THE DARWIN PAPERS
A CHRISTIAN VISION
From The Nebulous Hypothesis:
A Study of the Philosophical and
Historical Implications of Darwinian Theory
© 1996 by James M. Foard
Editor and Publisher James M. Foard.
The Darwin Papers © 2000 James M. Foard
© 2004 James Foard
Editor's note: The previous fourteen chapters have dealt with deconstructing the false and very dangerous ideology of Darwinism, which has dominated the political, cultural and scientific thinking for much of the twentieth century. The following chapter deals with how our world may enter the new millennium with a more hopeful, constructive, positive and ultimately more beneficial understanding of mankind's origin, potential, and destiny, and how this better understanding of our purpose and place in the universe may lead to a saner, safer, and brighter future for man on this planet.
Some of these ideas may provoke strong disagreement among some Christians who have certain opinions regarding the last days of our era and of how prophecy in the Bible is about to be fulfilled, and perhaps what has been written here will be offensive to them. This was not my intent: I merely wished to issue a wake up call to the Church to assume her responsibility as a City set on a Hill.
I can claim no special revelation or special insight for what follows, except the Revelation given to all men through the Holy Bible and that given to believers through the Holy Spirit. If there are any errors in this chapter, they are mine and mine alone, as I am a fallen man, redeemed by the blood of Christ, and can only "see through a glass darkly". When I see my own manifold faults, I fear that through my imperfect witness the name of God may be discredited among the gentiles. May Christ have mercy on my soul for my many sins, of omission and commission, in word, and thought and deed; and may He cleanse me from every sin and lead me in the way everlasting. I beg the reader's forgiveness for anything that is not in accord with the Word of God, and would urge the reader to take anything that I have written with a pound of salt i.e. take the Scripture as your ultimate standard and wherever I have departed from that then depart from what I have written. JMF
The Darwin Papers may be
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educational uses provided acknowledgement
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We have now read
the story of
man's evolutionary descent, documented by the quotes from authorities who are in
much higher positions than myself to qualify them as superb and reliable
interpreters of the ancestry of man. Essentially, evolutionary schemes represent
nothing more than what the Bible predicted would be the fruit of man's innate
rebellion against the plain truth spoken of in God's revelation. Instead
of believing in God's Word, people would follow after the cunning doctrines of
men, preferring fantasies and fables presented in a pseudo-scientific framework
to entice people away from the everlasting gospel that is able to save men's
In contrast to the racist implications of Darwin's theory, The Declaration of Independence, based on the Bible, states: "We hold these truths to be self evident, that all men are created equal, and they are endowed by their Creator with inalienable rights, that among these rights are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness." According to the Bible and the Declaration of Independence all men are created equal, we did not evolve. The Bible states that all men are of the same family, and our rights were given by God Himself to all men since all races of men were created in His image, all races of men are equally loved by God and have come from the same set of parents, Adam and Eve.
The theory of evolution with its idea of a struggle for existence and preservation of favored races of men as Darwin wrote in the title of his work is in direct conflict with the equality of men and is responsible for much of the racial tension in the inner cities of America today. It's utterly false premise of "advanced races" and "inferior races" has perhaps been the source for more bloodshed than all other wars and conflicts in the history of mankind. The Bible says that Christ died for all men that we all might have everlasting life. The Bible concludes that "all have sinned and come short of the glory of God,"but that "God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth on Him may not perish but have everlasting life."Jn.3:16
As we draw near to the end of our study on human origins, and of the origin of all species of life on earth, we can look back throughout the entire realm of sciences dealing with mankind and every living thing, and it would not be imprudent to state that, after having thoroughly sifted through the evidence from molecular biology, from botany, from geology, from paleontology, from anthropology, and from archeology, the fossil record assuredly does not show any evidence of evolution having ever occurred in the past, that all species of life are fully distinct and separate, both those that exist at present and any that have ever lived previously on this planet. There are no transitional forms ever having occurred. In the plant world there are no "half-rose/half-carnation" flowers, no trees that are part oak and part walnut, or part fir tree and part apple tree. There are no transitional forms among any of the animals. The evidence for evolution is at best suppositional evidence, at it's worst, a bald faced intellectual charade that has led to monstrous consequences in the social and environmental realm.
This would lead us then to one conclusion, which is, that there must have been an intelligent Designer who made this world, and the living systems upon and within it. Reaching such a conclusion has profound consequences for our lives, for our vision of ourselves, and for our destiny. Mankind is not simply the result of some cosmic accident, nor are we just highly successful descendants of brute, savage beasts, but we are part of a wondrous creation, with a purpose for our lives, children of an all powerful Spirit, who is the Father of all creation, who made the birds, the bees, the air that we breath, the flowers and trees, and the stars also.
We have witnessed that the traditional archeological schemes for the supposed savage descent of man are at best tired and tawdry explanations that barely deserve any type of response at all. In light of the overwhelming evidence demonstrating that man had a very high culture and civilization before the Flood of Noah, that early post-Flood cultures inherited much of that lost civilization's wisdom, and that the evidence for catastrophism, and the Biblical Flood of Noah is a better explanation for the geologic column than the evolutionary, uniformitarian theory, the most accurate and sensible account of man's origin is still "So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him, male and female created he them."
seen that the origin of
mankind was not to be found in some, grunting, hairy creature swinging from
limb to limb in some arboreal fantasy, we now must investigate what mankind's
destiny is as a child of God, and to do that, we must investigate man's true
The Bible states that man was created in the image and likeness of God. Yet, for mankind to be something more than just a robot, he must have been created with the ability to choose. This ability was conferred upon Adam and Eve in the beginning, and was to be transmitted to their offspring as a divine gift.
Adam and Eve misused this gift, and as a result, fell out of fellowship with God, with their natures tarnished by sin, or rebellion against the divine commandment. Not only were their emotion and will tarnished by sin, but their intellect as well.
This can be seen by the fact that it was originally through the intellect that the serpent enticed Eve, and then through her emotions and will to complete the fall, for man's soul is composed of emotion, intellect and will.
The devil, ever envious of man's innocence and place of importance in God's creation, first approached Eve by presenting questions to her concerning God's commandment and divine authority. Being drawn into a dialogue with the serpent, Eve was led to misstate the original commandment, which simply was a command not to eat of the fruit. Instead, in her confusion, she stated that they were not to eat or touch the forbidden fruit.
Perhaps the devil then touched the fruit himself, and demonstrated to Eve that there was no harm in touching it, perhaps he handed it to her and she saw that by merely touching it there was no harm, and was later led to eat of it, we do not know. We do know that she was probably standing near the forbidden tree when the devil approached her, for there is no indication in the divine narrative that any journey towards the tree took place after the conversation commenced, and the divine narrative indicates that immediately after the devil spoke to her she gazed upon the tree with desire.
Thus Eve was already flirting with temptation by pondering and looking at the tree at no great distance from it when the serpent originally approached her.
Having first deceived her intellect, he then deceived her emotional nature, by stirring up within her a passion to eat of the fruit, and appealing to her sense of pride, by suggesting that there would be no harm in breaking the commandment. He sowed within her the seed of doubt concerning God's goodness and sovereignty, and led her to believe that in her own intellect she could set the rules for her behavior.
The next step was a step of volition, or will. Having added to the Word of God through thinking that the commandment forbade her from eating or touching it lest she die, and having seen that there was no harm in touching it, she then actively took of the fruit and ate it and broke the commandment.
Then, a most amazing and horrible thing happened to her. She lost her innocent, pure state, and realized that she had disobeyed God. Immediately there was a loss of the intimacy, security and happiness that she had always felt since the first moment of her creation. There was the feeling that something was terribly wrong inside, and she was ashamed to face God. Confusion, sorrow, guilt, horror and a thousand other thoughts and emotions raced through her mind. She could no longer look around the garden and see the beauty of the trees and flowers, nor hear the singing of the birds without sensing that their beauty was somehow marred by a sense of great betrayal on her part, for the garden was no longer perfect. Sin had entered the garden through her.
Seeking to remedy the situation, sensing her own marred nature, distraught and filled with fear, she thought of the only companion she had ever known in her short life next to God, Adam.
But how could she show herself to him in this state? Suddenly, she had a plan. She would present herself to Adam as though she had done nothing wrong, and bring him some of the forbidden fruit, and tell him that through eating it she had become wise and knowing, like a god. Surely, if Adam ate of the fruit also, then it would not have been such a great sin. And that is what she did, only to find out that Adam also lost his innocence, and they both were afraid to face God.
With their wills perverted, and unable to freely choose between right and wrong after the fall, they passed on this fallen nature to their children, and their children's children, on down to this present day.
God, seeing their condition, pronounced upon them the sentence of physical death, lest they live forever in a fallen state, and go from a bad state to a worse one for eternity. For only through death, and a later physical resurrection, could Adam and Eve be restored to their original condition.
This was accomplished by the death, burial, and resurrection of God's Son, Jesus. Jesus is the Lamb of God who came to this earth, born of a virgin, conceived by the Holy Spirit, hence without original sin. He lived a sinless life, and died on the cross of Calvary, shedding His innocent blood for the remission of our sin, going all the way back to Adam and Eve, so that all who believe and follow Him as Savior and Lord can be saved from the fires of hell prepared for the devil and his fallen angels, and go to heaven after death, waiting the final resurrection, where they will be forever with the Lord.
We see now in these latter days that something very similar to what occurred in the garden of Eden is happening on earth to the second Eve, the Church, and in a general sense to all of humanity. The devil is going out deceiving mankind, leading them not to trust in God's Word. For even as the original fall took place through deception, then doubt, then actual disobedience, so salvation takes place through the truth, then faith through hearing the truth, then obedience, or as the old song goes, "Trust and obey, for there's no other way."
Thus we have the Enlightenment philosophers led by men like Hume, Kant, Priestley, and Hegel, casting scorn on the Word of God as our ultimate guide to truth. Then there was the second generation of philosophers, Marx, Darwin, Spencer and Neitzsche, who produced evolutionary solutions to man's troubles. The offshoot of these men's thoughts produced people like Margaret Sanger, Hitler, and Stalin in the twentieth century, who counted human life as dirt to advance their racist and evolutionary policies.
Roger Bacon (1214-1292), a noted scholar and Franciscan monk who contributed to developing the modern method for inductive investigation, has summed up very well the reasons why so many people would believe in a theory as deficient in scientific validity as evolution:
"There are four principal stumbling blocks to comprehending truth, which hinder well-nigh every scholar: the example of frail and unworthy authority, long-established custom, the sense of the ignorant crowd, and the hiding of one's ignorance under the show of wisdom." (O.H. Taylor, Mediaeval Mind, ll London: The MacMillan Co., 1938 pp.524).
The world that we live in is not perfect, this is not the world that God originally created or intended. When the first man and woman disobeyed God a curse affected mankind and all of the natural order of things, but someday the Lord Who created this world and walked on the shores of Galilee shall come back to restore it to it's original pristine quality. At that time even the "wolf shall abide by the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down beside the young goat, the calf and the young lion and the fatling together" and the little child shall play with the serpent and suffer no harm. Until then we have God's promises in a very special letter of love that He has left for us, the Holy Bible, and we have His Spirit to comfort and guide us throughout life as we accept His Son into our hearts.
It is my sincere hope that this work has been a valuable aid for those who wish to understand more of the story of Mankind, and that it will encourage those who have had the patience to read it to be independent thinkers and not to swallow something that they may read in any anthropology journal simply because it has been written by a man with a string of letters behind his name, but to check the evidence themselves and come to their own conclusions.
We have read now of two radically different theories of the origin of man, that of Charles Darwin's evolutionary theory of man as an evolved animal, and that of Edward Blyth's Biblical view of man as a special creation by God. Darwin twisted some of the major ideas of Blyth around by perverting them to deny the miraculous creation of separate species by God, a major tenet in Blyth's theory. Various authors have clearly shown a link between Darwin's theory and the notion of favored races that influenced the rise of National Socialism and Communism in the twentieth century. Many writers who have endorsed Darwinism, right along with this endorsement have clearly demonstrated at best a racial bias and at worst a viewpoint inimical to the concept of the equality of races and the brotherhood of man.
A common brotherhood of the races would come from the belief stated in the Bible that all mankind originated from the same set of parents, that we are all under sin, but that all men are equally loved and valued by God, Christ died for all. In contrast to Darwin and Hitler's racist, evolutionary views, the Bible said thousands of years ago that all races of men on earth have the same blood (Acts 17:26), and science has now confirmed this. We find in the Bible that all races of man will be represented in the heavenly gathering when the Lord comes for His own: "After this I beheld, and lo, a great multitude, which no man could number, of all nations [nationalities and races], and kindreds, and people, and tongues, stood before the throne, and before the lamb, clothed with white robes, and palms in their hands;" (Rev: 7:9)
Had Blyth's views been properly presented and accepted in the early days of the twentieth century instead of Darwin's, mankind would have perhaps had a much different past than the one that we read about in our history books, and perhaps a much different present. In light of the impact that we have seen of ideas on human culture, I would not deem it unlikely that we could have a much darker future if Darwin's ideas continue to be on the ascendancy. The only remedy would be to get the truth out, and expose the falsehoods and erroneous suppositions of those who adhere to Darwin's ideas. Otherwise, those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it.
Let us read once again from part of Blyth's writing, and find out some of the thoughts that he had for this creature known as Homo sapiens. Blyth wrote: " (1)."Man alone, of all the countless wonders of creation, though clad in a natural frame, the functions of which are necessarily identical with those of other animals, is no part of the mere reciprocal system of nature as they are . . . He alone is bound to no particular locality, but inhabits the mountains and the plains, and by contrivance is enabled to endure the fervent heat of tropical climes, and the withering blasts of a polar winter; traverses in all directions the wide extent of the pathless ocean . . . He alone studies the complicated laws of nature, that he may wield them at his will . . . He alone possesses a power of indefinite self-improvement and can so communicate his attainments that each generation shall rise in knowledge above the last. He alone has the sense to sow, that he may reap . . . Does not then, all this intimate that the human race is no part of the mere mundane system . ."
As we are now preparing to enter into a new century, indeed a new millennium, and if the Lord should delay His coming, mankind could enjoy a glorious destiny.
God said in Isaiah "I did not create the universe to be a void, but I created it to be inhabited."
God may have wonders and marvels out in the infinite cosmos that we can hardly imagine, but they are not prepared for a brutal, atheistic mankind with the "survival of the fittest" mentality that has characterized the bloody reign of Darwinism during the twentieth century.
