BIBLE STUDY

Are you ‘immortal’? Just What Is MAN?
See page at page 8
Vol. 2 No.1 January 2009

Why Be Religious?

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hen we look around us at the pain, suffering and chaos created by religion, it’s natural to ask the question, “Why be religious at all?” To tell you the truth, religion makes me sick. I’m sick of religious wars, martyrdom, murder, mayhem, homicide bombings, enslavement, torture, and suffering – all created in the name of God. And when it comes to the Churches of God Pod, I’m sick of the internal squabbling, the marking, disfellowshipping, law suits, thought police monitoring, and people having to sneak around not being overheard or seen with other people. It’s all nonsense. It’s nonsense that anyone should have divorced because their mate preferred to attend a different spin off Church of God than they did. Yet it has happened. It’s nonsense that ministers should be out to build personal ecclesiastical empires by coveting the tithe and creating cults of personality around themselves. Yet it keeps on occurring. None of these things is a manifestation of love. Yet love should be the primary motivating force for anyone connected with the true God. After all, the apostle John wrote, “Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love” (Turn to page 2)

Meanings of LIFE

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or human beings, created in the image of God, life has many meanings or purposes – all of them in some sense profound. Yet, for some, human life is pointless – a mere chemical existence driven by the blind, intelligencefree “forces” of evolution. This approach leads only to the emptiness of mere humanism – man beginning and ending with himself.

For a humanist, meaning is decided on an individual basis and it is whatever one says it is. If a hundred humanists get together and reach a consensus on meaning, it’s still arbitrary. Scientific humanism decides all on the basis of science which is limited to the empirical. The Christian operates on the basis of several assumptions (all of which of course are challenged by anti-Christians). First, he or she believes that God exists (Hebrews 11:6) and that He actively responds to those who make a real effort to seek Him (same verse). God’s responses, whenever they happen, are proof enough of His existence for those who experience them. (Turn to page 3…)

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Why Be Religious.,.? From Page 1 (I John 4:8). The apostle Paul wrote, “Make love your aim…” (I Corinthians 14:1, Moffatt). The Berkeley version translates it, “Make love your great quest…” Jesus taught that the second great commandment was to “Love your neighbor as yourself” (Matthew 22:39). He said that that is what the Bible is all about – loving God and loving neighbor (verse 40). Why then isn’t so much of religion about love but rather hate? Is the manifestation of love the “great quest” and goal of the Church? Or is the energy of the Church going into other things – i.e. works of the flesh (Galatians 5:19-21). What do we see most visibly manifested in the Churches of God – expressions of carnality or the fruit of the Spirit? How much love is there (Galatians 5:22)? After all, love is the first fruit of the Spirit. How much joy? How much peace? How much kindness and goodness? Think long and hard about it. Something is clearly wrong. Why can’t brothers and sisters in Christ sit down as brethren and, prayerfully, led by the Holy Spirit, solve the problem of who, if anyone, gets to publish Herbert Armstrong’s books? Paul wrote, “If any of you has a dispute with another, dare he take it before the ungodly for judgment instead of before the saints” (I Corinthians 6:1). The idea of lawsuits going back and forth between Churches of God is obscene. Why spend the illegitimately collected tithe money of the brethren on such ugliness? Isn’t there a more godly way to resolve such disputes? Of course I realize that all these things arise out of the modern distortions of what the Church is supposed to be in the first place. To address the issue of lawsuits between brethren, one must first examine all of the presuppositions upon which they are launched. Who is the true Church these days? Who really represents God and who represents the devil? Who teaches sound doctrine and who does not? Who are the white hats and who are the black ones? At some point the discussion descends into incoherent gibberish. As I’ve been saying a lot lately, the enemies of the Christian faith couldn’t care less about our internal squabbles and doctrinal distinctions. They see us either as “Crusaders” or disrupting influences in the kind of societies their elites are trying to build. Whether communists of fanatical Moslems, they will persecute us, torture us, enslave us, jail us, and kill us, simply because we bear the name of Christ. For the political Left in this country, Christians are the only group it is politically correct to persecute and practice “hate speech” against. They view us all as untouchables. Light or Darkness? Jesus taught us that his followers are supposed to be the light of the world – but how much light are we shedding these days? What does our example say about the worth of the Christian lifestyle? Can we, with a straight face, tell the world that our way of life is better than it’s if we are filled with conflict and turmoil over everything that comes along? Are we as individuals, or denominations, making things better wherever we have influence – or worse? Do we have happier marriages, more obedient children, better-kept homes, and good reputations on our jobs? Are we part of the solution, or part of the problem? Do non-Christians see in us the answers to life’s issues? Do they see the power of God manifested? Do they see the love of God shed abroad in our hearts? What do they see? I have to confess that in the past I have embraced many wrong ideas about what it means to be a Christian in the modern world. One by one, I’ve had to jettison those. I’ve had to realize that the Christian faith is personal more than it is corporate. It isn’t really about hammering people about right doctrine. It isn’t about building one’s life around the activities of a leader or of a denomination. It isn’t about tithing, feast going or even Sabbath-keeping. It’s about learning how to love God and neighbor (Matthew 22:37-40). It’s about learning how to fill up one’s life with good works – works that distribute the love of God in the real world (Romans 5:5, I Peter 2:12, I Timothy 6:18, Ephesians 2:10). It’s about being filled with the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 5:18) and producing its fruits in abundance Galatians 5:22-23, John 15). It’s about preaching the Gospel and making disciples for and of Yeshua ha Mashiach (Matthew 28:1920). If the Church – and the Churches of God Pod – is to become a real light to the world, it’s going to have to repent of doing the works of darkness begin actively pursuing the works, fruit and manifestations of the Spirit. The time, apparently, is short. The night is coming on during which time it will be increasingly more difficult to do the works of God. The darkness is coming on strong and the light of the Church is flickering. The Church is being attacked by it’s own “axis of evil” – Militant Islam, communism and the political Left. At the practical level, the Left is doing more damage to freedom of religious speech in this and other Western countries than any other source. As the political Left gears up for the next Presidential campaign, the religious Right is being targeted for a campaign of relentless demonization. Every conservative Christian from the President on down will be characterized as a fanatic – akin to the Islamic fanatics that seek to destroy our culture. This is not the time for the Church to confirm the worst charges of its enemies. It is a time for repentance, and a major paradigm shift. It is time to begin seeking to build on common ground, rather than dividing over differences. It is a time to seek the Holy Spirit in greater measure. It is a time to restudy the Scriptures and learn just what it is that God really expects of us as individual Christians. It is a time to build faith for the difficult days ahead. The Church has few friends in the world, and it can’t even live in harmony within itself. That has to change. We’re shooting ourselves in the collective foot. We need a broader, deeper view of what it means to be a Christian in the modern world. We may soon be called upon to “put up or shut up” when it comes to our faith. Will we be up to that ultimate challenge?/ Brian Knowles

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Meanings of Life…From page 1 The Christian also openly acknowledges that he or she proceeds on the basis of faith, without which one cannot please God (Hebrews 11:6a). Faith is not blind: it is a leap in the direction of the evidence. Our sense of meaning comes from a synthesis of factors including common sense, sound science and Scripture. As we “do theology” (faith seeking understanding), meaning emerges. For Christians, meaning is not humanistically derived – it comes from above, from God. Common Sense Does it make any sense that an omniscient, omnipotent Creator created the universe out of whimsy – for no good reason? Psalm 8 offers us some thoughts that lead to a sense of purpose in creation: “When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is man that you are mindful of him, the son of man that you care for him? You made him a little lower the heavenly beings [Elohim] and crowned him with glory and honor. You made him ruler over the works of your hands; you put everything under his feet…” (Psalm 8:3-6 NIV). The universe, as we observe it, is God’s “work” – the product of his mind and his hands. Man, created in the divine image, stands at the pinnacle of creation. Despite man’s biological commonality with the animals, only man bears the stamp of the divine image. Man is placed a little below the divine, but far above all other material life. Man was created to rule or have dominion over the whole of creation. Need for Redemption From the outset in Eden, mankind – in the form of Adam and Eve – violated the divine trust through disobedience. The first couple set the precedent for the whole of humanity. The universality of sin necessitated a divine redemptive plan. God is willing to forgive upon repentance. Jesus paid the penalty for our sins in our stead. That’s good news! Those of us who have experienced repentance and redemption have been granted the privilege of spreading that news. It’s called preaching the Gospel – a collective purpose of the church (Matthew 28:19-20). The Gospel is about what God has done in the face of Mankind’s sinfulness – it is “the Gospel of God” (I Thessalonians 2:2, 8, 9). It involves His redemptive plan in which those who return to God are invited to participate. Both Israel and the Church have been called

upon by God to be lights to the world (Isaiah 42:6; Matthew 5:14 etc.). Whether we are Jews or Christians – or both – we are called to live exemplary lives. This is one meaning of our lives. Imitating God The way to exemplary living is to imitate God (Matthew 5:48). If you’re a parent, you may recall turning around to see your small son imitating your walk, or you may have observed him standing on a chair in the bathroom “shaving,” little face all lathered up. This is what our Abba – Father or “Daddy” wants us to do. Jesus did it perfectly (John 14:9). We can learn to imitate God by thinking about what Jesus said about him, and by following Jesus’ own pattern. The apostle John addresses this issue: “Whoever claims to live in him must walk [behave] as Jesus did,” (I John 2:6). Paul wrote, “Be imitators of God, as dearly beloved children, and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God,” (Ephesians 5:1-2). Spiritual Boot Camp For most Christians, this life is no cake walk – it’s Boot Camp for eternity. A quick reading of II Corinthians 11 vividly depicts what Paul went through for the sake of the Gospel. Hebrews 11:32-38 adds to the larger picture. Paul likened his life to that of an Olympic-style athlete whipping his body into shape for competition (I Corinthians 9:24-27). The true Christian life is full of tests and obstacle courses. We are tempted by sin, tested by trials, challenged by illness and sometimes threatened by torture, imprisonment and martyrdom. We strive, through the power of God and Jesus’ own example, to overcome all obstacles. This too is part of our purpose. World, Flesh & Devil One of the purposes of this life for Christians is to follow Christ’s example in overcoming the world, our own flesh, and the devil – that is to engage in spiritual warfare. Ephesians 6:10-18 vividly describes the nature of that warfare. In this war, our enemy uses live ammo! The name Ha Satan (Hebrew) means “the Adversary.” He opposes everything that is of God: the Creation itself; mankind; Israel; Christ and the Church. When you see these things under attack, you can justifiably suspect the hand of the enemy. Only the 3

