Eggs and Easter

What Do Eggs Have to Do with Easter?

Easter is the principal festival of the Christian church, a celebration of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ on the third day after his Crucifixion. So where do the colored eggs fit in?

The egg was a widely used premodern and pre-Christian symbol of fertility and restoration. European “Pagans” (a term used to refer to people who practiced a variety of non-Christian traditions) viewed eggs as a symbol of the regeneration that comes with springtime. Early Christians borrowed this image and applied it not to the regeneration of the earth but rather to Jesus Christ. This was also extended to the new life of the faithful followers of Christ.

The tradition of dyeing and decorating Easter eggs is ancient, and its origin is obscure, but it has been practiced in both the Eastern Orthodox and the Western churches since the Middle Ages. The church prohibited the eating of eggs during Holy Week, but chickens continued to lay eggs during that week, and the notion of specially identifying those as Holy Week eggs brought about their decoration. The egg itself became a symbol of the Resurrection. Just as Jesus rose from the tomb, the egg symbolized new life emerging from the eggshell. In the Orthodox tradition, eggs are painted red to symbolize the blood that Jesus shed on the cross. The egg-coloring tradition has continued even in modern secular nations. In the United States, for example, the White House Easter Egg Roll has been held, with some interruptions, on the Monday following Easter since 1878.

From :  Encyclopedia Brittanica

The Price of Sparrows

“Are not two sparrows sold for a farthing? and one of them shall not fall on the ground without your Father.” (Matthew 10:29)

This fascinating bit of first-century pricing information, seemingly so trivial, provides a marvelous glimpse into the heart of the Creator. Of all the birds used for food by the people of those days, sparrows were the cheapest on the market, costing only a farthing for a pair of them. In fact, they cost even less in a larger quantity, for on another occasion Jesus said: “Are not five sparrows sold for two farthings, and not one of them is forgotten before God?” (Luke 12:6). The “farthing” was a tiny copper coin of very small value, so a sparrow was all but worthless in human terms.

And yet the Lord Jesus said that God knows and cares about every single sparrow! God had a reason for everything He created; each kind of animal has its own unique design for its own intended purpose. Modern biologists continue to waste time and talent developing imaginary tales about how all these multitudes of different kinds of creatures might have evolved from some common ancestor. Even some evolutionists have started calling these whimsical tales “just so” stories. They would really be better scientists if they would seek to understand the creative purpose of each creature rather than speculating on its imaginary evolution.

The better we comprehend the amazing complexity and purposive design of each creature, the better we realize the infinite wisdom and power of their Creator. Then, all the more wonderful it is to learn that their Creator is our Father! He has placed them all under our dominion, and we need to learn to see them through His eyes if we would be good stewards of the world He has committed to us. We can also thank our heavenly Father that we “are of more value than many sparrows” (Matthew 10:31). HMM

excerpt from Day of Praise

17-things-the-bible-tells-us-about-angels

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Editor’s Note: Pastor Roger Barrier’s “Ask Roger” column regularly appears at Preach It, Teach It. Every week at Crosswalk, Dr. Barrier puts nearly 40 years of experience in the pastorate to work answering questions of doctrine or practice for laypeople, or giving advice on church leadership issues. Email him your questions at roger@preachitteachit.org.

Dear Roger,

Do angels leave feathers when they visit? Some people are telling me this and I don’t know what to believe.

Sincerely, Genebeth

Dear Genebeth,

I do not believe that angels leave feathers to let people know that they have been there. There’s nothing in the Bible about this, so I would discount what people are telling you. Nevertheless, the Bible tells us that angels have very special ministries both in heaven and on earth.

We seem to know very little about the existence and ministry of Angels. To most of us angels are more decoration than the reality. Angels appear on tombstones, the walls of nurseries, jewelry, Renaissance art, ordination certificates, Christmas cards, and Valentines.

Angels are usually fat and naked and have little bows and arrows with wings on their backs!

These caricatures are so unfortunate. Angels have a lot to do, especially for those who have eyes to see. I believe that most of their work goes on behind the scenes where they are usually not noticed.

I would imagine that very few of us will have a dramatic encounter with an angelic spirit. But if we do, it will be a marker point in our lives that we will never forget.

One of my professors from Southwestern Seminary told a story in class about a missionary friend of his.  The missionary was driving through a terrible rainstorm in southern Louisiana. He was on his way to a preaching engagement and was struggling deeply with the future of his life and ministry. He was praying, “Oh, God, please speak to me.  I need your guidance.”

Just around the corner, he noticed a person hitching a ride in the blinding rainstorm. He pulled over and invited the person to get in. They began a conversation and he discovered that the person was a Christian. They had great fellowship. In fact, his newfound friend helped him sort out some of the future issues with which he was struggling. When they came to the turning point where the man had to go his way and the missionary his, they stopped for a brief cup of coffee.

As the missionary drove off he realized that he hadn’t even gotten the man’s name so that he could thank him for the advice. He returned to the cafe and asked the waitress if she had noticed which way that the fellow had gone. She said, “What fellow? I wondered why you had ordered two cups of coffee.”

The missionary got back into the car and realized for the first time that when the man had originally gotten into the car, he was not even wet.

The word, “angel,” means “messenger.” For example, Hebrews chapter two tells us that the Angels were the messengers who delivered the Ten Commandments to Moses. I believe that my professors missionary friend enjoyed an angelic encounter that night.

Genebeth, your question is an important one; therefore, let me give you a short Biblical primer on the nature and work of angels.

