The Friends of the Nazarene On-line Magazine

Volume 3 - Spring 2001 (46 pages)

STATEMENT OF PURPOSE: Nazarene Saints Publishing© is a Bible research group for a better Scriptural understanding. We are dedicated to the preservation and publishing of Christian writings which aid Friends of the Nazarene© to “follow the Lamb wherever he goes.” (John 14:15; 15:14; 3 John 14; Revelation 14:4) The Friends of the Nazarene© are a spiritual community of sincere Christians. We are apologists dedicated to the defense of the truth that “God is One” and not three. The Bible is our creed. We view this “God-breathed” Book as inspired alone, while the thoughts of men about it are not. We wish to show respect for our multitude of Christian brethren. (1 Peter 3:15)



Which Church Shall I Join?

By Mark Heber Miller

Looking for a New Church?

Hundreds of thousands of people around the world are always looking for a new church to join. Some are leaving other religious sects because of disillusionment or dissatisfaction. What church should a Christian join or attend? How do some people go about finding such a church?

Some are looking for something of a social club with good music and youth programs. Others are looking more for company and new friends. Some want to find good business contacts. Some just think it is the proper thing to do to be accepted in their communities. Some are looking for Biblical truth or a program for Biblical study. Others just want a pastor they like because they did not like the last one. Others have hidden agendas.

At the outset let us say that there is a difference between “joining” a church, and “attending” one. One may attend any number of churches to “audit” or examine them without ever joining such. Many persons do this, and in the process go through several churches until they find one they are comfortable with.

Many of us were raised in the churches or religions of our parents. So a child raised as a Catholic, Baptist, Pentecostal, Presbyterian, or one of the other ten thousand sects, may feel comfortable with that background. Some may feel uncomfortable in changing their spiritual environment. For example, a Christian used to a rather quiet and staid church program, may feel uncomfortable in a church where there is loud preaching, loud singing, dancing up and down and other characteristics of that sect.

But, before we answer the question of what church one ought to join, perhaps we could ask, “Is there a church or organization I should not ‘join’?” If we were to ask the founder of Christianity, Jesus the Nazarene, what might be his answer?

Are There Churches One Should Not Join?

A Warning from the Psalms

The beloved Messiah-type David asked his God to test or examine him regarding his integrity. In Psalm 26 the godly shepherd states:

“I have never sat down with deceitful persons, nor have I ever joined pretenders. I have hated the church of harmful persons, and I would never sit with lawless persons.” [Psalm 26:4, 5 Hebrew Scriptures 2001]

David shows his caution regarding the people he associates with. He tells Yehowah that he has never sat down with deceitful people. (Or, dwelt with [PBV], sat with [ASV], consort with [RSV], mix with [HAR], not associated with [BER]) David has shunned certain types of people. “Sat down” is poetically paralleled with “joined” or “fellowship.” So David has certain boundaries regarding what kind of people he will associate or fellowship with. David has learned who these are because they have given evidence of such deceitfulness. These existed within the Christian Church also and disciples of the Nazarene are warned against such persons. [2 Corinthians 11:13, 14]

David says he would not join “pretenders.” David does not associate or fellowship with certain types of persons. Paul warned of the same thing within the Christian Church. [1 Corinthians 5:9-13; 2 Corinthians 6:14-18] David calls these “pretenders.” That is, dissemblers [KJV], deceitful [PBV], hypocrites [HAR]. David has learned to recognize the two-faced hypocrite. The Hebrew is ‘ALAM [Strong's Exhaustive Concordance # 5956] and infers a person who conceals or hides what they truly are. [James 3:17]

This is so even with a “church” (Or, congregation [KJV], company [HAR], convocation [RHM]) The Hebrew is QAHAL [Strong's Exhaustive Concordance #6951] and suggests an assembly for religious purposes, or an organized body. The Greek [LXX] is ECCLESIAN [ecclesia]. Even in a religious or worshipful environment David exercises caution and refuses to associate and fellowship with deceitful hypocrites. These persons are also “harmful persons.” That is, evildoers [KJV], criminals HAR], sinners [TAY]. Evil or wickedness is almost always harmful or hurtful of others. Certainly the height of such is murder or manslaughter. Such persons “have no everlasting life remaining in them,” John warns, and according to him this can involve just hate. [1 John 3:15] David says he will not “sit with” (Or, go in with [KJV], fellowship [PBV], consort with [RSV], associate with [HAR], fellowship with [HAR]) “lawless persons.”

A Warning from Christ

Like David, Jesus also forewarned his own personal disciples about deceptive counterfeits who would claim his authority and yet preach the wrong thing. For example, he cautioned his own apostles,

 “You disciples be careful you are not deceived. For many will show up claiming my authority, saying, … ‘The time is at hand!’ You should never follow them!” [Luke 21:8 NCMM]

The Nazarene tells his intimate apostles to “take heed that ye be not deceived.” [KJV] Throughout the Gospel Age men and women acting as prophets have misled millions of Christians by the twisting and false application of what Jesus goes on to teach in this same chapter. Jesus says some will claim his authority as though they were the only “channel” God was using. These are Christian deceivers who prey upon people’s hopes and expectations.

Our Lord identifies a particular message that ought to set off alarms, “The time is at hand!” He says, “You should never follow them.” Or as the New Jerusalem Bible puts it, “Do not join them.” Unfortunately millions have been misled by such claims that ‘the time is at hand’ and these have donated billions of dollars to such movements throughout the history of the Church. Jesus’ counsel is simple and straightforward - DO NOT JOIN THEM. So, Christ gives at least one reason not to join a particular group or church.

A Warning from Paul

The apostle Paul also gives warnings about spiritual association with certain types of people. After mentioning to the evangelist Timothy that in God’s Household there are two kinds of “vessels” - and one should be avoided - he continues to describe some of the attitudes and actions to be found among those people to be avoided. We read of this in 2 Timothy 3:1-5 -

But, realize this, [Timothy,] that in the last days there will a fierce season. 2 Because humans will be filled with self-love, lovers of money, arrogant, egotistical, blasphemers, disobedient to their parents, without gratitude, irreverent, 3 lacking natural affection, disagreeable, slanderers, undisciplined, fierce, unkind, 4 disloyal, headstrong, puffed up with pride, more fond of pleasures than any fondness for God, 5 with an outward appearance of reverence but resisting its influence. Avoid such people!” [NCMM]

Paul cautions Timothy to “avoid such people” who have an “outward appearance of reverence but [keep] resisting its influence.”

So, David, Jesus and Paul all warn about not joining certain groups of people. Surely this presents special problems for sincere Bible students who long for Christian association.

The Problem of Searching for Christian Association

As mentioned above, there is a big difference between ‘attending’ a church, and ‘joining’ a church. Most people are church-attenders and not church-joiners. In other words, most people who go to church are “parishioners” who essentially enjoy the services, donate their money, and then leave. A person who actually “joins” a church is likely to become more involved in the inner workings of the group.

If such church-joiners get very involved they will be exposed more and more the heart of the organization. In some sects men will, as it were, work their way up the corporate ladder. First, they are asked to be ushers or attendants. Then, they will be encouraged to become deacons, and after several years - elders. This “joining” carries with it some problems for some people. As in any group of humans there are bound to be weak, confrontational and ambitious persons. This always creates a divisive atmosphere as groups polarize around a person or group or idea. Paul addresses all of this in his first epistle to the Corinthian congregation. [1 Corinthians chapter 1]

So, if a person merely wants to “attend” a local church, there is generally something of a buffet to select from in the community. Such persons are seldom exposed to the inner conflicts within the congregation. They may never become embroiled in jealousies or schisms. They may never become the brunt of slander and envy. However, such persons - warm and comfortable in their church - may be very limited in what they can do with the Master’s “mina” or “talent.”

True, they can still do much good, but in some cases they will be limited in what they can say. For example, in one church they might find a degree of Christian liberty in expressing their own thoughts. But, in another they only land in trouble with threats if they do not walk the perfect “party line.” It is reported, for example, that among some Churches of Christ or Pentecostals some are allowed a degree of freedom in expressing themselves. This is also true among smaller churches such as the Berean Bible Students. So, even though the official church line might include the Trinity doctrine, no censor befalls those who no longer believe in a triune God. To some extent this is even true in the Roman Catholic Church.

Attending a Bible Study Group

Most churches hold Bible Study Classes and many find these more open and free. Usually these follow subject material or a weekly Bible reading. Expressions from others who are finding it difficult to locate with a church that holds their same beliefs, state that they have enjoyed such Bible Study Classes.

If a Christian, for their own conscientious reasons or circumstances, cannot find a church or congregation where they feel comfortable, they can always start their own Bible Reading Group. This is being done all over the world. Families and neighbors and friends meet regularly to read the Bible and discuss among themselves the truths they discover. Whether a person wishes to use a particular Bible version, or a commentary on such, is a personal matter. Some may find it helpful to follow the Weekly Bible Reading program published each Sunday on the Friends of the Nazarene eGroup talk list. For example, currently the Acts of the Apostles is being followed. Each week a chapter is posted that includes the footnotes from Nazarene Commentary 2000©. Also, each day a particular verse is discussed from that week’s chapter.

Each group throughout the world is free to choose their own format and bear their own responsibility before God. If seed is planted well and with the blessing of God this little Bible Reading Group may find themselves joined with more and more interested persons. May our God bless all such like-minded people who seek spiritual and moral Christian association.

Loving Your Enemies

By Mark Heber Miller

How should we treat our enemies? Well, maybe we first need to know: “Who are our enemies?” In English the simple dictionary definition is: “from the Latin … [someone unfriendly, hostile … a person who hates another.”] The Latin is literally un+friendly. The range of the word stretches from someone who is just unfriendly to you to someone who wishes to kill you. [1 John 3:10, 11]

Let us take the example of a religious organization who has shunned, excommunicated, disfellowshipped, or unchurched a person merely for not believing certain doctrines. We are not discussing someone who deceitfully worked “underground” to undermine the sect, but just someone who could no longer believe certain fundamental dogma. Such an organization has clearly treated the former member in an “unfriendly” manner at the very least. This would indicate a degree of hate, particularly if the sect drew upon a verse like Psalm 139:21, “Do I not hate those who are intensely hating you, O Jehovah.” [New World Translation] In other words, the members of the sect who disfellowshipped the person claim the unchurched ‘hates God’ and therefore they are justified in actually hating the person.

This happened to Jesus the Nazarene as the prophecy foretold the attitude of the Jewish people, “They hated me without cause.” [Psalm 69:4; John 15:25] Jesus also foretold that his disciples would also be hated. [John 15:18, 19] Some would be expelled because of this hatred. [John 16:2]

How to Love Our Enemies

Now, our question is, “How do we show love for such enemies?” We are not left in the dark about this, for Jesus explains:

“Now I tell all of you listening to me - continue to show loving concern for your enemies. Continue to do good to those who keep hating you. Continue to bless those who keep cursing you.” [Luke 6:27, 28 Christian Scriptures 2001]

Jesus’ statement is within the context of the Golden Rule,

“Now just as you want people to do to you, you continue to do the same.” [Luke 6:31 Christian Scriptures 2001]

So, Jesus taught what we must continue to love those who are unfriendly or hate us. This is a positive matter, for Jesus says “continue to do good.”

We could divide this subject into two parts: the negative and the positive. In other words, there are some things we would NOT DO to our enemy; and, there are some things that WE DO to our enemies. This is not difficult to understand: First, what is it that you do not want others doing to you? For example, do you like it when someone speaks ill of you, using derogatory terms? Well, then, DO NOT do these to others. Second, what is it you wish people would DO to you? Treat you respectfully when you disagree with their beliefs? Then, DO that to them.

It is true one may have endured deeply bitter experiences when cast out of a religious organization. The whole matter may have been unfair and unloving. However, if one is still a “Christian” - one who claims to follow the teachings of Jesus Christ - then how should you respond to those who are now unfriendly? Certainly using language that is derogatory, untrue, without foundation, extremely exaggerated, or even slanderous does not conform to our Lord’s instructions above.

It is true that one may be moved to “expose” religious or Biblical falsehood. But, can this be done without attacking individuals either directly or by innuendo? Or, by classing a group of people in blanket unkind words?

