Fig Leaves Intro
13He that covereth his sins shall not prosper: but whoso confesseth and forsaketh them shall have mercy. (Prov 28:)
Notice that in each statement in the above verses the one who is to receive is the one making the effort. "Ask, seek, knock." The one who does not seek, is the one who will not find. It's a popular concept today, both in the world and in the churches, that our effort isn't necessary to receive what we desire. All we have to do is think of our already possessing what we want, having faith that we will receive what we want, and it will be ours The churches add the need for a prayer, naturally, but the concept is the same. When I was a small child we had this concept as well. We called it "Wishing upon a star."
When Jesus was talking to Nicodemus He told him much the same thing as above, but He added another element that we should keep in mind:
3Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot SEE the kingdom of God. (John 3:)
If we don't become as little children (and certainly a newborn is a child. I suspect we all agree that a new born child is not a mature person, even though that concept is taught to us in the churches) we not only cannot receive of the things of the Kingdom, but we can't even see the Kingdom.
29And all the people that heard him, and the publicans, justified God, being baptized with the baptism of John. 30But the Pharisees and lawyers rejected the counsel of God against themselves, being not baptized of him. (John 7:)
4Then said Paul, John verily baptized with the baptism of repentance, saying unto the people, that they should believe on him which should come after him, that is, on Christ Jesus. (Acts 19:)
Baptism, along with repentance, is the birth process of being Born Again. Being born into the family of God makes us a child of God and places us under the tutorship of the Father. When we're born we know nothing at all. And whatever knowledge we might have at our birth is soon forgotten and replaced with what we learn in our new life. Becoming a Christian and taking on the Spiritual life of Christ is no different than that of the natural taking on of this body of flesh. We must learn everything anew.
We are blind when we're born. Then as we grow our eyesight improves, but we still see things abstractly and out of focus. This can be witnessed in very young children as they try to grasp objects in front of them and as they explore the world around them. It is the same with those born into the Church. regardless of our age, we are Spiritually blind. We may hold degrees in every subject under the sun, even in the field of religion and Theology. But none of this helps us to see any clearer into the world of the Spiritual:
10But God hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit: for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God. 11For what man knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of man which is in him? even so the things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God. 12Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God. 13Which things also we speak, not in the words which man's wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual. 14But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned. (1Cor 2:)
On our own, no matter how much education we may have, how much we may experience, or how hard we try, we cannot understand the things of God except through the Holy Spirit. And because of this, we can not understand the Bible except through the Holy Spirit.
From a very small child we are taught how to become a mature adult, and if we are in a religious home, we are taught how to follow the rituals and the concepts followed by our parents and the society in which we live. Every step we make, every word we speak, and supposedly every thought we have is regulated by those who's authority we are under. If we say a word out of line, or do something not approved of, we are reprimanded and disciplined until we fall in line with that which we are told is correct. What is correct in one family or society may be entirely different than what is deemed correct in a neighboring society. Individuality is not acceptable if we are to survive comfortably in the society in which we find ourselves. Even those societies that consider themselves rebels have rules of expectation one must follow if one wishes to remain in that society.
A child has an inquiring mind from the moment it is born. The child who is not inquiring and searching to understand its new surrounding we consider to have a problem. A child's eyes are full of interest. Everything that moves, everything that comes into his or her awareness has to be experienced with all their senses. It has to be seen, examined, felt, tasted and smelled. And only with great diligence can we keep the poisons and the hot skillet from the exploring hands of the child.
7Ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth. (2Tim 3)
Eventually the many questions asked by the child: The "Why's and the What's" grow tiresome and the patience of the parent or whoever is responsible for the education of the child becomes short. Answers either are falsely given, or they are made quickly and erroneously, or they are no longer provided at all. Eventually the child learns that his or her inquiring mind is not acceptable in the society in which they live and they fall into line with what is expected of them. Those children who's curiosity is not so easily quenched tend to grow up and become our geniuses, or greats, and our inventors. Those children who manage to quell their curiosity tend to live a more contented and "acceptable" life, not creating waves in the sea of people in which they share their existence.
