There are different Biblical principles involved. We believe that the following will best express our religious convictions against participating in Military Service and War:
A true Christian is a stranger, alien and exile (1 Peter 2:11; Hebrews 11:13) while here on earth; an ambassador for Jesus Christ (2 Corinthians 5:20); and a representative of God's kingdom. As such, and in being a light to the world by proper conduct (Matthew 5:14-16), a true Christian does not take part in this world's governmental or political affairs, as presently, it is not God who rules this world, but Satan the devil (Revelation 2:13; Luke 4:5-6). Christians are challenged to come out of the governmental and political systems of this world (Revelation 18:4).
This question was addressed by the Church before. We are quoting, as set forth below, from a letter published by the Worldwide Church of God, which explains the long-standing position of the Church on the matter:
"Water divining, also known as 'water witching' and 'water dowsing,' is practiced all over the world. It is the craft of seeking underground water by means of a divining rod, commonly a forked stick which is held by the twigs, one in each hand with the stock pointing outward or upward. As the diviner walks over the ground, the stick will suddenly twist in his hands and point downward, supposedly indicating the presence of underground water. At times there is water; at other times there is none.
Some have stumbled over this issue, and it does require a balanced understanding to properly apply ALL the Scriptures on this topic. Let's begin with 2 John: "If anyone comes to you and does not bring this doctrine, do not receive him into your house nor greet him; for he who greets him shares in his evil deeds" (verses 10 and 11).
The Bible must always be the last word on all doctrinal matters, not the personal opinions of man. Unfortunately, there can be an attitude of "pick and mix" where doctrines can be summarily dismissed that may not suit someone's personal life-style; that are "uncomfortable," or "not acceptable" in today's society; or that don't fit in with someone's general approach. On the other hand, if the Bible purportedly backs up personal opinions and beliefs, then Biblical teaching is readily accepted. This means that there are those who, because of their own personal behavior, amend their understanding of Scripture in order that their practices can be (in their own eyes) accommodated by the Word of God. The subject of homosexuality is just one example.
The passage reads: "But now I have written to you not to keep company with anyone named a brother, who is sexually immoral, or covetous, or an idolater, or a reviler, or a drunkard, or an extortioner -- not even to eat with such a person."
Let us notice the entire passage in Philippians 1:19-24: "(19) For I know that this will turn out for my deliverance through your prayer and the supply of the Spirit of Jesus Christ, (20) according to my earnest expectation and hope that in nothing I shall be ashamed, but with all boldness, as always, so now also Christ will be magnified in my body, whether by life or by death. (21) For to me, to live [is] Christ, and to die [is] gain... (23) For I am hard pressed between the two, having a desire to depart and be with Christ, which is far better. (24) Nevertheless to remain in the flesh is more needful for you."
It is important that we understand the time setting of Revelation 22:15. Before discussing the passage in detail, we need to realize that it describes a time AFTER the heavenly Jerusalem has descended to earth. We read earlier, in Revelation 21:1-2: "Now I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away. Also there was no more sea. Then I, John, saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband." Verse 10 continues to explain that "the great city, the holy Jerusalem, [was] descending out of heaven from God." Verse 27 continues that "there shall by no means enter it anything that defiles, or causes an abomination or a lie, but only those who are written in the Lamb's Book of Life."
Christ used the metaphor of taking up the cross in numerous places, for instance, in Matthew 10:38 and in Matthew 16:24; in Mark 8:34 and in Mark 10:21; as well as in Luke 9:23 and Luke 14:27.
Especially Matthew 10:38 is interesting, in view of its context with verse 39:
"And he who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me. He who finds his life will lose it, and he who loses his life for My sake will find it."
The answer to your question, whether to send donations to organizations which help the poor, is one that requires a BALANCED approach. Considering the life of Jesus Christ, one must conclude that the focus of His life was in serving God. He put God FIRST. However, He also had great compassion on the poor: "'...I have compassion on the multitude, because they have now continued with Me three days and have nothing to eat. And I do not want to send them away hungry, lest they faint on the way'" (Matthew 15:32).
Actually, the Bible is very clear as to the meaning of this word. However, orthodox Christianity, and especially Catholicism, have distorted the meaning and have adopted a concept of a "saint," which is in total opposition to the Biblical teaching.
The "Christian" world thinks that a saint is a very special kind of a Christian; usually one who has died, went to heaven, and who is now interceding before God on our behalf. The "Convert's Catechism of Catholic Doctrine," by Peter Geiermann, edited 1946, defines a "saint" as "one whose soul is in heaven" (page 111).
The answer is yes, and the way in which this might occur involves personal growth as well as God choosing someone to fulfill a special function in His service.
First of all, understand that God gives man His Holy Spirit as a gift. Peter explains this in context in Acts 2:38: "Then Peter said to them, 'Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission [Margin: forgiveness] of sins, and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.'"
The short answer is, No. We read in 1 Corinthians 6:18 that we are to "flee sexual immorality. Every sin that a man does is outside the body, but he who commits sexual immorality sins against his own body." Members of God's Church are also told not to "make provisions for the flesh, to fulfill its lusts (Romans 13:14)." Further, they are commanded to "abstain from sexual immorality; that each of you should know how to possess his own vessel in sanctification and honor, not in passion of lust, like the Gentiles who do not know God" (1 Thessalonians 4:3-5).
It is true that the Bible teaches that the roles of men and women in this day and age are different, whether it is in a marriage relationship, or insofar as teaching or preaching in Church is concerned. The Bible says that the husband is the "head" of his wife (1 Corinthians 11:3), and it is stated in God's Word that a woman is to be silent during Church services (1 Corinthians 14:34-35). But the different roles and responsibilities assigned by God to men and women IN THIS DAY AND AGE do not make women in any way inferior to men! Please note that not only a woman, but also a man, unless he is ordained, is not to preach to others in Church. This task is reserved for the ministry (Romans 10:14-15)--but again, this does not make ministers in any way "superior" to non-ordained
We read in Matthew 5:48 that we are to be perfect just as God is perfect. The Authorized Version says: "Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect." However, this translation may be somewhat misleading. The New King James Bible translates Matthew 5:48: "... you shall be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect." Rotherham says: "Ye therefore SHALL BECOME perfect..."