power and authority of God keep him from utterly destroying the human race. Murder is in his heart (John 8:44). He is the ultimate anti-Semite and anti-Christ. Destruction and misery are in his ways and in the ways of those who follow him. Scripture is replete with examples of the behaviors of Satan, his demonic armies, and his human agents. It behooves all of us to study the tactics of our most deadly enemy, recognize them in the real world, and learn how to defeat them in Christ. Satan may actually find ways to kill us through war, genocide, sickness or other means; but if we die in Christ, that is not a defeat. Jesus taught, “Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell [Gehenna],” (Matthew 10:28). Study 1 Corinthians 15 for the big picture – just as Jesus defeated death through resurrection, so shall his people. Satan can kill but he cannot make alive. Jesus came that we might have life for “God is the God of the living” (cf. Matthew 22:32b), not of the dead. Just remember this one working principle: the things of Satan tend toward destruction (Revelation 9:11), sickness (Luke 13:11), deception (John 8:44; II Thessalonians 2:9-12) and death (John 8:44). Everything about God tends toward life, healing and redemption. God forgives all our sins and heals all our diseases (Psalm 103:1-5). It is God’s wish that no one perish, but that all should return to God in repentance and find redemption (II Peter 3:9b). Our God is not the author of “cultures of death” but rather of life. Internal Struggles Another purpose is to bring under subjection the drives of our own flesh. The drives themselves are not evil – they are built in by the Creator (Genesis 1:31). God ordained heterosexual marriage as the means of reproduction. No sex drive, no mankind after the first generation. Yet God commanded the first couple to have sex and reproduce. He did not ordain indiscriminate sex with everything that moved! All human drives were given by God – along with “rules of usage.” When we violate those rules, we “miss the mark” and sin. The wages of sin is death (Romans 6; 23). We must rule over the drives of our flesh through the power of the Spirit of God. Even the mighty apostle Paul daily wrestled with pulls of his flesh and mind (Romans 7:14-24). When he failed and fell, he rose up again and relied on the grace of God to get him through (verses 24:25).

Overcoming the downward pull of our own nature and developing the mind and nature of God is a major purpose of life. Despite the battles with his own flesh, Paul felt that he was successfully developing the mind of Christ (I Corinthians 2:16 etc.). He was learning to think like God and act like Christ. To do good in the world The human offspring of the devil do all the harm in the world they can get away with. God’s children do all the good they can get away with. Consider Paul’s admonition to the congregations in Galatia: “Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap [Christian version of “Karma”]. For he who sows to his flesh will of his flesh reap corruption, but he who sows to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap everlasting life. “And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart. Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all, especially to those who are of the household of faith,” (Galatians 6:7-10, NKJV). Doing good involves meeting people at their real points of need. Note for example: “He who despises his neighbor sins; but he who has mercy on the poor, happy is he,” and: “He who oppresses the poor reproaches his Maker, but he who honors him has mercy on the needy,” (Proverbs 14: 21 & 31). Righteous Tabitha (Dorcas) was returned to life after dying to continue making tunics for the needy (Acts 9:36-39). Jesus himself set the example when he “went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed of the devil…” (Acts 10:38). Jesus loved people. He provided them with food and drink, with healing and deliverance, with sound teaching and good counsel, and with compassion and affection. He was able to do all this because “God was with him” (ibid.). In love, Jesus gave for us the greatest sacrifice: his own life. We are called to imitate Jesus’ good works and perhaps even exceed some of them (John 14:12). The good works that we do must be done with humility and a servant’s heart (Matthew 23:11-12 & Matthew 10:15). And we must seek in them God’s glory, not our own. Christian writer Warren Wiersbe expressed it beautifully when he wrote, “Ministry takes place when divine resources meet human needs through loving channels to the glory of God,” On Being a Servant, p. 3.

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As Christians, we do not look for any reward or recognition for our good works in this life (Matthew 6:14). We do them to follow the pattern of our Lord, and because they need to be done – not to earn salvation or any human payoff. Jesus admonished, “Be careful not to do your ‘acts of righteousness’ before men to be seen of them…” Ostentatious giving is not the way to go (Matthew 6:1-4). Justice & Equity Our world is chock full of injustice and corruption at high levels. We have seen truckloads of it in recent times with the scandals involving Wall Street, the government and voter fraud. Sadly, we have also seen in various manifestations of the Church with its sexual and financial scandals. The true child of God must rise above this ignoble behavior. We are called to a higher standard. This is exemplified in some verses in Psalm 82: “How long will you defend the unjust and show partiality to the wicked? Defend the cause of the weak and fatherless; maintain the rights of the poor and oppressed. Rescue the weak and needy; deliver them from the hand of the wicked,” (Psalm 82:2-4). This is a mandate for every godly person on planet Earth. If you want an example of a Christian who put her money where her mouth was, study the life of Corrie Ten Boom. In Proverbs we read: “Rescue those being led away to death; hold back those staggering toward slaughter…” (Proverbs 24:11). At great risk to herself, Ten Boom lived these verses when she rescued precious lives from Hitler’s ovens during WWII. One of the meanings of a godly life, whether it be Jewish, righteous Gentile (Noachide) or Christian, is to produce justice and equity where there is none. It is to provide hope in the face of hopelessness. It is to set captives free (Luke 4:18). It is to cancel out the effects of the devil’s causes. John wrote, “The reason that the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil,” (I John 3:8b). It is our duty to continue our Lord’s work. As we read earlier, our true enemies “are not flesh and blood, but wicked spirits in high places…” – the spirits that are behind so much of the evil that is in this world. [Note: for background on this, study the following: Genesis 3:1-16; Job 2:1-10; Daniel 10:12-21; Luke 8:2637; Luke 13:11 & Luke 4:18. Read also God at War by Gregory A. Boyd and The Twilight Labyrinth by George Otis Jr.] Quest for Divine Reality

For some, God is an elusive, unfathomable mystery, at best a mere intellectual abstraction utterly beyond the ken of mere mortals. From the fourth century to the twenty-first out theologians continue to debate the nature of the invisible God. Is He a trinity, a binity or a singularity? One thing we do know: God is a Spirit (John 4:24) and no mortal truly understands the nature of spirit. It is beyond the realm of human analysis. While man seeks to comprehend that which is beyond his comprehension, God seeks man. More importantly, He seeks relationship with man. In Moses’ day, God commanded, “And let them make me a sanctuary, that I may dwell among them (Exodus 25; 8). God sought to live with, and in, his people. From Adam’s day till our own, God has been pursuing relationship with man. It is man who through ignorance and sin that has alienated him from his loving, attentive creator. God told Israel, through his prophet Isaiah, “…your iniquities have separated you from your God, and your sins have hidden his face from you, so that he will not hear…” (Isaiah 59:2). This is a working principle of spiritual life: sin and uncleanness separate us from God, repentance and cleanness draws us near. An important passage on this meaning of life is found in Acts 17:26-27, “And he has made from one [blood] every nation of men…so that they should seek the Lord, in the hope that they might grope for him and find him, though he is not far from each one of us; for in him we live and move and have our being…” We might think of the movie image of two lovers searching for each other on a crowded New York street. Suddenly they spot each other. They run toward each other, make contact, and swing around in joyful embrace for they have found each other! God and man were meant for each other, but Satan and sin have come between them. For the relationship to be restored, they must be removed for they are a contaminating influence. Seeking relationship with the living God is the greatest meaning of human life. David, king of Israel, had a passion for God. For him, God was no mere intellectual abstraction but a living reality, “How lovely is your dwelling place, O Lord Almighty! My soul yearns, even faints, for the courts of the Lord; my heart and my flesh cry out for the living God,” (Psalm 84: 1-2). Consider also Psalm 42:1-2, “As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you O Lord. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When can I go and meet with God?” 5

Being a godly person is not primarily about participating in denominational religion – it is about our vertical relationship with God and how that is reflected in our horizontal relationships with fellow man (Matthew 22:34-40). Summing Up Human life has many purposes and meanings, all of them reflecting the will of God in creating us. We are here to reflect the divine image and to exercise faithful stewardship over the whole of creation. We are raw recruits in God’s “Boot Camp for Eternity.” We are called to wrestle with issues of good and evil, and to overcome the latter. Like our leader, Yeshua, we are light and salt in a darkening, spiritually flavorless world. We must master the world, the flesh and the devil on an ongoing basis. Collectively, we are here to disseminate the good news about what God has done. We are also expected to do all the good we can get away with, all the while

keeping it pretty much a secret. Another part of our purpose is to produce justice where there is none. That means helping the poor, the orphans, the widows and the downtrodden. It means setting people free from bondages, of which there are many. It means loving the unloved. A true Christian seeks to be an instrument of God in the world, and to leave it a better place than he found it. A child of God seeks to move ever closer to his Father in humility, obedience, worship, praise and relationship.