Paul counseled,

“Always speak graciously, seasoned with salt, aware of how you are obligated to answer each person.” [Colossians 4:6 Christian Scriptures 2001]

And Peter writes in a similar manner:

“Sanctify the Christ as Lord in your hearts, ever ready to face toward everyone asking you for a defense of your hope - but [doing so] with mildness and deep respect -- holding a good conscience so that they may become ashamed when they speak abusively against your good conduct in Christ.” [1 Peter 3:15, 16 Christian Scriptures 2001]

To observe our Lord’s words to love our enemies may be observed by refusing to speak in a derogatory manner about others, and instead dealing directly with the issue of church order and doctrine. We may in all honesty relate true experiences of how we were treated - whether cruel or unloving or unfair - without striking back at individuals.

In the end, even those unfriendly to us will see that Christ has truly taken up residence in our hearts. This may work to move their conscience to change their attitude. Paul writes something to the Romans:

“Do not repay harm with harm. ‘Think good in advance regarding all persons.’ [Proverbs 3:4] If possible with you be peaceable with all persons. Beloved, do not seek revenge for yourselves. Rather, yield to wrath. For, it has been written: "‘Revenge is mine and I will repay,’ says the LORD." [Proverbs 20:20] Rather, "if your enemy is hungry, feed him. If [your enemy] is thirsty, give him something to drink. For by doing this you will heap fiery coals upon his head." [Proverbs 25:21, 22] Do not let the bad conquer you. Rather, conquer the bad with the good.” [Romans 12:17-21 Christian Scriptures 2001]

Christian Scriptures 2001

By “Jimmymac”

As you may noticed today, in the subject line it only says, "Daily Bible Verse". That's because today as I got up a little different approach came to mind for this day. I have a captivated audience on the list ;o) Let's see if jimmymac can sit back, allow the spirit to work through and truly captivate you with God's Holy Word.

My first thoughts as I awoke this morning was a scripture that Bro. Mark quotes often in showing people something interesting. It's Hebrews 1:1,

"God, having in the past spoken to the fathers through the prophets at many times and in various ways, has at the end of these days spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, through whom also he made the worlds." (WEB)

Let's take a minute and look at that. How did Yahweh speak to His people in the past? We can think of the various methods. Most exciting of all---and the one we shall experience in That Day---was when He spoke face-to-face with Adam. Then another case is where God spoke to Noah. And of course we're all familiar with how God spoke to Moses to set His people free from the bondage of Egypt. Then down through the ages, when His people strayed, He spoke through various other prophets. Isaiah, Ezekiel, Jeremiah, Daniel, and the list goes on.

How does God speak to us now? Or better yet, I should ask, how has God spoken to us over the past 2,000 years as that covers then AND now. We read: "has at the end of these days spoken to us by his Son". And there's the key. This is why Bro. Mark has been saying over the past few days, "This is how we should study the Bible..." And then yesterday the statement was made for how to start out when new from another faith, or even no faith at all---and even we who are grown in the faith (though I count myself as still on milk) should do: sit down with a red-lettered Bible if possible and really read what the Master says. How is He telling us to live? A good place too would be the Sermon on The Mount which starts in Matthew 5:3 and in Luke 6:20 we can read of the same account through another person's eyes. And then, of course, all the other words in red. It is important that we read what the Master said because, once again, "[God] has at the end of these days spoken to us by his Son". Reading just what Jesus said, and deeply contemplating it, can go a long way in wiping out old doctrines and dogmas that have been planted in us by years of what others have taught or told us to believe.

Many, after doing this, will be as the 3,000 that first heard Peter expounding the Scriptures in Acts chapter 2. We see the response to his message in verse 2:37: "Now when they heard this, they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, "Brothers, what shall we do?" Peter's answer? For us to repent (turn away from our sins) and to be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of our sins and so that we may receive the holy Pneuma.

Now a lot, theologically, could be said about these verses but I am not going to get into that here at this time. What I'm doing is to show that after you've come to read the Master, come to know Him by reading and re-reading the Gospels and drinking in His message for us today, that you'll be cut to the quick of your heart and that you may very well have the exact same reaction as those who heard Peter in that sermon.

After all of this we will be able to say with Paul:

"I have been crucified with Christ, and it is no longer I that live, but Christ living in me. That life which I now live in the flesh, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself up for me." (Galatians 2:20 WEB)

This is how the word of the Master can so transform the hearts that are earnestly turned towards Him. People, looking at us, will see not us, but the Saviour. They'll see us and wonder what makes us "tick". Why do we have no worry? Because Jesus says we'll be ok as long as we remain in Him and the life that we now live in the flesh is given totally up to him. People will look at you, and in wondering what makes you "tick" may even ask you why you are the way you are. As Peter tells us in 1 Peter 3:15:

"... sanctify the Lord God in your hearts; and always be ready to give an answer to everyone who asks you a reason concerning the hope that is in you..."

We will be asked. What will be our answer? With diligent study of the Master’s words and with reliance upon Yahweh's holy Pneuma (spirit) such an answer will come to our lips. And so I would like to conclude: who should we turn to for these Last Days? We find our answer in Hebrews 12:2,

"...looking to Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God." (WEB)

And so I finish saying with the Apostle in Hebrews 13:20,

"Now may the God of peace, who brought again from the dead the great shepherd of the sheep with the blood of an eternal covenant, our Lord Jesus, make you complete in every good work to do his will, working in you that which is well pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be the glory forever and ever. Amen"

May Yahweh continue to richly bless us as we study and meditate upon His Holy Word.


Evpatoria, Ukraine

I became acquainted with the Jehovah’s Witnesses in February, 1992. My wife and I were on our way to Orthodox church, where we were getting married. Our neighbor, an older woman, when she saw us asked, where we were going. We were glad to tell her about our intention, since we knew, that she was a religious woman. We, where surprised when she told us, that God doesn’t need us to do that. Certainly this did not prevent us to perform the ceremony.

We would rather frequently see our neighbor and I asked her once why she thought that God does not need us to be married in the Orthodox church. She was delighted by my question, and offered to research this question with me, with the help of the Bible.

Though I had not never read this book, I respected it and trusted it. Rather quickly I understood that the temple with icons does not conform with Bible standards. It was very interesting! I then with pleasure accepted the offer to study the Bible with the Jehovah’s Witnesses.

In that time I worked as a night watchman and I had a lot of free time. I began to read the Bible and their publications, which were plentifully supplied by our neighbor. All reasons, which were provided in these publications, seemed very logical and correct to me. I rapidly acquired the basic doctrines of Jehovah ‘s Witnesses and had already finished reading the Bible.

In the summer of the same year, my wife and I began to attend the meetings and to think about being baptized. There was no reason to delay this event, since there was not a single reason to doubt of crystalline cleanliness of the organization of Jehovah Witnesses and that God leads this organization. In addition, the fact that we were in the "Last Days" was being spoken about very much. We would even think that our daughter would not go to school, as Armageddon will start before that. So, on August 9, 1992 we were baptized.

Everything was wonderful and I was very proud that I was one of Jehovah’s Witnesses. I liked to challenge the members of others religions. All it took, was two to four questions, to make them start thinking. I was very certain that we are in the only true religion.

Once I talked with a Seventh Day Adventist. As usual I has asked him my standard questions and did not hear any reasonable answer from him. The only thing that came out of this dialogue with him, was the book about the Jehovah Witnesses, which he loaned me for one week. The book contained information on false prophecies, Beth Sarim, and may other things that I do not recall now. However, I discovered that in the book the names of two presidents of the WT society were incorrect. This to me was a major issue. I made a conclusion, that it is slander written by a man not really familiar with the history of this organization, since the names of the presidents were not correct. From that time I was not afraid of the apostate literature, and even tried to find it to expose slander!

Things were fine until a judicial process started which involved my friend. My friend was a Jehovah’s Witness also. He had to appear in court for refusal of civilian service, which was offered to him instead of military. He was sentenced to 1 1/2 years in prison. Many in our congregation searched for arguments, which would show why Jehovah’s Witnesses do not accept civilian service. However, no one had found any biblical principle to substantiate it. The following quote was taken into account "An examination of the historical facts shows that not only have Jehovah’s Witnesses refused to put on military uniforms and take up arms but, during the past half century and more, they have also declined to do noncombatant service or to accept other work assignments as a substitute for military service."( The book "United in Worship the Only True God " page 167, paragraph 14)

One respected Elder frequently said, "That there is no distinction between military and civilian service." Also that the civilian service is a PART of military. His words were respected and were recognized as authority.

However, after the verdict, I met with the local military chief and asked him to show me the laws on military and civilian service. He with pleasure gave it to me. In all of the documents it was precisely underlined, that the civilian service is not a part of military.

I then informed our dear elder, about this discovery, however, he told me that this is sidestepping of authority, and that it actually was not right. When I advised him to read the laws, he answered that it would not make any difference. At this time, I did not analyze this problem, and it gradually was forgotten.

What reminded me of this problem, was "new light ". Along with "specifications" of understanding some doctrines, it was said that there is nothing wrong in civilian service. I was stunned! I could not understand in any way, why during 50 years the devoted members of this organization suffered. I could not believe that this was from Jehovah himself. Now I was faced with another question: Who gave the leaders this wrong understanding, since everybody always emphasized that it came from Jehovah? After awhile this question also began to fade.

To think again about that food from the table of Jehovah, has induced one statement which has sounded on a regional congress [district assembly]. The speech was devoted to visiting of meetings and assembly. At the end of speech the lecturer was applauded with the large enthusiasm. He had said:

"We can be absent from meetings only if we are:

All applauded, including me. Only later I recalled the sister, which had high blood pressure with the weather changes and sometimes is absent. Then I recalled the young sister, which had three children and which husband was not approving her religion. I do not remember what the following speech was about, since in my head I began to count those brothers and sisters which were younger than Methuselah and did not have such a serious illness as Job. I thought, what they have felt, having heard and having realized those words of the lecturer? Knowing that the speeches for congresses carefully prepared by the skilled brothers, I began to be perplexed. Really nobody (including regional overseer) has thought that this comparison will cause a feeling of guilt in those people. It was difficult to believe that Jehovah inspired them on this comparison.

But, despite of it, I was still proud that I am one of Jehovah Witnesses. I accepted reasons that Jehovah supervises over his people and leads us in the right direction. I was still sure that we were in the only true religion.

It continued until I have found out that one elder has refused the offer to participate in the program at a regional congress [District Assembly]. Moreover, he asked to be removed from this post. It was a shock for everybody, since all knew him as researcher of the Bible. I thought that he made some kind of offense and considers unworthy to be in such position any more. I searched for a meeting with him to encourage and to help the brother.

However, when we met and I found out, that the reason was not in offense, but in problems with the doctrines of our organization, I agreed to listen to him. Certainly I was shocked with what I heard about the history of the organization, but as well as always I put it all under doubt. He (his name is Roman) did not try to prove anything.

The only thing he said was that all citations he has taken from the publications of our society, which are on a compact disc (CD). Most of all I was interested in discussing today's doctrines of our organization. We have touched such subjects as:

Whether spiritual resurrection began in 1918, as the society says. How true is a statement that Jesus already reigns. He had mentioned a subject about the name of the organization.

In general, this conversation has induced me seriously to undertake research of the Bible. To tell you the truth, I still hoped to destroy these misunderstandings that had arisen. However, the deeper I researched these questions that had been raised, the more I was convinced that Bible arguments are not for the benefit of the doctrines "of the faithful and discreet slave". I then realized, that I could not solve these problems just by myself. I have gone to the elder of the congregation and informed him about the problem.

However, instead of the objective approach to a problem, the following questions have fallen on me: "Had I communicated with Roman?" (by then he has left organization on his own) Did I "recognize the faithful and discrete slave?" I gave a sincere answer to these questions: That my trust in "the slave" had shaken, and I did not hide that I had communicated with an apostate (even though I understood, that Roman is not apostate from the God). It was enough to reject a problem raised by me, and to engage in legal questions. I was "marked" and they warned me that if I don’t stop the communication with Roman, I would be excluded from the organization.

However, when I gave up and tried to go along with the organization, I asked them seriously to consider the arisen problems in the doctrines. I was advised to search for the answers in the publications of a society. Before going to elders, I searched everything I had (books, brochures, magazines), however, could not find the answers to my questions. I would not go to the elders otherwise. I also told the brothers about it. Besides that, I wrote a number of questions and wanted to give them to the elders. One of them said, that he had a bad memory, and did not want to go in details about these issues. Another elder could do nothing but to receive my letter. Very soon he returned to me my letter, where opposite to the questions he noted magazine numbers of the Watchtower.

