The Two Covenants and the Condition of Man

The Two Covenants and the Condition of Man

By Georead

In the Bible there are two covenants, the old and the new. These covenants are agreements between God and His people. In these covenants the people agree to obey God’s law.

The story of the establishment of the old covenant is found in Exodus. At Mt Sinai the people agreed to obey God (Exodus 24:7). When making this promise they had no realisation of the sinfulness of their hearts. Neither did they understand their own hopelessness, nor their own inability to obey. They thought they were strong enough in themselves to obey God.

“They readily entered into covenant with God. Feeling that they were able to establish their own righteousness, they declared, ‘All that the Lord hath said will we do, and be obedient.'” [1] The people entered into this covenant with a self-righteousness attitude not understanding their own inability. It was inevitable that they would fail. Soon enough they fell into idolatry (Exodus 32:8). This was the sin that came most natural to them having, a short time before, departed a country full of idolatry.

The old covenant was far from perfect since it depended on faulty people to fulfil their part (Hebrews 8:7, 8). The people at Mt Sinai disobeyed God. They failed to keep their part of the covenant. Therefore God sought to establish a new covenant.

In the new covenant God promises, “I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their iniquities will I remember no more” Hebrews 8:12. He also promises, “I will put my laws into their mind, and write them in their hearts” Hebrews 8:10. The new covenant provides for the forgiveness of sin and the writing of the law in the heart and mind by the Holy Spirit. This writing of the law in the heart produces obedience. In this covenant man can obtain the help he needs in order to obey God.

With the old covenant man relies on his own strength. With the new covenant man reaches out to God for help realising his own hopeless condition and inability.

An example of the two covenants can be seen in the difference of the prayers of the Pharisee and the publican in Luke 18:10-14 “Two men went up into the temple to pray; the one a Pharisee, and the other a publican.  The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican.  I fast twice in the week, I give tithes of all that I possess.  And the publican, standing afar off, would not lift up so much as his eyes unto heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying, God be merciful to me a sinner.  I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other.”

The Pharisee approaches God in his own self-righteousness having no realisation of the sinfulness of his own condition. This is the old covenant experience. On the other hand, the publican approaches God with a true realisation of his hopeless, sinful condition. Pleading for God’s mercy and receiving a pardon from God he is justified or made righteous. This is the new covenant experience.

In the monastery of St Augustine’s Martin Luther followed the way he had been taught. He attempted to obtain righteousness, or holiness, in his own strength. But realising the inadequacy of his own human strength he discovered a better way. He recalled the Scripture “the just (or the righteous) shall live by faith.” From then on he began to seek God for help.

In our own experience, we ought to approach God every day, realising the inadequacy of the human condition, seeking the righteousness with which God can provide us. This is what it means to live by faith.

In Galatians 4:24 it says that the old covenant gives birth to bondage. “For these are the two covenants; the one from the Mount Sinai, which gendereth to bondage.” What sort of bondage does this mean?

In the book of Galatians we read about certain Jewish teachers that had come in among the Galatians. Whether inadvertently or deliberately these teachers diverted the people from a reliance Christ. They told them to keep the law–the Ten Commandments, but they must do it themselves without Christ. They must do it in their own strength, the self-righteous way of approaching God.  Apostle Paul wrote to the Galatians warning them against this.

Galatians 3:1-5 “O foolish Galatians, who hath bewitched you, that ye should not obey the truth, before whose eyes Jesus Christ hath been evidently set forth, crucified among you?  This only would I learn of you, Received ye the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith?  Are ye so foolish? having begun in the Spirit, are ye now made perfect by the flesh?  Have ye suffered so many things in vain? if it be yet in vain.  He therefore that ministereth to you the Spirit, and worketh miracles among you, doeth he it by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith?”

When the Apostle Paul wrote concerning “the works of the law” he was not attacking the law since elsewhere he says the law is holy, just and good. He was attacking the self-righteous way of approaching the law. Also since the Galatians now believed they could be “made perfect by the flesh” they had ceased to understand their own inability. They may well have promised obedience to God but instead they began to drift back to idolatry as Israel had done at Mt Sinai.

When we approach the law of God in a self-righteous way, not realising the inability of our sinful condition, it is inevitable we too will drift back to sin. We will drift back to the sin that comes the most natural to us.

Galatians 4:8, 9 “Howbeit then, when ye knew not God, ye did service unto them which by nature are no gods. But now, after that ye have known God, or rather are known of God, how turn ye again to the weak and beggarly elements, whereunto ye desire again to be in bondage? ”

 Apostle Paul describes the idolatry to which the Galatians were drifting as bondage. The bondage that the old covenant gives birth to is sin. In John chapter 8 sin is likened to bondage. If we approach God with a self-righteousness attitude we too will fall into sin.

The disastrous result of self-righteousness can be seen in Matthew 12:43-45. “When the unclean spirit is gone out of a man, he walketh through dry places, seeking rest, and findeth none.  Then he saith, I will return into my house from whence I came out; and when he is come, he findeth it empty, swept, and garnished.  Then goeth he, and taketh with himself seven other spirits more wicked than himself, and they enter in and dwell there: and the last state of that man is worse than the first.”

The garnish or decoration represents the human display of one’s own righteousness. The garnished house represents the self-righteous soul. When self-righteous people enter a church it is a complete disaster. Although they profess to be righteous they become exceedingly wicked. We see the example in the so-called ‘holy men of Israel’ who perpetrated their murderous designs upon Jesus, an innocent man.

Those who approach God in a self-righteous way inevitably fall into sin. Some people give up and let sin have its way. Others will up the ante and begin making human laws. “For, seeing that they fail to keep the law, they will devise rules and regulations of their own to force themselves to obey. . . . A system of human invention, with its multitudinous exactions, will lead its advocates to judge all who come short of the prescribed human standard.” [2]

The Pharisees, realising their own failures, began to make human laws. They made their own human Sabbath laws. These human laws although based on the law of God were actually contrary to the spirit and practice of it, as can be seen in the following two examples.

Matthew 12:1, 2 “At that time Jesus went on the sabbath day through the corn; and his disciples were an hungred, and began to pluck the ears of corn, and to eat. But when the Pharisees saw it, they said unto him, Behold, thy disciples do that which is not lawful to do upon the sabbath day.”

We know that Jesus never sinned. He kept God’s law including the Sabbath day. When the Pharisees accused Jesus’ disciples of breaking the law Jesus declared them guiltless (Matthew 12:7).

Matthew 12:10-14 “And, behold, there was a man which had his hand withered. And they asked him, saying, Is it lawful to heal on the sabbath days? that they might accuse him. And he said unto them, What man shall there be among you, that shall have one sheep, and if it fall into a pit on the sabbath day, will he not lay hold on it, and lift it out? How much then is a man better than a sheep? Wherefore it is lawful to do well on the sabbath days. Then saith he to the man, Stretch forth thine hand. And he stretched it forth; and it was restored whole, like as the other. Then the Pharisees went out, and held a council against him, how they might destroy him.”

The Pharisees said that it was not lawful to heal on the Sabbath day but Jesus plainly contradicted them saying it was lawful to do well on the Sabbath day.

The conflict between the human laws, advocated by the Pharisees, and law of God which Jesus represented, caused the Pharisees to become extremely bitter toward Jesus. They were so angered they sought to destroy Him. Here we see the final end of self-righteousness. These were men filled with evil spirits, seeking to murder Jesus (John 8:40, 44). Jesus declares  them to be in bondage (John 8:33, 34). From this we see that the old covenant established in an attitude of self-righteousness does give birth to bondage.

Another excellent author writes: “The apostle when speaking of Hagar and Sarah says: ‘These women are two covenants.’  These two covenants exist today. The two covenants are not matters of time, but of condition.  Let no one flatter himself that he cannot be bound under the old covenant, thinking that its time has passed.” [3] Apostle Paul wrote to the Galatians some years after the death of Christ. To them he declares “For these are the two covenants; the one from the Mount Sinai, which gendereth to bondage . . . Jerusalem which now is, and is in bondage with her children” Galatians 4:24, 25. Israel was still in the same condition as those who entered into the old covenant agreement with God at Mt Sinai.

Christians are not immune. There are some that become self-righteous not realising their own inability to obey God. True Christians need to have a continual on-going realisation of their own sinfulness. With this realisation they will continually reach out to God for the forgiveness of sin and for the Holy Spirit to write the law in their hearts and minds. This will enable them to obey and make them fit for heaven.

References

[1] Patriarchs and Prophets, page 372,373.

[2] Thoughts from the Mount of Blessing, page 123.

[3] Glad Tidings, E J Waggoner 100, 101

 

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Religious Liberty

Religious Liberty

By Georead

Religious liberty was a rare freedom in the Middle Ages. Holding different religious ideas was not safe. In the Piedmont region of the Alps there were many incidents where the people, known as the Waldenses, were persecuted to death for having different religious ideas.

