Honour the King

Honour the King

By Georead

Submit to Every Ordinance of Man

The word of God counsels us to be subject to “the powers that be” and to “submit to every ordinance of man” (see 1 Peter 2:13-17; Romans 13:1-6). Further it counsels that we should be subject to and obey the government, whatever government it should be. But if the government were to enact laws contrary to the law of God could we obey? How could I answer for my faith? Could I explain why I am not obeying the government when the Bible says, “submit to every ordinance of man” (1 Peter 2:13)?

Ordained”

The powers that be are ordained of God. Romans 13:1. The word “ordained” does not mean that kings or governments have some kind of spiritual power imparted to them because the alternate word given in Bible margin is “ordered”. The powers that be are ordered or put in place by God. The same word is found in Acts 28:23 “they had appointed him a day”, that is, the Jews in Rome appointed or ordered a day for Paul to tell them about the gospel. In Romans 13:1 the Apostle is saying the powers that be are appointed by God.

All Power from God

For there is no power but of God. Romans 13:1. God hath spoken once; twice have I heard this; that power belongeth unto God. Psalms 62:11. All power is derived from God. Does this mean that all kings whether good and bad derive their power from God?

King David was a good king. God Himself established David’s throne. We have no doubt that his power came from God. But what about wicked kings did they derive their power from God? For instance Nero, the most debased Roman emperor, did his power come from God? Who gave the Romans power to rule?

Pilate was the Roman ruler of Judea. When Pilate told Jesus he had power to crucify him or let him go, Jesus replied, Thou couldest have no power at all against me, except it were given thee from above John 19:11. Pilate’s power or the Roman power came from God. Nevertheless Pilate performed an act that was not sanctioned by God.

When he [Pilate] was set down on the judgment seat, his wife sent unto him, saying, Have thou nothing to do with that just man: for I have suffered many things this day in a dream because of him Matthew 27:19.  The wife of Pilate sent him a message urging him to leave Jesus alone. She did this because the angels of God had warned her in a dream. They were trying to prevent Pilate from performing the terrible act of crucifying Jesus. Nevertheless Pilate condemned Him to be crucified. While Pilate was given power from God, he had freedom to act as he chose.

It must also be true that the tyrant Nero received his power from God. Yet this does not prove that God sanctions the acts of that power. When Nero put to death the Apostles Peter and Paul it was not an act sanctioned by God.

Take the case of individual powers. There are physical powers, intellectual powers, etc. Where do individual human powers come from? They come from God. God has given each one of us individual powers but we must choose how we will act, so with kings and governments. Their power comes from God. But that does not mean God is responsible for all their actions because they are free to act at they choose.

God over the Higher Powers

Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers Romans 13:1. Who are the higher powers that we are to be subject to? Whatever it means by the higher powers, these powers cannot be above the Most High. God is all powerful

God removeth kings, and setteth up kings Daniel 2:21. Thou, O king, art a king of kings: for the God of heaven hath given thee a kingdom, power, and strength, and glory Daniel 2:37. God set Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, over all the kingdoms of earth. When Nebuchadnezzar tired to ascribe to himself divine power he was driven mad until he acknowledged the most High ruleth in the kingdom of men, and giveth it to whomsoever he will Daniel 4:32.

Resisting the Power

Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God: and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation Romans 13:2. Since God himself has put in place these powers we should not resist them. God himself put Nebuchadnezzar in power so it was not right to resist him.

Jeremiah the prophet counseled the people of Israel to submit quietly to their Babylonian conquerors. Seek the peace of the city whither I have caused you to be carried away captives Jeremiah 29:7. A false prophet arose contradicting the message of Jeremiah. Hananiah told the people to rise up and resist Babylonian rule. To prevent insurrection and the great suffering that would result from it, God sent Jeremiah with a warning message against Hananiah.

Jeremiah  28:14,15 For thus saith the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel; I have put a yoke of iron upon the neck of all these nations, that they may serve Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon; and they shall serve him: Then said the prophet Jeremiah unto Hananiah the prophet, Hear now, Hananiah; The LORD hath not sent thee; but thou makest this people to trust in a lie

The people of Judah were to submit to Nebuchadnezzar. God had set Nebuchadnezzar over all the kingdoms of earth. Jeremiah warned the people and the king of Judah to remain in peaceful subjection to the powers that be.

In Romans 13:2 the Apostle Paul is a warning against rebellion and insurrection. It is God who removes kings and sets them up. It is not us. We are not to be involved in rebellion or insurrection. Jeremiah warned the people of Judah not to raise an insurrection. They were not to resist.

Resisting Wicked Laws

Daniel was a captive in Babylon. He was familiar with the writings of Jeremiah (see Daniel 9:2). Likewise his three friends Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego would have been familiar with the counsels of Jeremiah. They lived peaceful subjection to Babylonian government. They did not resist.

However Daniel and his friends did not always obey the laws of that government. When the law of God conflicted with the laws of Babylonian government they disobeyed. Daniel’s three friends were cast into a fiery furnace because of disobedience to the king.

Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego resisted wicked laws of Nebuchadnezzar yet they remained subject to the powers that be. They showed submission speaking honourably to the king and not resisting the punishment. They did not rise up in rebellion against it. They committed themselves into the hands God in their hour of trial.

In Romans 13:2 when the Apostle speaks of ‘resistance’ he is warning against rebellion and insurrection. He is not speaking of resistance to wicked laws.

Ordinarily subjection implies obedience. When we read that Jesus was subject to his parents we are sure that he was obedient to them. Therefore when we are exhorted to be subject to the powers that be, the natural conclusion is, we are obedient to laws. But we should never forget that God is above all. All power comes from him. We are to obey God all of the time. Also we are to be subject to human powers, so long as our subjection does not involve disobedience to God.

While the word of God counsels us to be subject to the powers that be, it never countenances disobedience to God. It is the height of folly to misuse Romans chapter 13, claiming it is the duty of Christians to obey human laws when they conflict with the law of God.

1 Peter 2:13

Submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord’s sake: whether it be to the king, as supreme 1 Peter 2:13.

What does it mean to submit to every ordinance of man? It is supposed that the word “ordinance” means law. But a more careful reading of the text shows that this supposition is a mistake. The word “ordinance” in the Greek could is better translated as “creation”. In the concordance it is only once translated as “ordinance” while 11 times as “creation”. Another text that using the same Greek word is 2 Peter 3:4 . . for since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation. Young’s Literal Translation of 1 Peter 2:13,14 reads: Be subject, then, to every human creation, because of the Lord, whether to a king, as the highest, whether to governors, as to those sent through him. The text says nothing about laws, only about rulers. The Apostle Peter counsels us to submit to rulers. But our submission to rulers does not necessarily involve obedience to wicked laws.  In 1 Peter 2:17 we are counseled to “honour the king” but it does not suggest that we disobey God.

Honour all men. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honour the king. Servants, be subject to your masters with all fear; not only to the good and gentle, but also to the froward 1 Peter 2:17,18. We are to be in subjection to rightful authority whether the ruler be good and gentle or froward.

For this is thankworthy, if a man for conscience toward God endure grief, suffering wrongfully 1 Peter 2:19. The next text points out that although subject to rulers we may be called upon to endure grief and suffer wrongfully because of conscience toward God. This might occur if rulers were to compel obedience to laws that contradict the law of God. This would cause those who would rather obey God to suffer wrongfully for conscience sake.

Conclusion

During the time of the Nazi rule in Europe many individuals and institutions compromised in order to secure peace for themselves. Yet in doing this they obeyed men rather than God. So-called Christian ministers misused texts such as Romans 13:1,2 and 1 Peter 2:13,14 to condemn those who were resisting the wicked laws of the Nazi regime.

The test of truth will come upon both individual Christians and church institutions. When the laws of men contradict the law of God what should we do? Then Peter and the other apostles answered and said, We ought to obey God rather than men  Acts 5:29.        

None but those who have fortified the mind with the truths of the Bible will stand through the last great conflict. To every soul will come the searching test: Shall I obey God rather than men? . . . Are we prepared to stand firm in defense of the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus?  {Great Controversy 593.2}

Be careful not to belong to any institution, including any church that has a track record of obeying men rather than God.

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Good Works, Debt and Reward

Good Works, Debt and Reward

By Georead

 The Debt That No Good Works Can Repay

The wages of sin is death but the gift of God is eternal life (Romans 6:23). Why is eternal life a gift? Why can’t we earn it like one earns wages?

In the financial crisis of 2008 some very large companies went bankrupt. They could no longer keep up with their debts which were spiralling out of control. A few very large companies went into liquidation. They were carved in pieces and swallowed up by other companies. In addition, many individuals went bankrupt. They could no longer keep up with the payments on their houses. Banks started repossessing houses at a record rate. Many people were left homeless and living out of their cars. The value of houses plummeted. Some were left with enormous debts much more than the value of their house. They ended up having to pay back debt worth more than the value of their homes. Others were forced to go bankrupt and lost their homes.

Sin is like a very large debt. Some people are very conscientious in trying to pay back the debt of sin they owe. They do many good works in an effort to pay back the debt of sin. Others find the debt of sin a burden all too much bear. Whatever good works they do, they feel it is hopeless. They cannot keep up with their burgeoning debt of sin. They end up spiritually bankrupt. They give up. They feel it is impossible for them to ever enter into heaven.

Matthew 18:23-26  Therefore is the kingdom of heaven likened unto a certain king, which would take account of his servants. And when he had begun to reckon, one was brought unto him, which owed him ten thousand talents.  But forasmuch as he had not to pay, his lord commanded him to be sold, and his wife, and children, and all that he had, and payment to be made. The servant therefore fell down, and worshipped him, saying, Lord, have patience with me, and I will pay thee all. 

