Archive for the ‘Doctrine’ Category

Calculated or observed calendar?

Monday, March 2nd, 2015


Older Hebrew Calendar

COGwriter

Each year, some bring up calendar concerns.  Some believe that a calculated Holy Day calendar is wrong and that one must be only kept based upon personal observation.

The debate is often centered around a Jewish leader called Hillel II.  He is credited for publishing the rules that the Jews use for calculating the calendar.  Basically, the observed crowd claims that since Hillel was not around until the 4th century, that prior to him, the Jews always used a calendar based upon observation of the first crescent moon and did not include something called ‘postponements.’  (This argument presumes, however, that Hillel II invented the calendar rules he made public. Since the calendar determining methods were guarded by the priests, we do not know that for a fact.  Furthermore, some believe that this public action was necessary, because the ‘judicial body’ the known as the Sanhedrin, was a fading institution at the time, hence there was a need for public disclosure of the rules.)

The calculated crowd basically says that not all Jews used an observed calendar, the Bible seemingly gave the Jews (Leviticus 23:2 and possibly the Church per Colossians 2:16-17, literal translation) some latitude in determination of the actual start date.  Some believe that postponements were in place and probably used by some prior to the time of Jesus. 

Because some rules related to the calendar were not made public prior to Hillel II (some others had been related to years with an ‘intercalated’ month), we do not know the date when they were first implemented–though some believe they existed from the time of Moses and were shown to be utilized by Ezra.  It would seem logical to conclude that they were begun during the period when sacrificing was being done.  One of the possible reasons I have read about for implementing them was in consideration of back-to-back High Days (before or after a weekly Sabbath) and the laborious offering rituals needed. It would not seem that postponements would have been implemented long after the Temple was destroyed with related sacrificing also ceasing by 70 A.D. If sacrifices placed a role in using the postponement,  then Hillel II could not have been the one to originate postponements.

According to Jewish sources. the placement of the Day of Atonement seems to be a major factor in the use of postponements.  Notice the following from the Encyclopaedia Judaica:

CALENDAR (Heb. לוּחַ, lu’aḥ). The present Jewish calendar is lunisolar, the months being reckoned according to the moon and the years according to the sun. A month is the period of time between one conjunction of the moon with the sun and the next. The conjunction of the moon with the sun is the point in time at which the moon is directly between the earth and the sun (but not on the same plane) and is thus invisible. This is known as the מוֹלָד, molad (“birth,” from the root ילד). The mean synodic month (or lunation) is 29 days, 12 hours, 44 minutes, and 3⅓ seconds (793 parts (ḥalakim); in the Jewish system the hour is divided into 1,080 parts each of which is 3⅓ seconds). The solar year is 365 days, 48 minutes, and 46 seconds, which means that a solar year exceeds a lunar one (12 months) by about 11 days. The cycles of 12 lunar months must therefore be adjusted to the solar year, because although the Jewish festivals are fixed according to dates in months, they must also be in specific (agricultural) seasons of the year which depend on the tropical solar year. Without any adjustment the festivals would “wander” through the seasons and the “spring” festival (Passover), for example, would be celebrated eventually in winter, and later in summer. The required adjustment is realized by the addition of an extra month (Adar II) in each of seven out of the 19 years that constitute the small (or lunar) cycle of the moon (maḥazor katan or maḥazor ha-levanah). …

The year begins on Tishri 1, which is rarely the day of the molad, as there are four obstacles or considerations, called deḥiyyot, in fixing the first day of the month (rosh ḥodesh). Each deḥiyyah defers Rosh Ha-Shanah by a day, and combined deḥiyyot may cause a postponement of two days: (1) mainly in order to prevent the Day of Atonement (Tishri 10) from falling on Friday or Sunday, and Hoshana Rabba (the seventh day of Sukkot; Tishri 21) from falling on Saturday, but in part also serving an astronomical purpose (see below). Rosh Ha-Shanah never falls on Sunday, Wednesday, or Friday (according to the mnemonic לא אד”ו ראש known as the postponement addu – probably first vocalized iddo; cf. Ezra 8:17). (2) Entirely for an astronomical reason, if the molad is at noon or later (מוֹלָד זָקֵן or מוֹלָד יח) Rosh Ha-Shanah is delayed by one day or, if this would cause it to fall as above, two days. These two deḥiyyot, owing to the mentioned limits on the number of days in the year, entail another two. (3) The third deḥiyyah is as follows: If the molad in an “ordinary” (not leap) year falls at ג”טר”ד, that is the third day (Tuesday), at 9 hours, 204 ḥalakim, that is, 3:11 A.M. and 20 secs. – Rosh Ha-Shanah is put off two days. A postponement to Wednesday is not permitted (as in (1)), so that it is deferred to Thursday. The object is as follows: If the molad of Tishri occurs at that hour, the outcome would be a year which is one day too long…. (4) This deḥiyyah is very infrequent. It is known as בט”ו תקפ”ט אחר עבור שנה, that is when the molad of Tishri, following immediately after a leap year, occurs on the second day (Monday) at 15 hours, 589 ḥalakim, which means Monday, 9:32 A.M. and 43⅓ secs. …

While it is not unreasonable to attribute to Hillel II the fixing of the regular order of intercalations, his full share in the present fixed calendar is doubtful. … Intercalation is claimed to be evident from the figures in Ezekiel 1:1, 3:15, 4:4–6 and 8:1, with similar indications in I Kings 12:32–3 and II Chronicles 30:2–3; … The New Moon (Num. 28:11, and parallels) was determined by the phasis in the preceding evening, hence the plausibility of an early biblical record (I Sam 20:18) of its prediction for “tomorrow.”

(Calendar. Encyclopaedia Judaica. Ed. Michael Berenbaum and Fred Skolnik. Vol. 4. 2nd ed. Detroit: Macmillan Reference USA, 2007. p354-359. COPYRIGHT 2007 Keter Publishing House Ltd. http://go.galegroup.com/ps/retrieve.do?sgHitCountType=None&inPS=true&prodId=GVRL&userGroupName=imcpl1111&resultListType=RELATED_DOCUMENT&contentSegment=9780028660974&isBOBIndex=true&docId=GALE|CX2587503848#354 viewed 02/28/15)

It is true that Hillel II did not come up with all the calendar calculation rules.  Again, it is more likely he mainly laid them out publicly.

Psalm 81:1-5 discusses new moons, and may be a reason that the Jews believe the calculation for the new year should be based on Tishri 1. Though the sacred year, according to the Bible (Exodus 12:1-2), begins on Nisan 1, the date of that calculation seems to be based on the Tishri calculation. The fact that the Encyclopaedia Judaica ties an aspect of the calendar with Ezra 8:17 is consistent with the view that the postponements were being utilized at the time of Ezra.

Furthermore consider that Jesus kept Passover on the 14th of Nisan (also known as the month of Abib) on the Hebrew calendar after sunset on the day we now call Tuesday (see What Happened in the ‘Crucifixion Week’?).  He died the next day, which is the day we commonly call Wednesday.  The late Dr. Herman Hoeh taught this occurred in 31 A.D. (though 30 A.D. might be possible–as far as 30 A.D. goes, I have seen something from one supporter of that view that claimed that the Feast of Trumpets prior to it was calculated based upon a postponement).

Now, if we can have records of when the new moon was for 31 A.D., we can calculate when Passover would have been.  And that information exists.

There is New Moon Data from the US Navy Observatory using the current Julian calendar and Greenwich Mean Time for the new moon in 31 A.D.:

31 ...  April 10    Noon
(http://www.usno.navy.mil/USNO/astronomical-applications/data-services/spring-phenom viewed 02/25/15)

Since Jerusalem is two hours ahead of Greenwich Mean Time, then the New Moon would have occurred at 2:00 pm on what we now call April 10th on the day of the week commonly called Tuesday (the same US Navy link states that March 27th was on a Tuesday, and from that we can calculate the days of the week for April of 31 A.D.).

If the first part or crescent of the moon could have been seen close the time the US Navy said the new moon occurred, the 14th of Nisan would have began after sunset on Sunday the 22nd of April.  Yet, it would not have been.

Furthermore, the human eye normally cannot see the moon in the middle of the afternoon and there are delays until enough of the moon can be seen.  So it would seem that the first observable crescent would have been the next day.  Thus, the first day of the month would have likely been Wednesday, April 11th, based upon a strictly observable calendar.  This would have made Passover after sunset Monday, April 23rd.

Presuming Jesus was killed in 31 A.D., this eliminates the strictly observable calendar.  The beginning of the month that year would have been ‘postponed’ one day, based upon a calculated calendar.  Since Jesus kept His last Passover on a Tuesday evening after sunset, this leads to the logical conclusion that Jesus kept the Passover based upon a calculated calendar (again presuming a 31 A.D. final Passover for Him).  Jesus would have kept Passover after sunset on April 24th and died prior to sunset on April 25th.

And if Jesus kept the Holy Days based upon a calculated calendar, then it is reasonable to conclude that a calculated calendar existed centuries before Hillel wrote a record of it down.

Since Jesus kept Passover on Tuesday night and died Wednesday afternoon, it appears that He was keeping a calculated calendar with postponements.

Understand that many of the children of Israel were dispersed from Jerusalem for centuries.  This of course separated them from accurate Jerusalem observations. Since all wanted to keep the right day, a calculated calendar was a logical solution to this (though odd solutions, such as observing the holy days for two days, were used by many, as some do today).  On sufficiently cloudy evenings/nights, it is not possible to observe the first appearance of the new moon through observation.

There are many reasons why a calculated calendar makes sense. Consider:
  1. Modern communication methods did not exist thousands of years ago.
  2. Jesus endorsed the basic Jewish calendar (cf. Matthew 23:1-3).
  3. Jesus, who did not sin (Hebrews 4:15), seemingly observed a calculated calendar (cf. Luke 22:8-22, etc.).
  4. Throughout history God’s people not near Jerusalem basically had to rely on some type of a calculated calendar.
  5. Weather and other factors made a strictly observational calendar impossible for use every month.
  6. A strictly observational calendar results in people keeping Holy Days sometimes weeks differently, depending up where they are physically located.
  7. God is not the author of confusion (1 Corinthians 14:33).

There is more information that could be provided on each of the above points, but even though I plan to research more on this in the future, I thought this information could be helpful for some as we get closer to the start of the Spring Holy Day season for 2015.

Some items of possibly related interest may include:

Is There “An Annual Worship Calendar” In the Bible? This paper provides a biblical and historical critique of several articles, including one by the Tkach WCG which states that this should be a local decision. What do the Holy Days mean? Also you can click here for the calendar of Holy Days.
What are Postponements? This was written by the late evangelist Raymond McNair and explains a lot about postponements and calculations.
Hebrew Calendar and “Postponements” This late John Ogywn writing explains why the most faithful in the Church of God use the calendar that we do and answers such questions as “Did Jesus Observe the Postponements?”
Holy Day Calendar This is a listing of the biblical holy days through 2024, with their Roman calendar dates. They are really hard to observe if you do not know when they occur :) In the Spanish/Español/Castellano language: Calendario de los Días Santos. In Mandarin Chinese: 何日是神的圣日? 这里是一份神的圣日日历从2013年至2024年。.
What Happened in the ‘Crucifixion Week’? How long are three days and three nights? Was Palm Sunday on a Saturday? Did Jesus die on “Good Friday”? Was the resurrection on Sunday? Do you really know? Who determined the date of Easter? (Here is a related link in Spanish/español: ¿Murió Jesús un día miércoles o un viernes?)
Passover and the Early Church Did the early Christians observe Passover? What did Jesus and Paul teach? Why did Jesus die for our sins?
Melito’s Homily on the Passover This is one of the earliest Christian writings about the Passover. This also includes what Apollinaris wrote on the Passover as well.
TPM: Passover on the 14th or 15th? While we in the CCOG observe Passover on the 14th, some observe it on the 15th. Why is the 14th correct?
The Night to Be Observed What is the night to be much observed? When is it? Why do Jews keep Passover twice and emphasize the wrong date? Here is a link to a YouTube video titled The Night to Be Observed.
Should Christians Keep the Days of Unleavened Bread? Do they have any use or meaning now? What is leaven? This article supplies some biblical answers. Here is a YouTube video intended to be viewed for the first day of unleavened bread: Christians and the Days of Unleavened Bread.
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?