What is the Greatest?
1. Greatest handicap: fear 2. Greatest day: today 3. Greatest mistake: giving up 4. Greatest stumbling block: ego 5. Easiest thing to do: find fault 6. Greatest comfort: work well done 7. Greatest need: common sense 8. Greatest gift: forgiveness

BIBLE STUDY:

Are you an "immortal soul"?...

Just What is Man???
Sometime back in eternity the Creator God conceived a plan by which He would share the magnificence of His unending existence. Because He was "outside time", He was able to look down the ages and see the course He must pursue to achieve this end. The result was mankind. Just who is this creature called "man"? Is he (and she) a mere cosmic accident? Will we live forever? What is our nature? Is all this suffering necessary? Why, on earth, are we here? Did God make a mistake? The mystery of who and why we exist has puzzled man since we first appeared. Philosophers and ordinary mortals have wondered. We observe that man is the pinnacle of the natural world. Our researches prove there's a quantum difference between us and our nearest animal "relative". But why? There are myriad notions about man and his nature. To some people, we just happened - a chance evolutionary development not different in kind from the millions of species that inhabit our planet. Other people - billions imagine they are a reincarnation from a previous life. The established Christian religion teaches that within us lies an "immortal soul" which will survive death in some form (or place) or other. This lesson seeks to present man's awesome purpose as revealed in the Scriptures. We will see how we came to be. We will blow aside the web of deceit that has clouded man's understanding since we first walked the earth. Origin of Species? The Origin of Species by Charles Darwin was first published in 1859. It reflected then-current esoteric ideas, but is generally considered as the beginning of the concept of the evolution of mankind. 6

The position taken by Jesus Christ and the New Testament in general is that mankind had its origin as a direct creation by God. They quote liberally from the first chapters of Genesis for their "world view" of origins. All their hearers had this same concept. The purpose of the Bible, and particularly the account of creation in Genesis, is to explain who and why, not what and when. The Theory of Evolution addresses what and when, not who and why. Was there a time when there were no "men". Everyone agrees yes! Are there men now? Yes! So there must have been a "first" man! Our purpose here is not primarily to discuss the numerous variants of the Theory of Evolution and then to poke holes in each one. The evolutionists already do that themselves. Our purpose is to discuss the "who", usually God (Gen. 1:1), and the "why", usually with the long term purpose of "bringing many sons to glory" (Heb. 2:10). The Theory of Evolution is only a theory. As with all scientific theories, we use them where they are useful, ignore them where they are not. Usually we ignore Einstein's Theory of Relativity. Usually we use Newton's Theories (his scientific "Laws") of motion, even though it is straightforward to demonstrate that they are incorrect. When it comes to digging up dinosaurs, the Theory of Evolution may be useful. When it comes to thinking about the meaning of life, that same Theory (as usually presented) is next to useless. How do Jesus and the Biblical writers perceive God's role in the appearance of the first man? - Jesus refers to mankind as having "a beginning" ... Matthew 19:4 - and states that man and woman were "made" in the beginning ... Mark 10:6 - the apostle Paul refers to "the first man", and names him Adam, as does the Old Testament ... 1 Corinthians 15:45, Genesis 2:19 etc. Adam derives from a word signifying rosy (cheek). It is often used for man, mankind, and is related to earth. Eve (Heb. chavah) signifies life-giving. - According to the Bible, the structure of creation presupposes a Designer. The testimony of creation encodes a message about the divine Creator ... Psalm 19:1-4 William Paley - the 18th C. philosopher is regarded by today's scientists as a scientific heretic. He maintained that the natural world could be explained only by presuming a Grand Designer. "The whole respiratory system is utterly dependent on each of its parts: a defect in just one and breathing becomes difficult or impossible. It is all or nothing, which is why I find it difficult to believe that the lungs could ever have evolved by trial and error through the chance mutation of the many genes that

control their development. Surely someone designed them to be the way they are?" He adds, "Increasingly I am persuaded by Paley's arguments" [Dr Le Fanu: Sunday Telegraph, 1996] The notion of divine creation as opposed to the evolutionary development of the human race is more than mere biology or dogma. It encompasses our approach to life itself. - natural selection or the survival of the fittest is a concept that runs contrary to the divine law of love. This philosophy undergirds Hitler's justification for his "master race" policies. [Evolution is a system in which] "the message is always 'exploit your environment including your friends and relatives so as to maximize our genes' success" [George C. Williams, evolutionary biologist] - the humanist philosophy of evolution leaves no room for a divine Being, nor for life after death - the hope of the Christian and indeed of nearly all of mankind ... I Corinthians 15:12-19 - leave God out of human existence and there is no purpose in life beyond what we accomplish here and now. Leave God out, and we can do as we please - until the inevitable Judgment ... Ecclesiastes 8:15, Luke 12:14-21 The scientific arguments for evolution need to be constantly revised as old hypotheses are regularly proved erroneous. Evolution has no sure answer to the complexities of the living organism. - God condemns those who are willingly ignorant of the clear evidence in nature that He is Creator ... Romans 1:18-25. Rejection of self-evident truth (e.g., that design requires a Designer) undermines logical thought processes. If unchecked, this perversion will destroy mankind. - mankind is the pinnacle of God's direct creative acts. All of creation is in support of and to benefit mankind ... Genesis 1 & 2 - we are created not only with the general form of the divine Being, but also to come into His spiritual image ... Genesis 1:26, II Peter 1:4 The Living Soul The idea that man harbors within him an element which will never die is deeply entrenched in all the world's "great religions". It is usually called "the immortal soul". Views may vary about the origin of the soul and its destiny - but the concept is burned into the subconscious of every human being.

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- literally billions - including perhaps the majority of New Age believers and increasingly large number of Christians - subscribe to the idea that their soul was passed on from a prior existence, the concept of reincarnation. It is the general belief of the Eastern religions. - others (e.g., in Mormon teaching) believe they receive a "fresh" pre-existing soul from God when they first draw breath. Some mainstream theologians also held this view (e.g., Origen). "Souls are immortal. as God Himself is immortal and eternal" [Origen died c. 254 A.D.] - Christians generally accept the immortal soul's presence with no fixed view as to when it becomes part of them. However, it has been a topic of dispute through the centuries. Creationism for example, states God creates a new soul for each at birth (Jerome, Calvin). Traducianism teaches that the soul and body are created by propagation (Tertullian, Leo, Luther). "I may use the opinion of Plato when he declares 'every soul is immortal'" [Tertullian] The Lateran Council (1513) condemned to be punished as heretics those who "...assert that the intellectual soul is mortal". It was a life and death matter to believe this! In our search for the truth, we clearly need to examine the Scriptures to see if this concept of an immortal soul or indeed of an immortal human spirit - is there confirmed. It is clear that within a couple of centuries of Jesus Christ, the idea that the soul its immortal had become firmly embedded in Christianity. Was it so from the beginning? When studying what may at first appear complex in the Scriptures, it is helpful to first sketch out a doctrine using apparently clear and unambiguous texts. Man was created from the natural elements, from "the dust of the ground" - earth. Into this complex physical form God breathed "the breath of life". As a result man became alive. As the KJV puts it, he "became a living soul". - man is formed from the material elements found in the physical creation, just like the whole of the non-human creation...Genesis 1:20, 24, 30; 7:21-22. "It's important to carefully study the tests quoted in your own Bible, and in context!" - Together with the "breath of life" he became "a living soul"...Genesis 2:7: "Then the Lord God formed man of dust from the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life: and man became a living soul." The "breath of life" is simply air a mix of vital gases blown by God into Adam's lungs through his nose. Without it we are dead flesh!

In the Old Testament soul is a translation of the Hebrew nephesh. It is thus translated 428 times and translated a further 180 or so times by other words. Nephesh is variously translated: creature (e.g., Gen 1:21,24; 2:9), dead body (e.g., Numbers 5:2; 21:11) beast (Leviticus 24:18), life (119 times), fish (Isaiah 19:10) "Biologists now recognize that the formation of life is altogether harder than they originally thought.... One of the most radical suggestions...[is] that life began us a form of clay" [1997 clipping] - birds, fish, animals are often "living souls" [nephesh] in the Scriptures. Do they also live beyond death? Ecclesiastes 3:19-21. - all return to dust ... Ecclesiastes 3:20, Genesis 3:19 - one of the clearest Bible texts emphatically declares that immortality belongs only to God. Our doctrine of man must be set against this backdrop ... I Timothy 6:1516: "...the King of kings and Lord of lords who alone has immortality." Immortality here means 'deathlessness'. Immortality is not our normal state, but is something that must be 'put on' [I Corinthians 15:53, 54] - the term "immortal soul" does not appear at all in the Scriptures of the Old or New Testament. - other direct statements declare "the soul [nephesh] that sins shall die" ... Ezekiel 18:4, 20. "The belief that the soul continues its existence after the dissolution of the body...[is] nowhere expressly taught in the Holy Scriptures" [Jewish Encyclopedia Art: Immortality of the Soul] "Later Christian thinkers tended to downgrade anything physical and see the body as the prison of the soul. However this is not a biblical idea. The Hebrews thought of the human being as a unity, not as a body and soul." (Peter Vardy and Mary Mills (Roman Catholics?), "The Puzzle of the Gospels", 1997, Armonk, NY: M.E. Sharpe, Inc. p. 201) - Jesus held the same view ... John 3:16. Here he contrasts eternal life and perishing - the terms are opposites. Without Jesus Christ, (which is the normal human condition), we will perish. When we have true belief in him, we are given a life that will never end ... 1 John 5:11, 12 - when we sin, the pay-off is death. It is not "eternal life in hell-fire". In contrast, through Jesus Christ we receive the gift of eternal life ... Romans 6:23. Note that Jesus said the soul [Gk. psuche=Heb nephesh] can be destroyed in 'hell' [Matthew 10:28] - since all of us have sinned, we all reap the death penalty - unless we have repented and had our sin covered by the shed blood of Jesus Christ. 8

