Archive for the ‘Doctrine’ Category

New Year: Calculated or observed calendar?

Monday, March 27th, 2017


Older Hebrew Calendar

COGwriter

When speaking of the Hebrew month of Abib/Nisan, which occurs around late March/early April God declared:

“This month shall be your beginning of months; it shall be the first month of the year to you” (Exodus 12:2).

After sunset on March 27th, 2017, the new month and year begins. Passover will be after sunset on Sunday, April 9th in 2017.

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.  Those espousing the observed calendar often differ among themselves as to how it is to be observed.

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’ then 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 and 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.

Back in Jesus’ time, communications were not instantaneous.  Yet, somehow Jews around the Roman Empire knew when the Day of Pentecost was as the Bible shows that they were in Jerusalem observing it on the correct day:

1 When the Day of Pentecost had fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. 2 And suddenly there came a sound from heaven, as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting. 3 Then there appeared to them divided tongues, as of fire, and one sat upon each of them. 4 And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.

5 And there were dwelling in Jerusalem Jews, devout men, from every nation under heaven. 6 And when this sound occurred, the multitude came together, and were confused, because everyone heard them speak in his own language. 7 Then they were all amazed and marveled, saying to one another, “Look, are not all these who speak Galileans? 8 And how is it that we hear, each in our own language in which we were born? 9 Parthians and Medes and Elamites, those dwelling in Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, 10 Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya adjoining Cyrene, visitors from Rome, both Jews and proselytes, 11 Cretans and Arabs — we hear them speaking in our own tongues the wonderful works of God.” (Acts 2:1-11)

The above is scriptural support for the idea that the calculated calendar was in place so that the Jews who came for Pentecost obviously would have to known when it was some time previous to it.  Travel was much slower then and for a message to get from Jerusalem to Rome, and then for people to get back to Rome would have taken a long time, it would not seem possible that those who visited Jerusalem from places as far away as Rome could have known when to be there, UNLESS a calculated calendar was used.  While the Roman visitors coincidentally could have been there, since Pentecost was one of the listed Holy Days to appear before God with an offering (Deuteronomy 16:16), it is likely that they knew (in advance) when it was.

It should be realized that for centuries after Jesus was resurrected, Christians who kept the Holy Days had to use some method, and since most were NOT near Jerusalem after 69 A.D., the use of a calculated calendar (which they likely knew from the Jews) was the only practical way for them to know when the Holy Days were.

Now 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 played 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 conjunction, which effectively is the start of the actual 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 to the time the US Navy said the conjunction for 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 should 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 (for details on why that makes sense, check out the article The KEY To The Crucifixion Date). 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.

Notice also the following from the late Dr. Herman Hoeh:

The Hebrew calendar tells when

Here is a chart verified by works on the “Jewish calendar” — actually God’s sacred calendar — absolutely correct according to the computation preserved since the days of Moses!Dates             Passover
A.D. 29      Saturday, April 16
A.D. 30      Wednesday, April 5
A.D. 31      Wednesday, April 25
A.D. 32      Monday, April 14
A.D. 33      Friday, April 3

To place the Passover on a Friday in A.D. 30 is to violate one of the rules of the fixed calendar — that no common year of the sacred calendar may have 356 days. Common years of 12 months may be only 353, 354 or 355 days long, a fact you can verify in the Jewish Encyclopedia.

Theologians place the Passover of A.D. 30 on Friday, April 7, 356 days after the Passover of A.D. 29. Count it for yourself! This date is two days late. The Passover in A.D. 30 was only 354 days after that of A.D. 29.

The 14th of the month Nisan could have occurred on Wednesday in A.D. 30, as well as in A.D. 31. Thus, if you want to believe that the crucifixion was in A.D. 30 — which it was not — you would still have to admit that Friday could not be the day of the crucifixion!

For the year A.D. 31 a few references, unacquainted with the rules of the Hebrew calendar, mistakenly give the Passover, Nisan 14, as Monday, March 26. But this is one month too early. The year A.D. 30-31 was intercalary — that is, it had 13 months — thus placing the Passover 30 days later in A.D. 31, and on a Wednesday. (Hoeh H. The Crucifixion Was Not on Friday, Part Two. Good News magazine, March 1984)

Since Jesus kept Passover on Tuesday night (the day starts the evening prior on the Hebrew calendar, hence a Wednesday calendar date means a Tuesday evening obvserance, since Passover is observed in the evening) 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.  Thousands of years ago, they would not have had a way to observe the start of the new moon every month.

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 2017.

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.
Calculated or observed calendar? Did Jesus use a calculated calendar? This article addresses this issue that many wonder about.
Is January 1st a Date for Christians Celebrate? Historical and biblical answers to this question about the world’s New Year’s day. A video of related interest is also available: God’s or Satan’s New Year?
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. Here is a related sermon, also titled Melito’s Homily on the Passover.
TPM: Passover on the 14th or 15th? While the real COG observes Passover on the 14th, some observe it on the 15th. Why is the 14th correct? A related sermon is titled Is Passover on the 14th or 15th for Christians?
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? A related video is available and is titled The Night to Be Much 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.
Should You Observe God’s Holy Days or Demonic Holidays? This is a free pdf booklet explaining what the Bible and history teach about God’s Holy Days and popular holidays. A related sermon is Which Spring Days should Christians observe?
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: Proverbs 20-21: Modern Christian Living

Saturday, March 25th, 2017

 
Scroll of Proverbs

COGwriter

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


1:15:17

Proverbs 20-21: Modern Christian Living

Can a book written around 3000 years ago help Christians live in the 21st century? Yes. This is the sixth part of a multi-part sermon series covering the entire Book of Proverbs. Dr. Thiel goes through each verse of chapters 20 and 21 of the Book of Proverbs and explains how many of them affect modern Christians, by also quoting various scriptures in the Old and New Testaments. He addresses issues such as wine, work, wisdom, relationships, change, living as God wants His people to live, and some prophetic ramifications of Proverbs.

Here is a link to the sermon: Proverbs 20-21: Modern Christian Living.

Some items of related interest may include:

PROVERBS Here are links to sermon covering the words in Proverbs: Proverbs 1-7: Practical advice for those who wish to follow God and Proverbs 7-12: Wisdom, Knowledge, Righteousness, and Diligence and Proverbs 13-15: Following God’s Advice and Proverbs 16-17: Accept God’s Instructions and Proverbs 18-19: It is dangerous to trust self and Proverbs 20-21: Modern Christian Living.
Christian Success Does the Bible teach that Christians are to be successful? Are there at least seven laws of success that Christians should follow? How does the Bible teach we are to become successfully spiritually? Does the Bible really teach that Christians should be successful physically? This video answers these questions and more from the Bible. An outline of some of the scriptures used is here: Christian Success Outline.
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 are also two YouTube video related to this: Living as a Christian: How and Why? and Living as a Christian: Pure Milk of the Word.
Living as a Christian: Strong Meat Can you handle solid spiritual food? A related sermon is available: Strong Meat: James 1-2 and Strong Meat: James 3-5.
Building Character: Going on to Perfection Once you have accepted Jesus, do you need to strive for perfection and build character? A related video sermon is available: Going on to perfection and building character.
What is the Meaning of Life? Who does God say is happy? What is your ultimate destiny? Do you really know? Does God actually have a plan for YOU personally? If you would like to watch videos covering subjects of this article, you can click on the following links: Why YOU? Why Do YOU Suffer? and What is the meaning of your life?
Faith for Those God has Called and Chosen What is faith? Can faith be increased? Are you saved by faith? What about works? Do Christians need to keep the Ten Commandments? What is the ‘faith chapter’? How do the just live by faith? Is faith one of the weightier matters of the law? How does faith come? Marque aquí para ver el pdf folleto: Fe para aquellos que Dios ha llamado y escogido. In German: Glaube für die von Gott Berufenen und Auserwählten. In French: La Foi pour ceux que Dieu a Appelés et Choisis. Here is a link to a related sermon titled: Faith for the Called and Chosen.and here is a link to another sermon Faith and Courage. Here is a link to shorter version of the written article in Mandarin Chinese 一篇关于信仰的小文章.
Where is the True Christian Church Today? This free online pdf booklet answers that question and includes 18 proofs, clues, and signs to identify the true vs. false Christian church. Plus 7 proofs, clues, and signs to help identify Laodicean churches. A related sermon is also available: Where is the True Christian Church? Here is a link to the booklet in the Spanish language: ¿Dónde está la verdadera Iglesia cristiana de hoy? Here is a link in the German language: WO IST DIE WAHRE CHRISTLICHE KIRCHE HEUTE? Here is a link in the French language: Où est la vraie Église Chrétienne aujourd’hui?
Continuing History of the Church of God This pdf booklet is a historical overview of the true Church of God and some of its main opponents from Acts 2 to the 21st century. Related sermon links include Continuing History of the Church of God: c. 31 to c. 300 A.D. and Continuing History of the Church of God: 4th-16th Centuries and Continuing History of the Church of God: 17th-20th Centuries. The booklet is available in Spanish: Continuación de la Historia de la Iglesia de Dios, German: Kontinuierliche Geschichte der Kirche Gottes, and Ekegusii Omogano Bw’ekanisa Ya Nyasae Egendererete.
CCOG.ORG Continuing Church of God The group striving to be most faithful amongst all real Christian groups to the word of God. To see how CCOG has done so far, here are links to two sermons Continuing Church of God (CCOG) first year anniversary: What has been accomplished? and The Continuing Church of God: Two Years of Proclamation. Here is a written link to a version of that sermon in the Spanish language: Aniversario del primer año de la Continuación de la Iglesia de Dios: ¿Qué se ha cumplido?
Congregations of the Continuing Church of God This is a listing of congregations and groups of the Continuing Church of God around the world.
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.
CCOGAFRICA.ORG This is a website targeted towards those in Africa.
CCOGCANADA.CA This is a website targeted towards those in Canada.
CDLIDD.ES La Continuación de la Iglesia de Dios. This is the Spanish language website for the Continuing Church of God.
PNIND.PH Patuloy na Iglesya ng Diyos. This is the Philippines website Continuing Church of God. It has information in English and Tagalog.
CCOGAfrica channel. This has messages from African pastors in African languages such as Kalenjin, Kiswahili, Embu, and Dholuo.
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.

WND opposes ‘The Shack’ doctrinally–Does God have a plan of salvation that works?

Wednesday, March 22nd, 2017

COGwriter

World Net Daily (WND) now has an article against doctrinal points that are associated with a book and movie called The Shack. Here are some comments from that article:

Christian universalists believe there is a heaven and everyone will eventually get there, leaving no one left in hell and no reason for its continued existence.

That belief is the central tenet of universal reconciliation, the doctrine underlying the popular novel “The Shack” and the new movie of the same name. And according to James De Young, a professor of New Testament language and literature at Western Seminary in Portland, Oregon, universal reconciliation is a false doctrine.

“They are creating another theology that offers a supposed hope to people beyond the grave, and it is a lie that, for no other explanation, must have come out of the pit, that is from the Devil himself,” De Young declared in a recent interview on “Revealing the Truth” with Rabbi Eric Walker.

De Young, who was once a friend of “The Shack” author William Paul Young, challenged his old friend’s theology in his own book, “Burning Down the Shack: How the ‘Christian’ Bestseller Is Deceiving Millions.”

De Young said universalists believe everyone will ultimately come to God through Jesus Christ and go to heaven, and if they don’t accept Jesus before they die, they will do so after they die.

“The number one principle of Christian universalism is that God is love,” De Young explained. “Love limits God’s other attributes such as justice, holiness and so forth. So it maintains that God is so wrapped up or consumed by love that there cannot be anyone left in the universe who in the end is still hostile toward Him. So hell becomes a place where the fires, figuratively speaking, are purgatorial or corrective or discipline; they are not punishment. And so people go through this, they come to a better sense of who they are, they confess that they need Jesus and they are taken out of hell into heaven, so that in the very end neither the devil nor his angels are left there, and hell ceases to exist.”

One of the problems with that, according to De Young, is Jesus himself said the gate is wide and the road is broad that lead to destruction, and many enter through it, but the gate is small and the road narrow that lead to life, and only a few find it (Matthew 7:13-14).

De Young says universalists cherry-pick the parts of the Bible that talk about God’s love while rejecting all those that talk about God’s judgment. However, he understands why universal reconciliation appeals to so many people.

“You’d rather want to believe that God is love, that everybody’s going to go to heaven in the end and so forth; but it isn’t truth,” De Young admonished. “What does the scripture say? And if we’re not going to go by scripture, then whatever Paul Young says, or Rob Bell or anybody else, becomes the standard, and there’s no unity there; there’s no settled truth. 03/21/17 http://www.wnd.com/2017/03/beware-of-false-comfort-in-the-shack-warns-scholar/#VwkR0xJBESjB2H5w.99

While I had heard of the recent movie titled The Shack, until I saw the WND article today, I did not know anything about it.

