Monthly letter archive

Christian Biblical Church of God

Post Office Box 1442

Hollister, California 95024-1442

(831)-637-1875

Fred R. Coulter, Minister

December 18, 2003

Dear Brethren,

By the time you receive this letter, the New Testament project will be finished and on its way to the printer. After years of study, research, preaching, teaching, translating and writing, we have completed this most important publication. We have endeavored to the utmost of our abilities as led by the Holy Spirit of God to produce an accurate faithful translation from the Textus Receptus—the Stephens Greek Text of 1550—into English. Anyone who reads and studies it can have full confidence in the fidelity of the translation and in the accuracy of the research as reflected in the commentaries and appendices.

Today, few scholars and translators actually believe that the New Testament is the Word of God. We believe what Scripture reveals, that every word of God as found in the original Greek and in the faithful Greek copies is God-breathed. This is what the apostle Paul wrote to Timothy: "And that from a child you have known the holy writings [the Old Testament], which are able to make you wise unto salvation through faith, which is in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is God-breathed [New Testament and Old Testament] and is profitable for doctrine, for conviction, for correction, for instruction in righteousness" (II Tim. 3:15-16).

The NIV renders verse 16 in this same passage as follows: "Every Scripture inspired of God is profitable..." Such an inaccurate translation opens the door to say, "Not all that wefind in the Bible is inspired of God." According to this reasoning, if some parts of Scripture are, not inspired—not God-breathed—then God is guilty of inspiring error, or lies. Therefore, some scholars and translators have concluded that they must decide which scriptures are inspired and which are not. In this process, they have injected their own personal beliefs into the Word of God, twisting and distorting it to their own liking. To them there is no absolute standard— everything is relative. Most modern translations today reflect the beliefs of men, rather than the mind of God—the very Word of God.

Another example of inaccurate translating occurs in Mark 7 where NIV translators have made it appear that Jesus Christ purified all unclean meats for human consumption. It reads: '"Are you so dull?' he asked. 'Don't you see that nothing that enters a man from the outside can make him "unclean"?' For it doesn't go into his heart but into his stomach, and then out of his body.' (In saying this, Jesus declared all foods 'clean.')" (verses 18-19, NIV). This is not a faithful rendering of the Greek but is what translators call a "dynamic equivalent." In other words, it is a paraphrase to the liking of the so-called translator. This is the philosophy of most modern translations today.

The controversy between Jesus and the scribes and Pharisees in Mark 7 was not about clean or unclean meats but about eating with washed or unwashed hands: 'Then the Pharisees and some of the scribes from Jerusalem came together to Him. And when they saw some of His disciples eating with defiled hands (that is, unwashed hands), they found fault. For the Pharisees and all the Jews, holding fast to the tradition of the elders, do not eat unless they wash their hands thoroughly. Even when coming from the market, they do not eat unless they first wash themselves. And there are many other things that they have received to observe, such as the washing of cups and pots and brass utensils and tables. For this reason, the Pharisees and the scribes questioned Him, saying, 'Why don't Your disciples walk according to the tradition of the elders, but eat bread with unwashed hands?'" (verses 1-5).

The scribes and the Pharisees declared that if a man ate with unwashed hands, he was ritually defiled. However, eating food with unwashed hands does not contaminate either the food or the person. If a bit of dirt either from one's hands or from the food itself is unwittingly ingested while eating, the human body is fully able to reject it in the digestion process and to eliminate it from the body. Jesus clearly explained this in verses 18-19. What follows is an accurate translation: "And He said to them, 'Are you likewise without understanding? Don't you perceive that anything that enters into a man from outside is not able to defile him? For it does not enter into his heart, but into the belly, and then passes out into the sewer, purging all foods." Thus, Jesus did not declare all foods clean; rather He said that if anyone eats with unwashed hands, any dirt is purged out of the body and goes out into the sewer, or as the KJV says "into the draught." If the scribes and Pharisees had seen the disciples eating unclean meats, their condemnation of the disciples and Jesus would have been vehement—and rightly so!