- note that the soul of Jesus was sacrificed, killed - and his life blood poured out ...Isaiah 53:10-12, John 19:34, Heb 9:22 - we learn from God's recorded Word that the 'life' [soul, nephesh] is in the blood ... Leviticus 17:11, 14; Deut. 12:23 - the apostle Peter gave the remedy for sin. On the first Christian Pentecost he told his hearers: "Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit" ... Acts 2:38 - it is through this gift of the Holy Spirit that God shares with us His immortality. God is [Holy] Spirit, and His purpose is to make us His dwelling-place ... John 4:24, Ephesians 2:22 - recall that this gift is available only to those who obey God ... Acts 5:32 Why A Resurrection? A Christian funeral usually includes the words "in sure and certain hope of the resurrection" Why? What need is there for a resurrection if true believers are "with Christ" immediately they die? This, of course, is the established view of mainstream Christianity. At death we either go to 'heaven' or to 'hell' (or, to the intermediate 'purgatory' of Roman Catholic theology). "In putting departed souls in heaven, hell or purgatory, you destroy the arguments wherewith Christ and Paul prove the resurrection... If the soul be in heaven what cause is there for the resurrection?" [William Tyndale] 'Soul Sleep': Technically known as psychopannychy(!), the term 'soul sleep' does not correctly express the Bible teaching. The soul dies, but death itself is frequently described as a 'sleep'. [Daniel 12:2, John 11:11-14 Matthew 27:52 etc] It is a deadly mistake to assume that God will share His immortality with those who refuse to obey Him. However, in no way does this imply that salvation is anything but God's unearned and unmerited gift to us. The Biblical view that man does not naturally have immortality (an immortal soul) dovetails with the clear teaching of Scripture that the entrance to the Kingdom of God is by means of a resurrection. There's no place in the Scriptures for disembodied spirits - apart from 'devils' - in any location. The notion of such departed human spirits is foreign to the Bible. - death ends everything until God raises us from the dead we have no memories, no knowledge of what

those still living are experiencing, no opportunity to praise God...Psalm 6:5, 146:4, 104:23-30, Eccles 9:5, Isaiah 63:16, Job 14:21 - but all mankind will be raised from the dead, each in a particular order, to face God ... Hebrews 9:27, I Corinthians 15:22-26, John 5:21-29 - for those who have repented of sin and been baptized, this resurrection coincides with the return of Christ as King of kings ... Colossians 3:4, 1 Corinthians 15:51-52, Revelation 20:4-5. How God deals with those who lived without having heard the true Gospel will he the subject of another lesson. - the idea of resurrection is also implicit in the Old Testament ... Hebrews 11:17-19, Job 14:14-15, Psalm 16:9-10 - Daniel links the future "reward" for God's people with a resurrection in a distant future - following a future time of tribulation ... Daniel 12:1-3: "Many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life and some to shame and everlasting contempt." - the LXX Greek version of the Old Testament (3rd cent BC) uses the word aeonion for the Hebrew 'everlasting' Jesus and the NT writers built on this. Eternal life: (Gk aeonion = pertaining to the age). "What appears in the English versions of the Bible as 'eternal life' or 'life everlasting really means 'the life of the age to come'... It is synonymous with the Kingdom of God... The chief implication of 'aeonian life' is...life pertaining to the age to come". [Alan Richardson Intro to the Theology of the New Testament] A future lesson will discuss the Kingdom of God and resurrection in more detail. Occult Origins of the "Immortal Soul" Virtually all mankind believes in some form of existence immediately following death. The idea trails many ugly concepts: returning to life as an inferior being, concern about infants and harmless, but unconverted, adults burning in eternal fire, Christians in heaven seeing the horrendous suffering of loved ones on earth or in the 'hell' as portrayed in Dante's Inferno, prayer to disembodied spirits of those who have 'passed on', contact with the dead through mediums etc. The notion of "praying to the saints" is an idea drawn from occult sources. The Bible rejects the idea throughout. The idea was common among the Babylonians. They believed their 5000 or so 'gods' were once heroes on earth. "There is no suggestion in the OT of the transmigration of the soul as an immaterial, immortal entity" [Marshall Pickering Encyclopedia of the Bible v.2 2, art soul] 9

- mankind has swallowed this lie whole, and Satan, the occult power that seeks to thwart God's grand design for mankind, has successfully deceived virtually the whole human race in this as in so much else ... Revelation 12:9, I John 5:19, II Corinthians 4:4. "...the whole world is in the power of the evil one" - tradition suggests that our first parents lived perfectly [I John 5:19 RSV]. for some seven years in Eden. Plato's Thoughts On Immortality Then, according to the What About the 'Spirit in Scriptures, their faith was Man'? compromised by "the serpent" Death is defined by Plato (428-348 B.C.) as "the ... Genesis ch. 3 separation of the soul from the body"; but is not the end of the soul. He believes in the Perceptive Bible students may - this 'serpent' [Heb nachash, transmigration of souls from one living thing to wonder about the various Gk ophis] is identified in the NT another, and in reincarnation, the rebirth of the references in Scripture to a "human spirit". We have as "the Devil and Satan" ... soul in new bodies. In his book, the Phaedrus, he demonstrated by numerous Revelation 12:9, 20:2. The offers proof of the soul's immortality, by proving 'king of Tyre' symbolizes Satan, the existence of gods from self-generating motion. clear passages that man's 'soul' is his physical life, and once known as Lucifer (=light He claims that "All soul is immortal; for what is doesn't survive death except by bearer). Ezekiel tells us he was always in motion is immortal." How do we know a resurrection. So what about once a created 'anointed that the soul is "always in motion?" Plato asserts this "spirit in man"? cherub' present at God's that it is the nature of the soul to initiate its own throne. There will be a lesson changes, to be self-moving, rather than merely to later in the Course on the be moved, and something that is self-moving "can Whatever it may be, the human angelic world...see also Isaiah neither be destroyed nor come into being." spirit is not immortal. Let's see 14. what the Bible teaches about based on The Philosopher's Lighthouse, the word used for 'spirit' library.thinkquest.org/18775/plato/mortp.htm (Hebrew/Aramaic ruach), - he, the 'father of lies', translated by a dozen or so introduced the false idea that English words in the KJV, and man is of himself immortal ... "But then, O my friends, he said, if the soul is really immortal, what care should be taken of her, used some 380 times. The Genesis 3:4, John 8:44 Greek equivalent (pneuma) not only in respect of the portion of time which is called life, but of eternity! And the danger of appears in the NT a similar - God had warned our first number of times. parents that if they ate of a neglecting her from this point of view does indeed particular tree (the 'tree of the appear to be awful. If death had only been the end - the words include both the knowledge of good and evil') of all, the wicked would have had a good bargain they would that day die. Did in dying, for they would have been happily quit not physical and the immaterial. Their essential feature is that they? ... Genesis 2:15-17, 5:3- only of their body, but of their own evil together with their souls. But now, as the soul plainly 'Spirit' is invisible - the Spirit of 5 appears to be immortal, there is no release or God, angels, wind, breath, the salvation from evil except the attainment of the human spirit, the human mind, - clearly, God was not speaking highest virtue and wisdom. For the soul when on attitude etc. of physical death. By their her progress to the world below takes nothing with disobedience, their her but nurture and education; which are indeed - the human spirit is the aspect transgression of this divine said greatly to benefit or greatly to injure the torah (= direction, teaching, of man with which God departed, at the very beginning of its pilgrimage in communicates and by which law), they sinned and would the other world." thus be denied aeonian we understand the world Socrates in Plato's Phaedo, 107 in Jowett's around us ... Romans 8:16, I life...Romans 6:23,1 John 3:4, translation. Corinthians 2:9-12 Hebrews 9:27 "The soul of man is immortal and - only through repentance, imperishable." through ceasing to disobey Plato, The Republic,, Book X, 608-D God as revealed in the Holy Scriptures, and through the acceptance of the shed blood of the Saviour Jesus Christ to cover our sin, may any of us have that life of - the human spirit is an the age to come. I Thessalonians 5:23 - Satan, man's adversary, sowed the subtle lie that man would live for ever, even when he disobeyed the Creator ... Genesis 3:4 - it is the 'spark of life' which divides life from death ... James 2:26, Ecclesiastes 12:7, Acts 7:59, Luke 23:46 integral part of the whole man ...

Given all this Scripture evidence that man is mortal and has to be given immortality (with conditions attached!) how did the idea of an immortal soul become so widely accepted?

- animals, too, have a spirit, The original words are the same (Heb. ruach) ... Ecclesiastes 3:18-22, Numbers 16:22, 27:16 10

- we may speculate that the human and animal spirit is a product of the marvelously intricate nervous systems with which each living creature is endowed. We share a pattern, but with man as the pinnacle - alone capable of rational thought, aesthetic appreciation, consciousness of a world beyond the material, and the need to worship. Man was created "in the image of God" with the capacity to manage earth and all its resources ... Genesis 1:2630, 2:15. - the spirit is capable of being depressed, revived, etc. It is in process of being fashioned through our life experiences ... Isaiah 57:15, Zechariah 12:1, Isaiah 64:8, Judges 15:19, I Kings 21:5 - angels are also 'spirit'. Yet they are created beings. and exist only as long as God permits Cherubs. too. are created angelic beings Recall that we read Satan was once 'an anointed cherub'...Colossians 1:16-17, Ezekiel 28:12-17, Hebrews 1:7,14 - no matter what our station in life every human being who has lived, whether converted or unconverted, will be called to account for our lives before God ... Matthew 12:36, Heb 9:27 - the functioning of our nervous system produces the totality of the human persona - the whole person. Our dominant traits, gifts, are special configurations of our neurons determined by our genetic inheritance - musical ability, physical traits, etc. - God communicates with us, through the human spirit. His special gifts (Gk. pneumatikoi derived from pneuma=spirit) to His sons and daughters may well act through the human spirit ...Romans 8:16, 1:11, I Corinthians 12:1. A typical worm or slug brain has twenty nerve cells (neurons), a bee several thousand, a frog four million. Mammals show a great leap - a cat has 100 million. Human brains, however, ever, have ten billion intricately interconnecting neurons - what has been described as "the most complicated machine in the known universe'' One neurologist estimates the number of interconnections at 'one followed by a million kilometers of zeroes'! The complex "artificial intelligence" of computers is based on the neurological structure and function of the brain. The purpose of our existence is not the gratification and cosseting of the self. God has put us here with purpose to develop into His spiritual image. This demands a lifetime of experience Every thought, every word we utter, every action contributes to the ultimate "form" of our human spirit - our character.