The Waldenses “were educated from childhood . . . to be guarded in speech, and to understand the wisdom of silence. One indiscreet word let fall in the hearing of their enemies might imperil not only the life of the speaker, but the lives of hundreds of his brethren.” [1]

The 1655 massacre of Waldenses aroused the indignation of Protestant England. Oliver Cromwell, Lord Protector of England, wrote letters and raised money to support the Waldenses. [2] Oliver Cromwell himself had become an Independent Puritan. He was “an intensely religious man, a self-styled Puritan Moses,” believing “that God was guiding his victories.” [3]

Prior to Oliver Cromwell the daughter of Henry the VIII, Elizabeth I, reigned in England. During her reign the Puritans attempted to make a Sunday law. “In 1584 the Puritan influence in Parliament caused the passage of ‘a bill for the better and more reverent observation of the Sabbath’ — Sunday. But Queen Elizabeth ‘refused to pass it’ because she would not consent that Parliament should ‘meddle with matters of religion, which was her prerogative’ as head of the church.” [4]

When Elizabeth refused to pass the Puritan inspired Sunday law, it was not to afford religious liberty to non-observers of Sunday. Elizabeth was more concerned with the politics of the matter. In refusing this law Elizabeth was more-or-less saying to the Puritans, “No, you can’t have your religious laws. I’m head of the church and I’ll be the one making the religious laws.”

Previously Elizabeth had attempted to enforce laws of religious uniformity upon the Puritans. These laws were contrary to the practices and ideas of Puritans. “As Elizabeth saw that the Puritan party was rapidly growing, she thought to check it by enforcing uniformity according to the established usage. In this she was zealously supported, if not rather led, by the archbishop of Canterbury. This attempt at coercion — 1567 — caused the Puritans to add to their objections, caps, surplices, tippets, etc., a strong dislike for the whole system of episcopacy, and a stronger determination to substitute for it the Presbyterian form of ecclesiastical polity.” [5]

Since the Puritans could not create their ideal religious state in England and since they suffered persecution because of the lack of religious liberty afforded them, many Puritans sought refuge in the Americas. They established the colony of Massachusetts. In the colony they enforced Sunday laws and attendance of church services on Sunday was compulsory. “Every inhabitant of the colony [of Massachusetts] was obliged to attend the services of the Established Church on Sunday under penalty of fine or imprisonment.” [6]

Roger Williams Statue

In 1633 Roger Williams denounced the Sunday Laws of the colony of Massachusetts. “He denounced their laws making Church membership a qualification for office, all their laws enforcing religious observances, and especially their Sunday laws. He declared that the worst law in the English code was that by which they themselves when in England had been compelled to attend the parish church; and he reproved their inconsistency in counting that persecution in England, and then doing the same things themselves in New England. Roger Williams told them that to compel men to unite with those of a different faith is an open violation of natural right; and that to drag to public worship the irreligious and the unwilling, is only to require hypocrisy.” [6]

Williams argued against the power of civil magistrates in Massachusetts to meddle in matters of religion. This was the principle of the Protest of 1529 where Protestants received their name. “The principles contained in this celebrated protest of the 19th April 1529, constitute the very essence of Protestantism.  Now this protest opposes two abuses of man in matters of faith: the first is the intrusion of the civil magistrate, and the second the arbitrary authority of the Church.  Instead of these abuses, Protestantism sets the power of conscience above the magistrate; and the authority of the Word of God above the visible church.” [7] Roger Williams was the real Protestant, while the leaders of Massachusetts were apostates having abandoned the principles of Protestantism.

Roger Williams was leader of the congregation in the town of Salem. Since this congregation backed his arguments the church council at Boston disenfranchised them until they should apologise. The town and church yielded. Roger Williams stood alone.

In October 1635 Roger Williams was summoned to face the chief magistrates in Boston. He went and stood firm for his convictions in court. In January 1636 a warrant was sent to Williams to banish him to England. He refused to go. When officers were sent to take him by force Williams fled into the wilderness. He says, “I was sorely tossed, for one fourteen weeks, in a bitter winter season, not knowing what bread or bed did mean.” [8] He wandered without a guide and had no house but a hollow tree. At last he was taken in by the heathen Indians.

Eventually Roger Williams established a settlement with twelve “loving friends”. He called it “Providence” because he believed God’s Providence had brought him there. They established a colony with Providence becoming the capital of the State of Rhode Island.

In 1643 the neighbouring colonies formed a military alliance and pointedly excluded the towns of Rhode Island. Their object was to extend their power over the heretic settlements and put an end to the infection. In response Williams was sent to England by his fellow citizens to secure a charter for the colony. He obtained a charter in England despite the strenuous opposition of agents from Massachusetts. They desired to squash Rhode Island from the very beginning. Admission to the confederacy of New England colonies was absolutely refused to Rhode Island, on account of its principles of liberty of conscience. [9]

In 1657 hatred of the Quakers led the colony of Massachusetts to ask Rhode Island to join the confederacy in the endeavour to save New England from the Quakers. They wanted to offload their Quakers to Rhode Island.

Roger Williams replied, “We have no law amongst us whereby to punish any for only declaring by words their minds and understandings concerning things and ways of God as to salvation and our eternal condition. As for these Quakers, we find that where they are most of all suffered to declare themselves freely and only opposed by arguments in discourse, there they least of all desire to come. Any breach of the civil law shall be punished, but the freedom of different consciences shall be respected.” [10]

This reply enraged the whole New England confederacy. Massachusetts threatened to cut off trade with Rhode Island. Roger Williams appealed to Cromwell, who now ruled in England. “Had he not persuaded such men as Oliver Cromwell to protect Rhode Island, the colony he founded, Massachusetts would have devoured it. He even persuaded Cromwell to stop Massachusetts from pressuring Narragansett Indians to convert to Christianity.” [11]

“As devout as he [Roger Williams] was, when Massachusetts Christians were putting intense pressure on the Narragansett to convert, threatening them with armed action if they did not, he actually convinced Cromwell’s government to tell Massachusetts to back off, to guarantee that the Narragansett had the right to worship as they chose, which is really kind of extraordinary.” [12]

In 1663 Williams obtained from Charles II of England a charter for Rhode Island. This charter provided “the most the most extensive guarantee of religious liberty for individuals that had been achieved anywhere in the world” [13] The history of Rhode Island had far reaching effects since it influenced the inclusion of religious liberty in the Constitution of the United States of America.

“Leaders in Rhode Island and North Carolina refused to ratify the Constitution because of the lack of a Bill of Rights.” [14] The state of Rhode Island had been established upon the principles of religious liberty. Without a Bill of Rights that included religious liberty Rhode Island did not want to join the Union. Therefore the Constitution must be amended to include a Bill of Rights. The first Congress under the Constitution met March 4, 1789. In Congress James Madison kept the idea of a Bill of Rights alive. “When Madison reminded fellow members of Congress of the promise to enact a Bill of Rights, his insistence upon action met with some coolness. He kept fighting, however, and presented his plan to the House in June 1789.” [14]

After much debate a series of amendments emerged, which Congress passed on September 25, 1789. These became the first ten amendments of the Constitution, also known as the Bill of Rights. Once the Bill of Rights was proposed by Congress, Rhode Island joined the other states in ratifying the Constitution. “Rhode Island was the last of the original 13 states to ratify the Constitution and did so with the narrowest margin, a vote of 34 to 32 on May 29, 1790.” [15]

Today, in many parts of the world, religious liberty is seen as a fundamental right. Yet even today there are places where they persecute, threaten, torture and kill others simply for having different ideas.