In recent years, we have seen a spate of allegations and revelations about the behavior of certain leading political figures and other high profile leaders, both in the UK and the USA, as well as in Western Europe. While this is not a new phenomenon, public attitudes seem to have changed to a more liberal and tolerant, if not accepting approach. This is because of moral and ethical barriers being lowered as society adopts a much more permissive attitude.
We may recall that in the US presidential election in the late 1990’s, the public re-elected their President in spite of his behavior. As long as the President gave the American people a good standard of living it didn’t matter, as one commentator put it, “what happened after dark.”
Many have attempted to "define" who or what is a true Christian. However, far too often, a totally false explanation has been offered. For example, some would say that somebody is a Christian who is a member of a "Christian" church. Others claim that one is a Christian if he or she believes in Jesus Christ. Still others state that one becomes a Christian if he or she is baptized into a Church organization, perhaps even as an infant.
What is the Biblical truth on the matter? It is important that you understand, because otherwise you have no immediate hope for your future. We read that there is no salvation in any other but in Jesus Christ (Acts 4:12). In order to be saved, you must be a follower of Christ--a true Christian.
Please read first, in regard to this question, our special tribute to Herbert W. Armstrong and the excerpts from his 1984 article, titled, "How Would Jesus Vote for President?", which are published in this issue of the Update. The tribute and excerpts give an overview regarding the problems for a Christian being involved in voting in governmental elections. We need to understand that the issues of jury duty and voting for the government are connected with the issue of military service and war. We have addressed the problems regarding Christian participation in jury duty and joining the military in previous Q&A sections of these
If there is one command by Christ which has been more often violated in the Church than most others, it is perhaps the procedure for conflict resolution between brethren, as set forth in Matthew 18. We might think that in a given situation this procedure might not apply, or that there are other ways to deal with a perceived or real problem. However, experience has shown time and again that circumventing the godly-inspired procedure for the purpose of resolving problems between members has ALWAYS caused unnecessary harm.
Let us therefore carefully and prayerfully review the procedure, and let us make every effort to apply it, as instructed in God's Word:
The Scriptural passage in question is found in 2 Peter 3:17-18, which reads:
"... beware lest you also fall from your own steadfastness, being led away with the error of the wicked, but grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ."
Grace has been commonly understood as unmerited pardon--especially in connection with the forgiveness of sin. God forgives us our sins, not because we deserve to be forgiven, but because of Christ's sacrifice. However, the Greek word for "grace" conveys a much broader concept than just the "unmerited pardoning of sins."
Let us, first of all, understand that the Bible clearly teaches that God HEALS our sicknesses and diseases. To quote from a prior Q&A:
"He tells us in Exodus 15:26, 'If you diligently heed the voice of the LORD your God and do what is right in His sight, give ear to His commandments and keep all His statutes, I will put none of the diseases on you which I have brought on the Egyptians. For I am the LORD who heals you.'
"We are also told how healing from sickness has been made possible. We are healed by the stripes of Jesus Christ who gave His life for us, and who was tortured and beaten so that we can obtain forgiveness of our sins and healing from our sicknesses and diseases (Psalm 103:1-3; Matthew 8:16-17; 1 Peter 2:21-25; Isaiah 53:5).
In Matthew 18:20, Christ said: "For where two or three are gathered together in My name, I am there in the midst of them." It is important to note the context. Christ's comments in verse 20 follow the description of the proper procedure for conflict resolution between brethren. At least two of our Updates address this issue, including the fact that Christ gave the final authority to the ministry, to disfellowship or excommunicate an unrepentant brother or sister --and not to the entire membership. Verse 20 must be read in this context--it does not address at all the question of Church attendance.
The Nelson Study Bible explains:
Matthew 7:6 reads as follows:
"Do not give what is holy to the dogs; nor cast your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you in pieces."
We need to state, first of all, that the Bible compares the truth about the Kingdom of God with a precious pearl (Matthew 13:45-46). At the same time, "dogs" or "swine" describe debased and quarrelsome people, filled with anger and hostility toward God and His Law (Philippians 3:2; 2 Peter 2:22; Revelation 22:15).
Barnes has the following insightful comments regarding the meaning of this passage:
First of all, our stance against serving on a jury is based on many Biblical passages, not just on the requirement of two eye witnesses. Even if two honest eye witnesses were available to testify against an accused, a true Christian should still not participate in the jury system of this world. For a further in-depth discussion of this vital question, please read our Q&A's in Updates #289 and #66.
In Update #66, we state, indeed, the following, after having discussed numerous additional principles prohibiting true Christians to serve on a jury:
This statement by Jesus Christ highlights a misunderstood truth that very few have comprehended, about the purpose and message of Jesus Christ, as well as the conduct of His followers--those who would claim to be Christians.
In an earlier account, Jesus pointedly contrasted His origin to that of the Jews who heard His preaching (Compare John 8:21-30). What He addressed were their actions, their lifestyle--their very way of living. He plainly said that they were "'...OF this world'" (John 8:23); while, on the other hand, He emphatically stated that He was "'...NOT OF this world'" (Same verse).
To clarify, our stance against serving on a jury is based on many Biblical passages and principles, not just on the requirement of two witnesses. For an in-depth discussion on this issue, please read our Q&A in Update #289.
Even though many professing Christians believe that the Ten Commandments are no longer binding on us today, and although some Biblical "scholars" quote, amongst other Scriptures, the book of Galatians as evidence for such assumptions, the Bible totally rejects and disproves such ideas.
Christ's statements are not inconsistent, but they complement each other. Please understand that Christ was addressing two different sets of circumstances.
In the passage in Mark 9:40, we read the following, beginning with verse 38: "Now John answered Him, saying, 'Teacher, we saw someone who does not follow us casting out demons in Your name, and we forbade him because he does not follow us.' (verse 39) But Jesus said, 'Do not forbid him, for no one who works a miracle in My name can soon afterward speak evil of Me. (verse 40) For he who is not against us is on our side.'" Compare, too, Luke 9:49-50.
