Archive for the ‘Doctrine’ Category

Do you understand your destiny?

Friday, June 24th, 2016

COGwriter

What is your destiny? Are you to rule the universe as a deified being with God? Might God’s plan include YOU?

A Church of God doctrine that many Protestant seem to indicate identifies a group as a “cult” is the teaching that Christians are to become deified. Or worded another way, Christians are to become God.

Although this belief is often considered to be “unorthodox” and outside of “mainstream Christianity,” it probably should be pointed out that the Eastern Orthodox Church teaches this doctrine (and there are around 200-300 million of them), so the term “unorthodox” seems not to fit (the Catholics of Rome and certain others also teach versions of it).

The reality is that both the Bible and writings of early professors of Christ demonstrate that the idea that Jesus became human so that humans could become part of the family of God is not new nor “unorthodox.” However, since most who claim to be Christian are not familiar with most of the early writings, they simply do not realize that deification is not an “unorthodox” view and it was held by many.

This brief article will attempt to provide documented proof that this deification is both biblical and historical and is the intended destiny for converted Christians (you can also watch the video titled What is Your Destiny?).

Does the Bible Teach That Humans Will Become Part of the Family of God?

Jesus taught deification:

34 Jesus answered them, “Is it not written in your law, ‘I said, “You are gods” ‘? 35 If He called them gods, to whom the word of God came (and the Scripture cannot be broken), 36 do you say of Him whom the Father sanctified and sent into the world, ‘You are blaspheming,’ because I said, ‘I am the Son of God’? (John 10:34-36, NKJV throughout except if otherwise noted).

And this was not only referring to His deification as He quoted from Psalm 82:6 which also is in the plural:

6 I said, “You are gods, And all of you are children of the Most High…” (Psalm 82:6).

God wants godly offspring, and that is why God made humans male and female and created marriage, as the Prophet Malachi was inspired to write:

14…she is your companion And your wife by covenant. 15 But did He not make them one, Having a remnant of the Spirit? And why one? He seeks godly offspring. (Malachi 2:14-15)

Paul also taught that we are God’s offspring:

28 for in Him we live and move and have our being, as also some of your own poets have said, ‘For we are also His offspring.’ 29 Therefore, since we are the offspring of God, we ought not to think that the Divine Nature is like gold or silver or stone, something shaped by art and man’s devising. (Acts 17:28-30)

Additionally about real Christians, the Apostle Paul specifically taught “we have the mind of Christ” (1 Corinthians 2:16)–we do and strive to have that more.

Paul wrote that Jesus was to be the firstborn of many brethren:

29 For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren (Romans 8:29).

Notice that there are to be MANY brethren (see also Universal Offer of Salvation: There Are Hundreds of Verses in the Bible Supporting the Doctrine of True Apocatastasis). The offer of salvation and deification are not going to be limited just to a few (Luke 3:6; though most will not receive their opportunity in this age, cf. Matthew 7:13-14).

As God is our Father, we are to be “conformed to the image of His Son,” Jesus is God, Jesus is our brother, are we not to be in the family of God and truly be deified?

Furthermore, the Bible teaches that “God is love” (1 John 4:8,16). Love is what life is all about (see also What is the Meaning of Life?).

Christians are to display the love of God towards their neighbor and strive to be perfect as God is perfect:

43 “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you, 45 that you may be sons of your Father in heaven; for He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. 46 For if you love those who love you, what reward have you? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? 47 And if you greet your brethren only, what do you do more than others? Do not even the tax collectors do so? 48 Therefore you shall be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect. (Matthew 5:43-48)

Christians are to live as God wants them and to have the love of God (see also Living as a Christian: How and Why? and here is also a YouTube video related to that also called: Living as a Christian: How and Why?).

God is also holy and His people are to be to be as well:

15 but as He who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, 16 because it is written, “Be holy, for I am holy.” (1 Peter 1:15-16)

Notice what happened with Jesus is supposed to happen to us:

20 But now Christ is risen from the dead, and has become the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. 21 For since by man came death, by Man also came the resurrection of the dead. 22 For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ all shall be made alive. 23 But each one in his own order: Christ the firstfruits, afterward those who are Christ’s at His coming (1 Corinthians 15:20-23).

18 Of His own will He brought us forth by the word of truth, that we might be a kind of firstfruits of His creatures (James 1:18).

4 These were redeemed from among men, being firstfruits to God and to the Lamb (Revelation 14:4).

16 For if the firstfruit is holy, the lump is also holy; and if the root is holy, so are the branches (Romans 11:16).

Christians are to be firstfruits like Christ. As a firstfruit, Christ is divine.

Notice something Jesus prayed:

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. (John 17:10-11)

Since both the Father and Son are divine beings, Jesus prayed for His followers to be one as He and the Father are–which means part of the God family. Lest anyone wish to interpret the above scripture to mean something else, Jesus continued His prayer and also prayed the following:

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.” (John 17:20-26)

Jesus prayed that His followers would become one in the same way. He and His Father are one. And they are one divine family.

Furthermore, notice that the Bible does teach that there is a whole family which is named after God the Father, and that we are to know the love of Christ so that we can truly have the fullness of God:

14 For this reason I bow my knees to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, 15 from whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named, 16 that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might through His Spirit in the inner man, 17 that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love, 18 may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height — 19 to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. (Ephesians 3:14-19).

If one is filled with “all the fullness of God” does not that suggest that they will be also God as part of the Family of God?

The Apostle Paul also taught:

16 The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God: 17 And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together (Romans 8:16-17, KJV).

17 Now the Lord is the Spirit; and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. 18 But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord. (2 Corinthians 3:17-18)

18 ‘I will be a Father to you, And you shall be My sons and daughters, Says the Lord Almighty.” (2 Corinthians 6:18)

Do all things without complaining and disputing, that you may become blameless and harmless, children of God without fault in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world (Philippians 2:14-15).

Notice that “the children of God” are to be “glorified together” with Christ as “joint-heirs” and are to be transformed into the same image as God. And God will be a Father to His sons and daughters.

The Apostle John taught:

12 But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name (John 1:12).

1 Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God! 2 Therefore the world does not know us, because it did not know Him. Beloved, now we are children of God (1 John 3:1-2a).

The children of people are people, the children of cows are cows. What are the children of God?

The Apostle Peter taught deification:

3 His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us by glory and virtue, 4 by which have been given to us exceedingly great and precious promises, that through these you may be partakers of the divine nature (2 Peter 1:3-4).

Are not those that are “partakers of the divine nature” somehow deified? And fully partaking of this nature does not happen until after the resurrection (cf. 1 Corinthians 15:50-53).

Ruling the Universe is Part of the Your Destiny

If you respond properly to God (either in this age, or if applicable, the age to come), then ruling the creation, the universe is part of your destiny. Notice:

21…the creation itself also will be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God. 22 For we know that the whole creation groans and labors with birth pangs together until now. (Romans 8:21-22)

As joint heirs with Christ, resurrected converted humans are to rule the universe :

2:5 For He has not put the world to come, of which we speak, in subjection to angels. 6 But one testified in a certain place, saying:

“What is man that You are mindful of him,Or the son of man that You take care of him? 7 You have made him a little lower than the angels;You have crowned him with glory and honor, And set him over the works of Your hands. 8 You have put all things in subjection under his feet.”

For in that He put all in subjection under him, He left nothing that is not put under him. But now we do not yet see all things put under him. 9 But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels, for the suffering of death crowned with glory and honor, that He, by the grace of God, might taste death for everyone.

10 For it was fitting for Him, for whom are all things and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons to glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings. 11 For both He who sanctifies and those who are being sanctified are all of one, for which reason He is not ashamed to call them brethren, 12 saying:

“I will declare Your name to My brethren;In the midst of the assembly I will sing praise to You.”

13 And again:

“I will put My trust in Him.”

And again:

“Here am I and the children whom God has given Me.”

14 Inasmuch then as the children have partaken of flesh and blood, He Himself likewise shared in the same, that through death He might destroy him who had the power of death, that is, the devil, 15 and release those who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage. 16 For indeed He does not give aid to angels, but He does give aid to the seed of Abraham. 17 Therefore, in all things He had to be made like His brethren, that He might be a merciful and faithful High Priest in things pertaining to God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people. 18 For in that He Himself has suffered, being tempted, He is able to aid those who are tempted.

3:1 Therefore, holy brethren, partakers of the heavenly calling, consider the Apostle and High Priest of our confession, Christ Jesus, 2 who was faithful to Him who appointed Him, as Moses also was faithful in all His house. 3 For this One has been counted worthy of more glory than Moses, inasmuch as He who built the house has more honor than the house. 4 For every house is built by someone, but He who built all things is God. 5 And Moses indeed was faithful in all His house as a servant, for a testimony of those things which would be spoken afterward, 6 but Christ as a Son over His own house, whose house we are if we hold fast the confidence and the rejoicing of the hope firm to the end. (Hebrews 2:5-3:6)

Ruling the universe is part of the destiny that God has in store for the vast bulk of humanity.

Deification and Human Destiny

The Bible makes it clear that God’s plan included making humans in the image of God and that ultimately the universe would be put under the control of deified humans. And nearly all humans who lived will ultimately be converted after they have been truly offered salvation (see Universal Offer of Salvation: There Are Hundreds of Verses in the Bible Supporting the Doctrine of True Apocatastasis). Deification and ruling the universe will be the destiny of the bulk of humanity.

But it needs to be pointed out that just as the Son is subject to the Father, Christians will not be above either the Father or the Son. The Father is greater than the Son (John 14:28) and both will always be greater than spirit-born Christians. Jesus also is King of Kings (Revelation 19:16) and High Priest (Hebrews 6:20), thus He will always be above deified humans.

Also, while God is eternal (Deuteronomy 33:27), all humans have had a beginning and thus will always have been around for a finite time. Thus, deification does not mean that Christians will be truly equal to God, but will be His true sons and daughters (without gender issues).

The Bible teaches deification from Genesis through Revelation if one will simply believe what the Bible is actually teaching. And those who professed Christ in the early centuries after His resurrection also taught that. As have certain others since.

And the Continuing Church of God teaches that today. The view that Jesus became human so that humans could be in the family of God and rule in the Kingdom of God is not a cultic view, but is a biblical and historical one.

You may be thinking, “well I have heard some of this before from some religion,” what is MY purpose? Who am I? Why me?

YOU are unique. You are one who can give love in a unique way. Ultimately God has special plans for YOU personally. YOU are not the same as everyone else–YOU can be a deified being that has unique insights and abilities.

The Bible makes it clear that we are not all the same and are not to contribute the same way, and it uses the analogy of the body in 1 Corinthians 12:12-23 to do so:

For as the body is one and has many members, but all the members of that one body, being many, are one body, so also is Christ. For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body–whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free–and have all been made to drink into one Spirit. For in fact the body is not one member but many. If the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I am not of the body,” is it therefore not of the body? And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I am not of the body,” is it therefore not of the body? If the whole body were an eye, where would be the hearing? If the whole were hearing, where would be the smelling? But now God has set the members, each one of them, in the body just as He pleased. And if they were all one member, where would the body be? But now indeed there are many members, yet one body. And the eye cannot say to the hand, “I have no need of you”; nor again the head to the feet, “I have no need of you.” No, much rather, those members of the body which seem to be weaker are necessary.

Yes, YOU, whether strong or weak, are necessary. God’s plan includes a plan for YOU! Yes, you. This point is also referred to in Ephesians by the Apostle Paul, and involves love:

15 but, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head–Christ– 16 from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by what every joint supplies, according to the effective working by which every part does its share, causes growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love (Ephesians 4:15-16).

Yes, YOU have a part to do! You are important even if you are not sure what your part is–God’s word says it is!