In this parable the servant is bankrupt. He can no longer keep up with his debts. He’s going into liquidation. All of his possessions were to be divided up and sold. Worst of all both he and his family were to be sold into slavery. Thus some of the debt could be recouped by the king. This is like sin. It is a large debt that we have no hope of ever paying back. Our very best works are not enough to keep up with the payments. It is the same for every one of us. Humanity is spiritually bankrupt.

Even though the servant had no hope of ever repaying the debt, he still pleaded for time saying, “have patience with me, I will pay thee all.” This is like the sinner that is fallen in sin and spiritually bankrupt. He pleads with God, “Have patience with me. I’ll turn my life around. I’ll do many good works to pay back the debt of sin I owe. From now on I’ll be good!” But the sinner needs to realise he can never pay back his debt of sin. Every one of us has reached the point of impossibility. Sin has gone too far. The debt is too great. When debt gets out of control things get repossessed and go into liquidation. The wages of sin is death and we can liken death to the final liquidation of all our earthly assets.

Matthew 18:27 Then the lord of that servant was moved with compassion, and loosed him, and forgave him the debt. 

Here we see that the king forgave this impossible debt. He was moved with compassion and had mercy. The servant’s debt was cleared without him doing any works. It was a gift, an undeserving gift. God knows we have an impossible debt of sin and that we can never pay it back. The only way for it to be cleared is through a gift of mercy. This is why eternal life is the gift of God.

Matthew 18:28-34 But the same servant went out, and found one of his fellowservants, which owed him an hundred pence: and he laid hands on him, and took him by the throat, saying, Pay me that thou owest. And his fellowservant fell down at his feet, and besought him, saying, Have patience with me, and I will pay thee all.  And he would not: but went and cast him into prison, till he should pay the debt. So when his fellowservants saw what was done, they were very sorry, and came and told unto their lord all that was done. Then his lord, after that he had called him, said unto him, O thou wicked servant, I forgave thee all that debt, because thou desiredst me: Shouldest not thou also have had compassion on thy fellowservant, even as I had pity on thee? And his lord was wroth, and delivered him to the tormentors, till he should pay all that was due unto him.

The servant does not trust the gift of the king. He doesn’t seem to appreciate it. Why isn’t the servant rejoicing and happy to be free from the great debt he owed? He ought to show faith in the gift of the king by performing works of mercy toward others and forgiving their debts. Instead he becomes extremely judgmental toward them. He is ready to cut them off from mercy. Perhaps he is fearful he might fall into the same debt again. Thus he feels he must collect debt from others to cover himself. He doesn’t really trust the gift of mercy. This is like the sinner who pleads with God and receives forgiveness for the debt of sin  owed. Afterward not trusting or appreciating the gift they become extremely judgmental toward others, seeking to cut them off from the mercy of God. They doubt the gift of God, thinking the debt of sin may return to their own account. Therefore they feel it necessary to collect debt from others. They shift blame to others in order to cover themselves. They seek to minimise their own sinfulness saying to God, “I am not as this publican. I am not like this debtor. His debts are greater than mine.” However collecting and enlarging other people’s debt of sin can never cover our own debt of sin. The only solution is trust in the gift of God.

There is no way we can possibly earn salvation by good works; therefore it is a gift of mercy to be received by faith.

Works of Faith Are Duty We Owe God

James 2:14 What doth it profit, my brethren, though a man say he hath faith, and have not works? Can faith save him?

While good works can’t earn anything they are an essential component of saving faith.

Martin Luther writes, “Faith cannot help doing good works constantly. It doesn’t stop to ask if good works ought to be done, but before anyone asks, it already has done them and continues to do them without ceasing. Anyone who does not do good works in this manner is an unbeliever . . . Thus, it is just as impossible to separate faith and works as it is to separate heat and light from fire!”

Even when Christians are constantly doing the works of faith, these are not something by which they gain merit.

Luke 17:7-10  But which of you, having a servant plowing or feeding cattle, will say unto him by and by, when he is come from the field, Go and sit down to meat? And will not rather say unto him, Make ready wherewith I may sup, and gird thyself, and serve me, till I have eaten and drunken; and afterward thou shalt eat and drink?  Doth he thank that servant because he did the things that were commanded him? I trow not. So likewise ye, when ye shall have done all those things which are commanded you, say, We are unprofitable servants: we have done that which was our duty to do. 

The above parable shows the place our works have before God. The master of the estate does not thank the servant for doing his duty. Likewise when good works are done in faith these are simply the duty owed to God. We deserve no thanks. God owes us nothing. He cannot be indebted to us for our good works. God created all things and all things exist because of Him. All righteousness and grace come from Him. God gives us strength to do good works, none of which we could have done in our own sinful natures.

It is the fragrance of the merit of Christ that makes our good works acceptable to God, and it is grace that enables us to do the works for which He rewards us. Our works in and of themselves have no merit. When we have done all that it is possible for us to do, we are to count ourselves as unprofitable servants. We deserve no thanks from God. We have only done what it was our duty to do, and our works could not have been performed in the strength of our own sinful natures.  {Review and Herald, January 29, 1895 par. 4}

The Reward for Good Works

Matthew 19:27 Then answered Peter and said unto him, Behold, we have forsaken all, and followed thee; what shall we have therefore? 

The disciples had forsaken all to follow Christ. They endured hardship and trial to follow him. They felt that God owed them a reward. Peter asked, “What shall we have?” Jesus addressed this question with the following parable.

See Parable of the Vineyard workers Matthew 20:1-15.

In the parable, the householder’s dealings with the vineyard workers represents God’s dealings with human beings. The householder goes out at different hours to find workmen at the market place. Those hired earliest in the day agreed to work for a stated sum. Those hired later in the day left their wages to the discretion of the householder. They believed the householders promise, “Whatever is right I will give you” v. 4 and v. 7. They showed their confidence in him by asking no question in regard to wages. They trusted his justice and equity.

Those hired at the eleventh hour were thankful for the opportunity to work. They had no work all day. For someone to hire them at such a late hour, for an hours work, at the end of the day, was highly unusual. They were full of gratitude because of this unusual opportunity. At the close of the day the householder paid the eleventh hour workers for a full day’s work. They were really surprised. They knew they hadn’t earned these wages. It was a gift. It is the same with those who are converted late in their experience. Their time of service is short. They feel undeserving of reward. They are thankful that God accepts them at all. They work with a humble trusting spirit.

The first workers hired in this parable represent those who, because of their services, claim preference over others. They are foremost in enduring hardship and trial. They work a full twelve hour day, through the heat of the day. This they think entitles to a greater reward than others. They feel they have gained more merit than others. When this claim is not recognised they are offended. They have a grudging spirit toward the late comers that haven’t done as many works as them. God’s goodness and liberality is murmured against. They complain that the householder owes them a greater debt.

Romans 4:4  Now to him that worketh is the reward not reckoned of grace, but of debt. 

Ephesians 2:8,9 For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:  Not of works, lest any man should boast.

In the parable of the vineyard workers Jesus teaches his disciples that the reward is not of works, lest any man should boast, but it is all of grace. The first worker had his reward in the grace given him. The last worker had the same grace. The work was all of grace, and no one was to glory over another. There was to be no grudging one against another. No one was privileged above another. Nor could any one claim the reward as his right.

Although we have no merit in ourselves, in the great goodness and love of God we are rewarded as if the merit were our own. When we have done all the good we can possibly do, we are still unprofitable servants. We have done only what was our duty. What we have accomplished has been wrought solely through the grace of Christ, and no reward is due to us from God on the ground of our merit. But through the merit of our Saviour every promise that God has made will be fulfilled, and every man will be rewarded according to his deeds.  {Review and Herald, June 27, 1893 par. 15}

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Mercy and Judgment

Mercy and Judgment

 The God of heaven is a God of mercy. Yet he is also a God of justice. And the LORD passed by before him, and proclaimed, The LORD, The LORD God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abundant in goodness and truth, Keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, and that will by no means clear the guilty; visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children, and upon the children’s children, unto the third and to the fourth generation. – Exodus 34:6, 7.

Joshua

God promised ancient Israel they would possess the land of Canaan. On the borders of that land Joshua appealed to the people not to be afraid of the warlike Canaanites but to go up and possess the land. Joshua said, neither fear ye the people of the land; for they are bread for us: their defence is departed from them, and the LORD is with us: fear them not – Numbers 14:9. “Their defense is departed from them.” That is, the Canaanites had filled up the measure of their iniquity, and the divine protection was withdrawn from them.” – Page 160, Story of Redemption

The Israelites, however, were too afraid. They turned away to wander forty years in the wilderness before returning to the borders of Canaan. When they returned they crossed the river Jordan and took possession of the city of Jericho.  . . they utterly destroyed all that was in the city [Jericho], both man and woman, young and old, and ox, and sheep, and ass, with the edge of the sword – Joshua 6:20, 21. This is genocide. All living creatures were put to the sword. Surely God could not be the advocate of this slaughter? But of the cities of these people, which the LORD thy God doth give thee for an inheritance, thou shalt save alive nothing that breatheth – Deuteronomy 20:16 And when the LORD thy God shall deliver them before thee; thou shalt smite them, and utterly destroy them; thou shalt make no covenant with them, nor show mercy unto them – Deuteronomy 7:2. The Israelites were indeed commanded by God to show no mercy to the inhabitants of Canaan.