We teach and speak what we know. What we teach our children is what we have been taught. If we learn there is a God, then we teach that there is a God. If we're taught we came from bugs, then that's what we teach our children. Because we're taught to have answers and not questions, we very often do not have a foundation for our beliefs. We may have a stock list of answers to give if asked a question, but we don't understand the answers nor do we know where they came from. The child who wants not only to know "What," but also "Why" becomes grievous both to his parent and to his teacher. When a child asks a question we don't have an answer for, instead of seeking the answer for ourselves, we tell the child "Don't ask so many questions, just trust me" or something of that nature. Eventually the child, as did we, learns to accept what he's told as fact, and leave it go at that.
6Then Jesus said unto them, Take heed and beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees .... 12Then understood they how that he bade them not beware of the leaven of bread, but of the doctrine of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees. (Mat 16:)
I don't think any of us would want to be a false teacher and feed our children with lies and poisoned doctrines. At least none of us would do so intentionally. But consider, wasn't those who taught their children what the Scribes and the Pharisees taught them, the only instructors that were to be had in the days of the Old Testament, weren't those parents wolves in sheep's clothing as well? Weren't they teaching false doctrine as well? Think of a group you would consider a cult or who are studying false doctrine: Are they, in your mind, teaching their children false doctrine? They are only teaching what they themselves are being taught, the same as you are. Isn't there a chance that you are believing and teaching false doctrine as well? After all, where does your doctrine (which means "teachings") come from? Doesn't it come from your teachers? Your Preachers? And where does their knowledge come from? Don't they know what they've learned in school (if even there)? Of course you assume they have learned the truth in school. But consider, the preachers of the cults you condemn have also been to school. And those "experts" you see on TV that work so hard to undermine the validity of the Bible, who themselves stand as experts of the Bible, have also studied (and teach) in schools and seminaries.
If a person has been given truth, and as we've seen, truth can only come from the Holy Spirit and not from man, then that person will be given more. But someone who has been given false doctrine, or who doesn't bother to look any farther than what they have been told, will receive more false doctrine and be led farther astray.
The principle that God has established for understanding His Word, when followed by the carnal mind, will lead one farther and farther from the truth. When we teach a child, that child will continue in that direction he's led, unless he rebels altogether. But regardless of whether he continues in the way he has been taught, or if he rebels, what he has learned will greatly impact his life.
We have been taught, and we therefore teach, not to question those in authority. We are not to question our teachers, our parents, or our superiors (whoever that might be). We are also not to question our governments, which is a biblical principle not even followed by our churches (Heb 13:17; Col 3:2; Eph 6:5). But wouldn't our government love it if we did obey them without question?
What we know of the Bible is confined to what we are taught. We have lost the inquiring mind of the child. Jesus said that if we are to be accepted into the Kingdom of God, and I take that to mean Heaven, then we must seek to know the truth. We've seen that there are some who have an inquiring mind, but they do not have the Spirit of God. They are "ever learning, but never able to come to the knowledge of truth." These people will be loaded with answers, but their answers are very likely to be the wrong answer. And if we accept their answer, than we are not in the Truth.
Anyone who has read much of my writing knows I send a lot of time and a lot of effort in research for what I'm presenting. I try to make what I offer just as thorough and as accurate as I possibly can. I also write stream of consciousness, which means I give you what I receive as I receive it. In some cases that means I have to backtrack and reevaluate what I've written in the new light of what I discover during my writing. And very often what I thought to be true when I began the study I discover to be wrong because of the study. I could do as others do and rewrite what I have written to make it appear that I am much more knowledgeable than I am, giving you just the conclusions and not the thought process. But I think those who desire to learn the truth could benefit from seeing how my mind functions, and the errors I find along the way (as well as the errors I make during my searches and studies), thereby understanding that much more why I have come to the conclusion I have. Also, by knowing my processes, a student of the Word can expound on what I have found and presented, and carry it to a higher degree of completeness and possibly purge it (my findings) of error.