But I would comment that the idea that God will work with people after death that were not called in this age IS SCRIPTURAL (see Universal Offer of Salvation: There Are Hundreds of Verses in the Bible Supporting the Doctrine of True Apocatastasis).

Actually, before going further, it should be noted that the idea of going to heaven immediately after death to live eternally was NOT the position of the early Christian church–even certain modern Protestant leaders like Hal Lindsey and Joseph Farah (see WND: Christians do not go to heaven, the Kingdom is on the earth) realize that (see also Did Early Christians Teach They Were Going to Heaven?).

That being said, Professor De Young is correct that not all will be saved. However, since he apparently does not keep the biblical Holy Days, he fails to understand God’s plan of salvation (for details on the Holy Days, check out the free online booklet Should You Observe God’s Holy Days or Demonic Holidays?).

A major problem with the predominant Protestant/Catholic view is that they really do not understand that when Jesus died for all (John 3:16-17) that this means that He did not die just for a relative few.  And while Protestants/Catholics do believe that God is love as John wrote (1 John 4:16), they do not normally understand that God is wise enough to have a plan of salvation that will result in almost everyone who ever lived to be saved.

The Bible is clear that few are chosen for salvation now (Matthew 22:14), while others will have their opportunity in the age to come (Matthew 12:32; Luke 18:30). That is part of the good news of the Kingdom of God.

But because Protestant and Catholic leaders do not normally properly teach this, it is little wonder that many Americans are properly rejecting the non-biblical notion that most that ever lived will be condemned to eternal torment.

At risk of possible gross oversimplification, there are many incomplete as well as inaccurate views of what God’s plan of salvation is that I will attempt to briefly summarize:

  • Evangelicals and Certain Other Protestants: God is trying to save everyone now through the name of Jesus. But since most have not heard the message of Christ, most who ever lived will be eternally lost.
  • Calvinist Protestants: God is not trying to save everyone now and never had a plan to truly offer salvation to all as all humans are sinners who deserve eternal punishment. Yet, God is so merciful He sent His son to die for a few (roughly 1-3% of the population) that were predestined to be called now and saved, and this shows that God has love. Nearly all who ever lived will be eternally lost.
  • Unitarians: God does not really care what you believe or do, but if you try to lead a decent life, He will save you. Note: This is not the position of unitarian groups like the Jehovah’s Witnesses and some others, but the position of those generally known as Unitarians (like a group I once visited near where I live).
  • Universalists: God loves everyone and will save everyone. Apparently that is what The Shack implies.
  • The LDS (Mormons) teach that since God will not condemn those who for no fault of their own have not accepted Christ, that He will save many through baptism for the dead. Hence they try to find the names of the dead through genealogical research and have people baptized in proxy for them.
  • Although the Eastern Orthodox tend to consider that God’s plan of salvation is highly sacramental, they tend to teach that God’s plan is not one of terror and that somehow God may save people up through the time of the White Throne Judgment.
  • Catholic: God wants to save everyone, but most will not be saved. Despite not hearing the name of Christ, God has a plan and will save some from the pagan religions who strive to live right and will give salvation to Catholics who have gone through the right sacraments at the right time.

The Evangelicals and many other Protestants are right that it is only through the name of Jesus that one can be saved (Acts 4:10-12). But they normally limit when God can do this and do not understand about the age to come (Matthew 12:32; Mark 10:30; Luke 18:30; Hebrews 6:5).

The Calvinists are right that all are sinners (Romans 3:23) and that God has predestined some to be called in this age. But they neglect to consider that since God is not a respecter of persons (Acts 10:34, KJV), that others who think that there hope is cut off will receive an opportunity for salvation (cf. Ezekiel 37:1-11).

The Unitarians are correct that God wants people to “live soberly, righteously, and godly in the present age” (Titus 2:12). But that is not how one is saved. For it is “by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, 9 not of works, lest anyone should boast” (Ephesians 2:8-9).

The Universalists are right that God loves everyone and that God wants all saved. However, since the Bible shows some will intentionally reject God’s OFFER of Salvation, not all will be saved (cf. Revelation 20:13-15).

The Mormons are right that God has a plan of salvation that involves the dead who have not committed the unpardonable sin (see also What is the Unpardonable Sin?). Yet the idea that this will happen because of ritualistic baptism for peoples names found in genealogical records is incorrect. Plus, since God is not a respecter of persons (Acts 10:34, KJV), one does not give the opportunity for salvation because one happens to have been part of a culture that maintained birth, marriage, death and/or other historical records.

The Eastern Orthodox are right that God’s plan is not really intended to be one of terror. And while God actually does intend the time of the White Throne Judgment (Revelation 20:11-12) as part of His plan, since the Orthodox do not observe the Fall Holy Days they misunderstand much of the actual plan. Up until just before they adopted ‘purgatory’ (see Did the Early Church Teach Purgatory?), the Church of Rome held a similar view to the Eastern Orthodox.

The Catholics are right that God does have a plan of salvation and that plan includes reaching out to those who have never known the God of the Bible. However, since every knee will bow to Jesus Christ (Philippians 2:9-11), all who will be saved will have to accept Him as savior. Plus, salvation is not mainly a sacramental process as the Catholic tend to emphasize (though the Bible does state that believers need to repent and be baptized as the Apostle Peter taught in Acts 2:38).

The Bishop of Rome clearly does NOT understand Ezekiel 37. Notice the following from a speech by Pope Francis:

In the Book of Ezechiel, there is a peculiar vision that is described, impressive, but capable of instilling confidence and hope in our hearts. God shows the prophet a valley of bones, detached from each other and dry. A desolate scenario. Imagine, an entire hill full of bones. God asks him, then, to invoke the Spirit upon them. At that moment, the bones begin to draw closer and unite, first the nerves grow on them and then the flesh and thus the body is formed, complete and full of life. (Ez. 37, 1-14). This is the Church! I recommend, today when you are home, to read Ezechiel, Chapter 27. http://www.zenit.org/en/articles/on-the-body-of-christ

While Pope Francis is correct that this is an impressive vision, this is a vision of those that are not now in the true Church. This is a vision for the future.

Ezekiel 37 helps show that people who were dead and not in Christ will be resurrected to the flesh and have an opportunity for salvation. Notice what it actually teaches:

1 The hand of the Lord came upon me and brought me out in the Spirit of the Lord, and set me down in the midst of the valley; and it was full of bones. 2 Then He caused me to pass by them all around, and behold, there were very many in the open valley; and indeed they were very dry. 3 And He said to me, “Son of man, can these bones live?”

So I answered, “O Lord God, You know.”

4 Again He said to me, “Prophesy to these bones, and say to them, ‘O dry bones, hear the word of the Lord! 5 Thus says the Lord God to these bones: “Surely I will cause breath to enter into you, and you shall live. 6 I will put sinews on you and bring flesh upon you, cover you with skin and put breath in you; and you shall live. Then you shall know that I am the Lord.”‘”

7 So I prophesied as I was commanded; and as I prophesied, there was a noise, and suddenly a rattling; and the bones came together, bone to bone. 8 Indeed, as I looked, the sinews and the flesh came upon them, and the skin covered them over; but there was no breath in them.

9 Also He said to me, “Prophesy to the breath, prophesy, son of man, and say to the breath, ‘Thus says the Lord God: “Come from the four winds, O breath, and breathe on these slain, that they may live.”‘” 10 So I prophesied as He commanded me, and breath came into them, and they lived, and stood upon their feet, an exceedingly great army.

11 Then He said to me, “Son of man, these bones are the whole house of Israel. They indeed say, ‘Our bones are dry, our hope is lost, and we ourselves are cut off!’ 12 Therefore prophesy and say to them, ‘Thus says the Lord God: “Behold, O My people, I will open your graves and cause you to come up from your graves, and bring you into the land of Israel. 13 Then you shall know that I am the Lord, when I have opened your graves, O My people, and brought you up from your graves. 14 I will put My Spirit in you, and you shall live, and I will place you in your own land. Then you shall know that I, the Lord, have spoken it and performed it,” says the Lord.’” (Ezekiel 37:1-14)

Now will salvation be offered to all who ever lived?

Absolutely!

Notice what the New Testament and the Old Testament plainly teach:

6 And all flesh shall see the salvation of God. (Luke 3:6)

10 And all the ends of the earth shall see The salvation of our God. (Isaiah 52:10)

Since most who claim some version of Christianity believe that what they teach is at least partially supported by scripture, this article which contains a listing of hundreds of verses in the Bible supporting apocatastasis, as well as related comments, may be helpful for those who wish to receive their doctrine from the Bible.

Micah 7:18-19 teaches:

18 Who is a God like You,
Pardoning iniquity
And passing over the transgression of the remnant of His heritage?
He does not retain His anger forever,
Because He delights in mercy.
19 He will again have compassion on us,
And will subdue our iniquities.
You will cast all our sins
Into the depths of the sea.

Is your God going to pardon iniquity for a few or nearly all of the guilty? Does God retain His anger forever? No. Does He delight in mercy? Yes. Will He later give His truth to Jacob and mercy to Abraham? That is what the Bible teaches. Is this what your church teaches?

Ezekiel 11:16-20 and 36:24-38 both record that God is going to convert many sinners so that they will walk in His statutes:

16 Therefore say, ‘Thus says the Lord GOD: “Although I have cast them far off among the Gentiles, and although I have scattered them among the countries, yet I shall be a little sanctuary for them in the countries where they have gone.” ‘ 17 “Therefore say, ‘Thus says the Lord GOD: “I will gather you from the peoples, assemble you from the countries where you have been scattered, and I will give you the land of Israel.” ‘ 18 “And they will go there, and they will take away all its detestable things and all its abominations from there. 19 Then I will give them one heart, and I will put a new spirit within them, and take the stony heart out of their flesh, and give them a heart of flesh, 20 that they may walk in My statutes and keep My judgments and do them; and they shall be My people, and I will be their God…”

24 For I will take you from among the nations, gather you out of all countries, and bring you into your own land. 25 Then I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you shall be clean; I will cleanse you from all your filthiness and from all your idols. 26 I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will take the heart of stone out of your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. 27 I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will keep My judgments and do them. 28 Then you shall dwell in the land that I gave to your fathers; you shall be My people, and I will be your God. 29 I will deliver you from all your uncleannesses. I will call for the grain and multiply it, and bring no famine upon you. 30 And I will multiply the fruit of your trees and the increase of your fields, so that you need never again bear the reproach of famine among the nations. 31 Then you will remember your evil ways and your deeds that were not good; and you will loathe yourselves in your own sight, for your iniquities and your abominations. 32 Not for your sake do I do this,” says the Lord GOD, “let it be known to you. Be ashamed and confounded for your own ways, O house of Israel!” 33′Thus says the Lord GOD: “On the day that I cleanse you from all your iniquities, I will also enable you to dwell in the cities, and the ruins shall be rebuilt. 34 The desolate land shall be tilled instead of lying desolate in the sight of all who pass by. 35 So they will say, ‘This land that was desolate has become like the garden of Eden; and the wasted, desolate, and ruined cities are now fortified and inhabited.’ 36 “Then the nations which are left all around you shall know that I, the LORD, have rebuilt the ruined places and planted what was desolate. I, the LORD, have spoken it, and I will do it.” 37′Thus says the Lord GOD: “I will also let the house of Israel inquire of Me to do this for them: I will increase their men like a flock. 38 Like a flock offered as holy sacrifices, like the flock at Jerusalem on its feast days, so shall the ruined cities be filled with flocks of men. Then they shall know that I am the LORD.” ‘ “

Notice that the above has never been fulfilled by Israelites going back to the Middle East as God has YET to give them a new heart. Surely God has a plan to offer salvation to those who many now feel are lost.

Notice Daniel 12:2-4:

And many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, Some to everlasting life, Some to shame and everlasting contempt. Those who are wise shall shine Like the brightness of the firmament, And those who turn many to righteousness Like the stars forever and ever. But you, Daniel, shut up the words, and seal the book until the time of the end; many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall increase.

The above passage shows that death is like sleep (see also What Happens After Death?). It also refers to a resurrection to everlasting life and resurrection to shame and to everlasting contempt (see also What Did Early Christians Understand About the Resurrections?). Notice that scripture shows those who are wise will shine and still, after they shall awake, turn MANY to righteousness. Since they cannot turn those who are raised to everlasting contempt to life, who are they turning to life?

Obviously, those who were dead and not dead in Christ are those that are among the many that are turned to righteousness. Thus, the Bible clearly shows that there is a future offer of salvation past this current life and many will be turned to righteousness–many are then converted.

This is something that the Church of Rome does not understand. Nor do the Protestants.