The Canaanites had abandoned themselves to the foulest and most debasing heathenism. They were idolaters practicing unspeakable things. They were utterly wicked; the foes of all mankind, justice demanded something be done. Likewise the generations in Noah’s day were utterly wicked (Genesis 6:5, 11-13). For any good at all to survive in humanity it was necessary the earth be cleansed by a flood. Yet God’s judgments are always tempered with mercy. God gave the people before the flood a long period of probation that they might change their ways. He gave them 120 years, warning them and giving them ample opportunity for repentance.

In the same way the Canaanites were given plenty of time and opportunity to change their ways. God had promised Abraham, the father of the Israelites, that he would possess the land of the Canaanites. However this was not to take place in his lifetime. But in the fourth generation they shall come hither again: for the iniquity of the Amorites is not yet full.  – Genesis 15:16. God still had mercy on the Amorites in the time of Abraham. Hundreds of years passed between the time of Abraham and the Israelites possessing the land.

This is how God deals with nations. Through a certain period of probation He exercises longsuffering toward nations, cities, and individuals. But mercy has its boundaries. When they become so entrenched in their evil course and there is no possibility of something better God’s judgments are visited upon them. God will by no means clear the guilty.

Before the Israelites entered the land of Canaan to displace its inhabitants God gave them something to think about concerning mercy. As the Israelites approached the borders of Edom they sent messengers asking for safe passage through the land of Edom. They promised the Edomites in passing through their land they would touch neither wells of water nor any produce in the fields. The Edomites denied them passage and gathered themselves for war against the Israelites. The Israelites could have taken this as an insult and went to war. They could have justified it as the Edomites were wicked idolaters in some ways similar to the Canaanites. Instead God had the Israelites turn aside from the land of Edom and leave them alone. The Edomites were still probationers, and as such were to be mercifully dealt with. God delights in mercy, and He manifests His compassion before He inflicts His judgments. He teaches Israel to spare the people of Edom, before requiring them to destroy the inhabitants of Canaan.  – Page 423, Patriarchs and Prophets.

God is Judge

Only God can make judgments concerning probation. Only He can find the true measure of iniquity and punish the same. What happens when mere men attempt to do this?

 In the former dispensation, while sins against God were visited with temporal penalties, the judgments executed were not only by divine sanction, but under his direct control, and by his command. . . . Whole nations of idolaters were to be exterminated. But the infliction of these penalties was directed by him who reads the hearts of men, who knows the measure of their guilt, and who deals with his creatures in wisdom and mercy. . . When men, with human frailties and passions, undertake to do this work, it needs no argument to show that the door is opened to unrestrained injustice and cruelty. –Page 764, Appendix, Patriarchs and Prophets.

In the time of Joshua, Israel was a nation under God’s direct control. God communicated directly to the leaders of the nation. Since the nation of ancient Israel passed away no other nation has arisen that is directly controlled by God.  When one nation slaughters another nation invariably it is through the injustice of man rather than through the justice of God. Man is not a good judge of iniquity neither of mercy.

In the year 1215 the Papal church decreed the Waldenses heretics. Thereafter papal armies slaughtered them. The Waldenses were not idolaters like the Canaanites. They were good Christians who studied and transcribed the Scriptures into their own language. Their study of the Scriptures led them to practice different than the Papal Church. This was the crime for which they were slaughtered. This is the injustice of man.

It is God’s prerogative to punish the wicked and to meet out justice. Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the LordRomans 12:19. Even so God takes no pleasure in this work. As I live, saith the Lord GOD, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked; but that the wicked turn from his way and live: turn ye, turn ye from your evil ways; for why will ye die, O house of Israel? – Ezekiel 33:11. A true Christian, like God, should take no pleasure the demise of the wicked.

Presumption

John Thiel  – “What should you do with them? They are lost, turn away. Don’t waste your time. Don’t throw your pearl among the swine, they are swine. Why you are so judgemental people will say? I didn’t say this. This is not the decision of God’s word. It is very harsh but it only appears harsh as this is simply a reality. This is God dictating. This is a place of no return. If you try to work with these people that will not return, you are wasting your time. If you are trying to bring them to church, you will not succeed. If you want to have bible studies with them, you won’t succeed. How do you know their probation is closed? You will read it, you will know.

Can we place ourselves on the throne of God presuming to measure iniquity and thinking we know when the probation of various individuals is closed? Can the minister in the pulpit impart his special powers to the congregation so they can all tell the probation status of relatives, friends, children and acquaintances? It is a dangerous thing when men start to usurp the prerogatives of God and presume to shut the door of mercy before God is ready to shut it. Let the injustice and presumption of men be overruled by the mercy of God.

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Extract from an Open Letter to John Thiel – Nit Picking

Extract from an Open Letter to John Thiel

Nit Picking

John, you have scoured the [writings of EGW] for the minutiae, seeking Gods perfect will, and have decreed rules for the people to follow. These include rules on interpersonal relationships, personal hygiene, dress, diet, finances, holidays, haircuts, underwear, Sabbath keeping, music, suitable hymns, education, parenthood, social media, etcetera, etcetera.

It is therefore only natural that the people, who see righteousness is afforded them in keeping these rules, would wish to scour the [writings of EGW] themselves to find implied rules that you may have missed.

This is problematic for you as the people may, and do, try to raise laws that you don’t like. Take for example the beards. You have by tacit approval enforced a law upon the women that they must wear trousers under their skirts. You establish this rule both through historically contextual EGW quotes, and biblically by what God commanded the priests to wear in the sanctuary.

John Thiel: – “Exodus 28:42 ‘And thou shalt make them linen breeches to cover their nakedness; from the loins even unto the thighs they shall reach:’ What sort of covering was made for them?  As you look at the priest, can you see the covering?  Can you see anything of human form of that person? Just like the sanctuary, you couldn’t see in. That was for glory, beauty and holiness. These are all the ingredients of this dress the priest had. The nakedness was covered and breeches were made as underneath those coats the nakedness was still to be covered from the loins to the thighs. Why were they to be covered from underneath? Exodus 20:26 ‘Neither shalt thou go up by steps unto mine altar, that thy nakedness be not discovered thereon.’ . . . In case there was an opportunity to see underneath the garment. If there was such an occasion but they were not even to go up on steps to reveal the nakedness. God reveals here a fact that covering has to do with holiness. Everything was covered. It is to do with holiness and beauty.”

Having accepted this established as relevant to us in this time, a logical intelligent thinking person would look at these texts and try to establish what else God requires of his priest’s for ‘holiness and beauty’.

We find that God required, for holiness, that his priesthood wore beards.

Leviticus 19:27 and 21:1-5

And we find that God requires ‘Polling’ for holiness. ‘Polling’ referring to sheep, meaning ‘shorn’ leaving a ‘crew cut’.

And their head they do not shave, and the lock they do not send forth; they certainly poll their heads. Ezekiel 44:20

As we know this issue was raised, and you had to deal with it. Not because the premise was flawed, it wasn’t,  beards were as much a requirement of God as were the breeches. But still, you dealt with it by means of a scathing sermon, simply because compulsory beards and crew cuts impeach upon your own personal vanities.

You answered the challenge to your authority with the most flimsy of flimsy [EGW] quotes, so flimsy you resorted to a barely relevant and obscure Uriah Smith quote. You came from the position that EGW and the pioneers had all light on this matter and all matters, and there is nothing God has yet to reveal about this or anything else. That is non-biblical and also goes against the teachings of EGW and the pioneers.

So, we have two categories of minutiae, the first is good and to be followed explicitly. The second being named by you as “Nit Picking”, both categories having equal validity in scripture but the latter is set aside under your decree. You are the only means by which the people can negotiate this legal minefield that is of your own making. You decide that which is good, and that which is laid aside. This isn’t Protestantism, It is Papal.

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Grace, Divine Assistance

Grace, Divine Assistance

By Georead

What is Grace and what does it do?

Bible grace is a topic upon which there is often shallow understanding. In the minds of many, grace is some sort of ill-defined goodness.

Grace can be defined as unmerited favour or undeserving favour shown to sinners. Romans 5:8 But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. More than that, the dictionary defines grace as: favour of God, divine regenerating and inspiring influence {Oxford dictionary} or as: unmerited divine assistance given humans for their regeneration or sanctification {Merriam Websters Online Dictionary}

To regenerate means to make new again or to be born again. Regeneration takes place through the agency of the Holy Spirit as can be seen in Titus 3:5 Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost.

The divine assistance God provides humans comes via the Holy Spirit. In Hebrews 10:29 the Holy Spirit is called the Spirit of grace. Jesus imparts to his people the Spirit of grace to assist them to be regenerated or to be renewed in the mind. Romans 12:2 Be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind.

It is natural for sin to abound in fallen human beings. Romans 5:20 Moreover the law entered, that the offence might abound. But where sin abounded, grace did much more abound. That is to say, where sin abounds in the human, divine assistance to renew the mind and heart is much more abounding. God can give us abundant divine assistance in order that we may be free from sin. Abundant grace has been provided that the believing soul may be kept free from sin {AG 181.4}

 John 3:8  The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth: so is every one that is born of the Spirit. The Spirit of grace, like the wind, working imperceptibly to renew the mind, to change the character, and to perfect the soul. We can’t see this happening but the effects of it can be seen. When the soul no longer continues a life of sin grace is doing its work.

Indulgent Grace

God’s grace is not given to indulge us in sin. Romans 5:20 where sin abounded, grace did much more abound: 6:1 What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound? 6:2 God forbid. Shall we continue a life of sinful habits and practices when the Holy Spirit has been made so abundantly available to change our minds and transform our character? God forbid.