The answer to this question depends on many different circumstances.
As a general statement, God makes it very clear that His tithing laws are still in force and effect today, and that He commands us to tithe to Him. For a full explanation and discussion of this vital question, please read our free booklet, "Tithing-Today?"
In our booklet, we also discuss how to calculate God's tithe. We state the following, which sets forth the teaching of the Church of God for many years:
They should not.
New Year’s Day celebrations are linked to pagan customs and even demonic activities. Professor Philippe Walter’s book, “Christianity—the Origins of a Pagan Religion,” copyright 2003, 2006, makes several startling statements about the real origins of New Year’s Day, as well as its customs.
Walter explains the pagan belief that by the end of December and on “New Year’s Day” (January 1), “fairies… enter the homes of those who worship them… One must take pains to prepare the meal that should be offered to them in a clean and isolated room…”
A German magazine, PM, wrote the following about New Year’s Day, and the customs associated with New Year’s Day, in an article, titled, “What is special about New Year’s?”:
Even though the ancients in Old Testament times did swear, the New Testament tells us that we should not do so today.
We read Christ's words in Matthew 5:33-37: "Again you have heard that it was said to those of old, 'You shall not swear falsely, but shall perform your oaths to the Lord.' But I say to you, do not swear at all: neither by heaven, for it is God's throne; nor by the earth, for it is His footstool; nor by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the great King. Nor shall you swear by your head, because you cannot make one hair white or black. But let your 'Yes' be 'Yes,' and your 'No,' 'No.' For whatever is more than these is from the evil one."
This particular passage has caused great confusion for many readers, and has prompted some Christians to adopt wrong and unbiblical teachings.
This is what Jesus said in Mark 9:43-48:
We find that, in New Testament times, certain local congregations apparently had a Passover meal in Church before partaking of the Passover symbols of bread and wine, as can be seen in the passage in 1 Corinthians 11:17-22 (Authorized Version):
The use of the term "Lord's Supper" for our observance of the New Testament Passover is not biblical--and it only adds to the confusion surrounding the CORRECT observance of the New Testament Passover.
The apostle Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 11:23-24: "For I received from the Lord that which I also delivered to you: that the Lord Jesus on the same night in which He was betrayed took bread; and when He had given thanks, He BROKE it and said, 'Take, eat; this is [meaning "represents"] My body which is BROKEN for you; do this in remembrance of Me.'"
John 19:31-37 reports that at the time of Christ's crucifixion, a soldier pierced His side with a spear and killed Him. When other soldiers came to break the legs of Christ and the two robbers, they noticed that Christ had already died. Therefore, they did not break His legs. Verse 36 informs us that "these things were done that the Scripture should be fulfilled, 'Not one of His bones shall be broken.'"
When the disciples heard that marriage was for life, and that it can only be dissolved under very limited circumstances, they responded, "If such is the case of the man with his wife, it is better not to marry" (Matthew 19:10). Jesus answered that "all cannot accept this saying, but only those to whom it has been given" (verse 11). He continued, in verse 12:
"For there are eunuchs who were born thus from their mother's womb, and there are eunuchs who were made eunuchs by men, and there are eunuchs who have made themselves eunuchs for the kingdom of heaven's sake. He who is able to accept it, let him accept it."
Let us read the entire context of Christ's sayings. Christ introduced the topic in reference to the scribes and the Pharisees (verse 2), but His application of His words were obviously much broader. He said, beginning in verse 6:
The Scripture in question is Matthew 23:10, which reads: "And do not be called teachers, for One is your Teacher, the Christ."
However, as you rightly point out, there are several passages, which speak of ministers as teachers.
For instance, 1 Corinthians 12:28-29 reads:
"And God has appointed these in the church: first apostles, second prophets, third teachers... Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers?..."
Ephesians 4:11-13 confirms:
"And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, till we all come to the unity of the faith..."
Let us note and review carefully what Christ said in Luke 14:26: "If anyone comes to Me and does not hate his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and his own life also, he cannot be My disciple."
However, Christ also commanded us to love even our enemies (Luke 6:27), and to love our neighbors as ourselves (Matthew 22:39). As the Bible does not contradict itself (John 10:35), it is therefore obvious that Jesus' sayings in Luke 14:26 cannot mean that we actually are to HATE our fellow man. But what DO they mean?
Let us read Christ's sayings in Matthew 8:21-22 in context, beginning with verse 19:
"Then a certain scribe came and said to Him, 'Teacher, I will follow You wherever You go.'... Then another of His disciples said to Him, 'Lord, let me first go and bury my father.' But Jesus said to him, 'Follow Me, and let the dead bury their own dead.'"
The parallel passage in Luke 9:59-60 reveals that Christ was calling this man into the ministry, challenging Him to "Follow Me... [and to] go and preach the kingdom of God."
The answer to all of these questions is a resounding, "No."
Regarding pictures, images or statues of Christ (including those which picture Him on the cross), we clearly read that we are not to have images of God (Exodus 20:4). Since Jesus is God (John 1:1; Hebrews 1:8; Titus 2:13), the creation and use of images or pictures of Christ violates this express prohibition.
In the thirteenth chapter of the book of Revelation, John sees two "beasts.” These are symbolic descriptions of powerful world empires.
Beginning with Revelation 13:1, John sees in a vision a fantastic beast rising out of the sea, which has seven heads and ten horns. This beast received a deadly wound, but was healed. We explained in previous Q&A's and some of our booklets, that this beast describes the Roman Empire at the time of John, its subsequent fall and its ten revivals or resurrections throughout history until the time of Christ's return. The last and tenth resurrection is unfolding in Europe right now before our very eyes. (For more information, please read, for example, our free booklet, "Europe in Prophecy.")
We don't believe that Mary, the mother of Jesus Christ, appeared to anyone after she had died in the first century. Mary is dead and buried, sleeping the sleep of death in her grave, and awaiting her resurrection to eternal life at the time of Christ's return. The Bible makes it very clear that all who died in Christ will be resurrected when Christ comes back to this earth--not before then (compare 1 Corinthians 15:22-23, 50-52; 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17). As we explain in our free booklet, "Do We Have an Immortal Soul?", those who die sleep a dreamless sleep of death, without any knowledge, activity, consciousness or thought. For this reason alone, Mary could not have really appeared to anyone after she had died.