The biblical reality is that while God wants all to repent (Acts 17:30), He knew that all would not. And so to reduce the number of humans who would commit the “unpardonable sin” (see What is the Unpardonable Sin? ) and thus not be eligible for future salvation, He allowed Satan to blind and deceive most in this age (cf. 2 Thessalonians 2:9-11; Revelation 12:9; 13:14).

We in the Continuing Church of God believe that the Bible teaches that God made everything and it was “very good” (Genesis 1:31) and that “this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments” (1 John 5:3). And that God made humans upright (Ecclesiastes 7:29), but that humans felt that they could decide to disobey God’s commands (Genesis 3:6)–such disobedience is harmful to themselves as well as others and leads to death (Romans 6:23). Because of that disobedience, God stopped humans from having immediate access to the tree of life on their own (Genesis 3:22; John 6:44)–even though He had a plan of redemption from before “the foundation of the world” involving Jesus (Revelation 13:8, plus see the article Universal Offer of Salvation: There Are Hundreds of Verses in the Bible Supporting the Doctrine of True Apocatastasis).

We in the Continuing Church of God believe that God gave humans 6,000 years to live their own way (please see the article Did The Early Church Teach Millenarianism and a 6000 Year Plan?). And that humans will mess things up so bad, “unless those days were shortened, no flesh would be saved” (Matthew 24:22).

But because God has a plan for the forgiveness of sins (Acts 13:38) and is a God of love (1 John 4:8,16; John 3:16), He will intervene and send Jesus to establish a millennial kingdom on earth (Revelation 11:15; 20:4). During this 1000-year reign the world will become beautiful again (Isaiah 35:1-10; 58:12) (see also Did The Early Church Teach Millenarianism?).

After this thousand year reign, all who ever lived will be resurrected (Revelation 20:5). The judgment will begin (Revelation 20:12) and God will plead His case (Isaiah 3:13; Jeremiah 25:31). When humans see how they started out with a very good and beautiful earth and messed up and nearly completely destroyed it in their 6,000 years, it appears that they will realize that humankind that distanced itself from the true God cannot properly govern itself. However, when they see how when starting with a messed up and nearly completely destroyed earth at the end of the 6,000 years (please see the article Does God Have a 6,000 Year Plan? What Year Does the 6,000 Years End?), that it was restored to being very good again, like Eden (Isaiah 51:3), because people obeyed the King of Kings during the millennium (please see Did The Early Church Teach Millenarianism?), then apparently nearly all who ever lived will repent of their ways, accept Jesus as the Christ, and will live God’s way of life.

Since God is love (1 John 4:16), we in the Continuing Church of God believe that He has a plan that takes into account how human beings would have rebelled against Him (cf. 1 Peter 1:20-21). We also believe that God is smart enough to have developed a plan of salvation that works. A plan that does not result in the vast majority of humanity having to suffer endless torment. Thus we believe it is logical that His plan will result in nearly everyone who ever lived, no matter what their religion or background was, to be saved. And that there are hundreds of verses in the Bible that show this—and this is God’s will (2 Peter 3:9; John 3:16-17). This plan is also consistent with writings about Christianity throughout history—though most in modern times seem to wish to overlook that fact. And a little known fact is that there are hundreds of verses in the Bible that show this (documentation is in the article Universal Offer of Salvation: There Are Hundreds of Verses in the Bible Supporting the Doctrine of True Apocatastasis).

We believe that the biblical Holy Days reveal God’s loving plan of salvation (see article Is There “An Annual Worship Calendar” In the Bible?), yet because most who profess Christ keep non-biblical days such as Christmas and Easter, they simply do not understand that God has a plan which will result in nearly everyone who ever lived to be saved.

We believe that since God is a God of love that He wanted to reproduce Himself and share His joy to all that He could and that His plan of salvation accomplishes this. This concept of God “reproducing Himself” for us to be truly part of His family is not totally foreign to what passes for mainstream “Christianity” as even the Catholic and Orthodox “Saint” Athanasius (fourth century) taught of Jesus, “For He was made man that we might be made God” (Athanasius. On the Incarnation of the Word, Chapter 54, Verse 3) (for additional details on this doctrine, please see Deification: Did the Early Church Teach That Christians Would Become God?).

Jesus was clear that only a few will find this way in this age:

23 Then one said to Him, “Lord, are there few who are saved?” And He said to them, 24 Strive to enter through the narrow gate, for many, I say to you, will seek to enter and will not be able (Luke 13:23-24).

14 Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it (Matthew 7:14).

32 “Do not fear, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom. (Luke 12:32)

So only some few will be called in this age. And there is an “age to come” (Matthew 12:32) where even infamous sinners will have an opportunity (cf. Matthew 10:15;11:22).

Jesus said His True Church would be a “Little Flock” that would be around until He returns. As mentioned before, the Continuing Church of God is such a little flock that traces its history from the Book of Acts, throughout the ages, and into the 21st century, and we are proclaiming His return.

The Bible clearly teaches:

6 …all flesh shall see the salvation of God (Luke 3:6).

Those who did not truly see and understand this plan of salvation will have it explained to them. And that is what the Last Great Day pictures.

Notice what Jesus taught:

37 On the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried out, saying, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink. 38 He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.” (John 7:37-38)

The Last Great Day helps demonstrate that all who ever lived will have an opportunity for salvation–an opportunity most will accept (John 7:37-39; Romans 11:25-26; Ezekiel 37:11-14; Hebrews 9:27-28). Those who do not observe the same Holy Days that Jesus and His disciples did, normally do not truly understand God’s plan of salvation.

If God is love (which He is per 1 John 4:8,16), omnipotent (which He is per Revelation 19:6), omniscient (which He is; cf. Hebrews 4:12-13 and Isaiah 46:9–10), and God is wise (which He is per Jeremiah 10:12) surely He is smart enough to have a plan of salvation that works! A plan to offer salvation to all–and a plan that will result in nearly all who ever lived accepting it.

A major reason that I originally became part of the Church of God is that in addition to proving all things from the Bible, I truly believe that since “God is love” (1 John 4:16) that He has a plan of salvation that will ultimately result in everyone being called and nearly every one who ever lived being saved.

That is part of what Ezekiel 37 is all about.

A sermon for this Holy Day is available:


1:12:33

Last Great Day shows God’s loving plan

 The eighth day after the start of the Feast of Tabernacles is normally called the ‘Last Great Day’ in the Continuing Church of God. Does God only plan to save a few or many? Did Jesus come to die for a few or many? Will most people who ever lived be saved? What does the Bible really teach about this? Dr. Thiel goes over scriptures that the bulk of those who profess Christianity often do not understand about God’s loving plan of salvation.

Many refuse to believe what the Bible teaches. The Bible teaches that some are being called now, that all will have an offer of Salvation (either in this age or the age to come) and there Are Hundreds of Verses in the Bible Supporting the Doctrine of True Apocatastasis.

While I have not seen The Shack, and it apparently has doctrinal misunderstandings, the idea that God has a plan for people who did not die in Christ is true and is supported by the Bible. Furthermore, let me add that this view has been documented by early professors of Christianity and is not just a modern concept.

Some items of related interest may include:

Universal Offer of Salvation: There Are Hundreds of Verses in the Bible Supporting the Doctrine of True Apocatastasis Do you believe what the Bible actually teaches on this? Will all good things be restored? Will God call everyone? Will everyone have an opportunity for salvation? Does God’s plan of salvation take rebellion and spiritual blindness into account? Related sermon videos include Universal Offer of Salvation I: God is love and Universal Offer of Salvation II: The Age to Come and the ‘Little Flock’ and Universal Offer of Salvation III: All Are to Know Jesus, But When? and Universal Offer of Salvation IV: Will the Guilty be Pardoned? and Universal Offer of Salvation V: All Israel Will be Saved? A version of the main article was also translated in the Spanish language: Oferta universal de salvación: Hay cientos de versículos en la Biblia que apoyan la verdadera doctrina de la Apocatastasis.
Did Early Christians Teach They Were Going to Heaven? What do the Bible and scholars teach? What about ‘near-death experiences’? Here are links to a related sermons: Heaven and Christianity and It’s not heaven.
The Last Great Day: Shemini ‘Azeret What is the ‘eighth day’ of the Feast? What does it help picture? A sermon on this topic is also available: Shemini Azaret: The Last Great Day.
Hope of Salvation: How the Continuing Church of God differ from most Protestants How the real Church of God differs from mainstream/traditional Protestants, is perhaps the question I am asked most by those without a Church of God background.
John Calvin, Calvinism, TULIP, and What is Predestination? Who was John Calvin? Did he believe in sola Scriptura or did he hold to unbiblical doctrines? TULIP analyzed.
Did Early Christians Believe that Humans Possessed Immortality? What does John 3:16, and other writings, tell us? Did a doctrine kept adopted from paganism? Here is a YouTube video titled Are humans immortal?
The Rich Man and Lazarus What was Jesus teaching in Luke 16?
Where are Enoch and Elijah? Booklet by the late Dr. Herman Hoeh.
What Did Early Christians Understand About the Resurrections? Is there more than one future resurrection? Did early Christians teach a physical resurrection? Did early Christians teach three resurrections?
What Happens After Death? Is death like sleep, or is that a cultic idea? Can you speak to the dead? Here is a link to a related sermon: What really happens after death?
Are The Wicked Tormented Forever or Burned Up? How does one explain Revelation 14:11 in light of Malachi 4:3? What happens to the incorrigibly wicked?
What is the Meaning of Life? Who does God say is happy? What is your ultimate destiny? Do you really know? Does God actually have a plan for YOU personally? If you would like to watch videos covering subjects of this article, you can click on the following links: Why YOU? Why Do YOU Suffer? and What is the meaning of your life?
Some Dissimilarities Between The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (LDS) and the Continuing Church of God The Continuing Church of God is not related to the Mormons and this article explains some differences and a couple of similarities.
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.
Did the Early Church Teach Purgatory? Is there a place called purgatory? Does God have a plan to help those who did not become saints in this life?
What is Limbo? Is There Such a Place as Limbo? What Happens to Babies When They Die? When did Limbo start being taught? What is the truth about dead babies?
The Gospel of the Kingdom of God This free online pdf booklet has answers many questions people have about the Gospel of the Kingdom of God and explains why it is the solution to the issues the world is facing. Here are links to three related sermons: The World’s False Gospel, The Gospel of the Kingdom: From the New and Old Testaments, and The Kingdom of God is the Solution.
What is the Unpardonable Sin? What is it? Can you repent of it? Do you know what it is and how to avoid it?
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.
The Feast of Tabernacles: A Time for Christians? Is this pilgrimage holy day still valid? Does it teach anything relevant for today’s Christians? What is the Last Great Day? What do these days teach? Here is a link to a sermon about Last Great Day.
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。.
Continuing History of the Church of God This pdf booklet is a historical overview of the true Church of God and some of its main opponents from Acts 2 to the 21st century. Related sermon links include Continuing History of the Church of God: c. 31 to c. 300 A.D. and Continuing History of the Church of God: 4th-16th Centuries and Continuing History of the Church of God: 17th-20th Centuries. The booklet is available in Spanish: Continuación de la Historia de la Iglesia de Dios, German: Kontinuierliche Geschichte der Kirche Gottes, French: L’Histoire Continue de l’Église de Dieu and Ekegusii Omogano Bw’ekanisa Ya Nyasae Egendererete.
Should You Observe God’s Holy Days or Demonic Holidays? This is a free pdf booklet explaining what the Bible and history shows about God’s Holy Days and popular holidays. A related sermon is Which Spring Days should Christians observe?

It is ‘World Water Day’

Wednesday, March 22nd, 2017


Many in Africa and elsewhere do not have safe drinking water.

COGwriter

Today is called World Water Day:

 Each year, World Water Day highlights a specific aspect of freshwater. Under the theme ‘Water and Wastewater’, the year 2017 provides an important opportunity to consolidate and build upon the previous World Water Days to highlight the symbiosis between water and wastewater in the quest for sustainable development. http://programme.worldwaterweek.org/event/5639

The day was first observed in 1993 when the United Nations General Assembly declared March 22 as World Day for Water. This day was first formally proposed in Agenda 21 of the 1992 United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED) in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Observance began in 1993 and has grown significantly ever since.The UN and its member nations devote this day to implementing UN recommendations and promoting concrete activities within their countries regarding the world’s water resources. Each year, one of various UN agencies involved in water issues takes the lead in promoting and coordinating international activities for World Water Day. Since its inception in 2003, UN-Water has been responsible for selecting the theme, messages and lead UN agency for the World Day for Water.In addition to the UN member states, a number of NGOs promoting clean water and sustainable aquatic habitats have used World Day for Water as a time to focus public attention on the critical water issues of our era. The text “World Water Day” has been taken from www.cute-calendar.comFebruary 12, 2016Four billion people — or two out of every three on the planet — do not have enough water to meet their basic needs. That is far greater than previously understood, according to a new study that presents a more accurate picture of the problem.

