Christian Statues

So I was catching up on the news this morning and ran across an article titled 50 Christian Statues Defaced and Decapitated in Germany (Heatstreet by way of The Drudge Report 12/15/16). My first reaction was “Huh? Christian statues?” My next reaction was, “This is supposed to be bad news?”

Vandalism is not good, but why do we have “Christian” statues? I mean, there are statues, and then there are “Christian” things, but not Christian statues. God specifically tells believers not to have statues. So you would think we wouldn’t have “Christian” statues in the first place, or the destruction of them would be good news.

I hate to say it because of all the wrong things about Islam, but this is one of the very few things that Muslims have right. They really detest images such as statues or idols. This they borrow from the Law of Moses, and you would think the real “Christian” thing would be to do the same. Most Muslims stick to their laws, however twisted, way better than “Christians” ever thought to do themselves with their Law. But Christianity has become so watered down that God’s Word is just a distant echo in many of the sound rooms of church.

If we were as loyal and zealous about our true God as Muslims are about their false one the world would be a much different and better place. Our young people would be trained up to know the Word of God instead of the words of American Idol. If we stuck to the Christian law (actually the Law of Christ, Moses or God) then we wouldn’t have any such thing as “Christian” statues, we wouldn’t be losing kids to the strictures of Islam, and we wouldn’t be losing families to adultery and divorce. Among the many things that are wrong about Islam, they’ve got a point about the mushy “Christians.”

Shalom
Bruce

Video ‘The Second Sermon on the Mount’

Did you know that the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 5, 6 and 7 was actually the second that Jesus gave on a mount? The first sermon on the mount was back a ways, when Israel came out of Egypt. You’ll find that the two are very similar if you compare them with an open mind. Check out our video for more.

Shalom
Bruce

New vid: Living in the New Testament Synagogue

Hot off the computer, a new video looking at the New Testament synagogue and what they used for a daily living guide. The New Testament wasn’t compiled and accepted until about 200 A.D., so in the meantime what did the New Testament synagogue use?

Just a little curve to help with the biblical thinking processes.

Shalom
Bruce

Judging with Righteous Judgment Pt. 3 – Baby Steps

Training in righteous judgment comes from balanced and consistent practice. This is illustrated for us in Scripture such as 2 Timothy 3:16 and Titus 2:1-10 among many others. We learn how to apply the Law by applying it ourselves to our own life on a daily basis. We start with small things, which some call shadows, learning love and faithfulness with baby steps. Later we can perhaps run a marathon.

 

The feasts and holy days of our Father are excellent places to begin training in righteous judgment. Think about how many questions have to be answered in order to practice His instructions in the feasts and festivals. Am I going to take the Sabbaths off from work? Will I let worldly things get in the way of our celebration? Is it all important, because every word He speaks is important? What does it mean to take time to blow a trumpet or learn how to blow one? What are the themes associated with a feast, and where else do we find them in the Word? Where is Jesus in the symbols? Since Jesus was the one to prescribe these, is there a new connection I can make with Him, making His presence more real and concrete in daily living?

 

We need to carve out time for His appointments with us, just as we would for a dentist, doctor or lawyer. Each instruction has to be contemplated, incorporated into our planning, and juggled with other commitments. How we treat the less weighty things is an indication of how we will treat the more weighty things. We have to rate the importance of His commands compared to all the other demands on our time. There are times the other things will have to give way. How much do we love the Father, and how willing are we to clear everything out of the path to Him?

 

Questions and considerations like these also play into weightier issues too. If we are faithful in small things, we will be faithful in greater things. If we are unfaithful in small things, how can we be trusted with bigger things? Are we the second son who says “I will go” then doesn’t?

 

“What do you think? A man had two sons. And he went to the first and said, ‘Son, go and work in the vineyard today.’ And he answered, ‘I will not,’ but afterward he changed his mind and went. And he went to the other son and said the same. And he answered, ‘I go, sir,’ but did not go. Which of the two did the will of his father?” They said, “The first.” Jesus said to them, “Truly, I say to you, the tax collectors and the prostitutes go into the kingdom of God before you. For John came to you in the way of righteousness, and you did not believe him, but the tax collectors and the prostitutes believed him. And even when you saw it, you did not afterward change your minds and believe him. (Matthew 21:28–32, ESV)

 

On the other hand, do we get caught up in all the showy stuff about holy days such as Hebrew language or mystical interpretations and neglect to just do them with a heart of flesh in the Spirit? Do we worship the traditions or the One who gave them? These are just some of the issues that help train us not only to see the right things to do, but also to do them.

Distractions, Part Two, Mark of the Beast

Continuing the thought started with Distractions Part One, this time I’m looking at the mark of the beast.

 

A large chunk of Christianity is getting all fired up over things like ID chips under the skin and credit cards with bio metric data on them or similar stuff. They are getting other people all fired up and even suing to stop the makers. Sorry to inform you (and at least a little inform would be a good thing for you to have) but you aren’t even close to the mark. Pun intended.

 

According to the Bible, there are at least two kinds of marks – outside and inside. The outside mark can be a brand or tattoo or even a badge. The inside mark, however, is much more telling. This mark is on the heart, and comes out in attitudes and behavior. And believe me, this mark is far more obvious to the spiritual forces of wickedness, God and heavenly angels than some superficial paint or a chip that tracks your money movement.