I read the specified magazines, but they did not clear anything up. I also informed that to the elder. We had a short conversation, where the elder said, that: "He completely accepts the comments of the society"; and that "Our conversations are not instructive and distract him from the important businesses for the congregation". He then said that "He will not speak any more with me on this subject. If I am not pleased with something, nobody holds me in this organization." In addition, he said that had distinguished a "predator" in me.

Such outcome brought me to an idea that I can not find the answers to the questions in our congregation. At this time the opportunity appeared to get connected to the Internet. I got connected to the WWW and first of all began to search for the foreign Jehovah Witnesses. I hoped that they will help me to understand and find answers for my questions. However, I have not found anybody. But had found plenty of pages, about the history and doctrines of the Watchtower! Certainly, I was very shocked with this information. This now made the situation worse, on the questions that had arisen. I decided to print some quotes, in which it was said that the dates (1914, 1925) - were not human, but God’s. I again went to the elder and asked him to answer my question: "Did these quotes belong to our society, or not?". Besides that, I wrote a letter to the branch of the society, in which described the problem and inserted all questions, which concerned me. I have not received the answers neither from the elder, nor from the society. The only thing I received was disapproval and shunning.

I have now concluded, that the society perfectly knows what will happen if the knowledge of ALL history of this organization is exposed. For this reason, this history is very carefully hidden. It is hard to imagine how words of this organization differ from their works. I would never have joined this organization if I had known the TRUE history of this organization. I consider it extremely dishonest and dangerous in the way the society recruits the new members (deliberate concealment of the information about the history of the organization and juggling of the facts) - Unfortunately this religious society is not the only one that uses this method. I think that each person before making a choice to dedicate his/her life to a religious organization - should be acquainted: at least with the true history of this organization. They should also be aware of the consequences of some of the doctrines of this religious group.

God’s Spirit And You

Part 2

By Mark Heber Miller

God’s Spirit and the Gift of Tongues and Prophesy

To bring to a conclusion our discussion of God’s Spirit And You let us review some matters in the context of the most infantile of the Church’s early gifts - tongues. Then let us examine carefully what Paul says to the Corinthian Church and some of their problems regarding the gift of tongues and prophecy.

“Suddenly there was a sound from above like the noise of a violent wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting. Split tongues of fire appeared and these rested upon each one [of the apostles]. All of them were filled with the holy Pneuma and foreign languages [tongues (GLOSSAIS)] were given to them. … [Acts 2:2-4 NCMM]

This is the first instance of speaking in tongues. That is speaking a foreign language unknown to the speaker. This occurred above for the first to the apostles. They native tongue was Aramaic [Hebrew] in a Galilean dialect. It happened during the festival of Pentecost. (Neither Jesus or his disciples ever spoke in tongues during his earthly ministry.) Consider the account:

The Apostolic Use of Speaking in Tongues

AC2:2 “Suddenly there was a sound from above like the noise of a violent wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting. AC2:3 Split tongues of fire appeared and these rested upon each one [of the apostles]. AC2:4 All of them were filled with the holy Pneuma and foreign languages [tongues (GLOSSAIS)] were given to them. … AC2:5 Now there were pious Jewish men dwelling in Jerusalem from all nations under heaven. AC2:6 And when they happened to hear the sound the gathered crowd was confused because they were each hearing the apostles speak in their own language. AC2:7 They were amazed and astonished and began to say: ‘Look! are not all these speaking Galileans? AC2:8 So how are we all hearing in our own native languages? AC2:9 Parthians, Medes and Elamites, Mesopotamians, Judeans, Cappadocians, those from Pontus and Asia, AC2:10 Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egyptians, and those from Cyrene in Libya, visitors from Rome [both Hebrews and Jewish converts], AC2:11 Cretans and Arabs - all of us in our own languages hear them in other languages the mighty acts of the God." [NCMM]

Is it fair to conclude that these different “tongues” were the actual languages of that international crowd of Jewish men attending the festival of Pentecost there in Jerusalem? These languages are actually listed in verses 9-11, where the account shows that these men did not need a translator for they naturally understood their own language. Also, is it fair to conclude that these men did not hear gibberish but actually some message about “the mighty acts of the God”? Just so these apostles did have God’s spirit come over them causing them to begin to speak in tongues “about the magnificent things of the God.” These tongues were heard by male Jews from different nations and then recognized their own language, even though those speaking in tongues were all Galileans. It might be added that these “mighty acts of the God” was no plural, triune god as worshipped by the Egyptians, Romans, and Greeks.

Such spirit-inspired gifts are mentioned only a few more times in the Acts of the Apostles. For example, though in Acts chapter 8 tongues are not mentioned, it is clear from reading the account about Philip and Simon [Acts 8:18] that such gifts were only passed along by the hands of the apostles. No where do we see anyone other than one of the apostles dispensing these spirit-gifts.

After Pentecost the next mention of the gift of tongues is recorded over three years later in Acts 10:46 when Peter is speaking to the family and friends of Cornelius. Acts 10:44-46 states, “As Peter was speaking these words the holy Pneuma fell upon all those hearing the Word. Now Peter and those of the Circumcision with him were amazed that the gift of the holy Pneuma was poured out on non-Jews. For they were now hearing all of them speaking in tongues and exalting the God.” [Christian Scriptures 2001] Now, in this account we are not told what foreign languages they spoke. It may have included Latin [or, Italian], and it may be that some of the army officer’s friends spoke other languages. As pointed out in Part One of this article, the gift of tongues here may have been largely for the sake of Peter and those Jewish Christians with him. For this eyewitness evidence is later used in the first apostolic synod to prove the non-Jews were also being invited into Church membership. [Acts 15:1ff]

The last occurrence of miraculously speaking in tongues or foreign languages is mentioned many years later. Acts 19:5, 6 records the event: “Having heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. Now when Paul had laid his hands upon them, the holy Pneuma came upon them. Then they all began to speak in tongues and prophesied.” [Christian Scriptures 2001] Here also, it is with the laying on of the apostle Paul’s hands that speaking in tongues occurs.

Paul and the Gift of Tongues

There is no further mention in the Christian Bible of speaking in tongues except in Paul’s letter to the Corinthian congregation. It is likely that Paul laid his hands on some individuals and these spoke in tongues. However, a serious problem developed resulting in jealousies and disunity. [1 Corinthians 3:1ff] Corinth was a port city visited by people from all over the world. Just as God empowered the apostles to speak in tongues in the presence of men who spoke at least a dozen different languages, just so the gift of speaking a foreign language might have been most effective in reaching such people with the Gospel.

The context of this gift of speaking in foreign languages actually begins in 1 Corinthians chapter 12 where Paul lists this spirit-gift among the last of the manifestations of spirit. “However, to every person is given the manifestation of the Pneuma for a purpose. Indeed, to one person is being given a word of wisdom by the agency of the Pneuma; but to another person a word of knowledge according to the very same Pneuma. To a different person a faith by the very same Pneuma; To another charismatic gifts of healings in the one Pneuma. But, to another inner-energies of dynamic powers, to another a prophecy, to another discernment of inspirations. To a different person different languages [or, tongues = GLOSSON], but to another person interpretation of languages.” [1 Corinthians 12:7-10 Christian Scriptures 2001]

Paul repeats this list indicating “tongues” are the lesser of the gifts: “But all of you are Christ’s Body and members individually. Really, the God has set [these members] in the Congregation: apostles first, prophets second, teachers third; thereafter, dynamic works, charismatic gifts of healings, helpers, guidance, different languages. Are all Apostles? Are all Prophets? Are all Teachers? Are all Dynamics? Are all gifted charismatically? Are all possessed of healings? Are all speaking [different] languages? Are all translators? However, continue zealously seeking the greater charismatic gifts. And yet, I point out to you a more elevated way.” [1 Corinthians 12:27-31 Christian Scriptures 2001] Thus, Paul indicates there are degrees of gifts with tongues the last. He urges the Corinthians to continue to seek “greater” gifts. That is, greater than “tongues.” And yet, Paul concludes chapter twelve indicating there is something altogether better.

And what is this? In Chapter 13 Paul begins, “If I should ever speak in the languages of humans and angels, but do not possess real [divine] love, I have become merely the sound of copper or a clanging cymbal. And if ever I should possess [the gift of] prophecy - and should know all the Divine Mysteries and Know all - and if ever if possess all the conviction needed to ‘transplant mountains’, [Luke 17:6] but do not possess real [divine] love - I am nothing. And if ever I should sell all my possessions so that I could feed the largest number - and if ever I should offer up my body so that I might boast - but do not possess real [divine] love - I am profited nothing.” [1 Corinthians 13:1-3 Christian Scriptures 2001] Paul says “if” he speaks in ‘tongues of men and angels’ and not necessarily indicating he did. There is no account in Acts or elsewhere where Paul did actually speak in tongues. However, he himself does state that he “speaks in more tongues than any of you.”

Is it fair to state that if a person spoke in tongues and yet was without love, such a person was just ‘a clanging cymbal’? That is a single noise that makes no particular sense.

From this Paul introduces what he is to discuss in detail latter in chapter 14. That is, what is the ultimate outcome regarding the gift of tongues? Paul continues: “Real [divine] love never fails. But, prophecies will be rendered useless. Tongues will cease. Knowledge will be rendered useless. For we know in part and we prophesy in part. However, when full maturity should arrive, the part will be rendered useless. When I was an infant my speech was infantile. I thought like an infant. I reasoned like an infant. When I will have finally become an adult man, I will have made the infantile things useless. For right now we are looking through an enigmatic mirror, but then ‘face to face’. [Exodus 33:11] Right now I know in part, but then I shall know completely just as I am also completely known. But, now there remain faith, hope, love - these three things - but of these, real [divine] love is greater.” [1 Corinthians 13:8-13 Christian Scriptures 2001]

Paul writes that the future mature Church will then know God ‘face to face’. Some take this literally to mean someone in God’s presence. However, the phrase is exactly the same as the experience of Moses with Yehowah. Exodus 33:11 states: “And the Lord had talk with Moses face to face, as a man may have talk with his friend.” [BAS] Moses had not gone to heaven, but rather he had cultivated a ‘friendship’ with his God. Just so, members of the mature Christian Church would develop a similar relationship with the Father that would become just as intimate. Such a disciple would truly know God as his or her personal associate. [Compare Genesis 32:30; Numbers 14:14; Deuteronomy 5:4; 34:10; Judges 6:22; Ezekiel 20:35.] It is a truth that, through Jesus, each Christian disciple has a superior relationship with God than even Moses experienced.

No one would ever argue that love is not the greatest gift of all, while the gift of tongues is ‘infantile.’ Indeed, those who had matured would not even bother with the gift of tongues, for they would have passed beyond such infantile behavior or speech as though it were ‘baby-talk’. They would be ‘seeking greater gifts’. [1 Corinthians 12:31]

As discussed above, Paul uses the Greek TELEION several times in his epistles, and often in the context of maturity. [Strong's Exhaustive Concordance #5046, 4b1 full grown, adult, of full age, mature] Though many versions render this either “perfect” or “complete” this idea may be misleading. The context and Paul’s use elsewhere might better argue for “mature” [or, maturity]. For, example earlier in First Corinthians, Paul first uses TELEIOS where he states that he “preaches wisdom among those who are mature.” [1 Corinthians 2:6] Also, a bit later he chastises the Corinthians for their immaturity. [1 Corinthians 3:1, 2] Note Paul’s similar use of TELEIOS as “mature” in Philippians 3:15 and Colossians 1:28; 4:12.

Compare also, for example, Ephesians 4:11-16 and Hebrews 5:14-6:1 where TELEION is used in the sense of growing up into maturity. [See 1 Corinthians 14:20 where TELEIOI (mature persons) is used again.] Thus, comparing his analogy of the infant with its baby speech and baby thoughts, the Church also began with babyhood and proceeded toward grown-up maturity after the example of Christ who did not speak in tongues. So, in the infancy of the Church it spoke in ‘baby-talk’ [ = tongues] but ‘when the Church became a mature man it would dispense with such baby-talk’.

Paul then continues with more precise detail to the Corinthian church in the context of its “infant” status. The early Church at this stage was highly dependent on the Hebrew Scriptures Old Testament and did not yet have access to the vast bulk of the Christian Scriptures as Christians today. It is most likely that they had not yet read Luke, John, Acts, the epistles from Romans to Hebrews, the epistles of Peter, James, and Jude, let alone the Apocalypse.