1. God created the angels before He created anything else in the universe.

The angels watched God work and shouted for joy at the results of the creation (Job 38:4-7).

2. All of the angels were created simultaneously.

They are unable to procreate. (1 Corinthians 15:39,40). The number of angels has always been constant.

3. The number of angels is incomprehensible.

Revelation 5:11 records the number of Angels: “Ten thousand times ten thousand and thousands and thousands.”

4. Some angels rebelled against God.

Lucifer, who was in charge of guarding the throne of God and with bringing God praise and worship, and who was apparently co-equal with the angel Michael, chose to rebel (Isaiah 14).

A huge number of angels rebelled with him.  Fallen angels (demons) live in one of two places today:  (1) On earth, attacking and discouraging humans; and (2) In Tartarus, a prison cell in the lowest hell, waiting to be released during the Great Tribulation.

5. Angels are powerful.

Only one angel was needed to wipe out 185,000 Assyrians in a single night (2 Kings 19).

6. Angels were created to praise and worship God around His throne.

Revelation 5:11-12: “In a loud voice they sang, “Worthy is the Lamb, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and strength and honor and glory and praise!”

7. Angels are charged with the responsibility of guiding the affairs of nations.

We learn from Daniel 10 that angels are intricately involved in guiding our heads of state. Every nation also has a demon charged with the responsibility of bringing that nation to destruction (Ezekiel).

8. Angels fight Satan and his demons until the victory is won at the end of time.

Revelation 12:7-9: “And there was war in heaven. Michael and his angels fought against the dragon, and the dragon and his angels fought back…”

9. Every church is assigned an angel to watch over it and to help protect it.

Revelation 1:20: “The mystery of the seven stars… the seven stars are the angels of the seven churches, and the seven lampstands are the seven churches.”

10. Angels will separate the wheat from the weeds at the final judgment (the saved from the lost).

Matthew 13:38-42: “The field is the world, and the good seed stands for the sons of the kingdom. The weeds are the sons of the evil one, and the enemy who sows them is the devil. The harvest is the end of the age, and the harvesters are angels.”

11. Angels minister to those who believe in Christ.

Jacob’s dream of a ladder, by which angels ascended and descended between heaven and earth, is a beautiful picture of their incessant activity for us (Genesis 28:12).

12. Angels provide for physical needs of believers as in the case of Elijah under his juniper tree (1 Kings 19:5-7).

After a Wednesday night service several years ago, a lady told me of an angelic protection. Driving on a lonely desert road in her VW with her children the car’s engine caught fire. She stopped and tried to open the hood. She couldn’t; it was too hot. Suddenly, another car pulled up behind her. She thought that this was strange because she’d seen no other cars on the road.

He pulled out this big pair of asbestos gloves, opened the hood and used a fire extinguisher to put out the blaze. She turned to thank the man and he was gone. Both he and the car had disappeared.

13. Angels protect believers from danger as in the case of watching over the three Hebrews in the furnace (Daniel chapter 3), or by watching over Daniel in the lions’ den (Daniel chapter 6).

Once when Brianna, our oldest daughter, was just learning crawl, Julie heard me yell from the back bathroom. “Julie, come quickly!” At the same time I heard Julie call from the back bathroom, “Roger, come quickly.” We both ran quickly to discover Brianna about to tumble headlong onto the tile of our three-foot-deep sunken tub. We grabbed her just in time.

Julie said, “I’m sure glad you called me to get back here quickly.”

“I didn’t call you,” I said. “You called me.”

“I didn’t call you,” she said.

We had an angelic visitation from Brie’s guardian angel!

Experiences like these make Psalm 34:7 come alive: “Angels of the Lord encamp around those who fear God and deliver them.”

14. Angels sometimes reveal the Lord’s plans, for example to Daniel (Daniel 9:21-23), to Cornelius (Acts 10:3-6), or to Mary at the birth of Jesus (Luke 2).

15. Angels Minister To Us At Out Time Of Death.

Luke 16:22: “The time came when the beggar died and the angels carried him to Abraham’s side.”

A cold chill runs up many of our backs to think that sometime in the future, and perhaps in the very near future for some of us, the Death Angel will be dispatched from Heaven to Earth.

If we are Christians, we need not be afraid of the Death Angel.  They may be our rod and staff which brings us through the Valley of the Shadow of Death.

16. Not all angels are good.

Galatians 1:8-11: “But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let him be eternally condemned… I want you to know, brothers, that the gospel I preached is not something that man made up. I did not receive it from any man, nor was I taught it; rather, I received it by revelation from Jesus Christ.”

17. Have you ever wondered about guardian angels?

Matthew 18:10: “See that you do not look down on one of these little ones. For I tell you that their angels in heaven always see the face of my Father in heaven.”

I pray often for my guarding angel. I pray for him/her (it?) to be “strong” on my behalf in the spiritual battles that I fight. When I am praying for someone about to undergo surgery, I never fail to pray for their guardian angel, assigned to them at birth, to help guide the hand of the surgeon for a successful surgery. I want him/her (it?)and me to be good friends. I am looking forward to seeing him/her(it?) in heaven.

So, Genebeth, I hope that this short primer on angelology is helpful to you on understanding the work and ministry of angels.

Sincerely, Roger

 

 

Birth of Jesus Christ

A selection of prophecies in the Bible that found fulfillment in
the birth of Jesus the Messiah about 2,000 years ago.