Sermon: Genesis, ‘Prehistoric man,’ and the Gap theory

Saturday, February 28th, 2015


COGwriter

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


  • 1:13:41

Genesis, ‘Prehistoric man,’ and the Gap theory

Many want to know if there was a prehistoric human before Adam.  Some want to know if Adam, Eve, Abel, and Seth existed.  Others want to know why scientists claim the earth is billions of years old, yet certain ‘creationists’ deny this.  Does the Bible teach that the Earth itself if only about 6000 years old or is there a ‘gap’ between Genesis 1:1 and 1:2?  Is the Bible scientific?  What is the truth?  Did Adam die the ‘day’ he ate the forbidden fruit in Genesis 3:6?

Two related written articles are titled: Questions and Answers from Genesis and How Old is the Earth and How Long Were the Days of Creation? Gap Theory?

Here is a link to the video sermon: Genesis, ‘Prehistoric man,’ and the Gap theory.

Some items of possibly related interest may include:

Questions and Answers from Genesis Many wonder about certain early events that this article discusses.  A related video sermon is available: Genesis, ‘Prehistoric man,’ and the Gap theory.
How Old is the Earth and How Long Were the Days of Creation? Gap Theory? 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? Where the days of creation in Genesis 1:3 through 2:3 24 hours long? Here is a link to the article in Spanish: ¿Cuán vieja es la Tierra? ¿Cuán largos fueron los Días de la Creación? ¿Teoría de la brecha?
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 Quickly Disprove Evolution as the Origin of Life.
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?
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 c. 31 A.D. to 2014. A related sermon link would be Continuing History of the Church of God: c. 31 to c. 300 A.D. Marque aquí para ver el pdf folleto: Continuación de la Historia de la Iglesia de Dios.
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?
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.
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.
Paglalahad ng Mga Paniniwala ng Patuloy na Iglesya ng Diyos This is the Statement of Beliefs of the Continuing Church of God in Tagalog, the primary language of the Philippines.
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.

Self-deception can be costly

Friday, February 27th, 2015


COGwriter

Researchers are concluding that there are costs associated with self-deception:

The invisible downside of cheating in life

26 February 2015

People who take shortcuts can trick themselves into believing they are smarter than they are, says Tom Stafford, and it comes back to bite them.

The researchers ran another experiment to check that the effect was really due to the cheaters’ inflated belief in their own abilities. In this experiment, students were offered a cash reward for accurately predicting their scores on the second test. Sure enough, those who had been given the opportunity to cheat overestimated their ability and lost out – earning 20% less than the other students.

The implication is that people in Chance’s experiment – people very much like you and me – had tricked themselves into believing they were smarter than they were. There may be benefits from doing this – confidence, satisfaction, or more easily gaining the trust of others – but there are also certainly disadvantages. Whenever circumstances change and you need to accurately predict how well you’ll do, it can cost to believe you’re better than you are.

That self-deception has its costs has some interesting implications. Morally, most of us would say that self-deception is wrong. But aside from whether self-deception is undesirable, we should expect it to be present in all of us to some degree (because of the benefits), but to be limited as well (because of the costs).

Self-deception isn’t something that is always better in larger doses – there must be an amount of it for which the benefits outweigh the costs, most of the time. We’re probably all self-deceiving to some degree. The irony being, because it is self-deception, we can’t know how often. http://www.bbc.com/future/story/20150225-unexpected-downside-for-cheaters

Jesus taught that Satan was a liar and the father of lies:

44 You are of your father the devil, and the desires of your father you want to do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own resources, for he is a liar and the father of it (John 8:44)

Of course, Satan takes advantage of deception and encourages humans to deceive themselves. Recall what happened to Eve:

14 And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived, fell into transgression. (1 Timothy 2:14)

6 So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree desirable to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate. She also gave to her husband with her, and he ate. (Genesis 3:6-7)

Satan was involved, but the woman allowed herself to be deceived.  This type of deception happens every day.

But what about Christians?  Can Christians fall victim to self-deception?

Jesus warned that most Christians in the end times would be deceived:

14 “And to the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write,

‘These things says the Amen, the Faithful and True Witness, the Beginning of the creation of God:  15 “I know your works, that you are neither cold nor hot. I could wish you were cold or hot.  16 So then, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will vomit you out of My mouth.  17 Because you say, ‘I am rich, have become wealthy, and have need of nothing’ — and do not know that you are wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked —   18 I counsel you to buy from Me gold refined in the fire, that you may be rich; and white garments, that you may be clothed, that the shame of your nakedness may not be revealed; and anoint your eyes with eye salve, that you may see.  19 As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten. Therefore be zealous and repent. (Revelation 3:14-19)

Although most Laodiceans do not believe that they are deceiving themselves, Jesus said that they were. Jesus said that Laodicean Christians needed to repent–they need to change.

In addition to doctrine and how they lead their lives, there are serious prophetic deceptions that the Laodiceans have fallen for.  A list of 30 prophetic deceptions that various Laodiceans believe is in the article The Laodicean Church Era. Believing several of these will insure that Laodiceans will not realize that the Great Tribulation is here until it is to late for most to flee (cf. Revelation 12:14-17).

Self-deception is common.  Try not to fall for it.  The word of God is truth (John 17:17), hopefully you will believe it enough so that you will resist Satanically-encouraged self-deception (cf. James 4:7).

Some items of possibly related interest may include:

Lies Where did they originate? What was really the first lie? What happens for lies? Here is a link to it in Mandarin Chinese 第一个谎言和基督徒的意味
Satan’s Plan Does Satan have a plan? What is it? Has it already been successful? Will it be successful in the future? Here are links to a two-part sermon series: What are Some of the Parts of Satan’s Plan? and Satan’s Plan is More Dramatic than Many Realize.
Did God Create a Devil? If not, what happened? Herbert W. Armstrong wrote this as a booklet.
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?
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 c. 31 A.D. to 2014. A related sermon link would be Continuing History of the Church of God: c. 31 to c. 300 A.D. Marque aquí para ver el pdf folleto: Continuación de la Historia de la Iglesia de Dios.
The Ten Commandments Reflect Love, Breaking them is Evil Some feel that the ten commandments are a burden. Is that what Jesus, Paul, Peter, James, and John taught? For a more detailed discussion of the first four commandments, please see the video The Ten Commandments: Loving God. For a more detailed discussion of the last six commandments, please see: The Ten Commandments: Loving Your Neighbor. Here is a link to a related article in Mandarin Chinese 十条诫命显示爱,违反诫命的就是邪恶的
When Will the Great Tribulation Begin? 2015, 2016, or 2017? Can the Great Tribulation begin today? What happens before the Great Tribulation in the “beginning of sorrows”? What happens in the Great Tribulation and the Day of the Lord? Is this the time of the Gentiles? When is the earliest that the Great Tribulation can begin? What is the Day of the Lord? Who are the 144,000? Here is a version of the article in the Spanish language: ¿Puede comenzar la Gran Tribulación en 2014 o 2015? ¿Es el Tiempo de los Gentiles? You can also see the English language sermon video: The Great Tribulation from the Mount of Olives.
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.
There is a Place of Safety for the Philadelphians. Why it May Be Petra This article discusses a biblical ‘place of safety’ and includes quotes from the Bible and Herbert W. Armstrong on this subject–thus, there is a biblically supported alternative to the rapture theory. There is also a video on the subject: Might Petra be the Place of Safety?  Here is something related in the Spanish language: Hay un lugar de seguridad para los Filadelfinos. ¿Puede ser Petra?

South Korea ‘legalizes’ adultery

Thursday, February 26th, 2015


Portrayal of David Confronted by the
Prophet Nathan for Committing Adultery

COGwriter

South Korea ‘legalized’ adultery today:

February 26, 2015

South Korea’s Constitutional Court on Thursday struck down a 62-year-old law that made adultery an offense punishable by up to two years in prison, citing the country’s changing sexual mores and a growing emphasis on individual rights.

“It has become difficult to say that there is a consensus on whether adultery should be punished as a criminal offense,” five of the court’s nine justices said in a joint opinion. “It should be left to the free will and love of people to decide whether to maintain marriage, and the matter should not be externally forced through a criminal code.”

Two other justices voted to declare the law unconstitutional for other reasons. A two-thirds majority was required to strike down the law.

An estimated 53,000 South Koreans have been indicted under the law since the authorities began keeping count in 1985. But in recent years, it has been increasingly rare for defendants to go to prison, in part because courts have demanded stronger proof that sexual intercourse had taken place. Additionally, more plaintiffs have been dropping charges after reaching financial settlements.

The law had been challenged four times before at the Constitutional Court since 1990, always unsuccessfully. In the last attempt, in 2008 — in a case brought by a popular actress, Ok So-ri, whose husband had pressed a criminal complaint against her — the justices came within one vote of striking the law down. More than 5,000 people who have been indicted on adultery charges since that 2008 ruling can now seek a new trial or, if they have not been convicted, demand that the charges be dropped.

The adultery law was adopted in 1953, with the stated purpose of protecting women who had little recourse against cheating husbands in a male-dominated society. But divorce rates and women’s economic and legal standing have soared in the decades since, leaving many to argue that the law had outlived its usefulness.  http://www.nytimes.com/2015/02/27/world/asia/south-korea-strikes-down-adultery-law.html?_r=0

God’s laws against adultery are ancient and have not outlived their usefulness.

While we all know the Bible teaches, “You shall not commit adultery” (Exodus 20:14; Romans 2:22), the Constitutional Court in South Korea seeming believes that adultery is a ‘freedom’ that should not be criminalized.

Of course, adultery is not new.  Yet, the trend towards turning against God’s laws was prophesied for these last days long ago (2 Timothy 3:1-7).  Sadly, South Korea has decided to more fulfill this.

Adulterers are deceiving themselves and harming society:

13…They are spots and blemishes, carousing in their own deceptions while they feast with you, 14 having eyes full of adultery and that cannot cease from sin, enticing unstable souls. They have a heart trained in covetous practices, and are accursed children. (2 Peter 2:13-15)

Laws against adultery protect not only women, but also the family and society.  This is decision is not good for South Korea.

Several items of possibly related interest may include:

Making Your Marriage Work Marriage is not also easy, but it pictures a divine relationship. How can you make your marriage work? Here is a link to the video sermon: You Can Make YOUR Marriage Work.
Here’s the Plain Truth About OLD TESTAMENT POLYGAMY by Herbert Armstrong. Here is a related article in the Spanish language: ¿Es la poligamia una senda de Dios?
Love, Marriage, and Sex It is important to get them in the right order.
Husbands Love Your Wives An article written by the late Selmer Hegvold.
Were the Ten Commandments in Effect Before Mount Sinai? Some have said not. This article provides biblical quotes to answer this important question.
Job and the Ten Commandments Was Job written prior to Mount Sinai? Did Job know about the ten commandments? This article provides biblical answers to those questions.
What Did Jesus Teach About the Ten Commandments? This article quotes what Jesus actually said about them (His words are in red).
Were the Ten Commandments Nailed to the Cross? Some have said so. This article provides some biblical quotes to answer this important question.
Read the Bible Christians should read the Bible. This article gives some rationale for regular bible reading.
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?
Bible and Historical Resources on the Internet Electronic bibles, Two Babylons, early Christian literature, photos, and even links to old Herbert W. Armstrong materials.
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 doctrines the early Christians actually had? Is your faith really based upon the truth or compromise?
The Ten Commandments Reflect Love, Breaking them is Evil Some feel that the ten commandments are a burden. Is that what Jesus, Paul, Peter, James, and John taught? For a more detailed discussion of the first four commandments, please see the video The Ten Commandments: Loving God. For a more detailed discussion of the last six commandments, please see: The Ten Commandments: Loving Your Neighbor. Here is a link to a related article in Mandarin Chinese 十条诫命显示爱,违反诫命的就是邪恶的
What is the Gospel? True religion should be based upon the true gospel. What are some of the different gospels and where did they come from? Do you believe the true or a false gospel? Who is preaching the gospel? Here is a version in Korean 복음이란 무엇인가?
Korea in Prophecy, Any Witness? Where did the Korean people come from? Does God have a plan for the Koreans? Is Korea mentioned in any prophecies? Will Koreans be among the first in the Kingdom of God? Here is a machine-translated link to that article in Korean: 한국의 언어로 : 한국 예언, 모든 증인에?; here is a link to that article in Mandarin Chinese: 在预言中的韩国:有任何证人吗?

Marijuana ‘legal’ in Washington, D.C.