In 1561 the elector of Palatine, a Protestant prince in Germany, wrote to the duke of Savoy. In the letter he warned him not to persecute the Waldenses. He wrote these very enlightened words, considering the era. “Let your highness consider that Christian religion was established by persuasion, and not by violence; and as it is certain that religion is nothing else than a firm and enlightened persuasion of God, and of his will, as revealed in his Word, and engraved in the hearts of believers by his Holy Spirit, it cannot, when once rooted, be torn away by tortures.” [16]

Religion is to be established only by persuasion, not by violence, nor by compulsion. This was how the original Christian church was established. “For he [Apostle Paul] mightily convinced the Jews, and that publicly, showing by the scriptures that Jesus was Christ.” Acts 18:28

References

[1] The Great Controversy, E. G. White, page 67, paragraph 2

[2] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Waldensians

[3] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oliver_Cromwell

[4] Lessons from the Reformation, A. T. Jones, page 327, paragraph 2

[5] The Two Republics, A. T. Jones, page 593, paragraph 2

[6] Ecclesiastical Empire, A. T. Jones, page 792, paragraphs 1, 3, and 5

[7] History of the Reformation of the Sixteenth Century, J. H. Merle D’Aubigne, page 521, paragraph 6

[8] Narragansett Historical Register, James N. Arnold, page 38

[9] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Roger_Williams_(theologian)

[10] The Beginnings of New England or the Puritan Theocracy in its Relations to Civil and Religious Liberty, John Fiske, pages 184,185

[11] http://www.nytimes.com/2012/01/22/books/review/roger-williams.html?_r=0

[12] http://www.smithsonianmag.com/history/john-m-barry-on-roger-williams-and-the-indians-9322792/?no-ist

[13] Constitutional Debates on Freedom of Religion, page 4

[14] Bill of Rights, Encarta Encyclopedia

[15] Rhode Island, Encarta Encyclopedia

[16] History of the Waldenses, J. A. Wylie, page 125

 

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Jesus: My Kingdom is not of this World

Jesus: My Kingdom is not of this World

By  Georead

About two millennia ago Jesus lived amid the politically charged atmosphere of Galilee and Judea. Ruling over the Jews in this region were hated Roman masters. The Jews considered them infidels. They believed that the coming Messiah would overthrow the Romans giving them a place of political power and independence. They intensely hated those that collaborated with the Roman State. Thus tax collectors were relegated to the lowest class of Jewish society. The atmosphere of hate and intolerance was fertile ground for seditions and rebellions.

The miracle working power of Jesus raised the hopes of the Jews that this was the promised prophet or Messiah. They would have made him king, intending that with him on the throne, they could overthrow the Romans. Then those men, when they had seen the miracle that Jesus did, said, This is of a truth that prophet that should come into the world. When Jesus therefore perceived that they would come and take him by force, to make him a king, he departed again into a mountain himself alone (John 6:14,15). Jesus withdrew. He knew that taking such step would result in war and bloodshed. This was contrary to his mission. Jesus had come to save lives. At another time when his disciples suggested that religious opponents be killed Jesus said, For the Son of man is not come to destroy men’s lives, but to save them (Luke 9:56). Jesus taught the people saying, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you (Matthew 5:44).

Jesus never involved himself the political intrigues of earthly kingdoms. When the Jews brought Jesus to trial in a Roman court they falsely accused him of subverting the Roman State. And they began to accuse him, saying, We found this fellow perverting the nation, and forbidding to give tribute to Caesar, saying that he himself is Christ a King (Luke 23:2). This accusation was not true since Jesus had told them they should pay tribute to Caesar (Matthew 22:17-21). Also, Jesus had never claimed the place of an earthly throne. When Pilate further questioned him, Jesus answered, My kingdom is not of this world: if my kingdom were of this world, then would my servants fight, that I should not be delivered to the Jews: but now is my kingdom not from hence (John 18:36). When the disciple Peter took the sword to fight the band that had Jesus captive, Jesus said, Put up again thy sword into his place: for all they that take the sword shall perish with the sword (Matthew 26:52).

Jesus prophesied of the destruction of Galilee (Luke 10:13,15), Jerusalem (Luke 19:43,44) and Judea. He instructed his followers not to fight the Roman armies but rather to flee Judea. And when ye shall see Jerusalem compassed with armies, then know that the desolation thereof is nigh. Then let them which are in Judaea flee to the mountains; and let them which are in the midst of it depart out (Luke 21:20,21). The message of Jesus was entirely pacifist and non-political. The followers of Jesus were not to have anything to do with rebellion against the Romans.

 Since the Jews rejected Jesus as the Messiah his warning message went unheeded. Many believed that the overthrow of the Romans would herald the re-establishment their own kingdom. This was a delusion. The idea that God was on their side only made them more delusional. When rebellion broke out in the year 66 it proved to be a complete disaster for Jews. In the siege of Jerusalem the Jews that would have made peace with the Romans were silenced and even attacked by more radical Jews. The radicals destroyed the food supply of the city, attempting to force the inhabitants to fight the Romans. The Jews faced horrors of starvation, mass crucifixions, and a final slaughter by infuriated Roman soldiery.

It is very clear that Jesus had absolutely no intention of establishing an earthly kingdom. What he did established was a church or a spiritual kingdom. And when he [Jesus] was demanded of the Pharisees, when the kingdom of God should come, he answered them and said, The kingdom of God cometh not with observation: Neither shall they say, Lo here! or, lo there! for, behold, the kingdom of God is within you (Luke 17:20,21). The kingdom that God claims on earth is within you. He claims the hearts and minds of those that accept him. This is only territory that God claims on this earth, nothing more. It is an entirely spiritual kingdom or a church.

The church established by Jesus was once pure but it became corrupt. The long history of Christendom is filled with examples of those who took the sword supposing they should to establish earthly kingdoms in the name of Christ. In the late tenth century Pope Urban II called for a crusade to recapture the holy city of Jerusalem. This was a bloodthirsty venture. Jerusalem was recaptured. Both Jew and Muslim were put to the sword and massacred. The crusades in Palestine continued for another 200 years. Peasants and knights all over Europe took up the sword in the name of Christ.

Crusades were fought not only against Muslims in Palestine. In Europe wherever there were religious dissenters crusades were raised against fellow Christians. There was no such thing as religious liberty. During the early 1400’s the preaching of John Huss filled Bohemia with new religious ideas and with dissenters. When the papacy had John Huss burned at the stake it provoked a strong protest from knights and nobles of Bohemian. They wrote letters in the strongest language. Civil troubles began between Hussites and Catholics. In response Pope Martin V proclaimed a crusade against Hussites in 1420. He raised this crusade “for the destruction of the Hussites and all other heretics in Bohemia.”

All this was contrary to the command and example of Jesus. The command of Jesus to the disciple Peter was to put away the sword. This command extends to all who claim to be followers of Jesus. The Popes, while claiming to be the successors of Peter, unlike Peter, did not obeyed the command of Jesus. The warning of Jesus to all they that take the sword, is that they shall perish with the sword (Matthew 26:52). In 1798 a prophecy of Revelation 13:10 concerning the papacy was fulfilled: He that leadeth into captivity shall go into captivity: he that killeth with the sword must be killed with the sword. The pope was made captive, attacks were made upon the church and the power of the papacy was put in check all over Europe.

Jesus says “Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God” (Matthew 5:9). If we think to kill others because of different religious ideas, like the disciples, Jesus turned, and rebuked them, and said, Ye know not what manner of spirit ye are of.  For the Son of man is not come to destroy men’s lives, but to save them (Luke 9:55,56).

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The Cripple Healed

The Cripple Healed

By Georead

In the story of John 5:2-16 there were many disabled people waiting at the pool of Bethesda hoping to be healed. They believed at certain times they could be healed in the waters of the pool. Among the disabled was a certain man that had been a helpless cripple for thirty eight years. Jesus had pity on his case of extreme suffering and healed him. He said Rise, take up thy bed, and walk

The man did as Jesus instructed. But the Jews confronted him saying, it is the sabbath day: it is not lawful for thee to carry thy bed. The Jews asked him, “Who instructed you to carry your bed on the Sabbath day.” Later the man revealed that it was Jesus. Therefore did the Jews persecute Jesus, and sought to slay him, because he had done these things on the sabbath day.

According to the Scriptures, Jesus never once sinned, nor did he ever deliberately tell anyone to go and sin. Therefore when Jesus told this man to take up his bed on the Sabbath day it must have been in harmony with the Sabbath Commandment.

The Jews taught that it was not lawful to bear a burden on the Sabbath day. Jeremiah 17:21,22 Thus saith the LORD; Take heed to yourselves, and bear no burden on the sabbath day, nor bring it in by the gates of Jerusalem; Neither carry forth a burden out of your houses on the sabbath day, neither do ye any work, but hallow ye the sabbath day. The Jews further codified this defining what burden could or could not be carried on the Sabbath day. For example, the law of the scribes reads: “food equal in weight to a dried fig, enough wine for mixing in a goblet, milk enough for one swallow, honey enough to put upon a wound, oil enough to anoint a small member, water enough to moisten an eye-salve,” and so on and on.

The burden the man carried was his bed. It could perhaps be rolled up and carried under one arm. It wasn’t a great burden but it exceeded the amount the Jews considered lawful. Even so, Jesus had told him to do it. The far greater burden he had carried was the thirty eight years of infirmity which Jesus removed.

There appears to be two laws at work in this story. God’s law in which acts of necessity and mercy are permitted on the Sabbath {PP 308.1} and man’s laws which are needlessly pedantic and so utterly inconvenient they became burdensome to keep.

In John Chapter 15 Jesus says “I am the vine, ye are the branches.” Disconnected from Christ the branches cannot live. The Jews were as branches attempting to produce fruit with no vital connection to the vine. They sought earn salvation independent of Christ. Also, since they could not produce fruit and keep God’s law they began to devise human laws around and about the Commandments.