If mankind is to be found worthy to take this next step then we must be led by and obedient to the mighty hand of God, knowing that God is the Father of all of His creatures, but especially of man, a mankind who was created in His image to be a wise and just steward over all of Gods creation, a mankind as Blyth saw mankind.
On the other hand, there is the frightful spectre of the ascendancy of some future generation that will adopt the materialistic, utilitarian ideas that Darwin and his band of social and intellectual miscreants have envisioned for mankind, where the only value placed on a human life will be its' "usefulness" to society, and those who are the weakest, the most vulnerable and the most innocent members of the human race will be deemed "unfit for survival" and be weeded out as was the case when other dictators like Hitler and Stalin had implemented Darwinism's putrid theory to its' logical outcome.
Only through a return to God's word can mankind be saved from a future holocaust as great or greater than Hitler's if the teaching of Darwin continues to be presented as truth in our Universities and learning centers.
In many biology books written by evolutionists, there usually is a section dealing with mankind's future in evolutionary terms, with the problems of overpopulation, disease, etc. being stressed. While not always implicitly stated, it is often implied, that through human involvement in the process of natural selection, in evolutionary terms, this world could become a better place for those "most fit to enjoy it." Who will make these decisions as to who is fit for reproduction and survival is not stated, but presumably it would be an intellectual elite society of men and women addicted to the final solution for ethnic purity.
Will we forget the tragedies committed during the twentieth century in the name of Darwin and evolution when we enter the next century, after those who have lived during Hitler's Third Reich have passed on, and a new generation of evolutionary enthusiasts crops up with hopes of creating a "perfect society" apart from the grace of God, apart from the concomitant concern expressed throughout the entire Bible of care for the poor, the blind, the homeless, and the infirm?
If mankind is going to survive through the 21st Century and inherit this glorious destiny that might await us, we must have a belief system that will not lead us down the same dark road that we have trod in this past century of blood. We must not commit the same tragic errors that we committed in the name of Darwinism.
Mankind could have a new beginning, we could have a bright future, a veritable Golden Age, flowering with cooperation among men and nations before the Lord comes again, with His Law written in our hearts, or we could revert to the evolutionary hypothesis of "survival of the fittest" and Darwin's views on racial extermination.
Which choice will it be for mankind? Darwin and evolution, or some false, syncretic religious cult? Or will it be the saving gospel of Jesus Christ and the Word of God, the Holy Bible? We have seen the consequences of eating of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, but what of the consequences of eating from the tree of life? Since the incarnation of the Son of God into the world, the tree of life has been offered freely to all men who will come and taste of its fruit. Jesus is that tree of life, and by tasting of him, by eating of His flesh and drinking of His blood we can have eternal life and fellowship with God.
Just as the fallen state was a state of sin and selfishness separated from God's love and wisdom, so the new creation in Christ can be a life of selfless service to mankind for the sake of God.
If Christians truly fulfill their purpose, to serve humanity in the same manner as their Master came to serve, instead of to be served, turning from sin and selfishness, there can be an army of Christian workers giving their lives to help humanity in the name of Jesus, transforming our society from the inside out, as a sweet smelling offering to God.
Before the incarnation of Jesus, after the fall, man no longer had complete freedom of will, apart from those who heard the law of the Old Testament, because man could only choose between darkness, and a lesser darkness. Since the Incarnation and the preaching of the gospel, man now has the chance to choose again, just like in the garden of Eden. And if man chooses life, he has the chance to fulfill what Adam and Eve were meant to fulfill during their lifetimes. This is nothing less than perfect union with God, through Christ.
And just as the reward will be greater, so the punishment and result of turning away from the truth will be greater, and evil men will "wax worse and worse."
With the abandonment of traditional religious values to guide society we have seen in their place sins such as greed and lust being championed as icons of the free enterprise system. Classical Biblical concern for the needy has been replaced with purely materialistic pleasure and covetousness. This has been a direct result of Darwinian ideas on society.
As it is written-inscribed-in the Declaration of Independence, all men are created equal and they are entitled to life liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
Part of that first clause, life, should include free and accessible health care for all citizens.
In any civil and just society there should be universal health care for the destitute, the weak and those unable to take care of themselves.
There are those who oppose all state aid for the poor and the destitute. Hypocrites! As Dives was indifferent to the needs of the beggar Lazarus, so too you clamor for state aid to have your roads paved and for your business needs, but you refuse to ask for help for those created in the image of God and for whom Christ died for. What is more important to you; the selfish gain from serving mammon, or the needs of those for whom the Lord came to love and to serve? It is written "He who gives to the poor, gives to the Lord, and He will reward him in due time". If you do not think that the government should look out for its own when they have fallen on hard times, then let your own church assume that burden. Let the church be a genuine agency in relieving the suffering of the poor and the oppressed, or else keep silent when those in need are offered a life-saving hand from their government.
Affordable and decent health care should be a prerequisite in a just and compassionate world. How can somebody enjoy life and the pursuit of happiness without adequate health care?
And yet today health care providers whose profession in life should be as healers and servants to the rest of society, have "devoured widows houses", eaten away the savings and substances of their clients, and laid heavy burdens on their patients for whom "they will not ease their burdens with so much as one of their little fingers."
The practice of
medicine has been one of the noblest professions of man since the beginning of
history, but with the influence of evolutionary ideas the emphasise has shifted
for many who now enter the field of health care.
Profit and greed have become their gods, and they have forsaken the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, who commanded us not to enrich ourselves at the expense of the poor, but to "strengthen the weak hands and make firm the feeble knees" and to aid those in distress and need.
The houses of the needy have been devoured by this unjust medical system that has been set in place for the benefit and enrichment of the health care provider and the insurance company instead of to serve the patient.
This is a direct result of the Darwinian teaching of survival of the fittest and the abandonment of the original altruistic ideal that should have impelled doctors to go to medical school in the first place.
It is written: "He who oppresses the poor reproaches his Maker, but he who honors Him has mercy on the needy"; "Better is a little with righteousness than vast revenues without justice", and again it is written "He who oppresses the poor to increase his riches, will leave his wealth to others" [if not in this life, ultimately in the world to come]. (Proverbs 14:31; 16:8; 22:16)
Today's health care industry, which should be a system for the welfare of all citizens, has become a self-serving giant gobbling up the resources of the poor, the widows and the aged, syphoning off billions of dollars from our government through medicare fraud and exhorbitant charges for standard medical examinations.
One reason for this is because of a legal system that allows exhorbitant malpractice lawsuits, and this should be regulated and changed, however not everybody who sues a doctor or a hospital is necessarily dishonest and solely out for personal gain.
Doctors and hospitals perform much uneeded surgery and this along with unecessary pharmaceutical prescriptions has driven up the cost of medical care. They have linked arms with an overpriced medical technology system and a rapacious pharmaceutical empire that is sapping the resources of our society.
There are many dedicated Christian doctors and medical missionaries who have consecrated their skills to the Lord and to helping others, but these are a minority and there is a great need for those who pursue the medical profession to enter into it with the motive of serving others instead of using it as a vehicle to enrich themselves.
Wealth is permitted in the Bible, and making a decent living through honest labor is a blessing from the Lord, and charging a just fee for the use of one's skills is fitting, but accumulating wealth through extortion and taking advantage of the needs of others and pillaging the substance of the poor is never right.
In the Book of Proverbs it is written: "Dishonest scales are an abomination to the Lord, but a just weight is His delight".
Those who are greedy and guilty of extortion, or of charging an unjust fee for their services, and those who have made unjust gain at the expense of others are listed right along with thieves, drunkards and adulterers as those who will not inherit the kingdom of God. (1Cor 6:9-11)
One reason for this problem is because doctors in medical school are taught a dogma that our wonderful bodies are merely the results of random, evolutionary processes, and they are not instructed in the art of helping the body to heal itself. They are also not taught enough about diet and food supplements, nor are they taught that God has given us many herbs on the earth for our health if we would learn how to use them.
Through a return to a Biblical lifestyle with proper diet and a more natural approach to the art of healing with an emphasis on natural cures and preventative medicine we could see the cost of health care reduced by millions and probably billions of dollars.
So we can see on a very practical and human level how the teaching of evolution and it's debased, selfish emphasis on purely materialistic gain, with the consequent loss of the compassionate ideal, has warped a very noble human profession, helping and healing the sick and wounded in society, into an industry that is causing much financial hardship for the many while enriching the coffers of a privileged few.
The Bible speaks of when mercy and truth have met each other, and righteousness and peace have kissed (Psalm 85:10). This represents God's wisdom and His love. Thus the soul of man grows watered by these two qualities: "Thy rod and Thy staff, they comfort me." Yet wisdom without love, or compassion, is cold and oftentimes brutal. On the other hand, love without wisdom to guide it is fraught with mere sentimentality, and misguided forms of "tolerance."
It is written of the Lord "Righteousness and justice are the foundation of Your throne; Mercy and truth go before Your face (Psalm 89:14). God wants to establish His throne, His rule in the human heart. When God's wisdom and love are balanced in a Christian's life, then he will avoid both the evils of legalistic judgementalism and the other evil of licentiousness, or immorality.
God created man in His image, to grow in love and in understanding, to develop his intellect, yet also to worship and praise the Creator, and to serve his fellow man through charity.
We need to realize that all men are created in the image of God, no matter how marred that image may be through sin, and that every creature on this planet has a purpose in God's creation.
We are continually being tested, especially those of us who are Christians, to submit the lower passions of the body to the higher qualities of the mind, and ultimately to submit body, soul, mind and spirit to the Lordship of Jesus Christ:
"Blessed is the man who endures temptation, for when he has been tried, he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord has promised to those who love Him." (James 1:12)
God is Love, yet one of His characteristics is also Supreme, Infinite Wisdom (Proverbs 7-9); Perfect, Omniscient Intellect. As we grow in wisdom through learning about this marvelous creation of God's, and grow in charity through serving our fellow man and by praising the Creator, the image of God becomes clearer and brighter in our souls, and we are conformed to the image of Christ.
It is not merely through reading the Bible, and then walking away, as a man who beholds his image in a glass, but through living the Bible that God's image is formed in us.
Although the Lord spoke in many places of a future resurrection and an age to come where sickness, sin and death will be done away with, does this necessarily mean that we should abandon all hope of building a better society based on Christian principles here and now, along with preaching the Good News of salvation?
There is a law that God has put into the hearts of all men, a law of love and reverence for all life, since all nature, and especially mankind, reflects the glory of its Creator.
St. Paul wrote: "Owe no one anything except to love one another, for he who loves another has fulfilled the law. For the commandments, 'You shall not commit adultery,' 'You shall not steal,' 'You shall not bear false witness,' 'You shall not covet,' and if there is any other commandment, are all summed up in this saying, namely, 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself.' Love does no harm to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfillment of the law." (Romans 13: 8-10.
I am not talking about some sort of sappy sentimentalism here. Loving God and loving mankind is more than simple emotionalism; it is more than merely feeling good about other people and thus thinking that one has done their duty to their fellow man because they like people or are not being judgemental. True love means active compassion (James 1:27; 2:14-17). There is a starving world out there. Children are living in garbage dumps in other parts of the world. Slave labor, including slave child labor is going on in many countries right now. There is disease, poverty, warfare, ignorance, and abandoned children who need our help. Even in wealthier countries there are the homeless and lost and lonely people who need God's light, who need God's love.
We are also meant to plead for the fatherless, the widow and the poor. I would be remiss in my duty towards God if I did not mention one terrible tragedy that has come about because of the teaching of evolution, and that is the holocaust of abortion, which takes the innocent life of a baby in it's mothers womb. Our country has the blood of 40 million innocents on her hands now, and God will demand a recompence for this terrible crime. We still have time to repent, which may delay and mitigate judgement to some extent, but a day of reckoning will come, although how it will take place no one may say. The Lord is slow in judgement, not willing that any should perish, but when His judgement does come it will be swift and it will be sure. This judgement will be like a purifying fire, from which society may emerged chastened and able to make a new beginning.
When asked what was the greatest need of the people whom she worked with in India, Mother Teresa responded that they needed to be loved more than anything.
America is a wealthy nation that spends millions of dollars subsidizing tobacco farmers when that money could be spent for a much more valuable purpose than for a crop whose only purpose is to destroy people's health. We and other wealthy nations spend billions of dollars on drugs, gambling, tobacco, illicit pursuits and selfish entertainment while the rest of the world is dying for a helping hand.
Only the gospel, with its message of dying to self, living a life of sacrifice and giving one's life over to service for other's sake holds out hope for mankind.
The Word of God says "He has shown you, oh man, what is good. And now, what does the Lord require of you, but to do justice, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God?" (Micah 6:8)
So on a practical level, where does one begin? First, you must come to Christ for the forgiveness of sins: "Come unto Me all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest" says the Lord.
The first sacrifice God accepts is that of a humble and a contrite heart. (Isaiah 66:2)
The Lord has said: "And you shall seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart". (Jer 29:13) We are meant to put the Lord first in our lives, and His will above everything else.
After we are cleansed by the blood of Christ and His redemption, then good works should follow. We are saved by God's forgiveness; then when you have accepted the unmerited mercy of God through Calvary you may want to find out where God can use you.
And God can use you in many ways. Many secular occupations can become ministries for the Lord; every aspect of life can be a part of a ministry.
If you wish to do something specifically for the Lord, there are many fine charities in the world. Begin by finding a charity that is helping to feed the hungry, clothe the naked, house the homeless, heal the sick, counsel the troubled in heart and find out how much that you can afford to start giving, whether it is in personal time or finance.
The word of God
says: "And now, Israel, what does the Lord your God require of you, but to
reverence the Lord your God, to walk in all His ways, and to love Him, to serve
the Lord your God will all your heart and with all your soul, and to keep the
commandments of the Lord and His statutes, which I command you today for your
good?" (Deut 10:12)
Concerning giving, the Lord said "Where your treasure is, there will your heart be also".
We are not commanded to give a specific amount of our income to the church in the New Testament, but as each of us prospers (I Cor 16:1-2); so let us give, not out of compulsion, but cheerfully (II Cor 9:7). Whatever God speaks to your heart to give, then be obedient to Him. You might want to set ten percent, a tithe of your income, as a standard to give to the Lord, but if you cannot afford this, God will understand, and if you want to give more than a tithe and if God prospers you to afford that, then this is fine.
Give as you are able, or as God enables.
God is not some kind of enforcer running a protection racket, waiting to turn the dogs loose on you if you don't give ten percent of your income.