The Holy Spirit assists us to be sanctified and renewed so that we do not continue in sin. Jesus saves us from our sins not in our sins. God’s grace is not indulgent.

The word “indulgent” can be exemplified by something introduced into the church in the middle ages called indulgences. Indulgences were a means of grace sold by vendors.

The doctrine and the sale of indulgences were powerful incentives to evil among an ignorant people.  True, according to the Church, indulgences could benefit those only who promised to amend their lives, and who kept their word.  But what could be expected from a tenet invented solely with a view to the profit that might be derived from it?  The venders of indulgences were naturally tempted, for the better sale of their merchandise, to present their wares to the people in the most attractive and seducing aspect.  The learned themselves did not fully understand the doctrine.  All that the multitude saw in them was, that they permitted men to sin; and the merchants were not over eager to dissipate an error so favorable to their sale. – J. H. Merle D’Aubigne, History of the Reformation, p. 18.

The multitude saw indulgences as a permit to sin or a license to sin. They could sin and purchase a certificate from the church that permitted that sin. Indulgences were well named because they indulged the people further in sin. The people believed they could continue a life of sin and that the means of grace provided by the church would allow them to do so.

However, the grace of the Bible does not indulge in sin. The grace of the Bible frees us from a life of continued sin by the regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit. Romans 6:1,2 Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound? God forbid.

 Fallen from Grace

 There are some Christians that have a regard for the law of God. Sometimes they are accused of trying to be saved by works of the law. By contrast the accusers will say that they are saved by grace alone and that the law is not necessary. The following texts are used support the accusation: Galatians 5:4 Christ is become of no effect unto you, whosoever of you are justified by the law; ye are fallen from grace. Galatians 2:16 Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ.

Does this accusation have any merit? What were the Galatians doing that Apostle Paul addressed in the book of Galatians?

Galatians 3:2,3  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?

The Galatians had received the Spirit of grace that would assist them to be sanctified or renewed in the mind and heart. They had begun that way. It says, ‘having begun in the Spirit’ but now they had fallen from grace. They were trying to be perfect by the flesh. They were trying to be sanctified by their own works without divine assistance or without the Spirit of grace.

Nicodemus had been doing the same as the Galatians. Jesus told Nicodemus that he must be born of the Spirit. He needed the regeneration and renewal of divine grace. John 3:5,6 Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. 

Those that follow in the path of the Galatians, trying to be perfect by the flesh, have indeed fallen from grace. We too could fall from grace if we try and keep the law of God in the strength of our own flesh. We can never keep it without the divine assistance of the Spirit. We will always fail in some aspect.

Also it is true that we are saved by grace. This is because all of our works in the flesh will inevitably amount to zero. Yet in saying, “we are saved by grace,” we must consider how it saves and what it saves us from. God’s grace is given to free us from sin which is the transgression of God’s law (1 John 3:4). The Spirit of grace works to free us from transgression. Divine assistance is given in order that we may keep law of God. This teaching is found in Romans 8:4 That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.

Those who say they are saved by grace alone and reject the law of God are involved in a presumptuous mistake. Romans 5:20;6:2 Shall we continue in sin (shall we continue in transgression of God’s law), that grace may abound? God forbid.

Two Great Deceptions

There are two great deceptions arising from a misunderstanding Bible grace. It [the fallen church] is prepared for two classes of mankind, embracing nearly the whole world–those who would be saved by their merits, and those who would be saved in their sins. {GC 572.2}

There are those who would be saved by their merits. They believe that the works of their own flesh are sufficient for salvation. They therefore work without the assistance of divine grace. They are like the fallen Galatians. They are like Paul before his conversion. They work without the Spirit of grace. Philippians 3:4 Though I might also have confidence in the flesh. If any other man thinketh that he hath whereof he might trust in the flesh, I more.

Additionally there are those who would saved in their sins. They have not discovered the real grace of God. They continue in transgression yet they presume that some form of grace will save them. Fallen churches offer indulgent grace; they readily accept it, meanwhile they continue their lives as before. No real change is wrought by the Spirit of grace. Some in this class could be described as 2 Timothy 3:5 Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away.

Conclusion

Jesus saves us from sin. Even in this life he is working to save us from it. He has made grace abundantly available to mankind for that very purpose. It is available at this very moment to any soul who sincerely desires to no longer continue life of sin. The Spirit of grace is willing to come us to render the divine assistance that is needful in overcoming sin.

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The Law of God in the Christian Age

The Law of God in the Christian Age

By Georead

Introduction

The Jews understood God’s law. They knew that it was sin to break the law. They knew it was a sin to break the Sabbath and to commit adultery. The law spelled it out plainly for them. Jesus himself set the law before them as the standard of eternal life. Matthew 19:16-19.

What about Christians? Is there a law applicable for Christians in this Christian age?

Sin is the Transgression of the Law

The Scriptures define sin as follows: sin is the transgression of the law 1 John 3:4. When we break the law we have sinned and we become transgressors.

Apostle Paul writes to the Christians in Rome, where no law is, there is no transgression Romans 4:15. If there is no law applicable in the Christian age we would be without sin and transgression. However this is not the case as Apostle Paul further writes for all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God Romans 3:23 and in Romans 3:9 he says ‘for we have before proved both Jews and Gentiles, that they are all under sin.’ Since all have sinned there must be some law in existence in the Christian age.

If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us. 1 John 1:8-10.  The Christian that claims he has no sin is deceived.

Likewise if a Christian claims there is no law, which defines sin, how can he call anyone to repent of sin? Those who profess to cling to Christ, centering their hopes on Him, while they pour contempt upon the moral law . . . cannot understandingly call sinners to repentance, for they are unable to properly explain what they are to repent of. The sinner, upon being exhorted to forsake his sins, has a right to ask, What is sin? Those who respect the law of God can answer, Sin is the transgression of the law. {1 SM 229.1}

 We don’t know what sin is unless the law gives us a knowledge of it. For by the law is the knowledge of sin Romans 3:20. I had not known lust, except the law had said, Thou shalt not covet Romans 7:7.

The Bible is plain and clear. Yet there are many in this world who seek to overthrow the law of God. They look for little phrases they can adapt to suit their ideas. Some of these little phrases we will examine below.

Under the Law

In Romans 6:15 the phrase, we are not under the law, but under grace, is taken to mean we are no longer under the law so we don’t have to keep the law and since we’re under grace the Ten Commandments are not necessary.

The Bible explains itself. What does it mean to be under the law? Now we know that what things soever the law saith, it saith to them who are under the law: that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God. Romans 3:19. To be under the law means to be guilty or to be condemned by the law. What does it mean to be under grace? Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus. Romans 3:24. To be under grace means to be justified or to be pardoned from our condemned guilty condition.

Remembering our definition of sin, sin is the transgression of the law we can re-examine Romans 6:14,15. For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace. What then? shall we sin, because we are not under the law, but under grace? God forbid.

We could express what Apostle Paul is saying like this – even though we are no longer guilty but have received a pardon, shall we sin, shall we transgress the law? God forbid. Just because we’ve received a pardon and we’ve been excused of our guilt it is not a license to sin. God forbid that we should sin while under grace.

Apostle Paul is talking about being under the condemnation of the law not under the obligation of law. We need to come under grace to relieve us of condemnation as transgressors.

The parable in Matthew chapter 18 illustrates the principle. A servant owes a large debt that he cannot repay. With his family he is condemned to be sold into slavery Matthew 18:23-25. In verses 26-27 the servant pleads for mercy saying, “I’ll pay you all, I’ll do anything.” The king has mercy and forgives the debt. The servant is now under grace. The king is gracious in forgiving the debt. The servant is justified and free from condemnation; free from the large debt he owes.

What does the servant do? While under the grace of the king this servant commits further gross sins and incurs further condemnation Matthew 18:28-34. He receives due punishment for abusing the grace of the king. It is abhorrent to transgress while under grace, shall we sin . . under grace? God forbid Romans 6:15.

End of the Law

The phrase in Romans 10:4 Christ is the end of the law is taken to mean, Christ made an end of the law, or He abolished it.

The Bible explains itself. Now the end of the commandment is charity out of a pure heart, and of a good conscience, and of faith unfeigned 1 Timothy 1:5. Charity means love. If we love someone, does it mean that the commandment is terminated and being terminated could we commit an uncharitable act like murder? No, this verse is telling us that ‘the end’ or ‘the object’ of the commandment is charity or love. To love our fellowman is the object of the commandment. Love worketh no ill to his neighbour: therefore love is the fulfilling of the law.  Romans 13:10.

The word ‘end’ does not necessarily mean ‘termination.’ It can be used in a different sense. For example I could say, “the end or the object of my life is to be happy.”

For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth Romans 10:4. This does not mean Christ came to terminate the law. In the gospel of Matthew Christ said think not that I have come to destroy the law Matthew 5:17.

 For they being ignorant of God’s righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God. Romans 10:3. The subject of Romans 10:3,4 is righteousness. How are we going to be righteous? How are we going to achieve it? Christ is the end, that’s how we are going to achieve it – there’s no other way to be righteous. Christ is the object of the law for righteousness. The purpose of the law is to drive us to Christ.

Christ is the end, or purpose of the law. The law condemns the sinner, and thus drives him to Christ for righteousness. {ST Aug 5, 1889 par. 8}

Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ. Galatians 3:24. The law is only the stick that drives us on to Christ. Christ is the end because through Him we can be righteous. We need His imputed and imparted righteousness because our own righteousness will never be good enough.

