In this series, we have been pointing out many of our doctrines and practices, which, if taken together, clearly distinguish us from virtually every other Christian organization. In this last installment, we will discuss further defining aspects of our teaching and understanding.
Very few believe the Bible when it tells us what man is.
We say in our Statement of Beliefs, under “Human’s Mortal Nature”:
“We believe that humans are mortal and subject to death, and that they can only obtain immortality through a gift from God.”
When man (“the soul”) dies, he (“it”) is dead (Ezekiel 18:4, 20; Psalm 22:29, Authorized Version). To become alive again, he (“the soul”) must be resurrected from the dead (Revelation 20:4). Man has no consciousness in death (Psalm 6:5; 115:17; 146:4; Ecclesiastes 9:10; Isaiah 38:18-19).
At this point, the only MAN who has obtained immortality through the resurrection from the dead (Romans 1:3-4) is Jesus Christ (1 Timothy 6:14-16; compare Titus 2:13; 1 John 5:20; Revelation 1:18). But God offers all of mankind eternal life and immortality. Romans 6:23 tells us that eternal life is the gift of God. Those who accept and obey Christ and receive God’s Holy Spirit will inherit eternal life at the time of Christ’s return to this earth (Mark 10:29-30; John 10:27-28; 17:1-2). Others will be given this opportunity later, in the Millennium and during the Great White Throne Judgment period.
But God will only give us eternal life if we obey Him, and He will not give us immortality if we refuse to obey Him (Romans 2:5-11). John 3:36 says, in the Revised Standard Version: “He who believes in the Son has eternal life; he who does NOT OBEY the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God rests upon him.” God won’t even give us His Holy Spirit—the guarantee or down payment for eternal life (Ephesians 1:13-14)—if we show Him that we do not want to be obedient to Him (Acts 5:32). It is the clear teaching throughout the Bible that we must obey God (Romans 1:5; 16:26; Acts 6:7). We are still obligated to uphold God’s Law (Matthew 19:17; Hebrews 5:8-9; John 15:10, 14). This means, for example, that we observe God’s weekly and annual Holy Days, and that we REFUSE to observe those days in God’s honor which are of pagan origin. God tells us clearly not to worship Him in the way in which pagans worshipped their gods (Deuteronomy 12:29-32).
It can be easily ascertained that many religious holidays of orthodox Christianity are of pagan origin. This includes the celebrations of Sunday, Christmas, Easter (“Good Friday” and “Easter Sunday”), New Year’s Day and Valentine’s Day. Additional unbiblical “Christian” holidays with incorrect teachings attached to them include Catholic holidays such as Epiphany, Ash Wednesday, Palm Sunday, Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, and All Saint’s Day (which was adopted from the Satanic festival of Halloween), just to name a few. The biblical teaching is clear: We are to keep ONLY those days as RELIGIOUS days of worship which are commanded in the Bible, and we are not to ADD religious days of worship which are not commanded in Scripture and which are contrary to biblical teachings. The same applies to days and seasons which might not be designated as Christian holidays per se, but which are observed by the “Christian” world, even though they are pagan in nature, such as St. Patrick’s Day and Carnival celebrations, as well as school preparations for the Easter and Christmas holidays.
We also reject the concept of the Evolution Theory which postulates that we are, in effect, part of the animal kingdom. God created animals “according to their kind”—the animal kind—but He created man after the God kind. We read in Acts 17:28-29, in the translation of the new Luther Bible of 2009, that man is “of the God kind” (“von Gottes Art”). Man is not an animal. Every human being receives, at the moment of conception, a human spirit, and it is because of the human spirit that we can explain the vast difference between humans and animals.
We say in our Statement of Beliefs, under “Human Spirit”:
“We believe that every human being has in himself or herself a ‘human spirit’ given by God, that distinguishes man from animals (1 Corinthians 2:11), and that goes back to God when man dies (Ecclesiastes 12:7).”
In the book of Isaiah, we are told that each human being has a spirit within him: “Thus says God the LORD, Who created the heavens and stretched them out, Who spread forth the earth and that which comes from it, Who gives breath to the people on it, And spirit to those who walk on it” (Isaiah 42:5).
We read in Zechariah 12:1: “…Thus says the LORD, who stretches out the heavens, lays the foundation of the earth, and forms the spirit of man within him.” When the spirit of man leaves a person, that person is dead. James 2:26 says, “For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also.”
When a person dies and his spirit returns to God, that spirit does not continue to live consciously, apart from the body. Rather, God “stores” it, so to speak, in heaven, until He unites it at the time of the resurrection of man with a new spiritual or physical body. The human spirit is not an immortal soul. It does not continue to live when the human being dies. The concept that man’s soul is immortal is as wrong as the concept that man’s spirit continues to live consciously after death.
When a person dies, his body returns to dust. But the spirit of man in him has recorded the appearance of the person, the personality and the personal attributes, and at the time of the resurrection, God gives the spirit of that person back into the newly created Spirit-composed or physical body.
