Welcome to the Biblebee!

This blog is my favorite hobby. In it are stories, articles and other things that I hope you will find interesting. These are  based on the Holy Scriptures, and is excerpted from God’s Message Magazine.

It is my favorite hobby with the fervent hope and prayer that the stories and articles inspire you to click the link that leads to the Iglesia Ni Cristo official website.

It is an invitation enjoining you to explore a plethora of topics that may interest you, and find relevant to this day and age.

Thank you for taking the time to visit, and may God bless you always.

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Let God direct our lives

“‘My thoughts are completely different from yours,’ says the LORD. ‘And my ways are far beyond anything you could imagine. For just as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts higher than your thoughts’.”   
(Isaiah 55:8-9, New Living Translation)

IT SEEMS IRONIC that the world’s lone superpower has 40 million of its citizens living in poverty. Forty million—that’s more than the population of Canada, and more than 1½ times that of the Australian continent.

“The United States [of America],” wrote Philip Alston of the United Nations, “is one of the world’s richest and most powerful and technologically innovative countries. But neither wealth nor its power nor its technology is being harnessed to address the situation in which 40 million [Americans] continue to live in poverty” (The Guardian Online, December 15, 2017).  

Arif Husain, chief economist of the United Nations World Food Program (WFP), revealed for the first time in a decade, the number of people suffering hunger is back on rise (Hurriyet Daily News Online, December 17, 2017). He disclosed that the number of people who “go to bed hungry each night has risen from 777 million to 815 million today.”

What’s going on?

Although man has made great strides in food production and technology, hundreds of millions today are still suffering from chronic malnutrition. Around 22,000 children die daily due to starvation (UNICEF). And despite huge scientific breakthroughs in health and medicine, millions still die from various diseases and plagues.

It is quite obvious that despite man’s persistent efforts to improve his life and living conditions, his lot does not seem to get any better. Why?

 

Mortals cannot run their own lives

It is within man’s power to take charge of his life and put it in order? Can he chart his own course and steer his life toward a good end? The Bible answers:

“I know, God, that mere mortals can’t run their lives, That men and women don’t have what it takes to take charge of life.” (Jer. 10:23 The Message)

Man, on his own, is incapable of running his own life. The Bible further illustrates his inability to take charge of his life by pointing out how completely oblivious he is of what lies before him:

“A person never knows what will happen to him next. He is like a fish caught in a net—the fish does not know what will happen. In the same way a person is trapped by the bad things that suddenly happen to him.” (Eccles. 9:12 Easy-to-Read Version)

Try to recall some of the recent disasters in history—the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks in the US, the 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake and tsunami that killed close to a quarter million people, the mass shooting in Las Vegas in October 2017—and ask yourself: If the people who perished in those tragedies knew in advance they would happen, would have they gone to those places? Man, undeniably, is totally clueless on what the future brings.

 

Knowledge increases sorrow

What if man acquires immense wisdom—will it solve all his problems and ensure his good fortune? King Solomon, a man of notable achievements, regrettably says no:

“I spoke with my heart, saying, ‘Behold, I have acquired great [human] wisdom and experience, more than all who were over all Jerusalem before me; and my mind had observed a wealth of [moral] wisdom and [scientific] knowledge.’ And I set my mind to know [practical] wisdom and to discern [the character of] madness and folly [in which men seem to find satisfaction]; I realized that this too is a futile grasping and chasing after the wind. For in much [human] wisdom there is a much displeasure and  exasperation; increasing knowledge increases sorrow.” (Eccles. 1:16-18 Amplified Bible 2015)

IF earthly wisdom were the cure-all to man’s woes, as others may believe, then life would have been trouble-free for those who have acquired it Sadly, that is not the case. For even people of notable educational achievements are not spared from life’s pains and sorrows.

 

The One Who can assure man’s good

It behooves us, then to know: Who alone can bring what is good for man? The Creator Himself declares:

“For I know the plans I have for you,’ says the LORD. ‘They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hoe’.” (Jer. 29:11 New Living Translation)

Only the all-powerful God can bring man a future filled with hope. The Lord Almighty alone knows what is best for an and only He can direct man’s steps toward his ultimate good.

Sadly, there are those who think that they do not need God to show them the way; that they—on their own, using their own knowledge and faculties00can make their aspirations come true. Should man even think that his wisdom is on a par with God’s? Are human thoughts the same as that of the Almighty? The Lord answers:

“My thoughts are completely different from yours,’ says the LORD. ‘And my ways are far beyond anything you could imagine. For just as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts higher than your thoughts’.” (Isa. 55:8-0 NLT)

A drop in a vast ocean—that’s how infinitesimal and inferior man’s thoughts are compared to God’s. Thus, it is futile and unwise for man’s thoughts are compared to God’s. Thus, it is futile and unwise for man to trust in his own power and wisdom in bringing about the good future he hopes for.

 

Placing our trust in God

In whom, then, should man place his trust? The Bible says:

“Trust the LORD and live right! The land will be yours, and you will be safe. Do what the LORD wants, and he will give you your heart’s desire. Let the LORD lead you and trust him to help. Then it will be as clear as the noonday sun that you were right.” (Ps. 37:3-6 Contemporary English Version)

Man, clearly, is not the master of his own destiny. Instead of directing his own course,, he must commend himself and his future to the hands of his Creator, Who—as stated in a preceding verse—knows the good plans He has for man.

 

God’s master plan

What is one of God’s plans for man that would bring about his good and the future he hopes for? Apostle Paul says,

“May he be given glory forever and ever through endless ages because of his master plan of salvation for the church through Jesus Christ.” (Eph. 3:21 Living Bible)

More than his well-being here on earth, it is man’s ultimate good—his salvation on Judgment Day—that God earnestly desires for him. In fact, the ever-compassionate God wants all man to be saved by coming to know the truth (I Tim.2:3-4). And God’s master plan for man’s salvation is intended for the Church through the Lord Jesus Christ.

How can man avail himself of the great opportunity to receive salvation which God plans for the Church through Christ? The Lord Jesus, the appointed Savior, says:

“So Jesus spoke again: ‘In very truth I tell you, I am the door of the sheepfold … I am the door of the sheepfold … I am the door, anyone who comes into the fold through me will be safe’.” (John 10:7,9 Revised English Bible)

The fold or flock which Christ commands people to enter in order to receive salvation is the Church Of Christ (Acts 20:28 Lamsa Translation). It is His Church which Christ promised to save and which the second death will not overcome (Eph. 5:23-25; Matt. 16:18 Today’s English Version; Rev. 20:14)).

 

Headed toward destruction

With this world rapidly spiraling toward its end, man should realize that all his toils and strivings to make his life on earth better are futile. God has appointed a day when this earth and everything in it will be destroyed by fire (II Pet. 3:7, 10). The only way he can attain his ultimate good—salvation on Judgment Day and attainment of life everlasting in the Holy City—is by allowing God to direct his life and be included in His master plan of salvation, that is, by becoming a member of the Church Of Christ.