The effort to earn salvation by one’s own works inevitably leads men to pile up human exactions as a barrier against sin. For, seeing that they fail to keep the law, they will devise rules and regulations of their own to force themselves to obey. {MB 123.1}

The Ten Commandments are like a beautiful white building with gold writing. But when men try to keep them independent of Christ they will, inevitably, find they can’t. Thus they build an ugly human scaffold up around this beautiful white building until it totally obscures the view of the people. This is what had occurred with the Sabbath commandment in the days of the Jews

There were many disabled and sick at the pool of Bethesda. Jesus could have healed every one of them. What prevented Him from doing this? He longed to exercise His healing power, and make every sufferer whole. But it was the Sabbath day. Multitudes were going to the temple for worship, and He knew that such an act of healing would so excite the prejudice of the Jews as to cut short His work.  {DA 201.3} If Jesus had healed them such a prejudice would have been raised He would have been put to death as a Sabbath breaker. Healing only one person caused them to seek his life. Imagine the outcry if He had healed them all.

Since the Jews had become so fanatical about the minutiae of human laws they missed out on a great blessing. On that Sabbath day Jesus could have healed many more souls and it would have been a great blessing to the nation. We can only wonder how many other blessing the human race has missed out on because of similar attitudes.

We don’t know exactly how this man came to be crippled for so many years. But it is written that, his disease was in a great degree the result of his own sin {DA 202.1}

There is a comparison we can make between physical and spiritual disability. Romans 3:23 All have sinned, and come short of the glory of God. Human beings have severed their connection with God, and their souls have become palsied and strengthless by the deadly poison of sin. {CTr 32.2}

We lose our connection with God through sin. Each time we sin, we lose more of our sense of conscience. If we keep on sinning our conscience becomes dead to wrong doing. This condition can be likened to a physically paralysed body with no sense of feeling. The lives of those who are paralysed is shortened because their muscles and organs waste away through lack of use, lack of blood flow and toxins that build up. Likewise spiritual paralysis will destroy and debilitate the character.

In John chapter 15 when the branch is connected to the vine it allows the sap to flow bringing life to the branch. But when the branch is disconnected from the vine how quickly it dies and wastes away.

Spiritually speaking we are all totally crippled. Our efforts to overcome sin by ourselves are completely impotent. We are the same as this impotent man trying to get to the pool of Bethesda. We need that vital connection with Jesus. This is the only way we can be ready for heaven.

Through the same faith we may receive spiritual healing. By sin we have been severed from the life of God. Our souls are palsied. Of ourselves we are no more capable of living a holy life than was the impotent man capable of walking. There are many who realize their helplessness, and who long for that spiritual life which will bring them into harmony with God; they are vainly striving to obtain it. In despair they cry, “O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from this body of death?” Romans 7:24, margin. {DA 203.2} 

Jesus can heal both physical and spiritual diseases. He turned away none who came to receive His healing power. He knew that those who petitioned Him for help had brought disease upon themselves, yet He did not refuse to heal them. And when virtue from Christ entered into these poor souls they were convicted of sin, and many were healed of their spiritual disease as well as of their physical maladies. The gospel still possesses the same power, and why should we not today witness the same results?  {CH 30.1}

When the formerly crippled man met Jesus in the temple He warns him, Behold, thou art made whole: sin no more, lest a worse thing come unto thee. Would he continue in sin when it had contributed to his disease and caused so many years of suffering? No. We believe he was cured both physically and spiritually. Jesus forgives sin. He can heal spiritual paralysis. But He does not indulge human beings in further sin.

Sin is like a great debt we can never repay. Just as there was no way that this cripple man could undo the physical damage to his body. What is done is done. Nothing can change it. But connecting with Jesus brings life again to a dead branch. The branches not connected to the vine are fit only for burning. But as brands plucked from the fire, (Zechariah 3:20), connected with Christ we can have life for evermore.

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Response to No Railing Accusation

Response to No Railing Accusation

By Georead

Many of John Thiel’s doctrinal errors have been challenged on the internet via written and video posts. In response to these doctrinal challenges John Thiel has preached the sermon titled “No Railing Accusation” [1]. In the sermon, instead of confessing and repenting of gross doctrinal error, John Thiel tries to minimise his doctrinal errors, confessing to clumsy expressionisms. He blames the hearers for misunderstanding his words. He defends his doctrinal errors with ambiguous statements and poor arguments. Further the sermon is full of implication about submission to himself as the ruling power in the church.

Godhead Doctrinal Error

In the sermon titled “God’s Captivating Love” [2] John Thiel teaches the gross doctrinal error that human beings will become part of God or the Godhead.

In his defence [1] John Thiel repeats the idea that he is clumsy in his speech: “clumsy of speech”, “clumsy expressionism”, “clumsy expressions”, “clumsy with my words”, “words and expressions that come from the pulpit, albeit sometimes that they are clumsy”

John Thiel concedes that “I expressed in that sermon that if God could die, I tried to illustrate what an heir of God is. I did some foolish expression there, if God could die then you would be in His place.”

Despite this concession there is no repudiation of the erroneous Godhead doctrine. Rather John Thiel says: “let God’s word clarify exactly what was meant in my words.” He reads Romans 8:16,17 and Galatians 4:7 with emphasis on “heirs of God.” But instead of clarifying his understanding he leaves the people hanging. Nothing more is explained. There is no clarification made as to whether John Thiel still believes as he previously stated, “Heirs of God! Heirs, not of God’s kingdom, heirs of God. Was this not what Lucifer wanted? He wanted to be in the place of God.” [2] Does John Thiel still believe the phrase “heirs of God” to mean that human beings will inherit a place in the Godhead themselves being God?

John Thiel – “I have been laid out as speaking blasphemy, in that particular sermon, I have communicated an idea that I wanted to be in the place of the Godhead. . . This was never meant that such words should be interpreted that we will gleefully usurp His throne.” John Thiel misinterprets the charge of blasphemy thinking he is accused of having the sentiments of Satan who desired to usurp the place of God. Rather the charge of blasphemy is about his teaching that a human being can became God at all.

Following the Bible rule of interpretation, using Bible as its own expositor, the expression “heirs of God” can be clarified with other Bible verses such as Matthew 25:34 Come, ye blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. 1 Corinthians 6:9 Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Matthew 19:29 And every one that hath forsaken houses, or brethren. . . for my name’s sake, shall receive an hundredfold, and shall inherit everlasting life. 

Attempting to add weight to his argument John Thiel reads Revelation 3:21. He explains that, “Jesus was sitting in His Father’s throne and if we are sitting with Him in His throne, where are we sitting? In the Father’s throne, that is the way it is written.” Further he quotes EGW statements which say saved human beings will share the throne of God. But John Thiel again leaves the people hanging. They are left to wonder is he trying draw the conclusion that sharing God’s throne means saved human beings become part of God? John Thiel has the Father, Son and saved human beings all on the same throne. Perhaps his idea is to keep everyone together on the same throne in order to add weight to the argument that human beings will become God.

EGW explains that at His ascension to heaven after his life on earth Jesus had now gone to share His Father’s throne. {LHU 101.4} EGW also writes Christ is before the Father’s throne and not sitting on it. He is our Sacrifice, our Advocate, our Brother, bearing our human form before the Father’s throne. {SC 14.3}

Uriah Smith contradicts John Thiel saying that, the time is coming when [Christ] is to change his position, and, leaving the throne of his Father, take his own throne . . . This change in the position of Christ is set forth by Paul in 1Cor. 15:24-28 . . .In this reign of Christ the saints participate. “To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne.”  “And they lived,” says John, dating from the first resurrection (chapter 20:4), “and reigned with Christ a thousand years.” {Daniel and the Revelation}

EGW writes that the, final reward will be to share with Christ the throne of immortal glory. {AG 225.6} Yet Matthew has the disciples, in heaven, sitting on separate thrones, undoubtedly sharing the immortal glory of Christ. Matthew 19:28 And Jesus said unto them, . . . when the Son of man shall sit in the throne of his glory, ye also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.    

Sharing Christ’s throne and reigning with him does not necessarily mean anyone will become part of the Godhead. It may simply mean, as the Bible clarifies in Matthew 19:28 that saved human beings share in God’s government. 

In the sermon “God’s Captivating Love” [2] John Thiel is not using clumsy speech. He appears to know exactly what he is saying. He clearly teaches the people they will become part of the Godhead or they will share the place of God. John Thiel pressures his followers to believe this Godhead doctrine saying “Can I see your hands if you believe what I’ve just taught? Some of you don’t? Because if you don’t you separate yourself from the Godhead.” Further he quotes Matthew 10:34-38 suggesting to the people that if they don’t understand a sword will separate them from the “kinsfolk of the Godhead” and that they will become “our foes.” John Thiel compares the hard time people have accepting this Godhead doctrine to the crisis in Galilee when testing truths caused many of Jesus’ disciples to leave him. It is a wrong comparison to make. But it all goes to show that John Thiel had every intention of teaching this doctrine and to drive it home to his followers. It was not clumsy speaking. To say that it was is a lie.