Isaiah foreshadowed the virgin birth of Jesus

Bible prophecy: Isaiah 7:14
Prophecy written: Between 701-681 BC
Prophecy fulfilled: About 5 BC

“Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel.”

The Messiah would be born in Bethlehem

Bible prophecy: Micah 5:1-2
Prophecy written: Sometime between 750-686 BC
Prophecy fulfilled: About 5 BC

1 Marshal your troops, O city of troops, for a siege is laid against us. They will strike Israel’s ruler on the cheek with a rod.

2 “But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are small among the clans of Judah, out of you will come for me one who will be ruler over Israel, whose origins are from of old, from ancient times.”

The Messiah would come from the tribe of Judah

Bible prophecy: Genesis 49:10
Prophecy written: As early as 1400 BC
Prophecy fulfilled: About 5 BC

“The scepter will not depart from Judah, nor the ruler’s staff from between his feet, until he comes to whom it belongs and the obedience of the nations is his.”

The Messiah would be a descendant of King David

Bible prophecy: Jeremiah 23:5
Prophecy written: Sometime between 626-586 BC
Prophecy fulfilled: By the birth of Jesus about 2000 years ago

“The days are coming,” declares the LORD, “when I will raise up to David a righteous Branch, a King who will reign wisely and do what is just and right in the land.

excerpt from 100prophecies.org

The Unique Savior

While thinking about the circumstances surrounding Christ’s birth, Christians can rejoice that the Messiah has come to earth and dealt with our sin. We can praise God for fulfilling His promises. and we can have complete confidence that He will always be faithful to do what He has declared.

Despite what many believe today, the religions and religious leaders of the world are not the same. Many people in our culture promote the ridiculous claim that Jesus was just another religious leader—a good person who tried to make life better for others—but Jesus is unique in so many respects. He alone was a “good person” since He lived a sinless life. Every other religious leader has been sinful and needed a Savior. But Jesus did not need a savior; He is the Savior.

There are no prophecies foretelling details about the birth of other religious leaders. No prophecies alerted the world to the coming of Muhammad (Islam), Joseph Smith (Mormonism), David Koresh (Branch Davidians), Charles Taze Russell (Jehovah’s Witnesses), Siddhartha Gautama (Buddhism), or any other founder of the world’s religions. Yet the Old Testament pinpointed numerous details about the life of the Son of God and Savior of the world.

So what do these prophecies tell us about Jesus? In just the first two chapters of Matthew, we see that God foretold the virginal conception of the Messiah, who would be born in Bethlehem, yet in some way would come out of Egypt and be called a Nazarene. We also see that bitter agony would grip the mothers in that area.

In the genealogy recorded in Matthew’s first chapter, we discover the fulfillment of several other Old Testament prophecies. Jesus was from the line of Abraham (Genesis 12:3), Isaac (Genesis 26:4), Jacob (Genesis 28:14), Judah (Genesis 49:8–12), Jesse (Isaiah 11:1), and David (Isaiah 9:7). But that’s not all. A search through the rest of Scripture would reveal dozens of other details prophesied about the Messiah, including the following facts:

Many other prophecies could be listed that were perfectly fulfilled in the life of Jesus Christ. These were not lucky guesses made by fraudulent prognosticators; they were precise predictions made by the all-knowing God of the Bible who repeatedly demonstrated that He has perfect knowledge of all past, present, and future events. Consequently, we can be completely confident that He will always make good on His promises and that those future events He has foretold will certainly come to pass.  read more

Ministry of the Holy Spirit

1Th 4:8  Therefore he who rejects this does not reject man, but God, who has also given us His Holy Spirit.

Every believer has some awareness of the presence of the Holy Spirit. Indeed, if there is no such awareness, then there is absolutely no relationship with God

Rom 8:9  But you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. Now if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he is not His.

Just what, then, is the ministry of God’s Holy Spirit in our lives?

 All who have come to God by faith have felt the conviction of the Holy Spirit prior to salvation.
From the world’s perspective, that constitutes His ministry. The Holy Spirit is commissioned by Jesus Christ to “reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment” (John 16:8).
Acting as God the Father’s operative Agent, the Holy Spirit draws us into a personal consciousness of our sin, Christ’s righteousness, and the absolute certainty of judgment to come.

This reproof has but one goal: to bring about regeneration

Tit 3:5/6  not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit,   whom He poured out on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Savior, 

and give us witness that we are the children of God

Rom 8:16  The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God,

What is born from above

Joh 3:3  Jesus answered and said to him, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.”

is nothing less than a “new creature” by the triune Godhead

2Co 5:17  Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.

created like God in “righteousness and true holiness”

Eph 4:24  and that you put on the new man which was created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness.

The Holy Spirit energizes our “dead” spirit and causes us to “live”

1Pe 4:6  For this reason the gospel was preached also to those who are dead, that they might be judged according to men in the flesh, but live according to God in the spirit.

 

 And that is just the beginning! Once regenerated, the Holy Spirit sees to it, as the “Spirit of truth”

Joh 16:3  And these things they will do to you because they have not known the Father nor Me.

 that we are led

Rom 8:14  For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God.

into truth—because the Holy Spirit will not invent information, but will take truth directly from the mind and heart of God.