By DENNIS C. LOVENDINO

Based on the lesson taught by Bro. Eduardo V. Manalo during his pastoral visit to Niugan, Laguna, RP on January 6, 2018

‘They went into the synagogue on Sabbath day’

 

Tony Balatayo of San Diego, CA, USA asks the Editor of God’s Message magazine:

“PLEASE ADVISE ME with regard to the verses Luke 6:6; Mark 6:1-2; Acts 13:13-14, 16:13; 17:2; 18:4 in which it is taught that Jesus and the apostles ‘went into the synagogue on the Sabbath day.’ Furthermore, Christ pronounced in Mark 2:27-28, ‘The Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath.’ 

“Whose Sabbath is this that Christ Jesus and the apostles were observing? Had Christ made His own Sabbath?”

 

Editor’s reply:

The Sabbath being referred to in the verses you quoted is none other than that which God commanded to the ancient Israelites as a sign of His covenant with them (Exod. 31:16, Deut. 5:1-3, 12-14; Mal. 4:4). They were to observe the Sabbath to commemorate their deliverance from bondage in Egypt, hence it was exclusive to the Israelites as it was they who became slaves in Egypt (Deut. 5:15, Today’s English Version). Observance of the Sabbath includes strict prohibition on doing one’s work on the ‘seventh day’ that even kindling of fire (Exod. 35:3) and cooking (Exod. 16:23) were forbidden, let alone plowing and harvesting (Exod. 34:21).

The biblical verses you listed in your letter do not teach that Christ and the apostles observed this Sabbath, or an Sabbath for that matter. Though these do state that Christ and the apostles went into the synagogue on Sabbaths, the verses themselves clarify their purpose in going there—”to teach” (Mark 6:2; Luke 6:6), “to speak” (Acts 13:14-16; 16:13), to preach (Acts 13:42), and to reason with people (Acts 17:2; 18:4). During the Sabbath the Jews in Christ’s time would gather in the synagogue, hence Christ and the apostles made use of such opportune times to preach the gospel to many people.

The biblical accounts of Jesus’ healing the sick on the Sabbath (Matt. 12:11-13; Luke 13:10-17) and His disciples working on that day (Luke 16:1-5) all the more show that the observance of the Sabbath was not their practice. In fact, Christ was even accused by Sabbath observers of being “not from God” for not obeying the Sabbath law (John 9:16).

The incident in which Jesus declared ‘the Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath … the Son of Man is also “Lord of the Sabbath” even more underscores His consistency in not keeping the Sabbath law. Jesus then was defending His disciples who plucked the heads of grain in the fields on the Sabbath: “Now it happened that He went through the grainfields on the Sabbath; and as they went His disciples began to pluck the heads of grain. And the Pharisees said to Him, ‘Look, why do they do what is not lawful on the Sabbath?’ But He said to them, ‘Have you never read what David did when he was in need and hungry, he and those with him: how he went into the house of God in the days of Abiathar the high priest, and ate the showbread, which is not lawful to eat except for the priests, and also gave some to those who were with him?’ And He said to them, ‘The Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath. Therefore the Son of Man is also Lord of the Sabbath’ (Mark 2:23-28, New King James Version).

Christ’s being “the Lord of the Sabbath”, only means that He is above it and not bound by it, as He Himself demonstrated in His actions. But, by not observing the Sabbath, did Christ and His apostles violate any of Gods laws? No, for it was God Himself who had put an end to the observance of the Sabbath (Lam. 2:6; Hos. 2:11, TEV).

Proving that such a law is no longer in effect in the Christian Era, the apostle Paul teaches us this concerning the Sabbath: “Let no one criticize you in food or drink, or in matters concerning festivals, new moons, or the Sabbath. … These doctrines may seem to be profound because they speak of religious observance and humility and of disregarding the body. In fact, they are useless in overcoming selfishness” (Col. 2:16, 23 Christian Community Bible).

 

REACHING OUT TO THE PEOPLE OF KIBERA

WHENEVER ABJECT POVERTY is discussed in the context of community and social condition, the Kibera slum in Kenya will never be forgotten to be mentioned. This slum is considered the biggest and poorest urban slum in Africa (www.advance-africa.com) and one of the largest in the world (www.kibera.org.uk). Although study results  about he exact population of Kibera differ, survey experts are one as witnesses to testify to the reality—hundreds of thousands of extremely poor people are suffering in this slum area.

 

Kibera is also regarded as “one of the most studied slums in Africa (www.researchgate.net) not only because it is found almost in the middle of the progressive city of Nairobi, which is the capital and the largest city of Kenya, but it is also situated near the headquarters on UN Habitat, the United Nations’ agency that studies human settlement and urban development, which is based at the heart of Nairobi City. It is estimated that the people in the slum of Kibera live only on less than $1 a day (worldpopulationreview.com) and more than 50% of the people here are unemployed (www.kibera.org.uk). In view of such severe economic condition—not to mention the poor sanitation in the entire community and the lack of access to basic services including electricity, sewage system, medical care, clean water, among others—there is no denying that the people in Kibera badly need assistance.

Being aware of the wretched condition of the Kiberans and as part of the antipoverty campaign of the Church Of Christ, the Executive Minister of the Church Brother Eduardo V. Manalo, instructed the staff of the Felix Y. Manalo Foundation, Inc. and the district staff of the ecclesiastical district of Africa to organize an outreach activity through the Church’s Aid to Humanity program. To ensure not only the success but also the orderliness of the activity, planning and preparations were carefully carried out. And several days before the event, invitations and coupons were distributed to the residents of Kibera.

Early morning of November 25, 2016, the Jahmuri Park Show Ground, which is the cradle of he Nairobi International Trade Fair, was filled with an estimated 25,000 Kiberans who were the beneficiaries of this humanitarian mission. Food packages and grocery items were doled out to all who were in attendance. Every Kiberan present was filled with the overwhelming feeling of joy and gratitude. In view of this momentous feeling of joy and gratitude. In view of this momentous event, Mr. David Ole Shani, the Deputy of Kenya Police, gladly remarked, “This is the first time that we have such a kind of exercise conducted by a Church. It is a large congregation that has never been held since before.” And driven further by his appreciation and gratefulness for what the Church Of Christ has done for the Kiberans, Mr. Ole Shani added, “The Church [Church Of Christ] all the way from the Philippines coming here shows that you people have a real concern for us. And I thank you very much.”