Paul wrote, "All Scripture is God-breathed." Therefore, any translation must be faithful to the original Hebrew or Greek so that the quality and the inspiration of the "God-breathed" originals are conveyed as accurately as possible in the translation. This new "Faithful Version" is based on the fact that the Word of God is the absolute truth. The apostle John wrote, "No lie comes from the truth" (I John 2:21). It is impossible for God to inspire error because it would make Him a liar, and it is impossible for God to lie (Heb. 6:18). He is the God of Truth. (Titus 1:2). Therefore, all Scripture is the truth, and God challenges men to prove Him and to know that His Word is true. Here is what God proclaims of His Word:

The Word of God

"Forever, O LORD, thy word is settled in heaven." Psa. 119:89

"Thy word is true from the beginning: and every one of thy righteous judgments endureth forever." Psa. 119:160

"The heaven and the earth shall pass away, but My words shall never pass away." Matt. 24:35

"Thou hast magnified thy word above all thy name." Psa. 138:2

"The words of the LORD are pure words: as silver tried in a furnace of earth, purified seven times." Psa. 12:6

"Every word of God is pure: he is a shield unto them that put their trust in him. Add thou not unto his words, lest he reprove thee, and thou be found a liar." Prov. 30:5-6

"Sanctify them in Your truth; Your Word is the truth." John 17:17

"Thy righteousness is an everlasting righteousness, and thy law is the truth." Psa. 119:142

"He that hath my word, let him speak my word faithfully." Jer. 23:28

'Thou art near, O LORD;and all thy commandments are truth." Psa. 119:151

"Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path." Psa 119:105

'Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee." Psa 119:11

"I wait for the LORD, my soul doth wait, and in his word do I hope." Psa 130:5

"I love thy commandments above gold; yea, above fine gold ... I esteem all thy precepts concerning all things to be right; and I hate every false way." Psa. 119:127-128

"For the Word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of both soul and spirit, and of both the joints and the marrow, and is able to discern the thoughts and intents of the heart." Heb. 4:12

"For He Whom God has sent speaks the words of God; and God gives not the Spirit by measure unto Him." John 3:34.

"It is the Spirit that gives life; the flesh profits nothing. The words that I speak to you, they are spirit and they are life." John 6:63

"The one who is of God hears the words of God." John 8:47


The words of God are the true words of eternal life. His Word is absolute, as is His existence and sovereignty. We can have full faith and confidence in God the Father and Jesus Christ and in the God-breathed Word of God. This is the fundamental and only approach that can be used as the basis for any translation or written commentary to explain the Word of God. This means that the Word of God must be "rightly divided," as Paul wrote to Timothy: "Diligently study to present yourself approved unto God, a workman who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the Word of the truth. But avoid profane and vain babblings [as are many modern translations] because they will only give rise to more ungodliness" (II Tim. 2:15-16).

Brethren, we know that you will be pleased with this New Testament translation and its commentaries. Many have labored to make this publication possible. I am personally grateful for the diligent work of those who are acknowledged in the "Acknowledgment" section of the book:

"The New Testament in its Original Order—A Faithful Version With Commentary is the result of over forty-three years of studying God's Word and teaching God's people, including over thirty years of studying the New Testament Greek—the last ten of which were devoted to translating. However, a work such as this has required the help of many. Personal acknowledgment and gratitude go to Carl and Jean Franklin for their expert editing of this English translation so that it might accurately reflect the original Greek. Acknowledgment and deep appreciation go to William M. Tomory, Ph.D., for his professional expertise in evaluating both the expression and mechanics of this English translation, and for his scrupulous editing of the translation and commentaries to conform to the current standards for style andpunctuation.

"Gary Staszak is to be highly commended for his diligent research and factual writing of thecommentaries on the history and preservation of the Old and New Testaments—Chapters Nine through Fifteen and several appendices. He also acknowledges the assistance of Louis Williams and J. Rasmussen in his efforts.

"Special thanks go to Becky Ritke, Marcia Ritke Momose and Phyllis Daniel for their diligent editing of the commentaries and appendices. John and Heidi Vogele are to be commended for their diligence and tireless labor in the final formatting and proof reading of the entire text for publication of this book. Others who assisted in providing material for the appendices are Mike Joseph and Ron Cary.