Water scarcity is fueled by population growth, consumption habits and demands from agriculture. http://www.voanews.com/content/four-billion-people-lack-fresh-water/3188751.html

To celebrate water’s big day, here are some facts about access to water around the globe, courtesy of Water.org:

1. 1.8 billion people around the world lack access to safe water.

2. Globally, a third of all schools lack access to safe water and adequate sanitation.

3. In low- and middle-income countries, a third of all healthcare facilities lack a safe water source.

4. The World Economic Forum in January 2015 ranked the water crisis as the No. 1 global risk based on impact to society (as a measure of devastation).

5. The incidence of children suffering from stunting and chronic malnutrition — at least 160 million — is linked to water and sanitation.

6. More than 840,000 people die from a water-related disease each year, including diarrhea caused by bad drinking water, hygiene and sanitation.

7. Eighty-two percent of people who don’t have access to “improved” water live in rural areas.

8. More than one-third of people worldwide lack access to a toilet, more than the number of people who have a mobile phone.

9. Women and children spend 125 million hours collecting fresh water every day. Individual women and children spend as many as six hours collecting fresh water daily.

10. Every 90 seconds a child dies from a water-related disease.

11. Universal access to safe water and sanitation would result in $18.5 billion in economic benefits each year from deaths avoided alone, a return of $4 for every dollar spent on safe water access.

12. The amount of safe water could drop by 40 percent in 15 years if people do not change the way they use water. March 22, 2016 http://www.ibtimes.com/world-water-day-2016-12-facts-things-know-2340534

Many places in the world have water problems. Drinking water problems are probably the worst in parts of Africa and Asia.

Notice, for example, the following scriptures from the Book of Amos:

7 “I also withheld rain from you,
When there were still three months to the harvest.
I made it rain on one city,
I withheld rain from another city.
One part was rained upon,
And where it did not rain the part withered.
8 So two or three cities wandered to another city to drink water,
But they were not satisfied;
Yet you have not returned to Me,”
Says the Lord.

9 “I blasted you with blight and mildew.
When your gardens increased,
Your vineyards,
Your fig trees,
And your olive trees,
The locust devoured them;
Yet you have not returned to Me,”
Says the Lord. (Amos 4:7-9)

Keeping water clean is a major problem in much of the developing nations.

Here is more about the needs and issues in some of the ‘have-not’ places in the world, which has tended to be the major focus of past Global Water Days:

783 million people lack access to clean or relatively safe water and 37 percent of the world’s population doesn’t have access to toilets…

“Access to sanitation facilities around the world, more than any other service, provides a window into the vast difference between the ‘haves’ and the ‘have-nots.” Catarina de Albuquerque, UN Special Rapporteur on the human right to safe drinking water and sanitation, said in a press release.

In Africa alone, women and children spend 40 billion hours annually collecting water. While taking on this backbreaking effort, they’re also subjected to harassment and sexual assault along the way in unprotected areas…

Water scarcity could cause major food shortages in the foreseeable future, experts have warned…

Diarrhea is the second biggest killer of kids globally — an issue that is completely preventable. Lack of clean water is the primary reason why more than 3,000 children under 5 years of age die every day from diarrhea and other water-related illnesses, the UN reports. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/03/22/world-water-day-2013-facts_n_2927389.html?utm_hp_ref=impact

The United Nations has launched a campaign to lift a deadly taboo on talking about toilets and to turn the world into an “open defecation-free zone”.

The move is part of activities to mark the World Water Day.

The initiative aims to cut the 3,000 children under five who die each day from water-borne diseases like cholera, dysentry and diarrhea, and the 2.5 billion people without access to a toilet.

“Here is a silent disaster which needs to have attention,” UN Deputy Secretary-General Jan Eliasson, a pioneer in unsanitised talk about toilets, said on Friday…

The practice is “a fact of life” for the hundreds of millions of chronically poor people who have to go to toilet in the open air.

Can you imagine the lack of dignity around this act, the risk of being raped if you are a woman or a girl going out at night, but also the health risk for personal health and the environment?” the UN official asked.

Cutting by half the number of people with no access to fresh water by 2015 was one of the eight Millennium Development Goals on health and poverty set in 2000.

It is the target that is most off course. http://www.aljazeera.com/news/americas/2013/03/201332282815760712.html

Without mentioning here much about what the Bible teaches about weather and rain (some of which can be found in the article Weather Blessings and Sorrows), a point about sanitation should be considered now. Notice the following:

12 “Also you shall have a place outside the camp, where you may go out; 13 and you shall have an implement among your equipment, and when you sit down outside, you shall dig with it and turn and cover your refuse. 14 For the Lord your God walks in the midst of your camp, to deliver you and give your enemies over to you; therefore your camp shall be holy, that He may see no unclean thing among you, and turn away from you. (Deuteronomy 23:12-14)

So, the Bible teaches that there should be places designated for defecation and that human feces should be covered and not seen. This was written over three thousand years ago and still would improve human health today if places that do not heed this would now do so.

While obviously it would be helpful to have toilets in private locations, as far as the water-borne diseases like cholera, dysentery, and diarrhea that accompany poor elimination habits, if the biblical injunction to cover human feces was followed, the incidents of those diseases would be reduced.

The laws of God work and will be implemented around the world when Jesus returns and sets up His kingdom. But until then, there are even more troubles and sorrows expected (cf. Matthew 24:4-22).

Some items of possibly related interest may include:

The Gospel of the Kingdom of God This free online pdf booklet has answers many questions people have about the Gospel of the Kingdom of God and explains why it is the solution to the issues the world is facing. Here are links to three related sermons: The World’s False Gospel, The Gospel of the Kingdom: From the New and Old Testaments, and The Kingdom of God is the Solution.
The Bible, Christians, and the Environment How should Christians view the environment? Does the Bible give any clues? What are some of the effects of air, water, and land pollution? Is environmental pollution a factor in autism and death? Do pollutants seem to double the autism risk? What will Jesus do? A YouTube video is available titled Air Pollution, Autism, and Prophecy.
Weather Blessings and Sorrows Are weather problems a warning? What should be done? What does the Bible teach about weather? What about floods, droughts, heat, earthquakes, tornadoes, and solar storms? Here is a related YouTube video Does God Use Weather? A related item in the Spanish language would be Bendiciones y maldiciones del clima.
When Will the Great Tribulation Begin? 2016, 2017, or 2018? 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 2016 o 2017? ¿Es el Tiempo de los Gentiles? You can also see the English language sermon video: The Great Tribulation from the Mount of Olives. A shorter video is: Can the Great Tribulation Start in 2016?
Physical Preparation Scriptures for Christians. We all know the Bible prophecies famines. Should we do something?
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.
Europa, the Beast, and Revelation Where did Europe get its name? What might Europe have to do with the Book of Revelation? What about “the Beast”? Is an emerging European power “the daughter of Babylon”? What is ahead for Europe? Here is a link to a video titled: Can You Prove that the Beast to Come is European?
Africa: Its Biblical Past and Prophesied Future What does the Bible teach about Africa and its future? Did the early Church reach Africa? Will God call all the Africans? A video of possible interest is: Nairobi Conference: All About Love.

The Sabbath Sentinel: More on Ignatius and the Sabbath

Tuesday, March 21st, 2017

COGwriter

Did early Christians keep Saturday or Sunday? While there are various opinions about this, some of those opinions are not based upon biblical or historical fact. Yesterday, I posted an article related to this (part two of a series).

The Bible Sabbath Association, which is not a Church of God group (though it has members that are in the COGs, as well as members who are not), published a version of the following in the latest edition (March-April 2017) of its The Sabbath Sentinel magazine which helps give additional historical information:

More on Ignatius and the Sabbath

By Bob Thiel, Ph.D.

This is the third part of a multi-part series explaining why certain early documents that are claimed against the seventh-day Sabbath are misunderstood and not actually against it.

Many on the internet and elsewhere, have pointed to some basically 19th century translations of certain ancient documents in an attempt to support their contention that Sunday was observed early on by the original Christians. But do they?

Perhaps the most commonly cited major claim in favor of early Sunday worship is from Ignatius’ Letter to the Magnesians. And that was partially handled in the previous part which explained that Ignatius’ writing was NOT doing away with the Sabbath, but only warning not to keep it the way that many Jews did.

How did many Jews keep it? Alfred Edersheim, a 19th century scholar, observed related to the Jewish Talmud (the Mishna and Gemara) and keeping the Sabbath:

In not less than 24 chapters, matters are seriously discussed as of vital religious importance, which one would scarcely imagine a sane intellect would seriously entertain. [1].

Note that these are mainly restrictions that are not found in the Bible (I have read many of these restrictions in the Mishna and they do seem to be absurd).  Jesus also taught that Pharisaical Jews had improper concepts about the Sabbath (e.g. Matthew 12:1-14; Luke 13:10-17).

It may also be of interest to note how the less-accepted “longer” version of Ignatius’ Letter to the Magnesians was translated in the Ante-Nicene Fathers as follows:

Let us therefore no longer keep the Sabbath after the Jewish manner…[2]

Furthermore, the above version of Ignatius’ letter adds:

But let every one of you keep the Sabbath after a spiritual manner, rejoicing in meditation on the law, not in relaxation of the body, admiring the workmanship of God, and not eating things prepared the day before, nor using lukewarm drinks, and walking within a prescribed space, nor finding delight in dancing and plaudits which have no sense in them. [3]

It should be obvious that Ignatius was not teaching that the Sabbath was done away and replaced by Sunday.  The above version seems to be more consistent with the meaning than how most others have translated the more “accepted” version.

Ignatius’s Other Writings

It should be understood that Ignatius’ other writings show that he did not try to do away with the sabbath commandment. Notice what else he wrote in his Letter to the Magnesians:

It is fitting, then, not only to be called Christians, but to be so in reality: as some indeed give one the title of bishop, but do all things without him. Now such persons seem to me to be not possessed of a good conscience, seeing they are not stedfastly gathered together according to the commandment. [4]

The commandment that involves meeting together is the fourth commandment. It is the commandment that says to:

Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy (Exodus 20:8).

Part of the way the Sabbath day is kept holy is by meeting together for church services (referred to as “an holy convocation” in Leviticus 23:1-3). There is no direct statement anywhere in the Bible requiring a weekly convocation on Sunday.

In his Letter to the Romans, Ignatius observed that true Christians kept the commandments:

I also salute in the name of Jesus Christ, the Son of the Father: to those who are united, both according to the flesh and spirit, to every one of His commandments [5].

But if any one preach the Jewish law unto you, listen not to him. For it is better to hearken to Christian doctrine from a man who has been circumcised, than to Judaism from one uncircumcised. But if either of such persons do not speak concerning Jesus Christ, they are in my judgment but as monuments and sepulchres of the dead, upon which are written only the names of men. Flee therefore the wicked devices and snares of the prince of this world, lest at any time being conquered by his artifices, ye grow weak in your love [6].

Notice that Ignatius is once again complaining about Judaic customs that are not from the Bible. How do we know that the practices that Ignatius is referring to are not from the Bible? Because Ignatius is clearly saying to avoid snares from “the prince of the world.” The “prince” Ignatius is referring to is Satan (see Ephesians 2:2), and since the Sabbath did not come from Satan, as it came from God (see Genesis 2:1-3), Ignatius would not refer to something that God made as wicked.

Furthermore, notice that Ignatius mentioned about keeping “every one of His commandments,” thus this is not simply an admonition to love, but to keep all the commandments.

In his Letter to the Smyrnaeans, Ignatius warned about false Christians:

But I guard you beforehand from those beasts in the shape of men, whom you must not only not receive, but, if it be possible, not even meet with; only you must pray to God for them, if by any means they may be brought to repentance, which, however, will be very difficult. Yet Jesus Christ, who is our true life, has the power of [effecting] this. But if these things were done by our Lord only in appearance, then am I also only in appearance bound. And why have I also surrendered myself to death, to fire, to the sword, to the wild beasts? But, [in fact,] he who is near to the sword is near to God; he that is among the wild beasts is in company with God; provided only he be so in the name of Jesus Christ. I undergo all these things that I may suffer together with Him, He who became a perfect man inwardly strengthening me. Some ignorantly deny Him, or rather have been denied by Him, being the advocates of death rather than of the truth. These persons neither have the prophets persuaded, nor the law of Moses, nor the Gospel even to this day, nor the sufferings we have individually endured. For they think also the same thing regarding us [7].

Since he writes that some of the false Christians do not have “the law of Moses” it is reasonable to conclude that Ignatius believed that he did have the “law of Moses” (cf. 1 Corinthians 9:8-12) in regards to the ten commandments, including the Sabbath commandment.