What Is To Be Done, Then?

Paul continues to write to the Corinthian church during that infantile period of the growth of the whole Church of Christ. Let us examine 1 Corinthians chapter 14. [See Nazarene Commentary 2000© notes on the same for more details.]

Prophecy is Preferred

1Co14:1 All of you continue to pursue real [divine] love, but [also] continue to zealously seek the Pneumatic things, preferably that you prophesy.

Love is the greatest gift to pursue. This would mean that any Christian, man or woman, would seek to be loving and not slanderous or working harm to another Christian. Better than speaking in tongues is the gift of prophecy. [Or, PME: speak the message of God; GDS: inspired preaching; BEC speak God’s Word] Such may include an inspired prophetic utterance with precise details that affect the infant Church, as well as long-term futuristic information.

When Paul says “you” collectively he means those men in the congregation. See “the man” in the next verse.

Tongues Speak Only to God

1Co14:2 For the man speaking in a tongue is not speaking to humans but to God, for no one listens to him as he is speaking sacred mysteries.

The gift of tongues includes speaking in a foreign language to God without producing any direct disclosure of God’s mysteries to other humans. That is, sacred secrets, hidden truths. No one can understand what seems vain babbling in another language though the message may be discussing spiritual truths. This is because, as Paul continues, there is no one to translate or interpret the message.

Paul uses HO [the person] in the masculine and many versions so indicate this by the use of “he” or “a man.” [KJV, NEB, TCN, BEC, NWT, RHM, BAS, DAR, WBS, WEY, YLT] This is consistent with what Paul is to say later regarding the silence of women in the congregation.

Prophecy is Upbuilding

1Co14:3 In contrast, the one prophesying is speaking to humans constructively, encouraging and comforting.

The Christian who prophesies speaks in an upbuilding manner to others with words of encouragement and comfort, something lacking in tongues. Thus, Paul infers that the gift of tongues is lesser than that of prophesy. The Greek for “prophesying” is PROPHETEUON [Strong's Exhaustive Concordance # 4395, speak forth by divine inspirations, to predict]. Whatever form or message this prophecy contained it would only be “partial” or incomplete as Paul has said above in 1 Corinthians 13:9. It would be another fifty years before the Book of Daniel would be “unsealed” and the Book of Revelation complete the full knowledge of prophecy.

Tongues Only Upbuild Self

1Co14:4 The man speaking in a tongue is only constructive to himself; but the man prophesying is doing something constructive to the congregation.

The Christian who speaks in tongues only upbuilds himself and not others within the Church. The person who prophesies does something constructive to the whole congregation. The word “constructive” [upbuilds, edifies] comes from the Greek for building a house [Strong's Exhaustive Concordance # 3618, to promote growth in Christian wisdom, affection, grace, virtue, holiness, blessedness].

Prophecy is Greater than Tongues

1Co14:5 Now I wish all of you spoke in tongues, but [I would prefer] that you prophesy. Greater is the man who prophesies than the man speaking in tongues. Unless, of course, there be a man to translate so that the whole congregation might receive [something] constructive.

Paul wishes that all the men could speak in tongues, indicating that all did not speak in tongues. However, his preference is that all prophesy. For the person who prophesies is constructive and upbuilding to the congregation. When Paul above discussed “tongues” he evidently is referring to a situation where no one is present to translate or interpret the tongue. Only if another is present to translate the tongue will it prove upbuilding.

Tongues Ought to Impart Understanding

1Co14:6 Now, brothers, if I ever should approach you speaking tongues how would it benefit you, unless I spoke either in a revelation, or in knowledge, or in a prophecy, or in a teaching?

Paul argues that even if he came to them speaking in tongues it would be of no benefit unless this included a “revelation or some inspired knowledge or an inspired prophecy or an inspired teaching” that made known accurate knowledge. Paul echoes something he said earlier in 1 Corinthians 13:9 where he may have meant that partial knowledge or partial prophecy while using the gift of tongues. Paul means a tongue or foreign language that could be translated by another in the congregation. Thus, the gift of tongues is not only infantile, but useless unless it also possessed “revelation knowledge, prophecy, or teaching.” And yet, Paul continues to demonstrate a gift greater than tongues.

1 Corinthians 14:7-12 - Prophecy Greater than Tongues

Hearers Should Understand the Tongue

1Co14:7 Just so the things without a soul give off sounds, whether a flute or harp. If their tones are not distinctive how will it be known what [music] is being played on the flute or on the harp? 1Co14:8 Really, if the trumpet give an uncertain sound, who will prepare for battle? 1Co14:9 Just so, if you should every speak a word by means of a tongue without any significance how will the things you speak be understood? For you will just be speaking into the air!

Paul uses the analogy of inanimate musical instruments - if these are just played at random, without a melody or purpose - they are of no benefit. Tongues must be understood and make sense to the audience, otherwise it is futile. Paul argues that the use of tongues should be distinct, not uncertain, but significant, and thus no mere babbling, gibberish nonsense. As above, tongues - with a translator present - should produce a revelation, knowledge, prophecy or teaching, not just a rambling gibberish.

Seek Something Upbuilding

1Co14:10 There are many different kinds of sounds in the cosmos and none are without some noise. 1Co14:11 However, if I do not understand the force of the sound, I shall be just as one speaking a foreign language, and the one speaking to me [will be speaking] in a foreign language. 1Co14:12 Thus, also, all of you - since you are so zealous for inspirations - continue seeking something constructive to the congregation so that you might overflow.” [NCMM]

Paul suggests that speaking in tongues may not be upbuilding to the whole congregation of believers. He encourages the Corinthians that not mere noise or gibberish take place, but that they produce something constructive to the whole congregation. He uses the analogy of speaking to someone “foreign”. The Greek is literally “barbarian” which has a harsher meaning today. Here Paul seems to make clear that speaking in tongues is like speaking in a “foreign language” and not “gibberish.” [On “gibberish” compare MOF, NEB]

1 Corinthians 14:13-19 - Upbuilding Instruction

Pray for Translation

1Co14:13 Therefore, let the man speaking in tongues pray so that he may be translated.

The Christian man [HO; compare KJV, WMS] who wishes to speak in tongues at this infantile time of the Church ought also to pray that some one would interpret or translate his speech.

Tongues Ought to Produce Something Understandable

1Co14:14 For if I should ever pray in tongues, [it is] my inner self praying, but my own mind is unfruitful. 1Co14:15 Therefore, what should be done? I shall pray within my inner self, but I shall also pray within my mind. I shall make melody within my inner self, but also within my mind.

Paul states that IF in his prayers he speaks in an unknown language his “own mind is unfruitful.” Paul does not say that he does this, but IF he did pray in a foreign language he did not understand, his prayer would be useless or unfruitful. What is the solution, then? Whether Paul speaks in tongues or sings, he hoped he also did so from his mind, rather than in a tongue or foreign language he himself did not understand.

Tongues Compared to a Silent Prayer

1Co14:16 For if you ever offer a blessing just within your inner self, how will the ungifted person sitting in the common place say, "Amen!" upon your thanksgiving, since he does not understand what you are saying? 1Co14:17 You may, indeed, be giving thanks in an excellent manner, but the other person receives nothing constructive.

If Paul speaks in a tongue unknown how will the visitor to the congregation understand the message? Even though Paul might express himself in a fine way, how does this upbuild the visitor? Paul uses the example of a person asking a blessing over a common meal with others present without uttering anything. How could the other persons present say their own “Amen.” This private prayer may be outstandingly stated, but since it is not known by others, nothing constructive or upbuilding is accomplished.

Five Words Compared to Ten Thousand

1Co14:18 I give thanks to the God that I speak in more tongues than all of you! 1Co14:19 Within the congregation I would rather speak five words with my mind -- so that others also might be instructed -- rather than ten thousand words in a tongue.

Paul himself is bold in stating that he speaks “in more tongues” than the entire congregation at Corinth. One of the reasons this would be true is that Paul traveled so widely among people of many foreign languages. Though we have no record of Paul so speaking in tongues, he states that he would “rather speak just five words with his own mental faculties with the purpose of educating others than ten thousand [ = an infinite amount] words in a tongue.”

In Greek Paul uses NOUS [Strong's Exhaustive Concordance # 3563, faculties of perceiving and understanding … the intellectual capacity] meaning something “intelligible.”

Become Mature

1Co14:20 Brothers, do not become little boys in mental powers, but be babes regarding harmful things. Rather, become mature in mental powers. 1Co14:21 In the Law is has been written, "’In different languages and in different speech I shall speak to this people, and yet they will not listen to me,’ says YHWH." [Isaiah 28:11]

That Paul is speaking to the men of the congregation is shown by the use of PAIDIA which may also mean “little boys” whom he addresses as “brothers.” So what is to be done in this congregation during the infantile period of the Christian Church? Paul encourages a grownup and mature Christian Church instead of a bunch of spiritual babies. Paul uses here the Greek TELEIOI as he did above when referring to growing up into maturity. He repeats his earlier analogy of growth from babyhood to full-grown maturity. One version renders this: “do not be content to think childish thoughts.” [KNX] This may echo back to those infantile “thoughts” in 1 Corinthians 13:11.

Tongues are Signs to Unbelievers

1Co14:22 And so, the tongues are a sign, not to those who believe, but to the unbelievers. However, the prophecy is not for unbelievers but for those who believe.

Paul now begins to explain the difference between tongues and prophecy. Tongues are only as a sign to those who do not believe. On the other hand, the gift of prophecy - a superior gift - is for the benefit of those who do believe. Thus, if a congregation was composed only of believers the gift of tongues would not be used at all, while the gift of prophecy would encourage and educate all present.

When Paul says tongues are a sign to unbelievers, he may have in mind primarily Jewish unbelievers as he has earlier stated, “Jews seek signs.” [1 Corinthians 1:22] Also, here this form of “prophecy” is something limited to the congregation of “believers.” Thus, this “prophecy” here is not public speaking to outsiders or those unfamiliar with the Gospel message. At the time of Paul’s writing this “prophecy” would be something “partial” or immature, waiting for the time when full maturity [TELEION] would come upon the whole Church about the time the New Testament canon was completed near the end of the 1st Century.

Effect of Tongues on Unbelievers

1Co14:23 Therefore, whenever you should come together as a congregation to the very same place - and if all of you may be speaking in tongues - and common people or unbelievers enter - will they not say you are all out of your minds? 1Co14:24 However, if you should all be prophesying the unbeliever or common man will be reproved by everyone since he is being scrutinized by everyone. 1Co14:25 The hidden secrets of his heart will become manifest and so he ‘will fall on his face and render worship to the God’. He will report: "The God is really among you!" [Isaiah 45:14]

Paul then discourages a congregation where all are speaking in tongues. For if such is taking place - in the infant Church - those who are visitors will think they are out of their minds. That is, mad [KJV], demented [BER], raving [BER], fanatical [LAM], or, crazy [BEC]. On the other hand, the Christian who prophesies will speak in reproof to the visitor in his own language and the visitor will examine his/her own heart. It is the gift of prophesy that causes the unbelieving visitor of the congregation to expression his/her belief that “God is really among you,” and not the gift of tongues.

So, in the infantile or, baby Church, what is to done during their meetings back then in the 1st Century?

What is to be Done?

1Co14:26 Therefore, what is to be done, brothers? Whenever you assemble for a meeting: one man has a hymn, one man has a teaching, one man has a revelation, one man has a tongue, and one man has a translation. Let everything occur with a constructive purpose.

The Greek language suggests that only males would experience such a manifestation of the holy spirit. Paul uses masculine verbs and the word HEKHEI or HEKASTOS [Strong's Exhaustive Concordance #1538, every man] and note as well verse 27 [KJV] where he uses TIS [Strong's Exhaustive Concordance #5100, certain man, some man]. Paul makes clear that only one would speak in a tongue only when another was present to translate such speech. No matter, everything must occur for an upbuilding and constructive purpose.

Besides these infantile tongues as baby-talk in the early Church, the congregations were also to be educated and encouraged by hymns, teaching and revelations.

A Couple of Tongues one at a Time

1Co14:27 And if anyone speaks in tongues let it be limited to two or three [and one at a time] and let a man translate.

If some men [KJV] were to speak in tongues it should be no more than two or three in the whole congregation. Also, in each case there should be some inspired translation or interpretation of such spirit-inspired speech. Otherwise, this brother in the congregation should remain “silent.” Paul will use this word in a wider application to Christian women later.