Thursday, February 26th, 2015


Marijuana, Cannibis sativa

COGwriter

Recreational marijuana is now legal in Washington, D.C., though some in Congress seem to have other views:

February 26, 2015

A law that legalizes marijuana use is now in effect in Washington, D.C.

The new law, which voters passed in a referendum last November, took effect shortly after midnight local time Thursday. The law allows adults 21 and over to privately possess and smoke a fifth of a kilogram of pot, and to grow small amounts of the plant. Buying, selling and smoking in public still would be against the law.

The U.S. capital city joins Alaska, Colorado and the state of Washington in legalizing recreational marijuana. But unlike the three other states, Washington, D.C. is not completely autonomous, as the U.S. Congress has final authority over the city government.

Republican Congressman Jason Chaffetz, who chairs House Oversight Committee, warned D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser that she and other city officials could go to jail for implementing the law.

But Bowser ignored Chaffetz’s threat Wednesday when she said the measure would take effect as planned. “Bullying the District of Columbia is not what his [Chaffetz] constituents expect, nor do ours,” she told reporters. “We do disagree on a matter of law. There are reasonable ways to resolve this without us threatening him or he us.”

A spending bill passed in December by the House did not include funds for the city to implement the marijuana law.

City officials contend voters passed the law a month before Congress approved the spending bill.

Legal experts from both the city and Congress say it is highly unlikely the mayor or anyone else would be jailed over the new law. But there are other punitive measures Congress could take against the city. http://www.voanews.com/content/recreational-marijuana-use-now-legal-in-washington-dc/2659846.html

While US Congress does have financial and other influence, overall it appears that there is more and more acceptance of the use of marijuana in the USA. US President Barack Obama was a heavy user of marijuana according to reports that I have seen–and it was not legal anywhere in the USA when he reportedly was a heavy user.

Marijuana use is not good for the USA.  Those who believe it is good to get high are deceived.

Decades ago, the old Worldwide Church of God dealt with it in a booklet about marijuana:

Marijuana and Alcohol

Marijuana proponents always compare “their drug” with alcohol. What are the facts?
It’s true that “social drinkers” have a significantly higher death rate than non-drinkers from heart attacks, circulatory diseases, cancer, gastrointestinal problems, homicides, suicides, and motor-vehicle and other accidents. Marijuana, on the other hand, has not been definitely linked to any organic disease, and has been responsible for only just a small fraction of the accidental deaths which alcohol has caused.
But as Dr. Louis J. West, chairman of the department of psychiatry at UCLA, told a conference on marijuana: “Just because alcohol [misused] is bad doesn’t mean that marijuana is good.” That would be fal1fty logic. Like attempting to prove that the Vietnamese war is good by showing that fewer Americans were killed in it than were killed in motor-vehicle accidents in the same year.
Let’s get to the crux of the marijuana-alcohol controversy: What pro-marijuana propaganda does is to compare the effects of a large amount of alcohol with a very small amount of marijuana. But this is a contrived comparison — a rigged contest.
Of course “too much” alcohol is grossly debilitating. But “a _ little” alcohol, especially natural wine, is quite beneficial. It relaxes the body and aids in the digestion of food by stimulating the stomach’s digestive juices. It also breaks down into natural compounds and leaves the system. Marijuana lodges toxically in the liver.
And there’s the difference: while “a little” alcohol is good, “a little marijuana-”just once”-can be very bad. It may not cause as many accidents as excessive alcohol, but it can permanently harm the body and mind.
Furthermore, very few habitual marijuana users have the self-control to limit themselves to “very little” of the drug. Consequently, many of the scientific studies showing hardly any adverse effect of “a little” marijuana are just not relevant to the actual conditions which exist. (New Facts About Marijuana. Ambassador College Press, 1970)

Although most realize that heavy marijuana use causes brain problems, a study that came out last year also found that casual use messes with the brain:

For the first time, researchers at Northwestern University have analyzed the relationship between casual use of marijuana and brain changes – and found that young adults who used cannabis just once or twice a week showed significant abnormalities in two important brain structures…

“There were abnormalities in their working memory, which is fundamental to everything you do,” Breiter, a professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, told FoxNews.com. “When you make judgments or decisions, plan things, do mathematics – anything you do always involves working memory. It’s one of the core fundamental aspects of our brains that we use every day. So given those findings, we decided we need to look at casual, recreational use.”

For their most recent study, Breiter and his team analyzed a very small sample of patients between the ages of 18 and 25: 20 marijuana users and 20 well-matched control subjects. The marijuana users had a wide range of usage routines, with some using the drug just once or twice a week and others using it every single day.

Utilizing magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), the researchers analyzed the participants’ brains, focusing on the nucleus accumbens (NAC) and the amygdala – two key brain regions responsible for processing emotions, making decisions and motivation. They looked at these brain structures in three different ways, measuring their density, volume and shape.

According to Breiter, all three were abnormal in the casual marijuana users.

“For the NAC, all three measures were abnormal, and they were abnormal in a dose-dependent way, meaning the changes were greater with the amount of marijuana used,” Breiter said. “The amygdala had abnormalities for shape and density, and only volume correlated with use. But if you looked at all three types of measures, it showed the relationships between them were quite abnormal in the marijuana users, compared to the normal controls.”

Because these brain regions are central for motivation, the findings from Northwestern help support the well-known theory that marijuana use leads to a condition called amotivation. Also called amotivational syndrome, this psychological condition causes people to become less oriented towards their goals and purposes in life, as well as seem less focused in general. (Grush L. Casual marijuana use linked with brain abnormalities, study finds. Fox News, April 15, 2014. http://www.foxnews.com/health/2014/04/15/casual-marijuana-use-linked-with-brain-abnormalities-study-finds/)

The facts about marijuana are not good.

The Bible also warns against intoxication (for various scriptures, see the article Marijuana: Should a Christian Get High?) and marijuana is intoxicating.

The USA needs repentance, not marijuana, to deal with its problems.

Getting high on marijuana is not good for Christians nor any nation. But its use is getting increasingly accepted. even though it is known to be harmful and addictive. This legalization movement is not good for the USA as it seems that it will encourage more to get high on marijuana more often.

Some items of possibly related interest include:

Marijuana: Should a Christian Get High? There is increasing acceptance of the use of marijuana. How should Christians view this? Here is a related video titled How Should a Christian View Marijuana?
Should Christians Smoke? Is smoking a sin? What does the Bible teach? What have COG leaders written? Can smokers change? What about marijuana?
Just What Do You Mean — Repentance? Do you know what repentance is? Have you truly repented? Repented of what? Herbert W. Armstrong wrote this as a booklet on this important subject.
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.
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?
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.
Overcoming Sin What is sin? How are Christians suppose to overcome it? Here is also a link to a video titled How to Overcome Sin.
How to Prevent Sin This is an article by Herbert W. Armstrong.
Just What Do You Mean Conversion? Many think that they are converted Christians. But are they? Would you like to know more about conversion. Herbert W. Armstrong wrote this as a booklet on this important subject.
Anglo – America in Prophecy & the Lost Tribes of Israel Are the Americans, Canadians, English, Scottish, Welsh, Australians, Anglo-Saxon (non-Dutch) Southern Africans, and New Zealanders descendants of Joseph? Where are the lost ten-tribes of Israel? Who are the lost tribes of Israel? What will happen to Jerusalem and the Jews in Israel? Will God punish the U.S.A., Canada, United Kingdom, and other Anglo-Saxon nations? Why might God allow them to be punished first? Here is a link to the Spanish version of this article: Anglo-América & las Tribus Perdidas de Israel. Information is also in the YouTube sermons titled Where are the Ten Lost Tribes? Why does it matter? and British are the Covenant People. A short YouTube of prophetic interest may be Barack Obama and the State of the Apocalypse.
Will the Anglo-Saxon Nations be Divided and Have People Taken as Slaves? Will the lands of the United States, United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand be divided? What about Jerusalem? What does Bible prophecy teach? Are there non-biblical prophecies that support this idea? Who will divide those lands? Who will end up with the lands and the people? Here is a link to a video titled Will the USA and other Anglo-nations be Divided and Their People Made Slaves? Here is a related item in the Spanish language ¿Serán divididas las naciones anglosajonas?
Barack Obama, Prophecy, and the Destruction of the United States-Second Edition for Second Obama Term This is a 160 page book for people truly interested in prophecies related to Barack Obama and the United States, including learning about many that have already been fulfilled (which the book documents in detail) and those that will be fulfilled in the future. It also has a chapter about a Republican choice. This book is available to order at www.barackobamaprophecy.com. The physical book can also be purchased at Amazon from the following link: Barack Obama, Prophecy, and the Destruction of the United States: Is Barack Obama Fulfilling Biblical, Islamic Catholic, Kenyan, and other America-Related Prophecies? What About Republican Leaders? Second Edition for Second Obama Term.
Barack Obama, Prophecy, and the Destruction of the United States-Second Term-Amazon Kindle edition. This electronic version is available for only US$2.99. And you do not need an actual Kindle device to read it. Why? Amazon will allow you to download it to almost any device: Please click HERE to download one of Amazon s Free Reader Apps. After you go to for your free Kindle reader and then go to Barack Obama, Prophecy, and the Destruction of the United States-Second Term-Amazon Kindle edition.

Preparing for Passover 2015

Thursday, February 26th, 2015


A Shmura Matzo (Unleavened Bread is Used for Passover)

COGwriter

The Christian Passover for 2015 is Thursday evening, April 2nd, after sunset which is when the 14th of Nisan begins.

The Apostle Paul wrote:

23 For I received from the Lord that which I also delivered to you: that the Lord Jesus on the same night in which He was betrayed took bread; 24 and when He had given thanks, He broke it and said, “Take, eat; this is My body which is broken for you; do this in remembrance of Me.” 25 In the same manner He also took the cup after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in My blood. This do, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of Me.”

26 For as often as you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death till He comes.

27 Therefore whoever eats this bread or drinks this cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord. 28 But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of the bread and drink of the cup. 29 For he who eats and drinks in an unworthy manner eats and drinks judgment to himself, not discerning the Lord’s body. 30 For this reason many are weak and sick among you, and many sleep. 31 For if we would judge ourselves, we would not be judged. 32 But when we are judged, we are chastened by the Lord, that we may not be condemned with the world. (1 Corinthians 11:23-32)

Notice that the Apostle Paul is basically teaching that examining oneself before taking Passover is required. He also is teaching that if you will properly judge yourself you would not be subject to certain other judgments, and likely would be healthier.

Of course, most who profess Christ tend to think that they are just fine–but this is a danger as Jesus told certain Christians:

17 Because you say, ‘I am rich, have become wealthy, and have need of nothing’ — and do not know that you are wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked — 18 I counsel you to buy from Me gold refined in the fire, that you may be rich; and white garments, that you may be clothed, that the shame of your nakedness may not be revealed; and anoint your eyes with eye salve, that you may see. 19 As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten. Therefore be zealous and repent. (Revelation 3:17-19)

While the above warning has had application throughout history, it is intended specifically as a warning to end time Christians, the bulk of which are unknowingly Laodicean. And those that do not believe that they need to change are in real danger of being Laodicean. Those who compromise, which most in the COGs do, are Laodicean. Is not know the time to consider this?

As far as human nature and the need for self-examination goes, here are some excerpts from an article that Al Portune wrote when he was part of the old WCG:

In JUST a short while YOU will be sitting down with a very select few people on this earth to partake of the PASSOVER. The Passover is a memorial of the death of Jesus Christ, the Savior of the world. Partaking of the symbols of His broken body and shed blood means that YOU hsve been selected to know and understand God‘s purpose. Being chosen as one of the ELECT to know God‘s truth carries sobering responsibilities. We cannot approach this event lightly.

Prelude To the Holy Days

The Passover is the first event beginning again God’s annual season of Holy Days which reveal His plan of salvation for the whole world. That plan, hidden from the world in general, reveals why YOU cannot take this event lightly…

Self-examination…

This coming Passover is a vital time, whether you have taken the Passover many times or if this is your FIRST time. What does it mean to discern the Lord’s body? How can we eat and drink unworthily?…

God wants us to isolate a very basic and elementary perspective each year at the Passover. He wants us to focus on that elementary concept as we begin again to relive His plan of salvation for mankind. That elementary concept IS salvation. That’s what His plan is all about, whether it relates to US or the world.

