pre-tribulational paradigm; and, of imposing Pre-tribulationalism upon passages that actually teach the unity of the eschatological complex (i.e., the rapture, second coming, general resurrection, and general judgment all occur on the same day—the day of the Lord). It is our hope and prayer that professing Christians would cast off this escapist fantasy and return to the task of personal sanctification and godly dominion. 

Pre-trib is ... quite a mess. It is a complicated colossus of disharmony and confusion.  Post-Trib, on the other hand, is simple, elegant, orderly and beautiful.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

No Pre-trib Return of Christ

Christianity Oasis writes, The Judgment Seat of Christ for the believer is not to be confused with the Great White Throne Judgement for unbelievers. There will be an accounting at the Great White Throne Judgment for those who have refused Christ. Rev. 20:11,12,15.  

Then, they quote, And I saw a great white throne, and him that sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away; and there was found no place for them. And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened; and another book was opened, which is the Book of Life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works. And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the Lake of Fire. Rev. 20:11,12,15

Christianity Oasis seems to have missed a few important statements made by John.  First, all the dead, small and great, were there.  The text does not say that only non-Christians were at the Great White Throne for judgment.  That is a point that is only assumed by those who believe that the rapture will take place before the tribulation.  

If this Great White Throne Judgement is not for Christians, what is the book of life doing there?  Surely, the Judge would know that all Christians were already past their day of judgment if the rapture happened before the tribulation.  Therefore, if Christians are not at the Great White Throne Judgement the Book of Life would be out of place there.

Do not marvel at this; for the hour is coming in which all who are in the graves will hear His voice and come forth those who have done good, to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil, to the resurrection of condemnation. John 5:28-29 

It is clearly stated, by Christ, that the good and the bad will be resurrected at the same time.  Christ makes no allowance for the Christians to be resurrected before the tribulation, at Christ’s first-second coming, and a resurrection of the evil to a separate judgement called the Great White Throne judgement.

For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who sleep in Jesus. For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord will by no means precede those who are asleep. For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. 1 Thes. 4: 14-17 

Some teachers falsely teach that Christ is coming back three times.  It seems that they need that doctrine to add weight to the theory that The Church will not pass through the great tribulation.  They say that first Christ will come in the air for the Church, that is the rapture, then, after the seven year great tribulation Christ is coming to set up the Millennial kingdom and when that is finished Christ will return to judge the non-Christians and those people who made themselves Christians without the holy spirit’s help; because the spirit of God ascended with the Church at the rapture one thousand and seven years earlier.

In spite of Christ’s and Paul’s words, the argument continues.  A few people believe that Christ is coming back halfway through the great tribulation.   There is almost no evidence that lends weight to that theory at all, so it will be ignored here.  Many (Wikipedia says that about 95% of Evangelical Christians) believe that the return of Christ, in the air, will be before the great tribulation.  

Mr Thiessen is a proponent of this theory.  We will look at his arguments, from his book of theology, and using them, prove that his theory is hanging precariously, by slender threads. Those threads are fastened on hooks called “if, we can surmise, and probably”.

To no avail, Mr Thiessen quotes Moffat, It is impossible from the grammer and difficult from the sense to decide (if the text) means successful endurance or absolute immunity.  Here, Mr Thiessen has gained no strength for his argument. Even the person he is quoting says the argument is not definitive or conclusive.

Mr Thiessen uses Noah as an example of one who was taken out of “the great tribulation”, in the ark.  Actually, this is a story from history, and it has nothing to do with the Church.  

However, if for the sake of argument, we agree that Noah symbolizes the Church, it must be pointed out that Noah is a picture of a person who was “safe in Christ”, not a person who went to heaven.  After all, Noah had to come back to earth after the ordeal of the flood, but the Church will not come back to earth after the rapture.  Noah is a very poor example, with no argumentative value, to show that the rapture will happen before the great tribulation.

Lot’s deliverance from Sodom, also used by Mr Thiessen as an example of a pre-tribulation rapture, is also an historical event and has absolutely nothing to do with the Church or with the great tribulation and so that case cannot be used as an example.

Mr Thiessen and many other Bible teachers, attempt to make a case for a pre-tribulation rapture from the 69-70 weeks of Daniel chapter nine.  However, after having made his closing argument, he says if that week is still future.  What if it is not, then he has made no valid argument at all.  This is a good example of how weak the whole line of reasoning for a pre-tribulation rapture really is.

The next post will continue this theme.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

The Return of Christ

Anyone who accepts the pre-tribulation return of Christ should think again about this subject.

Those who believe that the Bible must be accepted literally, whenever possible, are, of course, constrained to believe that Jesus will be coming back for The Church.  The question here is not, will He be coming back, but when will He be coming back. 

First, it needs to be stated that, according to Christ, no one, not even the angels in heaven, know the time of Christ’s return.  Setting dates for His return or even for the end of this era is at best funny and at its worst, it is stating that we do not believe that Christ knew what He was talking about!  By asking the question, when, in this case, is meant, according to the Bible will He be coming before or after the great tribulation.