Some items of possibly related interest may include:

What is Your Destiny? Deification? Did the Early Church Teach That Christians Would Become God? What is your ultimate destiny? What does the Bible teach? Is deification only a weird or cultic idea? What did early and later Christians teach? Are you to rule the universe? Here is a link to the video sermon What is Your Destiny?
Overcoming Sin
What is sin? How are Christians suppose to overcome it? There is also a YouTube video titled How to Overcome Sin.
What is the Unpardonable Sin? What is it? Can you repent of it? Do you know what it is and how to avoid it?
When You Sin: Do You Really Repent? This is an article by Charles F. Hunting. A related sermon is Confess to God and truly repent.
History of Auricular Confession and the ‘Sacrament of Confession’ Did early Christians confess their sins to priests?
Living as a Christian: How and Why? In what ways do Christians live differently than others. What about praying, fasting, tithing, holy days, and the world? There is also a YouTube video related to that also called: Living as a Christian: How and Why?
What is the Meaning of Life? Who does God say is happy? What is your ultimate destiny? Do you really know? Does God actually have a plan for YOU personally? There is also a video titled What is the meaning of your life?
Why Were You Born? Why did God make you? Herbert W. Armstrong wrote this as a booklet on this important subject.
Christians are to Rule Are Christians really to rule? If so, how will that turn out?
The History of Early Christianity Are you aware that what most people believe is not what truly happened to the true Christian church? Do you know where the early church was based? Do you know what were the doctrines of the early church? Is your faith really based upon the truth or compromise?

Should you read the Bible literally?

Thursday, June 23rd, 2016

COGwriter

Many people feel that the Bible should interpret itself and hence can be read literally. Should you read the Bible literally?

At theological schools they teach that there are various forms of biblical interpretation. Theological schools (and their graduates) tend to emphasize one or more styles of what they call biblical exegesis–some of them, such as an excessive emphasis on allegorization, which are vain and overlook what the Bible teaches.

One of the early men who pushed allegorical interpretation was an apostate named Cerinthus. Irenaeus indicates that the Apostle John was very seriously opposed to him:

There are also those who heard from him that John, the disciple of the Lord, going to bathe at Ephesus, and perceiving Cerinthus within, rushed out of the bath-house without bathing, exclaiming, “Let us fly, lest even the bath-house fall down, because Cerinthus, the enemy of the truth, is within.” (Irenaeus. Adversus Haeres. Book III, Chapter 3, Verse 4)

So, the Apostle John was not a fan of an early apostate allegorist.

A while back, I ran across a Catholic writer who espoused an odd form of “literal” reading of scripture. The writer is Mark Shea and he wrote:

Periodically, folks ask about whether we are supposed to read the Bible literally.

The Church does require a literal interpretation of biblical texts. But that does not mean what most Americans imagine it means. It does not mean we have to believe, for instance, that the universe was made in six 24 hour days, or profess faith in talking snakes. Rather, by the “literal sense”, the Church means we must read the text looking for what the author intended to say, the *way* he intended to say it, and distinguish from that what is incidental to what he was saying. That’s the literal interpretation…the Church also says we are not at all bound to read it *literalistically* as though it was always a newspaper account. So, for instance, CCC 390 says:

The account of the fall in Genesis 3 uses figurative language, but affirms a primeval event, a deed that took place at the beginning of the history of man. Revelation gives us the certainty of faith that the whole of human history is marked by the original fault freely committed by our first parents.

Note that: Genesis describes a real primeval event (the fall) but it uses figurative, not newspaper, language to do it. Other times, of course, Scripture does uses something like newspaper language (“David hid from Saul in a cave.”) in order to tell the story. Common sense and the interpretive tradition of the Church help us discern what from what.

Likewise, the Church does not commit us to reading the account of Noah literalistically…

For a quick rundown on on the senses of Scripture, see CCC 115-119:

115 According to an ancient tradition, one can distinguish between two senses of Scripture: the literal and the spiritual, the latter being subdivided into the allegorical, moral and anagogical senses. The profound concordance of the four senses guarantees all its richness to the living reading of Scripture in the Church.

116 The literal sense is the meaning conveyed by the words of Scripture and discovered by exegesis, following the rules of sound interpretation: “All other senses of Sacred Scripture are based on the literal.”83

117 The spiritual sense. Thanks to the unity of God’s plan, not only the text of Scripture but also the realities and events about which it speaks can be signs.

1. The allegorical sense. We can acquire a more profound understanding of events by recognizing their significance in Christ; thus the crossing of the Red Sea is a sign or type of Christ’s victory and also of Christian Baptism.84

But I would not believe in the Gospel, had not the authority of the Catholic Church already moved me.
http://www.ncregister.com/blog/mark-shea/the-senses-of-scripture#ixzz2JqpQGS52

(Note: ‘CCC’ means the Catechism of the Catholic Church.) Mark Shea is not really advocating reading the Bible literally. Actually, when I personally started to read the Gospels, I realized that the Church of Rome was too removed from the Bible to truly represent the true church (they have made many changes that the true Church of God has not, for details, please check out Which Is Faithful: The Roman Catholic Church or the Continuing Church of God?).

And let me add that although Mark Shea teaches that his “Church does not commit us to reading the account of Noah literalistically,” Jesus of the Bible did teach the account of Noah as did the apostles. Here are some of the words of Jesus:

37 But as the days of Noah were, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be. 38 For as in the days before the flood, they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark, 39 and did not know until the flood came and took them all away, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be. (Matthew 24:37-39)

26 And as it was in the days of Noah, so it will be also in the days of the Son of Man: 27 They ate, they drank, they married wives, they were given in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark, and the flood came and destroyed them all. (Luke 17:26-27)

Notice some additional writings from the New Testament about Noah:

7 By faith Noah, being divinely warned of things not yet seen, moved with godly fear, prepared an ark for the saving of his household, by which he condemned the world and became heir of the righteousness which is according to faith. (Hebrews 11:7)

18 For Christ also suffered once for sins, the just for the unjust, that He might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive by the Spirit, 19 by whom also He went and preached to the spirits in prison, 20 who formerly were disobedient, when once the Divine longsuffering waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was being prepared, in which a few, that is, eight souls, were saved through water. (1 Peter 3:18-20)

4 For if God did not spare the angels who sinned, but cast them down to hell and delivered them into chains of darkness, to be reserved for judgment; 5 and did not spare the ancient world, but saved Noah, one of eight people, a preacher of righteousness, bringing in the flood on the world of the ungodly; (2 Peter 2:4-5)

Those of us who actually believe the Bible believe the account of Noah–and the New Testament confirmed many of the literal events of the account of Noah in the Book of Genesis. Those part of the Church of Rome claim they accept the Apostle Peter’s authority, so perhaps they should believe the biblical account of Noah?

The Bible Supports the View that It Tends to Literally Interpret Itself

Notice what the prophet Isaiah taught:

Whom will he teach knowledge? And whom will he make to understand the message?…For precept must be upon precept, precept upon precept, Line upon line, line upon line, Here a little, there a little”… But the word of the LORD was to them, “Precept upon precept, precept upon precept, Line upon line, line upon line, Here a little, there a little,” (Isaiah 28:9,10, 13 NKJV).

In other words, the Bible was supposed to be understood based upon what it says in many places.

Notice what the Apostle Paul wrote:

All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work (2 Timothy 3:16-17 NKJV).

In other words, scripture is given by God for doctrine and contains enough information that the man of God may be complete.

Notice what the Apostle Peter taught:

15…also our beloved brother Paul, according to the wisdom given to him, has written to you, 16 as also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things, in which are some things hard to understand, which untaught and unstable people twist to their own destruction, as they do also the rest of the Scriptures (2 Peter 3:15-16).

Thus, even back then people who would not learn from the apostles were twisting scriptures–claiming they meant something other than what they said.

Allegorizing May Have First Developed in Alexandria And Was Held By Followers of Simon Magus and Valentinus

Gnostic and pre-gnostic leaders took a different approach to biblical interpretation in the first and second centuries. They tended to accept allegory over what the Bible actually taught.

This practice may have first developed in Alexandria, Egypt. Here is some of what Eusebius said Philo (c. first century) taught about those who made some profession of Christ in Alexandria (any bolding mine) (Cerinthus was an Egyptian):

3. In the work to which he gave the title, On a Contemplative Life or on Suppliants, after affirming in the first place that he will add to those things which he is about to relate nothing contrary to truth or of his own invention, he says that these men were called Therapeutæ and the women that were with them Therapeutrides. He then adds the reasons for such a name, explaining it from the fact that they applied remedies and healed the souls of those who came to them, by relieving them like physicians, of evil passions, or from the fact that they served and worshiped the Deity in purity and sincerity.

4. Whether Philo himself gave them this name, employing an epithet well suited to their mode of life, or whether the first of them really called themselves so in the beginning, since the name of Christians was not yet everywhere known, we need not discuss here…

7. Philo bears witness to facts very much like those here described and then adds the following account: “Everywhere in the world is this race found. For it was fitting that both Greek and Barbarian should share in what is perfectly good. But the race particularly abounds in Egypt, in each of its so-called nomes, and especially about Alexandria

9. And then a little further on, after describing the kind of houses which they had, he speaks as follows concerning their churches, which were scattered about here and there: “In each house there is a sacred apartment which is called a sanctuary and monastery, where, quite alone, they perform the mysteries of the religious life. They bring nothing into it, neither drink nor food, nor any of the other things which contribute to the necessities of the body, but only the laws, and the inspired oracles of the prophets, and hymns and such other things as augment and make perfect their knowledge and piety.”

10. And after some other matters he says:

“The whole interval, from morning to evening, is for them a time of exercise. For they read the holy Scriptures, and explain the philosophy of their fathers in an allegorical manner, regarding the written words as symbols of hidden truth which is communicated in obscure figures.

11. They have also writings of ancient men, who were the founders of their sect, and who left many monuments of the allegorical method. These they use as models, and imitate their principles”…

15…Philo’s words are as follows:

16. “Having laid down temperance as a sort of foundation in the soul, they build upon it the other virtues. None of them may take food or drink before sunset, since they regard philosophizing as a work worthy of the light, but attention to the wants of the body as proper only in the darkness, and therefore assign the day to the former, but to the latter a small portion of the night.

17. But some, in whom a great desire for knowledge dwells, forget to take food for three days; and some are so delighted and feast so luxuriously upon wisdom, which furnishes doctrines richly and without stint, that they abstain even twice as long as this, and are accustomed, after six days, scarcely to take necessary food.” These statements of Philo we regard as referring clearly and indisputably to those of our communion.

19. For they say that there were women also with those of whom we are speaking, and that the most of them were aged virgins who had preserved their chastity…by their own choice, through zeal and a desire for wisdom

20. Then after a little he adds still more emphatically: “They expound the Sacred Scriptures figuratively by means of allegories. For the whole law seems to these men to resemble a living organism, of which the spoken words constitute the body, while the hidden sense stored up within the words constitutes the soul. This hidden meaning has first been particularly studied by this sect, which sees, revealed as in a mirror of names, the surpassing beauties of the thoughts”…

23. In addition to this Philo describes the order of dignities which exists among those who carry on the services of the church, mentioning the diaconate, and the office of bishop, which takes the precedence over all the others (Eusebius. Church History, Book II, Chapter XVII. Translated by Arthur Cushman McGiffert. Excerpted from Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Series Two, Volume 1. Edited by Philip Schaff and Henry Wace. American Edition, 1890. Online Edition Copyright © 2004 by K. Knight).

So Eusebius claims that Philo (c. 1st century) reported that those in Alexandria were ascetic, had mysteries, seem to have been gnostics (ones who claimed to have special knowledge/wisdom was essential for salvation), had some promotion of celibacy, allegorized scripture, and had a bishop–and Eusebius seems to claim that they are part of the Catholic Church (see vs. 17 above)–even though the Roman Church did not have celibacy rules at that time (please see the article Was Celibacy Required for Early Bishops or Presbyters?). This seems to have been where a major departure from the true faith occurred.