With that leading, we are sanctified (both positionally and progressively), having been chosen to salvation

2Th 2:13  But we are bound to give thanks to God always for you, brethren beloved by the Lord, because God from the beginning chose you for salvation through sanctification by the Spirit and belief in the truth,

With the Holy Spirit’s power

Act 1:8  But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”

we can exhibit His fruit

Gal 5:22  But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,
Gal 5:23  gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law.

and come under His filling

Eph 5:18  And do not be drunk with wine, in which is dissipation; but be filled with the Spirit,

May the glorious ministry of the Holy Spirit be yours both as promised and in practice. HMM III

From: Days of Praise

All Saints/Souls day

“What does the Bible say about praying for the dead?”

Answer: Praying for the dead is not a biblical concept. Our prayers have no bearing on someone once he or she has died. The reality is that, at the point of death, one’s eternal destiny is confirmed. Either he is saved through faith in Christ and is in heaven where he is experiencing rest and joy in God’s presence, or he is in torment in hell. The story of the rich man and Lazarus the beggar provides us with a vivid illustration of this truth. Jesus plainly used this story to teach that after death the unrighteous are eternally separated from God, that they remember their rejection of the gospel, that they are in torment, and that their condition cannot be remedied (Luke 16:19-31).

Often, people who have lost a loved one are encouraged to pray for those who have passed away and for their families. Of course, we should pray for those grieving, but for the dead, no. No one should ever believe that someone may be able to pray for him, thereby effecting some kind of favorable outcome, after he has died. The Bible teaches that the eternal state of mankind is determined by our actions during our lives on earth. “The soul who sins is the one who will die. . . . The righteousness of the righteous man will be credited to him, and the wickedness of the wicked will be charged against him” (Ezekiel 18:20).

The writer to the Hebrews tells us, “Just as man is destined to die once, and after that to face judgment” (Hebrews 9:27). Here we understand that no change in one’s spiritual condition can be made following his death—either by himself or through the efforts of others. If it is useless to pray for the living, who are committing “a sin that leads to death” (1 John 5:16), i.e., continual sin without seeking God’s forgiveness, how could prayer for those who are already dead benefit them, since there is no post-mortem plan of salvation?

The point is that each of us has but one life, and we are responsible for how we live that life. Others may influence our choices, but ultimately we must give an account for the choices we make. Once life is over, there are no more choices to be made; we have no choice but to face judgment. The prayers of others may express their desires, but they won’t change the outcome. The time to pray for a person is while he or she lives and there is still the possibility of his or her heart, attitudes, and behavior being changed (Romans 2:3-9).

It is natural to have a desire to pray in times of pain, suffering, and loss of loved ones and friends, but we know the boundaries of valid prayer as revealed in the Bible. The Bible is the only official prayer manual, and it teaches that prayers for the dead are futile. Yet we find the practice of praying for the dead observed in certain areas of “Christendom.” Roman Catholic theology, for example, allows for prayers both to the dead and on behalf of them. But even Catholic authorities admit that there is no explicit authorization for prayers on behalf of the dead in the sixty-six books of canonical Scripture. Instead, they appeal to the Apocrypha (2 Maccabees 12:46), church tradition, the decree of the Council of Trent, etc., to defend the practice.

The Bible teaches that those who have yielded to the Savior’s will (Hebrews 5:8-9) enter directly and immediately into the presence of the Lord after death (Luke 23:43; Philippians 1:23; 2 Corinthians 5:6, 8). What need, then, do they have for the prayers of people on the earth? While we sympathize with those who have lost dear ones, we must bear in mind that “now is the time of God’s favor, now is the day of salvation” (2 Corinthians 6:2). While the context refers to the gospel age as a whole, the verse is fitting for any individual who is unprepared to face the inevitable—death and the judgment that follows (Romans 5:12; 1 Corinthians 15:26; Hebrews 9:27). Death is final, and after that, no amount of praying will avail a person of the salvation he has rejected in life.

All Souls Day follows All Saints Day, and commemorates the faithful departed, i.e. those who die in God’s grace and friendship. Catholics believe that not everyone who dies in God’s grace is immediately ready for the Beatific vision, i.e. the direct experience of God and His perfect nature in heaven, so they must be purified of “lesser faults,” and the temporal effects of sin.

The Catholic Church calls this purification “purgatory.” The Catholic teaching on Purgatory essentially requires belief in two realities: 1. that there will be a purification of believers prior to entering heaven and 2. that the prayers and masses of the faithful in some way benefit those in the state of purification. As to the duration, place, and exact nature of this purification, the Church has no official dogma, although Saint Augustine and others used fire as a way to explain the nature of the purification.

“What does the Bible say about Purgatory?”

Answer: According to the Catholic Encyclopedia, Purgatory is “a place or condition of temporal punishment for those who, departing this life in God’s grace, are not entirely free from venial faults, or have not fully paid the satisfaction due to their transgressions.” To summarize, in Catholic theology Purgatory is a place that a Christian’s soul goes to after death to be cleansed of the sins that had not been fully satisfied during life. Is this doctrine of Purgatory in agreement with the Bible? Absolutely not!

Jesus died to pay the penalty for all of our sins (Romans 5:8). Isaiah 53:5 declares, “But He was pierced for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon Him, and by His wounds we are healed.” Jesus suffered for our sins so that we could be delivered from suffering. To say that we must also suffer for our sins is to say that Jesus’ suffering was insufficient. To say that we must atone for our sins by cleansing in Purgatory is to deny the sufficiency of the atoning sacrifice of Jesus (1 John 2:2). The idea that we have to suffer for our sins after death is contrary to everything the Bible says about salvation.