The idea that those who professed Christ had a more positive, and less ceremonial attitude toward the Sabbath than did most of the Jews can also be found in an anonymous document titled the Epistle to Diognetus (probably written in the late second century). Specifically, in the following portion the writer claims that the Jews:

4:3 And again to lie against God, as if He forbad us to do any good thing on the sabbath day, is not this profane? [8]

This is simply additional evidence that the way of sabbath emphasis of those who professed Christ was different from that held by many of the Jews then. True Christians understood Jesus’ teachings that it was lawful to do good on the Sabbath (e.g. Matthew 12:12).

Ignatius’ writings do NOT ‘do away with’ the Sabbath. They basically point out the Christians are to keep it as God intended, not as some Jews later decided.

References

[1] Edersheim A. The Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah, Volume 2. Longmans, Green, and Company, 1883, p. 775

[2] Ignatius (Pseudo). The Epistle to the Magnesians (longer recension). Excerpted from Ante-Nicene Fathers, Volume 1. Edited by Alexander Roberts & James Donaldson. American Edition, 1885. Hendrickson Publishers, Peabody (MA), 1999 printing, p.62

[3 Ibid

[4] Ignatius. Letter to the Magnesians, Chapter III. Excerpted from Ante-Nicene Fathers, Volume 1. Edited by Alexander Roberts & James Donaldson. American Edition, 1885. Online Edition Copyright © 2004 by K. Knight

[5] Ignatius. Letter to the Romans, Chapter I. Excerpted from Ante-Nicene Fathers, Volume 1. Edited by Alexander Roberts & James Donaldson. American Edition, 1885. Online Edition Copyright © 2004 by K. Knight

[6] Ignatius. Letter to the Philadelphians. Chapter VI. Excerpted from Ante-Nicene Fathers, Volume 1. Edited by Alexander Roberts & James Donaldson. American Edition, 1885. Online Edition Copyright © 2004 by K. Knight

[7] Ignatius. Letter to the Smyrnaeans, Chapters IV-V. Excerpted from Ante-Nicene Fathers, Volume 1. Edited by Alexander Roberts & James Donaldson. American Edition, 1885. Online Edition Copyright © 2004 by K. Knight

[8] The Epistle To Diognetus. Translated by J.B. Lightfoot. In Apostolic Fathers. Lightfoot & Harmer, 1891 translation, Online version © 2001 Peter Kirby
Dr. Thiel has been interested in the Church of God for over 40 years. He was baptized by a Worldwide Church of God minister in 1977. He writes extensively. He is currently the Overseeing Pastor of the Continuing Church of God, one of the top ten groups (in terms of membership) whose leaders were once part of the old Worldwide Church of God. Hundreds of thousands know him as “COGwriter” as he writes over 1000 news posts and articles per year at www.cogwriter.com.

This is the second article I have had published in The Sabbath Sentinel (here is a link to the first: The Sabbath Sentinel: The Didache and the Sabbath).

The published article is basically an extract from my article Another Look at the Didache, Ignatius, and the Sabbath. Because of the restrictions in article length for The Sabbath Sentinel, I submitted just a few pages which they published.

It is my hope and prayer that those who read the submitted articles will see that early church history supports Saturday, and not Sunday, as the Christian day of rest. This article should be able to reach people we have not been able to reach in other ways. It is also my hope and prayer that those who read the articles will see that we in the Continuing Church of God have a true and proper grasp of early church history.

The series of articles expected to be published in The Sabbath Sentinel should also help non-Sabbath keepers realize that the historical evidence points to early, faithful, Christians resting on Saturday and not Sunday.

Some items of possibly related interest may include the following:

The Sabbath in the Early Church and Abroad Was the seventh-day (Saturday) Sabbath observed by the apostolic and post-apostolic Church? Here is a related sermon video The Christian Sabbath and How and Why to Keep It.
Early Sabbath Keeping in North America When did Europeans first keep the Sabbath in North America? Did the pilgrims who arrived on the Mayflower keep Saturday or Sunday?
How to Observe the Sabbath How should you keep the Sabbath? This is an old article by Raymond Cole, with updated information for the 21st century.
The Dramatic Story of Chinese Sabbathkeepers This reformatted Good News article from 1955 discusses Sabbath-keeping in China in the 1800s.
Is God Unreasonable? Some have suggested that if God requires Sabbath-keeping He is unreasonable. Is that true? Here is a link to a related article in Mandarin Chinese 一个不合理的神?
Should You Observe God’s Holy Days or Demonic Holidays? This is a free pdf booklet explaining what the Bible and history shows about God’s Holy Days and popular holidays. A related sermon is Which Spring Days should Christians observe?
Is Revelation 1:10 talking about Sunday or the Day of the Lord?
Most Protestant scholars say Sunday is the Lord’s Day, but is that what the Bible teaches?
Sunday and Christianity Was Sunday observed by the apostolic and true post-apostolic Christians? Who clearly endorsed Sunday? What relevance is the first or the “eighth” day? A related sermon is also available: Sunday: First and Eighth Day?
Where is the True Christian Church Today? This free online pdf booklet answers that question and includes 18 proofs, clues, and signs to identify the true vs. false Christian church. Plus 7 proofs, clues, and signs to help identify Laodicean churches. A related sermon is also available: Where is the True Christian Church? Here is a link to the booklet in the Spanish language: ¿Dónde está la verdadera Iglesia cristiana de hoy? Here is a link in the German language: WO IST DIE WAHRE CHRISTLICHE KIRCHE HEUTE? Here is a link in the French language: Où est la vraie Église Chrétienne aujourd’hui?
Continuing History of the Church of God This pdf booklet is a historical overview of the true Church of God and some of its main opponents from Acts 2 to the 21st century. Related sermon links include Continuing History of the Church of God: c. 31 to c. 300 A.D. and Continuing History of the Church of God: 4th-16th Centuries. The booklet is available in Spanish: Continuación de la Historia de la Iglesia de Dios, German: Kontinuierliche Geschichte der Kirche Gottes, and Ekegusii Omogano Bw’ekanisa Ya Nyasae Egendererete.
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?
Another Look at the Didache, Ignatius, and the Sabbath
Did Ignatius write against the Sabbath and for Sunday? What about the Didache? What does the actual Greek reveal? Are mistranslations of these early writings relied on for false doctrinal positions?

The Sabbath Sentinel: Ignatius and the Sabbath

Monday, March 20th, 2017

COGwriter

Did early Christians keep Saturday or Sunday?

While there are various opinions about this, some of those opinions are not based upon biblical or historical fact.

The Bible Sabbath Association, which is not a Church of God group (though it has members that are in the COGs, as well as members who are not), published a version of the following in the latest edition (May-June 2016) of its The Sabbath Sentinel magazine:

Ignatius and the Sabbath

By Bob Thiel, Ph.D.

This is the second part of a multi-part series explaining why certain early documents that are claimed against the seventh-day Sabbath are misunderstood and not actually against it.

Many on the internet and elsewhere, have pointed to some basically 19th century translations of certain ancient documents in an attempt to support their contention that Sunday was observed early on by the original Christians. But do they?

Perhaps the most commonly cited major claim in favor of early Sunday worship is from Ignatius’ Letter to the Magnesians.

Here is what the Greek states:

Εί ούν οί έν παλαιοîς πράγμασιν άναστραφέντες είς καινότητα έλπίδος ήλθον, μηκέτι σαββατίζοντες, άλλά κατά κυριακήν ζώντες, έν ή καί ή ζωή ήμών άνέτειλεν δι’ αύτού καί τού θανάτου αύτού, <öν> τινες άρνούνται, δι’ ού μυστηρίου έλάβομεν τò πιστεύειν, καί διά τούτο ύπομένομεν, ïνα εύρεθώμεν μαθηταί ‘Iησού Χριστού τού μόνου διδασκάλου ήμών· [1]

Here is a fairly typical 19th century translation of verse 9.1, by Dr. J.B. Lightfoot:

If then those who had walked in ancient practices attained unto newness of hope, no longer observing sabbaths but fashioning their lives after the Lord’s day, on which our life also arose through Him and through His death which some men deny — a mystery whereby we attained unto belief, and for this cause we endure patiently, that we may be found disciples of Jesus Christ our only teacher [2].

But is that correct?

No, it is not. It should be noted that the word for ‘day’ is not in the Greek text.

Interestingly, like Lake and Hall/Napier, Dr. Lightfoot also failed to translate Κατα, which is in the text [3] as “according to.”

Yet, Lightfoot did translate Κατα as “according to” in three other places in this letter (verses 3.1,10.1, 13.2 [4]). He also failed to do so in his translation of the Didache, where he began verse 14.1 with “And on” [5]–an apparently intentional and improper translation as discussed above (Lightfoot translated Κατα as “according to” five other times in the Didache [6]).

It is sad that these translators, all born in the 19th century, all decided to selectively change the meaning of a word.

Why?

Well, in order to support Sunday worship.

Yet, even noted scholar Guy Fritz concluded that the text in Ignatius is too ambiguous to be used to support Sunday worship:

“in the study of the ‘Lord’s day’ in the early church … {it} cannot at the present time properly be introduced as evidence indicating its [Sunday] observance” [7].

The 19th century theologian John Kitto understood that neither the context nor the Greek required adding the word day. Thus he translated a highly relevant part of it correctly as follows:

…living according to our Lord’s life…[8].

John Kitto also made the following comments about the passage from Ignatius:

Now many commentators assume (on what ground does not appear), that alter κυριακήν [Lord’s] the word ἡμέραν [day] is to be understood … The defect of the sentence is the want of a substantive to which άvroύ can refer. This defect, so far from being- remedied, is rendered still more glaring by the introduction of ἡμέραν … the passage does not refer at all to the Lord’s day … it cannot be regarded as affording any positive evidence to the early use of the term ‘Lord’s day’ (for which it is often cited), since the word ἡμέραν [day] is purely conjectual [9].

Yet, almost all anti-Sabbath websites I have visited have ignored the scholars that understand the truth about Ignatius’ writings as they cite the mistranslations as “proof” of early Sunday observance—even though the actual Greek text does no such thing.

While in Greece, I was able to verify that the word in koine Greek translated as “Lord’s Day” in both the Didache and the Letter to the Magnesians, κυριακὴν, could not be translated as “Lord’s Day” as the Greek word for day is not present in the texts nor required by the contexts for either.

In Ignatius’ Letter to the Magnesians, like in the Didache (another ancient document some cite for ‘proof’ of Sunday), κυριακὴν would be better translated as “Lord’s way” or combined with the Greek word that follows it , ζωντες [10], “Lord’s way of life” or “Lord’s living.” This is also consistent with what Paul wrote:

When Christ who is our life appears, then you also will appear with Him in glory (Colossians 3:4, NKJV throughout unless otherwise noted).

Imitate me, just as I also imitate Christ (1 Corinthians 11:1).

It was the custom of Jesus (e.g. Luke 4:16) and Paul to regularly keep the Sabbath (Acts 17:2). The Sabbath was part of the Lord’s way of life, and Paul imitated Christ that way. Understanding Jesus’ life is critical to understanding Ignatius.

Furthermore, to better understand Ignatius’ letter, we should look at more of the context and not just verse 9.1. out-of-context, as some Sunday advocates have.

A more literal (though not grammatical) translation of the relevant portion from Ignatius’ letter appears to be:

8.1 Be not seduced by strange doctrines nor by antiquated fables, which are profitless.

8.2 For if even unto this day we live according to the manner of Judaic concepts, we admit that we have not received grace: for the godly prophets lived after Christ Jesus. For this cause also they were persecuted, being inspired by His grace to the end that they which are disobedient might be fully persuaded that there is one God who manifested Himself through Jesus Christ His Son, who is His Word that proceeded from silence, who in all things was well-pleasing unto Him that sent Him.

9.1 If then those who had walked in ancient practices attained unto newness of hope, no longer keeping sabbaths contrariwise according to the Lord’s way of life, on which our life also arose through Him and through His death which some men deny – a mystery whereby we attained unto belief, and for this cause we endure patiently, that we may be found disciples of Jesus Christ our only teacher –

9.2 if this be so, how shall we be able to live apart from Him? Seeing that even the prophets, being His disciples, were expecting Him as their teacher through the Spirit. And for this cause He whom they rightly awaited, when He came, raised them from the dead.

According to a scholar of koine Greek who I consulted with, Dr. Theony Condos (a non-Sabbathkeeper), the first portion of 9.1 would grammatically be better translated as:

“If then those who had walked in ancient practices attained unto newness of hope, no longer {Judaically} keeping sabbaths but according to the Lord’s way of life…” [11]

This is because she insisted that the term ‘but’ (or ‘contrariwise’ as translated earlier above) had to refer to the “Lord’s way” instead of the Sabbath.