Some have concluded that Jesus was Mary's only child, and that He therefore asked John to take care of His mother after His death, as there was nobody else in His immediate family who could have done so. However, this is not what the Bible teaches.
We read in John 19:25-27:
"Now there stood by the cross of Jesus His mother... When Jesus therefore saw His mother, and the disciple whom He loved standing by, He said to His mother, 'Woman, behold your son!' Then He said to the disciple, 'Behold your mother!' And from that hour that disciple took her to his own home."
It most certainly is not, even though some within orthodox Christianity teach this false idea. The biblical teaching, however, is altogether different.
It is true that God WANTS those to be in His Kingdom whom He calls to salvation. And as we explain in our booklet, "Are You Predestined to Be Saved?", God is confident that His disciples WILL "make it" into His kingdom (compare Philippians 1:6). He knows that all those whom He has called now CAN make it. We even read that God has already "glorified" them (Romans 8:30), even though their glorification is still in the future. God is so confident that they will be glorified that He speaks of that future event as something which has already occurred (compare Romans 4:17).
Hebrews 10:24-26 reads, in context:
"And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching. For if we sin willfully, after we have received the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins."
We can clearly see from this passage that Paul warns us not to forsake the "assembling of ourselves together," as the consequence of doing so could lead to our committing the unpardonable sin.
What is meant by, "assembling of ourselves together"?
Note the following renderings, which make the intended meaning clearer:
Understanding the true application of what Jesus stated is vitally important, and far too many people misapply what is meant.
The exact quote from Matthew 16:27 is as follows: “‘For the Son of Man will come in the glory of His Father with His angels, and then He will reward each according to his works.’”
This statement is amplified by Paul in 2 Corinthians 5:10: “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive the things done in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad.”
The implication of Paul’s teaching points to how Christians fulfill their calling as members of the body of Christ—the Church of God (compare Ephesians 1:22-23; Colossians 1:24).
To properly understand what Paul is saying--and what he is not saying--let us read the entire passage of 1 Timothy 2:1-7, in context:
Bible translations are most certainly the way we can understand the Word of God in our own language. The Bible offers proof of this fact, and it further reveals additional keys that will determine whether or not we have true understanding of what is written.
On the Day of Pentecost, miraculous events took place that included the giving of God’s Holy Spirit. Note what occurred:
As it is rightly pointed out in the question, the punishment, as described in the book of Zechariah, deals foremost with the MODERN descendants of the ancient houses of Israel and Judah. It will be inflicted on them just prior to the return of Jesus Christ.
We understand that the modern descendants of the houses of Israel and Judah include the peoples of the USA, Great Britain, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa, as well as the modern Jews (who live inside and outside the state of Israel). For more information, please read our free booklet, "The Fall and Rise of Britain and America."
The famous woman Rahab who helped the spies at the time of Joshua, is clearly identified in the Bible as a harlot or a prostitute. This is the obvious conclusion, when we just accept the relevant Scriptures on their face value.
The passage reads:
"But each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed. Then, when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, brings forth death."
When and how does sin start? Does death only await us when sin is "full-grown"?
Vincent's Word Studies explains that the terms "drawn away" and "enticed" "are metaphors from hunting and fishing." It continues: "Drawn away, as beasts are enticed from a safecovert into a place beset with snares. Note the present participle, as indicating the progress of the temptation: 'is being drawn away.' Enticed-- As a fish with bait. Also the present participle."
We see, then, that a PROGRESSION is described.
As a first step in answering this puzzling question, we must understand that all of God’s commandments were given for the good of mankind! King David extolled God and continually praised Him for His Way: “…For all Your commandments are righteousness” (Psalm 119:172).
Very specifically, God chose the descendants of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, for a unique relationship with Him. Note what He offered to Israel:
“‘Now therefore, if you will indeed obey My voice and keep My covenant, then you shall be a special treasure to Me above all people; for all the earth is Mine. And you shall be to me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation…’” (Exodus 19:5-6).
It is a Catholic custom to abstain from eating meat on "Good Friday" and to eat fish instead. Where did this custom originate?
First, let us examine the precise nature of this custom.
We are quoting from an Internet Website:
In fact, the Bible presents some very specific guidelines for the kinds of clothing and style that should be worn. In this Q&A, we are addressing the topic in a more general way. Subsequent Q&A's will address this topic, and related topics, in more detail.
While some may consider the Bible as being archaic, with little relevance for our day, quite the opposite is true! At the very outset, God gave man responsibility to care for the earthly realm (Compare Genesis 1:26-28). In particular, Adam was told to “tend and keep” the specially prepared Garden of Eden (Genesis 2:15).
In last week's Q&A, we addressed some general principles regarding the kinds of clothing and style that should be worn. We emphasized the importance of right balance and modesty.
Paul also instructed the Church of God regarding the length of hair that both men and women should wear:
“Judge among yourselves. Is it proper for a woman to pray to God with her head uncovered? Does not even nature itself teach you that if a man has long hair, it is a dishonor to him? But if a woman has long hair, it is a glory to her; for her hair is given to her for a covering. But if anyone seems to be contentious, we have no such custom, nor do the churches of God” (1 Corinthians 11:13-16).
We find in the ninth chapter of the book of Genesis that, following the great flood by which God wiped out all existing mankind, save Noah and his family, God made a covenant with Noah. In that covenant, God emphasized the sanctity of human life.
Genesis 9:5-6 reads: “Surely for your lifeblood I will demand a reckoning… from the hand of man. From the hand of every man’s brother I will require the life of man. Whoever sheds man’s blood By man his blood shall be shed; For in the image of God He made man.”