The main point is that giving should come from the heart, and it should be a joy and not be a burden.
You might try and
find out if there are things in your life that you can sacrifice for the sake of
others. It may be some unhealthy habit. It could be that God might be asking you
to give up some sort of indulgence or merely to live a more moderate lifestyle,
and to use those resources for the good of others. God might call some of you to
follow a career of service in some field of endeavor that will help our fellow
After we have done what we can for the Lord and for other people, we should truly have no thought of any reward, for we have simply been obeying God in fulfilling and carrying out His commandments. It is written: "And which of you, having a servant plowing or tending sheep, will say to him when he has come in from the field, 'Come at once and sit down to eat'? But will he not rather say to him, 'Prepare something for my supper, and gird yourself and serve me till I have eaten and drunk, and afterward you will eat and drink'? Does he thank that servant because he did the things that were commanded him? I think not. So likewise you, when you have done all those things which you are commanded, say, 'We are unprofitable servants. We have done
what was our duty to do.'" (Luke 17:7-10)
Whatever it is, if you sacrifice something for God and for the good of your fellow man your reward will be when the Lord welcomes you into heaven and says "Well done thou good and faithful servant."
And there will be rewards in the next life for good deeds done in this one. (Luke 14:14)
It is written: "He has dispersed, he has given to the poor, his righteousness endures forever."
(Psalm 112:9; 2 Cor 9:9).
There is also much injustice and inequity going on in the world. The rich have devoured the substances of the poor, those who are greedy of gain have oppressed those who are employed by them. There are even those in this country who are suffering because of unjust wages and harsh working conditions; poor and needy people cannot afford the same medical and legal representation as those who are wealthy can afford, how much worse is it in other parts of the world.
The Word of God says concerning the rich: "Come now, you rich, weep and howl for your miseries that are coming upon you! Your riches are corrupted and your garments are moth-eaten. Your gold and silver are corroded, and their corrosion will be a witness against you and will eat your flesh like fire. Your have heaped up treasure for the last days [of retribution]. Yeah, the wages of the laborers who mowed your fields, which you kept back by fraud, cry out; and the cries of the reapers have reached the ears of the Lord of Sabaoth. You have lived on the earth in pleasure and luxury; you have fattened your hearts as in a day of slaughter." (James 5:1-5)
The Word of God also says "When you reap the harvest of your land, you shall not wholly reap the corners of your field, nor shall you gather the gleanings of your harvest. And you shall not glean your vineyard, nor shall you gather every grape of your vineyard; you shall leave them for the poor and the stranger. I am the Lord your God." (Lev 19:9-10).
How would that apply in today's society? If you have money left over from your earnings, instead of spending it on something you don't necessarily need, give some of it to charity. Give whatever you are able to, even if it is only a few dollars. Remember the widows' two pence.
Even a few dollars can help; God will accept it.
If you have a skill or a business, you might want to consider having a day of chessed, or "kindness", as many do in Israel, when on a certain day out of the week you do your services for free, or for a reduced fee for those in need. You could donate some of your time to a non-profit agency that is helping those in need in your area of the world.
We find written in the book of the prophet Jeremiah: "Behold, the days are coming, says the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Judah, not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt . . .But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the Lord: I will put My law in their minds, and write it on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. No more shall every man teach his neighbor, and every man his brother, saying, 'Know the Lord,' for they shall all know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them, says the Lord. For I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin I will remember no more." (Jer. 31:31-34)
Still, even with the best of intentions, humankind does not have the power to overcome the powerful effects of our fallen nature by ourselves, and that is what Jesus came and died for. Through the death, burial and resurrection of the Son of God, we can have the power to overcome sin, and lead godly lives. Without Christ it is a futile struggle, but if we have Christ within us by the Holy Spirit, we can truly say along with the Apostle, "Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold all things are become new."2 Corinthians 5:17.
In the Gospel of John we see where it is written, "But to as many as received Him [Christ], to them He gave the power to become the Sons of God, even to them who believe on his name."
Through faith in Jesus we have the privilege to become children of God, our rightful heritage.
But being redeemed from our old lives is only the first step in our Christian lives, we are meant to abide in Christ and bear fruit, to grow, to flower, and blossom in Christian maturity through living lives of charity and purity.
Thus we as Christians are meant to become teachers and servants to the rest of mankind, sharing the Gospel through charity. We are meant to be a Kingdom of Priests, which means that we should stand as intercessors in prayer and example, sacrificing our lives for the rest of humanity.
Christ invites us all to be intercessors and mediators between man and God for the sake of a lost and dying mankind ("You are the salt of the earth"; "You are the light of the world. Let your light so shine before men that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven"; and as the Apostle Paul wrote "Let prayers be offered up for all men").
This is similar to St. Paul's injunction that charity is the fulfillment of the law: "For all the commandments, you shall not kill, you shall not steal, you shall not commit adultery, are fulfilled in this one commandment, You shall love your neighbor as yourself."
We are seeing here a quite elevated doctrine of altruistic behavior, far surpassing the brutal evolutionary notions of Darwin and his ken, one which should shame some Christians out of their self-centered shells and spiritual colonies, and to seeking the good of others, as Moses said, "Blot me out of the book of life, but let them not perish," and St. Paul, who said "I could wish myself to be lost, for the sake of Israel the elect's sake."
Thus every person, no matter their physical or mental imperfection, whatever their race, whether or not their genetic code has flaws in it, is a child of God, created in the image and likeness of God, and is worthy of our respect, our care, our compassion, and our love. And all other living creatures on this planet, while not enjoying the special status as humankind does, still were wondrously and marvelously created by Infinite Wisdom (Proverbs 8-9) and deserve our special care, since man was put here to keep and tend the garden of planet earth, not to exploit it and cause needless suffering. .
Many fine Christians and fine people of other faiths are vegetarians. I am not advocating or discrediting vegetarianism. Even though a vegetarian diet was the original diet of man before the fall and it has many benefits, the Bible clearly make this an issue of personal choice. God does allow man to eat certain meats to survive and eating ritual meat was commanded in the Torah as part of the Levitical sacrifices.
When I eat meat, I try to stay with kosher meat whenever possible, unless someone offers me meat that is not kosher, and then out of respect for their kindness I will sit down to eat it. Otherwise I only eat lean meat from clean animals. When I eat seafood, I eat only the clean kinds of fish described in the Bible. When I drink milk, I try to buy organic milk. When I drink juice, I try to drink only pure fruit and vegetable juices. I try to avoid junk food and soft drinks (I have a weakness for orange soda, so this is not always a hard and fast rule), and most kinds of candy (I enjoy chocolate and peanuts but don't gorge on them every night, so again this does not have to become some hard and fast rule). This has nothing to do with my salvation; as a Christian you can eat pretty much anything you want to stuff into your mouth, but it has everything to do with keeping my vessel healthy for the Lord's service.
All I am saying is that, even though meat eating is permitted in the Bible, probably for reasons connected with the fall of man and because of our present day need for adequate protein, all species of animate life, to some extent, partake of God's Spirit, and are in some degree, though not in the same way or extent as man, loved by God, and are in a lesser way made after His image, through likeness in mind and emotion. This is why, even when I do eat meat, as God does allow us to, I am humbled and thankful when I bless it, realising that what I am eating cost an animal it's life; an animal that was created by God and that loved it's life, however limited it's ability to reason and contemplate were.
Thus we are seeing that it is not merely enough to selfishly bask in our own salvation, but we must become vessels of God's mercy to the rest of mankind, instruments of His will to be done on earth as it is in heaven. All of us have been given certain talents and abilities that we can use for God's Kingdom to glorify Him and to benefit others with.
God wants to conform us to the image of Christ. That is the purpose for our lives here on earth: To become more like Jesus. And God is always more interested in our holiness than in our temporal happiness.
Only what you do for Christ will last. We have this promise for eternity: "He who does the will of God abides forever". (1John 2:17)
And this is the will of God: "He who loves God, must love his brother also". (1John 4:21)
Thus a Christian should be as a light to the rest of the world, just as Jesus said, "No man when he lights a candle, puts it under a bed, but upon a candlestick, so that it may give light to the entire room. So let you light shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father in heaven."
We are meant to become the hands and feet of God here on earth, as the image of Christ is formed in us through our surrender to God's Spirit and His Word.
We are meant to "Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ's sake has forgiven you". (Ephesians 4:32)
It is indeed through saving others that we are saved.
As we overcome our own desires and lusts, and walk in love, we conform to the image of Christ more and more, and become the sons of God, as John stated (John 1:12)
It is possible for someone, through overcoming their selfish nature and uniting themselves by faith and charity with Christ, to become the very image of Jesus here on this earth. This is not an over night process, but this should become the ideal and purpose of each and every Christian. St. John said that as many as received Christ, to them was given the power to become the sons of God, even to them who believe on His name. How remarkable that this verse is so well known in the Bible, yet how little do we use that phrase in referring to ourselves and other Christians.
St. Makarios (late Fourth century Coptic monk) said: "Those who deny the possibility of perfection inflict the greatest damage on the soul in three ways. First, they manifestly disbelieve the inspired Scriptures. Then, because they do not make the greatest and fullest goal of Christianity their own, and so do not aspire to attain it, they can have no longing and diligence, no hunger and thirst for righteousness (cf. Matt. 5:6); on the contrary, content with outward show and behaviour and with minor accomplishments of this kind, they abandon that blessed expectation together with the pursuit of perfection and of the total purification of the passions. Third, thinking they have reached the goal when they have acquired a few virtues, and not pressing on to the true goal, not only are they incapable of having any humility, poverty, and contrition of heart but, justifying themselves on the grounds that they have already arrived, they make no efforts to progress and grow day by day." (Philokalia, Vol. 3: St. Makarios on Prayer, No. 30, Faber and Faber, London)
I submit that the world is waiting for Christians to bring God's love to them, that there is a new era to be born of Christian maturity, of a mighty Christian Army willing to lay down their lives in service to the rest of humanity for Christ's sake, to live out the gospel through love.
When the rest of the world sees Christians acting in this manner, then the Church will no longer be ridiculed and mocked as she is now, for the world, seeing the fruits of the Spirit; love, joy, kindness, gentleness, purity, longsuffering, patience, peace, will be brought to the fount of salvation as a moth is drawn to light.
Through renouncing our own carnal wills and obeying the commandments of our Lord and Savior, we can see the Kingdom of God ushered in to bring a new era of peace and happiness for all mankind. The soul of man is like a mirror, and is meant to reflect the brightness of God's wisdom and love. Through cleaning off the dust of impure thoughts, selfish passions, pride, greed, and anger, then we can shine as lights in this world, dispelling the darkness of ignorance, sin, and unbelief.
As man's spirit conquers the appetites, desires and passions of the flesh, his soul becomes transformed into the likeness of God. This is something that does not happen automatically after we are saved, but requires our own effort, through the agent of divine grace, the Holy Spirit, aiding us, which is given to us through repentance and faith in Jesus. We can do nothing good on our own, yet still we are meant to strive against sin and grow in grace, for this is how our character is formed, by the choices we freely make.
I am submitting that there should be a new era in science, when it will no longer be the yokeman of the false ideology of evolution, but when it can be reunited with religion, it's true mother and sister, and bring in an epoch of peace, prosperity, and happiness for all of mankind. Science united with faith and morality might usher in the millennium before the return of Christ, a glorious millennium of progress under the lordship of Christ instead of the false imaginations of Darwin.
So much for God's Kingdom on earth, but what of God's Kingdom in heaven? St. Paul stated "If in this life only we have hope, then we are of all men the most miserable." The Christians ultimate hope and joy and glory will be in the resurrected state of glory in the presence of the Lord after this mortal life is over. Ultimately, all of us are going to die, should the Lord delay His coming, and I am not one of those who is presumptuous enough to assume that I might predict that His coming will occur before I might face death, even though that would be my hope.
Christ said not to lay up treasures for this life, but to lay up treasures in heaven, where neither moth corrupts nor thief can break in and steal. We are at best strangers and pilgrims in this life while we travel on this earth. St. Paul said that he sought a City in heaven, where his true countryland was, and we should adopt the same attitude as Christians. When you die and go into eternity, what hope will you have for your salvation? Your only hope for eternity will be if you have put your faith in the blood of Christ to cleanse your sins and received the risen Christ as your Lord and Saviour. All of us will go into eternity, either with or without Christ.
This is a most serious issue; it is the most serious issue any of us will ever have to face in life: Where will you spend all of eternity after you die? The next life is our inevitable destination, how will you prepare for it?
This is perhaps the most damaging and terrible consequence of evolutionary teaching: That man is merely an evolved animal and we have no life after this one. It has done incalculable harm to untold millions of souls who have not prepared for the next life because they believe that their only hope is in this one. When you have to face eternity, will you place your faith in Darwin or will you place your faith in Jesus Christ?
However, let us remember that the citizens of the City of God, the souls that will be in heaven, originate from the City of Man. This life is the preparation ground for the next one. Thus there is nothing inconsistent with attempting to establish a more Christian society here on earth before His coming to foster Christian principles and a Christian worldview. In fact, it is our duty. I do not adhere to the view that Christians should simply sit on their hands while waiting for the Lord's return to rescue us out of hard times. Christ, in the parable of the vineyard, gave us responsibility as stewards to work to establish His Kingdom on earth, as it is in heaven.
Let us not forget that old Christian adage: "We don't want to get so heavenly minded that we are no earthly good."
Kindgdom will be established here on earth as it is in heaven: "The kingdoms of this world have become the kingdoms of our Lord,
and of His Christ, and He shall reign forever and ever!" (Rev. 11:15)
I believe that before Christ returns, He will usher in the Millennium first by setting up His Kingdom in human hearts. I also believe that Mankind, through following Christ, might enter a new era of peace, of healing, of profound scientific and cultural advancement by living out the principles found in the Bible, the Word of Life. Indeed, Christ wants to set up His Kingdom on this earth through the agency of the Holy Spirit through transformed lives.
This can only be done through the preaching of the everlasting Gospel that is able to save men's souls. Thus we should pray and work to establish a free and just society where the Gospel can be freely preached, and where there is freedom for the truth to be taught in public schools and in government institutions.
Even though the Christian's ultimate goal is heaven, and we look forward to Christ's return, that should not deter us from striving to build a better, more just, more compassionate society here on earth until the Lord's return.
There is hope in this view.