The Church Of Christ not only provided provisions to the people in Kibera but also shared with them the biblical truth about the true Church which is far more important to receive, for it will certainly lead them to salvation on Judgment Day. Thus, ministers of the Church expounded on this. Through a video presentation, the Kiberans came to know about the Church Of Christ and its noble purpose in reaching out to them. And since such kind of immense outreach activity conducted by a Church was the first in Nairobi City wherein thousands of Kiberans benefited both materially and most especially spiritually, Mr. Joseph Onyango, the Deputy Registrar of Societies of the Republic of Kenya, exclaimed in delight, “I would like to thank the Iglesia Ni Cristo for their kind gesture I have seen today. We appreciate it very, very much and we thank the Church wholeheartedly I would like to say I welcome the Iglesia Ni Cristo here in Kenya.”


Source: God’s Message Magazine

The Value of the Church Built by Christ

“WHY DO YOU VALUE THE CHURCH so much?” I noticed that even though life is very hard nowadays, with many losing their jobs and homes and others suffering from terrible natural disasters like earthquakes, your members just keep on giving so much importance to the Church and their membership in it. You have problems, but you still do not let go of the Church! How come you do that? How can you do that in these trying times? Why is the Church that important to you?” These are some of the observations and comments that people have made about the members of the Church of Christ (Iglesia Ni Cristo). They have seen how much we love and value our Church membership. They see us as attending congregational worship services, sharing our faith with others, and supporting various Church activities, even though we also deal with our own share of difficulties or hardships in life It is obvious to them that the Church is so important in the lives of its members. Why? Is it a new thing?

Who values the Church Of Christ

The members give so much importance to the Church Of Christ because hey recognize the Church not simply as an ordinary organization or institution but rather as the body of our Lord Jesus Christ. Apostle Paul said: “I now rejoice in my sufferings for you, and fill up in my flesh what is lacking in the afflictions of Christ, for the sake of His body, which is the church … He is the head of he body, the church” (Co. 1:24, 18, New King James Version).

In these verses, we can see how Apostle Paul showed how much he valued the Church. He endured sufferings in his life for the sake of the Church, and he did so with rejoicing, not complaining. Man members of the Church then and now have also done the same.

Of course, Apostle Paul was not the only servant of God who valued the Church. Our Lord Jesus Christ Himself does, too! In fact, He is the best example of the one who loved the Church so much and made unparalleled sacrifices for it Not only did He establish His Church, but He also gave up His own life for it. Not only did He establish His church but He also gave up His own life for it: “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and have Himself for her” (Eph. 5:25, Ibid.).

“Take heed therefore to yourselves and to all the flock over which the Holy Spirit has appointed you overseers, to feed the church of Christ which he has purchased with his blood.” (Acts 20:28, Lamsa Translation)

Besides his, he Holy Bible shows us further how important the Church really is by introducing the Church as being given the kingdom of God here upon the earth. This is what our Lord Jesus Christ said o the flock or the Church: “Do not fear, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom” (Luke 12:32, NKJV).

So, the Holy Scriptures show us that the Church Of Christ is indeed valuable. It is important, for it is the body of Jesus Christ, it is that which was redeemed with His precious blood, and it is that to which God’s kingdom has been given. If God’s people in the past had high regard for the Church and valued it so much, then, why shouldn’t we?

The Importance of the Church Of Christ

Another thing that we need to understand with regard to the importance of the Church Of Christ is the promise that Christ made to the Church. He said that not even the power of death would ever be able to overcome His Church: “And I tell you, you are Peter, and on his rock I will build my church, and the powers of death shall not prevail against it” (Matt. 16:18, Revised Standard Version).

It is clear that the founder of the Church is Christ, and that the promise of the founder is that not even death will be able to prevail against it. The death that will not overcome us is the death that is the full payment of sin, which is the second death in the lake of fire (Rom. 6:23; Rev. 20:14). It is from that death that members of the Church of Christ are spared or saved come Judgment Day.

 

How the Church won’t be overcome

The promise of Christ concerning salvation should not be taken to mean that once a person has joined His Church, he will never stop breathing and that he will no longer be buried in the cold earth. What Christ is showing is that there is resurrection of life. Look at what He said in John 5:28-29. “Do not marvel at this; for the hour is coming in which all who are in the graves will hear His voice and come forth—those who have done good, to the resurrection of life and those who have done evil, to the resurrection of condemnation” (NKJV).

There are two kinds of resurrection: One that is to life and he other that is to condemnation. Those who are included in the first resurrection of the dead are the fortunate ones who will be raised from the dead at the return of Christ and meet Him in the air Those who are still alive will no longer taste the first death, for they shall be caught up together with the ones resurrected first. We can read his in I Thessalonians 4:16-17: “For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord” (Ibid).

But where will we end up? In the Holy City where we will have a life that is glorious. Look at how Apostle John wrote about it in Revelation 21:1-4: “Now I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away. Also there was no more sea. Then I, John, saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from heaven saying, ‘Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people. God Himself will be with them and be their God. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away” (Ibid.).

Notice that in the Holy City, there will be no more death. The ones who can hope for his are those who have become members of the Church of Christ. So considering that the Church Of Christ will not be overcome by death, is it any wonder that we, members, hive such great value to the Church?

Why enter the Church Of Christ

Others may be wondering why they should be members of the Church Of Christ when they are already members of other religions. They may say, “To each his own. If you want to be members of the Church Of Christ, fine. But it is also fine if we will not, and just stay in whatever church we are in.” We should not be thinking that way, because Jesus Christ clearly issued this command to those who want salvation: “I am the door, anyone who comes into the fold through me will be safe … But there are other sheep of mine, not belonging to this fold; I must lead them as well, and they too will listen to my voice. There will then be one flock, one shepherd (John 10:9, 16, Revised English Bible)

Christ is clearly saying that those who come into the fold through Him will be safe or saved. The fold or flock should come into is the Church Of Christ (Acts 20:28, Lamsa Translation).

Therefore, even though we, Church members, have our own share of problems and difficulties in this world, we have decided to never let go of our membership, or leave the church We are ready to brave whatever troubles come our way and cling tightly to our membership, because we believed in the value or importance of the Church Of Christ is. Christ built it. He loves it. He gave His life for it. And when He returns, which is very soon, He will save this Church: “For a husband has authority over his wife just as Christ has authority over the church; and Christ is himself the Savior of the church, his body” (Eph. 5:23, Today’s English Version).

So, since the Church Of Christ is truly important, does it not make sense that we give value to it by joining it and doing everything to remain in it?

On calling Him ‘Jehovah’

 

Marcel Craig, of Brooklyn, New York, asked this question:   

“THOUGH I CONSIDER myself as having a religion, I must admit that I have little knowledge about God and the Bible. … One of my friends once told me that whoever shall worship Jehovah, call on the name of Jehovah, and be called by the name Jehovah, as in Jehovah’s Witnesses, will be saved. This makes me uncomfortable for I’m not used to calling God by that name in my prayers. So, I want to ask your stand on addressing God by the name Jehovah. And how does the Church of Christ address our Lord God?”