Just when each of us will be given the opportunity to perfect our character, through Christ, is God's choice. But as a future lesson will reveal, ever human who has lived will, in the end, have been given that opportunity. Only by the yielding of our life to God, through Jesus Christ who is the way to the Father, can that character be complete. Through Him, we may receive the very Spirit of God - our essential missing ingredient. Through His Spirit, God can reside in us - but only in those who are willing to fully submit their life to Him ... Acts 5:32, Romans 12:1-2. Hope of the Resurrection It's against the background of the proven utter mortality of man that we must set those texts in Scripture which might otherwise, on superficial examination, imply man's survival, immediately after death, to heaven, hell, purgatory. The Bible writers don't spell out their full understanding every time they address a particular topic. The underlying principles are assumed. This is especially so in the matter discussed in this lesson. Not one Bible writer subscribed to the notion of an immortal soul. - the apostle Paul is often cited as having the belief of immediate transport to heaven upon death. But as a 'Hebrew of the Hebrews' he knew man was mortal, that life beyond life depended on a resurrection...I Corinthians 15:50-56, Col 3:1-4, I Thessalonians 4:1318, 11 Corinthians 4:14 - Paul, filled with his love for God, longed for the time he would go to be with Him and with Jesus Christ. This was his cherished hope. But he knew his wish would only be fulfilled at the return of Christ ... Philippians 1:23-24, 11 Timothy 4:6-8 - now read the passage in II Corinthians 5:1-10 with this background concept in mind. Paul expected to appear before Christ's 'judgment seat' for the purpose of reward and correction (v.10) When would that happen? ... Revelation 11:15-18, 22:12 The Bible is clear - man is mortal. We will, upon repentance, be given immortality through a resurrection, and at the return of Jesus Christ "at the last trumpet". The Bible knows nothing of the perverted Greek philosophical notion of an immortal soul! In the Scriptures God has given us with perfect clarity all we need to know about Him and His plan for our present life and for our eternal future. But we can't simply take down our KJV or any version - and hope to resolve every theological nuance without some expert guidance. Many factors can affect the meaning. Geography can be important for understanding. The focus of the writer. The context. The underlying, but not always stated,theology. 11

Preconceived but unbiblical notions of the student. The challenges of accurate translation from a strange language. And the prevailing culture - so different from our own. For example, even the Biblical perception of

'time' can affect our ability to understand a particular passage. Failure to account for such factors leads to much misunderstanding of the Biblical text. James McBride

Filipino Feature Article:

ISANG BAGONG BUHAY
“May daan na tila matuwid sa isang tao, ngunit ang dulo niyaon ay mga daan ng kamatayan” (Kawikaan 14:12) Sumasapit ang panahon sa buhay ng maraming tao na kung saan ay nakikita nilang ang kanilang ginagawa ay hindi maganda ang idinudulot. Ang kanilang pagsusumikap na maging maligaya, magkaroon ng mga kaibigan, at umangat sa buhay ay hindi nagbibigay ng mga resultang kanilang ninanais. Umaasa sila na may mas maganda pa, subalit di nila tiyak kung ano. Naaalala ko ng sumapit din ako sa ganitong kalagayan. Binasa ko ang ilang bahagi ng Biblia, kasama na ang Kawikaang nauna nang naisaad. Naging interesado akong makita ang kahalagahan ng talatang ito dahil inulit pa siya sa Kawikaan 16:25. Lalo akong naging interesado nang malaman na gayon din ang sinabi ni Jesu-Cristo. “Kaya nga ang lahat ng mga bagay na ibig ninyong sa inyo ay gawin ng mga tao, gawin naman ninyo ang gayon sa kanila: sapagkat ito ang sa Kautusanan at ng mga propeta. Kayo’y magsipasok sa makipot na pintuan: sapagkat maluwang ang pintuan, at malapad ang daan patungo sa pagkapahamak, at marami ang doo’y nagsisipasok. Sapagkat makipot ang pintuan, at makitid ang daang patungo sa buhay at kakaunti ang nangakakasumpong noon” (Mateo 7:12-14). Napagtanto ko na hindi ko laging ginagawa sa iba ang gusto kong gawin din nila sa akin. Naisip kong may magaganda akong dahilan upang tratuhin ko ang iba nang masama – naisip kong ang iba sa kanila ay hangal; naisip kong nararapat lang iyon sa kanila. Subalit hindi sinabi ni Jesu-Cristo na “gawin mo sa iba ang nais mong gawin nila sa iyo maliban na lang kung may dahilan kang hindi gawin ito.” Naging mabuti Siya sa iba kahit sila pa ang naging dahilan ng kaniyang kamatayan. Napag-isip-isip ko na ako’y lumalakad sa malapad na daang patungo sa kapahamakan. Ako ba ang pinakamasama sa mga makasalanan? Hindi. Isa akong mabuting estudyante ng paaralan. Umiwas ako sa droga, sa pag-inom ng inuming nakalalasing, sa pagnanakaw, sa pagsisinungaling, sa imoralidad at iba pa na karaniwang nasa aking kapaligiran,. Ngunit hindi ko gaanong kailangan ang Panginoong Diyos sapagkat may ibang tao na mas malala pa sa akin. Ito ang sabi ni Jesu-Cristo tungkol sa mga higit na makasalanan: “O yaong labingwalo, na nalagpakan ng moog sa Siloe, at nangamatay, ay inaakala baga ninyo na sila’y lalong salarin kaysa lahat ng taong nangananahan sa Jerusalem? Sinasabi ko sa inyo, Hindi: datapuwa’t malibang kayo’y mangagsisi, ay mangamamatay kayong lahat sa gayon din paraan” (Lukas 13:4-5). Ang aking karanasan ay maaaring kahalintulad o kakaiba ng sa inyo. Subalit titigilan ko na ang pagbanggit sa aking sarili para maisentro naman ninyo sa inyong sarili ang pagsusuri at kung ano ang sinasabi ng Bibliya tungkol sa inyo. Ano Ang Dapat Mong Malaman? “Kung sinasabi nating tayo’y walang kasalanan ay ating dinadaya ang ating sarili, at ang katotohanan ay wala sa atin” (1 Juan 1:8). “Sapagkat ang lahat ay nangagkasala nga, at hindi nangakaabot sa kaluwalhatian ng Diyos. Palibhasa’y inaring-ganap na walang bayad ng kaniyang biyaya sa pamamagitan ng pagtubos na nasa kay Kristo Jesus” (Roma 4:23-24).
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“Sapagkat ang kabayaran ng kasalanan ay kamatayan; datapuwa’t ang kaloob na walang bayad ng Diyos ay buhay na walang hanggan kay Kristo Jesus na Panginoong natin” (Roma 6:23). “Sapagkat gayon na lamang ang pagsinta ng Diyos sa sanlibutan, na ibinigay niya ang kaniyang bugtong na Anak, upang ang sinumang kaniya’y sumampalataya ay huwag mapahamak, kundi magkaroon ng buhay na walang hanggan. Sapagkat hindi sinugo ng Diyos ang Anak sa sanlibutan upang hatulan ang sanlibutan; kundi upang ang sanlibutan ay maligtas sa pamamagitan niya” (Juan 3:1617). Ang bawat isa sa atin ay nagkasala. Ang Panginoong Diyos ay gumawa ng daan, sa pamamagitan ni Jesus ang Kristo, upang pagbayaran ang kasalanang iyan. (Ang ‘Kristo’ ay hindi apelyido ni Jesus. Ang ibig sabihin nito ay “pinili”. Hinangad Niyang iligtas ang lahat sa kanilang kasalanan. “Kaya’t kung ang sinuman ay na kay Kristo, siya’y bagong nilalang; ang mga dating bagay ay nagsilipas na; narito, sila’y pawing naging mga bago” (2 Corinto 5:17). “…sa anumang paraan ay hindi kita papagkukulangin, sa anumang paraan ni hindi kita pababayaan” (Hebreo 13:5). “Sapagkat sa biyaya kayo’y nangaligtas sa pamamagitan ng pananampalataya; at ito’y hindi sa inyong sarili, ito’y kaloob ng Diyos; Hindi sa pamamagitan ng mga gawa, upang ang sinuman ay huwag magmapuri. Sapagkat tayo’y kaniyang gawa, na nilalang Kay Kristo Jesus para sa mabubuting gawa, na mga inihanda ng Diyos nang una upang siya nating lakaran” (Efeso 2:8-10). “Sumagot si Jesus at sinabi sa kaniya, kung ang sinuman ay umiibig sa akin, ay kaniyang tutuparin ang aking salita: at siya’y iibigin ng akin Ama, at Kami’y pasasa ka niya at siya’y gagawin naming aming tahanan” (Juan 14:23). Ang pagsunod kay Jesu-Cristo ay hindi pagsunod sa bagong patakaran kundi isang ganap na pagbabago ng buhay. Ito ay paghahanap ng pamumuhay ng gaya Niya at paggawa ng mga bagay-bagay na Kaniyang ginawa. Si Jesu-Cristo ay nagbibigay ng ganap na kapatawaran sa lahat ng mga nakaraang kasalanan – maging gaano man kasama ito – ang ating pananahan sa Kaniya upang tayo’y lumakad na gaya ng inilakad niya. (1 Juan 2:6). Ano Ang Dapat Mong Gawin? May nararapat bang gawin ang isang tao kapag gumawa siya ng desisyong mag-umpisang sundin ang Panginoong Diyos at ang kaniyang gawi o Kaparaanan? Maraming mga Kristiyano ang humihikayat sa mga bagong nanampalataya na sumapi sa isang iglesia,