Doctrinal Error – Human Beings are the Arm of the Lord

The doctrinal error that human beings are Arm of the Lord arises in several of John Thiel’s sermons. It is on built well established teaching that we cannot rely on the arm of flesh or human beings, but we can rely completely on the Arm of the Lord.  John Thiel further conjectures that there are human beings that are the Arm of the Lord and that we can rely on them. John Thiel says, “We see here that human visible beings are the arm of the Lord. Jesus was the first and his servants thereafter.  Can it be truly stated and concluded that if Jesus is the arm of the Lord, those he sends as his servants are also the arm of the Lord?” “In Christ’s stead.  What does that mean?  That instead of Jesus being the arm, they are the arm.” “Man needs man because man can only see with his eyes and he cannot see God or Jesus but he can see a man who is the arm of the Lord.” “Through human delegates, they are the arm of the Lord.  Right now Jesus is with those who are his delegated servants.”

John Thiel has been strongly criticised for this conjecture as it appears he is trying to create a type of Catholic reliance on a priest or minister. In his sermon “No Railing Accusation” [1] rather than repudiate the whole Arm of the Lord conjecture John Thiel denies the application to himself. Even then this is not a full denial since John Thiel implies the people should look for the arm of the Lord in others besides himself. John Thiel says, “that subject of the arm of the Lord, they were presented with the design to look for the arm of the Lord active in His servants, not in me only.”

To put human beings in the place of God, as the arm of the Lord, is a distortion of the truth.  It is an attempt to insert human beings where God alone should be. God’s arm alone is able to uphold all who lean upon it {4T 594.2}

Your Future is Dependent on My Communication with You

In the sermon titled “The Pearl That Sparkles and Shines” the following EGW statement is quoted by John Thiel. The world is to be warned of its coming doom. The slumbers of those who are lying in sin and error are so deep, so deathlike, that the voice of God through a wide-awake minister is needed to awaken them. Unless the ministers are converted, the people will not be. {4T 445.1}  John Thiel – “Wow do you like that statement. You know we say, ‘I don’t have to have a minister up the front telling me what to do. I don’t have to rely on John Thiel.’ That has been said. Even amongst us. But what is said here? Your future is dependent on my communication with you. That’s what that says isn’t it? If the ministers are not converted neither will the people be, no matter how much they read. Unless the minister sparkles and shines the truth they will just see the truth as doctrine and they will argue and debate. . .”

John Thiel uses pulpit sarcasm to show the people they should rely on the minister and they need him up front telling them what to do. John Thiel expresses surprise and disappointment that people of his own group speak against such a reliance. After which he says “Your future is dependent on my communication with you.” This phrase is spoken in the context that people should rely on the minister.

In his defensive sermon [1] John Thiel asks the people to recall his words and then he to changes his words to “your future is dependent on the manner of my communication to you.” He changes the context of the phrase declaring he meant that “the people will be affected by the minister’s lack of conversion.” This is a verbal sleight of hand. John Thiel further contradicts himself saying “that statement that I expressed was never to convey that I regarded myself as a people’s criteria.”

The original article from 4 Testimonies page 437-449 is concerning two young Adventist ministers in the state of Iowa who were self-sufficient and self-important. Their influence upon the people could only be bad. There is nothing in the article concerning the reliance on ministers. John Thiel overcooks the statement from 4 Testimonies page 445 into a type of dependency on ministers. It is doubtful whether this was intended by the writer since there are many other EGW statements warning against dependency on ministers. The evangelistic type of ministry may be useful in waking the people but this work should not create a dependency with the people reliant on a minister.

When the members depend upon the minister as their source of power and efficiency, they will be utterly powerless. They will imbibe his impulses, and be stimulated by his ideas, but when he leaves them, they will find  themselves in a more hopeless condition than before they had his labors. I hope that none of the churches in our land will depend upon a minister for support in spiritual things; for this is dangerous. {PaM 101.2} The ministers are hovering over churches . . . They should be taught that unless they can stand alone, without a minister, they need to be converted anew, and baptized anew. They need to be born again.  {GCB, April 12, 1901 par. 21}

Blaming the Hearers

Rather than address the doctrinal points under challenge with more than a few ambiguous statements and verses, John Thiel turns the argument back on the hearers. He uses the following statements from EGW to suggest that the hearers are at fault for misconstruing his words.

He will misconstrue his words, play upon his imagination, wrest them from their true meaning, and then entrench himself in unbelief, claiming that the sentiments are all wrong. {1SM 19.1}

Because of the imperfections of human understanding of language, or the perversity of the human mind, ingenious in evading truth, many read and understand the Bible to please themselves. {1SM 19.3}

Although John Thiel claims he is misunderstood, how and where he is misunderstood is hard to find. Even John Thiel admits his efforts to clarify the misunderstandings are very feeble. John Thiel – “somebody of a different mind of a different education of a different temperament, will be inadvertently going to put a different construction upon the meaning of the word that was chosen by the one who speaks. This is impossible to totally eradicate, but indeed if it has been misunderstood, it needs to be, the effort made. I do not make many efforts to try to clarify anything.”

John Thiel uses a ferocious EGW statement to attack his critics, suggesting they are doing the work of Satan, If Satan can employ professed believers to act as accusers of the brethren, he is justly pleased; for those who do this are just as truly serving him as was Judas when he betrayed Christ, . . . {TM 504.2} On the other hand, John Thiel suggests he has been made an offender for a word. They gather up little incidents which may be trifling in themselves, but which are repeated and exaggerated until a man is made an offender for a word. {TM 504.3} Again this is John Thiel’s effort to minimise gross doctrinal error into a small offence such as a mistaken word.

This attitude of avoidance, lack of effort to clarifying apparent misunderstandings and turning the argument back on the hearers, appears to be an effort to avoid rightful scrutiny as the following suggests should be done:

We are to test every man’s doctrine by the law and the testimony {RH, August 27, 1889 par. 4} 

Every position of truth taken by our people will bear the criticism of the greatest minds; the highest of the world’s great men will be brought in contact with truth, and therefore every position we take should be critically examined and tested by the Scriptures. {Ev 69.1}  

Submission to Himself

In the sermon “No Railing Accusation” [1] John Thiel includes the following concepts: “disobedience to parents”, “the insubordination of children”, “the spirit of insubordination”, “respect for superiors”, “giving over to those in authority”, “submission”, “resigning to the brethren ruling over me” etcetera. John Thiel even describes his own insubordination as a child. He reads Hebrews 13:17 Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves: . .  and . . it is like a death struggle for some to surrender their wills in submission to those who are placed over them. {BEcho, December 9, 1901 par. 8}

Finally John Thiel comes out in the open and clearly states what he is driving at. He says, “it is like a death struggle to surrender our wills in submission to those who are placed over us. Is that right? And so when I have been clumsy with my words I can well understand that the call for submission is like a death struggle.” Here John Thiel makes it understood he expects the submission of the people to himself. All through the sermon he has heavily implied that they are affected with the spirit of insubordination. Yet it might be argued that the people are only following the example of Christ who did not submit to the Rabbis and their wrong doctrines.

John Thiel has been criticised for soliciting blind obedience from his followers [3]. In the sermon “No Railing Accusation” John Thiel denies that he wants the people to obey him. He says “I don’t want to convey the thought that anybody is to obey me. Never.” “I don’t want anybody to think that I am going to stand over anybody in this church and say here, here, obey me.” John Thiel claims he only wants the people to obey those he is obeying. He says “I want to convey the thought to obey those that I am obeying, that’s what my message is. To obey those that I am obeying.” This invites the question is who is John Thiel obeying that the people should obey?

John Thiel dominates the doctrinal thought of his own church organisation. He is the one defining God. He is the one defining the laws, the rules and all the minutiae the people are to obey. Those challenging John Thiel’s definitions of the rules are considered insubordinate. In his own organisation John Thiel decides which EGW statements are relevant “in these last days” throwing out whatever is not expedient to himself, on occasion, using the excuse that in these last days God will work very much out of the common order of things (see TM 299.2).

John Thiel, unwilling to obey the leadership of the previous two churches where he held membership, has gone ahead made his own church with no checks and balances. There is no one above John Thiel for him to obey. He is the virtual pope of his own church. If he were to obey the instruction of 1 Timothy 3:1-7 this may well disqualify him from the office of church leader. Particularly striking in this Scripture are the words in 1 Timothy 3:7 Moreover he must have a good report of them which are without.