The primary Scriptural passage Catholics point to for evidence of Purgatory is 1 Corinthians 3:15, which says, “If it is burned up, he will suffer loss; he himself will be saved, but only as one escaping through the flames.” The passage (1 Corinthians 3:12-15) is using an illustration of things going through fire as a description of believers’ works being judged. If our works are of good quality “gold, sliver, costly stones,” they will pass through the fire unharmed, and we will be rewarded for them. If our works are of poor quality “wood, hay, and straw,” they will be consumed by the fire, and there will be no reward. The passage does not say that believers pass through the fire, but rather that a believer’s works pass through the fire. 1 Corinthians 3:15 refers to the believer “escaping through the flames,” not “being cleansed by the flames.”

Purgatory, like many other Catholic dogmas, is based on a misunderstanding of the nature of Christ’s sacrifice. Catholics view the Mass / Eucharist as a re-presentation of Christ’s sacrifice because they fail to understand that Jesus’ once-for-all sacrifice was absolutely and perfectly sufficient (Hebrews 7:27). Catholics view meritorious works as contributing to salvation due to a failure to recognize that Jesus’ sacrificial payment has no need of additional “contribution” (Ephesians 2:8-9). Similarly, Purgatory is understood by Catholics as a place of cleansing in preparation for heaven because they do not recognize that because of Jesus’ sacrifice, we are already cleansed, declared righteous, forgiven, redeemed, reconciled, and sanctified.

The very idea of Purgatory and the doctrines that are often attached to it (prayer for the dead, indulgences, meritorious works on behalf of the dead, etc.) all fail to recognize that Jesus’ death was sufficient to pay the penalty for ALL of our sins. Jesus, who was God incarnate (John 1:1,14), paid an infinite price for our sin. Jesus died for our sins (1 Corinthians 15:3). Jesus is the atoning sacrifice for our sins (1 John 2:2). To limit Jesus’ sacrifice to atoning for original sin, or sins committed before salvation, is an attack on the Person and Work of Jesus Christ. If we must in any sense pay for, atone for, or suffer because of our sins – that indicates Jesus’ death was not a perfect, complete, and sufficient sacrifice.

For believers, after death is to be “away from the body and at home with the Lord” (2 Corinthians 5:6-8; Philippians 1:23). Notice that this does not say “away from the body, in Purgatory with the cleansing fire.” No, because of the perfection, completion, and sufficiency of Jesus’ sacrifice, we are immediately in the Lord’s presence after death, fully cleansed, free from sin, glorified, perfected, and ultimately sanctified.

Human Race

How Many Races Did God Create?

Creation Basics

by Dr. Tommy Mitchell on March 13, 2014

Some people think the Bible justifies their racist attitudes. Yet when we examine what the Bible says about the origin of different people groups, we find a different story.

It’s easy to see that people come in all shapes and sizes. Some are short, some are tall, some have red hair, some have brown hair, some have big noses . . . well, you get the idea. It’s an amazing variety of people.

Despite this variety, we tend to group people according to one or more physical features they share in common. These groups are often called “races,” and the features that define them, “racial characteristics.”

Many people treat others differently, depending on these supposed racial characteristics. They believe those differences are more than just skin deep and have implications for their value as human beings, and even their place on the “evolutionary ladder.” Is that justifiable? How many “races” of people are there? How did they come to be, and do these differences justify prejudice?

A Biblical Basis

God’s Word settles this issue. There is only one race of people. This is clear from the history found in Genesis.

In the beginning God created the first man, Adam. Then He created the first woman, Eve, from the man’s side. Adam and Eve were our original parents, made in the image of God. All humans can be traced back to these two people. This is made abundantly clear in Genesis 3:20, where Adam said that Eve “was the mother of all living.”

So, if we are all descendants of Adam and Eve, we should all look pretty much the same, right? How can we explain all the differences in people?

The Tower of Babel

Genesis 11 describes a time when humans rebelled against God by settling at Babel and refusing to spread out in the world. Because of this, God confused their language, and groups of people separated and moved away from one another.

As a consequence of Babel, the people groups became genetically isolated.

As a consequence of Babel, the people groups could not easily mix. They became genetically isolated, meaning that they married and had offspring primarily within their particular group. As the years passed, each group developed its own culture and ways of doing things. Genetically isolated, certain physical traits became more prominent in each group. These ethnic characteristics are wrongly considered racial characteristics; but there really is only one race, the human race. All of these people were simply people.

Skin Color

Let’s use skin color to illustrate the process.

The pigment primarily responsible for everyone’s skin color is melanin. Ultimately, everyone has the same skin color—we just have varying skin tones. The two forms of melanin are eumelanin (brown to black) and pheomelanin (red to yellow). Their proportion determines skin tone.

So what would cause some people to have very dark skin while others’ skin is lighter? Where they live makes a difference. For example, darker skin on people living in regions near the equator protects them from intense sunlight, reducing their risk of skin cancer. People in higher latitudes where there is less intense sunlight need lighter skin to produce vitamin D efficiently. In each case those who had the characteristics conducive to living in the region stayed and reproduced. Those who didn’t either moved on or died out.

Over many generations, these favorable characteristics would be carried forward in the gene pool, and the less favorable characteristics would tend to fall away. Thus, genetic variability in isolated populations gradually decreases. So today people with very dark skin usually have children with dark skin and people with very light skin usually have light-skinned children.

However, people with “middle brown” skin often have children with a much wider range of skin tones. Why? Because these “middle brown” people groups still have significant genetic variability with regard to skin tone.

Based on our understanding of the inheritance of skin tone, we strongly suspect Adam and Eve were middle brown. This would give the widest range of skin tones in their offspring, from very light to very dark.