Hippolytus, who also appeared to be a Roman supporter, in the early third century, wrote this about the heretic Simon Magus:

Now Simon, both foolishly and knavishly paraphrasing the law of Moses, makes his statements (Hippolytus. Refutation of All Heresies, Book VI, Chapter IV. Translated by J. H. Machmahon. Excerpted from Ante-Nicene Fathers, Volume 5. Edited by Alexander Roberts & James Donaldson. American Edition, 1886. Online Edition Copyright © 2005 by K. Knight).

Simon then, after inventing these (tenets), not only by evil devices interpreted the writings of Moses in whatever way he wished, but even the (works) of the poets. For also he fastens an allegorical meaning on (the story of) the wooden horse and Helen with the torch, and on very many other (accounts), which he transfers to what relates to himself and to Intelligence, and (thus) furnishes a fictitious explanation of them. (ibid Chapter XIV).

Simon Magus came on the scene about the same time Philo wrote about the Alexandrians.

Alexandria was also the original home of the heretic Valentinus (who later went to Rome), and it seems like some of the leaders in Alexandria adopted some of his traits. The historian HOJ Brown noted:

Alexandria was the home of the celebrated gnostic Valentinus. Valentinus adopted Philo’s method of allegorical interpretation…For a time, Valentinus and his followers existed with the orthodox Christians of Alexandria. (Brown HOJ. Heresies: Heresy and Orthodoxy in the History of the Church. Hendrickson Publishers, Peabody (MA), 1988, p. 86).

Valentinus, even though condemned by Polycarp of Smyrna, when Polycarp visited Rome, ca. 155, was also tolerated by, and existed in, the Roman Church until at least the 170s A.D. when he was finally put out after he had greatly influenced the church there.

Speaking of Polycarp, in his famous Letter to the Philippians he uses essentially a literal, not allegorical approach to understanding scripture. The simple truth is that the actual early (prior to the third century) leaders of the church (outside of Alexandria), that the Roman Catholics consider non-heretical, did not try to promote an allegorical method of understanding scripture. But the heretics did.

While there are some passages in the Bible that are intended to be understood allegorically, God’s actual servants believe the word of God over opinions of men who do not truly have sufficient love of the truth.

Some items of possibly related interest may include:

What is the Appropriate Form of Biblical Interpretation? Should the Bible be literally understood?
Read the Bible Christians should read and study the Bible. This article gives some rationale for regular bible reading.
Bible: Superstition or Authority? Should you rely on the Bible? Is it reliable? Herbert W. Armstrong wrote this as a booklet on this important subject.
Simon Magus, What Did He Teach? Sometimes called “the father early heretics” or the “father of heresies”, do you know what early writers claimed that Simon Magus taught? Sadly, most who profess Christ still hold to versions of his teachings.
Marcion: The First Protestant? Considered to have been an organized heretic, he taught against the Old Testament, the law, and the Sabbath. Some have considered him to be the first Protestant reformer. But was he? Here is a link to a related sermon: Marcion: The first Protestant reformer?
Valentinus: The Gnostic Trinitarian Heretic He apparently was the first Christ-professing heretic to come up with the idea of three hypostases.
The History of Early Christianity Are you aware that what most people believe is not what truly happened to the true Christian church? Do you know where the early church was based? Do you know what were the doctrines of the early church? Is your faith really based upon the truth or compromise?
What Do Roman Catholic Scholars Actually Teach About Early Church History? Although most believe that the Roman Catholic Church history teaches an unbroken line of succession of bishops beginning with Peter, with stories about most of them, Roman Catholic scholars know the truth of this matter. This eye-opening article is a must-read for any who really wants to know what Roman Catholic history actually admits about the early church.
Nazarene Christianity: Were the Original Christians Nazarenes? Should Christians be Nazarenes today? What were the practices of the Nazarenes.
Which Is Faithful: The Roman Catholic Church or the Continuing Church of God? Do you know that both groups shared a lot of the earliest teachings? Do you know which church changed? Do you know which group is most faithful to the teachings of the apostolic church? Which group best represents true Christianity? This documented article answers those questions.
Where is the True Christian Church Today? This free online pdf booklet answers that question and includes 18 proofs, clues, and signs to identify the true vs. false Christian church. Plus 7 proofs, clues, and signs to help identify Laodicean churches. A related sermon is also available: Where is the True Christian Church? Here is a link to the booklet in the Spanish language: ¿Dónde está la verdadera Iglesia cristiana de hoy?
Continuing History of the Church of God This pdf booklet is a historical overview of the true Church of God and some of its main opponents from Acts 2 to the 21st century. Related sermon links include Continuing History of the Church of God: c. 31 to c. 300 A.D. and Continuing History of the Church of God: 4th-16th Centuries. The booklet is available in Spanish: Continuación de la Historia de la Iglesia de Dios, German: Kontinuierliche Geschichte der Kirche Gottes, French: L’Histoire Continue de l’Église de Dieu and Ekegusii Omogano Bw’ekanisa Ya Nyasae Egendererete.

Do scholars realize that the early church was binitarian, not trinitarian?

Wednesday, June 22nd, 2016

History of Early Christianity

COGwriter

As regular readers of this page are aware, the early church was neither trinitarian nor unitarian. The early church was binitarian.

That is, early Christians considered that the Father and the Son were God and that the Holy Spirit was the power of God. And while some dispute this, historically it is a fact.

Do any scholars realize this?

While there are many articles at the COGwriter website which document the binitarian beliefs of 2nd century Christians, I thought that a few quotes from modern theologians may be eye-opening for those who have had little exposure to the binitarian truth of the Godhead.

Modern scholars, like Larry Hurtado, have realized the Christians who claimed to be Nazarene including most considered to be “proto-orthodox” held a binitarian view of the Godhead:

…”Nazarene” Christianity, had a view of Jesus fully compatible with the beliefs favored by the proto-orthodox (indeed, they could be considered part of the circles that made up proto-orthodox Christianity of the time). Pritz contended that this Nazarene Christianity was the dominant form of Christianity in the first and second centuries…the devotional stance toward Jesus that characterized most of the Jewish Christians of the first and second centuries seems to have been congruent with proto-orthodox devotion to Jesus…the proto-orthodox “binitarian” pattern of devotion…(Hurtado LW. Lord Jesus Christ, Devotion to Jesus in Earliest Christianity. William B. Eerdmans Publishing, Grand Rapids, 2003, pp. 560-561,618).

Furthermore, it perhaps should be mentioned that the sacra nomina (generally two-letter abbreviations, perhaps intended to identify the documents as “Christian”) found on early documents associated Christianity is also believed to support the position that those that professed Christ in the second century were binitarian. Larry Hurtado also observed:

The Christian nomina sacra…differ in form from any Jewish scribal devices…Most significantly, the four earliest Christian nomina sacra are the two key words for God (Theos and Kyrios) and key designations for Jesus (Iēosus, Christos, and Kyrios).If therefore, as is usually believed, the nomina sacra practice represents an expression of piety and reverence, it is a striking departure from pre-Christian Jewish scribal practice to extend to these designations of Jesus the same scribal treatment given to key designations for God.That is, the four earliest Christian nomina sacra collectively manifest one noteworthy expression of what I have called the “binitarian shape” of earliest Christian piety and devotion (Hurtado LW.The Earliest Christian Artifacts.William B. Eerdmans Publishing, Grand Rapids (MI), 2006, pp. 105-106).

Dr. Harold Brown, a Protestant trinitarian scholar, has admitted:

The language of the New Testament permits the Holy Spirit to be understood as an impersonal force or influence more readily than it does the Son…those who saw the Holy Spirit as a Person, were often heretical, for example, the Montanists (Brown HOJ. Heresies: Heresy and Orthodoxy in the History of the Church. Hendrickson Publishers, Peabody (MA), 1988, p. 140).

Harold Brown also has admitted:

It is impossible to document what we now call orthodoxy in the first two centuries of Christianity (ibid, p.5).

And that is true. And he was specifically referring to doctrines like the trinity and other teachings that are contrary to what the Continuing Church of God holds.

What about Catholic scholars? The Catholic Encyclopedia teaches this about the 4th century binitarians, which it calls the Semi-Arians:

Semi-Arians…A name frequently given to the conservative majority in the East in the fourth century…showing that the very name of father implies a son of like substance…rejected the Divinity of the Holy Ghost (Chapman, John. Transcribed by Douglas J. Potter. Semiarians and Semiarianism. The Catholic Encyclopedia, Volume XIII. Published 1912. New York: Robert Appleton Company. Nihil Obstat, February 1, 1912. Remy Lafort, D.D., Censor. Imprimatur. +John Cardinal Farley, Archbishop of New York).

Thus it is clear that many held the binitarian view at that time (including no doubt, many who were not true Christians).

What about Orthodox scholars? Notice this frank admission from a bishop of the Orthodox Church about the late acceptance of the trinity:

…the councils defined once and for all the Church’s teaching upon the fundamental doctrines of the Christian faith — the Trinity and the Incarnation. All Christians agree in regarding these things as ‘mysteries’ which lie beyond human understanding and language…the first two, held in the fourth century…formulated the doctrine of the Trinity…The work of Nicea was taken up by the second Ecumenical Council, held in Constantinople in 381. This council expanded and adapted the Nicene Creed, developing in particular that teaching upon the Holy Spirit, whom it affirmed to be God even as the Father and the Son are God…It was the supreme achievement of St. Athanasius of Alexandria to draw out the full implications of the key word in the Nicene Cred: homoousios, one in essence or substance, consubstantial. Complementary to his work was that of the three Cappadocian Fathers, Saints…(died 394). While Athanasius emphasized the unity of God — Father and Son are one in essence (ousia) – the Cappadocians stressed God’s threeness: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are three persons (hypostasis) (Ware T. The Orthodox Church. Penguin Books, London, 1997, pp. 20-23).

So it took councils of men to change the predominant view that the Godhead was basically binitarian to trinitarian. Yet, as recorded in the New Testament, Jude wrote:

…contend earnestly for the faith that was once for all delivered for the saints” (Jude 3).

The faith delivered once for all should not have been changed.

Such a doctrinal change to the trinity should never have been made and never has been adopted by the true Christian Church.

Regarding the New Testament, even a trinitarian scholar has admitted:

The binitarian formulas are found in Rom. 8:11, 2 Cor. 4:14, Gal. 1:1, Eph. 1:20, 1 Tim 1:2, 1 Pet. 1:21, and 2 John 1:13…No doctrine of the Trinity in the Nicene sense is present in the New Testament…There is no doctrine of the Trinity in the strict sense in the Apostolic Fathers…(Rusch W.G. The Trinitarian Controversy. Fortress Press, Phil., 1980, pp. 2-3).

Since modern scholars know that the early church was binitarian and not trinitarian, have you been taught this before?

If not, perhaps you had better look into this further.

Some items of related interest may include:

Binitarianism: One God, Two Beings Before the Beginning This is a longer article than the Binitarian View article, and has a little more information on binitarianism, and less about unitarianism. A related sermon is also available: Binitarian view of the Godhead.
Is The Father God? What is the view of the Bible? What was the view of the early church?
Jesus: The Son of God and Saviour Who was Jesus? Why did He come to earth? What message did He bring? Is there evidence outside the Bible that He existed? Here is a YouTube sermon titled Jesus: Son of God and Saviour.
Jesus is God, But Became Flesh Was Jesus fully human and fully God or what? Here is information in the Spanish language¿Es Jesucristo Dios?.
Virgin Birth: Does the Bible Teach It? What does the Bible teach? What is claimed in The Da Vinci Code?
Did Early Christians Think the Holy Spirit Was A Separate Person in a Trinity? Or did they have a different view?
What is the Holy Spirit? This is an article by Rod Reynolds.
Did the True Church Ever Teach a Trinity? Most act like this is so, but is it? Here is an old, by somewhat related, article in the Spanish language LA DOCTRINA DE LA TRINIDAD.
Was Unitarianism the Teaching of the Bible or Early Church? Many, including Jehovah’s Witnesses, claim it was, but was it?
Binitarian View: One God, Two Beings Before the Beginning Is binitarianism the correct position? What about unitarianism or trinitarianism?