 

Richard J. Rodas, Editor-in-Chief of God’s Message Magazine replies:

“Thank you for asking us on matters concerning God and how to address Him.

      The Jehovah’s Witnesses, as a religious group, is indeed known for strictly using the name “Jehovah” in addressing Go. Some of its zealous members, in trying to promote their faith, even go as far as claiming that one will not be saved unless he calls God by that name. Such serious assertion indeed calls for profound critical investigation as regards the use of “Jehovah” in reference to God.

      What do Bible scholars and historians of religion say about the use of the name “Jehovah”? As to age, the Rotherham Emphasized Bible reports, “The pronunciation Jehovah was unknown until 1520, when it was introduced by Galatinus; but was contested by Le Mercier, J. Drusius, and L. Capellus, as against grammatical and historical propriety … which is merely a combination of the sacred Tetragrammaton and the vowels in the Hebrew word for Lord” (Ibid., pp. 24-25). The Harper’s Bible Dictionary corroborates by stating, “The hybrid word ‘Jehovah’ is a combination of the vowels of ‘Adonai’ with the consonants of the Tetragrammaton; its appearance in the JKV was the result of the translators’ ignorance of the Hebrew language and customs” (p. 1036, emphasis ours.) Hence, as The New Schaff-Herzog Encyclopedia of Religious Knowledge aptly concludes, “JEHOVAH” is “an erroneous form of the divine name of the covenant God of Israel which appears first about 1520 A.D.” (Vol. VI, p. 16, emphasis ours). Explanation on the occurrence of the erroneous form of God’s name in the Bible is stated in The New International Dictionary of New Testament Theology:

      “The form Jehovah arose out of a misunderstanding which in turn arose out of the reluctance of pious Jews to pronounce the divine name (c. 300 b.c.). Instead they uttered the word ,adōnāy my Lord. In the MT [Masoretic Text] the divine name was written with the consonants of YHWH and the vowels of

,adōnāy, as a reminder to say the latter whenever the word was read. The divine name appears as yehōwâh in the MT. The LXX [Septuagint] reflects the Jewish reluctance to pronounce the divine name and puts the word kyrios à Lord, in its place. The RSV and other Eng. versions also reflect the practice by giving the word LORD in capital letters whenever the name YHWH stands in the text. The Lat. Likewise gives the word Dominus, Lord, for YHWH. The form Jehovah is thus a malformation giving what is virtually a transliteration of a word which is found in the text of the Heb. OT, but which was never actually used as a word.” (Vol. II, pp. 69-70, emphasis ours)

      Finally, the late Distinguished Service Professor of Talmud and Rector of  the Rabbinical School in Jewish Theological Seminary of America, Saul Lieberman, Ph.D., identified openly how the rendition ‘Jehovah’ came to be. Writing for Microsoft Encarta, he expounded:

      “Jehovah, name of the God of the Hebrew people as erroneously transliterated from the Masoretic Hebrew text. The word consists of the consonants JHVH or JHWH, with the vowels of a separate word, Adonai (Lord). What its original vowels were is a matter of speculation, for because of an interpretation of such texts as Exodus 20:7 and Leviticus 24:11, the name came to be regarded as too sacred for expression; the scribes, in reading aloud, substituted “Lord” and therefore wrote the vowel markings for “Lord” into the consonantal framework JHVH as a reminder to future readers aloud. The translators of the Hebrew, not realizing what the scribes had done, read the word as it was written down, taking the scribal vowel markings as intrinsic to the name of their God rather than as a mere reminder not to speak it. From this came the rendition Jehovah …” (“Jehovah.” Microsoft® Encarta® 2006 [CD])

      These, among others, clearly prove that the supposed name of God which ‘Jehovah’s Witnesses’ allege as His only true name, is an erroneous form of the divine name of the Creator. To insist on using this term in reference to God, to say the least, is to propagate an error.

      Church of Christ members reverently address the Almighty God as ‘Father’ and ‘Lord’. For doing this, we simply abide by the example set by the early Christians and Jesus Christ Himself:

      “In this manner, therefore, pray: Our Father in heaven, Hallowed be Your name.” (Matt. 6:9, New King James Version)

      “So when they heard that, they raised their voice to God with one accord and said: ‘Lord, You are God, who made heaven and earth and the sea, and all that is in them’.” (Acts 4:24, Ibid.)


Source: God’s Message Magazine, January 2012

The Council of Nicaea and the Jesus-is-God Creed

CATHOLICS AND PROTESTANTS PRESUME that the belief that Christ is God was upheld by the earliest followers of Jesus Christ. They think that such belief was taught and propagated by the apostles and, hence, is found in the Holy Scriptures.

But the fact of the matter remains that the belief in the so-called deity of Christ is not at all biblical. It is even opposed to what the Bible teaches about God and Jesus Christ. Not until the fourth century AD was such teaching defined and was thereafter imposed on the Catholic Church. This teaching was formulated as such in one of the councils of the Catholic Church, centuries after the last book of the Bible was written.

Jesus Christ to the first Christians

One of the clear distinctions between God and Jesus Christ is with regard to their nature or state of being. The Holy Spirit is replete with proofs of this.

In John 8:40, Jesus Christ declared what His true state of being is: “a Man who has told you the truth” (New King James Version). Even His disciples taught the same. Apostle Peter said, “Jesus of Nazareth, a Man attested by God” (Acts 2:22, Ibid.). Apostles Paul said that the “one Mediator between God and men, [is] the Man Christ Jesus” (I Tim. 2:5, Ibid). Apostle James said that Christ is a “righteous man” (James 5:6, Revised Standard Version).

When a blind man was healed by Christ near the pool of Siloam, he said of his healer, “A Man called Jesus made clay and anointed my eyes” (John 9:10-11, NKJV). In a place beyond Jordan where John the Baptist used to conduct baptism, the people there said about Jesus Christ spoke to, as she was drawing water, said about the Lord, “a Man who told me all things that I ever did” (John 4:29, Ibid.).

Even Christ’s adversaries and His other contemporaries said that He is a man. The mod that persecuted and falsely accursed Jesus Christ, said to Pontius Pilate, “We have found this man” (Luke 23:2, New International Version). When Pilate presented Christ to the, the roman prefect of Judea declared: “Behold the Man!” (John 119:5, NKJV). Even Pilate’s wife, who cautioned him in passing judgment over Jesus said, “Have nothing to do with that just Man” (Matt. 27:19, Ibid.). The Roman soldier who witnessed Christ’s death on the cross said, “Truly this Man was the Son of God.” (Mark 15:39, Ibid.).

When Jesus Christ was resurrected from the dead, and appeared to His disciples, they thought that they were seeing a spirit and they were in a state of shock (Luke 24:37).

Christ did not allow such misconception to stay unchecked. He was rather quick to rectify His disciples’ mistake (Mark 16:14). Stated in Luke 24:38-39: “And He said to them, ‘Why are you troubled? And why do doubts arise in your hearts? Behold My hands and My feet, that it is I Myself. Handle Me and see, for a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see I have’”.