In the study to follow I have gone to much lengths to provide all the little nuances of information that comes to my mind. One example of this is in the definitions of the words used in the Bible. I try to check out every word that might possibly add a clearer understanding to the message that God is providing us with. "Line upon line, precept upon precept, here a little, there a little." And I know that only through the leading of the Holy Spirit can I make sure the "littles" I place together are the correct ones to associate with one another. I find far too many silly fantasies that are popularly believed because this procedure has not been followed.
Sometimes I look up a word that seems to have no bearing whatever on the statement being made. Occasionally I find there is a great significance to the word that has been lost in the translation. Other times the word carries with it no further meaning.. In this study I left some of the words with no additional meaning or significance (that I looked up) in print to show the process I use. Very often however I come across a word that has multiple meanings, and has been translated many different ways, that completely alter the meaning and the significance of the passage of Scripture. When this occurs I generally follow through with the word or the subject and investigate other places the word has been used, and other possible meanings which gives a fuller understanding to what is implied in that passage of Scripture. This consumes a great deal of time and a lot of print. For those only interested in the general conclusion of a matter, all the extra effort I put into the studies, such as this explanation I'm giving here, are extraneous and bothersome. But since I write for those who are truly interested in finding true information, I continue to offer these boring and tedious studies. For those who like just the icing on the cake, I have the Radio Forum.
You will find certain concepts opened up in this study that you may not have given much consideration in the past. A couple of these I will mention, and even give a tidbit of information regarding. But for this study I won't pursue the topic because it will detract from what I am trying to present, and it would make this study far too long (an example of this is this introduction. I expected it to be four or so paragraphs, not the four of so pages is has become so far).
This leads into another reason for you to check out what I'm saying in your own Bible. It's all too easy for a writer or theologian or a preacher to just give the part of Scripture that supports their view while the context of that verse contradicts its meaning. I will give you one example of this strategy that is all too commonly used by almost all the churches and even the world of unbeliever.
Let's take a look at the context of the above verse:
Now I would like to ask you: If you had never heard of Satan once being a holy angel, would you have ever imagined this verse to be in reference to such an event? What is Jesus talking about here? The Disciples are excitedly returning home from the mission fields where they were doing the very same things Jesus had been doing all this time. They said: "even the devils are subject to us." This is a grand event, both for the disciples and for Jesus. We know it's a big occasion for Jesus because of what is said right afterwards. Jesus said:
19Behold, I give unto you power to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy: and nothing shall by any means hurt you. 20Notwithstanding in this rejoice not, that the spirits are subject unto you; but rather rejoice, because your names are written in heaven. 21In that hour Jesus rejoiced in spirit, and said, I thank thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes: even so, Father; for so it seemed good in thy sight. (Luke 10:)
Does it seem feasible Jesus would take this moment to make a statement about something that supposedly took place billions of years before that He never said anything about before this moment nor afterwards? Or do you think Jesus was referring to the demons being subject to the disciples, and that the demons (devils) were being cast out of the Church, which is the Heaven Jesus was referring to? Heaven in people?
If we understood that Jesus meant what He said here instead of twisting His words to mean something different, then we would realize that the "Heaven" Jesus was referring to Satan being cast out of is the people. It should be quite clear that Jesus is not talking about His return because He said here that the Kingdom will be without observation. Coming as a thief will certainly be "with observation," especially since there will be a host of Heaven with Him.
17From that time Jesus began to preach, and to say, Repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand. (Mat 4:)
"At hand" means "near." And in fact the Kingdom of God was very near. The Kingdom of God, which is Heaven, was as close as Jesus was to them. Jesus, because He possessed the Holy Spirit, was Heaven. And those of us who are in possession of (or better said, are possessed by) the Holy Spirit are part of that Heaven Jesus was establishing. Consider all the names that has been given the body of Christ, the Church, the Bride. Have you ever heard it called heaven? or as Paul calls it the partial realm of Heaven? (1Cor 13:8-12; Luke 23:43 this to be explained later in this study).