It’s been over three years, and evolution still has not gotten the ‘proof’ some claim will come

Monday, June 20th, 2016

COGwriter

Notice the following about evolution that was posted just over three years ago:

NEW YORK — Richard Leakey predicts skepticism over evolution will soon be history.

Not that the avowed atheist has any doubts himself.

Sometime in the next 15 to 30 years, the Kenyan-born paleoanthropologist expects scientific discoveries will have accelerated to the point that “even the skeptics can accept it.” http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/05/27/richard-leakey-evolution-debate_n_1548766.html

Here is one point for each of the lines above, plus a final statement:

  1. Richard Leakey was right that the skepticism on this subject will be over within the next 30 years as presuming that Jesus returns by then, no foolish anti-creationist arguments will continue.
  2. While Richard Leakey may be an atheist, last year, the famous former-atheist Richard Dawkins, has realized that there could be a God (see Famous Atheist Actually an Agnostic). Perhaps there is hope for Richard Leakey too.
  3. Evolutionists, beginning with Charles Darwin, have claimed since the 19th century that the fossil records would finally prove their theory (which is not really a theory, but an inaccurate model). They know they have insufficient proof and continue to hope that some how, some day, they will have real proof. But alas, they still do not. Richard Leakey’s admission really means that evolutionists realize that they have insufficient proof.
  4. It has been two years and the ‘evolutionary debate’ continues. Why? Because the evolutionist continue to overlook the facts of science which eliminate evolution as a valid explanation for the beginning of life.

Notice also something that someone recently sent to me (after-the-fact):

State cancels Darwin Days events after Intelligent Design group asks to be included
KRQE News 13 – Feb 27, 2015

ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) Not everyone embraces Darwinian evolution as a flawless science.

So when two former Sandia Labs engineers saw that the taxpayer-funded New Mexico Museum of Natural History was sponsoring a “Darwin Days” event, it raised a red flag.

It wasn’t that the Darwin Days event was happening. It was that the lectures, which spanned two days in February 2014, didn’t include any other viewpoints.

“It’s a very controversial issue, there’s a tremendous body of evidence against Darwinian evolution and we think people should be aware of that,” said James Campbell, a retired engineer with a Ph.D. with physics. …

No Darwin Days 2015

DCA says they have since changed their policies so staff are diligent to “clearly distinguish State events from private events.”

The Museum didn’t hold a Darwin Days event this year. It’s not what Campbell and Edenburn wanted.

“By cancelling Darwin Day, they have basically said, they will not be giving both sides of the story,” Edenburn said.

DCA told News 13 Darwin Days was not included in the Museum’s 2015 roster of events because of “workload and staffing issues.”

Campbell believes there are other factors involved.

“I think they just really don’t want those topics covered,” he said. http://krqe.com/2015/02/27/state-cancels-darwin-days-events-after-other-groups-ask-to-be-included/

As a scientist, I have long known that proponents of evolution treat the subject more like a religious view than a scientific theory. This is somewhat also what the Ben Stein movie Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed revealed (see Ben Stein’s Expelled).

Which was?

Scientists who challenge too many claims associated with evolution are shunned by many academic institutions, as there is a tremendous amount of pressure at most “leading” academic institutions to squelch research that is not in support of evolution because it will affect their beliefs. Thus, many in the academic world accept, essentially like a false religion, that since many of their friends and colleagues believe the evolutionary nonsense, that it must have been proven true. But it has not been.

While species variation is something that God programmed in His creation, evolution, as the explanation for the origin of life, is unscientific and false. It also requires students to accept a belief that violates other known laws of biological science.

Actually it is impossible for the non-living to become alive as it violates the scientifically accepted law of bio-genesis (life only comes from life). But what if we allow the impossibility of spontaneous primitive life to have occurred?

The primitive life would have to die. Part of the reason for this is that even a single-cell is so complex, and so full of various biological subsystems, that scientists have learned that many systems are essentially necessary for life to exist or continue. Science recognizes that living organisms must be self-contained, eat, digest, and reproduce to continue to exist.

Spontaneously alive lined-up amino acids (with other substances coincidentally there) would die because:

1) All living organisms need biological structures such as organelles and membranes. Without a membranous structure, the proteins would ultimately diffuse and destroy the living organism. Living organism must be somewhat self-contained.
2) All living organisms need nourishment and direction. Since randomness would not have created the biological structure known as a DNA-containing nucleus (or some primitive equivalent), the cell would die. Even if it had some type of nucleus to provide direction, the nucleus would have to have come into existence with ability to determine what to eat and how to find food, another impossibility.
3) Proteins cannot survive without DNA and DNA cannot exist without proteins, hence there is no way both happened at the same time.
4) Even if the cell had all the above, it would die, because there would have been no reason for it to have spontaneously generated a digestive system in order to utilize the food.
5) Even if evolutionists are granted all the improbabilities and impossibilities this article discusses, the primitive life would quickly die out as there would have been no reason for it to have spontaneously generated an ability to reproduce, nor would it have any innate ability to do so.

Proteins cannot of themselves reproduce–they need DNA. “DNA cannot exist without proteins, and proteins cannot exist without DNA” (Pietzsch J. Understanding the RNAissance. c. 2003. http://www.nature.com/horizon/rna/background/understanding.html viewed 05/05/12). DNA can basically do nothing of itself, it needs proteins.

Does any scientifically rational person actually believe that they randomly developed and got together at the same time for life as we know it to exist without Divine intervention?

The answer should be obvious. No, unless they will overlook the facts.

It is in the Bible that we are told that when God made life He intended it to reproduce (Genesis 1:11,28,29). The idea of an ‘intelligent design’ by a Spirit being is the only explanation that does not defy scientifically provable knowledge–for all other explanations result in something that must die out.

By the way, God apparently expects humans to realize that He exists through various aspects of His creation. Notice:

20 For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse (Romans 1:20).

Thus since life could not have randomly sprung forth, eaten, and reproduced, only a different type of entity (God) could have caused it to begin.

Evolution has led to the intentional ignorance of appropriate scientific methods. It became a religion for many in the 19th century, and remains one for many today.

Some items of possibly related interest may include:

Is God’s Existence Logical? Some say it is not logical to believe in God. Is that true? Here is a link to a YouTube sermon titled Is it logical to believe in God?
Is Evolution Probable or Impossible or Is God’s Existence Logical? Part II This short article clearly answers what ‘pseudo-scientists’ refuse to acknowledge. Here is a link to a YouTube video titled Is There Another View of Evolution? and another titled Quickly Disprove Evolution as the Origin of Life.
How Old is the Earth and How Long Were the Days of Creation? Does the Bible allow for the creation of the universe and earth billions of years ago? Why do some believe they are no older than 6,000 years old? What is the gap theory? Were the days of creation in Genesis 1:3 through 2:3 24 hours long? Here is a link to a sermon: Genesis, ‘Prehistoric man,’ and the Gap theory. Here is a link to a related article in Spanish: ¿Cuán vieja es la Tierra? ¿Cuán largos fueron los Días de la Creación? ¿Teoría de la brecha?
Did Angels Marry Human Women? Many insist this is so and also that this mating caused giants to be born. Did this come from the ‘Book of Enoch’? What does Genesis 6:4 really mean? A related video is also available: Did Angels Marry Women and Produce Giants?
Where Did God Come From? Any ideas? And how has God been able to exist? Who is God?
How is God Omnipotent, Omnipresent, and Omniscient? Here is a biblical article which answers what many really wonder about it.

Sermon: The 18 Truths: 1-8

Saturday, June 18th, 2016

CHOG Book Cover 2015

COGwriter

The Continuing Church of God is pleased to announce this sermon from its ContinuingCOG channel:


1:13:47

The late Herbert W. Armstrong claimed to restore 18 truths to the Philadelphia era of the Church of God that the previous era, (Smyrna) had lost. He also claimed that the Ephesus era of the Church of God knew these truths. In this sermon, Dr. Thiel quotes Herbert Armstrong, the Bible, and early church writings to demonstrate that early professors of Christ were familiar with these truths. In this first part of a two-part sermon, Dr. Thiel goes through the first 8 truths Herbert Armstrong once listed that God used him to restore: 1. True Gospel, 2. Purpose of God, 3. God’s Plan through the Holy Days, 4. Proper Hierarchical Church, Government, 5. Who and What is God?, 6. What and Why is Man?, 7. Spirit in Man, and 8. Firstfruits In this Age. Dr. Thiel also mentions that the list of 18 truths that the Tkach Administration put out were NOT the same as those that Herbert Armstrong listed. Dr. Thiel also listed all 18 of the ‘restored truths’ at the end of the sermon.

Here is a link to the sermon: The 18 Restored Truths: 1-8.

Some items of related interest may include:

18 Truths Restored to the Churches of God Herbert W. Armstrong wrote that he felt he had restored at least 18 lost truths to the Church, here is Herbert W. Armstrong’s list given 12/17/83. This articles also has links to show that these truths were believed by professors of Christ in earlier times, hence they were not some invention of Herbert Armstrong.Here is a related link in Spanish/español: Lista de Herbert W. Armstrong de las 18 verdades restauradas.
Do You Believe God Used Herbert W. Armstrong to Raise Up the Philadelphia Era of the Church of God? Nearly everyone while in WCG used to believe this, most do not seem to anymore.
Who Was Herbert W. Armstrong? How is He Viewed Today? Includes quotes from the 1973 edition of The Autobiography of Herbert W. Armstrong and explains who he was and how he should be viewed today.
15 Accusations and Truthful Responses About Herbert W. Armstrong He, even after his death, keeps being improperly maligned–here is the truth on these matters.
The Elijah Heresies Does the Bible teach that there will be a future Elijah? Must it be Herbert W. Armstrong? Two related sermons are  available Elijah: Prophecies and Heresies and Elijah, Herbert W. Armstrong, and CCOG.
The Bible, Peter, Paul, John, Polycarp, Herbert W. Armstrong, Roderick C. Meredith, and Bob Thiel on Church Government What form of governance did the early church have? Was it hierarchical? Which form of governance would one expect to have in the Philadelphia remnant? The people decide and/or committee forms, odd dictatorships, or the same type that the Philadelphia era itself had? What are some of the scriptural limits on ecclesiastical authority? Do some commit organizational idolatry? Here is a Spanish language version La Biblia, Policarpo, Herbert W. Armstrong, y Roderick C. Meredith sobre el gobierno de la Iglesia. Here is a link to a sermon titled Church Governance.
The 18 Restored Truths: Do You Know What the First Changes the Tkach Administration Made? Some have said healing, others other subjects, but probably the first change had to do with eliminating being part of the Philadelphia era. This article documents what those changes were and compares the Tkach list of restored truths to Herbert W. Armstrong’s list of restored truths. It contains many quotes from Herbert W. Armstrong.
5. The Sardis Church Era was predominant circa 1600 A.D. to circa 1933 A.D. Discusses early history of the Seventh Day Baptists, Seventh-day Adventists, and COG-7th Day.
6. The Philadelphia Church Era was predominant circa 1933 A.D. to 1986 A.D. The old Radio Church of God and old Worldwide Church of God, now the remnant of that era is basically the most faithful in the Church of God, like who hold to the beliefs and practices of the Continuing Church of God.
7. The Laodicean Church Era has been predominant circa 1986 A.D. to present. The Laodiceans are non-Philadelphians who mainly descended from the old WCG or its offshoots. They do not properly understand the work or biblical prophecies and will face the Great Tribulation if they do not repent. One video of related interest is 17 Laodicean Errors in Prophecy.
Where is the True Christian Church Today? This free online pdf booklet answers that question and includes 18 proofs, clues, and signs to identify the true vs. false Christian church. Plus 7 proofs, clues, and signs to help identify Laodicean churches. A related sermon is also available: Where is the True Christian Church? Here is a link to the booklet in the Spanish language: ¿Dónde está la verdadera Iglesia cristiana de hoy? Here is a link in the German language: WO IST DIE WAHRE CHRISTLICHE KIRCHE HEUTE? Here is a link in the French language: Où est la vraie Église Chrétienne aujourd’hui?
Continuing History of the Church of God This pdf booklet is a historical overview of the true Church of God and some of its main opponents from Acts 2 to the 21st century. Related sermon links include Continuing History of the Church of God: c. 31 to c. 300 A.D. and Continuing History of the Church of God: 4th-16th Centuries and Continuing History of the Church of God: 17th-20th Centuries. The booklet is available in Spanish: Continuación de la Historia de la Iglesia de Dios, German: Kontinuierliche Geschichte der Kirche Gottes, and Ekegusii Omogano Bw’ekanisa Ya Nyasae Egendererete.
CCOG.ORG Continuing Church of God The group striving to be most faithful amongst all real Christian groups to the word of God. To see how CCOG has done so far, here are links to two sermons Continuing Church of God (CCOG) first year anniversary: What has been accomplished? and The Continuing Church of God: Two Years of Proclamation. Here is a written link to a version of that sermon in the Spanish language: Aniversario del primer año de la Continuación de la Iglesia de Dios: ¿Qué se ha cumplido?
CCOG.ASIA We in the Continuing Church of God also have the url www.ccog.asia which has a focus on Asia and has various articles in Mandarin Chinese as well as some in English, plus some items in other Asian languages. 我们在继续神的教会也提供此网址 www.ccog.asia, 关注于亚洲并且有各种各样的中英文文章,其中一些用菲律宾语翻译的文章也正在进行中,准备添加到这个网站中。 Here is a link to our Statement of Beliefs in Mandarin Chinese 继续神的教会的信仰声明.
CCOG.IN This is a website targeted towards those of Indian heritage. It has a link to an edited Hindi translation of The Mystery of the Ages and is expected to have more non-English language materials in the future.
CCOG.EU This is a website targeted toward Europe. It has materials in more than one language (currently it has English, Dutch, and Serbian, with links also to Spanish) and it is intended to have additional language materials added.
CCOG.NZ This is a website targeted towards New Zealand and others with a British-descended background.
CCOGCANADA.CA This is a website targeted towards those in Canada.
CDLIDD.ES La Continuación de la Iglesia de Dios. This is the Spanish language website for the Continuing Church of God.
PNIND.PH Patuloy na Iglesya ng Diyos. This is the Philippines website Continuing Church of God. It has information in English and Tagalog.
Bible News Prophecy online radio. This is an audio version of the Bible News Prophecy videos as well as some ContinuingCOG channel sermons. It is also available as a mobile app.
ContinuingCOG channel. Dr. Thiel has produced scores of YouTube video sermons for this channel. Note: Since these are sermon-length, they can take a little longer to load than other YouTube videos.

Should women preach in church services?

Friday, June 17th, 2016


Artist’s interpretation of Mary Magdalene

COGwriter

Should women be able to preach in church services?

Last Spring, The Journal: News of the Churches of God had the following as part of its paid advertising by Tina Engelbart:

Corinthians 14:34-35. Here are the two verses in the King James Version. “Let your women keep silence in the churches; for it is not permitted unto them to speak, but they are commanded to be under obedience [Gr. hupotasso], as also saith the law. And if they will learn anything, let them ask their husbands at home; for it is a shame [Gr. aischros] for women to speak in church” (Emphasis added).

First, some observations: The italicized phrase “they are commanded” was an addition by the translators; it is not in the original Greek. Further, hupotasso is more correctly translated “submission” rather than “obedience.” And the word translated as “shame” in verse 35 is the Greek word aischros— the same word translated as “ filthy” elsewhere, as in “ filthy lucre” (1 Timothy 3:8).

Most churches, and most Churches of God, and Mr. Mokarow say this means women must be silent in the church. UCG specifically said in their paper “The Biblical Role of Women”: “‘ Women should not speak,’ ” that is, preach or teach before the congregation” (emphasis added). It is interesting that women are allowed to sing before the congregation, which is not exactly being silent. …

There is only one law that specifically forbids women to speak in the assembly — and that is the Oral Law of the Jews, later written down and known as the Talmud.

What a shame that our churches, in imposing the silence injunction on our women, are actually following the dictates of the Talmud instead of the Apostle Paul!

Let me make a few points.

First, while Tina Engelbart is entitled to her opinion about what she thinks the Greek means, the reality is that there is no record of Christian women preaching in either the New Testament nor in early Christian writings. While it is possible that the apostate Simon Magus may have had a female preach, and maybe did some other apostates, people who understood koine Greek at the time apparently did not feel that the Apostle Paul was allowing women to preach.

Second, UCG is correct that women should not be preaching. This is confirmed by the following passage that is in the Bible (hence, even allowing for a different translation of 1 Corinthians 14:34-35, this is not something only to be derived from the Talmud as Tina Engelbart indicates):

11 Let a woman learn in silence with all submission. 12 And I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man, but to be in silence. (1 Timothy 2:11-12).

Third, as far as the Talmud goes, Tina Engelbart needs to consider that the Jews DID allow women to sing and hence the prohibition they had related to women speaking before the assembly did not include singing. That is the same in the Christian church as well.

In the Continuing Church of God we do not believe that women are to preach. We also have the following sermon on women at our ContinuingCOG channel:

Thumbnail
1:15:27

New Testament Women

Fourth, I would add that instead of focusing on what women should not be doing, it is important to understand what they should be doing. For some details, here is a link to a written article titled: Women and the New Testament Church. Here is another link to the related sermon: New Testament Women.

Some items of possibly related interest may include:

Women and the New Testament Church What roles did women play in the ministry of Jesus and the apostles? Did Jesus and the Apostle Paul violate Jewish traditions regarding their dealings with women? Do women have any biblical limitations on their role in the Church? Were there female prophets? Do women have any special responsibilities in terms of how they dress? What does the New Testament really teach about women? Here is a related sermon titled: New Testament Women.
True Womanhood: A Lost Cause? Is there still a place for being feminine? Here is an article from Herbert Armstrong about his thoughts relating to women and womanhood.
Mary, the Mother of Jesus and the Apparitions Do you know much about Mary? Are the apparitions real? What happened at Fatima? What might they mean for the rise of the ecumenical religion of Antichrist? Are Protestants moving towards Mary? How do the Eastern/Greek Orthodox view Mary? How might Mary view her adorers? Here is a link to a YouTube video Marian Apparitions May Fulfill Prophecy.

Could the Shroud of Turin be Jesus’ burial cloth?

Friday, June 17th, 2016


Shroud of Turin, poster from 1898

COGwriter

Last year, for the first time in 5 years, the Shroud of Turin was on public display:

Devotees believe the shroud, which is imprinted with the image of a man who appears to have been crucified, to be the burial cloth of Jesus Christ.

Sceptics are just as adamant that it is nothing more than a Medieval forgery which scientists have carbon-dated to around 1300 years after Christ supposedly died on the cross.

Despite their certainty about the likely age of the most-talked-about length of linen in history, researchers have not been able to explain how the remarkable image was created, leaving space for theories of some sort of miraculous process to flourish.

The Church does not officially maintain that Christ’s body was wrapped in the shroud or that the image was the product of a miracle.

But it does accord the cloth a special status which has helped to sustain its popularity as an object of veneration. …

When the shroud was last presented to the public, in 2010, more than two million people filed past it.

Pope Francis decreed the latest exhibition to mark the 200th anniversary of the birth of St John Bosco, a 19th Century monk who devoted his life to the education of poor children in newly-industrialised Turin. Francis, who has family roots in the region, is due to visit the city and the exhibition on June 20-21. http://www.themalaymailonline.com/features/article/relic-or-hoax-turin-shroud-pulls-million-strong-crowd-on-return-to-public-v#sthash.9RrPoCz2.dpuf

So, the Church of Rome will not say it is the real deal, but that it is fine to idolize (which is what the practical application of their veneration means). As far as Don Bosco goes, we have a video related to him: Deceitful Year of Don Bosco.

From time-to-time I get questions about the Shroud of Turin. Many have claimed it to be the burial cloth of Jesus.

But is it?

If not, why not?

Here are a few comments on the Shroud of Turin from the Answers.com article titled Is the Shroud of Turin true or fraud?:

There is no record of the shroud during the first centuries of the Christian era, it is first mentioned in the 14th century, having been found in the Diocese of Troyes…

The Gospel writers say that the body of Jesus, after being taken from the stake by Joseph of Arimathea, was wrapped in clean fine linen. (Matthew 27:57-61; Mark 15:42-47; Luke 23:50-56) The apostle John adds: Nicodemus also came bringing a roll of myrrh and aloes, about a hundred pounds of it. So they took the body of Jesus and bound it up with bandages with the spices, just the way the Jews have the custom of preparing for burial. John 19:39-42…writers of the third and fourth centuries, many of whom wrote about a host of miracles in connection with numerous relics, did not mention the existence of a shroud containing the image of Jesus. What happened to it at this time, if it did exist, is unknown.

Let’s quote John 19:39-42 in its entirety:

39 And Nicodemus, who at first came to Jesus by night, also came, bringing a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about a hundred pounds. 40 Then they took the body of Jesus, and bound it in strips of linen with the spices, as the custom of the Jews is to bury. 41 Now in the place where He was crucified there was a garden, and in the garden a new tomb in which no one had yet been laid. 42 So there they laid Jesus, because of the Jews’ Preparation Day, for the tomb was nearby. (John 19:39-42)

Basically, strips of linen were placed on Jesus’ body somewhat like a mummy (this is also basically what happened to Lazarus, see John 11:43-44). If the Shroud of Turin was saturated with myrrh and aloes, it would by now be fairly stiff and would tend to look quite differently than it now does.

Notice furthermore that Jesus’ burial cloths, though mentioned in scripture, are basically only mentioned as being folded after the resurrection (and the description of multiple cloths also does not necessarily seem to quite match the Shroud of Turin):

6 Then Simon Peter came, following him, and went into the tomb; and he saw the linen cloths lying there, 7 and the handkerchief that had been around His head, not lying with the linen cloths, but folded together in a place by itself. 8 Then the other disciple, who came to the tomb first, went in also; and he saw and believed. 9 For as yet they did not know the Scripture, that He must rise again from the dead. 10 Then the disciples went away again to their own homes. (John 20:6-10).

By the time the Apostle John wrote this, if there had been any real special powers, it would have seemed that he would have mentioned them, but he did not.

Notice also the following:

Curiously enough, it was a Roman Catholic bishop who first branded the shroud a fraud. When, in the year 1356, the fourteen-by-three-and-a-half-foot piece of linen was exhibited at the obscure church of Lirey in central France — the first known historical record of its existence — it quickly became the subject of a lengthy memorandum to the Pope from Henry of Arcis, bishop of Troyes. Bishop Henry alleged that the Lirey canons had “falsely and deceitfully, being consumed with the passion of avarice and not from any motive of devotion but only of gain, procured for their church a certain cloth cunningly painted, upon which by clever sleight of hand was depicted the twofold image of one man, that is to say the back and the front, they falsely declaring and pretending that this was the actual shroud in which our Savior Jesus Christ was enfolded in the tomb.”