All true wisdom comes from God, and springs from a reverence and love for Him. It is written: "The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, but fools despise learning and instruction" "Seek wisdom. Seek understanding. Do not forget her, nor turn away from the words of my mouth. Do not forsake her, and she will preserve you: Love her, and she will keep you. Wisdom is the principal thing; Therefore get wisdom, and with all your substance get understanding. Exalt her and she will promote you; She will bring you honor when you embrace her. She will place on your head an ornament of grace; A crown of glory she will deliver to you." (Proverbs 4)
Solomon spoke of when Wisdom has built her house with seven pillars. St. Teresa spoke of seven different stages towards perfection for the human soul. The Bible speaks of the seven eyes of the Lord that see through all the earth.
St. Paul spoke of a rest that we should strive to enter into and likened it to the seventh day when God rested from His labors (Heb 4: 4-11).
Could Adam and Eve have been perfect, yet their perfection having been that of immature children, who, though having no imperfections or faults, still needed to grow? A baby might be a perfect baby, yet still need to grow up to adulthood. Could this have been the case with Adam and Eve, and could they have been accountable for their conduct to God, to make the right decision, thereby becoming established in righteousness through their own free choice?
According to the Greek Orthodox Church, this was indeed the case: "Adam was created with spiritual gifts given to him for his perfection, as well as the Grace of God. Adam was created "in the image" and "after the likeness" of God. "In the image" means that he had the potential, through free will, to reach the higher level that is "after the likeness" of God, being without corruption. Had the 'gifts bestowed on man by God been properly cultivated in Paradise, man - by the Grace of God - could have become holy and righteous and attained the "likeness" of God, instead of becoming corrupt and bringing about his own death. This is the, teaching of the Church on the state of man in Paradise. Adam was expected to exercise this free will and be tested in his effort to reach his destination - " after the likeness " of God, not death. He was tested by an opponent of the same nature and equal abilities. His opponent was envious and clever, a fallen angel in the form of a serpent, demon, Satan and Devil. His weapons were arrogance and disobedience, which he used to tempt Adam and Eve. He was "that ancient serpent, who is called the Devil and Satan, the deceiver of the whole world", Rev. 12:9;
"He (the serpent) was a murderer from the beginning", John 8:44.
"Adam and Eve were tempted by arrogance, disobedience, selfishness and the desire for independence. Adam's sin of arrogance and disobedience to God's Will was a mortal one which penetrated his existence and that of subsequent generations. Thus, the punishment of the original sin is death, as revealed in Scripture: "for the wages of sin is death", Romans 6:23. Therefore, "none is righteous, no, not one; no one understands, no one seeks for God . . . there is no fear of God before their eyes", Rom. 3:10-11,18.
Almighty God in His compassion sent His Son to save "fallen" man and to reconcile him with God, for as by one man's disobedience many were made sinners, so by one man's obedience many will be made righteous, Rom. 5:19. The excellences and qualities created in Adam were diminished and became blurred after his "fall"; still, man retained a spark of desire for perfection and distinguishing between good and evil. This blurred state in "fallen" man is sufficient, however, for him to know and to accept in humility and obedience God's Revealed Truths for his salvation in Christ." ( Rev. George Mastrantonis, © 1990-1996 Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America)
What if Adam and Eve had only reached the sixth stage of development and fell? Now it has been six thousand years since that event, and if a thousand years is like a day to the Lord, then are we nearly ready to enter in to the seventh stage of rest from the passions and lusts that have ruined so much of mankind's history?
If so, and if there is a replay of what happened in the garden of Eden, only on a larger scale, then we see the old dragon attempting to deceive the new Eve, the Church, and in a larger sense, mankind, through whispering to her through Darwin and others of his ilk, "Yea, has God said?"
Are we being tested as a group, as the original Eve was as a person, whether we will listen to and obey the Word of God, or fall for the cunning fables of man? Now is the time to expose the darkness, to shine the light, and to live for God with all our hearts and all our souls and all our minds and all our strength. Now is the time to love God with everything that we have, and having done all, to stand.
There is hope for mankind. As we prepare to enter the 21st Century, let us leave behind the rotting carcass of Darwinism with its failed and empty rhetoric, it's specious suppositions and bloody legacy, and may we enter into a glorious future with the Lord seated again on the throne of human endeavor. Man was originally meant to be the crown of God's creation, and was put into the garden of Eden to dress it and to keep it, as a wise caretaker to take watch over God's handiwork, not to abuse our home but to live in harmony with our fellow creatures, those marvelous animals that God wonderfully created to give man company in the joys of creation
The pleasant doctrines that "tickle men's ears", that striving to live a virtuous life would somehow be interfering with the work of grace, and thus there should be no personal effort on our part to overcome sin, is an excuse for lukewarmness, and is a perversion of the traditional, historical teaching of the Christian Church, which was that eternal security(while still in this life) which is called by the Reformers the Preserverance of the Saints, meant continued faithfulness to Christ during our lives- that we still have the responsibility to seek the Lord and walk in obedience to His Word after we are saved in order to have the assurance of our salvation. You cannot live like the devil and expect to enter into heaven.
Scripture says: "Blessed are they who hunger and thirst after righteousness."
St. Paul instructed us to pray without ceasing. We are meant to daily seek the face of the Lord through supplication and praise. And let every act that we do be an act of devotion to God; let it be an act of worship, whether it is simply cooking a meal or preforming any type of manual, intellectual or artistic labor; let it be done for the glory of God.
All of this may sound very altruistic and good in theory, but how do we really change ourselves and live a new life? How do deeply ingrained habits of lust, selfishness, and anger become uprooted from our lives?
How do we find forgiveness from our old actions, and where do we get the strength to change?
In attempting to live new lives, we often find out that it is more than simply turning over a new leaf. We find out, as St. Paul noted, that there is a sin nature in all of us, a nature that came about through the fall of man, and we are all in some way enslaved to sin to some degree.
We need a new birth to be free from sin, and we need to be cleansed from the guilt of sin and our sinful actions in the past. This new birth can only come about through repentance, which is feeling truly sorry for our sins and the harm it has caused to ourselves, others, and especially God, and accepting the forgiveness that God offers through Jesus Christ, who died and shed His blood so that our sins may be forgiven.
Then, through accepting Jesus as Lord of our lives, with His help and forgiveness, we can go on to live new lives of holiness, humility, and love. Although forgiveness and the new life in Christ can begin immediately, we still have to work out our salvation, and this is process of working out our salvation is known as sanctification. We are saved by the grace of Christ, but Jesus told us to count the cost; we must strive to receive the fullness of our inheritance in the Kingdom of Heaven: "Not as though I have already attained, or am already perfected, but I press on that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has appointed me. Brethren, I do not count myself to have attained; but this one thing I do know, forgetting those things which are behind, I strive for those things which are before me; I press toward the goal to receive the prize of victory of God's highest calling through Christ Jesus" (Philippians 3:12-14).
After faith in Christ and the new life in Christ has started, a battle has begun for possession of our soul between our old nature of sin, which still attempts to gain mastery over us, and our new nature in Christ.
St. Paul said to put on all of the weapons of our warfare and to resist sin through faith in Christ, repentance, prayer, and penance, or mortification of our bodies. The Eastern Church calls this mortification, which is mentioned in the New Testament, podvig, or physical hardship, or endurance. This means that through bodily asceticism, denying ourselves through fasting, hard work, the sweat of our brow (Genesis 3:19 "By the sweat of your brow you shall eat your bread), combined with faith in Christ, prayer, supplication and psalmody (praying and worshipping through the reading and recitation of psalms), we can gradually overcome the desires of the old man and walk in newness of life.
This is not to suggest that our salvation comes about by works, "For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God, not of works, lest any man should boast," (Ephesians 2:8-9), and holiness only comes about through the grace of God, for "In Him (Christ) we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace," (Ephesians 1:7); Jesus is our Redeemer, our Passover Lamb "slain from the foundation of the world"; there is no salvation apart from the perfect sacrifice of Christ and the shedding of His blood that saves us from sin.
But Christ came to save us from our sins, not leave us in our sins. After His crucifixion and death He rose from the dead so that we might walk in newness of life, "As you therefore have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him . . . If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sits at the right hand of God . . . Therefore put to death your members which are on the earth: fornication, uncleanness, passion, evil desire, and greed, which is idolatry" and then Paul exhorts us
" . . .Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering; bearing with one another, and forgiving one another . . .But above all these things put on love, which is the bond of perfection" (Colossians 2:6; 3:1, 5, 12-14).
We are saved by "faith that works through love". (Gal.5:6)
When faith has arisen in our hearts, works of charity and of obedience to God's commands should follow from a heart renewed in Christ by Baptism and by the Holy Spirit, and these works are part of our responsibility as Christians to perform, to each according to their ability and talent: "This is a faithful saying, and these things I want you to affirm constantly, that those who have believed in God should be careful to maintain good works. These things are good and profitable to men" (Titus 3:8).
Scripture says that faith without works of charity is a dead faith: "Therefore lay aside all filthiness and overflow of wickedness, and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls. But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man observing his natural face in a mirror; for he observes himself, goes away, and immediately forgets what kind of man he was. But he who looks into the perfect law of liberty and continues in it, and is not a forgetful hearer but a doer of the work, this one will be blessed in what he does. If anyone among you thinks he is religious and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his own heart, this one's religion is vain. Pure and undefiled religion before God and the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their trouble, and to keep oneself unspotted from the world . . . If you truly fulfill the royal law according to the Scripture, "You shall love your neighbor as yourself," you do well: but if you show partiality [between the rich and the poor], you commit sin, and are convicted by the law as transgressors." (James 1:21-27, 2:8)
"What does it profit, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can faith save him? If a brother or sister is naked and destitute of daily food, and one of you says to them 'Depart in peace, be warmed and filled,' but you do not give them the things which are needed for the body, what does it profit? Thus also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead. But someone says, 'You have faith, and I have works.' Show me your faith without your works, and I will show you my faith by my works. You believe that there is one God. You do well. Even the demons believe-and tremble! But do you know, O foolish man, that faith without works is dead? Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered Isaac his son on the alter? Do you see that faith was working together with his works, and by works was made perfect? And the Scripture was fulfilled which says, 'Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness.' And he was called the friend of God. You see then that a man is justified by works, and not by faith only. Likewise, was not Rahab the harlot also justified by works when she received the messengers and sent them out another way? For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also." (James 2:14-26)
Obviously sharing the gospel does not merely mean telling someone that Jesus loves them; it means showing them that Jesus loves them.
Christians should abound in good works, being "ready to give, willing to share, laying up for themselves a good foundation for the time to come, that they may lay hold on eternal life." (1:Timothy 6:18-19)
There is this strange attitude among certain Christians that somehow by simply believing in Christ without in any way amending our lifestyle that this will somehow abscond us from any responsibility of following Christ and fulfilling any of the commands and exhortations in the Bible, yet the Word of God clearly says "For we shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ." (Romans 14:10), and again "For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive the things done in the body, whether good or bad." (2 Cor 5:10)
The Scripture also says "Amen, amen I say to you, he who hears My word and believes Him who sent me has eternal life, and does not come into judgment , but is passed from death into life"; "He who believes in Him is not condemned, but he who believes not is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God."; "There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who walk not in the flesh but after the spirit of Christ Jesus". (John 5:24, John 3:18, Romans 8:1)
How do we reconcile these seemingly contradictary passages of Scripture? The answer is not hard for someone who genuinely loves God. To truly believe in Christ Jesus, to abide in Christ Jesus, is to have His word abiding in us: "If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, whatever you ask shall be done for you"(John 15:17); "If you love Me, keep My commandments" (John 14:15); "He who has My commandments with him and obeys them is the one who loves Me" (John 14:21).
"He who loves me keeps My word; and My Father will love him, and we will come to him, and abide in him. But he who does not love Me does not keep My word; and this word which you hear is not My own but the Father's who sent me" (John 14:23-24); "If you keep My commandments you will abide in My love, just as I kept My Father's commandments and abide in His love"(John 15:10); "I command these things to you, so that you may love one another" (John 15:17); "For this is the commandment you have heard from the beginning, that you should love one another" (1John 3:11).
"Whoever has worldly goods and sees his brother in need, and shuts his mercy from him, how dwells the love of God in him?" (1John 3:17). "If a man says, I love God, and yet hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen, how can he love God whom he has not seen?" (1 John 4:20)
A true lover of God will be a lover of mankind.
This is what is meant by not being judged, when our hearts do not condemn us, because we have been purified by the love of God: "Herein is His love made perfect in us, so that we may have boldness in the day of judgment; because as He is, so are we in this world. There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear; because fear is tormenting. He who fears [judgment] is not made perfect in love" (1 John 4:17-18).
In The Sayings of the Desert Fathers it is written "As long as you have love in your heart you can be saved."
(Trans. By Sister Benedicta Ward)
But this love must be a love consisting of deeds, not merely words.
I believe in alter calls. I was saved in one. But Protestants have turned their alter calls into rituals-the same rituals that they objected to during the Reformation-and on the basis of these public displays of piety they claim that you now have a free ticket to heaven and that no matter how you live your life you will not be held accountable.
The Lord said that when he returns that he would reward every man according to his works, and he did not make any distinction here between believers and nonbelievers: "If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself and take up his cross, and follow Me. For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it. For what shall it profit a man if he gains the whole world but loses his soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul? For the Son of Man will come in the glory of His father with His angels, and then He will reward each according to his works." (Matthew 16:24-27)
All sins, to some extent are sins of selfishness, whether it is putting one's own selfish desires above the legitimate needs and rights of others, or of putting one's own desires above the commandments of God.
As long as a certain sin or passion remains unchecked in our hearts, we should not think that we have obtained forgiveness for it: "He who confesses and forsakes his sin shall find mercy." (Proverbs)
I do not wish to discourage anyone who has fallen into sin from accepting God's forgiveness. God is a God of judgment and of mercy, and the Word of God says that "Mercy triumphs over judgement".
The Scripture also says, "His mercy is from everlasting to everlasting", and "As far as the east is from the west so has He removed our sins from us."
There are times when we have sinned and feel so guilty that we feel unable to reach out to God for His grace and forgiveness. No one should ever think that they have sinned too much for God's mercy, for scripture says "If we confess our sins He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness." (1John: 1:9) God loves you and gave His Son to die for you.
Call out to Jesus when you have fallen short of the mark, ask for His forgiveness and grace, and ask for help to overcome whatever sin besets you, and He will forgive and cleanse you and give grace to help in time of need.