"We all give thanks to God the Father and Jesus Christ for the blessing of being able to labor in this endeavor in the Word of God. We have labored to the end that the reader may find this translation faithful to the original Greek as preserved in the Stephens Text of 1550 and that it captures and reflects the meaning and inspiration of the apostles' original writings. We pray that this translation and the accompanying commentaries and appendices may guide the reader to a better understanding of the original teachings of the apostles of Jesus Christ, who preached the gospel to the world and originally wrote the New Testament—the enduring fruit of their labor."

Comparison Between the Old Covenant and the New Covenant: We have already sent to you one sermon on the comparison between the two covenants. This is a part of our series on the book of Hebrews. Enclosed is a comparison chart for you. There are many other scriptures that relate to the differences between the two covenants, but these are the basic ones that show the difference between the physical and spiritual aspects of the covenants.

Another sermon that we sent to you was a special study of Colossians One and Two as it relates to Gnosticism. I expounded on some material from Alan Knight's new expanded edition of Primitive Christianity in Crisis. His new updated edition is about one-third larger, containing much new material. Moreover, it is much easier to read than his first edition. I highly recommend this new book, especially in light of the fact that modern day evangelical Protestantism is in reality a form of Gnosticism. Alan Knight has done a good job of bringing to light the parallels between ancient Gnosticism and modern Protestantism. It is a must read. Had this knowledge been widely available to the brethren before the doctrinal changes in the WCG, perhaps many would not have fallen for the lies and false doctrines. Protestantism with its lawless grace is a form of the "The Mystery of Lawlessness."

Here is the information to order the book:

Order direct from author at sharply discounted price.

Mail order to:

Alan Knight

1917 Mt. Hamilton Dr.

Antioch, CA 94531

To contact us regarding an order:

E-mail:

Home: 925-778-2662

Cell: 925-352-6876

DISCOUNT PRICE as of 11/2003 for second edition:

(retail list price is $23.45)

Shipping and handling charge (U.S.)
  • 1 to 4 books $ 17 per book
  • 5 to 9 books $14 per book
  • 10 to 20 books $12 per book
  • $2 for first book, 50 cents each added book.
  • $4 plus 50 cents for each added book.
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For those who already own the first edition:

( To order an upgrade to the second edition, cut the bar code from the back cover of a first edition book and submit it with your order. One bar code must be submitted for each book ordered. Each bar code must include the numbers 933207 and 51995. ) Upgrades to second edition ____ x $10 (postpaid) =

Alan has prepared a special four page article, Conservative (Evangelical) Protestantism and the Spirit of Antichrist, which we have enclosed in this mailing. Perhaps this might help some brethren who still attend WCG and are in doubt about what to believe.

Sermon: Why Were You Born? This past Sabbath I was in Monrovia, California, for services, copies of which are enclosed in this mailing. We had morning and afternoon services with a meal in-between. It was a wonderful Sabbath. For the afternoon service I brought a sermon Why Were You Born! Iam enclosing a three page article called "Father's Love Letter," along with a very special narration about a rare operation on a 21-week old boy that was performed while he was still in his mother's womb. In order to grasp the significance of this rare operation, please do not look at the picture on the last page until you have come to the point in the sermon where I discuss it.

It was announced on Sunday morning, December 14, that Saddam Hussein was captured alive. Like Hitler, he was in an underground bunker. Hussein's final hiding place was called "a spider's hole," because it was a six by eight foot pit in the ground. He gave up to American troops with no resistance. The man who urged his followers to give their lives in "holy jihad" was a true coward unwilling to give his own life.

We are living in momentous times while anticipating the fulfillment of prophecies and the return of Jesus Christ. We must stay the course—to always be watching and growing in grace and knowledge, so we will be ready. We don't know how long the end times will be, but there is no doubt that we are living in them.

Brethren, thank you for being faithful to God the Father and Jesus Christ. Thank you for helping the brethren. Thank you for your continued support so that together we can serve and help the brethren and those He is calling and will continue to call in order to provide them with the truth of God the Father and Jesus Christ—the true Christianity of the Bible. May God's love, grace and blessing be upon you in every way.