Although the biblical answer to this question is highly controversial, the Bible teaches very clearly that there is no other way to eternal salvation than through Jesus Christ. Non-christian religions reject this claim outright, and even many Christian organizations and denominations feel uncomfortable about this and think that they must apologize for the Scriptures and offer "alternatives," such as, "as long as we follow our conscience," or, "as long as we believe in someone or something," we are or will be saved.
Since we are not interested in humanly devised fables and interpretations, let us focus strictly on the clear teaching of the Bible.
The Bible does state that we can become part of the Israel of God in the following manner: “And as many as walk according to this rule, peace and mercy be upon them, and upon the Israel of God” (Galatians 6:16).
If we choose to follow the Way of God, completely and fully, by following the lead of God's Holy Spirit dwelling within us, then we are the Israel of God or, in other words, Godly Israel or Spiritual Israel.
Actually, the command to bless others even though they may not seem worthy of our blessing is to be found throughout the Bible.
We read in Matthew 5:44: "But I say to you, love your enemies, BLESS THOSE WHO CURSE YOU, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you." (Compare, Luke 6:27-28).
Romans 12:14-20 adds:
"BLESS THOSE who persecute you; BLESS AND DO NOT CURSE... Repay no one evil for evil... If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men. Beloved, do not avenge yourselves... If your enemy is hungry, feed him; If he is thirsty, give him a drink; For in so doing you will heap coals of fire on his head. Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good."
Actually, the Bible has quite a bit to say about this topic.
(1) To give a good definition of righteous character, as we want to apply this term in this Q&A, we would like to quote from several of Herbert Armstrong's writings, the late Pastor General of the Worldwide Church of God.
In "What Science Cannot Discover About the Human Mind," copyright 1978, he wrote about righteous character as "the ability in a single entity to come to comprehend and distinguish the true values from the false, the right way from the wrong, to choose the right and reject the wrong, and, with power of will, to do the right and resist the evil."
In "Mystery of the Ages," copyright 1985, he elaborated, as follows:
Understanding our part and responsibility regarding the work of God is a pivotal issue for those who claim to follow the Christian faith! The fact is that there is great confusion about exactly what the work of God means.
To truly comprehend what Jesus taught about the work of God, we must consider not only the verse in John, but, additionally, we need to compare other references in God’s Word. First, here is the text in question:
“Jesus answered and said to them, ‘This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He sent’” (John 6:29).
We can safely say that it was never God's intent for man to engage in the kind of slavery which has brought so much misery and pain on others. We can also say that it was never God's original intent that there should be any form of slavery. And we conclude that it will be very unlikely that there will be any slavery in the Millennium.
To give an overview of the ORIGIN of slavery in the Bible, let us quote from The Encyclopedia of Religion and Ethics, by James Hastings:
We have discussed the issue of physical healing in several of our Q&As, http://eternalgod.org/qa/4963, http://eternalgod.org/qa/3221, http://eternalgod.org/qa/3749, http://eternalgod.org/qa/2842 , and also at length in our free booklet, "Sickness and Healing--What the Bible Tells Us."
The following issues will be discussed in this Q&A:
--OUR BELIEF ON PHYSICAL HEALING
--WHAT TO DO WHEN WE ARE SICK
--WHY ANOINT WITH OIL?
--THE USE OF AN ANOINTED CLOTH
--DOES GOD HEAL ONLY BAPTIZED MEMBERS OF HIS CHURCH?
First of all, let us read these verses in the book of John:
"Now the Passover of the Jews was at hand, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. And He found in the temple those who sold oxen and sheep and doves, and the money changers doing business. When He had made a whip of cords, He drove them all out of the temple, with the sheep and the oxen, and poured out the changers’ money and overturned the tables. And He said to those who sold doves, 'Take these things away! Do not make My Father’s house a house of merchandise!'”
We have explained this passage, in detail, in our booklets, "Is That in the Bible?--Man's Holidays or God's Holy Days," and "God's Commanded Holy Days." In these booklets, we show from Scripture that Colossians 2:16-17 does not teach--as many have erroneously concluded--that the weekly Sabbath and the seven annual Holy Days are no longer binding; in fact, correctly understood, that particular passage teaches the exact opposite.
James 2:2 contains a statement which, at first sight, may be difficult to understand, as it seems to contradict other biblical passages. A careful analysis of the Scripture shows, however, that there is no inconsistency, and that James addresses an important principle related to our Christian way of life.
James 2:1-6 reads, in context:
We will be trying to answer this question as best as we can. In the past, the Worldwide Church of God attempted to strike a proper balance as to what is appropriate and inappropriate clothing, but in the process, some might have gone overboard at certain times by leaning too much to the "right" or to the "left." Occasionally, the Church was even accused of promoting a yard-stick religion, while at other times, it was perceived to allow for appearances which were clearly not in line with biblical standards.
Just the opposite is true! Christians still have to make a continuing choice to obey God and to reject the wrong way, and the Bible fully explains this most remarkable and foundational truth!
As a beginning point, we need to understand that God’s intentions have always been that mankind would ultimately be given the sustainable option to choose a path leading to life and reject the one leading to death. Chapters two and three of Genesis recount the epic account of how Adam and Eve chose to disobey God. From this record we see very clearly that God gave man an opportunity to choose for himself (compare verses 16-17).
Let us read the passage in context, beginning in Romans 13:8:
"Owe no one anything except to love one another, for he who loves another has fulfilled the law. For the commandments, 'You shall not commit adultery,' 'You shall not murder,' 'You shall not steal,' 'You shall not bear false witness,' 'You shall not covet,' and if there is any other commandment, are all summed up in this saying, namely, 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself.' Love does not harm to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfillment [better: fulfilling] of the law."
The Amplified Bible gives the following rendering, with the brackets in the original:
We need to understand that Christ died for our sins, and sin is defined as the transgression of God's law (1 John 3:4, Authorized Version). In that sense, all of God's spiritual commandments are of equal importance, as Christ died for each and every one of our sins.
It is true that many translations say that the "love of money is a root of all evil" (compare the New King James Bible; the New International Version; the Living Bible; the New Revised Standard Version; and the Amplified Bible). Other translations, besides the Authorized Version, maintain that it should say that "the love of money is THE root of all evil" (compare the Revised Standard Version; the Revised English Bible; the New American Bible; the New Jerusalem Bible; Moffat; Scofield; and Lamsa).