The Scripture says: "The Son of Man came not to destroy men's lives, but to save them." (Luke 9:56) It is also written: "For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved." (John 2:17)
All of us, when we have sinned, even those who do not acknowledge God, still have a built in conscience that tells us when we have done wrong. It is part of the structure of our souls, part of what it means to be made in the image of God. We can either respond to this conscience or ignore it. If we ignore it we harden our hearts and make it more difficult for the Holy Spirit to bring us back to repentance. It has been said that the same Sun that melts the wax hardens the clay. This is an issue of free choice, without which we would be mere machines and not creatures able to freely respond to God's love and thereby appropriate His grace.
No matter how far we may have fallen into sin, God is always willing and ready to forgive us through the merits of Jesus Christ our Savior. But God's forgiveness is not a ticket for license for the believer to do anything that he wants.
Jesus came to take away our sin if we will turn to Him and confess it to Him and forsake it. Then we can enjoy the peace that passes all understanding when our consciences are cleansed, and our hearts have been renewed in a right relationship with our God and Savior.
Still, just as Baptism is an act of obedience to be followed through after we have received Jesus as our Savior for the cleansing of our sins, so too after we have become Christians and have fallen into sin, acts of contrition can help us in the healing process of repentance. This restitution, which the ancient Church called penance, can help to demonstrate our sorrow and make it more concrete, more tangible, and confirm that our confession to God for our sin was not done in a light and halfhearted way, and can help us to receive His forgiveness.
Sometimes we feel that we need to lay a new foundation, and penance can be a part of this new foundation.
It can also help to correct our souls if the opposite action is taken than the one that led into our sin in the first place.
Penance can be a healing balm for those who have had difficulty accepting God's mercy, in part because they do not feel worthy of it. Through penance we enter into the sufferings of our Master, and identify with Christ, and undergo a type of mortification of that sin that we have been guilty of, and emerge renewed and refreshed to serve our Master again, "Renew a right spirit within me," "The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit, A broken and a contrite heart oh God you will not despise." (Ps. 51)
This penance can take a variety of forms, whether it may be a specific vow to perform an act of charity, or fasting, of prayer, or of service to God and to others. The penance may either be for a certain period of time or for the rest of our lives. Whatever form it may take, it should be done in a scriptural manner, with the end result being the restoration of the soul to God's fellowship.
As long as we are in this life, until the Lord comes back to restore all things and until the enemy is cast into the lake of fire, we must always guard the City of our soul, guard well the ramparts, for our enemy, the devil goes about as a roaring lion seeking whom he may devour.
Sometimes we may fall, but if you do fall, get up, and if you fall again, get up again (Proverbs 24:16), and gradually you will win more battles, and the old, ingrained habits will melt in time away. And never dispair of God's forgiveness when you do fall. It has been said that there is more grace when you fall than when you stand.
God will never demand more of us than we are able to give, and sanctification does not take place completely in one day, or a week, or a month, or even a year. Slowly, slowly, with the right spiritual water and bread we will grow into the image of Christ if we remain faithful. After all, it is His work, not our own.
The Word of God says "Those who are Christ's have crucified the flesh with it's passions and desires".
There are times when the Lord can miraculously deliver someone from a certain sin. I have heard testimonies of those addicted to drugs who have been instantly delivered at the point of salvation. The same Lord who worked miracles two thousand years ago can work miracles in the human heart and spirit today. However this is not always the case, and in many of the lives of believers old habits and predilections towards sin that have become ingrained in our minds and impulses need to be broken through fasting and prayer, or by mortification, penance and prayer.
One other wonderful source for grace that the Lord has given to us is the sacrament of Communion, The Lord's Supper, known as the Eucharist.
Just as we are cleansed from our past sins through Baptism, so through Communion we receive Christ's ongoing forgiveness and cleansing after we have been saved.
The Lord said "My Father gives you the true bread from heaven. For the bread of God is He who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.
I am the bread of life. He who comes to Me shall never hunger, and he who believes in Me shall never thirst.
Amen, amen I say to you, he who believes in Me has everlasting life. I am the bread of life. I am the living bread which came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread he shall live forever; and the bread that I shall give is My flesh, which I shall give for the life of the world.
Amen, amen, I say to you, except you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and eat His blood you have no life in you. Whoever eats My flesh and drinks My blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day. For My flesh is food indeed and My blood is drink indeed. He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood abides in Me and I in him. " (Jn 6:32-56)
"This is My body, this is My blood"-Christ left no room for interpretation here.
For if we should put an interpretation on this, and claim it to be something other than what He said that it was, then we would have to put an interpretation on "This do in remembrance of Me," which was also spoken by our Lord at the Last Supper. And since we take that phrase literally, and as a commandment of Scripture, then we should take the rest of what He spoke there in context literally as well.
This is something that I don't try to theologise or philosophise about. The early Church believed in the living presence of Christ in the Eucharist, and it was the focus of worship in ancient Christian services. In fact, even Luther and Calvin believed that Christ was present in the Eucharist.
This is just where I take the Lord at His word and trust Him. Somehow in some miraculous and mysterious way the Lord is present to heal and forgive in the sacrament of Communion. This is an ongoing miracle that gives life to the church.
It is also a commandment to honor the Sabbath, the seventh day of the week, and to set it aside as a special day of rest from our labors and of worship and prayer, devoted to the Lord.
Pure prayer in the name of Jesus combined with fasting and physical hardship (physical hardship does not mean excessive force or violence of any kind) can help an individual to be free: "This kind comes not out but by fasting and prayer."
Also, it is written "The Lord inhabits the praises of His people." Through calling on the name of the Lord when tempted and by praising His name we can fulfill the scripture that says "Greater is He who is in you than he who is in the world."
And St. Paul commanded us to mortify our members upon the earth, as St. Thalassios said: "You have been commanded to eat the bread of spiritual knowledge by toil, struggle, and the sweat of your face (Gen. 3:19)." (Philokalia, Vol. 2, St. Thalassios, Fourth Century of Spiritual Texts, No. 22) That physical labor is a virtue is evident from the fourth commandment, which is a commandment to labor physically six days out of seven, and because its opposite, which is laziness, or idleness, is a sin. We are commanded to love the Lord our God with every aspect of our being; with all our heart, soul, mind and strength. Sinful lusts and desires can be counteracted by physical hardship.
St. Theodoros stated: "Memories of all the impassioned actions we have performed exert an impassioned tyranny over the soul. But when impassioned thoughts have been completely erased from our heart, so that they no longer affect it even as provocations, this is a sign that our former sinful acts have been forgiven. For as long as the heart is stimulated by [a certain] passion, sin clearly reigns there. Bodily passions or passions concerned with material things are reduced and withered through bodily hardship, while the unseen passions of the soul are destroyed through humility, gentleness and love." (Philokalia, Volume 2, A Century of Spiritual Texts, Numbers 12-13, Faber and Faber, London, 1992)
Paul said to Timothy: "You therefore, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus . . . You therefore must endure hardship as a good soldier of Jesus Christ." (2Tim 2:1,3) And Peter said "Therefore since Christ suffered for us in the flesh, arm yourselves also with the same mind, for he who has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin." (1Peter 4:1)
Still, even the very efforts that we make are bestowed upon us by the grace of God. We need to call upon the Savior for the strength and grace to resist sin, "For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved" (Acts 10:13). When we call on the name of the Lord, through the Holy Spirit He imparts unto us His divine nature (2Peter 1:4), which transforms us (Heb 12:10) and empowers us to be able to overcome (John 1:12). Jesus said "All power has been given unto me in heaven and on earth" (Mat 28:18), "Therefore He is also able to save to the uttermost those who come to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them (Hebrews 7:25)
Pour out your heart before God, "Cast your burden upon the Lord, and He shall sustain you". (Psalm 55:22)
This process of sanctification does not happen automatically though, it requires our active participation with the grace of God: "And you, Solomon my son, know the God of your father, and serve him with a whole heart and with a willing mind; for the Lord searches all hearts, and understands every plan and thought. If you seek him, he will be found by you; but if you forsake him, he will cast you off for ever" (1 Chronicles 28:9). Scripture says: "Seek the Lord while He may be found, Call upon Him while He is near, Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts; Let him return to the Lord, and He will have mercy upon him; And to our God for He will abundantly pardon" (Isaiah 55:6-7).
With the Lord's help, all things are possible: "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me." Through faith in Jesus, the living Lord, who died and rose from the dead for us, we can have forgiveness for our sins by his blood, and have the power to live new lives and overcome sin. Scripture states "Therefore God has highly exalted Him, and given Him a name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee shall bow, of things in heaven, and things on earth, and things under the earth, and that every tongue shall confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father (Phil. 2:9).
Even with our best efforts we still need the Lord's grace. St. John Cassion wrote, "Bodily fasting alone is not enough to bring about perfect self restraint and true purity; it must be accompanied by contrition of heart, intense prayer to God, frequent meditation on the Scriptures, toil and manual labor. These are able to check the restless impulses of the soul and to recall it from its shameful fantasies. Humility of soul helps more than everything else, however, and without it no one can overcome unchastity or any other sin. In the first place, then, we must take the utmost care to guard the heart from base thoughts, for, according to the Lord, 'out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, unchastity,' and so forth (Matt. 15:19)."
"If we are really eager, as the Apostle puts it, to 'struggle lawfully' and to 'be crowned' (2 Tim: 2:5) for overcoming the impure spirit of unchastity, we should not trust in our own strength and ascetic practice, but in the help of our Master, God. No one ceases to be attacked by this demon [of unchastity] until he truly believes that he will be healed and reach the heights of purity not through his own effort and labour, but through the aid and protection of God. For such a victory is beyond man's natural powers. Indeed, he who has trampled down the pleasures and provocations of the flesh is in a certain sense outside the body [Rev. 1:10]. Thus, no one can soar to this high and heavenly prize of holiness on his own wings and learn to imitate the angels, unless the grace of God leads him upward from this earthly mire." (Philokalia, Volume One, St. John Cassian, "On The Demon Of Unchastity And The Desire Of The Flesh", p. 75-76, Faber and Faber, London)
Scripture states "For they did not gain possession of the land by their own sword, nor did their own arm save them: But it was Your right hand, Your arm, and the light of Your countenance, Because you favored them. You are my king, Oh God: Command victories for Jacob. Through You we will push down our enemies; through Your name we will trample those who rise up against us. For I will not trust in my bow, nor shall my sword save me. But You have saved us from our enemies, And have put to shame those who hated us. In God we boast all day long, and praise Your name forever. Selah." (Ps. 44:3-8)
Martin Luther began his spiritual life practicing mortification, but in his nature he was obsessed with a kind of religious psychosis that led him to practice extremes of penance, which led to his disillusionment with it and finally to abandon it altogether.
There must be moderation in all things, as St. Paul stated. You might want to covenant with the Lord for a certain time to pray each day; perhaps at morning, noon and eventime. A prayer schedule of a few psalms read aloud or sung, along with personal prayer three times a day (Psalm 55:17; Daniel 6:10) can be very beneficial. This with a rule that is neither too taxing nor too lax in penance might be practiced, thus avoiding the two extremes of luxury and self torture, which would accomplish nothing. It is important to find your own way with the Lord in whatever situation of life you may be in, to serve Him out of love, and surrender your heart to Him. In addition, gluttony should be avoided, and heavy meals late in the evening should be eschewed when possible, although this again may not always be possible. It is also quite good to follow the Biblical rule and take at least one day off each week from physical labor and secular duties (but not from prayer) for rest and recreation.
Scripture says that love covers a multitude of sins (Proverbs). Not only God's love for us, but our response to that love, and our sharing the love of God with others gradually changes our characters, and thus the old selfish, sinful habits are overcome through charity.
Unfortunately, there is a popular and false interpretation of the Book of Revelation today that is leading Christians to hold to the mistaken belief that there will be some kind of secret rapture of believers in the near future and that Christians will be spared any kind of tribulation or trouble here on earth while the rest of the world is going to be left behind to suffer through the final seven year tribulation in the last days. This kind of escapism does not hold out much of a hope for mankind and the Church should the Lord delay His coming for another five hundred or one thousand years. We need a more vital, substantive and constructive outlook as Christians if the Church is to have relevance in the 21st Century, and the 22nd and 23rd, should Christ delay His coming.
There has been quite a lot of popular Christianity of the mouth lately, while the world is waiting to see more Christianity of the heart. True faith produces obedience, purity, and charity. Christ is truly Lord over those who love and obey him. If you don't have Christ as Savior and Lord, then you don't have Him as Savior at all.
St. John of Karpathos, St. John of the Cross, St. Catherine, the very Word of God itself teaches us that salvation goes hand in hand with overcoming the world, the lusts of the flesh, and the devil. We do this through the grace of Christ, but it is still an exercise of our own free will, even after we are saved, to choose righteousness. We are meant to crucify the old man of sin, and walk in newness of life with Christ Jesus in the light of His resurrection.
The risen and glorified Christ gave seven promises in Revelation to the overcomer:
"When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then he shall sit upon the throne of his glory: And before him shall be gathered all nations; and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divides his sheep from the goats: And he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left. Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, 'Come, you blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: For I was hungry, and you gave me meat: I was thirsty, and you gave me drink: I was a stranger, and you took me in:'"
"Then the righteous shall answer him, saying, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry, and fed you? Or thirsty, and gave you drink? When did we see you as a stranger, and took you in? Or naked, and clothed you? Or when did we see you sick, or in prison, and came to you?'
"And the King shall answer and say to them, 'Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto the least of these my brethren, you have done it unto me'"
"Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, 'Depart from me, you cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels: For I was hungry, and you gave me no meat: I was thirsty, and you gave me no drink: I was a stranger, and you did not take me in: naked, and you did not cloth me: sick, and in prison, and you did not visit me.'"
"Then shall they also answer him, saying, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry, or thirsty, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not minister to you?'"
"Then shall he answer them, saying, 'Verily I say unto you, inasmuch as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.'"
"And these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal." Matthew 25: 31-46
"And he showed me a pure river of water of life, clear as crystal, proceeding from the throne of God and of the Lamb. And in the middle of its street, and on either side of the river, was the tree of life, which bore twelve fruits, each tree yielding its fruit every month. The leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations. And there shall be no more curse, but the throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in it, and His servants shall serve Him. They shall see His face, and His name shall be on their foreheads. There shall be no night there, and they shall have no need of lamp or of the light of the sun, for the Lord their God shall be their light. And they shall reign for ever and ever." (Revelation 22:1-5.)