Therefore, brethren, the Passover is a time for us to once again get down to the elementary precepts of our OWN salvation – our OWN relationship to God and His Work It is a time to examine OURSELVES. A time to look at YOU.

We can get so absorbed in our work or in the “deeper things,” the seemingly “important” things, that we can forget WE have to get and keep OURSELVES right with God. That’s what the Passover is all about.

There is never a time we can allow ourselves to get so busy or so important in our own eyes that we no longer need to get deadly serious about the elementary concepts of salvation that we so intimately associated with the Passover.

The Elementary Principles

No matter how long we have been in God’s Church or how spiritual we have become, we are still human beings with human nature. Not one of us will ever come to a place in this life when we can afford to forget what we are. Just before the Passover we should take another look – a long, good look !

What is man like?

“The heart [of man] is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?” (Jer. 17:9.)

“The carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be” (Rom. 8:7).

Yes, this is the kind of nature all human beings have! And this is the time of year to especially remember that fact. It is also a time to rehearse and reaffirm what you have done with the knowledge that you have that kind of nature.

The truth of the matter is, human nature is alien to God and to His ways. Man’s heart is wickedly inclined. He is deceitful, totally opposed to the ways of God. Most men have never seen themselves this way. Most men do not have the slightest awareness they have this kind of nature – but it’s true. Satan, in hiding this truth from mankind, has done his work well!…

When God saw this genuine, heart- felt attitude, He put His Holy Spirit within you and begot you as His own child.

But that isn’t the end of the story!

Not the End…

God wants us to comprehend the REAL DEPTH OF THE EVIL, WICKEDNESS AND DECEITFULNESS that is in us. God is allowing us to live on WITH our fleshly natures and in an alien environment to teach us how really and profoundly EVIL we have been – and how often we still fall short.

We know that we have crucified the old man to the intent that. the body of sin (our very nature) might be destroyed (Rom. 6:6). We know that once we are resurrected or changed at Jesus’ return, we will be freed from this kind of nature (verse 7). But, until that time comes, we must reckon our- selves to be dead indeed unto sin, and living the righteous life (verse 11). The struggle then begins to “let not sin therefore reign in your MORTAL body, that you should obey it in the lusts thereof” (verse 12).

Ready for Passover?

As we start the Holy Days again, it should be with a renewed eagerness. It should be with a more fervent desire to take those precious symbols because we know far more deeply their meaning to us and to the world…

Be READY to take the Passover!

(Portune A. Are you ready to take the Passover< Good News, Jan-April 1971, pp. 8-11)

And that is part of why we need to examine ourselves. For more information, you may wish to watch the video Preparing for Passover.

The Apostle Paul also wrote that Christians were to glory in their compromising tolerance and were to keep Passover and the Days of Unleavened Bread:

6 Your glorying is not good. Do you not know that a little leaven leavens the whole lump? 7 Therefore purge out the old leaven, that you may be a new lump, since you truly are unleavened. For indeed Christ, our Passover, was sacrificed for us. 8 Therefore let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, nor with the leaven of malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth. (1 Corinthians 5:6-8)

The Christian Passover for 2015 is Thursday evening, April 2nd after sunset which is when the 14th of Nisan begins. The time to prepare for it is now.

Several items of related interest may include:

Preparing for Passover The Apostle Paul taught that Christians should examine themselves prior to taking Passover. This YouTube video sermon gives suggestions on how to prepare.
How often should we partake of THE LORD’S SUPPER? Herbert Armstrong answers that question.
Keeping Passover and the Days of Unleavened Bread How should Christians keep Passover, especially if they are by themselves. Why does the Church of God not require lambs for Passover? How does one keep the Days of Unleavened Bread? For a step-by-step video for Christians to keep it, check out CCOG Passover Service.
Passover and the Early Church Did the early Christians observe Passover? What did Jesus and Paul teach? Why did Jesus die for our sins? There is also a detailed YouTube video available titled History of the Christian Passover.
Hebrew Calendar and “Postponements” This writing helps explain why the use the of the Hebrew calendar and answers such questions as “Did Jesus Observe the Postponements?”
The Night to Be Observed What is the night to be much observed? When is it? Why do Jews keep Passover twice and emphasize the wrong date? Here is a link to a YouTube video titled The Night to Be Observed.
Melito’s Homily on the Passover This is one of the earliest Christian writings about the Passover. This also includes what Apollinaris wrote on the Passover as well.
Should Christians Keep the Days of Unleavened Bread?
Do they have any use or meaning now? This article supplies some biblical answers.
Is There “An Annual Worship Calendar” In the Bible?
This paper provides a biblical and historical critique of several articles, including one by WCG which states that this should be a local decision. What do the Holy Days mean?
Holy Day Calendar This is a listing of the biblical holy days through 2024, with their Roman calendar dates. They are really hard to observe if you do not know when they occur :) In the Spanish/Español/Castellano language: Calendario de los Días Santos. In Mandarin Chinese: 何日是神的圣日? 这里是一份神的圣日日历从2013年至2024年。.

The Gospel of the Kingdom of God

Wednesday, February 25th, 2015


When the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the holy angels with Him, then He will sit on the throne of His glory. All the nations will be gathered before Him, and He will separate them one from another, as a shepherd divides his sheep from the goats. And He will set the sheep on His right hand, but the goats on the left. Then the King will say to those on His right hand, ‘Come, you blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world’ (Matthew 25:31-34).

COGwriter

Do you know that the first and last things that Jesus apparently preached about concerned the gospel of the kingdom of God? Do you recall that the end cannot come until the kingdom of God is preached to the world as a witness? Do you know that the kingdom of God was the emphasis of the apostles and those that followed them?

The actual kingdom of God does not get emphasized by many who profess Christ these days, but there is a group that makes it its top priority.

Is the kingdom of God the person of Jesus? Is the kingdom of God Jesus living His life in us now? Is the kingdom of God some type of future actual kingdom?

What is a kingdom? Just what is the kingdom of God? What does the Bible teach? What did the early Christian church teach?

This post will attempt to provide some answers to these questions.

Before getting into the specific scriptures and historical comments, it is important to understand that a kingdom requires a king, territory, subjects, and laws. Those are the components of a kingdom and also components of the kingdom of God.

Daniel Taught About the Kingdom

The prophet Daniel was told to record this about the kingdom of God:

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

But the saints of the Most High shall receive the kingdom, and possess the kingdom forever, even forever and ever.’ (Daniel 7:18).

From Daniel, we learn that the kingdom of God will destroy human kingdoms and last forever. And that the saints will have their part in receiving it.

Isaiah Taught About the Kingdom

God inspired Isaiah to write the following about the Leader of the kingdom this way:

6 For unto us a Child is born, Unto us a Son is given; And the government will be upon His shoulder. And His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. 7 Of the increase of His government and peace There will be no end, Upon the throne of David and over His kingdom, To order it and establish it with judgment and justice From that time forward, even forever. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform this. (Isaiah 9:6-7)

Notice that Isaiah said that Jesus would come and establish a kingdom with a government. While many who profess Christ quote this passage, especially in December each year, they tend to overlook that it is prophesying more than the fact that Jesus would be born. The Bible is clear that the kingdom of God has a government, with laws, over subjects, and Jesus will be over it. Isaiah, Daniel, and others prophesied it.

Roman Catholics Teach The Kingdom is Important, But…

Pope Pius XI in his encyclical Quas Primas taught:

…the Catholic Church…is the kingdom of Christ on earth. (Cited in Kramer P. The Devil’s Final Battle. Good Counsel Publications, 2002, p. 73).

But that is not consistent with the teaching of the Bible. Instead, the Church of Rome now seems to teach so strongly against the millennial kingdom that it is about the only “doctrine of Antichrist” they list in the official Catechism of the Catholic Church:

676 The Antichrist’s deception already begins to take shape in the world every time the claim is made to realize within history that messianic hope which can only be realized beyond history through the eschatological judgment. The Church has rejected even modified forms of this falsification of the kingdom to come under the name of millenarianism, especially the “intrinsically perverse” political form of a secular messianism. (Catechism of the Catholic Church. Imprimatur Potest +Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger. Doubleday, NY 1995, p. 194).

Thus, those associated with the Church of Rome will have major problems with the proclaiming of the Gospel of the Kingdom of God in the end. And the end-time version of it will take terrible steps against it.

Jesus Taught the Gospel of the Kingdom

In the New Testament, the English word “kingdom” for this particular kingdom is mentioned approximately 149 times in the NKJV and 151 in the Douay Rheims Bible.

When Jesus began His public ministry, He began by preaching about the gospel of the kingdom of God. Here is what Mark reported:

Now after John was put in prison, Jesus came to Galilee, preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God, and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the gospel” (Mark 1:14-15, NKJV throughout unless otherwise indicated).

Here is the first public teaching that Matthew records,

And Jesus went about all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the gospel of the kingdom (Matthew 4:23).

Matthew also records:

Then Jesus went about all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the gospel of the kingdom (Matt 9:35).

Luke, like Isaiah, shows that Jesus will reign over the kingdom forever:

And He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of His kingdom there will be no end (Luke 1:33).

Luke records that the purpose that Jesus was sent was to preach the kingdom of God. Notice what Jesus taught:

He said to them, “I must preach the kingdom of God to the other cities also, because for this purpose I have been sent” (Luke 4:43).

Have you ever heard that preached? Did you ever realize that Jesus’ purpose for being sent was to preach the kingdom of God?

Luke also records that Jesus did go and preach the kingdom of God:

And the apostles, when they had returned, told Him all that they had done. Then He took them and went aside privately into a deserted place belonging to the city called Bethsaida. But when the multitudes knew it, they followed Him; and He received them and spoke to them about the kingdom of God (Luke 9:10-11).

The kingdom of God was not only the emphasis of Jesus’ ministry, He wanted it to be the top priority for those who would follow Him as He taught:

But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness (Matthew 6:33).

But seek the kingdom of God, and all these things shall be added to you. Do not fear, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom (Luke 12:31-32).

Notice that the kingdom will be given to a little flock. Hence the kingdom cannot be a massive church that now exists.

Jesus taught that His followers would pray for the kingdom to come, hence they do not already possess it:

Our Father in heaven, Hallowed be Your name. Your kingdom come. Your will be done (Matthew 6:9-10).

During His ministry, He sent the disciples out to preach the kingdom of God:

Then He called His twelve disciples together and gave them power and authority over all demons, and to cure diseases. He sent them to preach the kingdom of God (Luke 9:1-2).

Jesus taught that His presence alone was not the kingdom, because it was not there yet:

But if I cast out demons by the Spirit of God, surely the kingdom of God has come upon you (Matthew 12:28).

The kingdom is in the future, it is not here now as these verses from Mark show:

And if your eye causes you to sin, pluck it out. It is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye, rather than having two eyes, to be cast (Mark 9:47).

Jesus looked around and said to His disciples, “How hard it is for those who have riches to enter the kingdom of God!” And the disciples were astonished at His words. But Jesus answered again and said to them, “Children, how hard it is for those who trust in riches to enter the kingdom of God! It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God” (Mark 10:23-25).

Assuredly, I say to you, I will no longer drink of the fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new in the kingdom of God” (Mark 14:25).

Joseph of Arimathea, a prominent council member, who was himself waiting for the kingdom of God, coming and taking courage (Mark 15:43).

Jesus taught that the kingdom is not now part of this present world:

Jesus answered, “My kingdom is not of this world. If My kingdom were of this world, My servants would fight, so that I should not be delivered to the Jews; but now My kingdom is not from here” (John 18:36).

Jesus taught that the kingdom will come after He comes again and that He will be its King:

“When the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the holy angels with Him, then He will sit on the throne of His glory. All the nations will be gathered before Him, and He will separate them one from another, as a shepherd divides his sheep from the goats. And He will set the sheep on His right hand, but the goats on the left. Then the King will say to those on His right hand, ‘Come, you blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world (Matthew 25:31-34).

Jesus provided some explanations of what the kingdom of God is like:

And He said, “The kingdom of God is as if a man should scatter seed on the ground, and should sleep by night and rise by day, and the seed should sprout and grow, he himself does not know how. For the earth yields crops by itself: first the blade, then the head, after that the full grain in the head. But when the grain ripens, immediately he puts in the sickle, because the harvest has come” (Mark 4:26-29).