The fact that His disciples saw Jesus Christ before His crucifixion and after His resurrection strongly disproves the assumption that Jesus Christ I deity. The true God, according to the Bible, is spirit in state of being ass is invisible (John 4:24; I Tim. 1:17). God is not like man; He has no flesh and bones; and He is invisible. However, when Christ was still on earth, people saw Him. These truths clearly prove that the Father is different from the Son.

The Bible also states that the Father created Christ through the Holy Spirit (Matt. 1:18,20). Hence the Son has a beginning—a proof that He is unlike the Father, the true God, who is from everlasting and is eternal (Ps. 90:2: I Tim. 1:17).

The Bible also tells us that God is not man (Hos. 11:9); and man is not God (Ezek. 28:2). God Himself said, “I am the LORED, and I do not change” (Mal. 3:6, Good News Translation). Hence, God will not change to become human.

Furthermore, the belief that Jesus Christ is God incarnate—God who allegedly took on the form of a human—is a concept foreign to the early church.

 

The Logos, God?

In John 1:1 and 14, it says, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God …And the Word became flesh” (NKJV). Others misunderstand this to support Christ’s alleged deity, pre-existence, and incarnation. They attribute the Word to refer to Christ as God in the beginning. Such understanding is erroneous.

In Greek New Testament manuscripts, the Greek equivalent for Word in John 1:1 and 14 is “λογός” (logos). Logos denotes not only word, but also reason and thought.1 The Word does not refer to a “pre-existent Christ,” but rather to God’s plan, His wisdom, ordained before the ages (I Cor. 2:2, 7-8, GNT), hence, In the beginning was the Word. That Word (plan) was not another God—but divine and powerful like the true God from Whom it came (Gen. 17:1; Luke 1:37), hence, and the Word was God. At the proper time according to the will of God, that plan was fulfilled. A woman (Mary) gave birth to a son whom God sent (Gal. 4:4), hence, the Word became flesh.      The fulfillment of God’s plan is Jesus Christ (I Cor. 1:24)—a man (John 8:40). If the Word that emanated from God were another God, then there would be two Gods—a God from whom the Word emanated and the Word that emanated from God. Apostle John wouldn’t contradict himself, because elsewhere in the Gospel, he wrote that there is only one God—the Father (John 17:3).   Although Jesus Christ is man in nature, He was given authority, power, and traits far above any other human being. He was made Lord (Acts 2:36), Savior (Acts 5:31), and Mediator between God and people (I Tim. 2:5). He is the head of the Church (Eph. 5:23). He did not commit any sin (I Pet. 2:22). All things were put under Him (Eph. 1:20-22)—but on the appointed time He will subject Himself to God (I Cor. 15:27-28). God gave Him a name above every name, and commanded that every knee should bow to worship Christ (Phil. 2:9-10, NIV).      In John 10:36, Christ said the Father who sent Him made Him holy (Common English Bible). Christ’s being holy (or divine) was a distinct quality given to Him by God. Thus, His being holy doesn’t make Him deity.      All these truths about Christ were clear to the first-century Christians. For them, there is one God, the Father, and there is one Lord, Jesus Christ, whom God sent (I Cor. 8:6).      George Ladd, a professor of theology, had the same observation of the early Christians. He said, “We read the Gospels and the book of Acts in the light of our understanding of the pre-existence and the incarnation of God the Son. However, the early Christians had no such concepts in their minds. They had no doctrine of the deity of Christ by which they might interpret Jesus.”2 It was only after a few centuries that such wrong doctrine would be defined or emerge.

The gathering storm

In the second quarter of 325 AD, Catholic bishops from various parts of the Roman Empire converged in the city of Nicaea (modern-day Iznik, in Turkey).3 The city was very accessible being situated at the empire’s major crossroads that linked Europe and Asia. The bishops were convened in a council at the behest of their benefactor, the Emperor Constantine I.4       Previous to that, in 313 AD, Constantine’s Edict of Toleration had put an end to the persecution of Christians (Catholics, to be exact) and implemented a policy of allowing all religions to exist peacefully within the empire.5Soon the Catholic Church found favor in the emperor’s eyes. During Emperor Constantine’s reign. The Catholic Church already had a considerable membership, such that when a religious dispute—which had been raging among the Catholics for several years—hits critical level, the emperor’s intervention became necessary to settle such conflict in order to maintain the unity and stability of the empire.6       The council that Constantine convened in 325 AD is known today as the First Council of Nicaea.7 This council formulated a creed that violated the teachings of the Bible about Jesus Christ.

A forewarning about “another Jesus”

The apostles forewarned that there will be people who will introduce “another Jesus,” a Jesus who is totally different from the One they proclaimed as their Lord and Savior (II Cor. 11:3-4).      After the apostolic period, various teachings about Christ began to appear. The problem lies in the fact that these teachings contradict what the Bible teaches.       It was Ignatius of Antioch who first introduced the idea that Christ is God. Augustus Hopkins Strong, a Baptist theologian, said, “The earliest time known at which Jesus was deified was, after the New Testament writers, in the letters of Ignatius, at the beginning of the second century.”8       Such erroneous teachings about Christ eventually took hold and gained ground. Karen Armstrong, a former Catholic nun and scholar in comparative religion, described the development to the belief: “… the doctrine that Jesus had been God in human form was not finalized until the fourth century. The development of Christian belief in the Incarnation was gradual, complex process. Jesus himself certainly never claimed to be God.”9

The catalyst

The event that set in motion the eventual formation of the Jesus-is-God Creed was the Arian controversy,10a conflict that started in Alexandria, Egypt. The controversy was named after Arius, a presbyter and preacher in Baucalis, Alexandria.11  In 318 AD, Arius vehemently rejected the teaching of his bishop, Alexander, who held that the Father and Jesus Christ are of the “same substance.”12            Arius asserted that the Father and Jesus Christ are not of the same substance. He pointed out that Christ is different from the Father because the Son had a beginning of existence of existence while the Father is eternal.13       The doctrinal position of Arius was later known as Arianism.14 However, the Catholic Church considered it heretical.       The dispute in Alexandria soon intensified. Battle lines were drawn. Eusebius of Nicomedia and a number of bishops and deacons supported Arius, while a host of Catholic orthodox leaders threw their support behind Alexander.      As the years passed by, the local conflict had spread throughout the empire. Earl Cairns, a professor at Wheaton College, said, “The controversy became so bitter that Alexander had Arius condemned by a synod. Arius then fled to the friendly palace of Eusebius, the bishop of Nicomedia,”15

