CHRISTIAN CONDUCT AND SPIRITUALITY
by ralph jackson 8/09/2013 / Bible Studies
A few weeks ago weeks ago my wife and I were walking through the North East of England town of Morpeth when we were stopped by two young American Latter Day Saints. As a Bible believing Christian I am always exited to have the opportunity to discuss the Bible, therefore I eagerly engaged them in conversation. However, one of my failings in spreading the message of Christ is that I tend to get a little over excited and zealous, raising my arms and quoting Scripture loudly, especially, and particularly to other Christians not of my own denomination. During our conversation, we got onto the subject of death and what happens when we die. I found the Mormon interpretation of death and spirit life in the here-after, much the same as many other orthodox churches with one subtle difference - Latter Day Saints believe that human spirits were already in heaven before God created Adam and Eve and when we die, we go back to being one of those spirits again. From this I could only conclude they believe in Satan's first lie that mankind cannot die! God said we would die, (Genesis 3:3) but God's Word has been turned on its head by the devil to delude mankind into believing that we can only die in body, but not in spirit. However, for the discerning student of the Bible, you will know that mankind 'does not have inherent immortality', it is a gift given to us when you accept Christ as our Saviour.
Unfortunately time was not on our side so our discourse had to end and we had to agree to disagree. I was asked, however, to give prayer time about the Book of Mormon, of which I have a copy but because of the warning in Revelation 22:18-19, I could not accept another testament of Jesus Christ.
So for my message today, I would like us to focus on what the bible says about our conduct when we meet others of a different Christian denomination or other religious faith, so that the Spirit of God can be seen working through us!
I would like to read a statement by a very inspired woman called Ellen G White, which was written in the Atlantic Canvasser on December 18th, 1890, on this topic
"After most earnest efforts have been made to bring the truth before those whom God has entrusted with large responsibilities, be not discouraged if they reject it. Truth was rejected in the days of Christ. Be sure to maintain the dignity of the work by well-ordered plans and a godly conversation. Never be afraid of elevating the standard too high. The families who engage in this missionary work should come close to hearts. The spirit of Jesus should pervade the souls of the workers; for it is the pleasant, sympathetic words, the manifestation of disinterested love for souls that will break down the barriers of pride and selfishness, and show to unbelievers that we have the love of Christ, and the truth will find its way to their hearts. This is our work and the fulfilling of God's plans. All coarseness and roughness must be purged from us. Courtesy, refinement and Christian politeness must be cherished. Guard against being abrupt and blunt. Do not regard such peculiarities as virtue, for God does not so regard them. But seek in all things not to offend those who are not of our faith. Never make the most objectionable features of our faith stand out prominently, when there is no call for it. Such a course is only an injury to the cause. All should seek to have the softening, subduing influences of the Spirit of God in the heart-Christ-like tenderness and love for souls. Those who are sent out to labour together should put away their peculiar notions and set ideas, and seek to labour together, heart and soul, to carry out God's will. They must plan to work in harmony in order to work to advantage. We want more, much more of the Spirit of Christ, and less of self and the peculiarities of character which build up a wall to keep us apart from our fellow beings. We can do much to break down these barriers by revealing the graces of Christ in our lives. Jesus has been trusting His goods to the church, age after age. One generation after another for century after century have been gathering up their hereditary trust until the increasing responsibilities have descended to our time. We want to be clothed, not in our own garments, but in the whole armour of Christ's righteousness.
Sadly many of us do not project a Christ-like image to those with whom we speak - as in my case with the Mormons. I became a little over excited to promote my own knowledge rather than put Christ first. Although we parted amicably, shaking hands and blessing each other, nevertheless I felt that I had not shown Christ-like characteristics but had just been sharing my own knowledge of Scripture!
Paul says in Romans 13:12:
'The night is far spent, the day is at hand. Therefore let us cast off the works of darkness and let us put on the armour of light.'
We must be ever conscious of our special calling when we speak to others of Christ!
Grateful for God's Word and Inspired Ministers of the Church
I am more than grateful to God for the time He has allowed me to spend with His Word and for His Holy Spirit inspired Pastor's who have presented the truth to me via the Internet - in particular Pastor Stephen Bohr, who is the Senior Pastor of the Fresno Central Church in America. Pastor Stephen Wolburg at www. WhitehorseMedia.com. The Amazing Discoveries team with Professor Walter Veith. Pastor Doug Batchelor at www.amazingfacts.tv and The Hope Channel. With so many Christian channels broadcast today, these men stand out as beacons of light as they present to the world the true message of the Bible.
Many of us may not become super evangelists, or visit the darkest parts of Africa as missionaries, although with God anything is possible, but we can spread the good news in our own neighborhood. When a opportunity arises, be it a kind word; a helping hand or just a listening ear to a depressed neighbour, God will be glorified in you and Christ will present you before His (and our) Father as a child of God.