Then He said, “What is the kingdom of God like? And to what shall I compare it? It is like a mustard seed, which a man took and put in his garden; and it grew and became a large tree, and the birds of the air nested in its branches.” And again He said, “To what shall I liken the kingdom of God? It is like leaven, which a woman took and hid in three measures of meal till it was all leavened” (Luke 13:18-21).

These parables suggests that, at first, the kingdom of God is quite small, but will become large.

Luke also recorded:

They will come from the east and the west, from the north and the south, and sit down in the kingdom of God (Luke 13:29).

Thus, the kingdom is something that one can sit down in. And that is true of all kingdoms. They have a king, they cover a geographic area, they have rules, and they have subjects.

Also, people will actually eat in the kingdom:

“Blessed is he who shall eat bread in the kingdom of God!” (Luke 14:15).

Since people will (in the future) eat in the kingdom, it is not just something set aside in their hearts now (in spite of mistranslations of Luke 17:21 which suggest otherwise).

The disciples knew that the kingdom was not within them, and that it had to appear as the following shows:

Now as they heard these things, He spoke another parable, because He was near Jerusalem and because they thought the kingdom of God would appear immediately (Luke 19:11).

Jesus confirmed this, as Luke records:

Then He spoke to them a parable: “Look at the fig tree, and all the trees. When they are already budding, you see and know for yourselves that summer is now near. So you also, when you see these things happening, know that the kingdom of God is near (Luke 21:29-31).

Jesus clearly showed that the kingdom of God was something that would happen in the future when He taught:

“With fervent desire I have desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer; for I say to you, I will no longer eat of it until it is fulfilled in the kingdom of God.” Then He took the cup, and gave thanks, and said, “Take this and divide it among yourselves; for I say to you, I will not drink of the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes” (Luke 22:15-18).

The kingdom did not come as soon as Jesus was crucified either as both Mark and Luke show us:

Joseph of Arimathea, a prominent council member, who was himself waiting for the kingdom of God, coming and taking courage (Mark 15:43).

He was from Arimathea, a city of the Jews, who himself was also waiting for the kingdom of God (Luke 23:51).

After the resurrection, one will be born again in the kingdom of God as John records:

Jesus answered and said to him, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” Nicodemus said to Him, “How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born?” Jesus answered, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God (John 3:3-5).

(More information on this subject can be found in the article Born Again: A Question of Semantics?)

After Jesus was resurrected, He again taught about the kingdom of God:

He also presented Himself alive after His suffering by many infallible proofs, being seen by them during forty days and speaking of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God (Acts 1:3).

Thus, apparently the first and and several of the last sermons that Jesus gave were about the kingdom of God.

Jesus also had the Apostle John write about the millennial kingdom that would be on the earth. Notice what He had John write:

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 (Revelation 20:4).

Why, if the kingdom of God is so important, haven’t most of you heard much about it? Because Jesus did not intend that most people would understand it in this age. He called it a mystery:

And He said to them, “To you it has been given to know the mystery of the kingdom of God; but to those who are outside, all things come in parables (Mark 4:11).

Notice that Jesus said that the end will come (soon) AFTER the gospel of the kingdom is preached to all the world as a WITNESS:

And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in all the world as a witness to all the nations, and then the end will come (Matthew 24:14).

Thus, the true Christian church should be proclaiming that gospel now. This should be its top priority for the Church (a related article of interest may be Should the Church Still Try to Place its Top Priority on Proclaiming the Gospel or Did Herbert Armstrong Change that Priority for the Work?). And this is what the Continuing Church of God strives to do.

Much more information on this subject is covered in the article The Gospel of the Kingdom of God was the Emphasis of Jesus and the Early Church, as well as the YouTube video titled The Gospel of the Kingdom.

Some items possibly related interest may include:

Should the Church Still Try to Place its Top Priority on Proclaiming the Gospel or Did Herbert W. Armstrong Change that Priority for the Work? Some say the Church should mainly feed the flock now as that is what Herbert W. Armstrong reportedly said. Is that what he said? Is that what the Bible says? What did Paul and Herbert W. Armstrong expect from lower level leaders?
The Gospel of the Kingdom of God was the Emphasis of Jesus and the Early Church Did you know that? Do you even know what the gospel of the kingdom is all about? You could also watch a YouTube video on it by clicking the following: The Gospel of the Kingdom.
Just What Do You Mean the Kingdom of God? A booklet that was written by Herbert Armstrong answers questions about the Kingdom.
Parable of the Mustard Seed Jesus told many parables. Why? What might this one mean?
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 c. 31 A.D. to 2014. 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.
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?

Papias held COG views that oppose that Church of Rome

Saturday, February 21st, 2015


Hierapolis, Turkey (Photo by Joyce Thiel)

COGwriter

The Catholics of Rome consider February 22nd as the day to honor Papius of Hierapolis. This is somewhat odd in that Papius held Church of God, not Church of Rome views. One of which, the current Catechism of the Catholic Church considers to be a doctrine of antichrist.

The Catholic Encyclopedia notes that Papias was,

Bishop of Hierapolis (close to Laodicea and Colossae in the valley of the Lycus in Phrygia) and Apostolic Father, called by St. Irenaeus “a hearer of John, and companion of Polycarp, a man of old time”. He wrote a work in five books, logion kyriakon exegesis, of which all but some fragments is lost…Of Papias’s life nothing is known. If Polycarp was born in 69, his “comrade” may have been born a few years earlier…The work of Papias was evidently written in his old age, say between the years 115 and 140 “…His knowledge of St. John’s Gospel is proved not merely by his mention of aloes, but by a citation of John 14:2, which occurs in the curious prophecy of a miraculous vintage in the millennium which he attributed to Our Lord…

Eusebius says that Papias frequently cited traditions of John…Eusebius says Papias “published a story of a woman accused of many sins before the Lord, which is contained in the Gospel according to the Hebrews”. This appears to refer to the pericope adulterae (John 8). The cause of the loss of this precious work of an Apostolic Father was the chiliastic view which he taught, like St. Justin and St. Irenæus. (Chapman J. Transcribed by Marcia L. Bellafiore. St. Papias. The Catholic Encyclopedia, Volume XI. Copyright © 1911 by Robert Appleton Company. Online Edition Copyright © 2003 by K. Knight. Nihil Obstat, February 1, 1911. Remy Lafort, S.T.D., Censor. Imprimatur. +John Cardinal Farley, Archbishop of New York).

Since John and Polycarp were quartodecimans (Eusebius. Church History. Book V, Chapter 24), apparently so was Papias (since the churches in Asia Minor had not adopted a Sunday Passover at this time, Ibid). Yet, being a Quartodeciman was seriously denounced by an edict of Theodosius in the late fourth century.

Papias and John

The Catholic Encyclopedia notes this about Papias the the Apostle John,

The author of the Second and Third Epistles of John designates himself in the superscription of each by the name (ho presbyteros), “the ancient”, “the old”. Papias, Bishop of Hierapolis, also uses the same name to designate the “Presbyter John” as in addition to Aristion, his particular authority, directly after he has named the presbyters Andrew, Peter, Philip, Thomas, James, John, and Matthew (in Eusebius, “Hist. eccl.”, III, xxxix, 4)…St. Irenaeus also positively designates the Apostle and Evangelist John as the teacher of Papias, and neither he nor any other writer before Eusebius had any idea of a second John in Asia (Adv. haer., V, xxxiii, 4). In what Papias himself says the connection plainly shows that in this passage by the word presbyters only Apostles can be understood. If John is mentioned twice the explanation lies in the peculiar relationship in which Papias stood to this, his most eminent teacher. By inquiring of others he had learned some things indirectly from John, just as he had from the other Apostles referred to. In addition he had received information concerning the teachings and acts of Jesus directly, without the intervention of others, from the still living “Presbyter John”, as he also had from Aristion. Thus the teaching of Papias casts absolutely no doubt upon what the New-Testament writings presuppose and expressly mention concerning the residence of the Evangelist John in Asia (Fonck L. Transcribed by Michael Little. St. John the Evangelist. The Catholic Encyclopedia, Volume VIII Copyright © 1910 by Robert Appleton Company Online Edition Copyright © 2003 by K. Knight Nihil Obstat, October 1, 1910. Remy Lafort, S.T.D., Censor Imprimatur. +John Cardinal Farley, Archbishop of New York).

Thus, it appears that Papias directly knew the Apostle John. The Apostle John wrote the Book of Revelation which, among other things, described a thousand year reign of Christ on the earth (Revelation 20:4).

Eusebius recorded the following about Papias:

1. There are extant five books of Papias, which bear the title Expositions of Oracles of the Lord. Irenæus makes mention of these as the only works written by him, in the following words: “These things are attested by Papias, an ancient man who was a hearer of John and a companion of Polycarp, in his fourth book. For five books have been written by him.” These are the words of Irenæus.
2. But Papias himself in the preface to his discourses by no means declares that he was himself a hearer and eye-witness of the holy apostles, but he shows by the words which he uses that he received the doctrines of the faith from those who were their friends.
3. He says: But I shall not hesitate also to put down for you along with my interpretations whatsoever things I have at any time learned carefully from the elders and carefully remembered, guaranteeing their truth. For I did not, like the multitude, take pleasure in those that speak much, but in those that teach the truth; not in those that relate strange commandments, but in those that deliver the commandments given by the Lord to faith, and springing from the truth itself.
4. If, then, any one came, who had been a follower of the elders, I questioned him in regard to the words of the elders— what Andrew or what Peter said, or what was said by Philip, or by Thomas, or by James, or by John, or by Matthew, or by any other of the disciples of the Lord, and what things Aristion and the presbyter John, the disciples of the Lord, say. For I did not think that what was to be gotten from the books would profit me as much as what came from the living and abiding voice.
5. It is worth while observing here that the name John is twice enumerated by him. The first one he mentions in connection with Peter and James and Matthew and the rest of the apostles, clearly meaning the evangelist; but the other John he mentions after an interval, and places him among others outside of the number of the apostles, putting Aristion before him, and he distinctly calls him a presbyter.
6. This shows that the statement of those is true, who say that there were two persons in Asia that bore the same name, and that there were two tombs in Ephesus, each of which, even to the present day, is called John’s. It is important to notice this. For it is probable that it was the second, if one is not willing to admit that it was the first that saw the Revelation, which is ascribed by name to John.
7. And Papias, of whom we are now speaking, confesses that he received the words of the apostles from those that followed them, but says that he was himself a hearer of Aristion and the presbyter John. At least he mentions them frequently by name, and gives their traditions in his writings. These things, we hope, have not been uselessly adduced by us.
8. But it is fitting to subjoin to the words of Papias which have been quoted, other passages from his works in which he relates some other wonderful events which he claims to have received from tradition.
9. That Philip the apostle dwelt at Hierapolis with his daughters has been already stated. But it must be noted here that Papias, their contemporary, says that he heard a wonderful tale from the daughters of Philip. For he relates that in his time one rose from the dead. And he tells another wonderful story of Justus, surnamed Barsabbas: that he drank a deadly poison, and yet, by the grace of the Lord, suffered no harm.
10. The Book of Acts records that the holy apostles after the ascension of the Saviour, put forward this Justus, together with Matthias, and prayed that one might be chosen in place of the traitor Judas, to fill up their number. The account is as follows: “And they put forward two, Joseph, called Barsabbas, who was surnamed Justus, and Matthias; and they prayed and said.” Acts 1:23 11. The same writer gives also other accounts which he says came to him through unwritten tradition, certain strange parables and teachings of the Saviour, and some other more mythical things.
12. To these belong his statement that there will be a period of some 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. I suppose he got these ideas through a misunderstanding of the apostolic accounts, not perceiving that the things said by them were spoken mystically in figures.
13. For he appears to have been of very limited understanding, as one can see from his discourses. But it was due to him that so many of the Church Fathers after him adopted a like opinion, urging in their own support the antiquity of the man; as for instance Irenæus and any one else that may have proclaimed similar views.
14. Papias gives also in his own work other accounts of the words of the Lord on the authority of Aristion who was mentioned above, and traditions as handed down by the presbyter John; to which we refer those who are fond of learning. But now we must add to the words of his which we have already quoted the tradition which he gives in regard to Mark, the author of the Gospel.
15. “This also the presbyter said: Mark, having become the interpreter of Peter, wrote down accurately, though not in order, whatsoever he remembered of the things said or done by Christ. For he neither heard the Lord nor followed him, but afterward, as I said, he followed Peter, who adapted his teaching to the needs of his hearers, but with no intention of giving a connected account of the Lord’s discourses, so that Mark committed no error while he thus wrote some things as he remembered them. For he was careful of one thing, not to omit any of the things which he had heard, and not to state any of them falsely.” These things are related by Papias concerning Mark.
16. But concerning Matthew he writes as follows: “So then Matthew wrote the oracles in the Hebrew language, and every one interpreted them as he was able.” And the same writer uses testimonies from the first Epistle of John and from that of Peter likewise. And he relates another story of a woman, who was accused of many sins before the Lord, which is contained in the Gospel according to the Hebrews. These things we have thought it necessary to observe in addition to what has been already stated. (Eusebius. The History of the Church, Book 3, Chapter XXXIX; Digireads, pp. 68-69)

So, this “Catholic saint” taught the millennium–a doctrine that is now denounced by the Vatican as associated with Antichrist (see Did The Early Church Teach Millenarianism?).

