A Good Earth Full of Good and Bad People
“A Good Earth Full of Good and Bad People.” That statement could summarize and explain our world’s current state of affairs. Thankfully, there are many more generally decent and good people than bad ones. But we all know it doesn’t take many rotten characters to bring misery and havoc. People are free to be the way they want to be and to do the things they want to do. Freedom is God’s gift to mankind. God is free and his children are free. Of course, forces of influence press upon that human gift of freedom. To make good freewill choices requires some knowledge of the options, of right and wrong, of cause and effect, of purpose. But the world is adrift in a sea of ignorance which makes freedom to choose a mixed bag. Read Article.
The study of the Hebrew (Jewish) roots of the New Covenant writings, and of the Christian Church, have taken on new life of late. Hundreds of scholars meet annually to discuss and compare their findings. Of particular interest are the “synoptic” Gospels – Matthew, Mark and Luke. The word “synoptic” is from the Greek synoptikos, “a seeing together.” The three accounts of Jesus’ life and teaching appear to have been drawn from some common sources. John’s Gospel appears to rely on other sources. Read Article.
Does the average person have in hand a clear doctrinal understanding of the afterlife? Hardly. What passes for doctrine is mostly loose talk of going to hell or heaven. More often the afterlife is a setting for cartoons and jokes with Saint Peter screening would-be-saints at heaven’s Golden Gate; or the Devil welcoming lawyers and used car salesmen to the fires of hell. They’re funny, but have absolutely no resemblance to biblical or historical fact. Read Article.
Genesis through Numbers is presented as if by a third person. Could it be an angel? Stephen (Acts 7:53): “Who have received the law by the disposition of angels…” εἰς διαταγὰς ἀγγέλων Genesis gives history but never explains the moral of the history. For that you just read on a bit and it becomes clear. Exodus through Numbers are absolutely explicit regarding the law—the moral law as also the specifications for tabernacle and the sacrifices. But these books never explain the meaning of those things. That meaning, the sages say, is behind the vail. Read Article.
There was, it seems, a time when human life was more precious than it is today – at least in our culture. Times are changing. In a small, but growing, sector of college students, “post birth abortion” is becoming acceptable. Writes Mairead McArdle, “Anecdotal evidence by leaders of profile groups such as Created Equal and Survivors of the Abortion Holocaust said in interviews that not only do they see more college students willing to say they support post-birth abortion, but some students even suggest that children up to 4 or 5 can also be killed, because they are not yet ‘self-aware.’” Read Article.
In COG circles it has been thought that Jesus returns at the beginning of the millennium, subdues the nations and rules, and then at the end of the millennium God descends from heaven and Jesus submits to his authority. Read Article.
I’ve been studying the Bible for more than 50 years – you’d think I would have learned something by now. And I have. For one thing, I’ve learned not to be so blasted dogmatic. I’ve learned to tell the difference between what I know and what I believe. Knowing and believing are not the same thing. Read Article.
The common people welcomed Jesus in the triumphal entry into Jerusalem. He came openly as the messianic king (Luke 19:14), “But his citizens hated him, and sent a message after him, saying, We will not have this man to reign over us.” Repentance must come to the ruling class. We can pray and work to that end, but change will not come except the ruling class repents. Read Article.
What hath the Covenant to do with Christ? Here I paraphrase Tertullian who asked, “What hath Athens to do with Jerusalem?”Accordingly this would mean not much—except that Jesus did away with the covenant and inaugurated a new and more liberal one. But if we are unitarians do we still think this? Do we also believe that Christ inaugurated a new covenant and rendered the “old” obsolete? This, of course, is the classic interpretation of Hebrews 8:13, “In that he saith, A new covenant, he hath made the first old. Now that which decayeth and waxeth old is ready to vanish away.” Read Article.
Anthony Flew, foremost atheist of the 20th century who before he died accepted intelligent design, called Paul a first rate intellectual. This matches Peter’s assessment (2Peter 3:15-16), …even as our beloved brother Paul also according to the wisdom given unto him hath written unto you; As also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things; in which are some things hard to be understood, which they that are unlearned and unstable wrest, as they do also the other scriptures [writings], unto their own destruction. Read Article.
We, as Christians, can view most issues one of two ways: From the perspective of the flesh, or from a spiritual viewpoint. The fleshly view is the natural view — the way any natural person might look at an issue. The spiritual is the God’s eye view. Let’s take a common issue and try to see it from both perspectives. Read Article.