Racial Characteristics

Beyond skin tone, other characteristics are used to distinguish one group of people from another. These include straight versus curly hair, thickness of lips, and the shape of eyelids. These features would have developed or become more prominent in various isolated people groups over the generations.

Regrettably, instead of giving glory to God for the differences between us, we fallen human beings use these features as an excuse to judge our fellow man. Why?

Evolution and Race

The problem is that most people, including many Christians, do not base their worldview and values on the Bible. Instead, they ignore God’s truth and adopt man’s ideas and values. This is always dangerous, but it may be most destructive in the area of human origins and its implications for social behavior.

The most prominent view of origins today is called evolution. According to the evolutionary worldview, humans evolved from an apelike ancestor over millions of years. Unfortunately, many have used this philosophy to teach that different people groups evolved at different rates. This allowed them to consider some people groups “less evolved” than others, some “races” closer to apes than others (always putting their own “race” at the top of the scale, of course).

While evolutionary thinking certainly intensifies racist attitudes, evolution is not the cause of racism. The cause of racism is sin. Man’s inhumanity towards his fellow man has existed since the Fall. The very first sin recorded after Adam took the forbidden fruit is Cain’s murder of his brother Abel; and a few verses later in the same chapter, Lamech actually brags about killing a man.

However, evolution has been used as a justification for racism. The late Harvard professor Stephen Jay Gould said, “Biological arguments for racism may have been common before 1859 [the year Darwin’s On the Origin of Species was published], but they increased by orders of magnitude following the acceptance of evolutionary theory.”

Modern Genetics

Evolutionary ideas about the races, taught for many decades, are now so ingrained in some people’s thinking that it is nigh impossible to correct their misperceptions. But in truth all humans are fully human. No group of people is less evolved than another. In fact, the genetic difference between any two people is only about one-tenth of one percent, trivial at best. Interestingly, genetic variation among people within a particular ethnic group is often greater than between members of different ethnic groups!

Scientists involved with mapping the human genome have declared that there is only one race—the human race. Some have even said that the term race is meaningless.

One Blood

God’s Word is clear. There is only one race.

Acts 17:26 reads, “And He has made from one blood every nation of men to dwell on all the face of the earth, and has determined their preappointed times and the boundaries of their dwellings.

We can rightly talk about people groups, but only with the understanding that these groups represent what the Bible refers to as “tribes” or “nations.” People do have ethnic and cultural heritages that can be honored and celebrated.

But we are all one blood. Even in the midst of our differences, we are all the same.

The Consequences

The idea of races calls us to ask a serious question: if there are different races, then which race did Christ die for? The answer has eternal consequences.

All human beings are related. We all can trace our ancestry back to the first man, Adam. As descendants of Adam, we are all sinners. As sinners, we are in need of a Savior (Romans 5:12).

Jesus Christ, the Last Adam, was born as a man, as a descendant of Adam (1 Corinthians 15:45). Because of this birth, He was able to serve as our Redeemer. He was crucified, died, and rose again. He overcame death, and those who put their faith and trust in Him need not fear death, for they inherit eternal life. “For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ all shall be made alive” (1 Corinthians 15:22).

Dr. Tommy Mitchell, a fellow of the American College of Physicians, earned his MD from Vanderbilt University School of Medicine and practiced medicine for over 20 years. He is now a speaker for Answers in Genesis–USA.

Feast of San Gennaro

Whenever we have a question about something – let us go to the only place of truth “God’s Word” to find our answer.

Is worship of the saints (Mary) biblical?

September 19 – Feast of San Gennaro

San Gennaro, or St. Januarius, fourth-century bishop of Benevento, is the patron saint of Naples, Italy.

According to legend, he survived being thrown into a fiery furnace and then a den of wild beasts, but was eventually beheaded during the reign of Diocletian. His body was brought to Naples, along with a vial containing some of his blood. The congealed blood, preserved since that time in the Cathedral of San Gennaro, is claimed to liquefy on the anniversary of his death each year—an event that has drawn crowds to Naples since 1389.
Scientists have recently come up with a possible explanation for the phenomenon: certain substances, including some types of mayonnaise, are normally thick gels that can be liquefied instantly by shaking or stirring. Left standing, such liquids soon revert to gels. The answer may never be known because, to date, the Roman Catholic Church has forbidden opening the vial and analyzing its chemical nature.

The Society of San Gennaro in New York City’s “Little Italy” section began holding a San Gennaro festival on Mulberry Street in 1925. Since 1996, however, the festival has been organized by the Figli (Children) of San Gennaro, an organization within the Archdiocese of New York City. The 11-day event attracts nearly two million spectators. It includes processions carrying a statue of St. Januarius from the shrine at Most Precious Blood Church as well as a street fair. One of the goals of the event is to find a mate for the festival queen, who more often than not has married within two years after her festival reign. Proceeds from the festival go to low-income schools and parishes on the city’s Lower East Side. In 2001, the festival was cancelled due to the nearby terrorist attacks of September 11. Instead, the church held a memorial service followed by a candlelight procession of the statue of the saint.  From:  The Free Dictionary

Answer: The Bible is absolutely clear that we are to worship God alone. The only instances of anyone other than God receiving worship in the Bible are false gods, which are Satan and his demons. All followers of the Lord God refuse worship. Peter and the apostles refused to be worshipped (Acts 10:25-26; 14:13-14). The holy angels refuse to be worshipped (Revelation 19:10; 22:9). The response is always the same, “Worship God!”