The Father is in Heaven. Isn't He also in the Christian? If we go to where the Father is, then where do we go? Remember, God is a Spirit, and where do spirits live? The demons, which are also spirits, didn't want to be cast out of a body, right? Where do spirits live?
9Jesus saith unto him, Have I been so long time with you, and yet hast thou not known me, Philip? he that hath seen me hath seen the Father; and how sayest thou then, Show us the Father? 10Believest thou not that I am in the Father, and the Father in me? the words that I speak unto you I speak not of myself: but the Father that dwelleth in me, he doeth the works. (John 14:)
The Father is in Heaven. Where is God the Father living (dwelling)?
20Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word; 21That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me. 22And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one: 23I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them, as thou hast loved me. (John 17:)
Where is God the Father? In Jesus? Is God the Father and His Glory in anyone else other than the Father and Jesus?
24God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth. (John 4:)
God is what? And God, who is a Spirit lives where? Heaven is where?
9But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his.
10And if Christ be in you, the body is dead because of sin; but the Spirit is life because of righteousness. 11But if the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwelleth in you. (Rom 8:)
5Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water AND OF THE SPIRIT, he cannot ENTER INTO THE KINGDOM OF GOD. 6That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. (John 3:)
Over and over we see the Kingdom of God, which is Heaven, being explained to us in example and in parables. But because we have this fanciful idea that Heaven is some place way up in the sky somewhere, we miss the entire purpose of Jesus' messages to us. And I'm afraid, we miss the understanding of the Gospels as well. There's a great deal more to this than can be explained in this "short" study. Hopefully this will whet your appetite and cause you to want to learn more rather than be satisfied with popular concepts that make no sense and miss the point.
This is a very important event with a lot of meaning that is completely skipped over in the churches and in writing because it isn't understood, and it seems to contradict known facts. But if understood, it (as does all Scripture when interpreted correctly) does not contradict the Gospels, only church doctrine.
Today in Greek means: "on the (that is, this) day (or night current or just passed); genitively now (that is, at present, hitherto): - this (to-) day."
As you can see, "today" might mean the past, but it can't mean tomorrow or later. But how can this be? Jesus was going to be in a tomb for at least two more days. Yet Jesus clearly said the thief would be with Him in Paradise "today."
In order to make sense of this statement some people have concluded that Paradise is a section of hell called "Abraham's Bosom" where saved souls wait for Jesus to be resurrected. Jesus won't be resurrected for a couple days, so even if this far-fetched concept were true, how could the thief be with Jesus that day? Was the soul of Jesus in hell? That's what many believe, that Jesus was "down there" preaching to the souls waiting to go to Heaven. That sounds silly to me, but then a lot of things about doctrine seems silly to me, so you can't go by my feelings on a matter.
2I knew a man in Christ above fourteen years ago, (whether in the body, I cannot tell; or whether out of the body, I cannot tell: God knoweth;) such an one caught up to the third heaven. 3And I knew such a man, (whether in the body, or out of the body, I cannot tell: God knoweth;) 4How that he was caught up into paradise, and heard unspeakable words, which it is not lawful for a man to utter. (2Cor 12:)
I find this verse interesting for several reasons. For one thing, it appears Paul has his directions mixed up if Paradise is in hell, or purgatory, or wherever Paradise is supposed to be. Paul thinks it's up, but isn't hell down?
Paul was caught up into "third Heaven," and "Paradise." Isn't that where God the Father dwells? Is God the Father in hades waiting for Jesus to be resurrected too? Hadn't Jesus been resurrected long before Paul started his ministry?
Also, "caught up" is a term used by the premillennialists to support their theory of a rapture. How does Paradise fit into their imagery if Paradise is where awaiting souls reside?