The mass murder of Jews in Europe began in 1933 and ended in 1945 when its malevolent mastermind, Adolph Hitler, went to meet his maker. It is commonly reported that some six million Jews were murdered in Der Fuhrer’s democide. According to more recent research however, the reach of the monster’s rage against Jews may have been considerably more extensive than previously believed. Read Article.
Of the ten commandments, the one we know least about may be the tenth. In the NIV it reads as follows: “You shall not covet your neighbor’s house. You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or his manservant or maidservant, his ox or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor,” Exodus 20:17. Read Article.
When Jesus was describing the kind of people who make up his kingdom, he said, “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God,” (Matthew 5:8).What does it mean to be “pure in heart”? Here, Jesus was not teaching the “multitudes” but his own disciples (Matthew 5:1-2). He was preparing them for a life of apostleship. After Jesus had died and was resurrected, they would strike out on their own to spread the Gospel. It would be important to internalize the qualities listed in these “beatitudes.” Read Article.
Genesis 18:14 Is any thing too hard for the LORD? At the time appointed I will return unto thee, according to the time of life, and Sarah shall have a son. הֲיִפָּלֵ֥א מֵיְהוָ֖ה דָּבָ֑ר לַמּוֹעֵ֞ד אָשׁ֥וּב אֵלֶ֛יךָ כָּעֵ֥ת חַיָּ֖ה וּלְשָׂרָ֥ה בֵֽן׃ Read Article.
John Calvin described the human mind as a perpetual “idol factory” busily creating things and ideas to capture first place in our affections. There are religious idols and materialistic idols and our world is over-populated with both. We live in cities of idols just as given to idolatry as were ancient Athens or Rome or Babylon. Idolatry isn’t an antique sin from yesteryear or confined to the pagan worshippers of Vishnu in India, it is a challenge for each of us today. Read Article.
Uganda is a landlocked African nation slightly smaller than the state of Oregon. It is home to many tribes and at least three major religions: Roman Catholic (33%), Protestant (33%) and Muslim (16%). Another 18% represent indigenous beliefs. In 1894 Uganda became a British Protectorate. The country gained its independence from Britain in 1962. Read Article.
The great Patriarch Abraham “kept the way of the Lord” and did what was “right and just” (Genesis 18:19). Not everyone was like Abraham. In his travels, Abraham came into territory that was ruled over by Abimelech, an ungodly king. Abraham realized that the king held to a different standard than he did. Kings of this sort were accustomed to taking what they want – just as do modern tyrants and dictators. Abraham’s wife was a beautiful woman. He realized that once the king saw her, he would desire her. He was afraid that the king would kill him to get his wife: “…I said to myself, ‘There is surely no fear of God in this place, and they will kill me for my wife,” (Genesis 20:11). Read Article.
Let’s get to the heart of the matter: What does God really want out of us? Are there clear statements in Scripture that hit the bull’s eye of God’s expectations for us as individuals? There certainly are, and many of them, but centuries of religious obfuscation, traditions, incense, stained glass, and theological fog blowers have all but hidden them. Getting to the heart of God’s desire for us is probably our most important responsibility. Read Article.
Many teach that the Sabbath is just for the Jews and the Gentiles get a pass and can ignore it. Apparently it was good and a blessing to his chosen ones, but alas, no such blessing for the rest of the world. Or does the Sabbath stand as a day of holy remembrance and rest for all mankind to enjoy? Jews (Israelites) who were punished for breaking it in ancient Israel’s theocracy–it was both a religious and national law–in later apostate times taught that Gentiles should be killed for keeping the Sabbath; it was “their” day, Jews said, and God’s sign upon them and Gentiles had best leave it alone. How much is nonsense and where does the truth lie? Noel Rude, a linguist and Bible researcher, takes a look at the matter and along the way gives us some history to the seven-day week. Read Article.
Most Protestants haven’t a clue to the sordid past of their great hero. Calvin was certainly an important, bright, and powerful man, but he was not a nice man. How could a nice Christian leader torture and murder a fellow scholar and Christian? Read the story to discover. Calvin murdered Michael Servetus over doctrine. Specifically: the non-biblical doctrines of the Trinity and pedobaptism which Calvin defended. Read Article.