There has been no good report from those that are without ever since John Thiel, a married man, became involved with another woman not his wife, resulting his marriage break up. Also John Thiel admits, in his own words, from the pulpit, that he is a womaniser [4]. Perhaps realising such an admission disqualifies him from any church office and even puts his church membership in question, John Thiel tries to back track from his admission claiming that, “It was not a confession, it was simply a useless exercise to try to refute an accusation” [1]. However after he admits to being womaniser John Thiel clearly says “it’s been forgiven” [4]. No forgiveness would be necessary if no sin had been committed with a woman. Even if forgiven it disqualifies a man from holding any church office.

[1] http://justsermons.wordpress.com/2013/12/24/no-railing-accusation/

[2] http://justsermons.wordpress.com/2013/11/30/gods-captivating-love/

[3] https://georead.wordpress.com/2013/01/13/criticism-of-john-thiels-sermon-unquestioning-obedience/

[4] http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_TFijRm5GDk

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I Keep Under the Body

I Keep Under the Body
Compiled by Georead

The Bible defines the body as something that is to be brought into subjection.

1 Corinthians 9:27  But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway.

Some say that the body of itself can do nothing but if so what need would there be to bring it into subjection?

 The body is to be brought into subjection to what?

 1) The body is to be brought into subjection to the noble powers of the mind.

And as they more fully understand the human body, the wonderful work of God’s hand, formed in the image of the Divine, they will seek to bring their bodies into subjection to the noble powers of the mind. {RH, September 12, 1871 par. 9}

2) The body is to be brought into subjection to the higher powers of the mind.

The body is to be brought into subjection. The higher powers of the being are to rule. The passions are to be controlled by the will, which is itself to be under the control of God. The kingly power of reason, sanctified by divine grace, is to bear sway in our lives. {CD 73.6}

The heaven-entrusted faculties of the mind are to be treated as the higher powers, to rule the kingdom of the body. The natural appetites and passions are to be brought under the control of the conscience and the spiritual powers.  {8T 63.2}

The word “body” in 1 Corinthians 9:27 refers to the physical nature which has tendencies to be kept in subjection. If not in subjection to the higher powers of the mind the tendencies of the physical nature will work ruin and death.

The tendencies of the physical nature, unless under the dominion of a higher power, will surely work ruin and death. The body is to be brought into subjection to the higher powers of the being. {2MCP 406.4}

 The word “body” in 1 Corinthians 9:27 encompasses the lower nature which has appetites and passions to be kept in subjection.

They must take up the warfare against these sinful practices, deny appetite, and keep the lower nature in subjection. Said the great apostle, “I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway.”  {RH, February 21, 1888 par. 8}

It is impossible for you to increase in spiritual strength while your appetite and passions are not under perfect control. Says the inspired apostle: “I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway.” {2T 413.2}

The words, “I keep under my body,” literally mean to beat back by severe discipline the desires, impulses, and passions.  {AA 314.1}

The body should be in subjection to the mind (the moral and intellectual powers) but the mind should not be in subjection to the body.

The appetite should ever be in subjection to the moral and intellectual powers. The body should be servant to the mind, and not the mind to the body.  {CG 398.3}

Man was created with appetites and passion under the control of reason.

Man was to bear God’s image, both in outward resemblance and in character. Christ alone is “the express image” (Hebrews 1:3) of the Father; but man was formed in the likeness of God. His nature was in harmony with the will of God. His mind was capable of comprehending divine things. His affections were pure; his appetites and passions were under the control of reason. He was holy and happy in bearing the image of God and in perfect obedience to His will.  {PP 45.2}

When sin came in man’s appetites and passions were perverted.

He lost his moral uprightness and his physical perfection. The appetites and passions that were given to him as blessings were perverted, and became warring lusts, the ministers of death. And so man passed under the dominion of the grave. Sin is the cause of physical degeneration; sin has blighted the race, and introduced disease, misery, and death.  {PHJ, February 1, 1902 par. 3}

Christ exercised self-control over appetite and passion. Christ resisted temptation within and never sinned

From the time of Adam to that of Christ, self-indulgence had increased the power of the appetites and passions, until they had almost unlimited control. Thus men had become debased and diseased, and of themselves it was impossible for them to overcome. In man’s behalf, Christ conquered by enduring the severest test. For our sake He exercised a self-control stronger than hunger or death. And in this first victory were involved other issues that enter into all our conflicts with the powers of darkness.  {DA 117.4}

After His baptism the Son of God entered the dreary wilderness, there to be tempted by the devil. For nearly six weeks He endured the agonies of hunger. . . . He realized the power of appetite upon man; and in behalf of sinful man, He bore the closest test possible upon that point. Here a victory was gained which few can appreciate. The controlling power of depraved appetite and the grievous sin of indulging it can only be understood by the length of the fast which our Saviour endured that He might break its power. . . .  {HP 194.2}

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A Word Study: Higher and Lower Nature

A Word Study: Higher and Lower Nature

Compiled by Georead

Terms used to describe what should be the controlling power:

Higher powers, higher powers of the soul, higher powers of the mind, higher powers of the being, moral powers, nobler powers, conscience and the spiritual powers, mental and spiritual powers, moral and intellectual powers, power of reason, reason, reason and conscience, enlightened conscience, higher faculties, reasoning faculties, moral faculties, nobler faculties, mental and moral faculties, moral and intellectual faculties, faculties of the mind, higher nature, the will sanctified, governing power.

Terms used to describe what should be controlled:

Propensities, lower propensities, animal propensities, passions, lower passions, animal passions, baser passions, base passion, corrupt passions, impulse and passion, appetites and passions, natural appetites and passions, animal appetite and passions, appetite, animal appetite, physical appetites, lower nature, the lower, the body, tendencies of the physical nature, animal lust.

HIGHER POWERS which CONTROL PROPENSITIES

To bring all their propensities under the control of the higher powers. {3T 491.1}

The lower propensities are to be kept under control of the higher powers. {2MCP 377.2}

All animal propensities are to be subjected to the higher powers of the soul. {1MCP 219.1}

Controlling the animal propensities and keeping them in subjection to the moral powers. {Te 146.4}

HIGHER POWERS which CONTROL PASSIONS

It gives to man the mastery of himself, bringing every impulse and passion of the lower nature under the control of the higher powers of the mind. {COL 114.2}

Holding their appetites and passions under control of the higher powers of the mind. {2SP 44.1}

His affections were pure; his appetites and passions were under the control of reason. {PP 45.2}

They can reveal the fact that appetite and passion were kept under the control of the higher powers.  {YI, May 31, 1894 par. 5}

Cultivate the higher powers of the mind, and there will be less strength of growth of the animal. . . your appetite and passions are not under perfect control. {2T 413.2}

If Christians will keep the body in subjection, and bring all their appetites and passions under the control of enlightened conscience. {4T 35.4}

Will they accept Jesus Christ and cooperate with God in bringing under control appetites and passions . . . the rightful dominion of the higher powers and attributes having dominion over the lower.  {20MR 54.1}

The higher powers of the being are to rule. The passions are to be controlled by the will, which is itself to be under the control of God. The kingly power of reason, sanctified by divine grace, is to bear sway in our lives. {MYP 238.2}

Those who have not brought the lower passions into subjection to the higher powers of their being, those who have allowed their minds to flow in a channel of carnal indulgence of the baser passions, Satan is determined to destroy with his temptations. {AH 327.1}

We should teach our children to practice habits of self-denial, that the great battle of life is with self, to restrain the passions, and bring them into subjection to the mental and moral faculties.  {ApM 19.1}

The appetites and passions must be held in subjection to the higher powers of the mind. {DA 101.2}

If permitted, the lower passions will obtain the mastery over the whole being. Christ would have these passions subject to the higher powers of the mind.  {ST, March 1, 1899 par. 7}

Were the minds and bodies of men and women in a healthful condition, were the animal passions subject to the higher powers of the mind. {5MR 396.1}

That the higher, nobler powers of the mind may not be enslaved by the lower passions.  {RH, June 6, 1899 par. 2}

Instead of being held in bondage to the lower nature, they are to rule every appetite and passion. God has not left us to battle with evil in our own finite strength. {Te 112.1}

All circumstances, all appetites and passions, are to be servants to the God-fearing man, not rulers over him. . . He is to rule the animal passions, rather than to be held in the bondage of habit.  {TM 421.1}

The heaven-entrusted faculties of the mind are to be treated as the higher powers, to rule the kingdom of the body. The natural appetites and passions are to be brought under the control of the conscience and the spiritual powers.  {8T 63.2}

The tendencies of the physical nature, unless under the dominion of a higher power, will surely work ruin and death. The body is to be brought into subjection to the higher powers of the being. The passions are to be controlled by the will, which is itself to be under the control of God. The kingly power of reason, sanctified by divine grace, is to bear sway in the life. {PK 488.4}