With love in Christ Jesus,

Fred R. Coulter

FRC


A Comparison Between the Old and New Covenants

Old Covenant New Covenant

1) A physical covenant based on physical promises

Ex. 19: 5-6

Deut. 28

Lev. 26

1) A spiritual covenant based on spiritual promises and eternal life

John 3:16

Heb. 8:6,9:15

Rom. 8

Luke 18:29-30

2) Had physical circumcision

Gen. 17:9

Ex. 12:48

John 7:22

2) Repentance and circumcision of heart through baptism

Acts 2:38, 3:19

Rom. 2:25-29; Phil. 3:3

Jer. 4:4

 

Col. 2:11-13

3) People did not have the Holy Spirit. They were to obey the letter of the law.

Rom 7:6

Heb. 8:7-9

Matt. 5: 21-45

3) Converted believers have the gift of the Holy Spirit and are to obey in the spirit of the law

Rom. 7:6

Heb. 8:10-12, 10:16

Matt. 5: 21-45

Matt. 5:21-48; 6:1-34

 

Acts 2:38; Rom 8:9-10

 

Gal. 2:20

4) If obeyed in the letter of the law, could live in the community, worship at the earthly tabernacle.

Heb.9:13

Gal. 3:12

Lev. 18:5

II Cor. 3:16

4) Believe in Christ and obey in the spirit of the law; have direct access to worship God the Father in heaven through Jesus Christ

John 4:23-24; 16:23-27

Heb. 6:20; 10:23

Rom. 8:9-39 Eph. 2:18-22

II Cor. 3:6

5) Had works of law, offerings and animal sacrifices, vows, washings, etc.

Lev. 1-7

5) Have sacrifice of Jesus Christ, fruits of the Holy Spirit, prayer and good works

Heb. 9:10

Heb. 10:12, Gal. 5:22-24

Eph. 2:10; Rom. 12:1-2

Rev. 8:3-5, Heb. 13:15

Matt. 19:17; Mark 15:15-18

6) If transgressed the law, physical atonement for certain sins, death penalty for others

II Cor 3

Heb. 9:7-10

6) If transgressed the law, forgiveness upon repentance; second death for unpardonable sin.

II Cor. 3

Heb. 8:5; 9:1-5; 9:2-28; 10:16-31

Rev. 20:14-15; 21:8

7) Had physical ordinances of divine service and earthly sanctuary

Heb. 9:1-5

7) Has actual divine service and a heavenly sanctuary.

Heb. 8:5, 9-1-5, 24-28; 10:16-31

Rev. 8:3-4

8) At institution of Old Covenant and earthly tabernacle, blood of animals used for consecration

Heb. 9:18-23

Ex. 24:3-8,40:1-38

8) At institution of New Covenant and heavenly tabernacle, consecrated with the blood of Jesus Christ

Luke 22:19-22; I Cor. 11:23-32

Heb. 9:14-28; 10:5-14

9) Sons of Aaron high priests of earthly tabernacle

Heb. 8:3-5; Ex. 28:1

9) Christ is High Priest of heavenly tabernacle forever

Heb. 4:14-16; 5:1-9; 7:17; 8:1-2; 9:11

10) Priests offered animal sacrifices for physical justification to earthly tabernacle and purifying of the flesh; high priest went into holy of holies once a year

Heb. 5:1-3; 9:1-13

10) Christ offered Himself once as the sacrifice for the sins of the world and justification is now to God in the heavenly tabernacle for all who repent and are baptized

Heb. 7:25-27; 9:23-28

Acts 11:18; Gal 2:20; Rom. 3:24-25

11) No direct access to God the Father

Heb. 9:6-8

11) Direct access to the Father through Christ

Matt. 27:51; Heb. 4:14-16; 7:25-27; 10:19

John 16; Gal 4:6-7; Rom. 8:15; Eph 2:18

12) Could not make a person perfect as pertaining to conscience

Heb. 9:9; 10:4,11

12) Forgives sin spiritually and purges the conscience through the operation of the Holy Spirit unto perfection

Heb. 10:14-17; II Cor. 3:9; Col. 1:27

Phil 2:5; 3:11-17 3:9-16; Matt. 5:48 Eph. 4

13) Sacrifices and oblations ceased at the time the new spiritual order was established by Jesus Christ.