Tongue Silent When no Translator

1Co14:28 But, if there is no man to translate, let him remain silent in the congregation, though he may speak to himself and to the God.

If there is no Christian male to interpret this foreign language such a person should control himself and remain silent. However, such a man may speak to himself and to God. The language indicates the speaker in tongues had control over the gift so that he could choose whether he spoke or not. The word “silent” is from the Greek SIGAO or SIGATO [Strong's Exhaustive Concordance # 4601, to keep silence, hold one’s peace]. Paul will go on to use the same word when he counsels that women should remain “silent” in the congregation. [1 Corinthians 14:34]

Prophets to Speak

1Co14:29 Let two or three prophets speak and let the rest [of the congregation] discern the meaning.

In a congregational meeting there ought to be no more than two or three qualified men who speak. And the rest of the congregation can mediate on the meaning of these prophecies or messages. The privilege of addressing the congregation was not limited to just one cleric or pastor.

Speaking One at a Time

1Co14:30 But, if ever something might be revealed to another person sitting [in the congregation], let the first man remain silent. 1Co14:31 For you [men] all may prophesy one at a time so that everyone may learn and be encouraged.

The whole congregation, or those gifted with tongues or prophecies, should NOT all be speaking at the same time. If someone is so moved by the spirit to speak, then others in the congregation should remain silent as he speaks. For every man in the congregation may speak one at a time - in proper order, one after another - for the purpose that all may be educated and encouraged. Likely Paul means an elder or mature Christian man may have a specific thought that he may speak from his seat, just as Jesus did in the synagogue in Nazareth. [Luke 4:16-21] In the Jewish synagogue visiting elders were asked to speak a word of encouragement or exhortation. [Compare Acts 13:15, 16.] No doubt the seated brother might raise his hand, or in some manner indicate he has something to add as he was moved by the Spirit. At no time should more than one be speaking as though two or more were arguing with one another.

Control and Order

1Co14:32 Also the inspirations of the prophets should be subjected to the prophets. 1Co14:33 For the God is not disorganized but peacefully [arranged].

A degree of personal control should be exercised by those who are gifted by the spirit. In other words, this is not an uncontrolled expression. Paul’s reason is that God “is not a God of disorder [or, chaos] but rather of order and arrangement.” So that anyone inspired by Him would be characterized by such orderly arrangement. This suggests that a prophet [as well as the one who spoke in a tongue] has some degree of control over what he says and when he says it. In the end the over-riding principle is that God is never disorganized but always works in a state of peaceful arrangement. Thus, Christian meetings would be peaceful, well-ordered affairs.

We may also note that no where does Paul mention musical instruments or music. He does mention “a hymn” above, but no where does he include musical instruments as among the ancient Jews. Indeed, there is no case of musical instruments in the three-decade history of the Church in Acts. This does not mean these are inappropriate, only that they are absent from the early Church.

1 Corinthians 14:33-36 - Women Learn Submissively

1Co14:33 As in all the congregations of the Saints 1Co14:34 let the women in the congregation keep silent, because it is not permitted for them to speak. But rather, ‘let them be subjecting themselves,’ [Genesis 3:17 LXX] just as the Law says. 1Co14:35 However, if they want to learn something let them question their own husbands at home, because it is disgraceful for a woman to be speaking in the congregation. 1Co14:36 Or, did the word of the God originate from you? Or did it reach only as far as you?

Given all the above discussion of tongues and prophecy, women are to remain silent in the congregation meetings. Therefore, no Christian woman would speak in tongues in this congregational environment. When Paul uses the word “silent” he uses it as he had used in earlier with regard to one man speaking at a time. [SIGATO; See verse 28] The early Church followed something of the Jewish manner in the synagogue where women remained silent.

Elsewhere Paul gives the same counsel: “Let a woman learn in silence in all subjection. I do not allow a woman to teach, nor to have a man’s authority, but rather to be in silence. The reason is because Adam was formed first, then Eve. Also, Adam was not deceived, but in contrast, woman, having been deceived, has come to be in transgression.” [1 Timothy 2:11-14 NCMM] Here Paul uses another word for “silence” which means to remain quiet. [HESYCHIA, Strong's Exhaustive Concordance # 2271] How important is this counsel from Paul. He ends this subject with a serious caution.

1 Corinthians 14:37-40 - Decent Arrangement

1Co14:37 If anyone thinks they are a prophet or a pneumatic [spiritual] person, let that man acknowledge these things I am writing to all of you, because it is the Lord’s commandment. 1Co14:38 But, if anyone wishes to ignore these, he should be ignored. 1Co14:39 And so, my brothers, all of you continue to zealously seek prophesying, and yet do not forbid tongues. 1Co14:40 But, let everything occur according to good manners and order.

Consistent with what has gone before, when Paul says “anyone” [TIS = some male] he means those men who are “gifts to humans” within the congregation. [Ephesians 4:8, 11] What Paul has written is not just the mere suggestions of one Christian male. Rather, Paul calls his instructions “the Lord’s commandment.” Thus, in the infancy of the Christian Church, the above was a formal outline of meetings. If any person thought themselves particularly gifted or “spiritual” and chose to ignore “the Lord’s commandment”, such a person should be ignored.

In the infancy of the Christian Church tongues were not to be forbidden, as Paul counsels. The gift of tongues - with its partial knowledge, and partial prophecy - would continue until “that which is complete arrives” - that is when the Church reached a state of maturity after nearly six decades or more. Then “tongues … would cease.” [1 Corinthians 13:8] Even then in the babyhood of the Church tongues were the least of the gifts and were viewed as infantile thought and speech. The mature Christian - as well as the whole mature Church - would move away from such “childish things” and seek greater gifts, including the greatest of all - love.

In modern times at the beginning of the 3rd Millennium Christians find that all over the world many speak something of an international language - English. Also, the Bible and Christian publications are available in almost all the known languages. It is now possible to communicate with others in unknown languages by virtue of computer software and the Internet.

What if some Christians speak in tongues? Whether this is the result of God’s Spirit will be manifest by other matters within such a church. At the very least, as we have seen above, speaking in tongues is infantile and babyish according to Paul and mature Christians should move beyond it.

However, how does God’s Spirit operate today?

God’s Spirit and You Today

The Danger of False Signs!

As mentioned in the introduction to this article, many evangelists, ministers, or church members claim that God, or the Holy Ghost, speaks to them. Just a brief review of the television channel Trinity Broad-casting Network in the USA [also available in many countries] will reveal individuals claiming that God’s Spirit talked to, spoke to, or gave them a “word” to preach to others. Sometimes this involves the solicitation for donations.

It seems reasonable that if a person claims to have the guidance of God’s Spirit then what he or she says will be accurate, truthful, and consistent with the Bible. If someone claims Christ’s authority, or affirms that God’s Spirit moves them, they cannot produce something false or untrue with regard to Bible teaching. For example, if a person spoke in tongues and yet preached the unscriptural doctrine of the Trinity or hell-fire torment, this would not be consistent with what we have learned above. No matter how the promised spirit-helper manifests itself, it is described by Jesus as “the spirit of the truth.”

On that very theme of “truth” as it is associated with claimed charismatic gifts of God’s Spirit, Paul - under true inspiration - warned:

“Because the mystery of this lawlessness is already working within [the Church] until the one who acts as something of a restraint is removed as an obstacle. It is then that the lawless one will be revealed. The Lord Jesus will annihilate him by the spirit of his mouth, thus rendering him completely ineffective at the moment of his visible Return. The coming of this lawless person is in accordance with the inner working of Satan in all [his] lying power and signs and wonders. And this will be accompanied also with every kind of unrighteous seduction to those who end up destroying themselves - all because they refused to love the Truth that they might be saved. Therefore, the God sends among them the inner working of error and falsehood so that they all start believing in the lie. Thus they will all be condemned - all those who did not believe the Truth but thought well of unrighteousness.” [2 Thessalonians 2:7-12 NCMM]

Thus, when all the apostles were dead - as the “sleeping men” of Matthew 13:25 - as well as those they had laid their hands upon as a sign of authority - then the corporate “man of lawlessness” would begin to claim Christ’s authority and use satanic power in “lying power and signs and wonders … with every kind of unrighteous seduction.” Jesus had compared this to a woman kneading yeast or leaven into dough until the “whole” was fermented. Leaven is always used as a negative element in the Christian Bible. So, comparing this with the Nazarene’s related parable of the wheat and weeds, he foretold the corrupting of his own Church or Kingdom. [Matthew 13]

Using Jesus and Paul together there seems a clear prediction that pseudo-miracles would be a tool used by Satan. In this regard, Paul also warns about those who would appear as “messengers of righteousness” and yet be full of deception. He warns the Corinthian Church:

“But, I continue to fear that some how, as ‘the serpent seduced Eve in its cunning,’ [Genesis 3:4] your minds might be corrupted from the single-mindedness and chastity due the Christ. For it is a certainty that if a person arrives preaching another Jesus whom we did not preach - or you accept a different inspiration which you had never received - or a different Good News which you had never accepted - you [Corinthians] put up with him in a fine manner. For I consider I have not proved inferior to those ultra-superior apostles. … For such persons are pseudo-apostles, deceitful workers, refashioning themselves into Christ’s apostles. And no wonder, for Satan continues to transform himself into an angel of light. It is no great thing, then, if his ministers also continue to refashion themselves as ministers of righteousness. Their end will be according to their works!” [2 Corinthians 11:3-5, 13-15 Christian Scriptures 2001]

Jesus had also warned his apostles, as well as future disciples, that those persons would come claiming his authority and accompanied by misleading signs. The Nazarene forewarns: “Look out no one misleads you. For many will come using my name, saying: ‘I AM THE ANOINTED!’ Or, ‘I AM HE!’ Or, ‘THE APPOINTED TIME HAS COME!’ Do not follow them! They will mislead many! And then if anyone says to you: ‘Look! Christ is here!’ Or, ‘There!’ you should not believe it. For many pseudo-anointed and false prophets will rise. They will give great signs and wonders so as to mislead, if possible, The Elect. Look! I have foretold everything!” [Matthew 24:4; Mark 13:6, 21-23; Luke 21:8 Christian Scriptures 2001] So, Jesus put on notice that future disciples could expect false claims with attendant “great signs and wonders.” The sad historical fact is that many of the Elect have been misled by such false prophets.

Does this mean that everyone who has spoken in tongues is of the Devil? One could not make such a broad statement. Any message should be “tested” as to the source of their “inspiration” as John exhorts in 1 John 4:1. How can such “tongues” be tested? Against the Scriptures.

Getting “Filled” with God’s Spirit Today

How, then, does one get “filled” with God’s Spirit today at the beginning of the 21st Century? We must admit that none of us has been “filled by the spirit” to make wood-work for the Tabernacle of Moses. None of us has been “filled by the spirit” to pulled down the columns of the altar of Dagon. None of us have been “filled with the spirit” to see a vision of Christ in heaven.

If we take the view that the infantile speech and behavior of the early Church have “ceased” then we want to know what is the God-given way to become “filled with the spirit” today?

One view shared by this author is that our Father has provided us with a trustworthy “God-breathed” Book that amounts to a form of His Spirit or Pneuma. Earlier it has been compared to water and H2O can exist in several states - fluid, gas, and solid ice. Just so, God’s Spirit manifests itself in several forms, but it is most useable as a fluid. So His Word - a collection of His Thoughts from His Mind - are found like a frozen block of ice in the Bible. Now to be of use, it must be melted and then swallowed to be of benefit. God has made His Spirit available, but some effort is required in order to become “filled by the spirit.”

The Bible itself states the idea in several verses. First, we have read Jesus teaching: “My Sayings are Spirit.” [John 6:63] So when we read the Nazarene’s Saying we are drinking down God’s Spirit. To the extent we do this we are “filled by the spirit.”

Second, we read how Paul wrote: “These things we also speak - not in words taught by human wisdom - but rather in [words] taught by the [Spirit] - as we discern [spiritual] things [spiritually].” [1 Corinthians 2:13 Christian Scriptures 2001 Paraphrase] It is through “words” inspired by God’s Spirit that we spiritually discern that truth found in His Word. [John 17:17] To the extent we do this we are “filled by the spirit.”