The spirit in man is not the same as the Holy Spirit, either. The Bible distinguishes clearly between the spirit in man and the Holy Spirit. God gives to everyone the spirit of man at the time of conception, while He only grants His Holy Spirit to those whom He specifically calls.
Paul says in Romans 8:14-16, “For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are the sons of God. For you did not receive the spirit of bondage again to fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption [sonship] by [which] we cry out, Abba, Father. The Spirit [itself] bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God.”
Paul speaks very clearly about two spirits—the spirit of man and the Holy Spirit. Notice 1 Corinthians 2:11 and 14, “For what man knows the things of man except the spirit of the man which is in him. Even so no one knows the things of God except the Spirit of God… But the natural man [a person who has the spirit of man, but who does not have the Holy Spirit of God] does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.”
It is the gift of the Holy Spirit which distinguishes a converted person from a carnally-minded individual. And it is the spirit in man which distinguishes man from animals. Inasmuch as man is not an animal, God has decreed that man is permitted to eat animal meat. If man was an animal, then man would clearly be prohibited from doing so, as God condemns cannibalism. Some Scriptures which clearly disapprove of cannibalism and show how much God abhors it, describing it as a curse, can be found in Deuteronomy 28:52-57; Jeremiah 19:1-9; Lamentations 2:19-21; 4:10-11; and Ezekiel 5:7-10.
But not every animal is fit for human consumption.
We say in our Statement of Beliefs, under “Unclean Meats”:
“We believe that we are to refrain from eating meats which the Bible instructs not to eat and designates as unclean in passages such as Leviticus 11:1-47; Deuteronomy 14:3-20; and Acts 10:1-21, 28.”
We have published a list, setting forth clean animals, which can be eaten, and unclean animals, which must not be eaten. http://www.eternalgod.org/q-a-3192/
God does not teach us that we must be vegetarians, but He does not compel us to eat meat. The same applies to alcohol, which is not mandated for us (except for a small portion at the time of the Passover). On the other hand, Christ and His disciples ate meat (Luke 22:13-15) and drank wine (Matthew 11:19), and Paul admonished Timothy to drink a little wine—not just water—because of his frequent infirmities (1 Timothy 5:23). It would be clearly WRONG to be a vegetarian because of religious reasons, as this idea is of demonic origin (compare 1 Timothy 4:1-3; see discussion below). On the other hand, God did not suddenly make unclean meat fit for human consumption. [This is another proof that cannibalism is prohibited, because even IF we were to say that man was an animal (allegedly a “mammal” according to science), man would not qualify as a “clean” being fit for consumption, since only mammals can be eaten which divide the hoof, having cloven hooves and chewing the cud (Leviticus 11:3).]
Some turn to several Scriptures to “prove” that all animal flesh can be eaten, including frogs, scorpions, snails, snakes, crabs, dogs, horses, skunks, pigs or rats, just to name a few.
One of those passages is Genesis 9:3, which says that God has given man as “food” “every moving thing that lives” “even as the green herbs.” Some claim that prior to this time, humans did not eat animal meat (compare Genesis 1:29, even though this passage does not specifically prohibit the consumption of meat). In any event, beginning with Noah, God allowed expressly the consumption of animal meat which is clean, wholesome and fit for food. The comparison with “green herbs” makes clear that neither unhealthy or poisonous green herbs were included in God’s permission, nor animal meat which is unclean and unfit for human consumption.
Please note that just prior to the Flood, Noah had been instructed to take clean and unclean animals into the ark (Genesis 7:2). Did God abolish this distinction right after the Flood?
Matthew Poole’s Commentary points out that God’s permission to eat all meat includes “… an exception to be gathered both from the nature of the thing, and from the distinction of clean and unclean beasts, mentioned before and afterwards… [Excluded is also the consumption] of those creatures which either died of themselves, or were killed by wild beasts, which is here forbidden implicitly, and afterwards expressly. See Exodus 22:31 Leviticus 22:8.”
The Pulpit Commentary agrees. It quotes the statements in the above-stated commentary with approval and adds: “Though the distinction between unclean and clean animals as to food, afterwards laid down in the Mosaic code (Leviticus 11:1-31), is not mentioned here, it does not follow that it was either unknown to the writer or unpracticed by the men before the Flood.”
This understanding is clearly correct. The opposite interpretation makes no sense, as one would be compelled to say that God gave His people permission at the time of Noah to eat unclean animals, only to revoke that permission at the time of Moses, when the consumption of unclean animal meat was clearly and expressly prohibited.