The Interlinear Literal Translation states that the original says, "For a root of all evils is the love of money," but it continues to render the phrase as: "For the love of money is the root of all evil."
Christ said the following in John 14:1-3:
“Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in me. In My Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also.”
First of all, please notice that after Jesus has prepared these "mansions," He will come again to the earth and receive His disciples to Himself so "that where I am, there you may be also." When Christ spoke these words, He was here on earth. That is where His disciples "may be also"--here on earth, not in heaven.
We are indeed close to the time of the year when people get all excited in anticipation of the Christmas season, complete with the hustle and bustle of shopping and, far too often, excesses both in over-spending, over-eating and over-drinking.
Far too many never seem to stop and think about the consequences of these excesses. Are people considering the fact that what is charged and overspent has to be paid back and sometimes at high interest rates, and that for a long time; also, that there are long range effects of excesses in eating and drinking to one's health; and finally, that there are terrible consequences for family relationships; especially, when arguments break out, leading to violence to the degree that someone loses his or her life?
The ceremony of "laying on of hands" is mentioned as one of the basic doctrines of God's Church (Hebrews 6:2). However, when reading quite a few commentaries, the very existence of that doctrine is commonly denied--nor is there any understanding as to what this doctrine contains.
As a beginning point in answering your question, first consider these comments from the NASB Study Bible regarding “suffers violence,” as translated in Matthew 11:12: "The Greek here is taken in a passive sense. In this context its passive meaning is, ‘suffers violent attacks.’ The verse emphasizes the ongoing persecution of the people of the kingdom.”
The statement by Jesus in Matthew 11:12 reflects the violence of persecution against representatives of the Kingdom of God. Specifically, those in the forefront of proclaiming the future establishment of God’s Kingdom on the earth are targets of mortal violence.
John 1:14 says that ".. the Word [the "Logos," that is, Jesus Christ the Spokesman] became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory... full of grace and truth."
The Greek word "charis," which is commonly translated as "grace," has a variety of meanings. It can and very often does refer to God's forgiveness of our sins--His "unmerited pardon"--and to our justification. We read in Romans 3:24 that we are "being justified freely by His grace" (compare also Titus 3:7).
In the context of this verse, the account shows that Jesus was reacting to the rejection of His teaching by the Pharisees (compare verse 14). In Luke 16:13, Jesus concluded a parable with this admonition, “‘…You cannot serve God and mammon’”—a statement that challenged the Pharisaical practices!
Continuing in Luke 16:15-16:
“And He said to them, ‘You are those who justify yourselves before men, but God knows your hearts. For what is highly esteemed among men is an abomination in the sight of God.
“‘The law and the prophets were until John. Since that time the kingdom of God has been preached, and everyone is pressing into it.’”
Although the correct answer can be easily ascertained from the Scriptures, many commentaries are actually confused regarding the meaning of this passage. Paul said, in context, in 1 Corinthians 5:1-5:
It is indeed correct that the Church of God keeps the Passover one day earlier than the Jews do today. The reason is that based on the Bible, the Jews keep the Passover one day too late.
This year, the Church of God keeps the annual Passover on Sunday evening, March 28, after sunset. However, the Jews keep the Passover, beginning on Monday evening, March 29, after sunset. As we said, they keep it one day too late. They keep the Passover when the Bible commands to keep the "Night to Be Much Observed"--two totally different and separate occasions.
Please notice our comments in our free booklet, "The Meaning of God's Spring Holy Days":
Reading Revelation 12:17 in context, it shows that in the future, just prior to Christ's return, some in God's Church will be protected from the Great Tribulation and Satan's wrath, while other Christians will have to go through that terrible time of martyrdom.
Revelation 12:17 reads: "And the dragon [Satan the devil] was enraged with the woman [the Church of God], and he went to make war with the rest of her offspring, who keep the commandments of God and have the testimony of Jesus Christ."
We begin our discussion of this passage by quoting from chapter 13 of our free booklet, "Is That in the Bible?--The Mysteries of the Book of Revelation":
In Matthew 24, containing the famous "Olivet prophecy," Jesus Christ explained the "sign of His coming and the end of the age" (verse 3). After discussing the "beginning of sorrows" (verse 8), He pointed at the worldwide preaching of the gospel (verse 14), followed by the Great Tribulation (beginning with verse 15). In that context, Jesus said, in verses 19-22:
The passage in question refers to the time of the Millennium, after Christ's return, when the Kingdom of God will be established here on earth.
Zechariah 13:2-3 reads:
"'(Verse 2) It shall be in that day,' says the LORD of hosts, 'that I will cut off the names of the idols from the land, and they shall no longer be remembered. I will also cause the prophets and the unclean spirit to depart from the land. (Verse 3) It shall come to pass that if anyone still prophesies, then his father and mother who begot him will say to him,"'You shall not live, because you have spoken lies in the name of the LORD." And his father and mother who begot him shall thrust him through when he prophesies...'"
Sarah, the wife of Abraham, is described in Scripture as a faithful and righteous woman (Isaiah 51:1-2; Hebrews 11:11; 1 Peter 3:5-6). Still, we read that she broke the ninth commandment and lied on several occasions. There are mainly two different sets of circumstances, inducing Sarah to lie.
Sarah's first lie is recorded in Genesis 18. God appeared with two angels to Abraham and Sarah and promised them that they would have a son within a year. Genesis 18:11-15 states:
As other Scriptures show, this event was unique to that time in the building of the Church of God; however, this example also reveals the type of commitment that may be needed when the necessity arises.
The context of this account happened surrounding the Day of Pentecost and then the immediate period of time subsequent—perhaps several weeks and months.
Let’s first take a look at the account as recorded in Acts 2:42-47:
In our last Q&A, we explained that God did not give Satan or his demons the power to heal human beings. In this Q&A, we want to explain "miraculous healings," "caused" by Satan, which, upon further scrutiny, prove to be not true healings at all.