Third, Paul again writes of the living nature of written words inspired by God: “For the Word of The God is a living [thing], energizing, and sharper than a two-edged sword. [God’s Word] cuts through so deep as to separate psyche and pneuma, even joints and marrow.” [Hebrews 4:12 Christian Scriptures 2001] When we read His Word we are experiencing that ‘living energy’ that, like a very sharp blade, can separate what is physical and spiritual in our character. To the extent we do this we are “filled by the spirit.”

Finally, we learn from Paul that all that we need is His Word. Note this in 2 Timothy 3:14-17, “But, as for you [Timothy], you remain in what you have learned and have been persuaded to believe, realizing from whom you learned. And that how, from your very infancy, you were made acquainted with the sacred writings, those that are able to make you wise for salvation through deep conviction in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is God-breathed and beneficial for teaching, for reproving, for readjusting everything, for disciplining in righteousness. Thus, the man of God be completely prepared for every good work.” [Christian Scriptures 2001] It is only through these “God-breathed” Scriptures that a disciple of the Master is “completely prepared for every good work.” Thus, nothing else is needed.

How is this energizing work of God’s Spirit accomplished? Take for example, the reading of any material that moves us. A person is moved by an interest in motor-cycles by a magazine seen in a market. He/she buys the magazine and goes home to read it. They study the words and the pictures, and become stimulated even more. Soon, they are noticing motor-cycles everywhere when they did not before. Next they go into a sales room and examines, or even tests motor-cycles. Finally, they are riding a motor-cycle and having a degree of enjoyment. Now this all started - and to a great extent is maintained - from the original reading. In the same way by reading the Bible God’s Spirit motivates us in the right directions - only these are godly and spiritual.

What affect does this have on a group of like-minded persons? How does God’s Spirit “inspire” the whole membership as though it were one entity? We might think of an orchestra. Each person comes with their musical instrument, even though these may vary from drums to strings to wood-winds. Some play the same instrument as something of a team. Others are soloists who only clash cymbals or ring chimes. Some play constantly, while others wait for the whole composition just to fire the canon, as in the 1812 Overture. This is how we are as individuals in Christ’s Church.

The conductor is Christ himself who strives to make all play their individual gifts to make a harmonious whole.

The sheet of music is God’s Word which all read in harmony. Now there are some compositions that are particularly moving. So powerful are they that each and everyone musician, as well as the conductor, are carried away and exalted with heart-felt emotion. The result is a certain “spirit” coming over the whole orchestra, including those who hear the music. Just so God’s Spirit moves among all, to inspire all to lofty heights of spirituality and godly thinking.

Does God’s Spirit Guide Our Understanding of His Word?

Some Christians, particularly some evangelists and Biblical commentators, foster the idea that God’s Spirit actually guides and directs their explanations. This virtually amounts to a claim of inspiration. Some have claimed visions and dreams such as Joseph Smith and Ellen White. Others have claimed angelic direction such as Joseph Rutherford. Is there any Bible verse that would prove God’s Spirit “inspires” or guides anyone in their personal search of the Bible? Is there any proof that God’s Spirit helps a person determine what doctrine is true and what doctrine is false?

In a word, No. Essentially, the truth of God’s Word is there in the pages of the Bible and to the extent one reads, studies and meditates on this one will come to know the Truth. Are teachers in the Church necessary? Yes. For Paul has already said the same in 1 Corinthians 12:28, 29. [Compare Ephesians 4:1-16 and James 3:1-3.] But, taking Paul’s example among the Bereans, those who test these teachers are described as “noble.” Acts 17:11 records this good and godly attitude: “These [Jews] were of a better race than those in Thessalonica and they accepted the Word with complete mental readiness. They would examine the Scriptures everyday to see if these things were true.” [Christian Scriptures 2001]

This is in harmony with the wise direction of the last of the apostles. John authorizes every Christian: “My dearly beloved friends, do not put your trust in every ‘inspiration’. Rather, test out these ‘inspirations’ to know whether they originate with God. The need for this is because many false prophets have proceeded from the world.” [1 John 4:1 Christian Scriptures 2001] John mentions that “last hour” at the end of the 1st Century when many pseudo-prophets had appeared among Christians. Paul had warned of the same in nearly every epistle. [Acts 20:29, 30]

Now how does one know whether the “spirit” or “inspiration” of someone’s teaching is true or false. [1 John 4:1] In his own day - and the context of that period of time - John outlines several things in his first, second and third epistles. Essentially these methods of testing involve “the doctrine of Christ” which are to be found in the Gospels. [John 7:16 KJV; 2 John 9] The Nazarene himself states that his teachings in the Sermon on the Mount serve as a “foundation built on rock” and those who live by these will be safe. [Matthew 7:24-27]

Remember Jesus said that his Sayings “were spirit.” [John 6:63] If one learns to study these Sayings well, meditating on them with prayers, then this source of “primary doctrine” will be a guide in other matters. [Hebrews 6:1]

The teachings - or “spirit” - of a true Christian teacher will be recognized by faith in Christ, love of others, consistent harmony with the Sayings of Christ and those inspired disciples who later experienced the aid of the promised spirit-helper - “the spirit of the truth.” Peter goes into considerable detail regarding some of those false teachers in his own day and how they were recognizable. [2 Peter chapter 2] Jude does the same thing in his brief epistle. Of course, the Christian teacher is held responsible for what he teachers. [James 3:1-3]

Some, however, argue that no teachers are necessary at all. They point to 1 John 2:27, “You don't need for anyone to teach you.” [WEB] Does John mean Christians need no teachers? Or, does he mean on this subject they need no one to teach them? Does he mean there are certain “teachers” who are not needed among Christians? If we consider the whole context his meaning becomes clear.

“Young spiritual children, it is the final hour. As you have heard already, the antichrist is coming. Already many antichrists have materialized. It is from this we know it is the final hour. These antichrists abandoned us because they were never really part of us. If they really had been part of us they would have stayed with us. In order to manifest these antichrists and make it clear they were never part of us. All of you who have an anointing from the Holy One have an intimate relationship with Him. I am not writing you because you do not know the Truth but because you do know it and also that no falsehood springs from the Truth. … I have written these matters to you because of those who try to deceive you. You received an anointing from God that continues within you. Therefore, you have no obligation to have any of these deceivers as your teachers. The reason for this is that God’s anointing is teaching you every truth and not a single falsehood. And so as you were taught by this anointing, continue to abide within the Father.” [1 John 2:18-21, 26, 27 Christian Scriptures 2001 Paraphrase]

Surely John does not include himself in this lack of a need of teachers, for that is exactly why he is writing to the Christian community in general. The erroneous view that no teachers are needed at all also contradicts Jesus and Paul completely. Matthew 28:19 shows that Jesus commissioned his apostles to teach all nations. Paul several times shows the need for qualified teachers. Compare also:

Acts 2:42, “Then these [Jews] devoted themselves to the teaching of the apostles.” (NCMM)

Romans 12:7, “Let the teacher continue at his teaching.”

1 Corinthians 4:17, “I teach in every ecclesia.”

1 Corinthians 12:29, “Are all teachers?”

1 Corinthians 14:26 “ ... another man teaches.”

Galatians 6:6, “In addition everyone who is taught the Word should share his blessings with the teacher.”

Ephesians 4:11, ... some as pastors and teachers.”

Colossians 3:16, “Continue to teach.”

2 Timothy 2:2, “ ... these things entrust to trustworthy men who, thus, competent enough to teach others.”

Hebrews 5:12, “Really, though you should be teachers yourselves by now you will need a teacher to teach you the first principles about divine revelations.”

James 3:1, “Very few of you should ever become teachers.”

Judging from the context John means these Christians have no need to have these antichrist “false prophets” teaching them. [1 John 4:1]

Continue Getting Filled With God’s Spirit!

The Bible is not a sealed book for an exclusive hierarchy who alone may act as some kind of “channel” to dispense its truths. One of the closing angelic thoughts in the Bible’s last book reads: "You should not seal the word of the prophecy of this Small (apocalyptic) Bible.” [Revelation 22:10 Christian Scriptures 2001] Unlike the prophet Daniel who’s work was sealed until “the time of the end” in the 1st Century, Revelation and the other books in what is called the New Testament are there for all to study and learn and be taught. [Daniel 12:4]

To the extent Christian individuals put forth the effort required to read, study and meditate on the Bible, to that extent the same will continue to be “filled with God’s spirit.” [Ephesians 5:18]

We Have Such a High Priest!

by Mark Heber Miller

When Did Jesus Become High Priest?

Paul answers this question clearly and plainly in his epistle to the Hebrew Christians. His answer is: Jesus became high priest upon his resurrection.

However, before we examine Paul’s proof and reasoning, let us first note two texts he uses and applies most often - Psalm 2:7 and Psalm 110:1, 4. As far as we know Paul first reference Psalm 2:7 in a Jewish synagogue. This is recorded in Acts 13:32, 33,

"And now we are proclaiming to you [Jews] the coming of the promise to the forefathers, that all these things the God fulfilled to their children - to us - by raising Jesus, just as it has been written in the Second Psalm: ‘You are My son! Today I have begotten you!’ [Psalm 2:7]”

Thus it seems clear that Psalm 2:7 was fulfilled upon the resurrection of Christ.

Though Jesus is called “a Son” on other occasions the sonship predicted in Psalm 2:7 does not occur until his resurrection. Paul says the same at Romans 1:3, 4,

“… concerning His Son who descended from David’s seed by means of flesh, declared God’s Son (our Lord Jesus Christ) by a resurrection from the dead through a spirit of holiness.” [Christian Scriptures 2001]

But, where else does Paul apply Psalm 2:7 and Psalm 110:1, 4? In his letter to the Hebrews.

For example, consider some of the following. First Paul uses Psalm 2:7 in the context of Christ’s resurrection. Hebrews 1:5, 6 say,

“For to which one of the angels did [The God] say, ‘You are my Son. Today I have given birth to you’? [Psalm 2:7] And also, ‘I shall be a Father to him, and he will be a Son to me’? [2 Samuel 7:14] And again, when He brings His Firstborn [Psalm 89:27] again into the inhabited world of humankind, He says, ‘And let all God’s angels bow before him.’ [Deuteronomy 32:43 LXX].” [Christian Scriptures 2001]

It seems fair to conclude that the phrase “when He brings His Firstborn again into the inhabited earth" Paul is referring to Christ’s resurrection as the second time Jesus appeared again to the Jewish disciples. So it seems clear that Paul is consistent with his remarks in the Jewish synagogue [Acts 13:33] and his allusion to Psalm 2:7 in Romans 1:4.

Now in Hebrews 1:13 Paul uses Psalm 110:1,

“Regarding which one of the angels has [The God] ever said: ‘Sit you at my right hand until I place your enemies as your footstool’? [Psalm 110:1]” [Christian Scriptures 2001]

Paul alludes to Psalm 110:1 in Ephesians 1:18-23 where he describes the degree of Christ’s power in the heavens. So we can combine Psalm 2:7 and Psalm 110:1 as a prophecy regarding the resurrection and later ascension of Christ into the presence of the Ancient of Days. [Daniel 7:13]

Now having established this point Paul moves on to associate the high priesthood of Christ and the New Covenant with Psalm 110:1. Note Hebrews 8:1,

“Now let us summarize what we have been saying: We [Hebrew Christians] have a High Priest, who ‘sat down on the right hand of’ [Psalm 110:1] the Throne of the Magnificent in the heavens.” [Christian Scriptures 2001]

It would seem from this that Paul understood that Jesus became High Priest upon his resurrection. But, before we see this confirmed elsewhere, let us note a couple of other uses of Psalm 110:1. Hebrews 10:12-18 associates the New Covenant with Christ’s enthronement in the heavens upon his ascension into God’s Presence:

“However, after this person approached with a single sacrifice accomplishing the covering sins [perpetually], ‘He sat down at the right hand of The God.’ [Psalm 110:1] From that time onward [he] ‘waits until his enemies are placed as a footstool for his feet.’ For by a single offering he has accomplished the perfecting of those who are being sanctified. Additionally, the holy Pneuma testifies to us, for later it has spoken to us: ‘This is the covenant that I will covenant toward them after those days, YHWH is saying. I will put my laws upon their hearts. I shall accurately write them upon their mental comprehension.’ Then, ‘Their sins and lawlessness I shall never remember any more.’ [Jeremiah 31:31, 32] Now where there is a forgiveness of these there is no longer any offering regarding sin.” [Christian Scriptures 2001]

Paul combines Psalm 110:1 and Jeremiah 31:31, 32. So we could draw the conclusion that Jesus became High Priest upon his resurrection and the New Covenant went into affect upon his presentation of his sacrifice before the Presence of his God.