In Search of a Past

“I am convinced that this is the shroud that covered Jesus Christ after His crucifixion.” So declared Dr. Max Frei of the University of Zurich after painstakingly testing for pollen grains in the linen of the shroud and analyzing them.
“My analysis of pollen grains has been confirmed under the electron microscope beyond any reasonable doubt…. I isolated from the shroud more than a dozen pollen grains from plants growing in Jerusalem and surrounding deserts. They grow only in the Near East,” he said.
“The pollen most found on the shroud is identical to the most common pollen in the sediment of Lake Tiberias, in Israel” (National Enquirer, Nov. 29, 1977).
But even if we accept that the pollen proves the shroud once resided in Palestine, it would not necessarily connect it with Christ, for Dr. Frei also found in its fibers pollen from the area of southeastern Turkey! This finding would, perhaps, support Ian Wilson’s theory that the shroud itself is none other than the famous Mandylion (meaning “napkin” or “handkerchief’ in Arabic) which had been brought to Constantinople from Edessa in eastern Turkey. From there he postulates the Knights Templars took the shroud to the Holy Land before bringing it to France.

The Byzantine Connection

Fifty years before the shroud enters history in the possession of Geoffrey deCharnay and the Lirey church, there was another Geoffrey deCharnay. This other Geoffrey is not provably related, but shroudists suspect that he was. This man was a famous knight of the Templar organization, which King Philip the Fair of France charged with secret “idol” worship of a disembodied head — the image on the shroud, says Wilson and Geoffrey was martyred, all the while denying there was any idol.
The Templars had sacked Constantinople (Byzantium) in 1204, which, as capital of the Byzantine Empire and center of its religion, had become glutted with relics and icons innumerable. Among the relics, according to extant records, was something called a burial cloth of Christ, which apparently bore a full length image, and also the famous Edessa image, the Mandylion, which had been taken by force from the Moslem rulers of its city in A.D. 944. These both disappeared in the looting — possibly taken to the Templars’ Palestine headquarters.
Ian Wilson speculates that both cloths were one and the same. He explains the double listing as possibly referring to copies of the original. A flourishing industry existed in Byzantium of making cloth and other images of “Christ.” Many of these were, like the Mandylion itself, regarded as miraculously produced.
The problem for Wilson’s theory is that the Edessa image is specifically described as a face only, appearing on a towel, a veronica napkin, while on the Turin shroud is undeniably a double full length figure. Wilson suggests the reason was that the shroud had always been kept folded in such a way that only the face was showing.
In any event, the image on the shroud has a long, sad face and long hair. A writer for the London Tablet was moved to observe: “The first thought likely to occur is: But how very strongly the figure resembles the Christ of any number of old masters [painters of the fifth century on]“‘ (quoted from Wilcox, p. 26).

What the Earlier Paintings Looked Like

There is more to that statement than meets the eye.
The oldest pictures of Christ are paintings on the walls of the catacombs of Rome. Most date from the second and third centuries. It was against the teachings of the church to have such pictures (see box: The Early Church and Images). Nevertheless, those who sketched them only about 100 years after the apostles — were undoubtedly acquainted with individuals who were familiar with the general appearance of Christ that came by word of mouth from His own generation.
“… There is a painting of the Resurrection of Lazarus in which Christ is shown — youthful and beardless, with short hair and large eyes…. Although it is now only barely recognizable, this picture is of great interest since it is the oldest representation of Jesus that is preserved anywhere” (Roderic Dunkerley, Beyond the Gospels, p. 57).
In all of these early portrayals, “He is almost invariably boyish…. His hair is short” (Frederic William Farrar, The Life of Christ as Represented in Art, 1894, p. 43). Short hair was the predominant style among men in the Hellenized areas of the eastern Mediterranean (including Palestine) in Christ’s time. …

How Was Christ’s Body Really Wrapped?

The shroud theory demands that Christ’s body was covered differently than was the custom in Jewish burial. The usual fashion was for the body to be wrapped cocoon-wise in strips of linen cloth which were bound at hands and feet. All representations of Christ’s burial in the first four centuries assumed this Egyptian-like style. “The [Jewish] corpse was wrapped in a shroud, and bandages soaked with resin were wound around the hands and feet: a cloth, the sudarium, was placed over the face (John 11:44). Finally the tomb was shut” (Bo Reicke, The New Testament Era, p. 187).
The account of the raising of Lazarus illustrates the method. “The dead man came out, his hands and feet bound with bandages, and his face wrapped with a cloth.” It would appear that he was so enclosed and tied as to be scarcely able to walk until “Jesus said to them, `Unbind him, and let him go”‘ (John 11:44). Shroud of Turin theorists postulate that Joseph of Arimathea, not having time to bury Christ’s body properly, simply covered it, leaving the body lying amidst the rolls of cloth he had brought for the usual wrapping, perhaps intending to return and use them after the Sabbath. They suppose this may have been what Peter saw when he came into the tomb after the resurrection and saw “linen cloths lying, and the napkin, which had been on his head… rolled up in a place by itself (John 20:6-7).
But Matthew tells us that “Joseph took the body, and wrapped it in a clean linen shroud” (Matt. 27:59). This shroud was obviously not merely a long flat cloth like the Turin shroud, laid out under the body, then folded over it from the head.
The Gospel of John plainly tells us that Joseph and his company actually “bound it [the body — not merely covered it] in linen cloths [plural] with the spices, as is the burial custom of the Jews” (John 19:40). This was done even before they carried the body to the tomb (verse 42). (Briggs LC. ICON SUPREME? THE SHROUD OF TURIN. Plain Truth, December 1978)

Even if the actual burial cloth of Jesus were the Shroud of Turin or some other similar relic, it should not be venerated by Christians. History records that the early Christians opposed venerating relics. Many do not seem to realize how negatively early Christians viewed such items.

The Continuing Church of God does not consider that the Shroud of Turin is holy nor the burial cloth of Jesus.

Amongst other reasons, it is not supported by the historical record nor scripture. The image on the Shroud of Turin shows a long-haired male. Yet, Jesus did not have long hair.

Notice that even Catholic translations of the Bible support that:

14 Does not nature itself teach you that if a man has long hair, it is a disgrace to him, 15 but when a woman has long hair, it is her glory? (1 Corinthians 11:14-15a, New Jerusalem Bible)

While hair does grow after death, it does not grow quickly enough for the length that is on the Shroud of Turin. Jesus said He would be in the grave three days and three nights (Matthew 12:40), and that would not be enough time for long hair to appear.

Most do not know a lot about the Bible and know even less about early church history–and what many think they know is clouded by misinformation and misconceptions. And the Shroud of Turin does not provide helpful information into original Christianity, only for those who seem to prefer improper traditions of men over what the Bible teaches.

Those interested in early Christianity may wish to study the following documented items and presentations to learn more:

What Did the Early Church Teach About Idols and Icons? Did Catholic and Orthodox “saints” endorse or condemn idols and icons for Christians?
Which Is Faithful: The Roman Catholic Church or the Continuing Church of God? Do you know that both groups shared a lot of the earliest teachings? Do you know which church changed? Do you know which group is most faithful to the teachings of the apostolic church? Which group best represents true Christianity? This documented article answers those questions. [Português: Qual é fiel: A igreja católica romana ou a igreja do deus?]
Continuing History of the Church of God This pdf booklet is a historical overview of the true Church of God and some of its main opponents from Acts 2 to the 21st century. Related sermon links include Continuing History of the Church of God: c. 31 to c. 300 A.D. and Continuing History of the Church of God: 4th-16th Centuries. The booklet is available in Spanish: Continuación de la Historia de la Iglesia de Dios, German: Kontinuierliche Geschichte der Kirche Gottes, French: L’Histoire Continue de l’Église de Dieu and Ekegusii Omogano Bw’ekanisa Ya Nyasae Egendererete.
Where is the True Christian Church Today? This free online pdf booklet answers that question and includes 18 proofs, clues, and signs to identify the true vs. false Christian church. Plus 7 proofs, clues, and signs to help identify Laodicean churches. A related sermon is also available: Where is the True Christian Church? Here is a link to the booklet in the Spanish language: ¿Dónde está la verdadera Iglesia cristiana de hoy? Here is a link in the German language: WO IST DIE WAHRE CHRISTLICHE KIRCHE HEUTE?
The History of Early Christianity Are you aware that what most people believe is not what truly happened to the true Christian church? Do you know where the early church was based? Do you know what were the doctrines of the early church? Is your faith really based upon the truth or compromise?
The Churches of Revelation 2 & 3 Do they matter? Most say they must, but act like they do not. This article contains some history about the Church of God (sometimes referred to as the continuation of Primitive Christianity) over the past 2000 years.
What Do Roman Catholic Scholars Actually Teach About Early Church History? Although most believe that the Roman Catholic Church history teaches an unbroken line of succession of bishops beginning with Peter, with stories about most of them, Roman Catholic scholars know the truth of this matter. This eye-opening article is a must-read for any who really wants to know what Roman Catholic history actually admits about the early church.
Nazarene Christianity: Were the Original Christians Nazarenes? Should Christians be Nazarenes today? What were the practices of the Nazarenes.
Location of the Early Church: Another Look at Ephesus, Smyrna, and Rome What actually happened to the primitive Church? And did the Bible tell about this in advance?

Seventh-day Adventist millennial position vs. the Bible

Thursday, June 16th, 2016

James and Ellen White
James and Ellen White

COGwriter

Is the Seventh-day Adventist (SDA) position on the millennium in conflict with the Bible?

A while back, I came across the SDA Fundamental Beliefs at their official website. Here is what was listed as Fundamental Belief 27:

27. Millennium and the End of Sin:
The millennium is the thousand-year reign of Christ with His saints in heaven between the first and second resurrections. During this time the wicked dead will be judged; the earth will be utterly desolate, without living human inhabitants, but occupied by Satan and his angels. At its close Christ with His saints and the Holy City will descend from heaven to earth. The unrighteous dead will then be resurrected, and with Satan and his angels will surround the city; but fire from God will consume them and cleanse the earth. The universe will thus be freed of sin and sinners forever. (Rev. 20; 1 Cor. 6:2, 3; Jer. 4:23-26; Rev. 21:1-5; Mal. 4:1; Eze. 28:18, 19.)

While I disagree that all sin will be gone then (cf. Isaiah 65:20, which happens after the millennium) and various other points of the SDA position, the main point I wish to go over is the view that the saints reign in heaven as opposed to on the earth at that time.

Notice that the Book of Revelation makes it clear that God’s people will reign on the earth with Christ:

9…”You are worthy to take the scroll, And to open its seals; For You were slain, And have redeemed us to God by Your blood Out of every tribe and tongue and people and nation, 10 And have made us kings and priests to our God; And we shall reign on the earth” (Revelation 5:9-10).

Thus, a future physical reign on the earth is clearly prophesied. Not heaven.

Chapter 20 of the Book of Revelation clearly teaches that there will be a thousand year reign of Christ:

Then I saw an angel coming down from heaven, having the key to the bottomless pit and a great chain in his hand. He laid hold of the dragon, that serpent of old, who is the Devil and Satan, and bound him for a thousand years; and he cast him into the bottomless pit, and shut him up, and set a seal on him, so that he should deceive the nations no more till the thousand years were finished. But after these things he must be released for a little while. And I saw thrones, and they sat on them, and judgment was committed to them. Then I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded for their witness to Jesus and for the word of God, who had not worshiped the beast or his image, and had not received his mark on their foreheads or on their hands. And they lived and reigned with Christ for a thousand years. But the rest of the dead did not live again until the thousand years were finished. This is the first resurrection. Blessed and holy is he who has part in the first resurrection. Over such the second death has no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with Him a thousand years.

