The following Scripture passages are offered to aid beginning fellowships. The readings and commentary for this week are more in line with what has become usual; for the following will most likely be familiar observations. The concept behind this Sabbath’s selection is have pastors lied?
For the Sabbath of May 17, 2014
The person conducting the Sabbath service should open services with two or three hymns, or psalms, followed by an opening prayer acknowledging that two or three (or more) are gathered together in Christ Jesus’ name, and inviting the Lord to be with them.
Have you been thinking all along that we have been defending ourselves to you? It is in the sight of God that we have been speaking in Christ, and all for your upbuilding, beloved. For I fear that perhaps when I come I may find you not as I wish, and that you may find me not as you wish—that perhaps there may be quarreling, jealousy, anger, hostility, slander, gossip, conceit, and disorder. I fear that when I come again my God may humble me before you, and I may have to mourn over many of those who sinned earlier and have not repented of the impurity, sexual immorality, and sensuality that they have practiced. (2 Cor 12:19–21)
Examine yourselves, to see whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Or do you not realize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?—unless indeed you fail to meet the test! I hope you will find out that we have not failed the test. But we pray to God that you may not do wrong—not that we may appear to have met the test, but that you may do what is right, though we may seem to have failed. For we cannot do anything against the truth, but only for the truth. (2 Cor 13:5–8)
Paul wrote about coming again to the saints at Corinth and not finding them pure of heart and faithful in their deeds, with Paul speaking of testing oneself and failing to meet the test … Paul would fail this testing of himself if he did anything against the truth.
In Greek, <truth> is the negation of what has been concealed: it is the inner self that is concealed by the flesh (the fleshly body of a person). Thus, truth will make visible the inner self, the inside of the clay cup that when clean will have the entire cup clean, the outside not mattering. Ethnicity, gender, social status—none of these things matter with God. What sort of a housekeeper the person is doesn’t matter. The prosperity or a person’s lack thereof doesn’t matter. The vocation of the person doesn’t matter, with one exception: if the person identifies him or herself as a Christian minister of God, then vocation does matter. For unless called by God into ministry, this calling not just a inner desire to bring people to Christ, but an actual calling, then the person who would teach others is not of God but of the Adversary, thereby opposed to God. This person will teach spiritual infants what is not true, using Scripture as the Adversary uses Scripture, quoting passages out of their context, using line upon line, precept upon precept, here a little, there a little exegesis to deceive even the Elect if that were possible.
Yes, the Adversary would lead astray even the Elect (Matt 24:24; Mark 13:22) if it were possible to lead the person astray—and it is possible if the indwelling Christ doesn’t intervene on His own behalf. And how does Christ intervene? The way Paul commanded: examine yourselves, you who are of the Elect, to see if you are truly in the faith. Test yourselves! Christ Jesus is in you if you are really born of spirit. And if Christ is in you, there will be no quarreling, jealousy, anger, hostility, slander, gossip, conceit, disorder. There will be repentance of all forms of inner impurity.
But what is it that workers of iniquity teach? The Law has been fulfilled—Christ fulfilled the Law—so you as a Christian are not under the Law but under grace, meaning that you don’t have to keep the Law; you don’t have to keep the Sabbath. You as a Christian don’t have to clean the inside of the cup for Christ cleansed it for you, and what Christ cleansed once is forever clean … is the preceding true? If it were true, what is the point of all judgment being given to the Son, who said,
For as the Father has life in Himself, so He has granted the Son also to have life in Himself. And He has given Him authority to execute judgment, because He is the Son of Man. Do not marvel at this, for an hour is coming when all who are in the tombs will hear His voice and come out, those who have done good to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil to the resurrection of judgment. (John 5:26–29)
There are two sorts in the grave, those who have done good and those who have done evil, with the sheep being those who have done good and the goats being those who have done evil (from Matt 25:31–46), with “evil” being nothing more than unbelief that manifests itself as a lack of love for God, neighbor, and brother.
But teachers of iniquity do far more damage than simply teaching Christians to not keep the Commandments: they teach Christians to doubt God, to distrust God—and how do they do this? By citing Scripture out of its context; e.g.,
Whatever you ask in prayer, you will receive. (Matt 21:22)
Whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours. (Mark 11:24)
Whatever you ask the Father in my name, He may give it to you. (John 15:16)
Whatever you ask of the Father in my name, He will give it to you. (John 16:23)
Four witnesses that testify that if you ask in prayer for anything—a healing, say—you will receive that for which you asked. So you ask for a healing, and no healing occurs. You ask again, and no healing occurs. And you wonder if God is on vacation: is He not hearing your words? Therefore, you fast, going without food and drink in an attempt to make yourself one with God; to get right with God. And why are you really fasting? Because you have doubts about your relationship with God. You want to shore up this relationship, and you know no other way than to fast as John’s disciples fasted … what happens? You get the results of John’s disciples: your master’s head is cut off.
You have Scripture on your side: whatever you ask of the Father in My name, He will give it to you … in the 1st-Century, the Circumcision Faction had Scripture on its side, but the Circumcision Faction never understood that things had changed. The situation had changed. With the giving of the spirit, God was doing a new work, not one bound by the flesh and those things that pertain to the flesh.