HIGHER POWERS which CONTROL APPETITES

Their physical appetites under the control of reason and conscience. {MYP 236.3}

The animal appetite strengthened at the expense of the moral and intellectual faculties. These higher powers, which should control, have been growing weaker. {2T 485.2}

The appetite should ever be in subjection to the moral and intellectual powers. {PP 562.1}

HIGHER NATURE which CONTROLS LOWER NATURE

The experimental knowledge of God and of Jesus Christ whom He has sent, transforms man into the image of God. It gives to man the mastery of himself, bringing every impulse and passion of the lower nature under the control of the higher powers of the mind. {COL 114.2}

Satan tempts men to indulgence that will becloud reason and benumb the spiritual perceptions, but Christ teaches us to bring the lower nature into subjection. His whole life was an example of self-denial. In order to break the power of appetite, He suffered in our behalf the severest test that humanity could endure. {DA 149.4}

A noble character is not the result of accident; it is not due to special favors or endowments of Providence. It is the result of self-discipline, of subjection of the lower to the higher nature, of the surrender of self to the service of God and man.  {PK 488.2}

They must take up the warfare against these sinful practices, deny appetite, and keep the lower nature in subjection. Said the great apostle, “I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway.”  {RH, February 21, 1888 par. 8}

It is fellowship with Christ, personal contact with a living Saviour, that enables the mind and heart and soul to triumph over the lower nature. {COL 388.1}

Instead of being held in bondage to the lower nature, they are to rule every appetite and passion. {AG 254.4}

PROPENSITIES which CONTROL HIGHER POWERS

It is because the animal propensities have been strengthened by exercise until they have gained the ascendancy over the higher powers. {2T 348.1}

Indulgence of appetite strengthens the animal propensities, giving them the ascendency over the mental and spiritual powers. {RH, January 25, 1881 par. 23}

It has a tendency to lower, to debase the man, to make him more animal in his propensities. The higher powers of the mind are overpowered by the lower. {2T 60.3}

The animal propensities should not be educated and strengthened to rule the whole being.  {SpM 209.1}

PASSIONS which CONTROL HIGHER POWERS

To give the lower passions control over the higher powers of the being. {9T 159.2}

We are built up from that which we eat, and those whose diet is largely composed of animal food are brought into a condition where they allow the lower passions to assume control of the higher powers of the being. {5MR 408.1}

He becomes gross and sensual; the animal passions control the higher powers of the mind, and virtue is not cherished.  {5T 356.2}

But man, through yielding to Satan’s temptations to indulge intemperance, brings the higher faculties in subjection to the animal appetites and passions. {RH, September 8, 1874 par. 2}

Man, through yielding to Satan’s temptations to indulge intemperance, brings the higher faculties in subjection to the animal appetites and passions. {Te 146.1}

How much more should they who are running the Christian race in the hope of immortality and the approval of High Heaven, be willing to deny themselves unhealthy stimulants and indulgences, which degrade the morals, enfeeble the intellect, and bring the higher powers into subjection to the animal appetites and passions.  {4T 34.2}

If permitted, the lower passions will obtain the mastery over the whole being. Christ would have these passions subject to the higher powers of the mind. {ST, March 1, 1899 par. 7}

The lower passions of their nature have taken the reins, and that which should be the governing power has become the servant of corrupt passion. {2T 348.1}

Its higher, nobler faculties are perverted to serve animal lust, and the sacred, eternal interests are not regarded. {4T 44.2}

The higher powers of the mind, designed for elevated purposes, are brought into slavery to the baser passions. {3T 50.3}

The indulgence of unnatural appetites and passions has a controlling influence upon the nerves of the brain. The animal organs are strengthened, while the moral are depressed. It is impossible for an intemperate man to be a Christian, for his higher powers are brought into slavery to the passions.  {3T 51.1}

Will He not call parents to an account, to whom He has given reasoning powers, for putting these higher faculties in the background and becoming slaves to passion. {2SM 424.2}

The indulgence of the baser passions, have benumbed the nobler faculties of man. Reason, instead of being the ruler, has come to be the slave of appetite to an alarming extent. {CD 149.2}

The higher faculties of man are enslaved by appetite and corrupt passions. {2T 347.3}

Thus many children are born with the animal passions largely in the ascendancy while the moral faculties are but feebly developed. {2T 480.2}

The baser passions had gained the ascendancy over the higher nature. {2T 350.2}

The lower passions bear sway, holding the entire being in the tyranny of Satan’s power. {4MR 170.2}

The lower passions bore sway, predominating over the higher powers of the mind. {2T 697.1}

The system becomes fevered, the organs of digestion become injured, the mental faculties are beclouded, while the baser passions are excited, and predominate over the nobler faculties. {2SM 420.1}

The great enemy knows that if appetite and passion predominate, the health of body and strength of intellect are sacrificed upon the altar of self-gratification, and man is brought to speedy ruin. {MYP 237.1}

If sensuality is not kept under the control of the higher powers of the mind, base passion will rule the being. {4BC 1145.8}

When the love of the world takes possession of the heart and becomes a ruling passion . . . the higher powers of the mind submit to the slavery of mammon. {3T 385.1}

Those who allow the lower passions, appetite, selfishness, and pride, to govern them, will violate every law of their natures, and sink lower and lower in moral degradation.  {College Record, January 1, 1878 par. 8}

When meat is made the staple article of food, the higher faculties are overborne by the lower passions. {3SM 290.3}

The excited passions tyrannize over the higher, nobler faculties; and Christlikeness is not revealed. {RH, January 14, 1904 par. 5}

Reason and conscience are blinded by the lower passions.  {4T 31.1}

APPETITES which CONTROL HIGHER POWERS

Thus they give themselves up to every excess, until appetite holds complete control over the reasoning faculties. {2SM 420.2}

Intemperance in eating and drinking, and the indulgence of the baser passions, have benumbed the nobler faculties. Appetite, to an alarming extent, has controlled reason. {2SM 412.4}

The animal appetite strengthened at the expense of the moral and intellectual faculties. These higher powers, which should control, have been growing weaker. {2T 485.2}

LOWER NATURE which CONTROLS HIGHER NATURE

The higher powers of the mind are overpowered by the lower. The brutish part of your nature governs the spiritual. {2T 60.3}

The corruption of the world is seeking to steal our senses; all the unholy influences on every side are working to hold us to a low, earthly level–blinding our sensibilities, degrading our desires, enfeebling our conscience, and crippling our religious faculties by urging us to give sway to the lower nature. {19MR 346.1}

But it is sad to see those who should be vessels unto honor, indulging in the gratification of the lower nature, and walking in paths that conscience condemns. {RH, June 30, 1891 par. 8} 

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Was Jesus Tempted As A Woman?

Was Jesus Tempted As A Woman?

Audio from sermon titled “Neither Male Nor Female” by John Thiel

John Thiel – “Did Jesus only take the male factor of the flesh?”

John Thiel – “the fact is the woman was in Jesus just as much as the man.”

This is a transgender type of Jesus.

According to this theory Jesus has to be so much like us he has to share our gender. Otherwise he can’t help us with our gender specific temptations. However adultery is not gender specific, neither is covetousness, stealing, murder, false witness, dishonouring parents, sabbath breaking, idolatry, etc, etc. None of the Ten Commandments is gender specific. 1 John 3:4 “sin is the transgression of the law” whatever your gender. Jesus doesn’t need to be a “woman in the flesh” to “succour them that are tempted” Hebrews 2:18.

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A Whole Team of Christ’s

A Whole Team of Christ’s

In the sermon titled “The Arm of Flesh vs The Arm of God” John Thiel (a professed independent SDA minister) openly introduces Catholic doctrine to his flock.

John Thiel – “If you have a whole team of Christ’s, remember what Jesus said?  Greater works than I have done you will do.  We see here that human visible beings are the arm of the Lord.  Jesus was the first and his servants thereafter.  Can it be truly stated and concluded that if Jesus is the arm of the Lord, those he sends as his servants are also the arm of the Lord?” [1]

Here John Thiel introduces his team of mini-Christ’s. John Thiel and his followers, are a whole team of intermediaries, a whole team of Christ’s. They come in Christ’s stead as little Christ’s.

Our Sunday Visitor – “Catholic teaching says that a priest is an alter Christus. To say that the priest is an alter Christus (‘another Christ’) seems at first hearing decidedly brash and haughty. All Christians are so called because we are ‘little Christ’s’ in the world in which we find ourselves.” [2]

John Thiel – “A friend that they can see in Christ’s stead.  In other words, when you can see that person, they are in Christ’s stead as a human arm.”

William Tyndale – “That is, the shaven nation preach Christ falsely; yea, under the name of Christ preach themselves, and reign in Christ’s stead.” “The shaven nation hath put Christ out of his room.” [3]

John Thiel – “Think about it.  There is a human being.  You are relying on the human being for direction and guidance.  How many people have said don’t lean on the arm of flesh when they are dependent on the servant of God?”