Dr Findley writes, When we begin to investigate the matter, we soon come realise that the theologians who crafted the Pre-Tribulation Rapture doctrine have done some rather wild and woolly things with the Holy Scriptures. 

The fact is there is not one single passage of scripture that gives sound and convincing proof of a Pre-Tribulation Rapture.  Not one!  The doctrine sounds nice and it goes down well with the middle of the road Christian crowds.  And it sells well in the religious marketplaces.  Indeed the Pre-Tribulation doctrine has become entertainment for the masses.  It is a huge multi-billion dollar a year religi-business.

But here is the question. Can the idea of a Pre-Tribulation Rapture stand up to faithful (Bible) scrutiny? Or is the doctrine emotionally driven by wishful thinking? Quite obviously it is a soothing melodramatic eschatology. Has it been crafted by men to keep the masses amused, - and "quiet"? 

The pre-tribulation rapture theory 
  • is not plainly taught or directly stated in any place in Scripture, 
  • cannot be deduced from biblical teaching, 
  • contradicts the general teaching of the Bible regarding Christ’s second coming and 
  • was never taught in any branch of the church prior to 1830.
John Nelson Darby (1800-1882), who was the leader of the Brethren movement and the “father of modern Dispensationalism,” took Margaret Macdonald’s new teaching on the rapture, made some changes … and incorporated it into his Dispensational understanding of Scripture and prophecy. 

Mr Thiessen writes, Jewish teachers held that the period would come between the present age and the age to come … they were commonly agreed what the passage from the one age to the other would be through a period of intense sorrow and anguish. … We have shown…that this period of sorrow and anguish will end with the coming of Christ to the earth.  He is trying to establish the idea that Christ will be coming back before the period of sorrow and anguish by using a quotation, which states the exact opposite.

Mr Thiessen also quotes from The Shepherd of Hermas which is a fairy tale, complete with talking animals, dating from the second century AD.  Rightly, the church usually ignores this writing, but on the chance that it might add weight to one's conviction, it is used as evidence. 

In the story, after Hermas relates his experience, of meeting a horrible beast, to a lady, she replies, this beast is a type of the great tribulation that is coming.  If you turn to the Lord, it will be possible for you to escape it.  Mr Thiessen continues, This surely shows that there was teaching to the effect that the church would escape the great tribulation.  

To claim Hermas as an authority, on anything spiritual, is highly questionable.  Hermas also believed that “the Son of God was distinguished from Jesus” and he calls The Holy Spirit “God’s Primary Son” so that God ends up with two sons. Bible teachers would do well not to use Hermas as a witness, but when they cannot find the evidence they need, in the Bible, for their theories they grasp for anything that they hope will lend some support.

Let's look at what the Bible says about this subject.

Immediately after the tribulation of those days… the sign of the Son of Man will appear in heaven…and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. “And He will send His angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they will gather together His elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other. Mat. 24:29-31

It seems strange that the “pre-trib” and the “post-trib” issue has even become a serious question because Christ plainly said, Immediately after the tribulation … they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. and … gather together His elect.  Does Christ need to hit us on the head with a two by four before we will listen to what He is saying?

When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory. And before him shall be gathered all nations. Mat. 25:31-32

About this verse, David Stewart writes, Carefully notice that Jesus is going to sit upon His throne in Jerusalem when He returns.  He then goes on to say that this is an impossible situation unless the rapture happens before the great tribulation.  What makes him think this would be an impossible situation?  Why could Christ not come back after the tribulation and still sit on the throne in Jerusalem?  This verse adds no credence to the idea of a pre-tribulation rapture.

Matthew Henry writes, the Lord Jesus will come down from heaven in all the pomp and power of the upper world … he will come again, and appear in his glory. He will descend from heaven into this our air. The appearance will be with pomp and power, with a shout—the shout of a king, and the power and authority of a mighty king and conqueror. Christ will be sitting on a throne allright, but not an earthly throne.  

When the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the holy angels with Him, then He will sit on the throne of His glory. All the nations will be gathered before Him, and He will separate them one from another, as a shepherd divides his sheep from the goats. And He will set the sheep on His right hand, but the goats on the left. Then the King will say to those on His right hand, ‘Come, you blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world....’ Then He will also say to those on the left hand, ‘Depart from Me, you cursed, into the everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels....’ And these will go away into everlasting punishment, but the righteous into eternal life. Matthew 25:31-46 

Christ, in this speech, made it very clear that the sheep and the goats would both be at the judgement seat at the same time.  The sheep, the Christians, will be on the right side of the judge and the goats, the non-Christians, will be on the left side.  The Bible does not teach two separate judgment sessions; one for Christians and another for non-Christians.   

Where did our religious teachers ever get the idea that we would spend some time in heaven before we stand before The Judge?  What if, at the judgement seat, the verdict declares a person not to be valid for heaven?  That person will have shared the glories he did not have coming.

The next post will continue this theme.