Constantine intervened

In 325 AD, Constantine, who in the previous year became the absolute ruler of the Roman Empire, stepped in to find a solution to the controversy that was disturbing the peace in the empire.      Constantine extended not only his invitation to leading figures of the Catholic Church, but also his generosity. He undertook a charm offensive. Bernard Lohse, a professor of church history, said: “They (the bishops) now had the privilege of coming to the council by means of transportation provided by the state, i.e., means which were intended for use by ranking state officials. At Nicea the emperor provided lodging for the bishops in his place.”16 Aside from the state-provided lodging and transportation, those who were invited to the council, were also given gifts from the emperor, said Pedro C. Sevilla, a priest and a professor of dogmatic theology.17

The First Nicene Council

On May 20, 325 AD18, the first ecumenical council of the Catholic Church was opened. The main protagonists of the controversy were present, Arius and Alexander. Of the 250 or so bishops (number of attendees varied from 250 to 318) who attended the council, only 22 led by Eusebius of Nicomedia, were in support of Arius.      The council was presided not by a pope, not by a bishop—but by the emperor. Cairns wrote: “The Emperor presided over the council and paid its expenses. For the first time the Church found itself dominated by the political leadership of the head of the state.”19       Paul Johnson, writer and historian, said that Constantin treated the dispute as “small and very insignificant,” and “merely an intellectual exercise.”20 No wonder, the emperor was still a pagan at the time.      Bernard Lohse wrote, “…Constantine had basically no understanding whatsoever of the questions that were being asked ….”21 The emperor wasn’t interested with doctrine; all he was after was the resolution of the conflict. Constantine even set the tone of the debate and meddled in some of them.

Settling the dispute: A new creed

As the controversy dragged on, Constantine coerced the bishops to finally end the conflict by endorsing a new creed, which would define the Catholic belief about Jesus Christ.      Johannes Lehmann, in the book The Jesus Establishment, wrote, “Some six weeks after the Council opened, on June 19, 325, Emperor Constantine insisted that all bishops who had been present should endorse a new creed that confirmed Christ as God and condemned Arius. Anyone who did not sign this document was to be excommunicated and exiled.”22In the most critical session of the council, it was Constantine who proposed the “reconciling word, homoousios (Greek for ‘of one essence’), to describe Christ’s relationship to the Father (though it was probably one of his ecclesiastical advisers, Ossius of Cordova, who suggested it to him).”23 The new creed endorsed by the bishops is known as the Nicene Creed and it declared that Christ is God, of the essence of the Father, incarnate, and made human.24 Clement H. Crock, a Catholic priest, said, “the…[Catholic] Church defined for us that it was an article of faith that Jesus is truly God.”25    Those who did not subscribe to what the Nicene Creed declared were charged of committing a crime against the empire. Ronald J. Wilkins, in his book The Emerging Church, wrote: “Once this ‘Nicene Creed’ had been publicly signed by all the bishops and promulgated by Constantine, it became the official creed for all Christians. To deny the divinity of Christ in any way was to put oneself outside of the Christian community and was a crime against the state. …”26

The aftermath

On august 25, 325 AD, the Council of Nicaea concluded.27 However, it did not end the Arian controversy. It continued even after Arius’s death in 336 AD.      The Nicene Council of 325 AD proves that the belief that the Father and Son are the same in all aspects is not found in the Bible. Had it been so, there would have been no need for the Catholic Church to convene a council to formulate such creed. All that had to be done was to look up the verse in the Holy Scriptures to prove such belief. But because the Bible doesn’t teach such belief. But because the Bible doesn’t teach such belief, the bishops of the Catholic Church arrogated matters into their own hands.


By  DINDO A. SANTIAGO
December 2017

 

References:

1Orr, James (General ed.). The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1979.

2Ladd, George. The Young Church: Acts of the Apostles. New York: Abingdon

Press, 1964.

3Iznik. http://whc.unesco.org/en/tentativelists/5900/

4https://www.britannica.com/biography/Constantine-I-Roman-emperor

5https://www.britannica.com/topic/Edict-of-Milan

6Bokenkotter, Thomas. A Concise History of the Catholic Church. New York:

Doubleday, 1977

7https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/First_Council_of_Nicaea

8Strong, Augustus Hopkins. Systemic Theology. Philadelphia: The Hudson Press,

1907.

9Armstrong, Karen. A History of God, the 4000-year Quest of Judaism,

Christianity and Islam. New York: Ballantine Books, 1993.

10https://www.britannica.com/topic/Christology

11https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arius

12https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arius

13Hanson, R.P.C. The Search for the Christian Doctrine of God: The Arian

Controversy 318-381. Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2005.

14https://www.britannica.com/topic/Arianism

15Cairns, Earle E. Christianity Through the Centuries (Rev. Ed.). Grand Rapids,

Michigan: Zondervan Publishing House Copyright, 1967, 1996.

16Lohse, Bernard. A Short History of Christian Doctrine (Translated by F. Ernest       Steoffler). Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1966.

17Pedro C. Sevilla, S.J. Ang Kabanalbanalang Isangtatlo: Ang Dios ng mga   Kristiano. Quezon City: Ateneo de Manila University, 1988.

18http://www.historychannel.com.au/articles/the-first-council-of-nicaea/

19Cairnes, Earl E. Christianity Through the Centuries (Rev. Ed.). Grand Rapids,

Michigan: Zondervan Publishing House Copyright, 1967, 1996.

20Johnson, Paul. A History of Christianity. New York: Touchstone, 1976.

21Lohse, Bernard. A Short History of Christian Doctrine (Translated by F. Ernest       Steoffler). Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1966.

22Lehmann, Johannes. The Jesus Establishment (Translated by Martin Ebon).

Garden City, NY: Doubleday, 1974.

23Dowley, Dr. Tom (ed.) et al. Eerdmans’ Handbook to the History of

      Christianity. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1977

24https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nicene_Creed#The_original_Nicene_Creed_of_325

25Crock, Clement H. Discourses on the Apostles’ Creed. New York: Joseph F.

Wagner, 1938.

26Wilkins, Ronald J. The Emerging Church. Dubuque, Iowa: Wm. C. Brown

Company Publishers, 1975.

27http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/council-of-nicaea-concludes

10 DOOMSDAY PREDICTIONS

Religious leaders, scientists, or even a hen (or so it seemed) have been making predictions for the end of the world almost as long as the world has been around.

  

 2012 Maya Apocalypse
December 21, 2012, marked he end of the first “Great Cycle” of the Maya Long Count calendar. Many misinterpreted this to mean an absolute end to the calendar, … and doomsday predictions emerged.

Harold Camping
Among the most prolific modern predictors of end times, Harold Camping has publicly predicted the end of the world as many as 12 times based [on] his interpretations of biblical numerology.

True Way
Taiwanese religious leader Hon-Ming Chen established Chen Tao, or True Way, a religious movement that blended elements of Christianity, Buddhism, UFO conspiracy theories, and Taiwanese folk religion. Chen preached that God would appear on U.S. television channel 18 on March 25, 1988, to announce that he would descend to Earth the following week in a physical form identical to Chen.