7He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the tree of life, which is in the midst of the paradise of God. (Rev 2:)
How about that? Paradise is where the tree of life is. If we're going to spend eternity with the tree of life, then where does that leave us?
The thief will be with Jesus in Paradise. I take that to mean he will be with Jesus in Heaven. How can the thief be with Jesus in Heaven that very day?
If you have followed my reasoning so far you know I believe Jesus was already in Heaven, with the Father, because the Father, through the Holy Ghost, was in Jesus. But Jesus was alone in Heaven as far as having another human with Him such as the disciples. He wanted to have the disciples, and those willing to follow Him as did the Apostles, with Him in Heaven. But at that point, on the cross, He was alone in Heaven (John 8:16,29).
It is my contention that the Kingdom of Heaven began when the soldier pierced the side of Jesus and released the Holy Spirit to the world. The renting of the Vail and the opening of the earth (earthquakes, graves opening) were a physical manifestation of what was happening in the Spiritual realm. And the piecing of Jesus side is a Spiritual application of the bringing forth of the bride of Christ as the taking of a rib for a bride was the physical precursor of God's plan for His Spiritual creation. I know this is a large pill to swallow. So pretend I didn't say it and we'll move on.
43And he said unto them, I must preach the kingdom of God to other cities also: for THEREFORE AM I SENT. (Luke 4:)
23And Jesus went about all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, and preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing all manner of sickness and all manner of disease among the people. (Mat 4:)
14And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come. (Mat 24:)
15And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature. 16He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned. (Mark 16)
6They were ware of it, and fled unto Lystra and Derbe, cities of Lycaonia, and unto the region that lieth round about: 7And there they preached the gospel. (Acts 14:)
0And after he had seen the vision, immediately we endeavoured to go into Macedonia, assuredly gathering that the Lord had called us for to preach the gospel unto them. (Acts 16:)
1Then was Jesus led up of the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted of the devil..... 17From that time Jesus began to preach, and to say, Repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand. (Mat 4:)
14Now after that John was put in prison, Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God, 15And saying, The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent ye, and believe the gospel. (Mark 1:)
From the moment Jesus was baptized and tempted His message and purpose has been to preach the Kingdom of God, and that the Kingdom is near. He did not say the Kingdom is way off yonder, or that it would not be here for two thousand years. He said it is "near," and that it is "within you." Then Jesus sent the twelve out, then the seventy, to preach this same message. Then we see how just before His ascension the task He set before his disciples was to preach the Kingdom of God, and the Gospel, which as it appears to me is the very same thing. And then we see how preaching the Gospel of the Kingdom is just what the Apostles did throughout the book of Acts. We, in the churches, are told that we too are to preach the Gospel to the world.
The problem is that the Kingdom of God is not preached. Denominational views of the Bible are taught and preached throughout the world. Doctrine is taught, just as it was in the time of the Pharisees.
There is a big difference between the preaching of the churches today and that of Jesus' time, and this must be kept in mind (even though I give much criticisms of the churches). All churches are preaching their messages with a display of love and compassion. They are not playing a game of self-righteousness at the expense of others as were the Pharisees. I don't think there's a church, or a "cult," or even a worldly organization that is doing what they do for selfish reasons (I'm sure there are exceptions. I just don't know of them). But keep that in mind, even the unbelievers are doing much and sacrificing much to lend aid to those in trouble. So this act in itself is not a sign that a church is on the right path to Glory.
The churches do not preach the Kingdom of God because they do not recognize that the Kingdom is here with us now, right here on earth, and right here within each true believer and follower of Christ. They have relegated the Kingdom to the future and to an imaginary place far beyond our reach or comprehension.