Paul alludes to Psalm 110:1 one more time at Hebrews 12:2,

“Observe carefully the Arch-Leader and Perfecter of our faith, Jesus -- who endured execution because of the Joy that lay before him -- disdained the humiliation [of the Cross]. [He has] ‘sat down on the right hand of the Throne of The God.’ [Psalm 110:1]” [Christian Scriptures 2001]

Thus, Psalm 110:1 began to undergo fulfillment following the death of our Master Jesus.

Now, Paul also associates Psalm 110:4 regarding a new priesthood for Christ with both this priesthood and the New Covenant. First we note Hebrews 7:15-17, 21-25,

”Also, it is clearly evident that a different priest [Jesus] arises according to ‘the likeness of Melchizedek’, who has become a priest, not according to a commandment of law which depends upon fleshly connections, but rather, according to the power of a life which cannot dissolve. For, there is a testimony [which states]: ‘You are an ageless priest according to the lineage of Melchizedek.’ [Psalm 110:4] … For, indeed, priests have become such without a sworn oath -- there is someone [Christ] who becomes [a priest] by means of a sworn oath. Because that One said regarding [this new priest]: ‘YHWH swore -- and He will not change His determination -- ‘You are an ageless priest.’ [Psalm 110:4] Just so, Jesus has received a pledge of a better [new] covenant. Also, [under the Law] there were many priests in succession because death prevented them from remaining [priests]. But, [Jesus] remains agelessly without having a succession to his priesthood. Also, because of [remaining alive forever] [Jesus] is able to completely save those approaching The God by his agency. [Jesus] is continually living to make intercession in their behalf.” [Christian Scriptures 2001]

It seems clear that Jesus became such a priest after the likeness of Melchizedek - both a priest and a king - following his resurrection. For he could not have become priest until he received such “indestructible life” - that is, immortality.

Paul writes earlier that Jesus must first endure suffering, learn obedience, and then become “perfected.” Note Hebrews 5:5-10,

“And just so the Christ did not glorify himself in order to become a High Priest, but rather the One who spoke toward him, said: ‘You are my Son. I, today, I have given birth to you.’ [Psalm 2:7] Just as he also says in another place, ‘You are a priest into the age according to the lineage of Melchizedek.’ [Psalm 110:4] Who in the days of his flesh made supplications and petitions toward the One able to save him from death. With strong outcries and tears borne toward [God] he was favorably heard, and as a Son, he learned obedience from those things he suffered. And having become perfected he became responsible to all those obeying him the one for causing ageless salvation. He was designated by The God a High Priest after the lineage of Melchizedek.” [Christian Scriptures 2001]

The word “perfect” is also rendered: CON: when his consecration was accomplished; NOR: finished his task; GDS: when he was fully qualified. The word “perfect” here is from TELOS [end] which may mean complete, consummated, mature, or in relation to a priest, inaugurated, installed, empowered, or, consecrated to office. Compare Leviticus 8:33 and Leviticus 21:10. Christ become “perfect” upon his resurrection when he was then inaugurated into his office as high priest.

Above Paul associates Psalm 2:7 - a verse fulfilled following the resurrection of Jesus - with Psalm 110:4 and a new priesthood. Now as such a high priest he had the value of his own body and blood to ascend toward God and the Celestial Temple, there to offer this before his Father as a sacrifice. Paul writes:

“However, when Christ arrived [in heaven] as a High Priest -- relating to the good things by means of the greater and more perfect Tabernacle not of human construction - that is, not of this creation -- he entered [the heavenly Tabernacle] -- not with the blood of goats and young bulls, but rather with his own blood - only once into [the Tabernacle’s] holy rooms, having found an ageless ransom. For, if the blood of goats and bulls, and the sprinkling of the ashes of a heifer, upon those sharing in the communion sanctifies cleanses regarding the flesh, rather how much more [will] the blood of the Christ -- who through an ageless pneuma approached The God with himself [as an] unblemished [offering] - cleanse our consciences from dead works leading to sacred worship of a Living God.” [Hebrews 9:11-14 Christian Scriptures 2001]

But, when did the New Covenant become effective over the spiritual House of Israel and Judah?

When Did the New Covenant Go into Effect?

In Paul’s context of a new High Priest in the resurrected Jesus, Paul also associates Jeremiah’s prophecy of a “New Covenant.” A covenant is a contract between two parties. Contracts have a purpose with beginnings and ends as the legal requirements are met or fulfilled. Jesus himself is the first to mention such a New Covenant when he borrows the phrase from Jeremiah 31:31. At Luke 22:20 Jesus uses the term “new covenant” in association with his blood symbolized in the Memorial Cup. Paul quotes the same language in 1 Corinthians 11:25. [Compare also 2 Corinthians 3:6] Based on this alone it would seem apparent that this spiritual contract went into affect following the outpouring of Christ’s blood.

The word “covenant” occurs several times in Paul’s epistle to the Hebrew Christians. When he uses the word he often associates it with the “partakers of a heavenly calling.” [Hebrews 3:1] Let us review these in the following verses. They will show that a] the New Covenant goes into affect following the death of Christ, for blood must first be poured out; and, b] the New Covenant is a spiritual contract only with the Israel of God. [Galatians 6:15] No where does the Bible ever include those outside the Church in the New Covenant. Consider now Paul’s use of the word “covenant.”

Paul first associates such a new covenant with the new priesthood foretold in Psalm 110:4,

“Just so, Jesus has received a pledge of a better covenant.” [Hebrews 7:22 Christian Scriptures 2001]

As shown above Psalm 110:4 was fulfilled upon the resurrection of Christ, after he had made his flesh and blood self-sacrifice.

However, now [Jesus] has acquired a much different priestly officiate in behalf of the people, as he is a mediator of a much better covenant, which is also lawfully based on superior promises. For if the first [covenant] was without fault, it is unlikely a second [covenant] would be sought. Note how [God] finds fault with the people of [Israel] when He says, ‘Behold! Days are coming,’ YHWH says, ‘and I will conclude with the House of Israel and with the House of Judah a New Covenant unlike the covenant which I made with their forefathers in that day when I took hold of their hand and led them out of Egypt. Because they did not remain in My covenant and so I showed no concern for them,’ says YHWH. ‘Because this is the [new] covenant which I will covenant with the House of Israel after those days,’ says YHWH, ‘giving my laws into their understanding minds. And upon their hearts I will write [My laws]. Then I will be a God unto them, and they will be a people unto Me. They will never teach each other’s fellow-citizen, nor each other’s brother by saying: "Know the LORD." Because they will all know Me from the smallest to the greatest. For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins I will never remember.’ [Jeremiah 31:31-34] By the use of the word, ‘New,’ [God] had made the first [covenant] ‘old.’ Now, what is "old" is becoming older and is about to disappear.” [Hebrews 8:6-13 Christian Scriptures 2001]

This “better covenant” is the New Covenant as Paul goes on to show. This New Covenant is based on “better promises.” While the old Law covenant promised everlasting life on earth, the New Covenant promises an immortal high priest with “a congregation of the Firstborn.” [Hebrews 12:22-24]

Paul argues that Jesus is the mediator of this New Covenant and only only became such following his death and resurrection. In the following text he expands and paraphrases on Jeremiah’s phrase regarding God’s forgiveness of the sins of Spiritual Israel:

“And so because of this [Christ] is a mediator of ‘a new covenant’ because a death has occurred leading to a release by ransom from the transgressions [of those Hebrews] under the first [Law] covenant, those who have been invited might receive ‘the Promise’ of the ageless inheritance. …Therefore, neither was the first [covenant] inaugurated without blood. For, ‘after every commandment had been spoken by Moses to all the people [of Israel] in accordance with the Law, [Moses] took the blood of young bulls and goats with water he sprinkled the small bible and all the people with scarlet wool and a hyssop [branch].’ [Then Moses said], ‘This is the blood of the covenant which the God has enjoined upon you.’ [Exodus 24:8]” [Hebrews 9:15, 18-20 Christian Scriptures 2001]

Paul associates the forgiveness under the New Covenant with Christ’s willingness to sacrifice his “prepared body” in a sin-offering.

“Then [Messiah] said, ‘Behold, I have come to do Your will.’ [Psalm 40:8] He removes the first [covenant] to establish the second [covenant]. By this ‘will’ we are being sanctified through the offering of the ‘body’ of Jesus Christ one time. … ‘This is the covenant that I will covenant toward them after those days, YHWH is saying. I will put my laws upon their hearts. I shall accurately write them upon their mental comprehension.’ Then, ‘Their sins and lawlessness I shall never remember any more.’ [Jeremiah 31:31, 32] Now where there is a forgiveness of these there is no longer any offering regarding sin.” [Hebrews 10:9, 10, 16-18 Christian Scriptures 2001]

This forgiveness of “their sins and lawlessness” involves the sanctification by the offering of the body of Jesus.

Twice more Paul mentions this New Covenant, but he does it in such a way as to explain who the “house of Israel and Judah” is. Note Hebrews 12:22-24 and 13:20:

“Rather, you have approached toward Mount Zion and the City of a Living God - to heavenly Jerusalem and myriads of angels -- to a great praise-assembly and to an ecclesia of those firstborn persons who have been inscribed in [the] heavens, to a God who is Judge of everyone, and to the pneumas of those righteous who have been perfected, and to Jesus, to a mediator of a New Covenant - and to the blood of sprinkling which speaks in a better way than Abel. … Now the God of peace - the One who raised the Great Shepherd of the sheep with the blood of an ageless covenant, our Lord Jesus.” [Christian Scriptures 2001]

It is the “Church [EKKLESIA] of those firstborn persons who have been inscribed in the heavens” who make up what is called in Jeremiah “the house of Israel and the house of Judah.”

Above Paul alludes to Jeremiah 31:34 in the phrase “cleanse our consciences from dead works.” In Jeremiah this reads: “I will not recall their sin any more.” Judging from the above the New Covenant would become manifest and effective when Christ’s disciples first received a cleansed conscience by the forgiveness of their sins. That would have happened beginning at the spirit-outpouring on Pentecost in the year 33 AD. For it was then Peter declared:

“So, you [Jews] should repent and turn around so that your sins might be blotted out [in fulfillment of Jeremiah 31:34]. Then restful times may come to you [Jews] from the presence of the Lord, and then He will send to you the One proclaimed beforehand, Christ Jesus. It is necessary that heaven must receive [Christ] until the times of restoration of everything that was spoken by the God through the mouth of the holy prophets in ages past.” [Acts 3:19-21 Christian Scriptures 2001]

When Will the New Covenant be Accomplished?

Judging from the above the New Covenant went into affect around Pentecost 33 AD. When would the New Covenant with the spiritual House of Israel and Judah have served its purpose? It would be when the last member of the New Israel of God had his/her sins forgiven. It is likely this would occur just before the Return of the Master and the Rapture of the end-time Saints up into the Celestial Temple. The main contract of the New Covenant is the forgiveness of sins of the Church. After triumphant entry into the Celestial Temple no member of the Church would need forgiveness. Thus, the New Covenant would be fulfilled completely.

Though this would fulfill and bring to an end the New Covenant, the benefits and blessings that resulted from this agreement with the Church would shower divine favor upon humankind through Messiah’s Thousand Year reign with his Church. Indeed, more blessings would flow following the Thousand Years as billions of humanity are declared ”righteous” to enjoy earthly life forever.

The Problem with Evolution

Faith in God or Trust in Science?

By Mark Heber Miller

A recent television piece produced a graphically updated synopses on evolution and how life developed on earth. This covered the beginning of “life” in a primeval slime and over hundreds of millions of years produced modern humans. It is no secret that the theory of evolution is taught in virtually all levels of school classes and is considered to be a law or a given. The vast majority of the public have never researched even 1% of this subject and have merely accepted by faith and trust what “scientists” claim. In watching this program it became apparent that there were some big problems with evolution. This prompts a few thoughts on the subject.

When we here speak of “evolution” we mean that progressive development of the life forms from the first simplest types through ever increasing more complicated types to modern humankind. We speak of “evolution” as mere random chance. That is, life’s beginning was just a matter of luck and that this “luck” continued to happen over and over throughout hundreds of millions of intermediate changes.