Let us be led by the Word of God, which leads men to salvation and eternal life and not allow ourselves to be misled and robbed of our great inheritance and destiny by the vain and useless speculations of erring and godless men. All of us shall meet the Lord someday, wither when He will come back to restore this fallen world to it's original perfect state should we be still living at that time, or we shall each meet Him at the time of our death on the judgement day.
Either way, by then it will be too late to decide to trust in Him had we already heard the Gospel and not responded.
No man knows the day or hour of His return, or the day when he shall be taken from this life.
When this life is over, on that resurrection morning when you shall stand before the awesome presence of the throne of the living God and have to give an account for your life, you wouldn't want to have believed in something as true if it turned out in the end to be nothing more than simply a Nebulous Hypothesis.
1. Blyth, Note #1, Seasonal and other Changes in Birds.
Concerning the various stages of spiritual growth, Fenelon's Maxims of the Saints on the Web is a good starting point.
There are three general levels of growth: Justification, Sanctification and Glorification.
The first level of Justification begins when one has heard the word and faith in Christ has arisen in one's heart and a person is born again. This is when one is being fed the milk of the word, and is taught the essentials of salvation, and through Baptism and faith is forgiven of their old sins and given a new life through Jesus. In the intermediate stages of Sanctification, one is purified while struggling against the sins of the flesh, carnal desires and worldliness. In the final stages of Glorification, the soul is being perfected in the love of God, wisdom or judgement and charity. Judgement, or righteous discernment, is much more than mere mundane insight, but is a faculty of being able to discern and weigh and sift the value of all things and events as they pertain to God's glory and in His providence. Generally, the final stage of glorification will not be realised until Christ comes to raise us in the next life, when we shall see Him in His glory and be like Him.
In one sense the stages flow into each other, because one does not cease to be justified when one is being sanctified, and sanctification itself begins at the moment of salvation, however in a general sense they proceed in this manner.
When one has set out on the journey to spiritual perfection, one must have unutterable resolve and determination, for "No one putting his hand to the plow and looking back is fit for the kingdom of God". Again, the kingdom of God, as the Lord says, is like a pearl that a man has found, and he will give up all that he has to possess it. Let us struggle to be free of all the fetters, of all that hinders us from our pursuit of the goal that is set before us.
Regarding the philokalia, it is the word of man, not the Word of God. In regard to this, I came across the philokalia back in the mid 1990's during a period of soul searching and disillusionment in my christian life, primarily from years of following false teaching in the charismatic movement, and I became enthralled by these desert mystics from the fourth through the twelth centuries whom I imagined were the fathers of the church. I plunged into "podvig" with my whole heart, getting up at 4:00 in the morning to take cold showers and then go jogging and work out, followed by another cold shower, having a fixed prayer schedule every day, strict fasts, getting up in the middle of the night during the cold of winter and taking cold showers, sometimes two or three times a night, and all the while wandering far from the gospel. This went on for years, while my life spiraled downhill spiritually, mentally, emotionally, financially, morally, and even my health broke down. Over those years I had three DVT's, two in my leg and one in my lung. By the time I had the third one, I had to seek God with all my heart. I realised I had been trying to work my way to heaven, whereas salvation is a gift. At that moment I went and collected my volumes of the philokalia and threw them in the trash. Some of the philokalia may seem good, I still have some quotes in this chapter from the philokalia from men I esteem highly. I may edit these out in the course of time. Many of these men whose writings make up the philokalia lived centuries apart and in different countries. They may not all have been heretics. Nevertheless, I regard other parts of the philokalia, particularly Maximos, as some of the most dangerous distortions of genuine Christianity in the history of the church. You can search the philokalia through, from the first volume to the last, and find scant mention of the name of Jesus, His atoning sacrifice, His cleansing blood, His resurrection and priestly intercession for us, His second coming in glory to receive us. We are not saved by podvig or by mystical meditation, (although fasting and prayer are commanded in Scripture and fasting has great physical as well as spiritual benefits) we are saved by calling on the name of Jesus, the name above every name, and repenting of our sins (He is our sinbearer, He took our sins on Himself; any Calvinist TULIP fundamentalist protestant legalistic pretribulation hypocrite [Wow! Now that's a mouthful!] who says you can be saved without repenting of your sins is mocking Christ's sacrifice and is a false teacher, this would include Jim Anderson of Rejoice Radio, who stated in 2006 that the Sermon on the Mount, along with the beautitudes, weren't meant for Christians because they were "works" oriented). Jesus said, "The words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life". The Bible is God's Word. The philokalia is not, The Orthodox church has been clinging more to the words of these "holy men" and mystics than to the words of Christ. The Orthodox church needs to throw out all their icons, repent of praying to the false Mary, the "theotokos", throw out all of their useless relics, old bones from some idol worshipping monks, and turn back to the only Lord and God, our Lord Jesus Christ, for our God is a jealous God, and a great God above all other gods. The God who made heaven and earth, He is the true God, the one God, He alone can save, He is our redeemer, He alone is our Saviour, call upon His name, why do you call upon gods who cannot save, you in the Orthodox church? Christ saves and Christ alone, he doesn't need any help from His mother.
One of the most revered writers in the Philokalia, St. Maximos, clearly over-spiritualised Scripture, commiting the same error that Philo the Jew did during the first century and the heretic and medium Swedenborg did in the eighteenth century. When St. Paul was on the island of Malta and was bitten by a snake that came out of a campfire, instead of a plain reading of the text, Maximos wrote on the subject
"As I take it, the dark storm which befell St. Paul (cf. Acts 28:1-4) is the weight of involuntary trials and temptations. The island is the firm, unshakable state of divine hope. The fire is the state of spiritual knowledge. The sticks are the nature of visible things. Paul gathered these with his hand, which I take to mean with the exploratory capacity of the intellect during contemplation. He fed the state of spiritual knowledge with conceptual images derived from the nature of visible things, for the state of spiritual knowledge heals the mental dejection produced by the storm of trials and temptationsl. The viper is the cunning power hidden secretly in the nature of sensible things. It bites the hand, that is, the exploratory nature of noetic contemplation, but without harming the visionary intellect, etc. etc." (Philokalia, Volume II, Second Century of Spiritual Texts, # 23)
This is exegetical extrapolation ad absurdum, and is only one
example among many in Maximos' writings. Maximos was a gnostic in his writings
more than a Christian. He took and twisted the gospel of salvation and turned it
into a manual for gnostic enlightenment instead of the good news
proclaimed to all men that through the name of Jesus we can find forgiveness of
"Evil is the noetic soul's forgetfulness of what is good according to nature; and this forgetfulness results from an impassioned relationship with the flesh and the world. When the intelligence is in control it dispels this forgetfulness through spiritual knowledge, since intelligence, having investigated the nature of the world and the flesh, draws the soul to the realm of spiritual realities, which is it's true home. Into this realm the law of sin cannot penetrate; for the link between the soul and the senses has now been broken, and the senses, limited to the world of sensible objects, can no longer function as a bridge, conveying the law of sin into the intellect. When the intellect transcends it's relationship with sensible objects and the world to which they pertain, it becomes utterly free from the way of the senses" (Philokalia, Vol 2, St Maximos, First Century of Various Texts, # 57 - The phrase "First Century of Various Texts" does not refer to the First Century A.D. but means "First One Hundred Various Texts").
This is not what Christianity is all about. This is Greek Hellenistic Platonism gilded with the name of Christianity. It is not our sense faculties per se that are the root of evil, but it is our rebellious and sinful hearts that are the root of evil (Mark 7:14-23), which we inherited from our original father and mother, Adam and Eve. Granted, when we misuse our sense faculties then this can be a cause of sin, however our Lord was condemned by the Pharisees for enjoying a good meal and communing with sinners. Purity without charity is mere stoicism, and if our salt has lost it's savor, then it is good for nothing but to be tossed out, and trodden under the foot of men.
I know that some churches hold Maximos in high esteem. We need to hold the Word of God in the highest esteem, and measure everything else by it. I am not saved by believing what St. Maximos wrote. I am saved by believing what our Lord said; by believing everything that the prophets and the apostles wrote. It is God's Word that will judge me in the last day, not man's opinion. I do believe in the true presence of Christ in the sacraments and I believe in apostolic succession. I also, however, have to look to God's Word as my ultimate authority. Without that we have nothing. I believe in tradition, but it all has to line up with the Scripture. At first the Holy Orthodox Church had condemned Maximos as a heretic and condemned his writings. They considered him so dangerous that they actually cut out his tongue so that he could not spread his heresies by speach, and they cut off his hands so that he could not spread his heretical doctrine through writing. I don't know if I agree with the severity of the punishment, however concerning his heretical teachings, this was the original ruling and it was the correct one. Later on another council, influenced by those of a gnostic persuasion, had this original ruling on his teaching reversed, and his writings to this day have had an influence in eastern Christian theology, and this is very unfortunate. There is much that is attractive in what Maximos wrote. Parts of it may reflect truth, but there is enough error and heresy in what he wrote to cause one to stray from the simple path to salvation. Remember, the devil can quote scripture, but he misuses it and quotes it out of context. 80% of the truth can be more dangerous than 100% of a lie. I knew a protestant pastor once who was spreading the teaching of a false prophet and he claimed that some if it might be good, so we could just "chew the meat and spit out the bones". This is the worst possible example of exegesis imaginable. It is only a small amount of arsenic in a cup of tasty juice that can kill you.
The Word of God does say "Be still, and know that I am God". We do commune with the Lord in the hidden chamber of our heart, and we do close our eyes during prayer to shut out the things of the world, however we approach Him on the alter of faith, and prayer, and praise. And the Person whom we approach in prayer is the triune God of the Scriptures, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. We do not pray to some impersonal "mind". We come to the Father in the name of the Son, and we come to the Christ of Calvary, who shed His precious blood for our sins. It is the blood that makes atonement for our souls, and that was sprinkled on the heavenly mercy seat, so that we may make our petitions to God through Christ.
Regarding icons in the church, while statues and religious icons can help to
being the mind into a spirit of receptivity to the things of the Lord, God is
invisible and eternal and we cannot see Him: "Now to the King immortal, eternal,
invisible, to the only wise God, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen" (1
Tim 1:17). This is a reference to God the Father.
Regarding Christ, St. Paul wrote: "Even though we have known Christ according to the flesh, yet henceforth now we know Him no longer." (2Cor 5:16) Our Lord said to Thomas: "Thomas, because you have seen, you believe. Blessed are they who do not see, yet believe". The Lord was talking about those who would come after Thomas who would believe from the word of their preaching.
We come to Christ on the alter of faith through prayer, through His Word, and through the Sacrament of the Eurcharist.
The gospel is simple; it does not require some great metaphysical explanation. BELIEVE, RECEIVE, OBEY. That's it. Believe God's Word, receive God's Word (both the written Word and the living Word, Christ), and obey God's Word. It's not complicated. We don't have to read something into the text to try and make it a kind of a mystical language conveying some secret "higher truth" than what our Lord and His disciples were plainly writing about. Repent and believe on the Lord Jesus and be baptised for the remission of sins as He commanded you and then live a life in obedience to His Word, loving God and loving and serving your fellow man.
As far as our calling in Christ, not all are called to be out in the world.
Some have entered the monastic life to devote themselves wholly to the service
of God and to pray for the welfare of others. This, in one sense, is the highest
calling of all.
For those of us who are not monastics, we are meant to be involved in the world, to be salt in this dying world, sharing Christ's love.
The Lord prayed to the Father not to take His disciples out of the world, but to keep them from the evil that was in the world. That is how we can be shining lights, and be like a city set on a hill. We are called to good works, serving others as our Lord did; helping the lame, the sick and the poor so that the gentiles may see our good works and give glory to our Father in heaven, remembering that it is God who is working through us to accomplish His will.
The social gospel of helping our fellow man is an integral part of our duty as Christians, however it is not our only duty. If all that we are doing is making someone comfortable before they go out into a Christless eternity, then we are missing the mark as well. Our highest duty as Christians is to lead our fellow men to salvation through Jesus Christ, by word and by example.
St. Francis said "Preach the gospel everywhere, and use words if necessary".
Regarding the Catholic Church and those ancient churches in the east who pray to Mary and to the saints, I can't judge their relationship with God. They love the Lord, they have a correct understanding of grace through the sacrifice of Christ, they believe in the Trinity, the virgin birth and diety of Christ and they follow Christ in giving to charity and living Christian lives; many of them have suffered martyrdom and persecution for their faith in Christ for many centuries at the hands of the muslim usurpers and from communists and nazis; they are part of the body of Christ. Archibald Alexander, an early nineteenth century divine, wrote in truth "we know that genuine faith may consist with much ignorance and error"(Valley Native Warns of Copycat Experiences, Archibald Alexander). Who am I to judge them? I have my own salvation to work out with fear and trembling, I have the plank in my own eye that all too often hinders me from seeing properly to correct others with.
Here is what I feel: If you want to find Jesus in the ceremonies and the
rituals of an Eastern Orthodox Church, He'll be there. He'll be there with all
of the candles and the incense and the chanting and the ceremony; you'll find
Him there if you are seeking Him with all of your heart. If you are seeking
Jesus in a Pentecostal Church, you'll find Him there, with all of the tongue
talking and worship and dancing and praise: He'll be there for you if you
are really seeking Him. And if you are seeking Jesus through communion in the
Catholic Church, He'll be there. He'll be there for you in communion, and
in confession, and in the Sacraments of the Catholic Church: He is there to save
you, and to heal you, and to forgive you.
He is in those churches that hold to the doctrine of the Triune God, the virgin birth, salvation by grace (the Catholic church believes in salvation by grace, that is what the sacraments are all about), the blood of Jesus applied for the cleansing of our sins; the death, burial and physical resurrection of our Lord and His return in power and glory to raise the righteous unto everlasting life and to judge those who have rejected the Light of the world. Jesus is in those churches who love Him and hold to the ancient confession of faith from the early church councils.
Nevertheless, regarding Mary and her role in our salvation, when Mary was pronounced most blessed among women, this had to do with her role of being chosen to bring the Messiah into the world, but now she has no special role to play in our salvation. When Mary came up to the Lord during the wedding feast and complained that they had no wine, Jesus offered her a gently rebuke, saying "Woman, what have I to do with you?" Still, out of obedience he made them wine. Jesus was exasperated because she was asking Him to perform menial tasks for the sake of a wedding with His power, not understanding even then His more important role to redeem Israel.