Halley’s Comet Panic
Halley’s Comet passes by the earth approximately 76 years, but the nearness of its approach in 1910 created fear that it would destroy the planet, either by celestial collision or through the poisonous gases it was rumored to contain.

Millerism
Religious leader William Miller began preaching in 1831 that the end of the world as we know it would occur with the second coming of Jesus Christ in 1843. He attracted as many as 100,000 followers who believed that they would be carried off to heaven when the date arrived.

Joanna Southcott
Beginning when she was 42 years old, Joanna Southcott reported hearing voices that predicted future events, including the crop failures and famines of 1799 and 1800. She began publishing her own books and eventually developed a following of as many as 100,000 believers.

The Prophet Hen of Leeds
In 1806, a domesticated hen in Leeds, England, appeared to lay eggs with the message “Christ is coming.” It was soon discovered, however, that the eggs were not in fact prophetic messages but the work of their owner, who had been writing on the eggs in corrosive ink and reinserting them into the poor hen’s body.

Great Fire of London
Because the Bible calls 666 the number of the Beast, many Christians in 17th-century Europe feared the end of the world in the year 1666. The Great London Fire, which lasted from September 2 to September 5 of that year, destroyed much of the city, including 87 parish churches and about 13,000 houses. Many saw it as a fulfillment of the end of the world prophecy.

The Great Flood
Johannes Stöffler, a respected mathematician and astrologer, predicted that a great flood would cover the world on February 25, 1524, when all of the known planets would be in alignment under Pisces, a water sign.

Montanism
Montanism, a 2nd century schismatic movement of Christianity, began in Phrygia (modern Turkey). Based on the visions of Montanus, who claimed to speak under the influence of the Spirit.


Source: Encyclopedia Britannica

Isaac, the Promised son

LATER, THE LORD AGAIN appeared to Abraham near the great trees of Mamre. At that time Abraham was sitting at the door of his tent. It was during the hottest part of the day. He looked up and saw three men standing near him. 

When Abraham saw them, he ran from his tent to meet them. He bowed facedown on the ground before them. Abraham said, “Sir, if you think well of me, please stay awhile with me, your servant. I will bring some water so all of you can wash your feet. You may rest under the tree. I will get some bread for you, so you can regain your strength. Then you may continue your journey.

        The three men said, “That is fine. Do as you said.”

      Abraham hurried to the tent where Sarah was He said to her, “Hurry, prepare 20 quarts of fine flour. Make it into loaves of bread.” Then Abraham ran to his cattle. He took one of his best calves and gave it to a servant. The servant hurried to kill the calf and to prepare it for food. Abraham gave the three men the calf that had been cooked. He also gave them milk curds and milk. While the three men ate, he stood under the tree near them.

      The men asked Abraham, “Where is your wife Sarah?”

      “There in the tent,” said Abraham.

      Then the Lord said, “I will certainly return to you about this time a year from now. At that time your wife Sarah will have a son.”

      Sarah was listening at the entrance of the tent which was behind him. Abraham and Sarah were very old. Sarah was past the age when women normally have children. So she laughed to herself, “My husband and I are too old to have a baby.”

      Then the Lord said to Abraham, “Why did Sarah laugh? Why did she say, ‘I am too old to have a baby’? Is anything too hard for the Lord? No! I will return to you at the right time a year from now. And Sarah will have a son.”

A baby for Sarah

The Lord cared for Sarah as he had said He did for her what he had promised. Sarah became pregnant. And she gave birth to a son for Abraham in his old age. Everything happened at the time God had said it would. Abraham named his son Isaac. Sarah gave birth to the son of Abraham. Abraham circumcised Isaac when he was eight days old as God had commanded.

      Abraham was 100 years old when his son Isaac was born. And Sarah said, “God has made me laugh. Everyone who hears about this will laugh with me. No one thought that I would be able to have Abraham’s child. But I have giving Abraham a son while he is old.”

      Isaac grew and became old enough to eat food At that time Abraham gave a great feast.


(Quoted from Genesis 18:1-14; 21:1-8, International Children’s Bible, New Century Version)

The life everyone ought to choose

God not only created man but also gave him life and everything he needs to sustain it for a well-defined purpose.

 

IMMEASURABLE HIS GREAT love for mankind, God not only created man but also gave him life and everything to sustain it for a well-defined purpose (Eccles. 12:13-14; Eph. 2:10). To guide everyone toward this purpose for which he is accountable, the Almighty Father commanded that His words be written in a book universally known as the Bible. Apostle Paul, one of those sent to preach in his time, declared: “and you remember that ever since you were a child you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to give you the wisdom that leads to salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful for teaching the truth, rebuking error, correcting faults, and giving instruction for right living, so that the man who serves God may be fully qualified and equipped to do every kind of good work” (II Tim. 3;15-17, Today’s English Version, emphasis ours). And for man to be able to live righteously, Paul gave the first-century Christians this instruction which applies well more today: “In the Lord’s name, then, I say this and warn you: do not live any longer like the heathen, whose thoughts are worthless, and whose minds are in the dark. … They have lost all feeling of shame; they give themselves over to vice, and do all sorts of indecent things without restraint” (Eph. 4:17-19, TEV).

Through God’s wisdom, man will be able to live in accordance with the well-defined purpose—serve God, live righteously, and do good works. Likewise, he should not live the way the pagan does—having worthless and dark thoughts, vicious, and grossly indecent. Neither he lives being governed by his human nature. Apostle Paul describes one who live so and the evil of doing such: “What human nature does is quite plain. It shows itself in immoral, filthy, and indecent actions; in worship of idols and witchcraft. People become enemies, they fight, become jealous, angry, and ambitious. They separate into parties and groups; they are envious, get drunk, have orgies, and do other things like these. I warn you now as I have before: those who do these things will not receive the Kingdom of God” (Gal. 5:19, Ibid.).

With the passage of time, this divine purpose has not been respected an God’s instruction on right living has been violated by those who choose to live the pagan or ungodly way. This way of life is globally observable today when moral decadence is among the crises disturbing the world. Many have been culturally conditioned that God’s wisdom which is written in the Holy Scriptures is now obsolete, no longer relevant and responsive to the needs of the time. Veering away from God’s commandments, they have turned to philosophical thoughts prioritizing their worldly or secular concerns such as satisfying first their changing physical, emotional, and social needs as well as other cravings They also have turned from religion to science, technology, medical science, media, academe, and so on for answers to life’s fundamental questions concerning sexuality, marriage, morality, and the like.