19Behold, I give unto you power to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy: and nothing shall by any means hurt you. 20Notwithstanding in this rejoice not, that the spirits are subject unto you;
Jesus is talking about the power His disciples have over spirits and the spirit realm. He is also looking into the future and seeing the harvest ripe for harvesting (Mat 9:37-38) and He is joyous in Spirit because He's seeing the harvesting in progress. Harvesting includes the weeding out of the chaff and the tares, deadly plants that resemble the true harvest but are not true fruit of the harvest, that is, the Spirit (Mat 13:all). The tares are the seeds of the wicked one, Satan. And the true harvest is the Church, the Body of Christ, this partial realm of Heaven. After the Tribulation and Millennium all Satan's seed will have been winnowed out of the harvest and God's full purpose, His full and intended Heaven will come into being. In the meantime we are dealing with a partial realm of that Kingdom, a stage of development in God's creation.
We have a picture of the growth of this Kingdom in the life of David. David was a man of faith, but not accepted by the government, the "Church" if you will of his day. Eventually David was given the opportunity to begin fulfilling the ordination he had been given as a youth. But David did not assume office without a fight, nor did he take over the entire kingdom at once. His ascension to the throne was in segments. First he anointed king as a youth and endured years of testing (the stage we're in). Then he was made king over the northern nations of Israel. This is the "partial realm" of David. And this realm he was over was not where the Temple mount was located, the place God had set aside for His Temple, the ultimate goal and destiny of the one anointed by God to be king of all God's people.
Eventually David was made king over all Judea and Israel. And it was at this time the nation God set aside for Himself began to grow into what it was intended to be. All Israel became united under the kingship of David; except two nations which had been (and still is today) a thorn in the flesh of the People of God. Although small is size, the strength and persistence of the major of these two nations was more than even David could overcome. I refer to the Philistines and the Phoenicians. Consider: As a a simple shepherd boy David conquered the greatest of the Philistines and put their army to flight. But as king of Israel, he failed to do so.
We know David and his kingdom is representative of what God's Kingdom will be (and is). And we know that the Millennium is the earthly fulfilment of David's kingdom (the second stage). What we don't seem to understand is that we are now in David's partial realm, the Israel rule outside the nation that is in possession of the Temple area, the city of Zion, where God has set up His throne. Saul, the king chosen by the people because of his size and his appearance (like the Harlot church, Babylon) is representative of the church realm in control of the this realm. The system of Jesus' day is another picture of Saul's kingdom, this partial realm. We are still battling the Philistines, enduring a war with the flesh and the devil, casting demons out of the Church body, and out of ourselves.
However there's a fly in the ointment, meaning the Spiritual fuel that keeps the lamps of the Churches lit. Far too many of the churches now condone or have totally succumbed to the devil. They've invited him into both their lives, and into the church, even to the taking over of the pulpit. Israel, this partial realm, is losing the battle. It's going to take God's intervention to rectify this situation, thus, the Tribulation when everything will be restored.
Although the reconstruction of the earth, and the recreation of man did not occur in the past as described in the fallen angel fantasy, it is occurring, and will occur in the future. Jesus, as the one new man, the "Second Adam," the Man of the Spirit rather than of the flesh, is the beginning of that creation. The Tribulation is the reconstruction, the placing together in proper order of all the elements of this earth that God had intended from the beginning. At this time (through a process) God will have what He had in the beginning, but with a man (and a family of people) who will serve Him and be obedient to Him as Adam was supposed to have done. And how will God know His family will be obedient to Him in Paradise? Because they are proving themselves right here on earth, in this sinful body of flesh. If we can overcome this flesh in this age, then we certainly would have no problem remaining in that condition in the next world.
And thus another fly. Many of the churches teach that just taking a bath is all that's needed to be an overcomer and prepared for the presence of the Lord. Such teaching, which tickles our ears, causes many a potential believer to be lost in their world of corruption with no reason to strive to better themselves.
God is in process of raising to Himself a great "crop," a harvest of people dedicated to serving Him and one another. The world and its systems serve in winnowing (filtering) out those who are not inclined at all to follow God and His rules. And those who want to be a part of God's Church, but only on the outskirts, the churches themselves are serving as traps to catch and hold down, preventing them from entering the field of testing. It is our, each of us, responsibility to "come out" of the traps those churches have set. Those who feel comfortable in their traps will not make the effort but will instead justify the trap as being the will of God.