There are at least two reasons for this. The first is that the godly prophets had been keeping the seventh day Sabbath. And the second is since the portion of the Greek term translated as the first part of “no longer” is a ‘qualified negative’ [12] the context supports that the ‘Judaic concepts’ (verse 8.2) are part of the qualification. It may be of interest to note that the terms first, day, or Sun are not in the above passages.

She confirmed with me that this section is certainly speaking about the same ancient prophets throughout, hence since they actually kept the Sabbath (and not Sunday), she felt that the idea of Judaically would have had to been in Ignatius’ mind. And that this type of reference was required in English to properly understand what Ignatius was writing (and I also had this confirmed by others with a working knowledge of koine Greek).

This assessment is also consistent with later testimony from Jerome who mentioned that the Sabbath-keeping Christians he ran into did not adhere to the Jewish traditions–in other words, although they kept the Sabbath, the Nazarenes did not keep the Sabbath Judaically:

Jerome declares:

“On Isaiah 9:1-4

“The Nazarenes, whose opinion I have set forth above, try to explain this passage in the following way: When Christ came and his preaching shone out, the land of Zebulon and Naphtali [the region of Galilee] first of all were freed from the errors of the Scribes and Pharisees and he shook off their shoulders the very heavy yoke of the JEWISH TRADITIONS. Later, however, the preaching became more dominant, that means the preaching was multiplied, through the gospel of the apostle Paul who was the last of all the apostles. And the gospel of Christ shone to the most distant tribes and the way of the whole sea. Finally the whole world, which earlier walked or sat in darkness and was imprisoned in the bonds of idolatry and death, has seen the clear light of the gospel” (p.64).

In this passage, we find that the Nazarene Christians — like Yeshua the Messiah, Peter, James, John and especially Paul — rejected Jewish traditionalism, invention, and additions to the Torah or Old Testament. They referred to them as the “very heavy yoke of the Jewish traditions.” [13].

Thus, instead of proving Sunday and disproving the Sabbath, Ignatius (and indirectly even Jerome) seems to be warning against incorrectly observing the Sabbath as certain Pharisaical Jews insisted, with their antiquated fables. Or in other words, Ignatius was condemning the observance of traditions of men over the Bible.

Dr. Noel Rude, a self-described “grammar-freak” and linguist, felt that perhaps the following would be even more grammatically correct for the first part of verse 9.1:

“If then those who had walked in ancient practices attained unto newness of hope, no longer (Judaically) keeping sabbaths but living according to the lordly way…”[14]

And that seems to be consistent with how I feel this verse should be translated.

Ignatius was teaching that the godly prophets, who lived in ancient times, lived in accordance to the ways of Jesus Christ, and not after improper Judaic concepts. There is no doubt that the ancient prophets (such as Isaiah) kept the Sabbath on the day now known as Saturday.

References

[1] Holmes M. The Apostolic Fathers–Greek Text and English Translations, 3rd printing 2004. Baker Books, Grand Rapids (MI) p. 154

[2] Ignatius. Letter to the Magnesians, Verse 9.1. Translated by J.B. Lightfoot. Apostolic Fathers, Lightfoot & Harmer, 1891 translation. © 2001 Peter Kirby

[3] Ignatius. Letter to the Magnesians. In: Holmes M. pp. 150-159

[4] Ibid

[5] The Didache. Translated by J.B. Lightfoot. Apostolic Fathers, Lightfoot & Harmer, 1891 translation. © 2001 Peter Kirby

[6] Ibid

[7] Guy F. Lord’s Day in the Letter of Ignatius to the Magnesians. AUSS 2, 1964: 17 Cited in Bacchiocchi S. Anti-Judaism and the Origin of Sunday, p. 93

[8] Kitto J. The cyclopaedia of Biblical literature, Volume 2. American Book Exchange, 1881. Original from Harvard University, Digitized. Jan 31, 2008 p. 270

[9] Ibid

[10] Ignatius. Letter to the Magnesians. Verse 8. In: Holmes M. The Apostolic Fathers–Greek Text and English Translations, 3rd printing 2004, p. 154

[11] Condos, Theony. Meeting with Dr. Thiel regarding Ignatius’ Letter to the Magnesians. Santa Barbara, California. July 31, 2005 (in 2007, 2009, 2010, and 2011, Dr. Condos also served as the parish president for Saint Barbara Greek Orthodox Church)

[12] Strong J. Words 3371 & 3361 in Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible, Greek Dictionary of the New Testament, Abington, Nashville, 1890 , p.48

[13] The Mysterious Relationship of The Early Nazarene Christians and Rabbinic Judaism. http://hope-of-israel.org/nazarene.htm 02/25/16

[14] Rude N. Emails to COGwriter, 2/23/11 and 03/03/2011

Dr. Thiel has been interested in the Church of God for over 40 years. He was baptized by a Worldwide Church of God minister in 1977. He writes extensively. He is currently the Overseeing Pastor of the Continuing Church of God, one of the top ten groups (in terms of membership) whose leaders were once part of the old Worldwide Church of God. Hundreds of thousands know him as “COGwriter” as he writes over 1000 news posts and articles per year at www.cogwriter.com.

This is the second article I have had published in The Sabbath Sentinel (here is a link to the first: The Sabbath Sentinel: The Didache and the Sabbath).

The published article is basically an extract from my article Another Look at the Didache, Ignatius, and the Sabbath. Because of the restrictions in article length for The Sabbath Sentinel, I submitted just a few pages which they published.

It is my hope and prayer that those who read the submitted articles will see that early church history supports Saturday, and not Sunday, as the Christian day of rest. This article should be able to reach people we have not been able to reach in other ways. It is also my hope and prayer that those who read the articles will see that we in the Continuing Church of God have a true and proper grasp of early church history.

The series of articles expected to be published in The Sabbath Sentinel should also help non-Sabbath keepers realize that the historical evidence points to early, faithful, Christians resting on Saturday and not Sunday.

Some items of possibly related interest may include the following:

The Sabbath in the Early Church and Abroad Was the seventh-day (Saturday) Sabbath observed by the apostolic and post-apostolic Church? Here is a related sermon video The Christian Sabbath and How and Why to Keep It.
Early Sabbath Keeping in North America When did Europeans first keep the Sabbath in North America? Did the pilgrims who arrived on the Mayflower keep Saturday or Sunday?
How to Observe the Sabbath How should you keep the Sabbath? This is an old article by Raymond Cole, with updated information for the 21st century.
The Dramatic Story of Chinese Sabbathkeepers This reformatted Good News article from 1955 discusses Sabbath-keeping in China in the 1800s.
Is God Unreasonable? Some have suggested that if God requires Sabbath-keeping He is unreasonable. Is that true? Here is a link to a related article in Mandarin Chinese 一个不合理的神?
Should You Observe God’s Holy Days or Demonic Holidays? This is a free pdf booklet explaining what the Bible and history shows about God’s Holy Days and popular holidays. A related sermon is Which Spring Days should Christians observe?
Is Revelation 1:10 talking about Sunday or the Day of the Lord?
Most Protestant scholars say Sunday is the Lord’s Day, but is that what the Bible teaches?
Sunday and Christianity Was Sunday observed by the apostolic and true post-apostolic Christians? Who clearly endorsed Sunday? What relevance is the first or the “eighth” day? A related sermon is also available: Sunday: First and Eighth Day?
Where is the True Christian Church Today? This free online pdf booklet answers that question and includes 18 proofs, clues, and signs to identify the true vs. false Christian church. Plus 7 proofs, clues, and signs to help identify Laodicean churches. A related sermon is also available: Where is the True Christian Church? Here is a link to the booklet in the Spanish language: ¿Dónde está la verdadera Iglesia cristiana de hoy? Here is a link in the German language: WO IST DIE WAHRE CHRISTLICHE KIRCHE HEUTE? Here is a link in the French language: Où est la vraie Église Chrétienne aujourd’hui?
Continuing History of the Church of God This pdf booklet is a historical overview of the true Church of God and some of its main opponents from Acts 2 to the 21st century. Related sermon links include Continuing History of the Church of God: c. 31 to c. 300 A.D. and Continuing History of the Church of God: 4th-16th Centuries. The booklet is available in Spanish: Continuación de la Historia de la Iglesia de Dios, German: Kontinuierliche Geschichte der Kirche Gottes, and Ekegusii Omogano Bw’ekanisa Ya Nyasae Egendererete.
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?
Another Look at the Didache, Ignatius, and the Sabbath
Did Ignatius write against the Sabbath and for Sunday? What about the Didache? What does the actual Greek reveal? Are mistranslations of these early writings relied on for false doctrinal positions?

Angola proposes outlawing all abortions

Sunday, March 19th, 2017

 COGwriter

The African nation of Angola is proposing to make all abortions illegal.

March 18, 2017

Some 200 demonstrators have protested in Luanda against a draft law criminalizing all abortions to be voted on next week. Angola has one of the world’s worst health care systems.  …

The draft penal code punishes anyone who has an abortion or performs one with up to 10 years in jail. It offers no exceptions to the punishments for those who have or perform abortions.

The government had proposed exceptions in cases of rape or when the mother’s health is in danger, but parliament rejected these after lobbying by the Catholic Church.

Parliament is expected to vote on the criminal code on Thursday, March 23.

Angola, which had been ruled by President dos Santos since 1979, is updating its 1886 penal code dating back to the Portuguese colonial era. … Angola faces an important presidential election in August as President Jose Eduardo dos Santos, one of Africa’s longest-serving leaders, has announced he will not run again after 38 years in power. http://www.dw.com/en/protests-against-abortion-bill-in-angola/a-38008433

I am glad that political leaders in Angola have the courage to propose outlawing the murder of innocent babies. Women do not have the right to intentionally kill their children.

We will see if Angola will make all abortion illegal, and if the West will try to punish Angola for this as the West has tried to punish Uganda and other African nations that will not promote the anti-biblical LGBTQ agenda. I will pray that Angola and other lands outlaw abortion.

The Bible condemns those that shed innocent blood, as that is something that God hates:

So you shall put away the guilt of innocent blood from among you when you do what is right in the sight of the LORD (Deuteronomy 21:9).

These six things the LORD hates, Yes, seven are an abomination to Him: A proud look, A lying tongue, Hands that shed innocent blood, A heart that devises wicked plans, Feet that are swift in running to evil, A false witness who speaks lies, And one who sows discord among brethren (Proverbs 6:16-19).

Their feet run to evil, And they make haste to shed innocent blood; Their thoughts are thoughts of iniquity; Wasting and destruction are in their paths. The way of peace they have not known, And there is no justice in their ways; They have made themselves crooked paths; Whoever takes that way shall not know peace (Isaiah 59:7-8).

Thus says the LORD: “Execute judgment and righteousness, and deliver the plundered out of the hand of the oppressor. Do no wrong and do no violence to the stranger, the fatherless, or the widow, nor shed innocent blood in this place (Jeremiah 22:3).

“Yet your eyes and your heart are for nothing but your covetousness, For shedding innocent blood, And practicing oppression and violence” (Jeremiah 22:17).

Babies are innocent. Killing them is the shedding of innocent blood.

Notice the following:

My tongue shall speak of Your word, For all Your commandments are righteousness (Psalm 119:172).

Righteousness exalts a nation, But sin is a reproach to any people (Proverbs 14:34).

Killing babies through abortion is not righteous. It is a reproach to nations that allow and encourage it. It is good that Angola is seriously considering outlawing this.

Those that consent to abortions are often proud, are normally lying to themselves that they are not doing violence to a human being, and often have abortions because of their own lusts and covetousness. Adding the sin of abortion to their other sins is simply not the answer.

They also place themselves in the same category as Judas Iscariot, for he admitted that when he betrayed Jesus Christ, he (Judas) betrayed “innocent blood” (Matthew 27:4). Jesus was betrayed by someone He considered to be a friend–no baby should be betrayed by the mother that is supposed to love them.

Women are struck emotionally for the rest of their lives when they consent to an abortion (the Bible even warns of curses for killing the innocent, Deuteronomy 27:25). That is not a choice they ever should make.

As far as Angola goes, I have long had interest in that nation. Furthermore, at the conference we had in Africa last month (see Africa Conference 2017), I asked the representative from Mozambique if he was fluent in Portuguese–and he said he was.

I told him that if possible, after we get more materials translated into Portuguese (which is something he agreed to do) that perhaps one day we would be able to send him to Angola, if there is serious interest there. I also told him that I had been praying about Angola and believed that God would open the door to us to reach those He is or will call there.

Some items of possibly related interest may include:

Abortion, the Bible, and a Woman’s Right to Choose Do you know what the Bible teaches on this? Has the Roman Catholic Church allowed abortions? What about the real Church of God? Some may also, or instead, wish to view the YouTube video Abortion, the Bible, and US Debt.