I believe we have a special mission in these last days to bring the everlasting gospel to the people. Not only non-Christian's, but to the many denominations who either don't read their Bible but let the Minister or Priest interpret for them, or who are being mislead with 'amended' Bibles to suite their denomination.
Over the past few years, 'The God Channel' has become global. Not long ago it was on TV for half an hour in the morning, now it is on TV round the clock. I used to watch it from its early inception with Rory and Wendy Alec at the helm. It wasn't until they started praying over the airways in tongues and promoting 'The Rapture Teaching' that I stopped watching. I also found some other 'Christian' programmes rather distasteful. Two in particular I could not accept the teachings of, one hosted by Benny Hinn, who claims to be in touch with a dead medium with whom he says he talks regularly. And Kenneth Copland, who believes in the immortality of the soul.
Not long ago in my own hometown, we had a TV spiritualist saying he can prove that we cannot die. Satan is hard at work in men like these - the latter who promote Christ for money and the spiritualist who preys on the gullible person who has lost a loved one in death.
The devil is made happy when he has made a fool of so called intelligent men, especially those who preach Christ every week.
The Bible is a book that is inspired by God. It is not just a storybook written from men's own imagination. It is an inspired book, written by patriarchs and prophets who knew God. It is a treasure of knowledge but like hidden gold, it has to be searched for until the treasure is exposed. Many false assumptions have been made from Bible prophecy. One such assumption is the part the current state of Israel will play in world events prior to the return of Christ.
The State of Israel.
The Christian world today looks to the State of Israel playing a major part on the world stage before the second coming of Christ.
Are they correct?
Paul tells us that the natural man is someone who is not a spiritual person therefore they cannot understand God when He speaks:
He says in 1 Corinthians 2:14:
"But the natural man 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'.
We also read in John 2:18-20:
'So the Jews answered and said to Him: "What sign do you show us, since you do these things?" Jesus answered them, "Destroy this temple and in three days I will raise it up." Then the Jews said,
"It has taken forty six years to build this temple, and will you raise it up in three days?"
These Jews listened and heard Jesus words but being natural by nature, they did not receive the things of the Spirit. They were unable to discern that Jesus was taking about His body, Verse 21.
Even Nicodemus, a Pharisee and ruler of the Jews could not see the spiritual side of Jesus words. John 3:1-4:
This man came to Jesus by night and said to Him, "Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher who comes from God; for no one can do these signs that you do unless God is with him." Jesus replied, "Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God".
It appears that Nicodemus was perplexed as he replied, "How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mothers womb and be born?"
Nicodemus was a natural Jew of the seed of Abraham. He took the words of Jesus 'literally'. At that time he had no spiritual discernment of the true meaning of the words of Jesus. So to enlighten him, Jesus qualified his statement in verse 6, "That which is born of the flesh is flesh and that which is born of the Spirit is Spirit." Jesus' words were to be understood spiritually not literally.
A Samaritan Woman.
When Jesus meets a Samaritan woman at the well and asks her for a drink she replies with a question of her own:
"How is it that you being a Jew ask for a drink of me a Samaritan woman?"
As Jews did not associate with Samaritan's her question was legitimate, however Jesus replied: "If you knew the gift of God and who it is who says to you, 'Give me a drink', you would have asked him and he would have given you living water."
Taking the words of Jesus literally the Samaritan woman again replies:
"Sir, you have nothing to draw with and the well is deep. Where then do you get that living water?" John 4:10-11
She could not discern that the words Jesus spoke were spirit.
Another example of this type of misunderstanding of Jesus' words is given in John 6:49. Here the Jews were quarrelling over Jesus words about eating his flesh. In verse 52 it says:
"How can this man give us his flesh to eat?"
Then Jesus said to them:
"Most assuredly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink the blood, you have no life in you. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life and I will raise him up at the last day. For my flesh is food indeed and my blood is drink indeed. He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me and I in him." Verses 53-55.
Still the Jews did not understand even though he spoke about himself as the bread, which came down from heaven (Verse 58). Those who would eat this bread would live forever. He qualified his statement in Verse 63 when he said, "It is the Spirit who gives life, the flesh profits nothing. The words I speak to you are Spirit and they are life". In other words, eating the flesh and drinking the blood of Jesus is to believe in him as the life giver. Sadly the Roman Catholics have also taken Jesus' words literally:
In the first part of the ninth century, a man named Paschasius Radbertus, who was a Benedictine monk, began to advocate the real presence of Christ in the bread and the wine. In 831, he wrote a treatise, 'Concerning the Body and Blood of Christ.' The following is a brief summary of the doctrine, which Paschasius advanced:
"After the consecration of the bread and wine in the Lord's supper, nothing remains of these symbols but the outward figure, under which the body and blood of Christ were locally present. While the bread may have the appearance of bread, it is now, after the priest utters the words: 'This is my body', the real body of Christ."