In our free booklet, "Angels, Demons and the Spirit World," we wrote the following in Part 2, "The World of Demons," on pages 42-44, 51:
In John 17:13, we read: "But now I come to You, and these things I speak in the world, that they [His disciples] may have MY JOY fulfilled in them."
First, let us explain what the two trees in the Garden of Eden symbolized.
We are quoting the following excerpts from chapter 2 of our free booklet, "Human Suffering--Why...And How Much Longer?" :
"When God created the first human being, Adam, and his wife, Eve, He placed them in a garden—the Garden of Eden, also called Paradise. God also created two special trees in this garden—the tree of life and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. He told man that he was allowed to eat from all the trees in the garden with the exception of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. This means that man could eat, and should have eaten, from the tree of life.
We realise that some groups approach the preaching of the gospel by going from door to door. But this is not in accordance with Scripture, and it can do more harm than good.
First of all, we have to realise that this is not the only day of salvation. In 2 Corinthians 6:2, it states the following: "For He says: 'In an acceptable time I have heard you, And in the day of salvation I have helped you..'." We have long understood that this verse is a mistranslation of Isaiah 49:8 where it states that this is "a day of salvation" (Authorized Version). If today was the only day of salvation, then Satan, who has the world in the palm of his hand, would be winning the battle outright. Of course, that is not the case.
Let us read Hebrews 13:9 in context, including verses 10-16:
Verse 14 summarizes the Parable of the Wedding Feast spoken by Jesus Christ in which He teaches about the Kingdom of God and about the accountability that people have when God offers them salvation—that is, eternal life (compare Matthew 24:1-14).
Contrary to what many teach and who say that parables were used by Christ to make His teaching more clear, just the opposite is true. The Bible addresses this:
“All these things Jesus spoke to the multitude in parables; and without a parable He did not speak to them, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet, saying: ‘I will open My mouth in parables; I will utter things kept secret from the foundation of the world’” (Matthew 13:34-35).
To answer these and related questions, it is important to explain some of the background and to look at the context of the Scripture.
In order to offer an accurate analysis of the fate of the “tares,” we need to look at the entire parable in Matthew 13, in its context. Beginning with verse 24, Jesus states:
The basic economics of what is happening now in the United States is actually in line with prophecy. Gold (as well as silver) has an inverse relationship to the US dollar (USD). There are other factors (such as demand) that contribute to the price of gold going up, but as the value of the USD goes down and becomes weaker, it takes more USD to buy an ounce of gold. Hence we see one of the reasons that this precious metal is going up in price. Many investors see the power of the USD diminishing and are putting their money in gold (or elsewhere) as a hedge in an effort to offset exposure to price changes and to minimize risk.
First, let us explain that the Feast of Purim is not one of God’s commanded Holy Days. It is celebrated by the Jews, and observing the Purim Feast by them is, per se, not against Scripture. As a Jew, Jesus would have kept the Feast of Purim, although there is no specific reference in the New Testament that He did. But as it is pointed out in the Question, many times the way in which it is celebrated is clearly against God’s commandments.
The date for Purim in 2010 was February 28th and this year will be on March 20th.
Wikipedia makes the following comments about this festival:
The importance of this question, and its answer, can be found in the Word of God—in writings that very specifically address what has, what is and what will happen to the people of God in this, our generation!
The Worldwide Church of God was the culmination of the calling and life’s work of Herbert W. Armstrong in re-establishing the Truth of God as it was revealed and practiced in the early New Testament Church. Following his death in 1986, an insidious change infiltrated the Worldwide Church of God through the introduction of another “gospel”—one taught by most of the prevailing churches which claim to be Christian but which neither know God nor obey the gospel of Jesus Christ (compare 2 Thessalonians 1:8; Matthew 7:21-23 and Galatians 1:6-9).
Sadly, many have a totally wrong concept as to how Jesus Christ lived when He was here on earth. They might have read Scriptures saying that even though He was rich, He became poor (2 Corinthians 8:9), not realizing that Paul is using a comparison between the richness of the immortal God who owns everything, and, in contrast, the poverty of man whose insignificant riches might be here today and gone tomorrow (compare Proverbs 23:4-5).
But Jesus Christ was by no means a vagabond or a hippy. Even though some claim, for instance, that He wore long hair, the Bible is very clear that He did not (compare 1 Corinthians 11:14). [For more information, please read our Q&A, Did Jesus Wear Long Hair?].
Many try to use this passage to “prove” that we are allowed today to eat whatever man in his twisted mind has decided to devour—including the meat from pigs, dogs, monkeys, rats, cats, squirrels, as well as frogs, snails, ants, scorpions, snakes, lobster, shrimp, shellfish and oysters, just to name a few. However, this is most certainly not what the passage conveys.
1 Timothy 4:1-5 reads, in context:
The passage in 1 John 3:9 reads, according to the New King James Bible:
“Whoever has been born of God does not sin, for His seed remains in him; and he cannot sin, because he has been born of God.”
Many feel it is only necessary to “say” that we accept and believe in Christ. Nothing could be further from the truth. Outside of the fact that this is nebulous and undefined, it is not what the Bible reveals as being required to become a Christian.
True conversion is a spiritual change from sinfulness to righteousness. This does not and cannot happen in an instant. It is a Godly change in our character and actions, from the carnal person we were, to one that God wants us to become. This transformation does not happen by fiat, as many suppose.
As many of our readers know, the Church of the Eternal God and its affiliates, the Global Church of God in the UK and the Church of God, a Christian Fellowship in Canada, as well as the Kirche des Ewigen Gottes in Germany, observe the annual Festival of the Days of Unleavened Bread. God commands us that during the seven days of that Festival, all leavened products have to be removed from our houses, and that only unleavened products are to be consumed during that time.
1 John 5:4-8 reads, in context:
“(Verse 4) For whatever is born [better here: begotten] of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith. (Verse 5) Who is he who overcomes the world, but he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God? (Verse 6) This is He who came by water and blood—Jesus Christ; not only by water, but by water and blood. And it is the Spirit who [better: which] bears witness, because the Spirit is truth. (Verse 7) For there are three that bear witness (in heaven: the Father, the Word, and the Holy Spirit; and these three are one. (Verse 8) And there are three that bear witness on earth): the Spirit, the water, and the blood; and these three agree as one.”