 

Eight times in Revelation (13:4, 12, 15, 14:9, 11, 19:20 and 20:4) the emphasis is on those who worship the beast. The mark is simply evidence of this worship. A key part of worship is obedience. Those who receive the mark of the beast are those that obey him, those that do what he says. The outside mark is just evidence of the inward condition of the heart. These people seek the mark and wear it proudly, and worship the beast and his image. They don’t just accidentally get a chip from their banks. It’s not a mark from tripping and falling down on the sidewalk. It is deliberate and with malice for God right up front.

 

The mark of God is on the hearts of those who follow His commands. Don’t get distracted by stupid red herrings thrown out by hysterical people ungrounded in the Word. It’s a waste of time to chase these things. Follow God, obey His commands, eat and drink His body and blood, abide in the living oracles, and you won’t be distracted by shiny baubles like chips. Let His mark be on your heart and there won’t be room for the mark of the beast.

 

For more see Christian Faith and Practice through the Mark on the whole Bible website.

 

Here is a call for the endurance of the saints, those who keep the commandments of God and their faith in Jesus. (Revelation 14:12, ESV)

Start of the Church

I was raised thinking that the church started at Pentecost in Acts chapter 2. The story I was told was that God finally got fed up with Israel and switched His program to the Gentiles. As if the Gentiles were so wonderful or more receptive or better behaved or something. Translations of the Bible reinforce this story because they pretty much universally use the English word “church” in the New Testament but not in the Old.

 

The word the translators (and pastors, priests, and rabbis) think is associated with the church is the Greek word we transliterate ekklesia (ἐκκλησία a-klay-see-uh Strong’s number 1577). This word simply means “assembly” or “congregation.” The Hebrew words for assembly or congregation are qahal (6951) and edah. They mean the same thing as ekklesia, and in fact the Greek Septuagint uses ekklesia about 52 times. Sometimes the assembly is formal, such as when kings called Israel together, and sometimes is was an informal family gathering. But ekklesia is not translated “church” in the OT in any of the English translations I consulted.

 

There’s simply no reason to make an arbitrary distinction for the assembly between the OT and the NT. God’s assembly has been gathering for a long time. The plan of God is continuous, without interruption, and didn’t start in Acts 2. It might’ve gotten a kick in the pants, but the congregation has always been around. The “assembly” that Jesus said He would build (Matthew 16:18) has a foundation that was started in the Garden and goes on into the future as a kingdom that never ends.

One House

This is an article on the ‘one house’ concept as opposed to the ‘two house’ ideas. There are some people who teach that those who embrace God’s Torah and are not specifically Jewish are members of the house of Ephraim, while the modern Jew is of the house of Judah. This is called the ‘two house’ teaching. The association of ‘Gentile who loves Torah’ with ‘Ephraim’ is seen through a rather convoluted and spiritualized reasoning process to be part of the promise from God that He would reunite the ‘two houses’ of Israel that separated shortly after Solomon’s reign. According to the two-housers this is because Ephraim (the northern 10 tribes sent into exile a little more than a hundred years before the southern two tribes of Judah and Benjamin) is said to have dispersed into the world population and lost their identity. Judah is said to have retained their identity through the centuries and are today’s Jews. The modern day non-Jewish person who loves God’s Torah must be related somehow to Ephraim according to these teachers, either through genetics or influence. So the ‘two house’ teachings consist of recognizing these so-called ‘facts’ and working to bring the two houses together.

However, I think that the two house teachings are a distraction away from building the One House of God’s family, which I believe is also called the Remnant. The House of God has existed since the beginning, and consists of all those who love and obey Him. Instead of worrying about whether the house a person belongs to is part of physical Israel, the person who follows God ought to see themselves as part of One house already, regardless of whether they are Jew or Gentile. I think God has already united the two houses, because no one can tell which tribe they are from now. Except for possibly the Levitical genetic marker, all of the Jews are one nation. Two houses have already become One house by God’s power. God is the one who said He would do it, and it is almost completed.

Two Sticks One House Already Made by God

Jesus Brings a Sword, Not Peace

“Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I have not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I have come to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law. And a person’s enemies will be those of his own household. Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. And whoever does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. (Matthew 10:34–39, ESV)

Fear the Lord and be Treasured

Then those who feared the LORD spoke with one another. The LORD paid attention and heard them, and a book of remembrance was written before him of those who feared the LORD and esteemed his name. “They shall be mine, says the LORD of hosts, in the day when I make up my treasured possession, and I will spare them as a man spares his son who serves him. Then once more you shall see the distinction between the righteous and the wicked, between one who serves God and one who does not serve him. (Malachi 3:16–18, ESV)

The New Covenant

“Behold, the days are coming, declares the LORD, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah, not like the covenant that I made with their fathers on the day when I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt, my covenant that they broke, though I was their husband, declares the LORD. For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, declares the LORD: I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts. And I will be their God, and they shall be my people. And no longer shall each one teach his neighbor and each his brother, saying, ‘Know the LORD,’ for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest, declares the LORD. For I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more.” (Jeremiah 31:31–34, ESV. See also Exodus 20:6; Deuteronomy 5:10; Ezekiel 11:19-21)