Heb. 9:9-10; Dan 9:27

13) Christ's one supreme sacrifice to apply to all men and women who accept it from time of Adam to the end of humanity

Heb. 10:10-14

14) Ceased to be effective after the death of Jesus Christ

Heb. 8:13; 10:9; Matt. 27:51

14) Established after Christ's death, resurrection and ascension to the throne of God.

Heb. 8:13; Matt. 27:51


CONSERVATIVE (EVANGELICAL) PROTESTANTISM And THE SPIRIT OF ANTICHRIST

by Alan Knight

Of all the topics covered in the new, second edition of Primitive Christianity in Crisis, I believe the most important for the Churches of God is evangelicalism. Why is evangelicalism so important? The short answer is that evangelicalism is the primary manifestation and survival today of what the apostle John in the first century labeled "the spirit of antichrist." Now, is that outrageous slander of a godly religious movement? Or is it factually true, and if so does Protestant evangelicalism pose a serious threat to the Churches of God?

The apostle John in his letters specifically warns against the problem of antichrist. In 1 John 2:18 he says, "As you have heard that antichrist is coming, so now many antichrists have come." Here John refers to one special antichrist (singular) who will play a key role in the final end time. But he says that there also are "many antichrists" (plural). By this we know that we should find the problem of antichrist theology in many different religious movements. And indeed we do, in some unexpected and surprising places. The question is, Do the Churches of God face an imminent threat from antichrist theology today, and if so where is it coming from?

Many regard the Papacy as the primary fulfillment of prophecies about antichrist. If the Papacy in the end time regains its former authority, as it appears will happen, then we should be very concerned about the impact that will have on us. But until that time, how serious is the threat to Primitive Christianity from Roman Catholicism, compared to the threat from all other forms of apostate Christianity? How likely is it that Roman Catholicism will deceive and draw away members from the Churches of God?

When a man stands up and boasts he has the right to overturn any law, to go against and change even the Bible itself, as the Pope claims, is it likely that many Sabbatarian Christians would be deceived by that? I doubt many would be led astray. On the other hand, is it likely that many Sabbatarian Christians will be enticed by churches that brazenly ordain gay ministers, or openly preach licentious theories claiming all you need is love and nothing else matters? I doubt many would be led astray by that as well. Yet, in Matthew 24 Jesus said that in the end time all kinds of false prophets, false Messiahs and false religious movements will prosper, to the point that even "the elect" are virtually at the point of being deceived.

Is there a religious movement in our day that poses that threat to us? Is there a conservative religious movement that preaches many good things with which we agree, that appears very attractive to us, but which hides heretical doctrines that can destroy us spiritually? Is there a huge danger to us, at this very point in history, that is so attractive and whose heresy is so well hidden, that we are in danger of being drawn into the very "spirit of antichrist"?

This is a topic covered in many parts of the second edition of Primitive Christianity in Crisis. But it is so important, I wanted to review the issue more plainly here in this article for all Sabbatarian Christians and especially those of us in the Churches of God.

First, we must understand what "antichrist" means. In his first epistle to the church, John clearly identifies what he means by the spirit of antichrist: "...every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, and every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God. And this is the spirit of the antichrist...." (1 John 4:2-3, NRSV) Also note 1 John 2:22: "Who is the liar but the one who denies that Jesus is the Christ?"

All of John's letters are warning against the Christian apostasy in the first century called Gnosticism. Here John is talking about the classic Gnostic doctrine of Docetism, by which they claimed Jesus was a combination of two persons - a spirit (Christ) who descended to rest on a human man (Jesus). And, they insisted, the two natures of Jesus Christ never mix - they remained two distinct personalities. (That is what Gnostics meant when they claimed Christ did not "come in the flesh.") Jesus himself, they believed, was only a human being, unaffected by the spirituality of Christ. He was a good person, a devout Jew, but he was not spiritual in the sense that Christ was, because the two natures never mixed.