The Surprising Flight of Noah’s Raven
See article by clicking this link: http://ezekielmasterkey.com/wp-content/uploads/WP_flight-of-Noahs-raven.pdf
Yves Peloquin takes commonly read-over details of Noah’s birds and using creative thought, symbolism, allegory, and parallels, builds a most interesting story. He began his study by asking this question of himself: “Why did Noah choose a raven so black and a dove so white, and this lead me to produce a very unorthodox research.” Guided by Yves’clear graphics, see how Cain and Able fit in the story and how the story of God’s plan of salvation once again emerges in an unexpected way.
Scary! How could a prophecy over two millennia old be so on target for 2012? Zephaniah spoke to another people at another time, but it seems that the more things change the more they stay the same. This is especially true when dealing with the downward pulls of human nature. This is one old shoe that still fits perfectly. Read Brian’s brief article and see if you don’t agree. There is good reason to study the OT and this is a case in point. Yehovah still operates by his righteous character and judges justly. Humans still operate as they always have and must learn the hard way. The wise, however, are a special category that provide the exception. Read who they are in Zephaniah’s prophecy. Read Article.
Now we wait…and hope. We wait for the arrival of God’s judgment and the bursting forth of the everlasting Kingdom of God. We also seek…and we endure. We, like Abraham, have in our minds a picture of a beautiful, shiny city coming from heaven to earth. It is to that city we seek our never-ending future in the presence of our Father and his Son. From the New Jerusalem a voice calls to us, “Come, lay down your burdens, sing for joy, and inherit the Kingdom prepared for you.” Soon the waiting will be over. Then what? Read Article.
Often the outcome of a conflict is decided by the actions of a single individual, an election decided by a single vote, a family saved by the bravery of one, disaster averted by the skill of a single pilot, a nation saved or lost by the decision of one man, or the entire human race saved by the righteousness of but one lone man. Individuals matter in the course of human events. Individuals matter with God—you and your actions impact your world and make a difference within God’s plan. The power of one. –Ken Westby Read Article.
Splits happen for a lot of reasons. Some for good reasons–core doctrinal truth or moral issues–but many are just silly disputes. Struggles over power and control are frequent causes of church divisions. Who is in charge and who calls the shots are realities that loom large in organizations. I’ve been through some big church splits and can look back at lessons learned and mistakes made. Churches are not immune from the negative workings of the human condition. But God is building a spiritual church that is strangely and delightfully immune from church splits. Read my firsthand experience and advice to those now dealing with their church being divided. –Ken Westby Read Article.
The First Intercessory Prayer
The purpose of most prayer is to influence God. Why would you pray if God isn’t listening, or if listening can’t be moved to action to answer your prayer? We pray to get God to change things or do things we want done. Does God invite such prayers? Can he change what he was otherwise going to do in order to accommodate your request? What is the dynamic that exists between us and God regarding prayer? The first intercessory prayer recorded in Scripture gives insight into how God deals with us and how we are to deal with Him.
Check out three new articles on the topic of Biblical Chronology. The Bible is not a history text book and doesn’t pretend to be, but the historical events it records have been proven by modern research to be astonishingly accurate. Can the same be said for the Bible’s attention to genealogies, dates and its frequent chronological notes. Clearly, Scripture is replete with numbers and times, but sorting them into a coherent time-line has proven a daunting task. Over the centuries hundreds of scholars have set their minds to tackle the task–with mixed results. Perhaps we are a step closer with the work of Noel Rude and Yves Peloquin. Read Yves introductory article on our website and then visit his website for the complete and detailed analysis of how Ezekiel chapters four and five are the keys to unlocking biblical chronology. Read Article.
This biblical research paper was prepared by the linguist and researcher Noel Rude. Most folks think of 3 days and three nights being the sign Jesus left, but there is much more to it than that. Read the rest of the story in Noel’s paper. Read Article.
How does God operate his vast cosmic enterprise? Answer: Wisely! God is a master delegator as well as a master designer and creator. He has organized his vast heavenly realm as it pleases him. This diverse and awesome administration of heavenly beings is supremely functional. God has not only delegated various and great authorities to these heavenly angelic powers, he has already begun to delegate far superior authorities to man. You and I fit in there somewhere. (Part One) Read Article.