Paschasius further claimed that the body and blood of Christ as presented in the Lord's Supper was the same body, which was born of the Virgin Mary which hung and suffered on the cross and was buried and rose from the dead.
Although Paschasius's doctrine was initially bitterly opposed, transubstantiation was eventually adopted as a truth into the Roman Catholic Church, consequently righteousness in the Catholic Church is not attained by faith, but by works and Christ is literally brought down from his heavenly throne into the bread and cup at every mass.
Romans 10:6 Do not say in your heart, who will ascend into heaven (that is to bring Christ down from above).
Jesus Words are Spirit
The words of Jesus are spirit and must be understood as such. By partaking of the bread and wine as he instructed us to do, we bring to remembrance his death and resurrection. If we take Jesus words literally, then we are like the Jews in Verse 52 - of the natural world and deny what Jesus said in Verse 63, that his words are spirit.
In 1 Corinthians 10-18, Paul is talking about natural Jews those that are the descendants of Abraham. He says:
'Observe Israel after the flesh. Are not those who eat of the sacrifices partakers of the altar? But in Romans 9:6,7 he tells us that the natural Jew is not the only one who is part of Israel:
'For they are not all Israel who are of Israel, nor are they all children because they are the seed of Abraham' but - "In Isaac your seed shall be called." In other words, those who are the children of the flesh (Abraham's natural seed), are not the only children of God but the children of the promise (those who believe in Jesus), are counted as seed.
In verses 2-4 of Romans 9, Paul was grieved because his kinsmen, the natural Jew had not accepted Christ as their savior and wished himself cursed from Christ for the sake of his brethren in the flesh. The Jewish nation was rejected as the chosen people of God when they crucified Christ. After the stoning of Stephen, the promise went to the Gentiles (including believing natural Jews) who would now form the new Spiritual Israel.
This fact is confirmed in Galatians 3:14, which says that the blessing of Abraham might come upon the Gentiles in Christ Jesus, that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith.
When talking of the act of circumcision in the flesh (Galatians 6:14), Paul says:
"But God forbid that I should glory except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world. For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor un-circumcision avails anything, but a new creation."
The Jews were trying to compel the Gentiles to be circumcised in the flesh. These were natural Jews who did not spiritually discern that salvation alone comes from Christ. They were still looking to acts of the flesh to gain favour with God so they would not themselves have to suffer persecution for the cross of Christ.
(There are many churches today that still believe they must perform some act of contrition or penance to gain favour with God.)
Understanding Things of the Spirit.
For us to understand things spiritually, God has given us His Word The Bible. For these final days of Earths history, shortly to come to a close with the return of Jesus, the book of Revelation is vitally important. It is not a hidden book. It is the Revelation of Jesus Christ. As you know, John was exiled to the Island of Patmos for the Word of God. In Verse 10 of Chapter 1, he says:
"I was in the spirit on the Lord's Day." Being 'in the Spirit', does not mean that he was being physically transported anywhere. He was taken 'in vision', that is his mind was opened to spiritual things presented. It was the Sabbath (Isaiah 58:13), the same day the Jews had been keeping throughout their existence and the day given at creation.
Many paragraphs in Revelation are not to be taken literally. For example: In Verses 3:12, Jesus says:
"He who overcomes I will make him a pillar in the temple of my God.."
Does this mean that we will all be holding up the temple physically for eternity? Of course not. The temple is a spiritual temple to which God's chosen will enter after the resurrection. This will become the New Jerusalem prepared for those who form part of the new spiritual Israel.
In Revelation 11:19, John saw this spiritual temple of God opened in heaven and the ark of His covenant containing the 10 Commandments. Though spiritual, the temple is real and the tablets containing God's Law are real.
In Revelation 17:5, we see another Babylon. There was a natural Babylon, which had long been destroyed by the Persian Empire, but John sees a spiritual Babylon where the mother of harlots sits as an abomination on the Earth. In Revelation 18:23-24, we are told that this spiritual Babylon will fall because in her was found the blood of the prophets and saints that were slain upon the Earth. Consequently, in Revelation 18:4 John heard another voice saying:
"Come out of her my people".