Roman Catholics attempt to “bypass” these clear Scriptural principles by claiming they do not “worship” Mary or saints, but rather that they only “venerate” Mary and the saints. Using a different word does not change the essence of what is being done. A definition of “venerate” is “to regard with respect or reverence.” Nowhere in the Bible are we told to revere anyone but God alone. There is nothing wrong with respecting those faithful Christians who have gone before us (see Hebrews chapter 11). There is nothing wrong with honoring Mary as the earthly mother of Jesus. The Bible describes Mary as “highly favored” by God (Luke 1:28). At the same time, there is no instruction in the Bible to revere those whom have gone to Heaven. We are to follow their example, yes, but worship, revere, or venerate, no!

When forced to admit that they do, in fact, worship Mary, Catholics will claim that they worship God through her, by praising the wonderful creation that God has made. Mary, in their minds, is the most beautiful and wonderful creation of God, and by praising her, they are praising her Creator. For Catholics, this is analogous to directing praise to an artist by praising his sculpture or painting. The problem with this is that God explicitly commands against worshipping Him through created things. We are not to bow down and worship anything in the form of heaven above or earth below (Exodus 20:4-5). Romans 1:25 could not be more clear, “They exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator — who is forever praised. Amen.” Yes, God has created wonderful and amazing things. Yes, Mary was a godly woman who is worthy of our respect. No, we absolutely are not to worship God “vicariously” by praising things (or people) He has created. Doing so is blatant idolatry.

The major way Catholics “venerate” Mary and the saints is by praying to them. As the following article demonstrates, prayer to anyone other than God alone is anti-biblical – praying to saints and Mary. Whether Mary and/or the saints are prayed to, or whether they are petitioned for their prayers – neither practice is Biblical. Prayer is an act of worship. When we pray to God, we are admitting that we need His help. Directing our prayers to anyone other than God is robbing God of the glory that is His alone.

Another way Catholics “venerate” Mary and the saints is by creating statues and images of them. Many Catholics use images of Mary and/or the saints as “good luck charms.” Any cursory reading of the Bible will reveal this practice as blatant idolatry (Exodus 20:4-6; 1 Corinthians 12:1-2; 1 John 5:21). Rubbing rosary beads is idolatry. Lighting candles before a statue or portrayal of a saint is idolatry. Burying a Joseph statue in hopes of selling your home (and countless other Catholic practices) is idolatry.

The terminology is not the issue. Whether the practice is described as “worship” or “veneration,” or any other term, the problem is the same. Any time we ascribe something that belongs to God, to someone else, it is idolatry. The Bible nowhere instructs us to revere, pray to, rely on, or “idolize” anyone other than God. We are to worship God alone. Glory, praise, and honor belong to God alone. Only God is worthy to “…receive glory and honor and power…” (Revelation 4:11). God alone is worthy to receive our worship, adoration, and praise (Nehemiah 9:6; Revelation 15:4).

Remembering Jimmer

Lisa dog’s first love – little Jimmer is no longer with us.  I will always remember him fondly for the cute, clever and loving doggy he was.

Waiting for Lisa

Tribute to a Best Friend

Sunlight streams through window pane onto a spot on the floor…..

then I remember,

 it’s where you used to lie, but now you are no more.

 Our feet walk down a hall of carpet, and muted echoes sound…..

then I remember,

 it’s where your paws would joyously abound.

A voice is heard along the road, and up beyond the hill,

then I remember,

it can’t be yours….. your golden voice is still.

 But I’ll take that vacant spot of floor and empty muted hall,

and lay them with the absent voice and unused dish along the wall.

 I’ll wrap these treasured memories in a blanket of my love,

and keep them for my best friend until we meet above.

 Author Unknown

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Agility with Jimmy

Crystals

A crystal or crystalline solid is a solid material whose constituent atoms, molecules, or ions are arranged in an ordered pattern extending in all three spatial dimensions. Wikipedia

Man is inherently religious and must worship something during his sojourn on earth. If he rejects the Creator, he or she will very likely worship the creation and those creatures that inhabit it. The apostle Paul warned in Romans 1:25 that there would be those,

Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature [literally, creation] more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen.   ICR

What does the Bible say about crystals?

A lot of people are fascinated with crystals, many regarding them to possess mystical power that can be utilized for healing purposes. Some believe that crystals can also stimulate spiritual growth and bring about a positive transformation in life experience. Is it O.K. to be actively involved with crystal healing and crystal power? What counsel does the Bible give in this matter?

Crystals certainly are beautiful objects, for they were created by God. Portions of God’s glorious heavenly city, the New Jerusalem, will be constructed from crystal. It’s in the Bible, Revelation 21:11, & 18-20 NIV. “It shone with the glory of God, and its brilliance was like that of a very precious jewel, like a jasper, clear as crystal. The wall was made of jasper, and the city of pure gold, as pure as glass. The foundations of the city walls were decorated with every kind of precious stone. The first foundation was jasper, the second sapphire, the third chalcedony, the fourth emerald, the fifth sardonyx, the sixth carnelian, the seventh chrysolite, the eighth beryl, the ninth topaz, the tenth chrysoprase, the eleventh jacinth, and the twelfth amethyst. ”

When evaluating the appropriateness of using crystals for healing purposes, it is important to be aware of the fact that the majority of experts who promote crystal healing are involved in the occult. The word occult means ‘hidden’. Occultism concerns itself with the study and utilization of supernatural influences, powers and phenomena that are normally hidden from the regular physical senses, and are generally considered to be outside the realm of traditional scientific observation. Occultists believe that human beings, and the world in which we live, are permeated by invisible mystical energies. They believe that these energies can be focused and directed by ‘sacred stones’, such as crystals and other talismans, so as to induce physical healing and spiritual enlightenment. In addition to involvement with crystal power, occultism is associated with other mystical practices such as astrology, numerology, divination, tarot cards, psychic healing, mediumship, spirit channeling, Eastern religions, ritual magic and sorcery.