The book of Revelation (Greek: Apocalypse, “unveiling” or “disclosure”) is the most Old Testament-like of New Testament books. The Apocalypse is typically dismissed as irrelevant by many, avoided by most, obsessed over by others, and the sweet nectar for paranoid doomsdayers. John Calvin wouldn’t include it in his NT commentaries. Martin Luther was sure he lived in the last days but considered the book of Revelation “neither apostolic nor prophetic,” and relegated it to an appendix in his New German Bible. Scholars are divided; some say its visions were fulfilled 2000 years ago, others say they are imminent, yet others hold for distant future fulfillments. What should we take from this extraordinary book that closes Scripture’s message? — Ken Westby Read Article.
Change is your friend. Time need not be working against you if you are moving in the direction of “True North.” The entire plan of God is premised upon change. How are you changing? –Ken Westby Read Article.
God invites us to enter into a candid give-and-take dynamic relationship with him. At times, as with any close relationship, there will be disputes and even arguments. Moses argued with God. –Ken Westby Read Article.
Count the ways in which God has blessed mankind…and you. We are not poor, but rich in the gifts God has given. You’re not feeling rich and blessed? God has a Cornucopia gifts he is offering you in addition to those you already have, but may not have considered. –Brian Knowles Read Article.
Are we impotent in a contest with evil…against the Evil One? In Martin Luther’s famous hymn “A Mighty Fortress Is Our God” his verse on our “ancient foe” reads: “On earth is not his equal.” How can a mere mortal stand against such power? –Ken Westby Read Article.
My wife called 9-1-1 rescue for me and it was a good thing for minutes later my heart stopped. We had also made a 9-1-1 call to God. He gets a lot of them and takes each one. –Ken Westby Read Article.
Jesus offered some clear dos and don’ts on prayer. Prayer is not public performance, it is conversing with the Heavenly Father. Brian Knowles offers biblical guidelines. Read Article.
There are many. Some meanings of life are downright profound–especially those outlined by the Maker of Life. Let Brian Knowles walk you through the maze of meanings. Read Article.
“Produce Fruit” What kind of “fruit”? How is it produced? How does God go about tending his fruit-producing vines? Read Article.
Right doctrine, wrong doctrine, half-right, half-wrong…where do you stand? Is being right on doctrine the end to which Christians must strive? Is this true religion? Brian Knowles says no and he makes his case from the words of Jesus. Read Article.
Christianity seems to be caught in a crossfire of criticism and persecution. Opinions swirl about the reliability of the Gospels and about what they really reach. The life of Jesus, however, speaks with a clarity no one with ears should miss. –Article by Brian Knowles Read Article.
My report on the annual meetings of the Society of Biblical Literature in San Diego this past November. This is the biggest event in Biblical Studies and draws about seven thousand members from around the world. –Ken Westby Read Article.
The Prophecy Pit
How could so many be so wrong? History is littered with failed prophecies and missed dates. And yet the prophecy preachers are still date-picking and will soon fall into the same pit. What is there about prophecy that leads people into such error? — Ken Westby
She pops up in the NT story of the birth of Jesus. Who is this devout old woman from the tribe of Asher? What was her revelation from God? Why is she significant to the story? Dr. Doug Ward investigates this amazing episode of biblical history. –Article by Dr. Doug Ward Read Article.
One could rightly say that any prayer that God listens to, likes, and most importantly, answers, is a “perfect prayer.” How does one go about praying such prayers? Article by Ken Westby. Read Article.
Something happened to the Christianity of the Apostles and the Early Church. The big turning point was a church council in 325 AD. An article by Brian Knowles. Read Article.
Jesus was just another 8-day-old Jewish boy to him. He did his cutting upon the baby boy marking him as a Son of the Covenant. He handed the babe back to his parents and went on his way having no idea he had touched the firstborn Son of His Majesty in heaven. The circumciser was among the first to handle the Son of God who now rules from the Heavenly Father’s throne in heaven. He encountered the sacred, the holy, and he knew it not. A mistake most of us repeat on a daily basis.–Ken Westby Read Article.
“Hi, I’m Gary and I’m a recovering Apocaholic. I am currently Apocalypse free for nearly 18 years. I left the church of the Religious Apocalypse in 1976, over 30 years ago, and I resigned from the secular church of the Financial Apocalypse in 1989. Yes, I still feel the urge to proclaim the end of all things, from time to time, but I white-knuckle my way to a history book for a little perspective, and then I breathe easier. If you wish to join AA, the only requirement is that you give up the adrenaline rush of media-fed fantasies.” (read more…but doomsdayers beware!) Article by Gary Alexander Read Article.