Later in our Lord's life, when a woman in the crowd said to the Lord "Blessed is the womb that bore You, and the breasts that nursed you", our Lord responded "Yea, rather, blessed are they who hear the word of God and keep it" (Luke 11:27-28). This was a form of rebuke to the spirit behind the man who was saying that, the same spirit that has arisen in Catholicism crowning Mary as the Queen of Heaven. Christ could not have been more clear in what he meant. Our Lord never said in the gospels, "I'm busy right now, why don't you go talk to my mother." In the Book of Acts, the disciples didn.t preach about Mary, they preached JESUS! They also didn't carry around little icons of Jesus (or of Joseph, Stephen, or John the Baptist), they preached the good news of a risen Savior! Return to your first love Orthodox church.
All generations shall call her blessed because of her special role in bearing the Messiah, but now she has the same status as other believers in Christ. This doesn't mean that the saints in heaven are not praying for us or are indifferent to us. But the Scripture is very clear that we should address our petitions to God the Father in the name of Christ, and to Jesus and the Holy Ghost. Scripture says "For there is one God, and one intercessor between God and man, the man Christ Jesus". This is the very essence of our salvation, that we may "come boldly before the throne of grace", that we as believers all have access to the throne of God through Jesus Christ our Lord. Asking for Mary's prayers diminishes the role of Christ as our great High Priest, as the intermediary between ourselves and the Father.
Once when the disciples came up to the Lord and told him that his mother was nearby and desired to see Him, did our Lord say, "Bring her here, find out what she wants"? No, his response was quite different. He turned her away, saying "'Who is My mother, and My brethren?' And when He stretched forth His hand to His disciples, He said 'Behold, My mother, and My brethren. For whosoever shall do the will of My Father in heaven, the same is My mother, and sister, and brother'" (Mattew 12:48-50). It is quite obvious that even when He was on the earth, bringing a request to Mary in the hope that she might have some special influence on her Son was a vain request.
Our Lord rebuked the pharisees for following the traditions of men instead of the Word of God (Mark 7:9-13). For me the Word of God is my compass, my pilot, my map, it is the lamp unto my feet to guide me through this dark world and show me the path to take so that I might enter eternity someday and hear my Lord Jesus say: "Well done thou good and faithful servant". Were I to spare any church in this task, I would be guilty of the same sin as Saul when he disobeyed the Lord's command not to spare any of the flock of those whom he had taken into captivity. I would be guilty of disobeying our Lord's command to me to proclaim the gospel, and to divide the truth from error. It is for this reason that the Lord commissioned me to write this book.
As we enter this new millennium, God is disciplining, and chastening, and cleansing His church, Protestant, Catholic, and Orthodox. Those who will hearken to this rebuke and repent will be restored. Those churches that have entered this new millennium but do not repent will have their candles taken away before the end of the millennium, as the Lord said in Revelation.
God is raising up many men today as watchmen to warn, to rebuke, to
exhort and to proclaim the good news to the nations, that Jesus Christ is Lord,
and that through Him we might find remission of sins and eternal life.
3. As far as the "pre-tribulation rapture" a concept that has spawned a whole series of "left behind" books and movies; those who hold to this opinion believe that after the "Age of the gentiles" is finished, then in the last seven years of history God will begin to deal once again with the Jews. Would this imply that no gentiles are to be saved during the supposed tribulation period? Then what of their interpretation of Matthew25, where they contend that "As much as you have done it to the least of my brethren, you have done it to me" refers to gentiles sheltering Jews during the tribulation? Who would these gentiles be, if not saved believers, according to their scheme?
God did not spare the early Church from tribulation or persecution, thus if losing one's life for the gospel meant facing the wrath of God, which is what pre-tribulation believers say is the consequence for gentile believers during the tribulation, then every martyr from St. Steven to the present day, including eleven of the twelve Apostles, faced the wrath of God. The wrath of God is not losing one's life for the gospel. Tribulation, which is the wrath of unbelieving mankind upon believing Christians, is not identical to the wrath of God, which is God's judgement upon an unbelieving world.
In addition, if the re-establishment of Jerusalem in 1948 is a fulfillment of prophecy (which indeed it might be), and since the rapture hasn't happened yet, then God is surely dealing with Jews and gentiles today at the same time. In fact, there are many Messianic Jewish congregations around the world even as this is written.
From 30 A.D. to 70 A.D., God was dealing with the Church and the Jews at the same time, as evident from the book of Acts. The pre-tribulationists believe that since the Church is not mentioned by name after chapter three in the Book of Revelation then this must mean that in chapter four when John is called up to heaven this is the rapture of the church.
Going by that logic, then all of their talk about the Pope or some other European ruler being the antichrist, and the European Union being the last days apostate government should go up in smoke, because neither Rome, nor Europe nor the Pope are mentioned by name after the third chapter in Revelation; they are not mentioned by name anywhere in the Book of Revelation. I'm not saying that the last days government may not come out of Europe, or that the antichrist may not be some latter day apostate Pope, which even some Catholics believe; but if you were to say that they are mentioned by inference, or by symbolism, then you could also say that the church is very clearly mentioned in Revelation with the martyrs crying out to God for vindication. This is clearly a reference to believing Christians during the tribulation.
To try and separate the Church into two bodies; one special "elect" portion who presumably would be the present day backslidden, carnal church that escapes persecution through the rapture and the other portion being sanctified believers who go through persecution is improper exegesis. I would say, if anything, there might be a portion of sanctified believers who will escape persecution through God's special protection during the tribulation, while the disobedient, carnal portion will be the ones who will experience the persecution of the antichrist. Both camps will be here on earth at the same time, along with the apostate unbelievers, but as the Scripture says, the disobedient ones will be cast out and have their portion with those who never believed in the first place.
There are many fine Christians who love the Lord and
believe in the pre-tribulation doctrine, and in fact, if this belief helps
them in their devotion to the Lord and if it helps them witness, then that
is fine. In the end, whether you believe in a pre-tribulation rapture or a post
or mid-tribulation rapture, the important thing is love, for as St. Paul said,
"If I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge,
and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, but do not have
love, I am nothing". (I Cor: 13:2). Thus even if you have a correct
understanding of the tribulation, whether it is pre-tribulation,
post-tribulation or mid-tribulation, and are preoccupied with studying it,
if you do not have true love in your heart for your fellow man, then your
knowledge will profit you nothing.
Eschatology is important. I also believe in rightly dividing the Word of truth, from Genesis to Revelation. As a Christian I believe in the resurrection of the dead, the righteous to everlasting life and the unrighteous to everlasting perdition, and I look forward to the second coming of Christ to establish His Kingdom.
Christians should look on the sufferings of the rest of humanity as their own, and they should help to alleviate those sufferings. Christ said, "You are the salt of the earth, but if the salt has lost its savor, it is good for nothing but to be cast out and be trodden under the foot of men."
The Scripture says that no man knows the day or hour of His coming. On the eve of the second millennium in the year 1000 there was what has become known as "millennium fever" even then. They were expecting Christ to return again at the end of the first millennium. Even the Pope made statements reflecting that belief. Many Christians sold their property. There were even prophecies being made about His immediate coming. But He didn't come then. And he still hasn't come at the end of the second millennium and at the beginning of the third.
Let us say perhaps that Christ does not come again for another five hundred or one thousand years. He has left us with a command to be good stewards of this earth. What kind of heritage will we leave for our grandchildren and our great grandchildren and our great-great grandchildren if we do nothing to improve the world we live in except speculate about the end times and don't pray and work for a better, more just and more Christian society to leave for them to live in? What kind of world will they inherit from us if we have done nothing but read fictional novels about the end times, whether it is post or pre-tribulation, and it still hasn't happened long after we have passed from the scene and we have left them nothing but a decadent, secular, worldly society with Christians being stripped of their rights because we did nothing to stand up for them today?
Christ could come today, He could come tomorrow. I believe that we should live as though He might come tomorrow, but we should plan as though He might not come for a thousand years. I believe that the second coming of the Messiah, the Son of God, will be the culminating point of human history and is the single most important event that lends significance to our everyday lives and that gives us hope and a focus and a meaning to history, however Christ told us not to get lost in speculation as to when it might occur. Utimately the important issue is that He has come already once and that He will come again and that when He does come again He will be a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him. What is important is that we are living for Christ today so that we might lay up for ourselves a goodly inheritance and not be ashamed at His coming. We should be so caught up with loving God and sharing His love with our fellow man that we don't have time to get caught up in idle speculations about the end times. Jesus told us that we would know His return is soon when we see the signs occuring, then we should look up, for our redemption draws nigh. Until then, "keep your nose to the grindstone", be a faithful steward over His vineyard until He comes back. Let us concentrate on serving Christ and keeping His commandments, and then whenever He returns we will be ready for Him. (Matthew 24: 44-46)
We are warned, however to keep watch, and the book of Revelation states "blessed is he who reads and understands". The ancient Church fathers were nearly unanimous in their belief that during the final tribulation, when the antichrist would reign, that the church would be here on earth during that time. We are exhorted to be faithful unto death, and to keep our garments clean so as to be saved during this time. There is this promise that we have from the Lord if we remain faithful: "Not a hair of your heads shall perish". Since many Christians will be martyred during the tribulation, this has a spiritual meaning also, in essence, that we will be resurrected when the Lord returns for us and fully restores us with glorified bodies. We will not die "the second death" that awaits those who have served the antichrist.
We do see signs today that indicate that we could be nearing the end times, and we are commanded to watch and pray, and keep ourselves unspotted by this world in order to be saved. Hold fast to Jesus, let Him be your King and your Lord, and He will carry you through.
The essence of the Gospel is to put others first. The essence of Darwinism, with its theme of a struggle for survival is to put oneself first. The brutal "law" of Darwinistic evolutionary theory, "survival of the fittest" through a struggle for existence by which process the stronger, smarter and craftier would replace the weaker members of society, and which we have seen that Darwin clearly applied to the races of mankind, is the very antithesis of the Gospel, which states "The meek shall inherit the earth".
We should be agents of God's mercy to the less privileged of the world. The Word of God says: "Strengthen the weak hands and confirm the feeble knees" (Isaiah 35); "He who gives to the poor gives to the Lord" (Proverbs). It also says "There is one who scatters yet increases more; And there is one who withholds more than is right But it leads to poverty. The generous soul will be made rich, And he who waters will also be watered himself" (Proverbs 11:24-25); and "You shall open you hand wide to your brother, to your poor and your needy, in your land" (Deuteronomy 15:11).
In today's global community, this means the entire world should be looked upon as our neighbor, as our brethren.
It should be the Christian's desire to see everybody in the whole world enter into the kingdom of heaven. We should be spiritual firemen seeking to save the lives of those bound for hell (Jude 23), and offering our lives for them (John 15:12-14).
Regarding the pretribulation rapture theory, my goal is not to have a mere seven worry free years as a Christian, but to have an eternity spent with God and of being saved from a much more serious problem, which would be the fires of hell. The Bible states, "Fear not those who can kill the body, but He who can cast both body and soul into hell."
Pre-tribulationists point to Noah entering the Ark when the Flood came as an example of the rapture of the Church before the tribulation, but God did not rapture Noah over the Flood with some supernatural miracle, as was the case with Elijah. Noah had to sweat and toil and build the Ark, a picture of Jesus, but also a picture of our spiritual lives, of our spiritual house. Yes Noah "found grace in the eyes of the Lord", but Noah didn't just believe. His faith was proved by his obedience. If he wouldn't have worked to build the Ark he would have perished in the Flood with everybody else. God did not airlift Noah over the Flood with some supernatural miracle, although He was capable of it. Noah was saved because he heard God and believed and then obeyed and worked to build the Ark. Trust and obey for there's no other way. The fall of man came about through disbelief and disobedience. Man is restored through faith in Christ and obedience to God's Word. True faith produces a change of heart, and with that change of heart will come a change in lifestyle. Faith without obedience to God's Word is a dead faith.
Yes we are saved through the work of Christ, through what God did for us, not what we do for God, and John 3:16 is my foundation stone of belief, it is my salvation verse: "For God so loved the world that He gave his only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him may not perish but have everlasting life."
But how can we receive this precious gift of salvation and then turn around and say, "Thank you Lord, I believe in you Lord, I love you Lord, but I'm not going to do what you tell me to do."
There are many who say "Yes" to Jesus while they are in church, but when they step out of the church they say "No" to Him the rest of the week. It is not merely saying "Yes" to Jesus at an alter call that saves us; it is saying "Yes" to Jesus every day of our lives. Otherwise our profession of faith is mere hypocrisy.
Someday this entire universe and everything in
it will be gone; the very elements will be dissolved with fervent heat
(2Peter 3:10-13). After that God will create new heavens and a new earth. Seeing then that our sojourn on earth is brief, that we are "strangers and pilgrims" passing through this world, that we look for a city made without hands, a heavenly city (Heb 11:13), let us therefore gird up our loins, redeeming the time for the days are evil, and be salt here in this world, doing good to all men while we have the opportunity, while it is still day, before the night of death will come when no man will be able to work, and then shall come the judgement; eternal life to those who believe in and heed the Word of God, and eternal condemnation to those who harden their hearts against the Lord, and against His Annointed.
Jesus said, "If you love Me, keep My commandments." He told us to strive to enter in by the narrow gate, for there are few who find it, but broad is the way to destruction, and there are many who go down that path. What modern day Calvinism has misrepresented is that how we live our lives determines the genuiness of our profession of faith; after we have accepted Jesus as our Lord and Saviour, our obedience to Him determines our eternal state. What we do with our salvation matters. It's really pretty simple. Ask Jesus to forgive you of your sins, ask Him to be your Lord, and then let Him be your Lord in everyday life.
In Matthew 6:24-25 Jesus is talking about when the floods come and the rain falls, meaning when disaster comes, when hard times come, when persecution and tribulation comes, then we should be ready with "our lamps burning" and "our loins girded up" to be able to take a stand for the Lord. Jesus did not say that He would rapture us from hard times, but for us to be prepared; to be prayed up, to draw close to Jesus for strength and refuge, and He will carry us through.