pumirma sa isang kard, maglalakad-lakad sa pasilyo, magdasal sa isang altar o anumang kahalintulad nito. Ang Biblia ay nagsasaad ng maliwanag na mga halimbawa. Narito ang dalawa: “At sila’y inilabas at sinabi, Mga ginoo, Ano ang kinakailangan kong gawin upang maligtas? At kanilang sinabi, manampalataya ka sa Panginoong Jesus at maliligtas ka, ikaw at ang iyong sambahayan. At sa kaniya’y sinalita nila ang salita ng Panginoon, pati sa lahat ng nangasa kaniyang bahay. At sila’y kaniyang kinuha nang oras ding yaon ng gabi, at hinugasan ang kanilang mga latay; at pagdaka’y binautismuhan siya at ang buong sambahayan niya. At sila’y kaniyang ipinanhik sa kaniyang bahay at hinainan sila ng pagkain, at nagalak na totoo, pati ng buong samabahayan niya, na nagsisampalataya sa Diyos” (Gawa 16:30-34). “Nang marinig nga nila ito, ay nangasaktan ang kanilang puso at sinabi kay Pedro at sa ibang mga apostol, Mga kapatid , anong gagawin namin? At sinabi sa kanila ni Pedro, Mangagsisi kayo, at mangagbautismo ang bawat isa sa inyo sa pangalan ni JesuKristo sa ikapagpapatawad ng inyong mga kasalanan: at tatanggapin ninyo ang kaloob ng Espiritu Santo. Sapagkat sa inyo ang pangako, at sa inyong mga anak, at sa lahat ng nangasa malayo, maging ilan man ang tawagin ng Panginoon nating Diyos sa Kaniya” (Gawa 2:37-39). Ang Espiritu Santo Ano ang kaloob ng Espiritu Santo? Ano ang ginagawa nito? Maraming mga talata sa Banal na Kasulatan ang dapat nating pag-aralan tungkol sa paksang ito. Maaaring mag-umpisa sa mga sumusunod: “Puspusin nga kayo ng Diyos ng pag-asa ng buong kagalakan at kapayapaan sa pananampalataya upang kayo’y managana sa pag-asa sa pamamagitan ng kapangyarihan ng Espiritu Santo. At ako naman sa aking sarili ay naniniwalang lubos tungkol sa inyo mga kapatid ko, na kayo naman ay mangapuspos ng kabutihan, pinuspos ng lahat ng kaalaman na anupa’t makapagpapaalala naman kayo sa isa’t isa” (Roma 15:13-14). “Na pawang sinasaksihan naman ng Diyos na kasama nila, sa pamamagitan ng mga tanda, at mga kababalaghan, at ng saganang kapangyarihan at ng mga kaloob ng Espiritu Santo, ayon sa kaniyang sariling kalooban” (Hebreo 2:14). “Gayon ma’y kung siya, ang Espiritu ng katotohanan na dumating, ay papatnubayan niya kayo sa buong katotohanan: sapagkat hindi siya magsasalita ng mula sa
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kaniyang sarili; kundi ang ano mang bagay na magsidating” (Juan 16:13). “Na sa kaniya’y kayo rin naman, pagkarinig ng aral ng katotohanan, ng ebangelio ng inyong kaligtasan – na sa kaniya rin naman, mula nang kayo’y magsisampalataya ay kayo’y tinatakan ng Espiritu Santo na ipinangako, na siyang patotoo sa ating mana, hanggang sa ikatutubos ng sariling pag-aari ng Diyos, sa ikapupuri ng kaniyang kaluwalhatian” (Efeso 1:13-14). Ang Espiritu Santo ay ibinibigay sa mga taong naglalaan ng kanilang buhay sa Panginoong Diyos (Gawa 5:32). Kung minsan, ito’y ibinibigay na kaakibat ang panlabas na mga tanda (Gawa 2:1-4; 19:6), sa ibang panahon nama’y nagbibigay ito ng malalim na paninindigan at kaligayahan (1 Tesalonica 1:5-7). Tulad nito ang “earnest money” na ating tinatanggap kapag tayo’y may ipinagbiling bahay – ito’y tanda na talagang seryoso ang bumibili. Hindi ito ang kabuuang halaga, ni ang paunang bayad – ito ay isa lamang tanda sa totoong bagay na magaganap. Ang katotohanan ay binili tayo ni Jesu-Cristo sa pamamagitan ng kaniyang hirap at pasakit. “O hindi baga ninyo nalalaman na ang inyong katawan ay templo ng Espiritu Santo na nasa inyo na tinanggap ninyo sa Diyos? At hindi kayo sa inyong sarili; Sapagkat kayo’y binili sa halaga: luwalhatiin nga ninyo ng inyong katawan ang Diyos” (1 Corinto 6:19-20). Ano Ang Hinaharap Ng Manampalataya? Hinuhubog at tinuturuan tayo ng Panginoong Diyos ngayon upang tayo’y maging “katulad Niya.” Matututunan natin ito habang tayo’y nasa anyong pisikal upang maiwasan o malimitahan ang ating mga pagkakamali at nang hindi natin mabulabog pa ang mga “bagay–bagay” lalo na yaong patungkol sa Buhay na Walang Hanggan. Subalit ang patutunguhan ng isang sumusunod sa Diyos ay napakaganda na maging ang mga apostol ay nahirapan nila ito isalarawan. “Sapagkat ang ating pagkamamamayan ay nasa langit; mula roon ay hihintay naman natin ang Tagapagligtas, ang Panginoong JesuKristo: Na siyang magbabago ng katawan ng ating pagkamababa, upang maging katulad ng katawan ng Kaniyang kaluwalhatian ayon sa paggawa na maipagpapasuko Niya sa lahat ng mga bagay sa Kanya” (Filemon 3:20-21). “Mga minamahal, ngayon ay mga anak tayo ng Diyos, at hindi pa nahahayag kung magiging ano tayo. Nalalaman natin na kung siya’y mahayag, tayo’y magiging katulad niya: sapagkat siya’y ating makikitang gaya ng kaniyang sarili” (1 Juan 3:2).

“At narinig ko ang isang malakas na tinig na mula sa luklukan, na nagsasabi, Narito ang tabernakulo ng Diyos ay nasa mga tao, at siya’y mananahan sa kanila, at sila’y magiging mga bayan niya, at ang Diyos din ay nasa kanila, at magiging Diyos nila: At papahirin niya ang bawat luha sa kanilang mga mata: at hindi na magkakaroon ng kamatayan; hindi na magkakaroon pa ng dalamhati, o ng pananambitan man, o ng hirap pa man: ang mga bagay nang una ay naparaan na. At yaong nakaluklok sa luklukan ay nagsabi. Narito, ginagawa kong bago ang lahat ng mga bagay. At sinabi niya: Isulat mo sapagkat ang mga salitang ito ay tapat at tunay” (Apocalipsis 21:3-5). Ano Ang Susunod Na Hakbang Tungo Sa Isang Bagong Buhay? Ang pag-aalay ng iyong buhay sa Panginoong Diyos ay ang unang hakbang patungo sa isang mahaba, kamanghamangha, makahulugan, ngunit kung minsan ay mahirap na daan. Kailangan mong mag-umpisang magbasa ng Banal na Kasulatan at mamuhay sa bawat salitang mamutawi sa bibig ng Panginoong Diyos (Mateo 4:4). Si Jesu-Cristo ang gagabay sa iyo, ang Espiritu Santo ay pasasa-iyo at makihalubilo ka sa ibang mananampalataya (Hebreo 10:25). Maaari mong pakiusapan ang iba sa kanila na ikaw ay bautismuhan, bilang tanda ng pag-aalay mo ng iyong buhay sa Panginoong Diyos. Pansinin na hindi namin sinasabing ikaw ay “sumali sa isang iglesia”. Ang Apostol Pablo ay tinuruan ang mga nananampalataya na huwag makiisa sa isang pinunong pang-relihiyon (1 Corinto 1:11-17; 3:1-11), kundi ituring nila ang kanilang mga sarili bilang bahagi ng Katawan ni JesuCristo – ang kaisa-isang Iglesia o “Simbahan”. Sa kasalukuyan, marami pa ring mga denominasyong pangrelihiyon ang nakikiisa sa isang pinunong pangrelihiyon o sa pangkat ng mga nagtuturo (ang iba’y buhay pa, ang iba’y patay na). Hanapin ninyo ang mga kongregasyong local na binubuo ng mga Malaya at walang kinasasapiang denominasyong mananampalataya. Bumisita sa mahigit na isa. Kung kami’y inyong tatanungin, tutulungan namin kayong maghanap ng isang pangkat o padadalhan namin kayo ng mga babasahin upang matulungan kayong madagdagan ang inyong kaalamanan at kamalayan. Wala tayong dapat na anibang isang organisasyong pangrelihiyon. Nawa’y pagpalain kayo ng Poong Maykapal sa inyong pagsunod sa Kaniya!

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Commentary:

On Being Perfect
Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect (Matthew 5:48 KJV).