Without the Law

The phrase in Romans 3:21 without the law is taken to mean we are now without the law and it is no longer necessary to keep it.

Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin. But now the righteousness of God without the law is manifested, being witnessed by the law and the prophets. . . . Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law.  Romans 3:20,21,28.       

The law gives us a knowledge of sin but it cannot justify us. We are justified by faith without the deeds of the law.

The parable in Matthew 18 illustrates the meaning. Remember the servant condemned as a debtor. How was he justified before the king? Matthew 18:25-27. The servant was willing to pay all. He was willing to do many deeds to make up for his debt. But his own works would never be enough to pay such a large debt. A pardon came to him without deeds. He didn’t do anything apart from pleading for mercy.

This is how justification comes to the sinner. It comes by a pardon without the deeds of the law. It is through faith in the righteousness of Christ that we receive a pardon.

But does faith in Christ’s justifying power remove the claims of the law? Look how Paul qualifies it all. Do we then make void the law through faith? God forbid: yea, we establish the law.  Romans 3:31.

 Conclusion

We can go on and on finding apparent inconsistencies in the word of God. But for now we conclude God has a law applicable for us in this Christian age.

And hereby we do know that we know him, if we keep his commandments. He that saith, I know him, and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him. But whoso keepeth his word, in him verily is the love of God perfected: hereby know we that we are in him.  1 John 2:3-5

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How Can We Be Righteous

How Can We Be Righteous

By Georead

Christians speak about heaven. They hope for something better past this life. Many people are aware of heaven yet not many are ready to be a part of its society. Human beings have ugly character attributes none of which can be taken to heaven. If these ugly character attributes were taken there they would be thoroughly discordant. Therefore a person cannot enter heaven before there is character development through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. In this process better character attributes must be obtained.

2 Peter 1:4 Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.  This verse points out that it is possible for us to partake of the divine nature. God’s nature is very different to human nature. God has character attributes that are needful to human beings. These attributes are described in the Scriptures as the fruits of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22). If we partake of the Holy Spirit and receive the attributes God provides we can be better people fit for a better world.

Nicodemus was a Pharisee. According to the Jews he was a righteous and holy man. In the night Nicodemus came to talk with Jesus. In this interview Jesus told him that in his present condition he was not fit for heaven. Nicodemus was astonished. Even so, Jesus was more definite, prefacing his pronouncements with the determined words “verily, verily”. He told him that he must be born again or that he must be born from above. Nicodemus needed the Holy Spirit to regenerate and renew his heart. He was a church leader thinking he kept the law and believing he was already righteous; but he had been attempting to generate his own righteousness. Instead he needed to look to Christ for righteousness.

To illustrate the point we could use a parable about electricity. What could we do if we had no electricity in the house and it was dark? We might obtain a stationary bicycle and attach to it a small generator that produced electricity. We could wire up the generator to the electricity supply of the house. After this we could pedal away trying to produce enough electricity for the whole house. Pedalling away furiously with our own little generator trying to work up enough electricity the light bulbs in the house might flicker a little, emitting some very dim light. This would hardly be enough to see by. Thus we would keep on pedalling away furiously until finally we were exhausted. We couldn’t keep it up for too long. We could never produce enough electricity for the whole house on our own.

This is the same as trying to be righteous through our own merits or trying to keep God’s commandments in our own strength. It is like trying to attain salvation with the small generator of our own human power. It is impossible.

Why not connect up to the power grid? There are power lines running up and down the street. The power grid will bring electricity to the whole house. We won’t need to generate it under our own steam.

In a spiritual sense we need to connect up to the power grid of heaven and receive the power of the Holy Spirit. Jesus appealed to Nicodemus to do this. He told him that he must be born again. He needed the Holy Spirit to regenerate his heart and to cease trying to generate his own righteousness. None can succeed at this on their own. We need to connect up to the power grid of heaven. This is the only way we can attain salvation.

During the days of the Apostles the people of Galatia fell into error. Initially they had trusted in Christ for salvation. Later there were some who came in among them teaching them to trust in the flesh. (Galatians 3:3) These teachers did not tell them that they were at liberty to sin. Oh no, they told them that they must keep the law.  Yes, they must do it themselves. They must make themselves righteous.

In order to help the Galatians Apostle Paul wrote to them describing the old and new covenant. The two covenants of the Bible are agreements between God and man. The old covenant (Exodus 24:7) was based on the promises of man to attain righteousness and keep the law. In this situation they sought to do it themselves and to make themselves righteous. On the other hand, the new covenant was based on the promises of God to forgive man’s sins and to make him righteous by writing the law in his heart (Jeremiah 31:31-34).

 In the book of Galatians Apostle Paul makes an allegory between the two covenants and the birth of two sons to different women.

Galatians 4:22-27 For it is written, that Abraham had two sons, the one by a bondmaid, the other by a freewoman. But he who was of the bondwoman was born after the flesh; but he of the freewoman was by promise. Which things are an allegory: for these are the two covenants; the one from the mount Sinai, which gendereth to bondage, which is Agar. For this Agar is mount Sinai in Arabia, and answereth to Jerusalem which now is, and is in bondage with her children.  But Jerusalem which is above is free, which is the mother of us all. 

God promised Abraham a son. But Abraham’s wife Sarah was barren. There had been no child born to them all of their married life. It seemed very unlikely that the promise of God would be fulfilled. Since Sarah doubted the promise of God she worked out a plan of her own devising. She sought to produce a son, not from her own womb, but from that of her bondmaid, Hagar. Abraham became involved and a son, Ishmael, was born.

God did not accept Ishmael as the promised son of Abraham. So about fourteen years after his birth God again reiterated his promise to Abraham that he would have a son by his wife Sarah. However Sarah was now ninety years old. She was beyond childbearing age. Sarah laughed at the idea. She doubted that she could have a child at such an age. Nevertheless a child, Isaac, was born a year later. This was the miraculous working of God.

The birth of Ishmael came as a result of unbelief. It came as a result of human devising in an effort to fulfil the promise of God. It demonstrates what happens when we approach the law of God promising to keep it in our own strength. We attempt to keep our promise trying to generate our own righteousness. Likewise the Israelites entered into the old covenant agreement thinking that they could keep the law by themselves and be righteous. Inevitably they failed which led them to devise a system of human works.

The birth of Isaac came as a result of God’s promise. It demonstrates what happens when we approach the law of God trusting in His promises. In the new covenant (Hebrews 8:10-12) God promises to forgive past sin and to write the law in our hearts so we can obey it. He promises to impart the Holy Spirit to renew and regenerate the heart. Even though human unbelief often gets in the way God has promised to make us righteous through the indwelling of the Spirit.

Many centuries before the first Advent of Christ the Israelites had escaped slavery in Egypt. God performed many wonderful miracles freeing them from Egyptian bondage and bringing them to Mount Sinai in Arabia. In the book of Galatians it is written that the one covenant from Mount Sinai gives birth to bondage. The Israelites had only just escaped Egyptian bondage. Was it God’s intention to take them out of Egyptian bondage only put them into another sort of bondage at Mount Sinai? What occurred at Mount Sinai that could have put them into bondage?

Exodus 19:5,6  Now therefore, if ye will obey my voice indeed, and keep my covenant, then ye shall be a peculiar treasure unto me above all people: for all the earth is mine: And ye shall be unto me a kingdom of priests, and an holy nation. When God spoke these words to the Israelites to what covenant was he referring? God had made a covenant with Abraham. This covenant was already in existence. No other covenant had yet been established. If the Israelites would have faith and believe in God, He was able to do for them all that He promised. They would be a righteous and holy people. But instead a covenant of a very different character emerged at Mount Sinai.

The people did not realize the sinfulness of their own hearts, and that without Christ it was impossible for them to keep God’s law; and 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.” Exodus 24:7. {PP 371.4} 

It was admirable that the people agreed to obey God. But in this covenant, the people in their self-sufficiency, rashly took the whole responsibility upon themselves. They believed they could be righteous in their own strength. How miserably they failed when only a short while after many of them were found worshipping the golden calf. The covenant they made with God at Mount Sinai was not adequate, not because of God, it was faulty because of them. Hebrews 8:7,8  For if that first covenant had been faultless, then should no place have been sought for the second.  For finding fault with them . . .

If we approach the law of God in the spirit of self-sufficiency, in the old covenant way, it gives rise to a type of bondage. Why does this self-sufficiency end up in bondage? When we attempt to obey God in our own strength we inevitably fail. We try again and fail. We try again and again and again. We’re locked into this cycle of doing and failing. At this point many just give up and go back to their sinful ways. While others like the Pharisees up the anti. 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}  They developed a system of human invention, with its multitudinous exactions . . . {MB 123.1} 

The Pharisees made many extra laws in order to promote righteousness and obedience to the law of God. It was probably all well intended. They defined everything that should and shouldn’t be done on the Sabbath day. Beside this they defined many other laws to cover almost every contingency in life. The guess work of how to be holy or righteous was no longer necessary. The definitions of what constituted righteous were now contained in many written volumes. The Scribes and Pharisees supposed themselves to be masters of the law yet their lives were still full of sin.

Matthew 7:15  Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves.  Matthew 23:27 Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye are like unto whited sepulchres, which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead men’s bones, and of all uncleanness. The Pharisees outwardly appeared holy but inwardly they were full of pride, malice, hate and many other sins. Their legalistic religion, devoid of God’s power, led them to live lives of secret hypocrisy.