I know of no one who holds that extreme belief today. Therefore, does it really have anything to do with us today? It has everything to do with us because there is much more involved in the doctrine of Docetism than initially meets the eye. Because one-half of Jesus' nature supposedly was human and therefore unspiritual, according to Gnosticism we cannot fully trust his earthly ministry. Therefore, they reasoned, the spiritual message brought by Christ was contaminated by the unspiritual human half of his dual nature. Worst of all, Jesus was a Jew, and so his message was polluted by false doctrines from his Jewish heritage. That is how they got around the teachings of lawfulness in Jesus' earthly ministry, such as his support and instruction for correct, spiritual observance of Sabbath.

But after Jesus rose from the dead, and some said only after he returned to heaven, his material nature was left behind. Now fully spiritual again, he revealed a second, spiritual edition of Christianity, cleansed from the pollution of Jewish religion. This more advanced revelation of Christianity, of course, just happened to be the combination of apostolic Christianity and pagan Hellenistic religion promoted by Gnostic Christianity.

The scholar John Turner, in his introductory comments to his translation of the Nag Hammadi text The Book of Thomas the Contender, has the following to say about the Gnostic penchant for progressive revelation and rejection of Jesus' earthly ministry. Here he comments on a certain class of Gnostic text:

These dialogues are set at a time between the resurrection and ascension, when...both he [Christ] and his teaching were available to select apostles in a form unclouded by the sort of materiality which was believed to obscure the spiritual significance of his...earthly, preresurrection teaching. This special teaching might consist of enlightening commentary on his darker earthly teaching, or even new revelations to special apostles, (page 199, Nag Ham­madi Library in English, third edition. San Francisco, Harper and Row, 1988)

This is why we find the theme of Docetism in John's epistles is accompanied by an equally prominent second theme about adhering to the earthly ministry of Jesus. That is what is meant by John's reference to the teaching that was "from the beginning":

We declare to you what was from the beginning (1 John 1:1)

This is the message we have heard from him [Jesus] and proclaim to you (1:5)

Beloved, I am writing you no new commandment, but an old commandment that you have had from the beginning (2:7)

Let what you heard from the beginning abide in you (2:24)

For this is the message you have heard from the beginning (3:11)

...not as though I were writing you a new commandment, but one we have had from the beginning.... And this is love, that we walk according to his com­mandments; this is the commandment just as you have heard it from the be­ginning (2 John 5-6)

What is the basis for claiming that John's oft-repeated phrase "from the beginning" refers to Jesus' earthly ministry? The key is in the very beginning of John's first epistle, chapter 1 verses 1-3. "We declare to you what was from the beginning," John says, and then goes on to link that phrase to the apostles' personal contact with Jesus during his earthly ministry. He mentions how they personally heard him speak, how they observed him with their own eyes and even touched him ("what we have heard...what we have looked at and touched with our hands").

Why is John emphasizing this additional issue? Remember, John's epistles were aimed squarely at Gnostic Christianity. What John is doing is contrasting the apostles' source for their teaching of Christianity against that of the Gnostics. The apostles taught the original revelation that was "from the beginning," given to them personally by Jesus during his earthly ministry. In contrast, Gnostic preachers were preaching the second, supposedly more spiritual revelation of Christianity that replaces Jesus' earthly ministry. They were saying "Trust us, Jesus' earthly ministry had serious defects because of his human, Jewish side. But not to worry. Since he returned to heaven he has been talking to us in dreams and visions -really! - and he has given us a second, more spiritual revelation." Given that choice, whom would you trust?

What John is doing is demonstrating the superiority of the source of the apostolic revelation (Jesus himself during his earthly ministry) compared to the Gnostics' private, progressive revelation of a more advanced antinomian Christianity.

The problem is that today, evangelical Protestantism, despite its conservative moral ethic and all its many good teachings taken directly from the Bible, also teaches this very same doctrine of rejecting Jesus' earthly ministry. This is encased in evangelicalism's doctrinal complex known as "dispensationalism," in which they claim that Jesus' earthly ministry must be divided into two dispensations. All of Jesus' statements about lawfulness, obedience and even repentance, are lumped into a separate message, which they claim was intended only for the Jewish nation. When Jesus was rejected by Israel, they believe, he then preached a second message intended solely for the church, under which they gather all his statements about love and grace. Many dispensationalists claim that the first message was when Jesus preached the 'gospel of the kingdom', and this was replaced by the gospel of faith preached by Paul.