There is much said in this verse. For one thing it takes us all the way back to what God told Adam in the garden, and what Jesus demonstrated and said we, as Christians are to do (and be) as well.
26And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and OVER ALL THE EARTH, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth. 27So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them. 28And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth. (Gen 1:)
From the beginning, even before man was created, it was intended that man would have dominion over the entire earth. That is what we are here for. God also told Adam he was to "Subdue" the earth. Subdue means "Conquer, tread down, bring under subjection." We have the idea that Paradise, and certainly the Garden of Eden, God's perfect creation is just for our pleasure.
10The four and twenty elders fall down before him that sat on the throne, and worship him that liveth for ever and ever, and cast their crowns before the throne, saying, 11Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honour and power: for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created. (Rev 4:)
We're taught that God created us for our pleasure, and that all He wants to do is serve us and make us happy. This is not so. And until we understand the purposes of God, we will never have a handle on what the Scriptures are saying to us. And if we don't understand what God wants of us, how can we do as He wants us to do?
4These are the generations of the heavens and of the earth when they were created, in the day that the LORD God made the earth and the heavens, 5And every plant of the field before it was in the earth, and every herb of the field before it grew: for the LORD God had not caused it to rain upon the earth, and there was not a man to till the ground. (Gen 2:)
23Therefore the LORD God sent him forth from the garden of Eden, to till the ground from whence he was taken. (Gen 3:23)
God created man to take care of His creation, not the other way around. God created man with the intention that he work, not that he floats around Heaven for eternity. We think of work as being part of the curse God put on us for disobedience:
17And unto Adam he said, Because thou hast hearkened unto the voice of thy wife, and hast eaten of the tree, of which I commanded thee, saying, Thou shalt not eat of it: cursed is the ground for thy sake; in sorrow shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life; 18Thorns also and thistles shall it bring forth to thee; and thou shalt eat the herb of the field; 19In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground; for out of it wast thou taken: for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return. (Gen 3:)
Thorns, thistles and sweat is the curse, not work. Because of the curse our work is harder than it would have been because the ground doesn't yield to us as it would in the garden. There would have been no sweat as there is today. The priests were to wear nothing that causes sweat, because sweat is not presentable to God, and not an intended part of His creation.
Man was made for the purposes of God, and to take care of the earth. This is a very important concept to remember if we're to understand what God has in mind for us. It goes contrary to church teachings I know. Sorry about that.
18And the nations were angry, and thy wrath is come, and the time of the dead, that they should be judged, and that thou shouldest give reward unto thy servants the prophets, and to the saints, and them that fear thy name, small and great; and shouldest DESTROY THEM WHICH DESTROY THE EARTH. (Rev 11:)
Our purpose is to serve God and to take care of His creation. We see this in the nation of Israel as well. The nation, God's chosen people, did not serve Him as they should, but blended the culture around them with their own worship of God (1Kings 18:21-22). They still performed the rituals that made them a separate people, and they still made sacrifices as they were instructed to do. But like today, the things of the world were no longer considered as sin, so they didn't feel the need to abandon those little details, even though those "little details" included the sacrificing of their children to a foreign god. When left to our own devices, we can justify anything and think it's God's will for us.
The Israelites did not take care of God's special land that He had given them to care for. They didn't let it rest as they should have. We see this in the dust bowl of the 20's and 30's here in this country. What was once perfect land for growing became worse than a desert because we refused to treat the land as we should have. And this, along with all kinds of pollution, is taking place throughout the world. Consider what we're doing to the rain forests, even though we know how terribly its destruction will upset the balance of nature.
16For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. (John 3:)
Understand that the word used here for world is "Cosmos," and I don't think I have to explain to you what cosmos means. It does not mean rebellious man, although I'm sure that man is included.
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