This millennial reign is essentially the “first phase” of the kingdom of God on the earth (more information can be found in the article The Kingdom of God was the Emphasis of Jesus and the Early Church).

But did early Christians teach that the thousand year reign was on earth?

Yes.

Notice what Papias, who was a hearer of John and allegedly a friend of Polycarp, in the early second century taught about the millennial reign on earth. Eusebius recorded that Papias (an early 2nd century leader) taught:

…there wil be a period of a thousand years after the resurrection of the dead, and that the kingdom of Christ will be set up in material form on this very earth…(Eusebius. The History of the Church, Book III, Chapter XXIX, Verse 12, p. 69)

Here is another translation of the above:

… there will be a millennium after the resurrection from the dead, when the personal reign of Christ will be established on this earth (Fragments of Papias, VI. See also Eusebius, Church History, Book 3, XXXIX, 12).

Papias taught that it would be a time of great abundance:

In like manner, [He said] that a grain of wheat would produce ten thousand ears, and that every ear would have ten thousand grains, and every grain would yield ten pounds of clear, pure, fine flour; and that apples, and seeds, and grass would produce in similar proportions; and that all animals, feeding then only on the productions of the earth, would become peaceable and harmonious, and be in perfect subjection to man.” [Testimony is borne to these things in writing by Papias, an ancient man, who was a hearer of John and a friend of Polycarp, in the fourth of his books; for five books were composed by him...] (Fragments of Papias, IV).

The above is consistent with the view that we in the Continuing Church of God hold.

In the second century, Irenaeus, who though he ended up compromising with Rome, claimed to have met Polycarp of Smyrna. Here is some of what he wrote about this:

That the whole creation shall, according to God’s will, obtain a vast increase, that it may bring forth and sustain fruits such [as we have mentioned], Isaiah declares: “And there shall be upon every high mountain, and upon every prominent hill, water running everywhere in that day, when many shall perish, when walls shall fall. And the light of the moon shall be as the light of the sun, seven times that of the day, when He shall heal the anguish of His people, and do away with the pain of His stroke.” Now “the pain of the stroke” means that inflicted at the beginning upon disobedient man in Adam, that is, death; which [stroke] the Lord will heal when He raises us from the dead, and restores the inheritance of the fathers, as Isaiah again says: “And thou shall be confident in the LORD, and He will cause thee to pass over the whole earth, and feed thee with the inheritance of Jacob thy father.” This is what the Lord declared: “Happy are those servants whom the Lord when He cometh shall find watching. Verily I say unto you, that He shall gird Himself, and make them to sit down [to meat], and will come forth and serve them. And if He shall come in the evening watch, and find them so, blessed are they, because He shall make them sit down, and minister to them; or if this be in the second, or it be in the third, blessed are they.” Again John also says the very same in the Apocalypse: “Blessed and holy is he who has part in the first resurrection.” Then, too, Isaiah has declared the time when these events shall occur; he says: “And I said, Lord, how long? Until the cities be wasted without inhabitant, and the houses be without men, and the earth be left a desert. And after these things the LORD shall remove us men far away (longe nos faciet Deus homines), and those who shall remain shall multiply upon the earth.” Then Daniel also says this very thing: “And the kingdom and dominion, and the greatness of those under the heaven, is given to the saints of the Most High God, whose kingdom is everlasting, and all dominions shall serve and obey Him.” And lest the promise named should be understood as referring to this time, it was declared to the prophet: “And come thou, and stand in thy lot at the consummation of the days.” Now, that the promises were not announced to the prophets and the fathers alone, but to the Churches united to these from the nations (Irenaeus. Adversus haereses, Book V, Chapter 34, Verses 2-3. Excerpted from Ante-Nicene Fathers, Volume 1. Edited by Alexander Roberts & James Donaldson. American Edition, 1885. Online Edition Copyright © 2004 by K. Knight).

For all these and other words were unquestionably spoken in reference to the resurrection of the just, which takes place after the coming of Antichrist, and the destruction of all nations under his rule; in [the times of] which [resurrection] the righteous shall reign in the earth, waxing stronger by the sight of the Lord: and through Him they shall become accustomed to partake in the glory of God the Father, and shall enjoy in the kingdom intercourse and communion with the holy angels, and union with spiritual beings; and [with respect to] those whom the Lord shall find in the flesh, awaiting Him from heaven, and who have suffered tribulation, as well as escaped the hands of the Wicked one (Irenaeus. Adversus haereses, Book V, Chapter 35, Verse 1. Excerpted from Ante-Nicene Fathers, Volume 1. Edited by Alexander Roberts & James Donaldson. American Edition, 1885. Online Edition Copyright © 2004 by K. Knight).

Thus Irenaeus clearly taught that there was to be a physical kingdom of God on the earth and that resurrected saints would reign in that kingdom. And that time frame is after the first resurrection, the time period of the millennium.

Nepos, who though the Catholics now claim him (they also claim Polycarp and others who renounced them), understood and taught that the saints would reign on the earth. Here is what The Catholic Encyclopedia reported:

An Egyptian bishop, Nepos, taught the Chiliastic error that there would be a reign of Christ upon earth for a thousand years, a period of corporal delights; he founded this doctrine upon the Apocalypse in a book entitled “Refutation of the Allegorizers” (Chapman, John. “Dionysius of Alexandria.” The Catholic Encyclopedia. Vol. 5. New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1909. 14 Aug. 2008 <http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/05011a.htm>.).

The following from Dionysius clearly shows that Nepos was still respected after he died (Nepos died prior to Dionysius’ mid-third century writing of the following) and really did not refute him from a biblical perspective:

But as they produce a certain composition by Nepos, on which they insist very strongly, as if it demonstrated incontestably that there will be a (temporal) reign of Christ upon the earth, I have to say, that in many other respects I accept the opinion of Nepos, and love him at once for his faith, and his laboriousness, and his patient study in the Scriptures, as also for his great efforts in psalmody, by which even now many of the brethren are delighted. I hold the man, too, in deep respect still more, inasmuch as he has gone to his rest before us. Nevertheless the truth is to be prized and reverenced above all things else. And while it is indeed proper to praise and approve ungrudgingly anything that is said aright, it is no less proper to examine and correct anything which may appear to have been written unsoundly. If he had been present then himself, and had been stating his opinions orally, it would have been sufficient to discuss the question together without the use of writing, and to endeavour to convince the opponents, and carry them along by interrogation and reply. But the work is published, and is, as it seems to some, of a very persuasive character; and there are unquestionably some teachers, who hold that the law and the prophets are of no importance, and who decline to follow the Gospels, and who depreciate the epistles of the apostles, and who have also made large promises regarding the doctrine of this composition, as though it were some great and hidden mystery, and who, at the same time, do not allow that our simpler brethren have any sublime and elevated conceptions either of our Lord’s appearing in His glory and His true divinity, or of our own resurrection from the dead, and of our being gathered together to Him, and assimilated to Him, but, on the contrary, endeavour to lead them to hope for things which are trivial and corruptible, and only such as what we find at present in the kingdom of God. And since this is the case, it becomes necessary for us to discuss this subject with our brother Nepos just as if he were present (Dionysius of Alexandria. From the Two Books on the Promises. Copyright © 2008 by Kevin Knight. Viewed 8/14/08).

In other words, Nepos knew his Bible, but did not hold to the same position that allegorists like Dionysius of Alexandria held. But those who held to Judaeo-Christian beliefs, while slightly chastised, simply were almost never condemned by the early allegorists. And he taught that the saints would reign on the earth. Nepos is one who I have long considered was part of the true Church of God and not part of the Greco-Roman confederation that was forming in his day. Nepos was one of several leaders that stood up against the allegorists who were rising up in his day.

Saints are to reign on the earth for a thousand years with Christ.

So, from the Bible, and the understanding of second (Papias) and third (Nepos) century Christians, as well as from some who knew actual Christians (Irenaeus) it is clear that the early Christians did believe and teach that the millennial reign would be on the earth.

Thus, those who are SDAs might wish to ask since their church does not teach this, if it truly was part of the original church or if it is (as I have long contended) basically a breakaway group that lost many of its original faithful teachings.

Some items of possibly related interest may include:

SDA/CCOG Differences: Two Horned Beast of Revelation and 666 The genuine Church of God is NOT part of the Seventh-day Adventists. This article explains two prophetic differences, the trinity, differences in approaching doctrine, including Ellen White. Did Ellen White make prophetic errors? Did Ellen White make false prophecies? Here is a version in the Spanish language: SDA/COG Diferencias: La bestia de dos cuernos de Apocalipsis y 666.
The Sardis Church Era was predominant circa 1600 A.D. to circa 1933 A.D. Discusses early history of the Seventh Day Baptists, Seventh-day Adventists, and COG-7th Day.
Did The Early Church Teach Millenarianism? Was the millennium (sometimes called chiliasm) taught by early Christians? Who condemned it? Will Jesus literally reign for 1000 years on the earth? Is this time near? A related sermon is titled The Millennium.
Does God Have a 6,000 Year Plan? What Year Does the 6,000 Years End? Was a 6000 year time allowed for humans to rule followed by a literal thousand year reign of Christ on Earth taught by the early Christians? Does God have 7,000 year plan? What year may the six thousand years of human rule end? When will Jesus return? 2023 or 20xx? There is also a video titled The 6000 Year Plan: Is the end of humanity’s reign almost up?
What is the Appropriate Form of Biblical Interpretation? Should the Bible be literally understood? What do the writings of the Bible, Origen, Herbert W. Armstrong, and Augustine show?
The History of Early Christianity Are you aware that what most people believe is not what truly happened to the true Christian church? Do you know where the early church was based? Do you know what were the doctrines of the early church? Is your faith really based upon the truth or compromise?
Where is the True Christian Church Today? This free online pdf booklet answers that question and includes 18 proofs, clues, and signs to identify the true vs. false Christian church. Plus 7 proofs, clues, and signs to help identify Laodicean churches. A related sermon is also available: Where is the True Christian Church? Here is a link to the booklet in the Spanish language: ¿Dónde está la verdadera Iglesia cristiana de hoy?
Continuing History of the Church of God This pdf booklet is a historical overview of the true Church of God and some of its main opponents from Acts 2 c. 31 A.D. to the 21st century. Two related sermon links would include Continuing History of the Church of God: c. 31 to c. 300 A.D. and Continuing History of the Church of God: 4th-16th Centuries. In Spanish: Marque aquí para ver el pdf folleto: Continuación de la Historia de la Iglesia de Dios.

Angelic beings

Thursday, June 16th, 2016


Artist’s portrayal of a Cherubim

COGwriter

Do you know about angelic beings? Here is an article titled ANGELS SERVANTS OF GOD by Hugh Mauck that was put out by the old WCG:

When I was a teenager back in the late thirties and early forties, I wondered what it would be like to be invisible. I remember so well the movie The Invisible Man starring Claude Raines. It was the story of a chemist who had discovered a formula that made him invisible.

Although invisible, he could still be felt and sometimes heard when he did not wish to be. His footprints could be seen; an opening door would betray him; or he would fall over an unseen object. Unable to discover the antidote that would make him visible again, he soon became very unhappy; the novelty of being invisible became a tragedy.

The Invisible World

Science fiction and Hollywood aside, there is a very real, but invisible world – another dimension, as some choose to call it – existing along with our own – but absolutely undiscernible to our five senses. It is the spirit world of God and angels.

God tells us that He is a spirit (John 4:24); that spirit is invisible (John 3:8, Col. 1:15); and that He is the Father of all spirit beings (Heb.12:9).

God speaks of His son Jesus Christ, saying: “Who is’ the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature: for by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be [or have] thrones, or dominions, or [whether they be] principalities [holders of high offices in heaven or on earth], or powers: all things were created by him, and for him. And he is before all things, and by him all things consist” (Col. 1: 15-17).