Women and the New Testament Church What roles did women play in the ministry of Jesus and the apostles? Did Jesus and the Apostle Paul violate Jewish traditions regarding their dealings with women? Do women have any biblical limitations on their role in the Church? Were there female prophets? Do women have any special responsibilities in terms of how they dress? What does the New Testament really teach about women? Here is a related sermon titled: New Testament Women.

The Bible Condemns Homosexuality “Same-sex marriage” for “gays” and lesbians is becoming more acceptable to many. What does the Bible teach about homosexuality?  Can homosexuals change? A related video sermon is titled: What Does the Bible Really Teach about Homosexuality?

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

Christian Repentance Do you know what repentance is? Is it really necessary for salvation? A related sermon is also available titled: Real Christian Repentance.

Africa: Its Biblical Past and Prophesied Future What does the Bible teach about Africa and its future? Did the early Church reach Africa? Will God call all the Africans? A video of possible interest is: Nairobi Conference: All About Love.

Sermonette: The First Letter of John and the Gospel of John

Sunday, March 19th, 2017


COGwriter

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


    • 25:34
Michael Radtke discusses Jesus’ last night from John’s perspective … and then relates John’s experience at that Passover and its probable influence in his first letter. He also discusses the millennium and the coming famine of the word.

Here is a link to the sermonette:  The First Letter of John.

Some other items of interest may include:

 

Examine Yourself before Passover This article goes into some of why real Christians are to do this. A related sermon is titled Passover Examination.
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.
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.
The Passover Plot What was the first Passover plot? Which plots have Islam and the Greco-Roman faiths perpetuated about Passover? A sermon video of related interest is The Passover Plots, Including Easter.
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. Here is a related sermon, also titled Melito’s Homily on the Passover.Christian Repentance Do you know what repentance is? Is it really necessary for salvation? A related sermon is titled: Real Christian Repentance.
Where is the True Christian Church Today?
This free online pdf booklet answers that question and includes 18 proofs, clues, and signs to identify the true vs. false Christian church. Plus 7 proofs, clues, and signs to help identify Laodicean churches. A related sermon is also available: Where is the True Christian Church? Here is a link to the booklet in the Spanish language: ¿Dónde está la verdadera Iglesia cristiana de hoy? Here is a link in the German language: WO IST DIE WAHRE CHRISTLICHE KIRCHE HEUTE? Here is a link in the French language: Où est la vraie Église Chrétienne aujourd’hui?
Continuing History of the Church of God This pdf booklet is a historical overview of the true Church of God and some of its main opponents from Acts 2 to the 21st century. Related sermon links include Continuing History of the Church of God: c. 31 to c. 300 A.D. and Continuing History of the Church of God: 4th-16th Centuries and Continuing History of the Church of God: 17th-20th Centuries. The booklet is available in Spanish: Continuación de la Historia de la Iglesia de Dios, German: Kontinuierliche Geschichte der Kirche Gottes, and Ekegusii Omogano Bw’ekanisa Ya Nyasae Egendererete.
CCOG.ORG
Continuing Church of God The group striving to be most faithful amongst all real Christian groups to the word of God. To see how CCOG has done so far, here are links to two sermons Continuing Church of God (CCOG) first year anniversary: What has been accomplished? and The Continuing Church of God: Two Years of Proclamation. Here is a written link to a version of that sermon in the Spanish language: Aniversario del primer año de la Continuación de la Iglesia de Dios: ¿Qué se ha cumplido?

Congregations of the Continuing Church of God This is a listing of congregations and groups of the Continuing Church of God around the world.
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.
CCOGAFRICA.ORG This is a website targeted towards those in Africa.
CCOGCANADA.CA This is a website targeted towards those in Canada.
CDLIDD.ES La Continuación de la Iglesia de Dios. This is the Spanish language website for the Continuing Church of God.
PNIND.PH Patuloy na Iglesya ng Diyos. This is the Philippines website Continuing Church of God. It has information in English and Tagalog.
CCOGAfrica channel. This has messages from African pastors in African languages such as Kalenjin, Kiswahili, Embu, and Dholuo.
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.

Sermon: Does God exist to YOU?

Saturday, March 18th, 2017


COGwriter

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


1:15:08

Does God exist to YOU?

Is it scientific to believe that the universe and/or physical matter always existed? Is it scientifically-possible for life to spring from inanimate matter and then evolve into complex organisms? what about DNA, laws of physics, and mathematical models? What did Charles Darwin actually write? What does the Bible teach? Dr. Thiel answers these questions, while also providing at least seven proofs of a Creator God. He then challenges all who truly believe in God to trust Him and live their lives knowing He does exist. Two articles of related interest include “Is God’s Existence Logical?” URL: http://www.cogwriter.com/god.htm and “Is Evolution Probable or Impossible or Is God’s Existence Logical? Part II” URL: http://www.cogwriter.com/evolution.htm

Here is a link to the sermon: Does God exist to YOU?

Some items of related interest may include:

Is God’s Existence Logical? Some say it is not logical to believe in God. Is that true? Here is a link to a YouTube sermon titled Is it logical to believe in God?
Is Evolution Probable or Impossible or Is God’s Existence Logical? Part II This short article clearly answers what ‘pseudo-scientists’ refuse to acknowledge. Here is a link to a YouTube video titled Is There Another View of Evolution? and another titled Quickly Disprove Evolution as the Origin of Life.
Building Character: Going on to Perfection Once you have accepted Jesus, do you need to strive for perfection and build character? A related video sermon is available: Going on to perfection and building character.
What is the Meaning of Life? Who does God say is happy? What is your ultimate destiny? Do you really know? Does God actually have a plan for YOU personally? If you would like to watch videos covering subjects of this article, you can click on the following links: Why YOU? Why Do YOU Suffer? and What is the meaning of your life?
How Old is the Earth and How Long Were the Days of Creation? Does the Bible allow for the creation of the universe and earth billions of years ago? Why do some believe they are no older than 6,000 years old? What is the gap theory? Were the days of creation in Genesis 1:3 through 2:3 24 hours long? Here is a link to a sermon: Genesis, ‘Prehistoric man,’ and the Gap theory. Here is a link to a related article in Spanish: ¿Cuán vieja es la Tierra? ¿Cuán largos fueron los Días de la Creación? ¿Teoría de la brecha?
Where Did God Come From? Any ideas? And how has God been able to exist? Who is God?
How is God Omnipotent, Omnipresent, and Omniscient? Here is a biblical article which answers what many really wonder about it.
Faith for Those God has Called and Chosen What is faith? Can faith be increased? Are you saved by faith? What about works? Do Christians need to keep the Ten Commandments? What is the ‘faith chapter’? How do the just live by faith? Is faith one of the weightier matters of the law? How does faith come? Marque aquí para ver el pdf folleto: Fe para aquellos que Dios ha llamado y escogido. In German: Glaube für die von Gott Berufenen und Auserwählten. In French: La Foi pour ceux que Dieu a Appelés et Choisis. Here is a link to a related sermon titled: Faith for the Called and Chosen.and here is a link to another sermon Faith and Courage. Here is a link to shorter version of the written article in Mandarin Chinese 一篇关于信仰的小文章.
Prayer: What Does the Bible Teach? This free booklet contains 28 biblically-based tips on improving the effectiveness of your prayers. This is a pdf. A related two part sermon is available: What Does the Bible Teach About Prayer? and What does the Bible Teach About Prayer (& Healing)?
Where is the True Christian Church Today? This free online pdf booklet answers that question and includes 18 proofs, clues, and signs to identify the true vs. false Christian church. Plus 7 proofs, clues, and signs to help identify Laodicean churches. A related sermon is also available: Where is the True Christian Church? Here is a link to the booklet in the Spanish language: ¿Dónde está la verdadera Iglesia cristiana de hoy? Here is a link in the German language: WO IST DIE WAHRE CHRISTLICHE KIRCHE HEUTE? Here is a link in the French language: Où est la vraie Église Chrétienne aujourd’hui?
Continuing History of the Church of God This pdf booklet is a historical overview of the true Church of God and some of its main opponents from Acts 2 to the 21st century. Related sermon links include Continuing History of the Church of God: c. 31 to c. 300 A.D. and Continuing History of the Church of God: 4th-16th Centuries and Continuing History of the Church of God: 17th-20th Centuries. The booklet is available in Spanish: Continuación de la Historia de la Iglesia de Dios, German: Kontinuierliche Geschichte der Kirche Gottes, and Ekegusii Omogano Bw’ekanisa Ya Nyasae Egendererete.
CCOG.ORG Continuing Church of God The group striving to be most faithful amongst all real Christian groups to the word of God. To see how CCOG has done so far, here are links to two sermons Continuing Church of God (CCOG) first year anniversary: What has been accomplished? and The Continuing Church of God: Two Years of Proclamation. Here is a written link to a version of that sermon in the Spanish language: Aniversario del primer año de la Continuación de la Iglesia de Dios: ¿Qué se ha cumplido?
Congregations of the Continuing Church of God This is a listing of congregations and groups of the Continuing Church of God around the world.
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.
CCOGAFRICA.ORG This is a website targeted towards those in Africa.
CCOGCANADA.CA This is a website targeted towards those in Canada.
CDLIDD.ES La Continuación de la Iglesia de Dios. This is the Spanish language website for the Continuing Church of God.
PNIND.PH Patuloy na Iglesya ng Diyos. This is the Philippines website Continuing Church of God. It has information in English and Tagalog.
CCOGAfrica channel. This has messages from African pastors in African languages such as Kalenjin, Kiswahili, Embu, and Dholuo.
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.

NY Senator proposing more censorship: Can this lead to Amos’ prophesied famine of the word?

Friday, March 17th, 2017


Fragments from the Book of Amos

COGwriter

A reader tipped me off to the following:

March 17, 2017

In a bill aimed at securing a “right to be forgotten,” introduced by Assemblyman David I. Weprin and (as Senate Bill 4561 by state Sen. Tony Avella), liberal New York politicians would require people to remove ‘inaccurate,’ ‘irrelevant,’ ‘inadequate’ or ‘excessive’ statements about others

  • Within 30 days of a ”request from an individual,”
  • “all search engines and online speakers] shall remove … content about such individual, and links or indexes to any of the same, that is ‘inaccurate’, ‘irrelevant’, ‘inadequate’ or ‘excessive,’ ”
  • “and without replacing such removed … content with any disclaimer [or] takedown notice.”
  • “ ‘[I]naccurate’, ‘irrelevant’, ‘inadequate’, or ‘excessive’ shall mean content,”
  • “which after a significant lapse in time from its first publication,”
  • “is no longer material to current public debate or discourse,”
  • “especially when considered in light of the financial, reputational and/or demonstrable other harm that the information … is causing to the requester’s professional, financial, reputational or other interest,”
  • “with the exception of content related to convicted felonies, legal matters relating to violence, or a matter that is of significant current public interest, and as to which the requester’s role with regard to the matter is central and substantial.”

Failure to comply would make the search engines or speakers liable for, at least, statutory damages of $250/day plus attorney fees.

As The Washington Post’s Eugene Volokh rages, under this bill, newspapers, scholarly works, copies of books on Google Books and Amazon, online encyclopedias (Wikipedia and others) — all would have to be censored whenever a judge and jury found (or the author expected them to find) that the speech was “no longer material to current public debate or discourse” (except when it was “related to convicted felonies” or “legal matters relating to violence” in which the subject played a “central and substantial” role). http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2017-03-16/new-york-assemblyman-unveils-bill-suppress-non-government-approved-free-speech

The above is chilling.

The idea that the government may decide if something is IRRELEVANT and should be censored goes against the very core principles of what the USA was supposedly founded upon.

As far as knowing this was coming, regular readers of this page realize I have warned about this for years. Notice, for example, something posted on this page back in 2011:

I have long expected government censorship (including the internet and perhaps other forms of social media) in the USA as well. … I will again gone on record to declare that I believe that stopping/interfering some of us … to get out our message on the internet and/or other media is likely to be something that the USA and perhaps other governments will do as we get closer the the time of Jacob’s trouble (Jeremiah 30:7) (Thiel B. UK’s Cameron May Call Out the Troops and Restrict Social Media. COGwriter.com, August 11, 2011)

The Prophet Amos was inspired to record the following:

11 “Behold, the days are coming,” says the Lord God,
“That I will send a famine on the land,
Not a famine of bread,
Nor a thirst for water,
But of hearing the words of the Lord.
12 They shall wander from sea to sea,
And from north to east;
They shall run to and fro, seeking the word of the Lord,
But shall not find it. (Amos 8:11-12)

Notice that the Bible tells of a time that will come when the word of God will not be found. And that would seem to be because truth from it will be taken off the internet. In the 21st century, the internet is accessed by people in every country, and thus some type of internet restriction/suspension/site removal is coming.