John 8:33,34  They [Jews] answered him [Jesus], We be Abraham’s seed, and were never in bondage to any man: how sayest thou, Ye shall be made free? Jesus answered them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Whosoever committeth sin is the servant of sin. The Jews were supposed themselves to free men yet Jesus contradicted them. Under their cloak of supposed holiness they hid many sins. They were in bondage to sin. Their system of human works invented to promote the keeping of the law proved a complete failure. Instead the law of God condemned them as sinners. They were in bondage to sin. The law of God is holy, just and good (Romans 7:12) but approaching it in a self-sufficient manner leads to bondage.

Galatians 4:25  For this Agar is mount Sinai in Arabia, and answereth to Jerusalem which now is, and is in bondage with her children.  Old Jerusalem with her children, the Jews, were in bondage. Their system of human works and lives of secret hypocrisy were a spiritual bondage. Galatians 4:26  But Jerusalem which is above is free, which is the mother of us all.  We are to be children of the New Jerusalem or the heavenly Jerusalem. When Jesus said to Nicodemus, you need to be born from above He was talking about this heavenly rebirth.

Galatians 4:30,31  Nevertheless what saith the scripture? Cast out the bondwoman and her son: for the son of the bondwoman shall not be heir with the son of the freewoman.  So then, brethren, we are not children of the bondwoman, but of the free.  We are to be free men. The slave or the bondman cannot possess anything. He has no control over himself. This is the distinguishing characteristic of a slave. In a spiritual sense he is like a person with no self control. He is a slave to sin and inevitably he will perform the acts of sin. On the other hand, the free born son is heir to all things. He has dominion over everything. In a spiritual sense he has victory over himself. He has self control. He is free from sin and his destiny is assured.

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.- Glad Tidings, E J Waggoner, pages 100, 101.

We can be bound under the old covenant. It only takes a moment for us to lose our way and take our eyes off Christ. Some think they can generate some kind of righteousness on their own and mingle this with expressions of faith. The Scriptures tell us that this is hopeless. Much is written in the Scriptures about regeneration, being born again and being a renewed man. The real work of the Holy Spirit must take place in the heart for there to be a genuine righteousness.

The Pharisees sought to make themselves righteous. They did this with an element of pride in their hearts. Spiritual pride caused them to take the law a step further than their neighbours. They had no concept of righteousness by faith in Christ. They believed that they were righteous by the fulfilment of deeds in which they had been commanded. They thought that if they stretched and extended the law to the nth degree they would be afforded more righteousness. They imagined they had superiority over their neighbours who weren’t as ‘advanced’. They created a legal minefield that was painful and perilous to negotiate. It set neighbour against neighbour in a spirit of judgment and criticism. It set their minds far from God and his tenderness toward them.

This prideful spirit of clothing oneself in righteousness extended to Sabbath keeping; so much so that the Pharisees thought that the Messiah broke the Sabbath according to their man made precepts (Mat 12:10, Mark 3:2, John 9:14-16). Jesus died without sin; therefore the ‘standards’ of the Pharisees were proved to be out of touch with the Author of the law. They considered their own righteousness to be superior to that of God Himself. Their attempts to define how God’s law should be kept were a complete failure.

A truly righteous person would never attempt to show themselves more holy than others. Luke 18:11,12 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. The Pharisee tells God how he’s so much better than others. He does all these extras things. He fasts not only on the Sabbath but an extra day in the week. He tithes garden herbs (Mat 23:23), tithing ten percent on the growth of mint, parsley and other small herbs in his garden. He is going the extra mile. Yet God resists him and he is not justified nor even counted as righteous (Luke 18:14). James 4:6 God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble.  God resisted the spiritual pride of the Pharisees. If we have any element of spiritual pride likewise God will resist us and we will be left to ourselves to make the same experience as did the Pharisees.

It is only by the grace of Christ that we can be better people. If we think to improve ourselves and neglect to obtain help from heaven we are no better than any other sinner. If we fail to look in faith to Jesus for righteousness we have no where else to turn. Trying to generate righteousness from within ourselves will prove hopeless.

Romans 10:3,4 For they being ignorant of God’s righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God. For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth. The subject of these verses is righteousness. How are we going to be righteous?  Christ is the end by which we can be righteous. There’s no other way to be righteous.

We must go to Christ and ask Him to help change us. Ask Him to give us the Holy Spirit so that we can develop a character ready for heaven. This is the whole point of Christianity. Christ holds the supply of righteousness and we can obtain it only from Him.

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God is not Exclusive

God is not Exclusive

By Georead

During ages past, the church claimed exclusive rights over heaven.  It was claimed that Saint Peter had the keys of heaven. The popes, who claimed to be his successors, professed to able to open or close heaven to men. If men disobeyed they were excommunicated, shut out of heaven, debarred from that eternal bliss. Men were careful to have a priest at their deathbed to be sure they would not be prevented from entering the pearly gates of heaven. These ideas were challenged by the rise of Protestantism.

There are many religious groups today that claiming that we must conform to them in order to enter heaven. They profess to have a monopoly on heaven, exclusive rights to heaven. These claims are not unusual, for similar claims were made in the days of Jesus. The Jews claimed exclusive rights to heaven. They professed to have a monopoly over it. The Gentiles were shut out. They were lost. There was no hope of salvation for them. Even fellow Jews were shut out depending on profession or class.

The Pharisees and elders refrained from associating with any class but their own. They held themselves aloof, not only from the Gentiles, but from the majority of their own people; and their teaching led all classes to separate themselves from the rest of the world, in a manner calculated to render them self-righteous, egotistical, and intolerant. This rigorous seclusion and bigotry of the Pharisees had narrowed their influence and created a prejudice which Christ would have removed, that the influence of his mission might be felt upon all classes.  {2SP 107.1} 

The Jews had created a society with different classes with the Pharisees at the very top and the publicans at the very bottom. The publicans, although they were Jews, were considered a class of people excluded from heaven and shut out of the mercies of God. The publicans were loathed. They were considered awful sinners. They were traitors to Israel and collaborators with the Gentiles. On the other hand Jesus did not exclude the publicans from heaven.

Matthew 9:10-13. And it came to pass, as Jesus sat at meat in the house, behold, many publicans and sinners came and sat down with him and his disciples. And when the Pharisees saw it, they said unto his disciples, Why eateth your Master with publicans and sinners?  But when Jesus heard that, he said unto them, They that be whole need not a physician, but they that are sick.  But go ye and learn what that meaneth, I will have mercy, and not sacrifice: for I am not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance. 

 Indeed the publicans were sinners. They were thieves and unscrupulous men. Yet Jesus did not exclude them from heaven as did the Pharisees. Jesus sought to work a reformation among them. In Matthew chapter 9 we learn that the publicans were more open to the message of Jesus than were the Pharisees. In Luke chapter 19 we have an example of Jesus bringing about a reformation in the life of a hated publican called Zacchaeus.

It’s interesting how Jesus even uses term “publican” as an example of exclusion Matthew 18:17. Indeed there are cases where people are to be excluded from the church. Yet this was not to be something done in an arbitrary manner. Various appeals were to be made beforehand and when a soul is finally excluded from the church we should never presume they are forever lost. He who rejects this united overture has broken the tie that binds him to Christ, and thus has severed himself from the fellowship of the church. Henceforth, said Jesus, “let him be unto thee as an heathen man and a publican.” But he is not to be regarded as cut off from the mercy of God. Let him not be despised or neglected by his former brethren, but be treated with tenderness and compassion, as one of the lost sheep that Christ is still seeking to bring to His fold.  {DA 441.2}

 Luke 18:10-13. In this story publican came away from the temple justified but not the Pharisee. In his prayer the Pharisee labels the publican a sinner excluding him from the possibility of God’s mercy. The publican is shut out of heaven according to the Pharisee. What makes the Pharisee think that he has more right to heaven than others?

He fasted twice a week. Did God require this of him? The book Desire of Ages on page 276 quotes this verse in Luke and there it tells us that the Pharisees had an ‘erroneous conception of fasting.’ Also in 1st Testimonies we read: It is true that there are unbalanced minds that impose upon themselves fasting which the Scriptures do not teach, . . . which God has never required. . . They have a pharisaical religion which is not of Christ, but of themselves. {1T 556}

God requires tithe of the increase but what about tithing as Pharisees did? They tithed even small herbs. They carried the requirements of the tithing system to extremes, making them embrace such trifling things as anise, mint and other small herbs which were cultivated to a limited extent. . . . While they were so exact in things which God had never required of them, and were confusing their judgment and lessening the dignity of the divine system of benevolence by their narrow views. . . {3SP 63.1}

The Pharisees did these small things. They professed to be doing the requirements of God more closely and sharper than everyone else. Yet God did not require these things of them. These small things were also points of exclusion. Their mentality was that by keeping these small requirements they were closer to heaven than others. This narrow mindedness led them to shut others out of their exclusive fellowship.

Even the disciples of Jesus suffered from a mentality of exclusiveness. Look at the intolerance of the disciple John. Mark 9:38-40 And John answered him, saying, Master, we saw one casting out devils in thy name, and he followeth not us: and we forbad him, because he followeth not us.  But Jesus said, Forbid him not: for there is no man which shall do a miracle in my name, that can lightly speak evil of me. For he that is not against us is on our part. John was thinking they had some kind of monopoly on Jesus and his power, some exclusive rights. Now this other person was using the power of Jesus to heal. John thought that he had no right to do it and forbade him. Jesus had given the disciples power to perform miracles and sent them out two by two. John now showed his intolerance toward others who were doing the same thing as themselves. Within the same ministry their can be a lack of acceptance of others, even though they promote the interests of the same church. Like John, some think they have the exclusive right to promote the ministry, that others should be forbidden.