The call for perfection that Jesus included in the Sermon on the Mount seems to ask the impossible of us. How on earth can any man ever achieve perfection? One explanation I’ve heard is that perfection is the goal, and we will only reach it only in the resurrection. We strive for perfection in this life, but there is no way we can achieve it in the flesh. But if that is what Jesus meant, there were many ways he could have said precisely that. There is an odd thing about this passage. Jesus did not speak of perfection here. What he said was, "Be ye therefore teleios, even as your Father which is in heaven is teleios." Jesus, of course, spoke these words in Aramaic. Choosing the best Greek word to convey the idea, Matthew used the word telios to tell us what Jesus said. With all the wonderful Bible study programs now available, anyone can consult a Greek lexicon and do his own word search. The definition of telios in the lexicon is "complete." You can do a word study through the New Testament to see how the word is used, and you will find that "complete" works in every instance. Jesus said, "be you therefore complete." And there is a world On Being Perfect… of difference between "complete," and "perfect." The word "perfect" is defined as "being entirely without fault or defect." I am sure that is an accurate description of God. I am equally sure that it is an utterly inaccurate description of any man or woman alive. "Complete" is a different idea entirely. I am a private pilot with instrument, glider and multi-engine ratings. When I completed my instruction for the last rating, my instructor signed me off, shook my hand, and said, "Congratulations. Now you are a complete pilot." I didn’t know exactly what he meant, because no one knew better than I did how far I was from perfect. I think he meant that I now had a full set of the ratings available for a private pilot. Of course, the fact is that there is no such thing as a perfect pilot. There are simply too many variables that can arise in that complicated pursuit for anyone ever to claim perfection. In a way, it is a nice analogy with life. One of the biggest problems we face when tackling a subject like this is getting our semantics right. What do we mean by the words we use? For most of us, the definition of "perfect" I offered above is perfectly accurate. Now I have to explain where perfection falls short of what Jesus was saying. Imagine a pianist in recital, performing a difficult Chopin etude. It is possible for him to do a flawless performance, getting all the notes right, using the pedal as indicated on the page, following the instructions for loudness, and softness. I have heard people, listening to such a performance in recital comment on its perfection saying that he "didn’t miss a single note." They were defining the performance in terms of what did not happen. There were no errors. Can we agree that it is possible to do a perfect, flawless performance, and yet have a performance that is mediocre and uninspired? You can have a flawless piano solo by one pianist, and a performance of the same piece by a genius, and even the untrained ear can hear the difference. Perfection and excellence are two entirely different things. Once again, we fall back on the meaning of words. Excellent means "eminently good, first-class." Perfection means "being entirely without fault or defect." It dawned on me out of the blue one day that the idea of perfection is a negative idea. It is negative in that it defines a thing in negative terms. It does not have fault. It does not have a defect or blemish. All perfection describes is what is not there. It says little about what is there. Once the idea had taken root, I had to find out more, so I headed off to the Internet where you can find out anything about everything (or is it everything about anything?) The word I chose to search with was "perfectionism." I found two starkly opposing views on the subject. One held that perfectionism is a good thing if its managed properly. That view acknowledges that the 15

perfectionist can be neurotic, but by and large, it’s a good thing if handled properly. The other holds that perfectionism is entirely a neurotic condition and is harmful. Which view is right? The difference between these views is superficial, and arises out of pure semantics, but it is instructive, nonetheless. I found a helpful paper on the Web by Carol Peters which outlines the various ways of approaching the subject. It seems that scholars in the field describe two types of perfectionist—the normal and the neurotic. Normal perfectionists are people who derive real pleasure from painstaking work. Neurotic perfectionists are those who are unable to find any satisfaction because, in their own eyes, nothing they do is ever good 1 enough. So Carol Peters is persuaded that perfectionism can be good or bad, it all depends. But she also notes that "A number of researchers . . . have linked perfectionism with depression, anorexia nervosa, bulimia, migraine, personality and psychosomatic disorders, Type A coronary-prone behaviour and suicide." Is it a good thing? Or is it harmful? Peters cites another author who lists five characteristics of perfectionist teachers and students: "Procrastination, fear of failure, the all-or-nothing mindset, paralysed 2 perfectionism, and workaholism." These are said to contribute to underachievement on their part. Procrastination affects all of us from time to time. The fear of being less than perfect, of not living up to one’s own expectations can produce overwhelming feelings that lead us to put things off. I don’t think many of us consciously go through this line of thought, but the fear of making a mistake, of having a fault, can prevent us from starting a project in the first place. This probably lies near the root of what we call "writer’s block." Successful writers have come to understand that the blank page has to be assaulted with words, so they just

start writing. They can always come back and rewrite. It is a curious thing that most drafts of papers, books, or novels, can be improved merely by cutting off the first few paragraphs. Once the block is passed, the work gets better. Putting things off until the last minute, when a deadline is bearing down on us, is a manifestation of procrastination. It makes life harder on everyone connected with a project. But some people cannot bring themselves to start until they absolutely must. Apathy also keeps the writer from starting, but that may be merely another manifestation of perfectionism. He knows his work will never measure up, so he just never starts. And thus, never has to face the lack of perfection. I recall a sermon I gave years ago in England. It was one of those fire and brimstone sermons that people strangely seem to enjoy (mostly, I think, because they are sure I am talking about someone else). After the sermon, and after the usual round of congratulations, which I always take with a grain of salt, a gentleman came to me and said something that shook me to my roots. "My, Mr. Dart," he said, "when you preach like that, I just feel like I am never going to make it." He meant it as a compliment, but it woke me up to one of the major errors of young preachers. The last thing I wanted was to make people feel like they could "never make it." I have thought about this encounter a great deal, and I have come to see it in an entirely new light. When you hold up unrealistically high standards for people, the end result is likely to be apathy. When a man comes to feel that he "can’t make it," the natural response is "why try?" I can never measure up to this standard. I can never do this without making a mistake. I can never reach

the faultless plateau, I am too flawed, I just can’t reach this level. I might as well give up. Those perfectionists who can’t live with apathy tend to become workaholic. According to Peters, they are "dependent on performance since self-esteem is tied to external rewards." Too often, it is tied to how we think others look at us. We can’t find satisfaction inside ourselves. Workaholics don’t delegate well, because no one can achieve their high expectations— not even themselves. They also have a hard time saying "no" and get over committed, losing any sense of balance in their lives. Sometimes people don’t like to let go of things because they are afraid of failure on the part of the person to whom they have delegated the job. Perfectionists have a hard time letting someone else do the job and then accepting the job when it is finished. Sometimes the person receiving the job simply can’t do the job as well as the perfectionist would like. Think of a perfectionist mom and a five year old daughter working together in the kitchen. So we are left with a person who either cannot delegate, or having delegated cannot let go. We have a person who can’t say no, because, "If I don’t do it, who will?" or "Nobody can do it the way I think it ought to be done." This hardly seems to be what Jesus was advocating in the Sermon on the Mount. But there is another side to the story. At the end of the search, we find one theorist telling us that perfectionism is a neurosis and another telling us that it is not. Now how can this be? The answer? Semantics. Read this paragraph carefully: Students can be helped to cope with perfectionism by accepting it as a basic part of their giftedness, by emphasizing its positive aspects, and by acknowledging the anxiety and frustration it provokes 16

(Silverman, 1995, p. 4). Difficult challenges generate anxieties which require inner strength and a great deal of persistence to overcome. Gifted learners need support to persist despite constant awareness of failure. Excellence takes more time and hard work than mediocrity (emphasis mine). Did you catch it? The author switched words on us in mid stride. What are they talking about, excellence or perfectionism? The author uses these words interchangeably, but they don’t mean the same thing. Excellence transcends perfection. Excellence can be imperfect, even flawed. Excellence may not be exactly what is written in the score of a piece of music. It is possible, after all, to improve on Chopin, or even Bach. A story is told of an organist in a German cathedral who, one day, encountered a stranger who was examining his organ. Learning that the visitor was also an organist, he proposed that they play together. The Cathedral had two organs, so there began a kind of contest, dueling organs, if you will. Each would propose a theme which would be answered by the other. Step by step, they ascended into ever more complex themes and variations. Finally, the visitor proposed a theme that the other could not answer. The organist walked over to the stranger and said, "Either you are an angel from heaven, or you are Johann Sebastian Bach." Bach was a genius at the organ, they say, a greater performer than he was a composer. Genius transcends perfectionism, it goes beyond the music that is on the page. Yet genius may be flawed. So we have to be sure we know what is at issue here. Is it excellence, or perfection? And it is here that a major issue can be addressed in Christian theology and Christian conduct. Excellence can be flawed. One can be complete without being perfect. This

is true even when it comes to the Law of God. Perfection is not what the law is about. People are fond of saying, "No one can keep the law perfectly." The statement is correct, but irrelevant. God did not expect anyone to keep the law perfectly. Nor did he give us a law we couldn’t obey and then punish us for not obeying it. The law is not given for perfection. It is given as a "lamp to my feet And a light to my path" (Psalm 119:105). Peters had this good advice: "Maintain high standards for yourself but don't impose them on others - they will run the other way fast!" Then she repeats the admonition: "Maintain high standards for yourself, but don't impose them on others lest you become a tyrant." That last sentence underscores what too many Christians have had to endure. I can recall preaching sermons when I was very young in which I held up a standard so high, that no one could hope to measure up to it—certainly I could not. I was asking the congregation to be, well, perfect. I think not a few preachers become tyrants because they are perfectionists and they are demanding things of the people that they themselves cannot measure up to. Not only that, their standards and God’s standards may not be the same. Imagine how terrible this can become if the preacher creates an organization that thinks it must enforce his standards. This is the stuff that cults are made of. God’s standards, and you can always count on this, are administered with grace. Men’s standards, unfortunately, are not. And that is precisely where the divide came between the disciples of Jesus and those of the Pharisees. In my research, I happened on a publication of the University of Illinois counseling center. I presume it was a kind of pamphlet for incoming students and was attempting to help them adjust to