Consider, then, how the apostle John brings the issue of this same theology to a dramatic conclusion in his second epistle:

Everyone who does not abide in the teaching of Christ, but transgresses [goes beyond] it, does not have God.... Do not receive into the house or welcome anyone who comes to you and does not bring this teaching; for to welcome is to participate in the evil deeds of such a person. (2 John 9-11, compare NRSV translation)

In this passage, first we have a critical phrase referring directly to the doctrine of progressive revelation as it was misused by Gnostic Christians. Notice how John says, "Everyone who does not abide in the teaching of Christ, but goes beyond it, does not have God..." (vs 9). What is it that we are to not "go beyond"? It says don't go beyond "the teaching of Christ," but what exactly is that? It is significant that this passage closely follows after a reference to Gnostic Docetism, in verse 7. But in fact the phrase "this teaching" refers to both Docetism and the issue of accepting Jesus' earthly ministry as fully spiritual and the foundation of the Christian faith.

Verse 7 is paired with verses 5 and 6. Here John refers to love and the commandments, and repeatedly makes the point that this is the teaching of Christ that was "from the beginning. " The key to understanding this passage is that when John warns to not "go beyond" the "teaching of Jesus," he is criticizing the full complex of docetic doctrine preached by Gnostic Christianity. As indicated by verses 5-6, this specifically includes their rejection of Jesus' earthly ministry. We know that is true because this was a doctrinal package in Gnosticism. It is significant, therefore, that John specifically mentions the entire package in verses 5-7 as a prelude to his statement to not "go beyond" the "teaching of Jesus." The fact that he mentions both ideas together, both Docetism and rejection of Jesus' earthly ministry, indicates he understood Gnostic Christianity much better than the many theologians today who argue over what the 'teaching of Jesus' means. But that is not surprising, since he witnessed Gnostic theology first-hand.

Remember also that in verses 10-11 John adds a second important dimension to the issue. He commands Christians to not accept, welcome or embrace anyone who comes to us and does not bring the teaching that Jesus and his earthly ministry is both fully spiritual and serves as the foundation of our faith. As he says, "Do not receive...or welcome...." Does it matter, then, if today we welcome and validate evangelical Protestant organizations and ministers who openly reject part or all of the earthly ministry of Jesus because it supposedly is part of the Old Testament and not spiritual? Does it matter that we welcome and validate those who claim that part or all of Jesus' earthly ministry is replaced by a second, more spiritual version of Christianity, cleansed of its Jewish heritage, exactly as Gnostic Christianity was doing in the first century? Worst of all, does it matter that these doctrines are embraced and openly preached even in our very midst?

The seriousness of our situation is evident in the tragedies of our recent history. The downfall of the Worldwide Church was based on evangelical theology. Today, the Church of God Seventh Day, the parent church of Worldwide, openly and proudly proclaims it is an evangelical institution. Some of the church groups that came out of Worldwide are confused about their relationship with Protestantism. Some mistakenly think we should embrace conservative Protestantism, and specifically evangelicalism, as our Christian brothers.

And their mistake is in some respects understandable. Evangelicalism is composed of conservative Protestant churches, with a following of more than 100 million. These are the people who are leading the fight against the ordination of gay ministers and against legalizing gay marriage. These are the people who are fighting to keep the display of the Ten Commandments in schools and courthouses. These are the people who are warning that American immorality is ruining our nation. They are right about so many things. And as biblical Christians we naturally agree with so much of what they say.

As Jesus said, the deception of the end time takes many forms, and it is so clever and powerful and effective that it will, if possible, deceive even the elect. For us today in the Churches of God, that prophecy is fulfilled primarily by Protestant evangelicalism.