Still no healing occurs.
You have prayed. Nothing happened. You fasted. Nothing happened. You fasted twice more. Still no healing occurred. And the suffering of the person has increased. So you chuck it: it must be God’s will that the person dies … are you not like the superstitious Muslim who says, Allah will provide? And then does nothing to bring a Caliphate into existence? Is that what Mohammad and the first generation of his followers did? Nothing? Or did that first generation sharpen swords then set off to conquer the world?
Is not seeking medical attention comparable to sharpening swords, or now, sowing a crop of IEDs—doing something physical to accomplish a physical end. Indeed it is.
But you are spiritual; you are not about to do something physical like seek competent medical help. If you were to seek help, you will go where you are least likely to find help, that is to medical quackery … the land is poisoned; the crops are not natural. The sea is poisoned. The fish glow in the dark from radiation (figuratively said). What are you to eat? Beef castrated by injection? Chicken pumped full of antibiotics, with arsenic in commercial poultry feed to dilate blood vessels so the birds grow faster?
Oh not you, you buy only “organic”—
You buy what comes from China, and what has been grown on Chinese excrement, human feces …
Why? Because you believe what another person has told you rather than believe God. You believe rumors, gossip, slander. And who started you down this path to self-destruction? Some minister who told you that whatever you ask of the Father in My name, He will give it to you, when Jesus was speaking in figures of speach, not speaking literally. But nobody told you that—and you wanted to believe so badly that you didn’t read Scripture for yourself, except with a veil over your eyes. You were as blind (and as deaf) as ancient Israel was. But because you are of the Elect, Christ Jesus cannot permit you to be blind forever. Somehow, He will open your eyes, with this opening usually forcibly coming about.
Is it better that a friend wound you now or that Christ Jesus intervenes in ways that a human friend cannot?
When the children of Israel entered the Promised Land, the Lord told Moses that He would “speak” directly to Israel through weather:
You shall therefore keep the whole commandment that I command you today, that you may be strong, and go in and take possession of the land that you are going over to possess, and that you may live long in the land that [YHWH] swore to your fathers to give to them and to their offspring, a land flowing with milk and honey. For the land that you are entering to take possession of it is not like the land of Egypt, from which you have come, where you sowed your seed and irrigated it, like a garden of vegetables. But the land that you are going over to possess is a land of hills and valleys, which drinks water by the rain from heaven, a land that [YHWH] your God cares for. The eyes of [YHWH] your God are always upon it, from the beginning of the year to the end of the year. And if you will indeed obey my commandments that I command you today, to love [YHWH] your God, and to serve Him with all your heart and with all your soul, He will give the rain for your land in its season, the early rain and the later rain, that you may gather in your grain and your wine and your oil. And He will give grass in your fields for your livestock, and you shall eat and be full. Take care lest your heart be deceived, and you turn aside and serve other gods and worship them; then the anger of [YHWH] will be kindled against you, and He will shut up the heavens, so that there will be no rain, and the land will yield no fruit, and you will perish quickly off the good land that [YHWH] is giving you. (Deut 11:8–17 emphasis added)
If Israel would obey the words of the Lord, the Lord would “signal” His satisfaction with the people to Israel through causing the rain to come in its appropriate seasons. He also promised to signal His unhappiness with the people through shutting the sky, thereby bringing upon Israel drought and famine. In other words, the Lord promised to use weather as a weapon for or against Israel, depending upon whether the people believed the Lord or didn’t believe. So weaponizing weather would seem to be the M.O. of the Lord in the days of Moses, with His M.O. going back farther to the days of Noah. And if weather was a viable weapon in the days of Noah, weather would be as viable a weapon in the days of a second Noah:
But concerning that day and hour [when Christ will return] no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father only. For as were the days of Noah, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. For as in those days before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day when Noah entered the ark, and they were unaware until the flood came and swept them all away, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. Then two men will be in the field; one will be taken and one left. Two women will be grinding at the mill; one will be taken and one left. Therefore, stay awake, for you do not know on what day your Lord is coming. But know this, that if the master of the house had known in what part of the night the thief was coming, he would have stayed awake and would not have let his house be broken into. Therefore you also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect. (Matt 24:36–44)
The end of this age will come upon humanity as the Flood came upon humanity in the days of Noah … Noah knew the end of his age would not come until he finished construction of the Ark. Thus, as Noah neared completion he knew the time was short. Figuratively, the fig branch had become tender and green tip was showing—and we are in a similar moment in the course of history. We know that time is short, that an army of openly gay soldiers do not fight for a godly nation, but for an amoral nation far from God.