You have heard it said "The church is just a hospital for sinners", but healthy people will not spend all of their lives in a hospital. You will go to a hospital for one of two things: to get well or die. Once you get well you are to go back out into the world and be a light for Christ, otherwise you can remain sick and be of little use for anyone. Yes, the church is a place of healing, it is a hospital for sinners, but it is also meant to be much more than that. If that is all that your church is, a hospital for sinners, then you have a sick church. Christianity is serious business. Yes Christ came to give us joy, but He did not come to merely entertain us on Sunday morning. Being a disciple of the Saviour is much more than the "happy-clappy" social event that many people see it as in church. There are souls dying and going to hell every day. We need to be there as witnesses with our lives to warn them, to rescue them, to offer our lives as living sacrifices for them. The church should be a training ground raising up a victorious army to go out and impact the world. Jesus is the Great Physician who said to you "Arise, take up your sickbed and walk," however if you do not arise and walk (spiritually) as the Saviour has commanded you then how can you expect Him to heal you?
Our Lord said that when we do a good deed, not to let our left hand know what our right hand is doing, so let us do good, not hoping for any reward in doing something to ease suffering, and being obedient to the will of God.
Sometimes our own theology can get in the way of doing the will of God. The following is an example.
There was a certain man who was walking along an icy path near a semi-frozen lake, and the man slipped on the path and fell into the lake, and the ice broke and he began to sink.
As he struggled in the water a certain theologian happened to walk along the path. And when the theologian heard him cry out for help, he thought within himself: "If I help this man, then I might be practicing the social gospel, and I don't want to mix works with my faith, for we are saved by faith alone, apart from works."
So the theologian went on his way and left the man to drown.
Then it happened that a certain televangelist faith-healer walked along the path and heard the man cry out for help. And the televangelist said to the man: "Throw me your wallet, and you shall have a hundred-fold return, and God will rescue you out of the water. If you will practice seed-faith and give to my ministry, then you will get a miracle."
But when the man did not throw his wallet onto the shore the preacher continued on his way.
Then a wealthy businessman walked along the path, and he heard the man cry out for help. And the businessman said: "Why don't you pull yourself to shore. I'm a self-made man. God doesn't have any use for freeloaders."
But when the man was unable to pull himself to shore, the businessman went on his way.
Finally, a homeless man came along, and he saw the man struggling in the lake. And the homeless man jumped into the lake, and rescued the man, and he took the man to a Gospel Mission, where the man received warm clothing, and food, and then he heard the gospel, and opened his heart to Jesus, and was saved.
Which of these men, I ask you, did the will of God?
The fruit of faith is charity. Christ said, "When you give, let not your right hand know what your left hand is doing," thus we should give without the motive of expecting some great reward for giving, except the reward of having our Savior's approval in heaven and seeing the souls that have been blessed by our giving when we arrive there.
There are so many flaws to the pre-tribulation rapture theory that it is impossible to list them here, but Marv Rosenthal's book, The Pre-Wrath Rapture of the Church and Ladd's book, The Blessed Hope, are excellent starting places for a more orthodox viewpoint.
As far as finding a church to worship in, there are very many excellent ones in a variety of denominations. I can only offer a few suggestions. Wherever the Lord leads you to worship, make sure that they at least believe in the fundamental principles of grace, the Trinity, and the inspiration of the Holy Bible. Also, make sure that they do not teach any "extra revelation" from some other source besides the Bible. By extra revelation, I mean some other "gospel" delivered by some angel or heavenly vision that claims to be an addition to the Bible, or contradicts Biblical teaching. Any church which denies the divinity and bodily resurrection of Christ should be avoided. Any church which adds to or subtracts from the Word of God should be avoided. Any church which denies the Trinity should be avoided.
And let it be a church where Christ is exalted, where love abounds, and where the elders and leaders, as the Bible says, are servants to the congregation, and not cruel or abusive taskmasters, and not greedy for gain.
I believe that in the last days the Lord will have a remnant of His people in all churches, but there are some denominations that have become so corrupt in their theology and practice that they have even ordained that which the Lord has called an abomination. These churches have a name, but they are dead and the Lord has forsaken them.
The Word of God says "Now the works of the flesh are plain, these are adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness, idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like, of which I tell you beforehand, just as I also told you in time past, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God." (Galatians 5: 19-21)
If you call yourself a Christian and practice these things, and have not repented, do not deceive yourself that you have been saved and will inherit the Kingdom of God. Again it is written "Do you not understand that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Neither fornicators, nor idolators, nor adulterers, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, nor sodomites, nor thieves, nor covetousness, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God".
However there is this word of hope: "And such were some of you, but you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of God" (1 Corinthians 6:9-11)
The world today is in a spiritual warfare to determine which world-view and which set of beliefs and values will predominate in the next millennium, and that the pre-tribulation theology and the easy believism being preached today is not raising up that generation of spiritual warrior saints that the church needs to face this battle and emerge victorious. I believe that the church is entering into a time of spiritual struggle unlike anything in the history of mankind since the fall of man and since the time of the Lord on this earth.
The final antichrist, that evil one who will arise on the earth preaching a false gospel deceptively similar to the Christian gospel will deceive multitudes of people, including large numbers of those in the church. He will seduce many through flattery, through the eloquence of his words. During this final persecution of the church Christians will overcome through "the blood of the Lamb, the word of their testimony and loving not their lives unto the death," i.e. being willing to be martyred for Christ.
Even today, there is an antichrist who has proclaimed himself king over America and who wishes to rule the world. He believes that he is the second messiah. Like the little horn that lifts up his voice in blasphemies against the Most High, this man has lifted up his voice in blasphemy against God. Although he is now probably too old to see his evil vision come to pass during his lifetime, it is possible that one of his followers in the Unification Church might head up that unholy alliance of rebels in the last days. Should there ever be a major economic collapse or terrorist attack that might disable our country, the Unification Church with it's many subsidiaries is waiting in the wings to assume authority.
Abraham has been called the father of faith because "he believed in the Lord and He accounted it to him as righteousness" (Genesis 15:6), but how often is it noted that when God renewed the Messianic promise to Isaac, "And I will make your descendants multiply as the stars of heaven; I will give to your descendants all these lands, and in your seed all the nations of the earth shall be blessed", that God made this promise "because Abraham obeyed My voice and kept My charge, My commandments, My statutes, and My laws" (Genesis 26:4-5). Obedience to God's Word is the seal of true faith.
When Abraham believed in the Lord in the fifteenth chapter of Genesis, he had already demonstrated his faith earlier in obeying the Lord (his faith was to be tested afterward though) and by leaving his native land in the twelfth chapter of Genesis.
We are imperfect, we may fall as David did (hopefully not), but psalm 51 shows David's repentance.
Still, David and his descendants and the entire nation of Israel paid a dreadful price for his sin, for sin will take its toll not only on our lives but on the lives of those around us as well. God is a God of mercy, but we are not to make our home in the gutter.
However we should remember that Jesus came to seek and save those who are lost. He came to save us, all of us, out of the gutter of sin, and there is no one who can boast of their righteousness apart from the mighty grace of God.
I believe that had David not fallen into sin with Bathsheba and then sent Uriah to the front where he was killed, not only the history of Israel from that point on would have been different, but the entire history of mankind might have been entirely different. Perhaps Israel would have remained a strong and united Kingdom all the way down to the time of Christ. Perhaps the Kingdom might have been ushered in during Christ's time, with the Messiah ruling from Israel two thousand years ago. What if Israel instead of Rome had been the dominant world power at the time of Christ? (This might only have been the case, as stated, if David had not sinned with Bathsheba and Israel had remained a strong and united Kingdom under David's descendants. I am not endorsing the zealots who wished to overthrow Rome. Obviously, after David's sin, God's providence had not worked it out that way.) How would the bloody history of mankind over the past two thousand years have been different? We will never know.
There has perhaps been no greater damage done to the cause of Christianity than the mistaken Calvinist notion that certain Christians have of the concept of predestination in the Bible, which combined with the pre-tribulation rapture theory says
"God predestined me to be saved and I have no choice in the matter, and you are lost because you were predestined by God to be lost, and you have no choice in the matter, and my lifestyle that I live has no consequence in the matter at all, nor whether I am a virtuous person or not, or a kind person, or whether I do any good works of charity or not, and soon the rapture is going to take place when God is going to take me out of this world while He is going to punish you for seven years here on earth for not being saved, then He is going to punish you for all eternity." Now, does that sound like a righteous, just, and loving God? This is a horrible doctrine, one which would make God out to be some sort of monster. It goes against every teaching in the Bible concerning God's mercy and truth and righteousness.
It clearly states in the Word of God that it is God's will for ALL men to be saved (1Tim 2:3-4).
One problem that some Christians have is understanding that God loves the unsaved sinner as much as He loves the saint. He does not love you any more after you are saved than He did before you were saved: "We love Him because He first loved us" and "For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him may not perish, but have everlasting life". God loved us while we were yet sinners and gave His Son for us. The only difference between a saint and a sinner is that the saint has opened himself up to God's love and forgiveness. He is no different than a sinner except for the unmerited mercy of God. Eventually of course, when those who have passed the time of probation in this life have passed into eternity and refused the offer of God's love for the final time, then their fate is sealed by their own choice: "As the tree falls, there shall it lie". (Eccl 11:3)
There are two types of people among the general populace: Those who acknowledge their sin, confess their sin and through God's grace seek to amend their lives. The other type are those who deny their sin, justify their sin and harden their heart against God's healing Spirit. A saint and a sinner may both be capable of committing the same sin, however a sinner will embrace his sin and boast of it, while a saint will mourn for his sin and struggle against it. They may both be travelling on the same road, but they will be travelling in opposite directions. And ultimately, there are two types of people who are never troubled by their conscience. One is a completely perfected saint (Rev 3:21) and the other is a completely perfected sinner (Rev 9:20; 15:9, 11). You may yield to sin or yield to God, however the Scripture warns us that he who commits sin will become the slave of sin. While the Scripture says "He is long-sufferring towards us, not willing that any should perish", it is also written "He who often being reproved, hardens his heart, shall suddenly be destroyed, and that without remedy" (Proverbs). Christ died an agonizing death for our salvation, and that is nothing to be trifled with.
Beware of hardening your heart, as the Scripture says: Today, if you will hear His voice, is the day of repentance.
It is true that no man can come to Christ except the Spirit of the Father draw him, but God's Spirit is continually working on the hearts of unsaved undividuals to lead them to Christ. God does not compel however, He invites. Coming to Christ is not so much a deliberation as it is a yielding. It is simply saying yes to Him. God's predestination is clearly spelled out in the parable of the banquet, where God sent out invitations to all manner of men, yet some refused to come. Even though God has foreknowledge of who will accept and who will refuse, he did not will for any to be lost. The predestination was the invitation, and was meant for all. God is not responsible for the condemnation of any lost souls. And the acceptance of this invitation involves a surrender of our souls, our hearts, our lives, to Him.
The Scripture states "Let us come boldly therefore before the throne of grace that we might find help in the time of need"; "For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved". Salvation is essentially simple. When we hear the gospel we are presented with a choice: Receive Jesus and invite Him into our hearts, or refuse the offer of free salvation.
We have two commandments to follow in the New Testament: Believe on the name of Jesus and love one another.
The Lord did not make it too complicated: "He who believes and is baptized shall be saved, and he who believes not shall be condemned". (Mark 16:16)
Apart from the grace of Christ, I am a totally depraved, miserably lost sinner, and yet God has still shed His grace on me through the preaching of the gospel. Without Christ I am bound for the stygian darkness of hell. And yet the gospel is Good News! Christ died, He was buried and He descended down into that stygian darkness and took captivity captive, then He arose again, conquering death and ascended to the right hand of God the Father, where He ever lives to make intercession for us. And through Him I shall live also, and I shall arise some day to be with Him forevermore. Hallelujah!
All of our righteousness apart from the grace of God through Jesus' shed blood is merely filthy rags. Our only hope is to throw ourselves at the foot of the cross and cry out for God's mercy while we still can. Otherwise, when the moment of salvation has passed, and when we have passed beyond the pale of this life, we have no hope. God has left us with one thing though after the fall: He has left us with a free will, with the capacity to recognise our own lost condition and repent of our sins, to seek the Lord, to call upon the name of the Lord for salvation when we hear the gospel: "Seek the Lord while He may be found. Call upon Him while He is near. Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return to the Lord, and He will have mercy upon him; and to our God, and He will abundantly pardon. For My thoughts are not your thoughts, and My ways are not your ways, says the Lord". (Isaiah 53: 6-8) Now, after we are saved we are meant to obey the Lord as confirmation that our repentance and salvation was genuine, as James has said "Faith without works is dead; Show me your faith without your works, and I will show you my faith by my works."
The devil and his angels are totally depraved, and they cannot be saved, and likewise souls who have finally heard the gospel in this life and rejected God's offer of love, once they wind up in hell, will remain totally depraved and they will spend a horrifying eternity with others of their kind.
Even though there are certain admirable teachings in some of the pagan religions, and in some we find the best and the noblest aspirations of the human spirit, none of them offer the gift of eternal life. How God may deal with those who have never heard the gospel is still a matter of theological debate. God is a God of mercy, and "mercy rejoices over judgement."
If you are reading this, and you have not yet surrendered your life to Christ, and you have even the slightest tinge of conscience leading you to repentance, then I beseech you, I implore you by the mercies of the everlasting and living God, fall to your knees and ask Christ Jesus to forgive you of your sins, to be your Lord and Savior, and then ask Him to give you strength to live a holy life. Then thank Him, and begin to read the Bible and find out more about this wonderful God who sent His Son to die so that you might have everlasting life. When the Holy Spirit prompts you it is time to respond. No man knows the time of that final alter call, or of that final curtain call, and by then it will be eternally too late to change your mind.
"As the deer pants after the water brooks, so my soul seeks after Thee". When you truly hunger and thirst after righteousness, as the Scripture says, you will be filled. The Saviour said, "Seek and you shall find, knock and it shall be opened to you." The Bible states that "There is one God, and one mediator between God and man, the man Christ Jesus". It further states that "God has highly exalted Him, and given Him a name that is above every name: That at the name of JESUS every knee shall bow, whether of things in heaven, or things on earth, or things under the earth, and every tongue shall confess that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father".
Jesus Christ is King of Kings and Lord of Lords and He will share His glory with no other. The sum of the matter is that a Christian should desire to be as much like Jesus in everything that he thinks, hopes, says and does, for He is the potter and we are His clay.
PRAISE JESUS! BARUCH HASHEM ADONAI! AMEN.
If there is anything in The Darwin Papers that does not agree fully with Scripture, then please forgive the failings of a faulty and fallen man who merely did his best to present the Gospel, and stay with that infallible Source for wisdom, guidance, conduct and salvation, the Holy Bible.
The Darwin Papers is the first part in a three volume work in progress titled Out of Every Tongue and Nation.