In the Old Testament, God called literal Israel out of literal Babylon (Egypt), and today he calls spiritual Israel our of spiritual Babylon churches with false doctrines, those doctrines that are contrary to the revealed Word of God. Jesus himself always used the Word:
In Mark 1:15, he says: "Repent and believe in the gospel." And when tempted by Satan in the wilderness, he said: "It is written". Luke 4:4
So what have we learned today? The words of Jesus are spiritual and can only be understood by those who have accepted Him as their savior. To all others, the Bible is foolishness. For the believer, the Bible is its own interpreter and all doctrines must be tested by it. We should never hand over the interpretation of the sacred Word to another. We should test all forms of worship, traditions, beliefs and doctrines by the map and rulebook of God asking Him in prayer to give us understanding of the written Word.
The focus of Revelation is on Spiritual Israel, not on natural Israel. The Jews of the seed of Abraham were rejected as a chosen nation when they crucified Christ. Today's nation of Israel has no special place in God's plan of salvation, however, when the Gentiles were brought into the chosen of God, he did not close the door on the natural seed of Abraham. Individual Jews can still return to the fold if they accept Christ. Spiritual Israel today is made up of all believers in Christ Jew and Gentile.
Jesus is almost at the door. The recent events in America that have taken place in the past few years have paved the way for the religious right to accept Papal authority. In 1989, Ronald Regan, former US President and Hollywood actor, made a pact with Pope John Paul II, forming an alliance against communism resulting in the fall of the Berlin wall. For his assistance, Regan presented the Pope with the Medal of Freedom of America. After the Pope's death, President Bush said of the Pope:
"The best way to honour Pope John Paul II, truly one of the great men, is to take his teaching seriously; is to listen to his words and put his words and teaching into action here in America. This is the challenge we must accept." www.Catholic.net
When Pope John Paul II died, Protestantism died in America. The Pilgrim Fathers, who left the shores of Europe to escape papal tyranny have been forgotten and their sacrifice is now confined to the trash.
President Bush ordered all flags to be flown at half-mast as a mark of respect for the dead pope. All countries sent their heads of state to his funeral. Former Presidents of the USA, for the first time in history, attended a pope's funeral. Each President bowed his head to the dead pope as he passed them, signifying their allegiance and acceptance of Papal authority.
An article by Natasha Bita, Vatican City headlines stated:
"World leaders kneel in Homage to the Pope."
April 8, 2005. It also stated that George W Bush was the first American President to attend a pope's funeral.
The second beast of Revelation 13:11 is ascending before our very eyes. In Germany in February 2007 Lutheran's shook hands in agreement with Roman Catholics, endorsing a proposal to ban retail-store shopping on Sundays and Bank Holidays. Although many shops do close on Sundays throughout Germany, this collaboration between the Lutheran's and the Catholics is a significant change in detente between the two churches. Lutheran's are now no longer considered outsiders of the Catholic Church in Germany as they have now put their past behind them and rejoined the mother church.
American churches will shortly follow the Lutheran church to enforce the 'Sunday Law', a 'Blue Law' which is still on the statue books in America. The world will then follow America.
Martyn Luther would be turning in his grave if he knew his church had rejoined the church he called 'Anti-Christ'. A church, which claims the divine right to confiscate the property of heretics, imprison them and condemn them to the flames. They say:
"That in our age they have the right to inflict the severest penalties, even death. All these rights belong to the Roman Catholic Church. There is no graver offense than heresy; therefore it must be rooted out". Public Ecclesiastical.
And what is 'heresy?'
Anyone who chooses to worship God, either from conscience, or his own understanding of the Bible, which is contrary to the teaching of the Church.
The Chief Justice of America, a Roman Catholic, is in favour of an alliance between the Church and State. He says:
"The wall of separation between Church and State that was erected by secular humanists and other enemies of religious freedom, has come down. Those opposing our views are the new fascists. Keith Tournier, Time, Jan 1995
It seems in Mr Tournier's opinion that anyone reading the Bible and thinking for themselves on matters of religion is a fascist. (Of course he is wrong in his statement when he says that it was secular humanists and other enemies of religion that separated Church and State the fact is that it was dedicated and true disciples of Christ who saw and witnessed first hand the dangers posed by secular authorities joining hands with the Roman Catholic Church that brought about separation of Church and State!)
If we are to follow the doctrine of Christ, then we cannot allow any organization be it an established Church or other to dictate our conscience. The will of man is free to think and do as his conscience tells him. If we follow Christ then we will keep God's Law, exactly as He gave it. We are the chosen of God to bring His Word to the people of today. If we do not, then we follow the Jewish nation who were chosen by God to be His peculiar people different from the surrounding nations. They failed and therefore lost their special place. Today, Bible believing Christian's who follow the Book are God's chosen nation. The time of trouble is at hand. We are to look up and know that we will soon be rescued from a dying planet. Before Christ's return many natural Jews of the seed of Abraham will give their lives to Christ and together with millions from every tribe, nation, kindred and language will reign with Him forever.