Angels are called God’s sons (Job 1:6; 38:7) because God created them. But they aren’t begotten sons as is Christ. They exist in a hierarchy below the God-plane level of God the Father and Christ (Heb. 1:5-14).

Paul speaks plainly of the angels of God in the first two chapters of Hebrews. He tells us that we are created a little lower than the angels; but we have the awesome potential of becoming far greater. We are called the sons of God – not sons by creation as they are, but begotten sons with a far greater future than they. We can be born into God’s very own family as fellow-heirs with Christ (Rom. 8: 17; Gal. 3:26-29).

God’s Angels Created Before Adam

God created angels and archangels before He created and placed Adam on this earth. They were here even before the foundation of the earth was laid. They shouted for joy when they first saw the earth in all its perfection (Job 38: 1-7).

That was prior to creation week, which took place sometime after the destruction on the earth caused by Lucifer’s rebellion (Isa. 14: 12-17). The earth was not created waste and in confusion, as we find it in Genesis I:2. God created the earth to be inhabited; He did not create it in the ruined state in which it later became (Isa. 45:18).

Angels are invisible, immortal spirit beings with superior power and knowledge (II Pet. 2: 11). They have seen all the activities of man on earth, and therefore know far more about the human mind, psychology, sociology, science and all the arts than any man living. And God has put them here with us as ministering spirits, to serve us! “Are they not all ministering spirits, sent forth to minister for them who shall be heirs of salvation?” (Heb. 1:14).

They are put here to help us along the road to eternal life, to save us from premature death, accident, etc., and to help us fight our battles and protect us from the devil and his demons. No wonder Elisha had no fear of his physical enemies when He saw one of God’s spirit armies standing upon the mountain (II Kings 6: 15-17).

God has had angels specifically assigned to supervise and protect His Church throughout all of its history (Rev. 1:4, 16, 20; 2:1, 8, 12, 18; 3:1, 7, 14). He has angels who continually walk through the earth to observe and report back to Him the overall conditions on earth (Rev. 5:6; Zech. 4: 10; II Chron. 16:9).

And God has angels specifically assigned to look after His begotten human children (Acts 12:15; Matt. 18: 10). God promises: “For he shall give his angels charge over thee, to keep thee in all thy ways” (Ps.91:11).

Twelve of God’s angels will be the gatekeepers in the new city of Jerusalem (Rev. 21:12), one for each tribe of Israel. These same twelve are probably assisting the Archangel Michael now.

Angels were messengers to the patriarchs of old. They appeared to Abraham, Lot, Hagar, Moses, Manoah, Gideon, Elijah and many of the prophets and apostles.

Angels do exist.

Many are fascinated by angelic beings, but some improperly pray and speak with “their angel.” In most cases where there is believed to be a response, if this is not from their imagination, they are actually connecting to the demonic world.

There are also various types of angels and spirit beings. The article partially posted above later includes information on Cherubim and Seraphim (see Angels, Cherubim, and Seraphim).

Some articles of possibly related interest may include:

Angels, Cherubim, and Seraphim This is information about various types of angelic beings.
Did Angels Marry Human Women? Many insist this is so and also that this mating caused giants to be born. Did this come from the ‘Book of Enoch’? What does Genesis 6:4 really mean? A related video is also available: Did Angels Marry Women and Produce Giants?
Did God Create a Devil? If not, what happened? Herbert W. Armstrong wrote this as a booklet.
Close Encounters of a ‘Spirit’ Kind discusses some experiences I believe were (demon) ‘spirit’ related.
Read the Bible Christians should read and study the Bible. This article gives some rationale for regular bible reading.
Bible: Superstition or Authority? Should you rely on the Bible? Is it reliable? Herbert W. Armstrong wrote this as a booklet on this important subject.

Does God heal today?

Wednesday, June 15th, 2016

COGwriter

Order of the Sacred Treasure

Decades ago, the late Pastor General of the old Worldwide Church of God, Hebert W. Armstrong, wrote a booklet on healing. Here are some excerpts:

Is the day of miracles PAST? We read in the New Testament that when Jesus Christ was on earth 1900 years ago, He HEALED THE SICK. It seems there are so MANY MORE sick today than there were then. Well, is the day of miracles past? WHAT ABOUT this thing we call divine healing?

I’ve encountered scores of folks who say, “Well, I know God can heal today if it’s His will, but HOW CAN WE KNOW WHETHER IT’S HIS WILL?”

Others say, “Well, I think God helps them that help themselves. I believe God works thru medical science. We should always call the doctor, and take his drugs and medicines, or submit to his knives, and then pray that God will cause this human means to heal.”

For OUR day, or Only for Time of Christ?
Some think Jesus Christ is like the professor Emeritus at the university — He USED to do great things, but now He’s grown old and feeble and doesn’t perform many miracles any more.

But, we read in I Corinthians 15:3-4: “For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; And that He was buried and that He rose again the third day according to the scriptures:” and again in Hebrews 13:8 — “Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and today, and forever,” and in John 14:12 — “Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do; because I go unto my Father.”

Some think healing was only to prove JESUS was the CHRIST — the promised MESSIAH — but not for this day and age.

When Divine Healing Began
My friends, do you know when divine healing — healing direct by a miracle from ALMIGHTY GOD, as a result of believing PRAYER, really began? And incidentally, let me say I’m not referring to some modern MENTAL science, so called, or power or mind over matter, or hypnotism. I’m speaking only of physical healing performed directly by the Eternal Creator GOD, as a result of BELIEVING PRAYER. Do you know when this first began? Well, most of you are going to be surprised. It didn’t begin with the ministry of Jesus of Nazareth at all. It began MANY CENTURIES BEFORE THAT!

It began WHEN the CHURCH began! Most people think the CHURCH was first started after the resurrection of Christ — on the Day of Pentecost. That was merely the NEW Testament Church. But the Church started long before that — it started way back in the days of MOSES. Of course, that was the OLD Testament Church, but it was God’s CHURCH just the same.

Listen! Acts 7:28 — “This is He, that was in the church in the wilderness with the angel which spake to Him in the mount Sina, and with our fathers: who received the lively oracles to give unto us.”

Now physical healing by faith in God is something the Eternal placed in that Old Testament church, way back in the days of Moses!

Let me read to you the first account in all history of direct divine healing. Exodus 15:23-26 — “And when they, [the children of Israel], came to Marah, they could not drink of the waters of Marah, for they were bitter: and therefore the name of it was called Marah. And the people murmured against Moses, saying, What shall we drink? And he cried unto the Eternal and the Eternal showed him a tree, which when he had cast into the waters, the waters were made sweet: there he made for them a statute and an ordinance, and there he proved them, And said, If thou wilt diligently hearken unto the voice of the Eternal thy God, and wilt do that which is right in His sight, and wilt give ear to His commandments, and keep all His statutes, I will put none of these diseases upon thee, which I have brought upon the Egyptians: for I am the Eternal that healeth thee.’”

And do you know, that the same conditions, “If you will obey and keep my commandments,” etc. — apply today, and that’s one reason why a lot of people who have a little light on divine healing and believe in it are not being healed!

Let me read that to you over in the NEW Testament, my friends, I John 3:22 — “And whatsoever we ask, we receive of Him,” WHY? “because we keep His commandments, and do those things which are pleasing in His sight.”

Well, with so many telling the people, and so many people believing, that Jesus Christ did away with the commandments, it’s no wonder that many of us are not having prayers answered today! “Whatsoever we ask we receive of Him, because we keep His commandments and do those things that are pleasing in His sight.”

Yes, God is the same yesterday, today and forever. He has not changed and the same conditions apply today that did back in the days of Moses. Obedience and faith. Jesus said, “According to your faith be it unto you.”

God the ONLY Real Physician
You will notice that God said, “I am the Lord [or the Eternal] that heals you.” He is a jealous God in a sense, so far as the prerogatives of God are concerned. And so, turn over to the 20th chapter of Exodus where God was giving the ten commandments to all the people. Moses didn’t give the people the ten commandments. God gave the people the ten commandments, and He said, “I am the Eternal thy God . . . Thou shalt have no other gods before Me.”

He had said, “I am the God that heals you,” and now He says that you should have no other gods before Me.

You know, my friends, a doctor can’t heal! And any honest doctor will admit it. None of his drugs, or medicines, or knives can heal. There is no healing in any of them. There is only one kind of healing, and that is healing directly by the Almighty God! There is no other healing!…

Leave the Way and Time to God

One word of caution! You can’t dictate to God. He usually doesn’t do things OUR way or always in OUR time. Leave that to Him! He PROMISES to heal you. Accept His promise. STAND ON THE PROMISES! Expect the answer! You KNOW you’ll get it. Leave the “how” and the “when” to God. Let Him do it His way and in His time. Faith is the evidence of things NOT SEEN — not felt. Don’t pay any attention to how you feel, or what you see, after you have called upon God for healing. Just KNOW you are to have it, and that’s that!

In our many, many experiences, we have had healings in our own family and many other cases that were instantaneous. Then I’m thinking now of a woman who came to me and another minister for prayer for healing. After we noticed no change and she felt none. It was four days later that she was suddenly, instantly healed. I’ve known some to heal gradually. It was even so in Jesus’ own ministry, one began to mend from that hour.

Leave the “how” and “when” to God. KNOW His promise is SURE!

The Scripture CANNOT BE BROKEN!

“Who forgiveth all thine iniquities; who healeth ALL thy diseases!”

Note: The old Worldwide Church of God no longer exists and the group that took it over would not make Herbert Armstrong’s writings available, even when I offered to pay. So the above article is shown in the public interest and reflects the personal views of Herbert Armstrong and is shown as a public service. The most faithful remnant of his old church is the Continuing Church of God.

Several items of possibly related interest include:

Does God Heal Today? This historical article is by Herbert Armstrong and provides his views on healing circa 1952, which he seemed to later modify, at least to some degree.
Prayer: What Does the Bible Teach? This contains 28 biblically-based tips on improving the effectiveness of your prayers. This is a pdf. A related two part sermon is available: What Does the Bible Teach About Prayer? and What does the Bible Teach About Prayer (& Healing)?
Who Was Herbert W. Armstrong? How is He Viewed Today? Includes quotes from the 1973 edition of The Autobiography of Herbert W. Armstrong and explains how he is and should be viewed today.
The Seven Laws of Success Are there tips that can help people become successful.
Living as a Christian: How and Why? In what ways do Christians live differently than others. What about praying, fasting, tithing, holy days, and the world? There is also a YouTube video related to that also called: Living as a Christian: How and Why?
Is Smoking a Sin? What does the Bible teach? What have COG leaders written? Can smokers change?
Binge Alcohol Drinking and the Bible Many college students and others overindulge in alcohol. Are there health risks? What does the Bible teach?
Obesity, processed foods, health risks, and the Bible Does the Bible warn about the consequences of being obese? Is overeating dangerous? Is gluttony condemned? What diseases are associated with eating too much refined foods? A related video would be Eating Right, Eating Too Much, and Prophecy.
Ten Simple Rules that Lead to Health Herbert Armstrong gives his opinions on this.
Why so much mental illness? Article by E.M. Walter goes into several of the causes of this.
ADHD diagnoses increasing Is diet a possible contributing factor in the increasing number of children diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactive disorder?
The Bible, Christians, and the Environment How should Christians view the environment? Does the Bible give any clues? What are some of the effects of air, water, and land pollution? Is environmental pollution a factor in autism and death? Do pollutants seem to double the autism risk? What will Jesus do? A YouTube video is available titled Air Pollution, Autism, and Prophecy.
UK Study Supports Daniel Diet Daniel and his companions looked better eating more vegetables and avoiding strange meats. Has modern science confirmed this?
Continuing Church of God The group striving to be most faithful amongst all real Christian groups to the word of God.