university life. They offered this warning about perfectionism. Perfectionism refers to a set of self-defeating thoughts and behaviors aimed at reaching excessively high unrealistic goals. Perfectionism is often mistakenly seen in our society as desirable or even necessary for success. However, recent studies have shown that perfectionistic attitudes actually interfere with success. The desire to be perfect can both rob you of a sense of personal satisfaction and cause you to fail to achieve as much as people who have more 1 realistic strivings. I can see a Christian reading that and balking. After all, Jesus said we should be perfect, and they are telling us that perfectionistic attitudes can actually interfere with success. But that wasn’t what Jesus was saying. He was calling on man to be complete, to strive for excellence. And the person who is striving for excellence will almost always surpass the one who is striving for mere perfection. Many years ago, I was teaching public speaking in a small college in England. All speeches were evaluated and given a critique. It was my custom to allow the students to evaluate one another which, at times, got downright brutal. But the student evaluators focused on eradicating faults, errors, and mistakes. Unfortunately the poor rascal who had given the speech was often bombarded with a barrage of trivial imperfections. It took some work to get the students to give attention to the really important things. Did you understand what the speaker was saying? Were you persuaded by his arguments? Did he move you to do something about his issue? It is a point often overlooked, but if you spend your lifetime working on your weaknesses, your faults, your 17

mistakes, the best you can ever hope for is mediocrity. How do you transcend that? You work on your strong points. You work on making your gifts and talents stronger. If you are a teacher, you look at what a student does well, and try to lift it to the point of excellence. In that way, you have a chance of taking a young person far beyond what he thought he could do. He has a chance of excellence that the pursuit of mere perfection would deny him. There is an unexpected benefit of this approach. A person’s faults and weaknesses get drawn up into the striving for excellence, and they often as not take care of themselves. I am talking in the context of teaching speech, but it applies in every aspect of life. If, when you are working with your children, all you do is work on faults, weaknesses and mistakes, your kids are likely to grow up to be, at best, mediocre performers. At the worst, they may end up neurotic perfectionists. But if, when working with anyone, children, employees, students, wife, husband, your question should be, "What is he good at?" What are the strengths? How do we make them better and stronger so that the strengths, the things a person is really good at, sweep up and carry along the mistakes and faults. The University of Illinois pamphlet continued. If you are a perfectionist, it is likely that you learned early in life that other people valued you because of how much you accomplished or achieved. As a result you may have learned to value yourself only on the basis of other

people's approval. Thus your self-esteem may have come to be based primarily on external standards. This can leave you vulnerable and excessively sensitive to the opinions and criticism of others. In attempting to protect yourself from such criticism, you may decide that being perfect is your only defense. As a counselor, I have encountered people in that situation. They value themselves entirely on the basis of the approval of others, never realizing that being perfect will only get them more criticism. You will not avoid criticism by being perfect. You will only get more of it. Perfectionists tend to anticipate or fear disapproval and rejection from those around them. Given such fear, perfectionists may react defensively to criticism and in doing so frustrate and alienate others. Sooner or later in life you must learn to avoid being defensive about criticism. The more successful you are, the more criticism you will receive. I have under my desk a wastebasket, and whenever I read a letter that is harshly critical and lacking in constructive ideas, I rarely get beyond the first two paragraphs. From long experience, I can recognize hostility quickly. The letter goes to the wastepaper basket. I once had a friend who, when he got one of those letters would systematically tear it up. I don’t even give the letter that much attention. That is how we should handle E-mails that do that. We should quickly delete them and ignore them. It is even how we should handle destructive

conversations. If all a person can do is find fault, they are telling you that you aren’t perfect. But you already know that, so listening is a waste of time. Without realizing it, perfectionists may also apply their unrealistically high standards to others, becoming critical and demanding of them. Furthermore, perfectionists may avoid letting others see their mistakes, not realizing that self-disclosure allows others to perceive them as more human and thus more likeable. Because of this vicious cycle perfectionists often have difficulty being close to people and therefore have less than satisfactory interpersonal relationships. I have told you all this to explain what Jesus meant when he told us to be "perfect as our Father in heaven is perfect." Perfectionism can be defined as the excessive striving to be without fault or defect. This is not to say that we shouldn’t try to overcome our faults or defects. But there is an obsessive striving that is unhealthy. Perfectionism, then, is negative because it defines what is not there rather than what is. And when it comes to the Law of God, that is not good enough, as Jesus will go on to explain in the Sermon on the Mount.
Ronald L. Dart

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1. Carol C. Peters, "Perfectionism," Excellence in Education, Perth, 1996,http://www.nexus.edu.au/teachstu d/gat/peters.htm 2. Adderholt-Elliot, M. "Perfectionism and underachievement." Gifted Child Today, 12 (1), 19-21.

Gem: The two great words of antiquity are ‘behold’ and ‘beware’. Behold the possibilities and beware the temptations. --

Anonymous
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How well do you reflect

Dr. Munroe is founder, president and senior pastor of Bahamas Faith Ministries International, based in Nassau, Bahamas. He is an international motivational speaker and business consultant and has earned degrees from Oral Roberts University and the University of Tulsa. Beginning premise On page 11 Dr. Munroe begins the introduction with the following quote: "The greatest threat to civil society is mankind." He shows examples of why he believes that statement to be true. Dr. Munroe quickly begins to explain his point that many people use religion as a replacement for an understanding and a commitment to the Kingdom. On page 12 Dr. Munroe writes: "All of this is compounded by our establishment of sophisticated religions into which we retreat to escape the social chaos we have created." On page 16 Dr. Munroe writes: "A careful and honest look at the biblical Script will reveal that the fundamental message of this greatly misunderstood Book [the Bible] is about a King and a Kingdom." On page 18 he writes:

God's Kingdom?

Recently I was preparing a sermon with the goal of helping people to see a glimpse of God's Kingdom in our lives. There are some professing believers (including some inside the Church of God movement) who claim to have more knowledge and insights than the rest of us. While I acknowledge and appreciate any and all truth that God has given to us, I agree with the apostle Paul in 1 Corinthians 13:12. • • We see through a glass darkly. We know only in part.

"Jesus' first announcement was the arrival of the Kingdom of Heaven. His solution to the malnourished and bankrupt human spirit was not a religion but the Kingdom of Heaven. In other words, if you are spiritually poor, only the Kingdom will satisfy and fulfill your hunger. The Kingdom is God's priority and must become our priority if we are to overcome the confusion of religions and the threat of self-destruction. "The power of religion lies in its ability to serve as a substitute for the Kingdom and thus hinder mankind from pursuing the genuine answer to the dilemma." Then he lists the following conclusions. • • • • • Religion preoccupies man until he finds the Kingdom. Religion is what man does until he finds the Kingdom. Religion prepares man to leave earth; the Kingdom empowers man to dominate earth. Religion focuses on heaven; the Kingdom focuses on earth. Religion is reaching up to God: the Kingdom of God coming down to man.

If we (who claim to be believers) have a fuzzy picture of God, how unclear does an unbeliever see? And, if an unbeliever has only a fuzzy picture of the Kingdom, what are we doing to reflect the Kingdom of God while we walk this earth? Helpful book I found material in a book titled Kingdom Principles by Myles Munroe to be helpful in my preparation. I thought I would share some of the information with you.

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• •

Religion wants to escape earth; the Kingdom impacts, influences and changes earth. Religion seeks to take earth to heaven; the Kingdom seeks to bring heaven to earth.

Yet He described how that seed would grow into a huge tree to accommodate the birds. The Kingdom of God begins with the least of all people: me and you. Of and by ourselves we are not special. Yet God has chosen to establish His Kingdom through us. Is our religion getting in the way of our living the principles of the Kingdom? Or do we as little ones reflect the glorious Kingdom of God? by Dave Havir/ www.thejournal.org

Nine helpful principles Dr. Munroe proceeds to give nine principles about the Kingdom, hence the title of the book. Here are the nine Kingdom principles: • • • • • • • • • The Kingdom concept of kings. The Kingdom concept of Lord. The Kingdom concept of territory. The Kingdom concept of constitution. The Kingdom concept of law. The Kingdom concept of keys. The Kingdom concept of citizenship. The Kingdom concept of culture. The Kingdom concept of giving to the king.

Poem: God’s Love We can only see a little of the ocean, A few miles distant from the rocky shore; But out there, beyond Beyond our eyes’ horizon, There’s more there’s more. We can only see a little of God’s love A few rich treasures from His mighty store; But out there beyond, Beyond our eyes’ horizon, There’s more there’s more! --Author Unknown

Begins with us Jesus Christ gave His disciples many parables about the Kingdom during His life. They are edifying and inspiring. Notice one of His shorter Kingdom parables. In Matthew 13:31-32 Jesus told about the Kingdom being like a grain of mustard seed. He called it the least of all seeds.

Who Are We?
The Mustard Seed Newsletter is published free by The Mustard Seed Evangelistic Association –an affiliated association committed to the publishing of the Gospel that Jesus Christ preached and as recorded for us in the Holy Scriptures. This goal is to be within the framework of the Commission set forth to His believers and followers to "go and make disciples of all nations ... teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you" (Matthew 28:19-20). It is our hope that the Mustard Seed and its other publications will become a shared-resource and vehicle for our readers to come to know and understand the Gospel of Jesus Christ—the Kingdom of God. You are invited to join us in this exciting and marvelous work!

"The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed, which a man took and sowed in his field, which indeed is the least of all the seeds; but when it is grown it is greater than the herbs and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and nest in its branches."
Matthew 13:31-32

For your question and/or comment, email us at mseedwork@yahoo.com/ peopletowin@gmail.com/ Raul deAsis Hipe/Editor

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