Papias would have observed Passover on the 14th of Nisan instead of a Sunday. Neither Papias nor other early Christian leaders observed Lent nor Easter.

The Roman Catholic Church, in spite of the fact that it admits that many of its early saints taught the millennium, now strongly condemns this belief. Notice:

676 The Antichrist’s deception already begins to take shape in the world every time the claim is made to realize within history that messianic hope which can only be realized beyond history through the eschatological judgment. The Church has rejected even modified forms of this falsification of the kingdom to come under the name of millenarianism, especially the “intrinsically perverse” political form of a secular messianism. (Catechism of the Catholic Church. Imprimatur Potest +Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger. Doubleday, NY 1995, p. 194).

It should be noted that the millennial teaching appears to be the only doctrine associated with Antichrist that is condemned in the current official Catechism of the Catholic Church (which is the first new one in hundreds of years). The one that has the imprimatur of Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger who is now called Pope Emeritus and was Pope Benedict XVI.

Notice something else that Joseph Ratzinger wrote in a paper titled The Theology of History in St. Bonaventure prior to becoming pope:

“…both Chiliasm [the teaching of the Millennium] and Montanism were declared heretical and were excluded from the universal church; for they both denied this vision [the "Christ is the end of the ages" vision] and awaited still another period of more definitive salvation to follow after the age of Christ” (as cited in Birch, pp. 515-516; note the comments within [] were from the Catholic writer Birch).

This is an odd statement for several reasons. It was the leaders in Asia Minor who stood for the Millennium and were the first to oppose Montanism–whom the Roman Catholics originally tolerated (please see the article Location of the Early Church)–hence the belief in one is NOT necessarily related to the other.

The other reason this condemnation is odd, is that even though Origen was opposed to the millennium Origen also taught that there was definitive salvation after what then Cardinal Ratzinger calls “the age of Christ” (please see the article Hope of Salvation: How the Continuing Church of God Differs from Protestantism). Yet pontiff emeritus Benedict XVI has publicly praised Origin as a “true teacher” (for documentation, see What is the Appropriate Form of Biblical Interpretation?).

It appears to me that the millennial view is being so definitely condemned now, because we are getting so close to that time when the Church of Rome is expected to compromise more and the Pope has prepared his followers to do that. It seems like the final revised Roman Church intends to warn against following any (like the actual two witnesses) who will be teaching the original millennial doctrine. Of course, there still are Catholics who accept the biblical teaching on the millennium–but they are becoming more and more of a minority within their church.

Despite any Catholic observance in Papias’ honor, the reality is that based on what is actually known about Papias, he had views closer to the hurch of God, than the current Church of Rome.

Some items of possibly related interest may include the following:

Papias Papias died circa 135-145 and oversaw churches from Hierapolis. This article has many of his writings that are not in today’s post.
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?
Passover and the Early Church Did the early Christians observe Passover? What did Jesus and Paul teach? Why did Jesus die for our sins?
Persecutions by Church and State This article documents some that have occurred against those associated with the COGs and some prophesied to occur. Will those with the cross be the persecutors or the persecuted–this article has the shocking answer.
Some Similarities and Differences Between the Eastern Orthodox Church and the Continuing Church of God Both groups claim to be the original church, but both groups have differing ways to claim it. Both groups have some amazing similarities and some major differences. Do you know what they are?
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.
Tradition and Scripture: From the Bible and Church Writings Are traditions on equal par with scripture? Many believe that is what Peter, John, and Paul taught. But did they?
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 c. 31 A.D. to 2014. 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.
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?

Undecayed female body keeps many from being faithful

Wednesday, February 18th, 2015


Bernadette Soubirous (Rabanus Flavus)

COGwriter

Today, many in France will honor Bernadette Soubirous. She is famous for her what some refer to as “incorruptibility” (limited decay of the flesh after death) as well as claims about seeing visions of a “Lady” in Lourdes, France. On 18 February of 1858, she claimed that “vision” asked her to return to a particular grotto every day for a two weeks and Bernadette passed on various messages that she claimed to have received. Her shrine is a popular destination for certain Catholics.

Probably because her now waxed body has been so well preserved, her face in on the front cover of a famous Catholic book by J.C. Cruz titled The Incorruptibles (Nihil Obstat: HC Bezou, November 11, 1974. Imprimatur + PM Hannan, Archbishop of New Orleans, November 19, 194. TAN Books, 1977)–most other Catholic “incorruptibles” have not been as well preserved. Although on the internet it has been claimed “for each incorrupt body discovered, after research has been done to determine who the person was, it has always been determined that the person was an extremely devout Catholic,” that claim is in error. This type of “incorruptibility” has happened to others who were not Catholic, as well as Catholics who were not devout.

Concerning physical incorruptibility, the New Catholic Encyclopedia of 1967 stated, “Many cases could possibly have a natural explanation or be caused by diabolical power.” But many Catholics tend to overlook that fact.

My experience with talking to some suggests that one of the reasons that some affiliated with Rome will not see the truth about certain matters is because they rely on physical signs such as “incorruptibility” of various male and female bodies as proof that their church has God’s favor, hence they often believe that this validates their church’s positions overall.

Partially related to Lourdes, the former Roman Pontiff Benedict XVI once said:

…let us turn to her who is the Queen of all the Saints, the Virgin Mary, thinking of Lourdes, stricken by a grave overflowing of the Gave, which has also flooded the grotto of the apparitions of Our Lady. Today we would especially like to entrust missionaries to the maternal intercession of the Virgin Mary – priests and laity, who sow the good seed of the Gospel in every part of the world. We also pray for the Synod of Bishops, which, over the course of these weeks, is confronting the challenge of the new evangelization for the transmission of the Christian faith. http://www.zenit.org/article-35781?l=english

Of course, the Bible never refers to Jesus’ mother Mary as the ‘queen’ of anything–the only ‘queen of heaven’ (an expression that some also try to apply to Mary) that the Bible refers to is condemned (Jeremiah 7:18-20; 44:17-23). Also, the only ‘virgin’ ‘Lady of the Kingdoms’ (other terms sometimes improperly applied to Mary that the Bible tells of (Isaiah 47:1-5) is also condemned (Isaiah 47:5-15).

Here is some of what my book Fatima Shock! said about the “Immaculate Conception” and the Lourdes apparition:

In the 19th century, there was a female apparition in France, known as the Lady of Lourdes. One of the statements she reportedly stated in 1858 was, “I am the Immaculate Conception!”

Now this is an unusual and biblically contradictory idea as the Bible teaches that all have sinned (Roman 3:23) except Jesus (Hebrews 4:15), as He is the only one who had a biblically immaculate conception, but not the Marian kind.

For non-Catholics, let me explain that what became an extra-biblical Catholic doctrine was that Mary was conceived unlike all other humans and free of what many refer to as “original sin.” Specifically this “dogma” has been explained in Dr. Ludwig Ott’s 20th century book Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma as:

“Mary’s freedom of original sin was an unmerited gift of God, and an exception from the law that was vouchsafed to her only.”

His book also teaches:

The doctrine of the Immaculate Conception of Mary is not explicitly revealed in scripture… Neither the Greek nor the Latin Fathers explicitly (explicite) teach the Immaculate Conception of Mary.

So where did it come from?…Jumping forward to the 12th century, a British monk Eadmer began to promote the idea of an Immaculate Conception of Mary. When he did so, “St. Bernard of Clairvaux… (about 1140), warned the faithful that this was an unfounded innovation…”

So was the Catholic saint Bernard wrong in condemning Monk Eadmer’s heresy here? Of course not! Others, at least as late as the 17th century supported Bernard’s position on this. (Fatima Shock! pp. 85-86)

Eastern Signs and Faiths

While “Mary” is known throughout the Middle East and West, she is less known, though revered by some like a goddess, in Eastern religions:

Hindus, Buddhists, Muslims and other pilgrims regularly worship at famous Roman Catholic shrines to the Virgin Mary such as Lourdes in France and Fatima in Portugal…Many venerate her like one of their own goddesses…(Fatima Shock! p. 188)

There is a prophecy that indicates that certain end-time Marian supporters will eliminate Protestantism:

Saint Louis de Montfort (18th century): These great souls…singularly devouted to our Blessed Lady… shall fight, overthrow and crush the heretics with their heresies, the schismatics with their schisms…

Yet, some Protestant leaders have gotten more accepting of Marian aspects of faith:

Archbishop Williams…said…at Lourdes that when Mary appeared to St. Bernadette Soubirous in 1858 “she came at first as an anonymous figure, a beautiful lady, a mysterious thing, not yet identified as the Lord’s spotless mother…” he said. The Archbishop later was criticized by the England-based Protestant Truth Society, a group of Anglicans and non-conformists committed to upholding the ideals of the Protestant Reformation…Jeremy Brooks, the group’s director of ministry, said: “All true Protestants will be appalled that the Archbishop of Canterbury has visited Lourdes and preached there. “Lourdes represents everything about Roman Catholicism that the Protestant Reformation rejected, including apparitions, Mariolatry and the veneration of saints…The archbishop’s…sermon — which included a reference to Mary as ‘the mother of God’ — is a complete denial of Protestant orthodoxy.”

Protestants need to understand that by eliminating heresies, Catholic prophecies sometimes specifically mean the elimination of Protestantism. Mary was not called the “Mother of God” by early faithful Christians or those who kept their practices. (Fatima Shock! pp. 219-220)

Mary is not one to pray to or to entrust oneself to–including Catholics, Hindus, etc.

Jesus is. But even Pope Francis gets confused about this, and he has had a lot of interest in Marian apparitions.

Yet, there is a great tendency within the Church of Rome to rely on signs, apparitions, and wonders to support teachings that do not square with the Bible. All who profess Christ, including those who are COG, Catholic, Protestant, or anything else, should understand that Jesus is the center of the plan of salvation and that the Church of Rome intends to promote a further Marian reverence that will likely deceive nearly all (cf. Isaiah 47; Revelation 17-18–and this includes nearly all who profess Christ (cf. Matthew 24:24; 2 Thessalonians 2:9-12). And those who honor people such as Bernadette of Lourdes are unknowingly helping set this up.

Some items of related interest may include:

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 Orthodox view Mary? How might Mary view her adorers?
Pope Francis: Could this Marian Focused Pontiff be Fulfilling Prophecy? Pope Francis has taken many steps to turn people more towards his version of ‘Mary.’ Could this be consistent with biblical and Catholic prophecies? This article documents what has been happening. There is also a video version titled Pope Francis: Could this Marian Focused Pontiff be Fulfilling Prophecy?
Satan’s Plan Does Satan have a plan? What is it? Has it already been successful? Will it be successful in the future? Here are links to a two-part sermon series: What are Some of the Parts of Satan’s Plan? and Satan’s Plan is More Dramatic than Many Realize.
The ‘Lost Tribe’ of Reuben: France in Prophecy? What is the origin of this in France? What is prophesied to happen to them? A two-part sermon related to history and prophecy is available online: The ‘Lost Tribe’ of Reuben and France and Prophecy.
Origin of the Marian Dogmas: Where Do Catholic Scholars Say The Four Dogmas of Mary Came From?
Assumption of Mary Did Mary die? Was she taken to heaven on August 15th? What is known? What does the Bible show?
Fatima Shock! What the Vatican Does Not Want You to Know About Fatima, Dogmas of Mary, and Future Apparitions. Whether or not you believe anything happened at Fatima, if you live long enough, you will be affected by its ramifications (cf. Isaiah 47; Revelation 17). Fatima Shock! is a highly documented book by Bob Thiel for those interested in the real truth about Fatima and how future apparitions may affect the future. In addition to the print version, there is a Kindle version of Fatima Shock! which you can acquire in seconds.
Fatima Shock! YouTube Dr. Thiel highlights a few points of why no one would support Fatima, etc. as discussed in the documented book Fatima Shock!
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 c. 31 A.D. to 2014. 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.
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?