The answer is, “No.” In our Q&A published in the Update of April 22, 2011, the question of whether or not Judas committed the “unpardonable sin” is addressed. It was pointed out, among other things, that Judas had never received the Holy Spirit prior to his death. We will now address the specific question that arises from Matthew 26:24, which reads:
“‘The Son of Man goes as it is written of Him, but woe to that man by whom the Son of Man is betrayed! It would have been good for that man if he had not been born.’” Compare Mark 14:21 and Luke 22:22.
The Scripture that you are referring to is found in Leviticus 23:6-8, “And on the fifteenth day of the same [first] month is the Feast of Unleavened Bread to the LORD; seven days you must eat unleavened bread. On the first day you shall have a holy convocation; you shall do no customary work on it. But you shall offer an offering made by fire to the LORD for seven days. The seventh day shall be a holy convocation; you shall do no customary work on it.' "
It is correct that we should be keeping this Feast as well the other five annual Holy Days mentioned in this chapter. (For more information, please read our free booklet, “God’s Commanded Holy Days.” ). But there are a couple of other points that are noteworthy.
The short answer is that it most certainly is not acceptable for a true Christian to compromise his or her Christian beliefs for any reason whatsoever.
What is compromise? A compromise is an agreement (or proposed agreement) to accept a situation in which the parties get variations from what they originally sought, to achieve a compatible outcome. It can also be defined as an amicable agreement between parties in controversy, to settle their differences by mutual concession.
In the parable of the “unjust steward,” as recorded in Luke 16:1-13, we find the overseer for a rich man's business in trouble for mismanaging the day to day affairs. When called on the carpet, the steward then mounts a campaign to quickly settle some of the debts he has been remiss in and is subsequently commended for being so shrewd (compare verses 1-8).
As we pointed out in a previous Q&A, discussing opening and closing prayers, the Church of the Eternal God in the USA and its corporate affiliates, the Global Church of God in the UK, and the Church of God, a Christian Fellowship in Canada, trace their roots to the Worldwide Church of God under the late Herbert W. Armstrong (who died in 1986). During his lifetime, Mr. Armstrong established the way in which Church of God services should be conducted, and we have substantially adopted these procedures. As a consequence, our weekly and annual Sabbath services include opening and closing prayers, a song service, announcements, occasional special music presentations (especially during the Feast of Tabernacles), and a sermonette and a
Specifically, in the book of John, Jesus instructed His disciples about prayer. In the hours before His death, He revealed that they would now have access to the Father—but that He, Jesus, was the means by which that would be possible.
Here are the relevant verses:
“‘And whatever you ask in My name, that I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask anything in My name, I will do it’” (John 14:13-14).
“‘You did not choose Me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit, and that your fruit should remain, that whatever you ask the Father in My name He may give you’” (John 15:16).
In looking at mankind in the past and present, we see a commonality throughout cultures for a disposition towards the same attitudes, feelings and emotions. Of more concern are the baser inclinations of man that have led to all evils that have existed in the world. Some may conclude that mankind is born this way.
As discussed in a previous Q&A, Adam and Eve were not created with this nature, but rather had it shaped and influenced by Satan (Also, please see our second Q&A on the subject). But once they had acquired it, it did not mean that their descendants would automatically have it as well.
In a recent Q&A ("Bound by Human Nature?") we mentioned the following in the context of the false concept that we are born with an evil human nature:
“Also, if it was passed on genetically, then Christ could not have lived a sinless life, having been born of Mary - but He did (Hebrews 4:15). Of course, we read that Christ came in the likeness of sinful flesh (Romans 8:3), as He was begotten in Mary's womb and born of her. He had human nature, but He never sinned, showing that His nature or flesh did not automatically force Him to sin.”
While many do not recognize this truth, they are willing to concede the fact that Christ was not born into a sinful situation though they believe that the rest of mankind was.
A “sect” may be defined as “a body of persons agreed upon religious doctrines usually different from those of an established or orthodox church from which they have separated; non-conformist or other church as described by opponents.”
The terms “cult” and “sect” are often used interchangeably; a sect is usually connected with religion and a cult may be – but many things outside the religious arena can also be classified as cultish. Certain television programmes may have a cult following – never a sect following.
In 2 Thessalonians 2:3 there is a falling away (“apostasia”) mentioned, which is defined by Strong’s Hebrew and Greek Dictionaries (G646) as “defection from the truth, falling away, forsake.” This verse is in the section of Scripture (2 Thessalonians 2:1-4), which reads as follows in its entirety:
In a previous Q&A we discussed the meaning of grace. We pointed out that grace does not dispense with individual responsibility. In this Q&A, we will show in more detail what God expects of us.
It is claimed that the New Testament teaches that we are no longer obligated to keep God’s Law, and that especially Paul made clear that the Law is no longer binding for us. This is a terrible and, quite frankly, abominable doctrine stemming from demons.
A fundamental statement of John the Baptist can be found in John 3:36 to the effect that he who believes Jesus Christ will inherit eternal life, but that God’s wrath rests upon a person who does not “obey” Christ (compare the correct rendering in the Revised Standard Version).
John had refused to baptize those who came to him without having shown fruits of repentance, challenging them with the question as to who had warned them to flee from the wrath to come (Matthew 3:7-12; Luke 3:7-17). In Matthew 23:33, Christ reiterated John’s warning, ultimately equating the wrath of God with the condemnation of hell fire. That is, if someone refuses to repent and obey God, ending up in committing the unpardonable sin, he will be destroyed in the lake of fire.
The answer is a resounding, Yes. Most of our readers understand the importance of prayer for the Work of God and His ministers, deacons, members and coworkers who are actively involved in the Work of God. However, in this Q&A, we want to show the strong emphasis, which the Bible places on the duty and responsibility of non-ordained and ordained Church members to pray for God’s Work and the human instruments whom God chooses to carry out His Work.
"You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden."-Matthew 5:14