Another passage which is quoted to “prove” that all animals are clean today, and fit for human consumption, is Mark 7:19. The Authorized Version translates Mark 7:19 as follows: “… it entereth not into his heart, but into the belly, and goeth out into the draught, PURGING all meats…”
Christ was addressing a situation where a little bit of dirt might have been attached to our hands or the CLEAN food. When we eat this, it does not defile us inwardly, as it is eliminated out of the body into the draught. The clean food will be “cleansed,” in that little particles of dirt will be eliminated out of the body.
Another “proof text” is Acts 10. In that passage, Peter had a vision, seeing a great sheet of clean and unclean animals, and a voice asking him to eat. Peter refused and did not eat, although the voice told him that he should not call common what God had cleansed (verse 15). Subsequently, Peter went to the Gentiles—normally treated as common or unclean by the Jews—and baptized them. When confronted by the disciples, who were, at that time, exclusively of Jewish background and descent, Peter explained the meaning of the vision. It had nothing to do with declaring unclean animals as appropriate for human consumption. Rather, Peter said, in verse 28: “… God has shown me that I should not call any MAN common or unclean.” And so, the disciples recognized the purpose of the vision—to show the New Testament Church that God had “granted to the GENTILES repentance to life” (Acts 11:18).
1 Timothy 4:1-5 is also used to “prove” that all animal flesh can be eaten. This passage talks about the false teaching that we must abstain from FOOD which God has sanctified and created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and know the truth. God never created unclean animals for food. The distinction between clean and unclean animals already existed under Noah, long before Moses. It still existed long after Christ’s death when Peter refused to eat unclean meat, and it will still exist at the time of Christ’s return, as God will punish those who consume the flesh of pigs and other unclean animals, calling such a practice “abominable” (compare Isaiah 65:2-7; 66:17).
In 1 Timothy 4:1-5, Paul is not permitting the consumption of the meat of unclean animals, but rather, he addresses those false preachers who teach against the consumption of the meat of CLEAN animals for religious reasons. Paul is condemning the concept of that version of vegetarianism that is taught by people believing that they must not eat meat because they perceive it to be holy. (We might think of the belief in “holy” cows in certain parts of the world.) God says through Paul that every creature CREATED FOR FOOD (verse 3) is good and can be eaten, AS IT IS SANCTIFIED BY THE WORD OF GOD (verse 5). God’s Word, the Bible, never sanctified or set aside for consumption unclean animals, but it DOES sanctify or set aside for consumption the meat of every CLEAN animal. We are permitted to eat the flesh of clean animals with thanksgiving, for we believe God and His Word, and we know the truth (verse 3). And such consumption is good (verse 4) and also sanctified by prayer (verse 5), as we thank God (verse 4) and ask Him to bless the food and to set it aside for the nourishing of our bodies.
God still requires of us that we abstain from consuming the meat of UNCLEAN animals. But this does not necessarily include the use of medicines, vitamins and mineral supplements derived from unclean animals, and the use of gelatin products, which might be derived from parts of unclean animals; while the prohibition of consuming certain parts of clean animals, such as fat and blood, is still valid for us today. We are not to consume blood, see Genesis 9:4 and Acts 15:20. However, this prohibition does not include, for example, blood transfusions. Animal fat refers to the fatty portion of the meat (Leviticus 3:17; 7:23, 25) which can be easily separated from the lean portion. It does of course not refer to “fatty” food such as butter or cheese (compare Genesis 18:8; Isaiah 7:15; and 2 Samuel 17:27-29; all in the Authorized Version).
Finally, some turn to Hebrews 13:9 and claim that this passage permits the consumption of all animal meat. The passage says: “Do not be carried about [away] with various and strange doctrines. For it is good that the heart be established by grace, not with foods [or meat] which have not profited those who have been occupied with them.”
Paul addresses the fact that various and strange doctrines had been added. These rules did not originate with God’s Law, but with human traditions and ideas. Doctrines pertaining to the distinction of clean and unclean meats were not “strange” to God or the Hebrews. Rather, the Jews were very familiar with these teachings. Paul was addressing traditional Jewish teaching and traditions (outside the pages of the Old Testament) and the concepts of pagan or “Gnostic” teachers who were trying to convince the Hebrews to adopt “new” or “strange” ideas regarding food or meat. Men, under demonic influence, had added the concepts of rejecting some meats that God created as clean or proper for human consumption, while allowing the consumption of animal flesh that God has specifically prohibited.
For more information on the issues which were discussed in this installment, please read or order the following free literature:
“Do We Have an Immortal Soul?”
“Is that in the Bible? Man’s Holidays and God’s Holy Days”
“The Theory of Evolution—a Fairy Tale for Adults?”
“Old Testament Laws—Still Valid Today?”
In this seven-part series, we have shown you that and how we are different from other Christian organizations. We have explained that our teachings and practices are based on and derived from the Bible. Will you, the reader, follow the example of the people of Berea, who “were more fair-minded than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness, and searched the Scriptures daily to find out whether these things were so” (Acts 17:11)? When they did, “many of them believed” (verse 12).
Lead Writer: Norbert Link