Protestant evangelicalism is the epitome of the "mystery of lawlessness" condemned by Jesus in his Word. The term mystery signifies something hidden. And indeed, paradoxically evangelicalism mixes so much godly truth with a grossly heretical core of vile antinomian theology, a key part of which is what theologians today call dispensationalism, by which they reject Jesus' earthly ministry. By rejecting his earthly ministry evangelical Protestantism is literally "against-Christ." They are literally "anti-Christ." Evangelical Protestantism is by definition the very "spirit of antichrist," a latter-day resurrection of that same theology against which the apostle John specifically warns.


Father's Love Letter

The Cry Of A Father's Heart From Genesis To Revelation

My Child...

You may not know me, but I know everything about you .. .Psalm 139:1

You were made in my image ...Genesis 1:27

You are my offspring ...Acts 17:28

In me you live and move and have your being .. .Acts 17:28

I knew you even before you were conceived ...Jeremiah 1:4-5

You are fearfully and wonderfully made ...Psalm 139:14

I knit you together in your mother's womb ...Psalm 139:13

You were not a mistake, all your days are written in my book ...Ps.l39:15-16

I determined the time of your birth and where you would live .. .Acts 17:26

And brought you forth on the day you were born ...Psalm 71:6

Even the very hairs on your head are numbered ...Matthew 10:29-31

I know when you sit down and when you rise up .. Psalm 139:2

I am familiar with all your ways ...Psalm 139:3

I have been misrepresented by those who don't know me .. John 8:41-44

I am not distant and angry, but am the complete expression of love 1 Jn 4:16

And it is my desire to lavish my love on you ... 1 John 3:1

Simply because you are my child and I am your father ... 1 John 3:1

I offer you more than your earthly father ever could .. .Matthew 7:11

For I am the perfect father .. .Matthew 5:48

Every good gift that you receive comes from my hand ...James 1:17

For I am your provider and I meet all your needs ...Matthew 6:31-33

My plan for your future has always been filled with hope ...Jeremiah 29:11

Because I love you with an everlasting love ...Jeremiah 31:3

My thoughts toward you are countless as the sands of the seashore ...Psa. 139:17-18

And I rejoice over you with singing ...Zephaniah 3:17

I will never stop doing good to you .. Jeremiah 32:40


Please read the following first:

By Jennifer Browder

A picture began circulating in November 2003. It should be "the Picture of the Year," or perhaps Picture of the Decade" [actually the picture of the Century]. However, it won't be. In fact, unless you obtain a copy of the US paper which published it you probably will never see it. The picture is that of a 21-week-old unborn baby named Samuel Alexander Armas, who is being operated on by a surgeon named Joseph Bruner. The baby was diagnosed with spina bifida and would not survive if removed from his mother's womb. Little Samuel's mother, Julie Armas, is an obstetrics nurse in Atlanta. She knew of Dr. Bruner's remarkable surgical procedure. Practicing at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville, he performs operations while the baby is still in the womb.

During the procedure, he removes the uterus via C-section and a small incision is made to operate on the baby. As Dr. Bruner completed the surgery on little Samuel, the little guy reached his tiny, but fully developed hand, through the incision and firmly grasped the surgeon's finger.

In a Time Europe article highlighting new pregnancy imagery that show the formation of major organs and other significant evidence of the formation of human life but a few days after conception, Dr. Bruner was reported as saying that when his finger was grasped, it was the most emotional moment of his life, and that for an instant during the procedure he was just frozen, totally immobile. The photograph captures this amazing event with perfect clarity. The editors titled the picture, "Hand of Hope."

The text explaining the picture begins, "The tiny hand of 21-week-old fetus Samuel Alexander Armas emerges from the mother's uterus to grasp the finger of Dr. Joseph Bruner as if thanking the doctor for the gift of life."

Little Samuel's mother said they "wept for days" when they saw the picture. She said, "The photo reminds us my pregnancy isn't about disability or an illness, it's about a little person." Samuel was born in perfect health-the operation was 100 percent successful. Now look at the actual picture, and it is awesome—incredible. And hey, pass it on. The world needs to see this one.

To view this remarkable photo, please visit this web page: http://www.michaelclancy.com/

or, click here

 

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