We are getting closer to this time. More and more are starting to see that their are plans to censor speech from the internet.

That is part of why we in the Continuing Church of God are preparing for the ‘short work’ (Romans 9:28) and the coming ‘famine of the word.’

Notice something I posted here in 2016:

It is my belief that after the peace deal in Daniel 9:27/11:23 has been made and/or confirmed by “the prince to come,” that the group that best represents the “sect of the Nazarenes” (the remnant of the Philadelphia era of the church per Revelation 3:7–11, as led by the Continuing Church of God) in the 21st century will begin to publicly identify the person who confirmed the deal (“the prince”) as the one who fulfilled Daniel 9:27/11:23-24.

This apparently enrages the King of the North so much that he initially tries to eliminate these people through political pressure and selected persecution.  Internet censorship, at least in Europe, will likely be occurring related to this.

When the more faithful in the COG (which will, as it now looks, be the Continuing Church of God, and others who may somewhat follow that lead) publicly identifies the King of the North as well as keeps reporting about the final Pope/Antichrist  this would be expected to result in massive media coverage. This magnification of the true Church will help fulfill Matthew 24:14 as the media and others will pour through CCOG literature. Catholic scholars (probably getting some direction from the last pope) and others will tear through COG literature and attempt to challenge the credibility and the integrity of the COG message–this will initially cause “vigilante-type” persecution, but will also be followed by more institutionalized persecution (Matthew 24:-10; Daniel 11:28-35; 7:25)–as well as internet censorship. Notice that Matthew 24:14 shows that the “end shall come” after the gospel of the kingdom has been proclaimed to the world as a witness. Media spotlighting of what we the Continuing Church of God will thus get a witness into many lands that otherwise may not have realized much or anything about the gospel of the kingdom. But YouTube could start by removing ‘extremist’ sermons, etc.

It may be that prior to going to a place of protection (please see There is a Place of Safety for the Philadelphians. Why it May Be Petra), some Christians will flee out of the European (and certain other) lands dominated by the rising King of the North (and/or his sympathizers) prior to him moving into Jerusalem. This probably will be during verses 28-30 of Daniel 11 as this is when the King of the North begins his anger against God’s most faithful (and I believe that since God’s faithful will understand these passages in Daniel 11 by then, some will not wait until verses 30 or 31 to flee from the north–and will most likely go to Judea).

Now at “the appointed time” (again PRIOR to going to the place of protection) something will trigger the King of the North going towards the south:

29 At the appointed time he shall return and go toward the south; but it shall not be like the former or the latter. 30 For ships from Cyprus shall come against him; therefore he shall be grieved, and return in rage against the holy covenant, and do damage. So he shall return and show regard for those who forsake the holy covenant (Daniel 11:29-30).

Note: the Hebrew term translated as “Cyprus” in the NKJV is a mistranslation. The KJV uses the term Chittim which can mean “Western lands.” Hence the King of the North will apparently be temporarily stopped by a Western naval power (this also parallels Numbers 24:24 which also uses the term Chittim and is talking about an Assyrian/European power being troubled by a naval power).

Notice that the King of the North will be even further enraged by the people of the “holy covenant” and most likely try to stop the supporters of it from proclaiming the truth about his intentions and the gospel of the kingdom (c.f. Matthew 24:14).  This would seem to result in internet censorship in Europe and pressure on the USA for it to push for internet censorship as well.

The King of the North will probably attempt to learn more about how to eliminate the Philadelphian faithful by being nice to apostate members (those who “forsake the holy covenant”)–apparently he attempts to get them to betray true Christians (Matthew 24:10). It strikes me as important that although a naval power stops the King of the North momentarily, the King of the North becomes apparently more enraged with the people of the holy covenant than the naval power.

Why would this be?

Most likely this occurs because the people of the holy covenant are proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom (Matthew 24:14, as that immediately precedes “the end”) and teaching that the King of the North is fulfilling prophecies in Daniel 11. This will likely be considered as ‘extremist content’ and/or ‘hate speech.’  In the USA, proclaiming that an ally with some type of alliance connection (like perhaps NATO) may be considered to be ‘treasonous’ or somehow in violation of the so-called ‘Patriot Act.’ The USA will apparently support censorship then or shortly thereafter.

Notice that after the King of the North returns home, he decides to come back to the Jerusalem area, but this time with a much more determined military presence:

31 And forces shall be mustered by him, and they shall defile the sanctuary fortress; then they shall take away the daily sacrifices, and place there the abomination of desolation (Daniel 11:31).

The above event, which apparently will involve the King of the North sending in forces into Jerusalem, was spoken of by Jesus (Matthew 24:15) as a warning of the final end time. So after the gospel has been preached enough to the world as a witness (Matthew 24:14), Jewish sacrifices are stopped (Daniel 9:27), the abomination is set up (Daniel 9:27; 11:31), and a decree is issued (Zephaniah 2:1), the most faithful Philadelphians will flee per Jesus’ statements in Matthew 24:15-16.

And during this time, the northern King will apparently corrupt the corruptible and continue to be responsible for persecuting the people of God:

32 Those who do wickedly against the covenant he shall corrupt with flattery; but the people who know their God shall be strong, and carry out great exploits. 33 And those of the people who understand shall instruct many; yet for many days they shall fall by sword and flame, by captivity and plundering. 34 Now when they fall, they shall be aided with a little help; but many shall join with them by intrigue. 35 And some of those of understanding shall fall, to refine them, purify them, and make them white, until the time of the end; because it is still for the appointed time (Daniel 11:32-35).

It is likely that it is the remnant of the Philadelphians are the ones who are strong, they will instruct many, and will carry out something important–and that will be part of the final phase of the work. This could also include members doing miracles (Acts 2:17-21). And this seems to have to be led by the Continuing Church of God as we are the ones who are willing to be properly bold, while also actually reaching millions. It should be noted that the words great exploits  in the NKJV (Daniel 11:32) do not literally appear in the Hebrew text; but perhaps these faithful Christians have the types of signs that Jesus mentioned in Mark 16:15–18, in addition to the fruits of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23), as well as the prophesied work of martyrdom (cf. Revelation 6:11). Fruits, in terms of numbers of believers, will also apparently become more evident (cf. John 15:5-17). (Thiel B. This Is the Purge We All Knew Was Coming: “Shutting Down Extremist Content”. COGwriter, December 7, 2016)

Proposals, like the one from the New York Senator, are setting the world up for censorship.

This censorship will one day be part of the coming famine of the word that the prophet Amos foretold.

Consider, however, that Jesus said:

4 I must work the works of Him who sent Me while it is day; the night is coming when no one can work. (John 9:4)

Philadelphian Christians want to respond to the doors that Christ opens to proclaim the gospel (2 Corinthians 2:12; 1 Corinthians 16:8-9; Colossians 4:2-4) and do the work. We will stand up for the truth, despite realizing that the ‘famine of the word’ that the prophet Amos referred to is coming. We must do the work and persevere to the end.

And yes, we know that there will be massive government persecution (cf. Daniel 7:25; see also Persecutions by Church and State) and censorship (Amost 8:11-12).

Yet, there is good news as the Kingdom of God will come and replace the Beast’s system (Revelation 13:16-18) that we see being put together today. And have no doubts, the type of controlling society that the Bible warned about for the end times is truly taking shape. The New York Senator’s proposal is simply another step in preparation for that.

This is something that seemed unthinkable for the USA last century. But now we hear more and more calling for government censorship of speech and ideas.

The world, including the USA, is changing.

Can you see that?

If so:

“Today, if you will hear His voice, Do not harden your hearts.” (Hebrews 4:7)

Take the steps God wants you to take.

See if you are being called.

If you are or have been, realize that God wants you to not be off just on your own, but to support His work. A work that will be cut short (Romans 9:28), but a work that will be accomplished before Jesus returns (cf. Matthew 24:14).

Do not be lukewarm about this (Revelation 3:14-22). Do not harden your heart (Hebrews 4:7). Do not let negative past experiences, no matter how much you may have been hurt, “take your crown” (Revelation 3:11). Support the Philadelphian end time work as Jesus would truly want you to (Revelation 3:7-13) for truly the famine of the word will be coming.

Some items of possibly related interest may include:

Preparing for the ‘Short Work’ and The Famine of the Word What is the ‘short work’ of Romans 9:28? Who is preparing for it? Here is a link to a related video sermon titled: The Short Work.
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? A related sermon is available titled Priority of the Philadelphia Work.
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. There is also a YouTube video sermon you can watch: The Coming Persecution of the Church. Here is information in the Spanish language: Persecuciones de la Iglesia y el Estado.
The Gospel of the Kingdom of God This free online pdf booklet has answers many questions people have about the Gospel of the Kingdom of God and explains why it is the solution to the issues the world is facing. Here are links to three related sermons: The World’s False Gospel, The Gospel of the Kingdom: From the New and Old Testaments, and The Kingdom of God is the Solution.
Are You Being Called by God? Norman Shoaf wrote various points to consider.
Is God Calling You? Alfred E Carrozzo wrote this.
What Did Christ Mean – Many Are Called, But Few Are Chosen? This article was by Raymond McNair.
Christian Repentance Do you know what repentance is? Is it really necessary for salvation? A related sermon is also available titled: Real Christian Repentance.
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.
When Will the Great Tribulation Begin? 2017, 2018, or 2019? 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 2016 o 2017? ¿Es el Tiempo de los Gentiles? You can also see the English language sermon videos: The Great Tribulation from the Mount of Olives and Can the Great Tribulation begin before 2020? A shorter video is: Will the Great Tribulation Start in 2017?
Are You Being Called by God? Norman Shoaf wrote various points to consider.
Is God Calling You? Alfred E Carrozzo wrote this.
What Did Christ Mean – Many Are Called, But Few Are Chosen? This article was by Raymond McNair.
Christian Repentance Do you know what repentance is? Is it really necessary for salvation? A related sermon is also available titled: Real Christian Repentance.
The Philadelphia Church Era was predominant circa 1933 A.D. to 1986 A.D. The old Radio Church of God and old Worldwide Church of God, now the remnant of that era is basically the most faithful in the Church of God, like who hold to the beliefs and practices of the Continuing Church of God.
The Laodicean Church Era has been predominant circa 1986 A.D. to present. The Laodiceans are non-Philadelphians who mainly descended from the old WCG or its offshoots.  They do not properly understand the work or biblical prophecies and will face the Great Tribulation if they do not repent. One video of related interest is 17 Laodicean Errors in Prophecy.
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. A video of possible interest may be Will Will USA Spying Help the Beast Power?
Leading the Final Phase of the Work Matthew 24:14 teaches “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 ” will be fulfilled and RCG is not the group doing this. Who is leading the final phase of the work? What did Herbert Armstrong and the old WCG teach about that and about prophets? Does Bob Thiel meet the criteria that the Bible and the old WCG set? What is the proof? What has the Continuing Church of God been doing? This is a sermonette length video.
Who is the King of the North? Is there one? Do biblical and Roman Catholic prophecies for the Great Monarch point to the same leader? Should he be followed? Who will be the King of the North discussed in Daniel 11? Is a nuclear attack prophesied to happen to the English-speaking peoples of the United States, Great Britain, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand? When do the 1335 days, 1290 days, and 1260 days (the time, times, and half a time) of Daniel 12 begin? When does the Bible show that economic collapse will affect the United States? In the Spanish language check out ¿Quién es el Rey del Norte? Here is a link to a video titled: The Future King of the North.
Internet Control, Famine of the Word, and 666 On October 1, 2016, the USA officially relinquished control over the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), despite objections from certain political leaders and former military officials. Might this lead to more censorship, imposition on non-biblical ‘community standards,’ and loss of first amendment rights? Could this transfer of control have any prophetic ramifications? Will the internet be a factor in the ‘short work’ of Romans 9:28 and the coming ‘famine of the word’ that the Prophet Amos warned about? Will internet control be something that the 666 power will have? Dr. Thiel addresses these matters and more in this video.
USA in Prophecy: The Strongest Fortresses Can you point to scriptures, like Daniel 11:39, that point to the USA in the 21st century? This article does. A related sermon is titled: Do these 7 prophesies point to the end of the USA?
Who is the King of the West? Why is there no Final End-Time King of the West in Bible Prophecy past Daniel 11:39? Is the United States the King of the West? Here is a version in the Spanish language: ¿Quién es el Rey del Occidente? ¿Por qué no hay un Rey del Occidente en la profecía del tiempo del fin?
The Final Phase of the Work What is the final phase of the work? Who will lead it? Do you have the courage to support it? Here is a related YouTube video titled The Final Phase of the Work. The written article has been translated into Spanish La Fase Final de la Obra.