Lent, Protestants, and the Bible

Tuesday, February 17th, 2015

COGwriter

The Catholic Lenten season is almost here: 

When is Lent 2015?

Answer: Lent starts every year on Ash Wednesday and ends on Holy Saturday, the day before Easter Sunday. Ash Wednesday 2015 falls on February 18, 2015, and Holy Saturday 2015 falls on April 4, 2015. http://catholicism.about.com/od/2015calendar/f/When-Is-Lent-2015.htm

Over the past several years, I have noticed that some Protestants sometimes are embracing the Roman Catholic season of Lent.Here is a report from one who is appalled by this:

I’m truly saddened by the number of my friends on Facebook who are celebrating Ash Wednesday and Lenten this year. The common denominator of course is that they were all educated theologically at Dallas Theological Seminary.  I have other friends who did not attend DTS who are celebrating. I give them a pass. But the ones that did attend DTS, should repent of this heinous revelry immediately.

The point is that for some reason, students can come out of that seminary and think it’s perfectly fine to celebrate Ash Wednesday and Lenten. Do they not realize that we are Protestant? Do they not realize that this is a tradition of men and condemned in Scripture? Do they not realize that these holy days are not prescribed by God, but by fallen men? Do they not realize that their participation in Ash Wednesday and Lent strikes at the gospel itself?

Why does it matter?

Catholics believe that by inflicting pain during this time and denying themselves of certain items they love, they are earning themselves merit with God. This strikes at the core of the gospel because we cannot earn an ounce of righteousness through our works or deeds. This was at the heart of the Protestant Reformation.

We add nothing to our righteousness by participating in man-made holy days. We just profane the gospel instead by saying the righteousness of Christ, given to us at the moment of our salvation, is not enough. I hope you can see how absurd that is. Once again, please quit celebrating these man-made traditions … http://timothyjhammons.com/2014/03/05/protestants-dont-celebrate-ash-wednesday-or-fat-tuesday-we-are-protestant-for-a-reason/

Notice the following reports related to two Presbyterian churches who have kept it:

2012 season of Lent at The Presbyterian Church in Westfield

Suburban News – 5 March 2012

By Suburban News WESTFIELD — The Lent season kicked off on Wednesday, Feb. 22 with identical Ash Wednesday worship services (with the imposition of ashes) being offered at noon. and again at 8 p.m. This was a wonderful start for all to take this first step in their Lenten journey…On Palm Sunday, April 1, there will be two services…The communion service for Maundy Thursday, April 5, will begin at 7:30 p.m…Our Lenten journey comes to celebratory close with the resurrection of Christ on Easter Sunday, April 8.

Church News

6 February 2013…

Appomattox Court House Presbyterian As we enter into the season of Lent, we hope you will consider joining us for a Lenten Study…

Lent is a forty-day period of time that proceeds the Catholic holiday commonly called Easter. During this time, observers tend to give up something they like (such as a food, like meat or certain meals or a form of secular entertainment, like television) essentially as a form of “fasting” for the purposes of getting closer to God or for penance.

Specifically many:

…observe Lent by fasting, performing penance, giving alms, abstaining from amusements…(Ramm B. Lent. World Book Encyclopedia, 50th ed., Volume 12. Chicago, p. 175).

Here is how The Catholic Encyclopedia defines Lent:

The Teutonic word Lent, which we employ to denote the forty days’ fast preceding Easter, originally meant no more than the spring season (Thurston H. Transcribed by Anthony A. Killeen. A.M.D.G. Lent. The Catholic Encyclopedia, Volume IX. Published 1910. New York: Robert Appleton Company. Nihil Obstat, October 1, 1910. Remy Lafort, Censor. Imprimatur. +John M. Farley, Archbishop of New York).

In other words, Lent means the Spring season (it may be of interest to note that Easter is a Teutonic word as well).

But since Lent means Spring and Lent now begins and is primarily in the Winter, where did it really come from?

The World Book Encyclopedia states:

Lent is a religious season observed in the spring…It begins on Ash Wednesday, 40 days before Easter, excluding Sundays, and ends on Easter Sunday (Ramm B. Lent. World Book Encyclopedia, 50th ed., Volume 12. Chicago, p. 175).

Ash Wednesday is observe now by many associated with the Church of Rome, as well as various Protestants.

The falsely named Christianity Today reported:

The Beginning of Lent
Until the 600s, Lent began on Quadragesima (Fortieth) Sunday, but Gregory the Great (c.540-604) moved it to a Wednesday, now called Ash Wednesday, to secure the exact number of 40 days in Lent—not counting Sundays, which were feast days. Gregory, who is regarded as the father of the medieval papacy, is also credited with the ceremony that gives the day its name. (http://www.christianitytoday.com/ch/news/2004/lent.html)

So, “Ash Wednesday” apparently did not originate on a Wednesday. Of course, the entire lenten period is not from the Bible, hence it should be of no surprise that it has had various changes in its observation.

Perhaps I should also mention that the Eastern Orthodox Church does not celebrate Ash Wednesday.

The Bible

Neither the Bible, which was not written in a Teutonic language, nor its translations (which sometimes are) uses the term Lent.

The Old Testament uses the term Spring four or so times, but in the context of wars, not fasting. It does, however, endorse certain religious observances for that time of the year. It also mentions that the year begins on the first day of a certain lunar month (called Abib or Nisan) which is normally the first day of Spring (though it does not actually use that term). Note that God defines when the year begins:

This month shall be your beginning of months; it shall be the first month of the year to you (Exodus 12:2 NKJV, throughout unless otherwise noted).

The God-ordained religious festivals mentioned as occurring in what is the Spring season of the year include Passover, the Days of Unleavened Bread, and Pentecost.

Here is the mention of the first two:

‘These are the feasts of the LORD, holy convocations which you shall proclaim at their appointed times. On the fourteenth day of the first month at twilight is the LORD’s Passover. And on the fifteenth day of the same month is the Feast of Unleavened Bread to the LORD; seven days you must eat unleavened bread (Leviticus 23:4-6).

The above were clearly observed by Jesus, the Apostles, and the early Church (for additional documentation, please see the articles Passover and the Early Church, Melito’s Homily on the Passover, and Should Christians Keep the Days of Unleavened Bread?).

Here is a couple of verses about the days of unleavened bread and eating:

Seven days you shall eat unleavened bread. On the first day you shall remove leaven from your houses. For whoever eats leavened bread from the first day until the seventh day, that person shall be cut off from Israel…For seven days no leaven shall be found in your houses, since whoever eats what is leavened, that same person shall be cutoff from the congregation of Israel, whether he is a stranger or a native of the land. You shall eat nothing leavened; in all your habitations you shall eat unleavened bread (Exodus 12:15,19-20).

Since no leaven is allowed to be eaten during the days of unleavened bread, this could be considered as a form of fasting. It however, differs from the Lenten forms of fasting in that it begins the day after Passover and lasts for seven days. Most (and in some years, all) of the Lenten fasting occurs prior to the Passover (and most of it occurs in the Winter, not the Spring season, in spite of the fact that Lent means Spring).

The next observance mentioned in the Old Testament comes during the days of unleavened bread:

Speak to the children of Israel, and say to them: ‘When you come into the land which I give to you, and reap its harvest, then you shall bring a sheaf of the firstfruits of your harvest to the priest. He shall wave the sheaf before the LORD, to be accepted on your behalf; on the day after the Sabbath the priest shall wave it (Leviticus 23:10-11).

Jesus Himself (who was also our Passover 1 Corinthians 5:7), fulfilled this sometime after He was resurrected (cf. John 20:17,27 KJV). This day was used both in the Old Testament and New Testament times to count when the next holy day would occur. Here is the Old Testament comment:

‘And you shall count for yourselves from the day after the Sabbath, from the day that you brought the sheaf of the wave offering: seven Sabbaths shall be completed. Count fifty days to the day after the seventh Sabbath (Leviticus 23:15-16).

The Greek term, used in the New Testament, is Pentecost, which means 50th, from the practice of it being the fiftieth day from the wave sheaf offering. The above are all the religious periods that the Old Testament mentioned that occur in the Spring (none, other than the weekly Sabbath, occur in the Winter season).

The term Spring is not mentioned in the New Testament. When referring to the early Spring season, the New Testament mentions biblical holy days, like Passover and the Days of Unleavened Bread (for early Spring) and Pentecost (for late Spring)–it also mentions that Jesus and/or His disciples observed all of those. While the New Testament does mention a period called “the Fast” (Acts 27:9), scholars of most religious communities admit that this is referring to what is called in Hebrew Yom Kippur or Day of Atonement in English, which is a holy day that occurs in the Fall.

Thus, there is no specific Winter-Spring fast that the Bible (Old or New Testaments) teaches should be followed.

The Days of Unleavened Bread

The Apostle Paul taught:

Therefore purge out the old leaven, that you may be a new lump, since you truly are unleavened. For indeed Christ, our Passover, was sacrificed for us. Therefore let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, nor with the leaven of malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth (1 Corinthians 5:7-8).

There is no doubt that early Christians kept Passover. And there is substantial evidence to show that the kept the Days of Unleavened Bread, and not Lent, in the Spring. Notice, for example, a letter than Polycrates sent to the Roman Bishop Victor in the late second century:

We observe the exact day; neither adding, nor taking away. For in Asia also great lights have fallen asleep, which shall rise again on the day of the Lord’s coming, when he shall come with glory from heaven, and shall seek out all the saints. Among these are Philip, one of the twelve apostles, who fell asleep in Hierapolis; and his two aged virgin daughters, and another daughter, who lived in the Holy Spirit and now rests at Ephesus; and, moreover, John, who was both a witness and a teacher, who reclined upon the bosom of the Lord, and, being a priest, wore the sacerdotal plate. He fell asleep at Ephesus. And Polycarp in Smyrna, who was a bishop and martyr; and Thraseas, bishop and martyr from Eumenia, who fell asleep in Smyrna. Why need I mention the bishop and martyr Sagaris who fell asleep in Laodicea, or the blessed Papirius, or Melito, the Eunuch who lived altogether in the Holy Spirit, and who lies in Sardis, awaiting the episcopate from heaven, when he shall rise from the dead? All these observed the fourteenth day of the passover according to the Gospel, deviating in no respect, but following the rule of faith. And I also, Polycrates, the least of you all, do according to the tradition of my relatives, some of whom I have closely followed. For seven of my relatives were bishops; and I am the eighth. And my relatives always observed the day when the people put away the leaven. I, therefore, brethren, who have lived sixty-five years in the Lord, and have met with the brethren throughout the world, and have gone through every Holy Scripture, am not affrighted by terrifying words. For those greater than I have said ‘ We ought to obey God rather than man’ (Eusebius. Church History, Book V, Chapter 24. 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).

Notice that Polycrates said that he and the other early church leaders (like the Apostles Philip and John, and their successors like Polycarp, Thraseas, Eumenia, Sagaris, Papirius, Melito) would not deviate from the Bible, and that they knew the Bible taught them to keep the Passover on the correct date, and not on a Sunday. Also notice that they always observed the day when the people put away the leaven. Polycrates also reminded the Roman bishop that true followers of Christ “obey God rather than men”.

Notice what a respected Protestant scholar reported about the second century:

The most important in this festival was the passover day, the 14th of Nisan…In it they ate unleavened bread, probably like the Jews, eight days through…there is no trace of a yearly festival of the resurrection among them…the Christians of Asia Minor appealed in favor of their passover solemnity on the 14th Nisan to John (Gieseler, Johann Karl Ludwig. A Text-book of Church History. Translated by Samuel Davidson, John Winstanley Hull, Mary A. Robinson. Harper & brothers, 1857, Original from the University of Michigan, Digitized Feb 17, 2006, p. 166).

The Days of Unleavened Bread will be from April 4-April 10 this year, with Passover observed after sunset on April 3rd (which is the beginning of the 14th of Nisan).