Is the Lord guilty of hate speech when He declared,
Speak to the people of Israel and say to them, You shall not do as they do in the land of Egypt, where you lived, and you shall not do as they do in the land of Canaan, to which I am bringing you. You shall not walk in their statutes. You shall follow my rules and keep my statutes and walk in them. You shall therefore keep my statutes and my rules; if a person does them, he shall live by them. None of you shall approach any one of his close relatives to uncover nakedness. You shall not uncover the nakedness of your father, which is the nakedness of your mother; she is your mother, you shall not uncover her nakedness. You shall not uncover the nakedness of your father's wife; it is your father's nakedness. You shall not uncover the nakedness of your sister, your father's daughter or your mother's daughter, whether brought up in the family or in another home. You shall not uncover the nakedness of your son's daughter or of your daughter's daughter, for their nakedness is your own nakedness. You shall not uncover the nakedness of your father's wife's daughter, brought up in your father's family, since she is your sister. You shall not uncover the nakedness of your father's sister; she is your father's relative. You shall not uncover the nakedness of your mother's sister, for she is your mother's relative. You shall not uncover the nakedness of your father's brother, that is, you shall not approach his wife; she is your aunt. You shall not uncover the nakedness of your daughter-in-law; she is your son's wife, you shall not uncover her nakedness. You shall not uncover the nakedness of your brother's wife; it is your brother's nakedness. You shall not uncover the nakedness of a woman and of her daughter, and you shall not take her son's daughter or her daughter's daughter to uncover her nakedness; they are relatives; it is depravity. And you shall not take a woman as a rival wife to her sister, uncovering her nakedness while her sister is still alive. You shall not approach a woman to uncover her nakedness while she is in her menstrual uncleanness. And you shall not lie sexually with your neighbor's wife and so make yourself unclean with her. You shall not give any of your children to offer them to Molech, and so profane the name of your God. You shall not lie with a male as with a woman; it is an abomination. And you shall not lie with any animal and so make yourself unclean with it, neither shall any woman give herself to an animal to lie with it: it is perversion. Do not make yourselves unclean by any of these things, for by all these the nations I am driving out before you have become unclean, and the land became unclean, so that I punished its iniquity, and the land vomited out its inhabitants. But you shall keep my statutes and my rules and do none of these abominations, either the native or the stranger who sojourns among you (for the people of the land, who were before you, did all of these abominations, so that the land became unclean), lest the land vomit you out when you make it unclean, as it vomited out the nation that was before you. (Lev 18:2–28 determinatives eliminated and emphasis added)
The land did not immediately vomit out Canaanites, Hittites, Amorites: the fullness of their iniquity was not complete in the days of Abraham, but at some point prior to the Passover liberation of Israel from Egyptian slavery, the iniquity of the Amorites (Gen 15:16) became complete—and the Lord made sure that the land vomited out its inhabitants. And the promise the Lord made to Israel was that if Israel defiled itself and became unclean, the land would also vomit out Israel.
The prophet Haggai declared,
On the twenty-fourth day of the ninth month, in the second year of Darius, the word of [YHWH] came by Haggai the prophet, "Thus says [YHWH] of hosts: Ask the priests about the law: 'If someone carries holy meat in the fold of his garment and touches with his fold bread or stew or wine or oil or any kind of food, does it become holy?'" The priests answered and said, "No." Then Haggai said, "If someone who is unclean by contact with a dead body touches any of these, does it become unclean?" The priests answered and said, "It does become unclean." Then Haggai answered and said, "So is it with this people, and with this nation before me, declares [YHWH], and so with every work of their hands. And what they offer there is unclean. Now then, consider from this day onward. Before stone was placed upon stone in the temple of [YHWH], how did you fare? When one came to a heap of twenty measures, there were but ten. When one came to the wine vat to draw fifty measures, there were but twenty. I struck you and all the products of your toil with blight and with mildew and with hail, yet you did not turn to me, declares [YHWH]. Consider from this day onward, from the twenty-fourth day of the ninth month. Since the day that the foundation of [YHWH]'s temple was laid, consider: Is the seed yet in the barn? Indeed, the vine, the fig tree, the pomegranate, and the olive tree have yielded nothing. But from this day on I will bless you." (Hag 2:10–19)
What did the people do that caused the Lord to suddenly bless them?
The Church that is the Body of Christ is also the temple of God. It is the Church that has to be rebuilt, but not upon lies and liars.
Ask yourself, are not politicians collectively liars? Can the world survive economically without a United States of America? Can the United States survive without a viable currency? Can the United States “borrow” a return to prosperity; borrow manufacturing jobs that its leaders sent overseas so as to comply with clean air and clean water standards in this nation? You know the answer: the nation cannot survive. So ask yourself, are not pastors who teach whatever you ask of the Father in My name, He will give it to you liars? For you asked in Christ name, and nothing happened. You can hum along with Garth Brooks, Thank God for unanswered prayers, or you can acknowledge the truth: you lack the faith to move mountains or to get your prayers answered. You simply don’t have that kind of faith. So why did your pastor teach you that whatever you ask of the Father in My name, He will give it to you? Did he or she not know better? Or is your pastor an agent of the Adversary, employed by the Adversary to destroy your faith? For God will answer the prayers of the person with faith sufficient to move mountains.
The person conducting the Sabbath service should close services with two hymns, or psalms, followed by a prayer asking God’s dismissal.
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"Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version, copyright ©2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers. Used by permission.