What does God say about involvement with the occult? He warned the Israelites against it when they were about to enter the Promised Land of Canaan. It’s in the Bible, Deuteronomy 18:9-12 NIV. “When you enter the land the Lord your God is giving you, do not learn to imitate the detestable ways of the nations there. Let no one be found among you who practices divination or sorcery, interprets omens, engages in witchcraft, or casts spells, or who is a medium or spiritist or who consults the dead. Anyone who does these things is detestable to the Lord.”

The use of ‘sacred stones’ for mystical purposes was common among the pagan peoples of the Bible Lands. Called amulets, these magical charms were made in the form of small pendants attached to a necklace or bracelet. They were worn to protect a person from negative energies, evil and injury, and also to bring good luck. God uttered a stern warning to the false prophetesses of Israel, who in their apostasy had adopted the pagan practice of wearing amulets. It’s in the Bible, Ezekiel 13:18, 20 & 21 NIV. “This is what the Sovereign Lord says: ‘Woe to the women who sew magic charms on all their wrists and make veils of various lengths for their heads in order to ensnare people. Will you ensnare the lives of my people but preserve your own? I am against your magic charms with which you ensnare people like birds, and I will tear them from your arms; I will set free the people that you ensnare like birds. I will tear off your veils and save my people from your hands, and they will no longer fall prey to your power.’ ”

The Bible categorizes the use of amulets as a form of pagan magic. Modern proponents of crystal power regard crystal healing to be ‘benevolent magic’, also known as ‘white magic’. Occult magic can sometimes produce spectacular manifestations of power. Instances of this are described in the Bible. For example, Exodus 7:10-12 NIV, “So Moses and Aaron went to Pharaoh and did just as the Lord commanded. Aaron threw his staff down in front of Pharaoh and his officials, and it became a snake. Pharaoh then summoned wise men and sorcerers; and the Egyptian magicians also did the same thing by their secret arts. Each one threw down his staff and it became a snake.” From a description of the two other miracles performed by Pharaoh’s sorcerers, we know they were using occult powers, not sleight-of-hand stage-type magic.

Miracles, signs and wonders can often be the work of Satan. It’s in the Bible, 2 Thessalonians 2:9 & 10 NIV. “The coming of the lawless one will be in accordance with the work of Satan displayed in all kinds of counterfeit miracles, signs and wonders, and in every sort of evil that deceives those who are perishing.” Under the command of Satan and his principalities, demonic spirits manifest these miraculous signs. Revelation 16:13 & 14, “Then I saw three evil spirits that looked like frogs; they came out of the mouth of the dragon, out of the mouth of the beast and out of the mouth of the false prophet. They are spirits of demons performing miraculous signs.” Spirits are angelic beings. Hebrews 1:14.NIV, “Are not all angels ministering spirits…?”

Occult magic was practiced during the era of the Early Church. It’s in the Bible, Acts 8:9-13 NAS. “Now there was a certain man named Simon, who formerly was practicing magic in the city, and astonishing the people of Samaria, claiming to be someone great. And they all, from smallest to greatest, were giving attention to him, saying, ‘This man is what is called the Great Power of God.’ And they were giving him attention because he had for a long time astonished them with his magic arts. But when they believed Philip preaching the good news about the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, they were being baptized, men and women alike. And even Simon himself believed; and after being baptized, he continued on with Philip; and as he observed signs and great miracles taking place, he was constantly amazed.”

Simon discovered that the power of God was far greater than the power of the Occult, and that true healing comes from the Lord. It’s in the Bible, Psalm 103:2-4 NIV. “Praise the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits—who forgives all your sins and heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the pit and crowns you with love and compassion.”

In the Early Church at Ephesus, practitioners of occult magic become acquatinted with the Gospel through the ministry of the apostle Paul. They were converted, and then destroyed their occult textbooks. It’s in the Bible, Acts 19:17-19 NKJV, “…the name of the Lord Jesus was magnified. And many who had believed came confessing and telling their deeds. Also, many of those who had practiced magic brought their books together and burned them in the sight of all. And they counted up the value of them, and it totaled fifty thousand pieces of silver.”

At the Second Coming of Jesus, practitioners of the occult will be prohibited from entry into the glorious New Jerusalem. It’s in the Bible, Revelation 22:14 & 15 NIV. “Blessed are those who wash their robes, that they may have the right to the tree of life and may go through the gates into the city. Outside are the dogs, those who practice magic arts, the sexually immoral, the murderers, the idolaters and everyone who loves and practices falsehood.”

Failing to inherit eternal life, those who practice magic arts will, tragically, find themselves condemned to experience the second death. Revelation 21:2, 7 & 8 NIV, “I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. He who overcomes will inherit all this, and I will be his God and he will be my son. But the cowardly, the unbelieving, the vile, the murderers, the sexually immoral, those who practice magic arts, the idolaters and all liars—their place will be in the fiery lake of burning sulfur. This is the second death.”

Question Catagories:  Occult / Magic