In the late third century, Anatolius of Alexandria wrote the following:

I am aware that very many other matters were discussed by them, some of them with considerable probability, and others of them as matters of the clearest demonstration, by which they endeavour to prove that the festival of the Passover and unleavened bread ought by all means to be kept after the equinox…

But nothing was difficult to them with whom it was lawful to celebrate the Passover on any day when the fourteenth of the moon happened after the equinox. Following their example up to the present time all the bishops of Asia—as themselves also receiving the rule from an unimpeachable authority, to wit, the evangelist John, who leant on the Lord’s breast, and drank in instructions spiritual without doubt—were in the way of celebrating the Paschal feast, without question, every year, whenever the fourteenth day of the moon had come, and the lamb was sacrificed by the Jews after the equinox was past; not acquiescing, so far as regards this matter, with the authority of some…(THE PASCHAL CANON OF ANATOLIUS OF ALEXANDRIA. Chapters V,X, p. 415, 419).

This should be proof to any with “eyes to see and ears to hear” that some who professed Christ were keeping the Days of Unleavened Bread centuries after Jesus died. Could this have ended up being changed and called Lent?

40 Days?

When did the Church of Rome adopt forty-day fasts? That is a difficult question to know for certain, but it appears to have not been that consistent until the fourth or fifth centuries, and it was not uniform even there until later. Notice:

Be this as it may, we find in the early years of the fourth century the first mention of the term tessarakoste. It occurs in the fifth canon of the Council of Nicea (A.D. 325), where there is only question of the proper time for celebrating a synod, and it is conceivable that it may refer not to a period but to a definite festival, e.g., the Feast of the Ascension, or the Purification, which Ætheria calls quadragesimæ de Epiphania…In the time of Gregory the Great (590-604) there were apparently at Rome six weeks of six days each, making thirty-six fast days in all, which St. Gregory, who is followed therein by many medieval writers, describes as the spiritual tithing of the year, thirty-six days being approximately the tenth part of three hundred and sixty-five. At a later date the wish to realize the exact number of forty days led to the practice of beginning Lent upon our present Ash Wednesday… (Lent. The Catholic Encyclopedia).

The length of time for observing Lent varied through the ages. For many years, it was considered a 36-day period of fast. By the reign of Charlemagne, about A.D. 800, four days were added making it 40 (Ramm B. Lent. World Book Encyclopedia, 50th ed., Volume 12. Chicago, p. 175).

The term tessarakoste means fortieth and it is not clear that this had anything to do with what is now known as Lent in the early fourth century–though some type of forty-day fasts were being observed then. Into the fifth century, Rome apparently had a different length for fasting, and it took a while for forty-days to become somewhat standard:

Still, this principle was differently understood in different localities, and great divergences of practice were the result. In Rome, in the fifth century, Lent lasted six weeks, but according to the historian Socrates there were only three weeks of actual fasting, exclusive even then of the Saturday and Sunday and if Duchesne’s view may be trusted, these weeks were not continuous, but were the first, the fourth, and sixth of the series, being connected with the ordinations…But the number forty, having once established itself, produced other modifications. It seemed to many necessary that there should not only be fasting during the forty days but forty actual fasting days. Thus we find Ætheria in her “Peregrinatio” speaking of a Lent of eight weeks in all observed at Jerusalem, which, remembering that both the Saturday and Sunday of ordinary weeks were exempt, gives five times eight, i.e., forty days for fasting. On the other hand, in many localities people were content to observe no more than a six weeks’ period, sometimes, as at Milan, fasting only five days in the week after the oriental fashion (Ambrose, “De Elia et Jejunio”, 10). In the time of Gregory the Great (590-604) there were apparently at Rome six weeks of six days each, making thirty-six fast days in all, which St. Gregory, who is followed therein by many medieval writers, describes as the spiritual tithing of the year, thirty-six days being approximately the tenth part of three hundred and sixty-five. At a later date the wish to realize the exact number of forty days led to the practice of beginning Lent upon our present Ash Wednesday, but the Church of Milan, even to this day adheres to the more primitive arrangement (Christian Worship, 243) (Lent. The Catholic Encyclopedia).

While the Bible does endorse that Christians should fast, no forty-day period is ever proscribed. Here is basically what Jesus Himself taught:

Then they said to Him, “Why do the disciples of John fast often and make prayers, and likewise those of the Pharisees, but Yours eat and drink?” And He said to them, “Can you make the friends of the bridegroom fast while the bridegroom is with them? But the days will come when the bridegroom will be taken away from them; then they will fast in those days” (Luke 5:33-36).

Thus apparently Christ’s disciples did not fast much while Jesus was alive and would fast after He was to be taken away. However, as even Catholic scholars admit, there is no evidence that the apostles initiated any type of forty-day fast.

Where Did the Forty-Day Lenten Fast Come From?

Although the answer of this may not be entirely clear, there are some indications.

As quoted earlier, the Apostle Paul invoked keeping Passover and the Days of Unleavened Bread (1 Corinthians 5:7-8).

Thus, while the Apostle Paul specifically endorsed the observance of Passover and the Days of Unleavened Bread, he did not do so for something called Lent.

However, because the Days of Unleavened Bread involve a seven-day “fast” from leaven, it may be that some associated with Rome and Egypt felt that an abstinence period would be appropriate, but the amount of time varied.

Notice what the Catholic Socrates Scholasticus admitted around the beginning of the fifth century:

The fasts before Easter will be found to be differently observed among different people. Those at Rome fast three successive weeks before Easter, excepting Saturdays and Sundays. Those in Illyrica and all over Greece and Alexandria observe a fast of six weeks, which they term ‘The forty days’ fast.’ Others commencing their fast from the seventh week before Easter, and fasting three five days only, and that at intervals, yet call that time ‘The forty days’ fast.’ It is indeed surprising to me that thus differing in the number of days, they should both give it one common appellation; but some assign one reason for it, and others another, according to their several fancies. One can see also a disagreement about the manner of abstinence from food, as well as about the number of days. Some wholly abstain from things that have life: others feed on fish only of all living creatures: many together with fish, eat fowl also, saying that according to Moses, Genesis 1:20 these were likewise made out of the waters. Some abstain from eggs, and all kinds of fruits: others partake of dry bread only; still others eat not even this: while others having fasted till the ninth hour, afterwards take any sort of food without distinction. And among various nations there are other usages, for which innumerable reasons are assigned. Since however no one can produce a written command as an authority, it is evident that the apostles left each one to his own free will in the matter, to the end that each might perform what is good not by constraint or necessity. Such is the difference in the churches on the subject of fasts (Socrates Scholasticus. Ecclesiastical History, Volume V, Chapter 22).

Since the Babylonians took over the Greeks and the Egyptians, that may have been when they started this practice.

Notice:

But the original length of the fast, traced back to Babylon was a “forty-days” fast in the spring of the year (Laynard’s Nineveh and Babylon, chapter 4, page 93). That is why it bore its name of “40 days”! (Hoeh, H. Did Jesus Observe Lent? Plain Truth. February 1982, p. 30).

It is likely that the idea of a forty-day fast came from Alexandria in Egypt or from Greece.

The historian Alexander Hislop apparently felt so as he wrote:

The forty days’ abstinence of Lent was directly borrowed from the worshippers of the Babylonian goddess. Such a Lent of forty days, “in the spring of the year,” is still observed by the Yezidis or Pagan Devil-worshippers of Koordistan, who have inherited it from their early masters, the Babylonians. Such a Lent of forty days was held in spring by the Pagan Mexicans, for thus we read in Humboldt, where he gives account of Mexican observances: “Three days after the vernal equinox…began a solemn fast of forty days in honour of the sun.” Such a Lent of forty days was observed in Egypt, as may be seen on consulting Wilkinson’s Egyptians. This Egyptian Lent of forty days, we are informed by Landseer, in his Sabean Researches, was held expressly in commemoration of Adonis or Osiris, the great mediatorial god. At the same time, the rape of Proserpine seems to have been commemorated, and in a similar manner; for Julius Firmicus informs us that, for “forty nights” the “wailing for Proserpine” continued; and from Arnobius we learn that the fast which the Pagans observed, called “Castus” or the “sacred” fast, was, by the Christians in his time, believed to have been primarily in imitation of the long fast of Ceres, when for many days she determinedly refused to eat on account of her “excess of sorrow,” that is, on account of the loss of her daughter Proserpine, when carried away by Pluto…

Among the Pagans this Lent seems to have been an indispensable preliminary to the great annual festival in commemoration of the death and resurrection of Tammuz, which was celebrated by alternate weeping and rejoicing, and which, in many countries, was considerably later than the Christian festival, being observed in Palestine and Assyria in June, therefore called the “month of Tammuz”; in Egypt, about the middle of May, and in Britain, some time in April. To conciliate the Pagans to nominal Christianity, Rome, pursuing its usual policy, took measures to get the Christian and Pagan festivals amalgamated, and, by a complicated but skilful adjustment of the calendar, it was found no difficult matter, in general, to get Paganism and Christianity–now far sunk in idolatry–in this as in so many other things, to shake hands…

Let any one only read the atrocities that were commemorated during the “sacred fast” or Pagan Lent, as described by Arnobius and Clemens Alexandrinus, and surely he must blush for the Christianity of those who, with the full knowledge of all these abominations, “went down to Egypt for help” to stir up the languid devotion of the degenerate Church, and who could find no more excellent way to “revive” it, than by borrowing from so polluted a source; the absurdities and abominations connected with which the early Christian writers had held up to scorn. That Christians should ever think of introducing the Pagan abstinence of Lent was a sign of evil; it showed how low they had sunk, and it was also a cause of evil; it inevitably led to deeper degradation. Originally, even in Rome, Lent, with the preceding revelries of the Carnival, was entirely unknown; and even when fasting before the Christian Pasch was held to be necessary, it was by slow steps that, in this respect, it came to conform with the ritual of Paganism. What may have been the period of fasting in the Roman Church before sitting of the Nicene Council does not very clearly appear, but for a considerable period after that Council, we have distinct evidence that it did not exceed three weeks (Hislop A. Two Babylons. pp. 104-106).

Hence we see that the so-called Christian observance of Lent is apparently a continuation of widespread ancient pagan practices that were subtly incorporated into mainstream Christianity over the centuries.

But the original practices of the earliest Christians was to observe Passover and the Days of Unleavened Bread. Some apparently thought compromise with non-biblical holidays would substitute for biblical ones like the Days of Unleavened Bread.

Of course, since Lent and Ash Wednesday are not biblically-enjoined holidays and the Days of Unleavened Bread are, Protestants who claim that they get their doctrine only from the Bible (the rallying cry for the Reformation Protestants was sola scriptura–the Bible alone) should ask themselves why they follow the Church of Rome instead of scripture on these points.

Will you follow those who followed Christ or do you prefer later adaptations?

Some articles of possibly related interest may include:

Is Lent a Christian Holiday? When did it originate? What about Ash Wednesday? If you observe them, do you know why?
Sola Scriptura or Prima Luther? What Did Martin Luther Really Believe About the Bible? Though he is known for his public sola Scriptura teaching, did Martin Luther’s writings about the Bible suggest he felt that prima Luther was his ultimate authority? Statements from him changing and/or discounting 18 books of the Bible are included. Do you really want to know the truth?
Hope of Salvation: How the Continuing Church of God differ from most Protestants How the Living Church of God differs from mainstream/traditional Protestants, is perhaps the question I am asked most by those without a Church of God background.
The Similarities and Dissimilarities between Martin Luther and Herbert W. Armstrong This article clearly shows some of the doctrinal differences between in the two. At this time of doctrinal variety and a tendency by many to accept certain aspects of Protestantism, the article should help clarify why the Living Church of God is NOT Protestant. Do you really know what the Protestant Reformer Martin Luther taught and should you follow his doctrinal example?
Mardi Gras: The Devil’s Carnival? Do you know that in Bolivia the carnival/Mardi Gras time is part of a celebration known as the Devil’s Carnival? Did Jesus celebrate Carnaval? Where did it come from?
Is There “An Annual Worship Calendar” In the Bible? This paper provides a biblical and historical critique of several articles, including one by the Tkach WCG which states that this should be a local decision. What do the Holy Days mean? Also you can click here for the calendar of Holy Days.
Passover and the Early Church Did the early Christians observe Passover? What did Jesus and Paul teach? Why did Jesus die for our sins?
Melito’s Homily on the Passover This is one of the earliest Christian writings about the Passover. This also includes what Apollinaris wrote on the Passover as well.
Should Christians Keep the Days of Unleavened Bread? Do they have any use or meaning now? What is leaven? This article supplies some biblical answers.
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 c. 31 A.D. to 2014. 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.
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?