We do not mean to say that some form of mini or macro evolution has not occurred among species to produce a wide variety. For example, it is understood by many that all of the thousands of varieties of modern dogs came from one common wolf-type. These variations have largely occurred with the domestication of the dog into different sizes and types intended for specific uses.

The Science of “Chance” or Probabilities

There is a science of mathematics called Probabilities. It deals with random “chance” or what some call “luck.” In other words, out of 100 throws of dice how often will "snake-eyes" come up? If we view atoms and molecules in a similar manner, how much volume and how much time are needed to randomly and by pure chance cause “life” to occur?

Any honest person will have to admit that we have no proof whatsoever that such a lucky chance occurred - on a planet just so situation from the sun - with just the right atmospheric mix of toxins and complicated molecules - with just the right amount of water mixed with just the right amount of a chemical soup - with just the right lucky lightning strike in just the right spot at just the right time. Even if we assume this random chance event - or, events - occurred, there is absolutely no proof whatsoever that the next two-thirds of evolutionary life took place.

There is another problem that occurs early in this primitive soup with its “life.” Was this plant-based or animal-based. The difference between the two is a matter of magnesium-based chlorophyll versus iron-based animal blood. There is no proof either way. Also, why did sexual reproduction - as opposed to asexual reproduction - take place at all? What are the chances that these two gigantic divisions could occur as a matter of random luck?

One French biologist considered this matter of random chance as the engine behind hundreds of millions of years of evolution: “All our scientific laws at present rest on chance.” [Human Destiny, Lecomte du Nouy] The scientist - though believing in a form of evolution - continues to examine such “chance” to prove that the whole panorama must have had a pre-ordained goal and a Prime Mover. He states the purpose of his work: “We will make use of the calculus of probabilities to demonstrate mathematically the impossibility of explaining today the bird of life by means of pure chance, that is to say, by our actual human science. The calculus of probabilities is nothing but the combination of rules which make it possible to express the laws of chance mathematically.” [page 30]

He uses the analogy of the through of dice as an example. Using just one dice what are the chances of throwing a certain number? One in six. So there would be a high probability of calculating which number might show up. However, what are the chances of throwing the single dice and getting the number 5 twice in succession? One in thirty-six. What are the chances of getting 5 ten times in a row? One in 60,466,176 throws. As he writes, “It can be seen that the chances decrease rapidly.” [page 32]

How long would it take a dice-thrower to throw the single dice and have 5 ten times in a row? He calculates it would take two years throwing the dice full time to have just one chance. Such would be consider “practically impossible.”

The biologist continues with a much more complex matter of chance with the analogy of a mixture of 1000 white particles and 1000 black particles mixed into a gray mass. Imagining this in an hour glass, despite the number of times and number of shakings, what are the chances that finally only white or black particles all come out successively? The figure is one out of ten to the 600th power [10600]. That is, one followed by 600 zeros. In other words, impossible, for there would never be enough time to make this happen.

The author moves on: “It is impossible because of the tremendous complexity of the question to lay down the basis for a calculation which would enable one to establish the probability of the spontaneous appearance of life on earth. However, the problem can be greatly simplified and we can try to calculate the probability of the appearance, by chance along, of certain essential elements of life, certain large molecules, proteins for instance. …If chance alone is considered [the figure is one out of] 10321 [or one followed by 321 zeros].

“The volume of substance necessary for such a probability to take place [to produce by chance a simple protein] is beyond all imagination. It would be that of a sphere with a radius so great that light would take 1082 years to cover this distance. The volume is incomparably greater than that of the whole universe including the farthest galaxies. … In brief, we would have to imagine a volume more than one sextillion, sextillion, sextillion times greater than the Einsteinium universe (Charles-Eugene Guye).

“The probability for a single molecule of high dissymmetry to be formed by the action of chance and normal thermic agitation remains practically nil. … However, if this happened and we maintained our confidence in the calculus of probabilities it would be equivalent to admitting a miracle, and the result would be: ONE SINGLE MOLECULE, or at most two or three. … Now, one molecule is of no use. Hundreds of millions of identical ones are necessary. … If the probability of a living cell could be expressed mathematically the preceding figures would seem negligible.

“Events which, even when we admit very numerous experiments, reactions, or shakings per second, need an infinitely long time than the estimated duration of the earth in order to have one chance, on an average, to manifest themselves can, it would seem, be consider as impossible in the human sense.” [pages 35, 36]

His conclusion on this matter of random chance producing even the simplest of molecules to even begin “life”? He writes: “… we are brought to the conclusion that, actually, it is totally impossible to account scientifically or all phenomena pertaining to Life. [page 37] … An explanation of the evolution of life by chance alone is untenable today.” [Page 41]

The “Luck” of Evolution

Suppose we assume that the above chances turned out against all the odds - against all the impossibilities and improbabilities - and that we believe that the first hundreds of millions of years did produce the rudimentary foundation. Now thinking of such random probabilities, think of this:

1] Evolution did not first begin on earth. From the perspective of some it began with the Big Bang - an original cosmic explosion of a super compressed creative proto-type. Some think this first produced hydrogen and then as the mass spread out other atoms and sub-atomic particles formed. The time it took to form the ever expanding universe with its mass of atomic materials took billions of years.

Discussing the problems involved is an article in a UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA-SANTA CRUZ NEWS RELEASE titled “How did matter come to dominate the universe?” [Posted: February 25, 2001]

The seemingly unremarkable fact that the universe is full of matter turns out to be something physicists can't quite account for. According to the big bang theory, equal amounts of matter and antimatter were created at the birth of the universe, but precious little antimatter is to be found in the universe today. Everything we see, from our bodies to our cars to the stars in distant galaxies, is made of matter. Cosmic rays and high-energy physics labs routinely create antimatter particles, but they soon interact with particles of matter and vanish in bursts of pure energy.

Somehow, within a fraction of a nanosecond after the big bang, matter gained the upper hand. Physicists believe subtle differences in the behavior of matter and antimatter led to a slight excess of matter in the very early universe. While most of the matter and antimatter created in the big bang quickly disappeared in a blaze of mutual annihilation, about one out of every billion particles of matter survived.

"Until the 1960s, the laws of nature were thought to be completely symmetric between matter and antimatter," says Michael Dine, a leading theorist and professor of physics at the University of California, Santa Cruz. "We now know that the symmetry is not quite exact, but our ideas about where the asymmetry comes from remain somewhat speculative."

Two new accelerators, one at the Stanford Linear Accelerator Center (SLAC) in Palo Alto and another in Japan, have begun to yield results that could reveal exactly how the symmetry between matter and antimatter is broken. The challenge for theorists like Dine will be to incorporate the new experimental results into a theoretical framework that satisfactorily accounts for the observed asymmetry.

In a talk entitled "Why the Universe is Made of Matter," Dine will discuss various ideas put forth to explain the source of the asymmetry that enabled matter to dominate the universe. The talk is part of a session on matter and antimatter on Friday, February 16, at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) in San Francisco. The latest results from accelerator experiments designed to measure the effects of the asymmetry will also be presented in this session.

Evidence that the laws of nature are not completely symmetric with respect to matter and antimatter first emerged in 1964, when a violation of the so-called charge-parity (CP) symmetry was observed in ephemeral particles known as K mesons, or kaons. Researchers discovered a tiny discrepancy between kaons and anti-kaons in the way they decay.

In 1967, Soviet physicist Andrei Sakharov laid out the basic principles needed to understand this asymmetry and how it led to the dominance of matter in the universe. Sakharov showed that the violation of CP symmetry is just one of three conditions that must be satisfied to explain how an imbalance arose between matter and antimatter. There must also be violation of a conservation law, called the "conservation of baryon number," and the early universe cannot always have been in thermal equilibrium.

The prevailing theory of particle physics, called the Standard Model, readily accommodates the minute CP violation seen in the decay of kaons. But the violation of CP symmetry allowed by the Standard Model is too small to account for the amount of matter observed in the universe.

However, let us suppose that such an evolution of atomic elements occurred and then formed the necessary molecules to form our solar system. This would require a “planet” near a star for just the right temperature, just the right distance from the earth, just the right rotation, just the right inclination - all by chance. Given these multitude of chances, let us assume we can move on the next big step --the appearance of “life” itself.

2] According to the theory of evolution “life” began in some chance chemical soup under the chance influences of chance electrical charges and chance atmospheric chemicals billions of years ago. The complexity and probabilities for this is beyond description with numbers that become meaningless. It must be kept in mind that when random chemicals and electrical charges [lightning is almost always destructive and not creative] evolved into actual “life” two extraordinary events had to occur:

  1. the formation of the animal from the vegetable. For if algae and moulds occurred first as a primitive flora that lived as chlorophyll magnesium based entities, these would have to cross the gap to iron based animal blood.
  2. Second, from the asexual the sexual had to develop. Of course, every bit of this evolution occurring over billions of years is complete and pure speculation, not science at all. For there is not a drop of proof for any of it. As the author of Human Destiny puts it: “We must not forget that any descriptive chronological plan of evolution is extremely questionable.” [page 53]

But suppose we assume that all the above could have occurred purely by random chance, what then?

3] Over the next hundreds of millions of years 30 proto-type forms developed by chance and produced through random chance all ["all"] of the current 50 million species on earth today. This includes, not just animal kinds, but vegetation also which also had to evolve as contemporaries [and the food] of animals. But let us suppose that the original chance chemical soup could evolve by random chance into such limited original forms, what then?

4] From among these 30 proto-types one of them by chance crawled onto the land and this one [one!!] species evolved by chance into all ["all"] life - including reptiles, birds, insects, mammals, etc - all came into existence through hundreds of millions of years of slow evolution along with some sudden "leaps" and chance lucky mutations. Now there is no proof that any of this took place.

Now all is well and good - if you have the faith or trust in millions of random chance probabilities. Just a pause to say that while some think it impossible for Noah's Ark of about 30,000 species [already defined and developed] could ever produce the 50 million today, while one out of 30 of the proto-types could!

We must understand the extreme complexity of this random chance evolution. Let us say a primitive salamander scrambled onto some ancient beach. From this single species all present life originated. If one thinks for a moment on the multitude of tiny evolutionary changes that had to occur for this salamander to become a reptile. In schools and museums the graphic drawings demonstrating this deal only with major links separated by millions of years. Even if we were to accept this elementary graph we must still deal with the intermediate transitions. There is no proof for any of these, but let us suppose these transitionally forms did take place.

5] Now here comes the first Big Wrinkle: at some point a great "cataclysm" [Greek for "wash-down-much" = Deluge] killed off 96 percent [!! ninety-six] of all this progress with its infinite probabilities [10 followed by 200 zeros]. Now was this just a little set back? Well, it wouldn't be the only one.

6] This 4% of the survivors now started over as it were and over the next millions of years evolved to produce the present 50 million species. But, more was to come.

7] Another "cataclysm" struck the earth in the form of a meteor that sent 500-foot tsunamis around the earth several times. This changed the environment with its atmosphere into a dangerous place to live. The result was the killing off of two-thirds of all life produced by the original 1 of 30 and then the remaining 4%. Two-thirds of four percent. Someone figure out the math?

8] Now with all this catastrophe [evolutionists never render the word "cataclysm" as Deluge (more on Plato's Atlantis and his use of KATACLYSMOS some other time)] the remaining one-third of 4% were yet to face the great ice ages which killed off all of the remaining big mammals such as the wooly mammoth. Earth's "temperate zone" - where delicate things like orchids, butterflies and hummingbirds live - was almost non-existent near the equator.

Now, we are to believe this fairy-tale of the 1 out of 30 and then the two-thirds of 4% some how produced Beethoven, Einstein, Gandhi, and Mother Theresa!! - let alone the Big Mac!! Is there anything wrong with this picture?

I find it much easier to believe that an Infinite Mind ["God is a mathematician."] created this process of the grand panorama of Life. How much He used "mini-evolution" is pure speculation, but in time we will learn all the creative details to His "wondrous works."

Not only is the above on evolution hard to swallow, but we are also told that we must swallow an unknown number of individual little miracles to evolve 50 million from the original 30. It is not just a matter of 50 million little changes. It is a matter of 10 followed by 200 zeros little changes to produce 50 million from 30 proto-types while the whole thing must survive three major global catastrophes. We are told to believe that a caterpillar crawling across a busy freeway or autobahn while metamorphosing into a butterfly will somehow make it to the other side! And that is just one change.

How could the precise lineage to humankind survive that just by dumb luck? These are just a few of the problems with evolution.

Nazarene Saints Publishing © 

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