Roman Catholic Spiritual Direction – “He [God] speaks to us through our noble thoughts and desires, which always must be presented to a wise spiritual director to help us discern God’s voice from our own.” [4]

John Thiel – “Man needs man because man can only see with his eyes and he cannot see God or Jesus but he can see a man who is the arm of the Lord.”

Head of the Church, Wikipedia – “In Roman Catholic ecclesiology, Jesus is called the Invisible Head, while the Pope is called the Visible Head. Therefore, the Pope is often called the Vicar of Christ.”

Never once in the writings of EGW is it written that any man, besides Christ himself, is the arm of the Lord.

God’s arm alone is able to uphold all who lean upon it. {4T 594.2}

Teach every soul to lean heavily on the arm of infinite power. {2MCP 430.2}

. . he could lean in perfect safety upon that all-powerful arm. {GC 132.1}

. . lean upon the arm of the Mighty One for strength {1T 99.2}

Upon His arm depended the salvation of the fallen race {DA 111.5}

. . laying hold of the arm of the Mighty One, we are safe; but just as soon as we loosen our grasp of His arm, and begin to depend upon human beings, we are in great danger. {SD 329.5}

In this sermon John Thiel reads – It is unsafe for any church to lean upon some favorite minister, to trust in an arm of flesh. God’s arm alone is able to uphold all who lean upon it.  {4T 594.2}

John Thiel – “In other words if you rely on some favourite minister who has lost his bearings . . . then you are leaning on the arm of flesh.”

[1] http://sabbathsermons.com/2009/09/03/890/

[2] http://www.osv.com/tabid/7636/itemid/5748/Priest-Alter-Christus.aspx

[3] William Tyndale, The Obedience of a Christian Man, page 47.

[4] http://rcspiritualdirection.com/blog/2013/02/16/pope-benedict-and-the-voice-of-god

[5] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Head_of_the_Church

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From Saul to Paul and back to Saul?

From Saul to Paul and back to Saul?

The experience of Paul provides a scriptural template of the true Christian conversion experience.

Saul believed in his own righteousness for he believed that concerning the law he was blameless. Philippians 3:5-6

However, after his conversion he understood that he was not a righteous man; indeed he counted his own righteousness as dung Philippians 3:7,8, at which point he came into line with Gods thinking who also regards man’s righteousness as filth. Isaiah 64:6

Paul whom we count as a righteous man correctly counted himself as unrighteous, going so far as to label himself the ‘Chief of sinners’, 1Timothy 1:15.

This was not an attitude of self-effacing mock modesty, or pretended ecclesiastical piety. This was a genuine realization of where he stood, borne from conviction of the Holy Spirit.

Paul on conversion laid aside self-righteousness or ‘self’ and began the internal warfare of spirit over flesh which is true Christianity. Romans 7:14-23

This internal warfare was an ongoing daily process. Paul described his experience as ‘dying daily’, 1 Corinthians 15:31

The experience of death to self through spiritual warfare was not something that was experienced and achieved once at the beginning of his Christian walk. He wasn’t transformed from sinner to holy person who could walk in his own strength thereafter; he needed Christ daily, his life was a struggle against himself right up until his death.

2 Timothy 4:7 I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith:

The example of Paul raises interesting questions:

Paul was a sinner, by his own admission the ‘chief of sinners’. Sin is transgression of the law 1John 3:4. Paul was a transgressor of Gods law.

He was like all men, for ALL are transgressors of Gods law. Romans 3:23, Romans 3:10, Ecclesiastes 7:20

We understand the principals of imputed righteousness and forgiveness of sin through faith in Christ, but what is the difference between the chief of sinners, Paul, and the class that Christ rejects in Mathew 2:23, and Luke 13:27?

Matthew 7:21-23 Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.

The class that Jesus speaks of have two things in common with Paul and with us; they are sinners or ‘workers of iniquity’ (same thing) and they are believers in Christ.

What lacks with this class is that the righteousness of Christ has not been imputed to them. Why so? They believe, they have works, and faith without works is dead. James 2:17.

They appear to have it all, faith and works yet Christ says ; “Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven.”

Confusing; aren’t works doing the will of the Father?

They have done all these marvellous works! They have devoted their lives to their religion yet they are rejected.

Then Christ says a curious thing. “I never knew you: depart from me.” Why doesn’t Christ know them? They are Christians.

Paul was at war with himself, it was a war he couldn’t win, yet he continued the fight one battle at a time. He was aware of what he was. He saw his only hope was in Christ and His righteousness, and that it was Christ in him that wrought victories. Christ knew Paul because Paul clung to Christ, and Paul clung to Christ because he needed Christ.

The class that Christ rejects argue with him, they think he’s made a mistake. They have wonderful works. They do not understand that works do not atone for any sin. They believe meritorious works earn them salvation, yet Christ clarifies that they have not done the will of the Father.

Rather than engaging in true warfare within themselves through the strength of Christ working in them they have robed themselves in their own righteousness. They haven’t regarded themselves as ‘chief sinners’, they have lessened their own account. They are ‘less sinful’ in their own eyes through works. Like a man in a boat, over flowing to the gunnels, furiously bailing out with a teaspoon they seek to empty their cup of iniquity. They are under Laodicean delusion.

They have not, like Paul laid aside self-righteousness, which is true ‘death to self’. They continue in their own counterfeit righteousness because although they have accepted Christ intellectually they have not ‘died to self’ and accepted him spiritually as their only righteousness.

Luke 11:24-26 When the unclean spirit is gone out of a man, he walketh through dry places, seeking rest; and finding none, he saith, I will return unto my house whence I came out. And when he cometh, he findeth it swept and garnished. Then goeth he, and taketh to him seven other spirits more wicked than himself; and they enter in, and dwell there: and the last state of that man is worse than the first.

An interesting commentary on Luke 11:24-26 is quote below.

The Curse of Self-righteousness.–The garnished house represents the self-righteous soul. Satan is driven out by Christ. But he returned, in the hope of finding entrance. He finds the house empty, swept, and garnished. Only self-righteousness is abiding there. “Then goeth he, and taketh to him seven other spirits more wicked than himself; and they enter in, and dwell there: and the last state of that man is worse than the first.” 

Self-righteousness is a curse, a human embellishment, which Satan uses for his glory. Those who garnish the soul with self-praise and flattery prepare the way for the seven other spirits more wicked than the first. In their very reception of the truth these souls deceive themselves. They are building upon a foundation of self-righteousness. The prayers of congregations may be offered to God with a round of ceremonies, but if they are offered in self-righteousness God is not honored by them. The Lord declares, “I will declare thy righteousness, and thy works; for they shall not profit thee.” In spite of all their display, their garnished habitation, Satan comes in with a troop of evil angels and takes his place in the soul, to help in the deception. The apostle writes, “If after they have escaped the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, they are again entangled therein, and overcome, the latter end is worse with them than the beginning. For it had been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than, after they have known it, to turn from the holy commandment delivered unto them” {Volume 5, Bible Commentary, page 1093}

 So, Christ drives out Satan from the soul. In turn failure to abandon self-righteousness or ‘die to self’ drives the Holy Spirit out and leaves the soul empty. Satan returns and takes his seat as the counterfeit Holy Spirit. The man continues in his self-righteous ways, trusting to his own meritorious works to earn his salvation, thinking that Christ dwells in him, but it is Satan dwelling in him.

In conclusion

The fruits of Paul’s genuine conversion were to become self-aware in regards to his sinfulness. He abandoned all thoughts of self-righteousness and justification by his own works as folly. He embraced Christ as the only means of salvation. He waged war against the flesh through Christ. He remained in this attitude for life.

By gauging our own experience against these principals we can seek to walk in harmony with Christ and also discern false teachings regarding sanctification and meritorious works.

Some Christians subtly muddle things up. They see that ‘dying to self’ is or is at least evidenced by inconsequential meritorious works, such as dress and diet and other ubiquitous and numerous traditions. A person who is doing the meritorious works as set out by a religious leader is deemed to have died to self because they are doing them.

However the opposite applies, for by obeying the traditions and precepts of men the devotee comes to believe and is taught that he is attaining higher degrees of holiness. This inflates ‘self’ and this drives Christ from the soul. The unfortunate devotee is then left under the Laodicean delusion that he is rich, when he is in fact bankrupt having placed himself under the old covenant.

Acceptable works come from a spirit of gratitude. A man who has permanently put away self-righteousness (died to self) as a consequence of conversion displays the fruits of conversion in his love to his fellow man. Works borne of love are acceptable to God for they are a result of Christ dwelling in the heart.

Works borne of a desire to gain favour, or borne of coercion, or tradition are not fruits of the Spirit and are not acceptable to God.

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