 

What influences man’s life today pervasively

Specifically, modern society through secularization, the prevailing social change, has pervasively influenced the world. According to James M. Henslin (1993), a sociologist, secularization occurs when religious influence over life is lessened, both on a society’s institutions and on individuals. It works massively using cultural mechanisms such as media and schools among many others to engineer the promotion of the agenda of social change. Its impact on mankind is reflected by he spread of the culture of materialism, of promiscuity or sexual perversion, of liberalism which makes people even proud of doing what they must be ashamed of, of philosophic arrogance and utter disregard of the sacredness of the Bible, and of relative morality which does not give the distinction between what is morally right what is morally wrong among others.

Working strategically, modern society has succeeded in secularizing even religion. There are churches that have compromised their supposed gatekeeping function to uphold firmly the fundamental biblical teachings on morality and family to social pressures. Like judicial institutions, they have departed from being strictly conservative to being tolerant of marriage and sexual practices that are against the teachings of the Bible to favor liberalism and misleading ideological advocacies. There are countries where divorce and same-sex marriage have been legalized even if God’s laws are being trivialized or outrightly opposed by such. Indeed, man’s attitude toward his Creator, toward his fellowmen, toward his environment, and toward himself has changed radically. He chooses his secular or cultural values to rule over the Christian values taught by the Holy Scriptures in conducting his life.

 

What the Bible foretold long before

To see how people are conducting their lives today, choosing to be ungodly instead of being God-fearing, Apostle Paul warned all: “You may as well know this too, Timothy, that in the last days it is going to be very difficult to be a Christian. For people will love only themselves and their money; they will be proud and boastful, sneering at God, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful to them, and thoroughly bad. They will be hardheaded and never give in to others, and will think nothing of immorality. They will be rough and cruel, and sneer at those who try to be good. They will betray their friends, they will be hotheaded, puffed up with pride, and prefer good times to worshiping God. They will go to church, yes, but they won’t really believe anything they hear. Don’t be taken in by people like that.” (II Tim. 3:1-5, Living Bible). Paul’s graphic statement gives a vivid description of how a person lives the unchristian way.

ON the other hand, those who choose to remain conservative, that is, being biblically oriented in their moral values, uncompromisingly abide by what Christ teaches in conducting their lives. They will neve let waves of changes make them deviate from God’s commandments. No matter how compelling circumstances are, their conviction to follow His will on how to live properly can not be moved.

 

Which way of life to choose

Since everyone is accountable to God to live in accordance with the purpose for which He created man, Apostle John who was among those whom Christ sent to preach the gospel taught explicitly: “Anyone who says he is a Christian should live as Christ did” (I John 2:6, LB). The first two things everyone should do to fulfill God’s purpose for creating man—to know his Creator, the Almighty God, to serve and worship Him, and to obey His commandments (Ps. 100:2-3, I John 2:3, Ps. 95:6-7)—are to be a Christian first, which can only be done by entering the Church Of Christ which He built and, second, to live as Christ did.

A good example of who abided by this purpose is Apostle Paul. Named Saul, an accomplished person who lived a privileged life before his conversion into the first-century Church Of Christ to be among the first-century Christians, he chose to give up all his gains and even his own righteousness for the righteousness that comes from God (Phil. 3:7,9).To live as Christ did, Apostle Paul strived to have the attitude that Christ had—was humble and walked the path of obedience to His death on the cross (Phil. 2:5,8)—to let God’s will rule his life that it was no longer h who lived, but it was Christ who lived in him, and to live by faith in the Son of God (Gal. 2:20).

To live righteously, the Scriptures further teach all that they should not be involved in sin, should live the rest of their earthly lives controlled by God’s will, not by human desires (I Pet. 4:1-3, TEV) but be purified from everything that makes body or soul unclean and be completely holy, by living in the fear of God (II Cor. 7:1< Ibid.)

 

Warning against a corrupt culture and deceptive philosophy

Witnessing the prevailing Greco-Roman culture—strongly influenced by paganism and the philosophies highly recognized by his society—that was wo ungodly and blasphemous, Apostle Paul warned the Christians: “Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix our attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you” (Rom. 12:2, The Message). More often than not, man is at the mercy of his society and culture. Good or bad, they work hand in hand. When they drag people to disobey God’s will, such society and culture are corrupt. Deceptively they work, usually subliminally or subtly, that the ignorant or the undiscerning fall victims of their assault.

Apostle Paul pinpointed what is at work behind the deception: “See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the basic principles of this world rather than on Christ” (Col. 2:8, New International Version). Today such philosophy can also be in the form of “intellectualism” or “high sounding nonsense founded on men’s ideas of the nature of the world” (The New Testament in Modern English by J.B. Phillips), or “man’s wisdom and deceit, going after the beliefs of men and the theories of the world” (Bible in Basic English). An example of a philosophy that opposes Christian values is relativism which people in the academe such as educators and scholars promoted by using Kuhn’s paradigm shift—a high-sounding idea immensely popular in various domains including theology (Irving Hexham, Concise Dictionary of Religion, 1993).

 

It is definitely a conscious choice

As people across cultures continuously choose to disregard the Bible by merely considering it as a work of literature and it can be interpreted subjectively, to be individualistic, materialistic and hedonistic, to ignore God’s wisdom and prefer to be philosophically arrogant, and to be liberals of almost without restraint, Christians or true servants of God always choose to be God-fearing and to conduct their lives fulfilling the well-defined purpose for which man is created.

Above all of man’s concerns in life, choosing to live in accordance with God’s commandments is the most important decision he ought to make. If he chooses otherwise is the worst. That man is inevitably accountable for whichever decision he makes, the Bible clearly states: “… Have reverence for God, and obey his commands, because this is all that man was created for. God is going to judge everything we do, whether good or bad, even things done in secret” (Eccles. 12:13-14, TEV).


By CELERINO G. BACLAAN
Photo by Brian Pangilinan

Critical health threats facing the world today: signs of the approaching end of the world

DR. TEDROS ADHANOM GHEBREYESUS, director-general of the World Health Organization (WHO), mentioned some frightening events and issues in his remarks to G20 (an international forum for the governments and central bank governors rom 20 major economies) on July 8, 2017 in Hamburg, Germany. The Bible teaches that such occurrences, likewise, are among the signs that the end of the world is near (Matt. 24:6-8). These are the follows:

“…pandemics of infectious diseases and other threats to health, such as anti-microbial resistance, transcend borders and national interests, so vulnerability for one is vulnerability for all of us. And viruses actually do not know or do not respect borders.”

“pandemics, health emergencies and weak health systems not only cost lives but represent some of the greatest risks to the global economy and security that we face today.”

“… with Spanish flu in 1918: more than 50 million people died.”

“… the SARS outbreak cost the world economy around US$6 billion.”

“… bird flu, MERS, Zika … Cholera, Yellow Fever ae back in force. WHO detects around 3000 signals a month but the world actually knows very few of them.”

“This year, 400 million people, that is 1 out of 17, mostly poor people, women and children around the world remain without access to health care.”


Source: http://www.who.int/dg/speeches/2017/g20-summit/en/