There is a precautionary note we must make about these texts (Mark 9:38-41). In these words Jesus is not talking about those who are “against us”. The Pharisees were looking for pretexts and inconsistencies against the ministry of Jesus all the while seeking to promote their own interests. In Mark 9:38-41 Jesus is not giving license for his followers to accept those working at cross purposes.

If John was intolerant towards others promoting the same ministry, the ministry of Jesus, he was even more intolerant of those rejecting it. In fact he didn’t even think those people should remain in existence. He thought they should be utterly cut off and blotted out of existence. Luke 9:52-54 And sent messengers before his face: and they went, and entered into a village of the Samaritans, to make ready for him. And they did not receive him, because his face was as though he would go to Jerusalem. And when his disciples James and John saw this, they said, Lord, wilt thou that we command fire to come down from heaven, and consume them, even as Elias did? In this request James and John were extremely vindictive. They wanted to call fire down from heaven on these poor unsuspecting Samaritans. Jesus rejects their intolerance. Luke 9:55,56 But he 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. And they went to another village. God does not cut off people in moment when their prejudices cause them to initially reject Him.

After His resurrection Jesus gave the gospel commission for the disciples to actually evangelise the Samaritans. Jesus didn’t give up on them. In fact the gospel was to go to all the Gentiles. The wall of exclusiveness was to be broken down. Apostle Paul says “salvation is come unto the Gentiles”. The disciples had to change their attitude toward the Gentiles. Before they had considered them shut out of heaven and now they saw that God accepted them. This involved a whole change of thinking. Acts 10:34,35 Then Peter opened his mouth, and said, Of a truth I perceive that God is no respecter of persons: But in every nation he that feareth him, and worketh righteousness, is accepted with him.

The Jews alone claimed to have a certain knowledge of God, and they were so exclusive, both socially and religiously, that they were despised by every other people. The high wall of separation which they had raised made the Jews a little world to themselves, and they called all other classes heathen and dogs. But Jesus committed to his disciples the scheme of making known their religion to all nations, tongues, and people. It was the most sublime enterprise ever intrusted to man–to preach a crucified and risen Saviour, and a full and free salvation to all men, both rich and poor, learned and ignorant–to teach that Christ came to the world to pardon the repentant, and to offer them a love high as heaven, broad as the world, and enduring as eternity.  {3SP 237.3} 

Concluding Thoughts

We should learn from the example of the disciples. Take care not to judge people and presume to exclude them from the possibility of salvation. We are not God and we don’t know the final outcome of the individual lives.

We should learn from the example of the Jews. They were God’s chosen people. “Salvation is of the Jews” (John 4:22). They claimed the exclusive right to heaven. Yet in this they presumed too much and in the end most of them were eternally lost.

We should not build ourselves up in pride that we are better than others because we do extra works. Does God really require these extra things? Have we missed the point of salvation as did the Jews?

There are religious groups that maintain a tight mental grasp over individuals. They claim an exclusive right to salvation and those that dare to leave their group they deem to have rejected salvation. God’s church will never use this sort of mind control tactic over individuals.

Last of all, we believe being baptised into God’s true church and obeying the truth we have a strong hope of salvation. In saying this, let us never ever become presumptuous in our attitude. Always remember that God is no respecter of persons.  God can give grace and his Holy Spirit to one person as well as another.

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Criticism of the Strange Belief that there are Living Beings on the Planet Saturn

Criticism of the Strange Belief that there are Living Beings on the Planet Saturn

By Georead

Regrettably I spent eight years inside the religious cult lead by a sociopath John Thiel. Inside the cult group there were secret beliefs not immediately revealed to new initiates. Some years into my stay with the group, John Thiel, in all seriousness, began talking about living beings on Saturn.

John Thiel and his followers believe that there are tall majestic beings living on the planet Saturn. They also believe that Enoch visited the planet Saturn. [1]  Why do they think that the planet Saturn is inhabited?

An early Adventist Minister, John N. Loughborough, wrote a book called The Great Second Advent Movement. On page 258 paragraph 1 of this book J. N. Loughborough describes a vision in which E. G. White saw the planets of the solar system. He writes that she saw the planet Saturn and that she said it had seven moons. On page 260 paragraph 4 of the same book J. N. Loughborough quotes a letter received from Mrs. Truesdail on Jan 27, 1891. In the letter Mrs. Truesdail describes the same vision writing that: – “After counting aloud the moons of Jupiter, and soon after those of Saturn, she gave a beautiful description of the rings of the latter.  She then said, ‘The inhabitants are a tall, majestic people, so unlike the inhabitants of earth.  Sin has never entered here.’

The above mention ideas are then linked to another statement made by E. G. White in the book Early Writings: – “Then I was taken to a world which had seven moons. There I saw good old Enoch, who had been translated. . . . I asked him if this was the place he was taken to from the earth. He said, ‘It is not; the city is my home, and I have come to visit this place.’ He moved about the place as if perfectly at home.” {EW 39.3}

Is it possible that John Thiel and his group are correct, that there are living beings on Saturn?

Saturn is covered with thick layers of gaseous clouds to a depth of about 200 kilometres. It is rare to see past the top layer of cloud to more layers of cloud below. The liquid surface of the planet is not visible. [2] If there were any living beings on the liquid surface of Saturn it would be impossible for them to observe the moons or the rings of Saturn through the clouds. Saturn’s atmosphere consists of hydrogen (94.4 percent), helium (7.4 percent), methane (0.2 percent), and ammonia (0.02 percent). [2] Any living being on Saturn would have to breathe this atmosphere.

Saturn is believed to have a solid core but also an intermediate layer of liquid hydrogen. [3] Since Saturn has no solid surface in its outer layers (only gas and liquid) the whole planet assumes oblate spheroid shape, like a squashed ball. It is the most oblate shaped planet in the solar system. [4] If living beings were on Saturn they’d be swimming in an ocean of liquid hydrogen.

Temperatures at the top of Saturn’s the clouds are massively below freezing. Descending into Saturn’s atmosphere temperatures become warmer but atmospheric pressure increases to the same as several kilometres beneath the ocean on earth. [5] Any living thing on Saturn, besides having to swimming in the ocean of liquid hydrogen, would have to withstand the enormous pressures of the atmosphere pressing down from above.

Saturn is one of the windiest places in the Solar System. Wind speeds have been clocked at 1800 kilometres per hour at the equator.  [6] Any living thing on Saturn would have to withstand the enormous storms on Saturn and more than likely would be torn to pieces. NASA’s space probe Cassini has taken many pictures of these enormous storms.

Considering all the above it is highly doubtful there are any living beings on Saturn. Mrs Truesdail may well have been mistaken in her account of what she thought was said by E. G. White.

Also it is extremely tenuous trying to link the book The Great Second Advent Movement with what is written about Enoch in the book Early Writings. In one book Saturn is said to have seven moons in the other an unnamed world is said to have seven moons. There is nothing to say these are the same worlds or planets. This is pure speculation. There are numberless worlds throughout the universe that it could be.

When Galileo began to study the heavens with the telescope in the late 1500’s he came to the conclusion that the earth revolved around the sun. This was considered heresy by the church. Scripture was used to show that the earth is stationary while the sun is revolves around the earth. (see Ecclesiastes 1:5; Psalms 16:30; 93:1; 96:10; Joshua 10:13). Galileo believed that the writers of the Scripture merely wrote from the perspective of the terrestrial world. Indeed when a poet writes that the “sun moves across the sky, on a grand arc toward the horizon” they are not wrong. Neither is the astronomer wrong in describing the movement of the sun and planets. They write from a different perspective.

In 1632 Galileo published a book titled Dialogue Concerning the Two Chief Systems of the World. In the book Galileo includes a fictitious character called Simplicio. Into the mouth of Simplicio he put all of the arguments of his opponents. He then demolished these with his own powerful arguments, often with devastating satire. Into the mouth of Simplicio Galileo put one of the arguments the pope put to him in 1623. The pope was livid and never forgave Galileo.

We now have modern Simplicio’s arguing there are tall majestic beings living on the planet Saturn.

Proverbs 14:15 The simple believeth every word: but the prudent man looketh well to his going.

John Thiel’s group promote the writing of J. N. Loughborough who quotes Mrs Truesdail concerning tall majestic beings living on Saturn. His group are happy to post this on the internet with supporting information. [1] John Thiel argues that he follows the Adventist Pioneers. J. N. Loughborough is an Adventist Pioneer.

Yet John Thiel does not always follow J. N. Loughborough neither does he always follow E. G. White. This can be seen in the 3 different interpretations of Joel 2:30 And I will show wonders in the heavens and in the earth, blood, and fire, and pillars of smoke.

1) J. N. Loughborough wrote the book Last-Day Tokens.  In this book J. N. Loughborough quotes Joel 2:30 and goes on to explain what he believes it refers to: – “About the middle of the sixteenth century there appeared a wonder in the heavens that finally, in the fore part of the eighteenth century, assumed the exact appearance of that predicted by the prophet Joel.  It is the aurora borealis, first seen in a fiery display in Great Britain in 1716, and in America for the first time, three years later, in 1719.  From the middle of the sixteenth century there have been witnessed, from time to time, in increasing magnitude, ‘spears of red light in the heavens,’ and ‘shooting stars;’ but up to A. D. 1716 no fiery display is recorded.”

2) E. G. White wrote the book Spiritual Gifts volume 3.  In this book E. G. White quotes Joel 2:30 and goes on to explain what she believes it refers to: – “The bowels of the earth were the Lord’s arsenal, from which he drew forth the weapons he employed in the destruction of the old world. {3SG 82.2}  . . In the day of the Lord, just before the coming of Christ, God will send lightnings from Heaven in his wrath, which will unite with fire in the earth. The mountains will burn like a furnace, and will pour forth terrible streams of lava, destroying gardens and fields, villages and cities; and as they pour their melted ore, rocks and heated mud into the rivers, will cause them to boil like a pot, and send forth massive rocks and scatter their broken fragments upon the land with indescribable violence.” {3SG 82.3}

3) Meanwhile John Thiel quotes Joel 2:30 and says what he believes it refers to: – “When wars are coming, they will herald the coming of Jesus. Blood, fire and pillars of smoke.  In the margin it says palm trees of smoke.  Have we seen these?  Nuclear bombs.  Ever since the signs the threat of war has escalated.” [9]

John Thiel does not always follow E. G. White and the Adventist Pioneers as he claims. There are three different views. J. N. Loughborough believes that Joel 2:30 is referring to the aurora borealis in the 1700’s. E. G. White believes Joel 2:30 is referring to volcanic destruction in the last plagues. John Thiel believes Joel 2:30 refers to future nuclear war. Who are we to follow?

John Thiel says we should follow E. G. White and the Adventist Pioneers yet he completely abandons them when it comes to Joel 2:30. Woe betide anyone in the group that should dare to hold a contradictory view. In September 2003, taking John Thiel’s advice to follow the Adventist Pioneers, I preached J. N. Loughborough’s view of Joel 2:30. Not long after John Thiel slammed this view from the pulpit promoting his own view instead. This public contradiction was completely humiliating. John Thiel dominates all thought of the group. Those that don’t comply or have other views will be humiliated from the pulpit or continually picked at by other cult members.

J.N. Loughborough  was living in a time when there was a lot of  ignorance concerning the condition of the planets. In his ignorance he may have believed the surface of Saturn was solid like that of the earth. It’s doubtful J. N. Loughborough would have ever added Mrs Truesdail’s letter to his book had he know the real conditions of Saturn. Also why should anyone believe Mrs Truesdail’s letter about tall majestic beings living on Saturn? It was  written in the mid-1800’s by an ignorant old woman who pieced together unrelated bits of information.

Some might say the belief that there are beings living on Saturn is only a minor point and that it doesn’t matter whether we believe it or not. However it is a serious concern that anyone would believe it at all being based on a few ambiguous statements linked together so tenuously. Further it invites the question how many other ambiguous statements are being used by such an incredibly simple people to sustain other wrong ideas in their cult group.

The idea that EGW said there is life on Saturn is false. Look up statements mistakenly attributed to EGW here http://www.whiteestate.org/issues/faq-mist.html

 

 

References

[1] http://sabbathsermons.com/2013/02/07/saturn-seven-moons-and-tall-majestic-beings/

[2] http://lifeng.lamost.org/courses/astrotoday/CHAISSON/AT312/HTML/AT31202.HTM

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

[4] http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/525169/Saturn/54278/Basic-astronomical-data

[5] http://www.universetoday.com/15376/is-there-life-on-saturn/

[6] http://www.esa.int/Our_Activities/Space_Science/Cassini-Huygens/Saturn_s_atmosphere

[7] http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/national/horizon/sept98/galileo.htm

[8] http://galileo.rice.edu/gal/urban.html

[9] http://sabbathsermons.com/2009/08/06/understanding-the-seriousness-of-the-hour/

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Criticism of John Thiel’s Sermon – Unquestioning Obedience

Criticism of John Thiel’s Sermon Unquestioning Obedience

By Georead

John Thiel’s sermon “Unquestioning Obedience” [1][2][3] was posted on the internet in 2010. Throughout the sermon the idea of unquestioning obedience, blind obedience, implicit obedience is repeated.

The key points in the sermon are 1) The high pressure sell, that it’s the end of the world and there’s no time left. 2) Since it’s an emergency there is no room left for discussion . 3) You need to submit to the most experienced person. 4) You need to obey and do without understanding.

1) High Pressure Sell
John Thiel – “The need of hastening the process is nearly out; it is too short a span”
John Thiel – “We are to be purified and if we haven’t made progress then it has to happen fast.”
John Thiel – “he [God] wants to get us ready fast”
John Thiel – “he[God] says I’m going to make a quick work with you”

2) No Room for Discussion

John Thiel – “There is no room for discussion; it is just instant obedience”
John Thiel – “There is no time for discussion and dialogue in an emergency.”

3) Submission to the most Experienced Person
John Thiel – “Submission must be given to the most experienced i.e. the captain of the ship without long discussion.”

4) Obey and Do Without Understanding
John Thiel – “Just do as I say . . . We haven’t got time to understand anymore.”
John Thiel – “Can’t I understand before I obey?”
John Thiel – “Don’t tell me you don’t fully understand.”
John Thiel – “don’t ask why, just do it. . . . don’t ask why . . . just do as I say . . . just do as I say.”
John Thiel – “The result of waiting to understand as I have already suggested is fatal.”
John Thiel – “Waiting till we understand is going to catch us out. If you wait for understanding and to be convinced, you are caught”
John Thiel – “We mustn’t wait to understand, we simply must do.”

In this sermon John Thiel reads concerning the seal of God and the mark of the beast, yet his teaching appears to be in more harmony with the mark of the beast. He uses a high pressure sell tactics attempting to obtain outward compliance without understanding.  Outward compliance is all that is needed to receive the mark of the beast as it can be received either in the hand (which represents some act outward compliance) or the forehead (which represents intelligent understanding). But the seal of God can only be received in the forehead. Outward compliance is not enough for God. There needs to be a willing intelligent understanding to receive the seal of God in the forehead.

We agree that faith towards God involves some blind obedience. However, as it has been repeated over and over throughout history, man often inserts himself in the place God. Men will interpret God’s words and read His words to suit their own bias. They will selectively read God’s words leaving out that which does not suit their particular bias. After doing this, they will demand blind obedience of the people saying they should follow God’s words implicitly.

In this sermon John Thiel puts himself in the place of God and speaks what he thinks God is speaking: – “Can you trust me implicitly? Don’t seek to ask the reason for the things I am going to tell you as it will slow down the process. I’m asking you to simply obey all the standards and practices that are outlined for the church of the three angels. Don’t tell me you don’t fully understand. If I say to you, you must follow the dress code as studied in the sanctuary that is it, don’t ask why, just do it. It’s the dress code. The health message as studied, vegetarianism, don’t ask why, just simply know that I’m asking you to step fast, that’s why. Don’t ask about modesty, fashion, and vanity, worldly pastimes just do as I say. Don’t worry about your friends and your unbelieving relatives just do as I say.” – John Thiel

John Thiel presents that there is no more time to investigate or question because we are almost at the end of the world. The time of preparation for the end is very short, and for this reason John Thiel claims we have to “just do it” and obey without questioning. It appears that John Thiel wants to quench all investigation especially on the subject of a dress code and health. He wants people to blindly obey on these things.

We challenge the notion of John Thiel. The Bereans were commended because they did not blindly follow but investigated the Scriptures (Acts 17:11). In Jesus day, although impending doom was looming over Jerusalem, had the people investigated the Scriptures, instead of blindly following the leaders, they might have found the truth and been saved from destruction. Jesus refers to them as the blind following the blind (Matthew 15:14). During the dark ages the Scriptures were suppressed. It was illegal for the common people to read them. Only the priests could selectively read and interpret the Scriptures for the people. This was how the papacy sought to control the people. They couldn’t let the people investigate the Scriptures because they feared they might lose control over the people’s minds.

In the past John Thiel has attacked others accusing them of using Catholic principles. But in this sermon he advocates the same principle of control used by the papacy. All the while John Thiel deceptively presents himself as strongly protestant. For example in September 2009 a sermon by John Thiel titled “Are You A Protestant?” was posted online [4].

Blind obedience is a very dangerous principle considering the fact that every cult leader in the world wants blind unquestioning obedience. Cult leaders don’t want the people to question or investigate. They fear loosing control over the minds of the people. They fear that if the people think for themselves they will end up with different opinions. This will lead them to challenge their leader and thus undermine his control over their minds.

Cult leaders will seek to isolate their followers from outsiders. They don’t want the critical thinking or the influence of outsiders to interrupt their control over their followers. A worrying phrase used by John Thiel is: – “Don’t worry about your friends and your unbelieving relatives just do as I say.” When relatives and friends see John Thiel using the tactic of blind obedience to control and establish a dress code they become concerned. E. G. White writes “He has made the most precious truth for these last days disgusting to his friends and relatives; he has proved a stumbling block to them. His evasions, his bigotry, and the extreme views he has taken have turned more souls away from the truth than his best endeavors have brought into it” {2T 388.2}.

John Thiel desires his followers to obey and do all of the minutiae without question. But it is a fearful thing to put yourself in the place of God and then require blind obedience because you think that all of your understandings of God’s words can never be mistaken. No true minister of the gospel will do this.

 References:

[1] http://sabbathsermons1.wordpress.com/2013/11/14/21-unquestioning-obedience/

[2] http://sabbathsermons.com/2010/08/17/21-unquestioning-obedience/

[3] http://souldecisions.org/study-21-unquestioning-obedience/

[4] http://sabbathsermons.com/2009/09/06/are-you-a-protestant/

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