Christian Living en Lies Abound... <span>Lies Abound...</span> <span><span lang="" about="/user/7" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="">bduval</span></span> <span>Thu, 08/04/2022 - 19:23</span> <div class="field field--name-field-article-date field--type-datetime field--label-hidden field__item"><time datetime="2019-07-01T12:00:00Z">2019-07-01</time> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-media field--type-entity-reference field--label-hidden field__item"><div> <div class="field field--name-field-media-image field--type-image field--label-visually_hidden"> <div class="field__label visually-hidden">Image</div> <div class="field__item"> <img src="/sites/default/files/styles/large/public/2022-08/Art-Lies.jpg?itok=k4PS4IgC" alt="Boy with a long nose holding a newspaper with Fake News as a title" loading="lazy" typeof="foaf:Image" /> </div> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-article-tag field--type-string field--label-hidden field__items"> <div class="field__item">#lies</div> <div class="field__item">#truth</div> <div class="field__item">#commandments</div> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-article-title field--type-string field--label-hidden field__item">Lies Abound...</div> <div class="field field--name-field-article-author field--type-list-string field--label-hidden field__items"> <div class="field__item">J. Davy Crockett III</div> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-article-teaser field--type-string field--label-hidden field__item">Is honesty the best policy?</div> <div class="field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary field--label-hidden field__item"><p>Today, truth seems elusive as opposing political parties trade strident accusations of “Lies! All lies!” Popular media outlets proclaim “Breaking News!” with each raucous new charge and countercharge. Respected government agencies fire top officials for tarnishing their reputations and damaging their credibility.</p> <p>Locally, states and municipalities have seen streams of elected officials convicted of ethics violations. Perjury—lying under oath—is a serious crime that has brought many down from trusted roles. In academia, students, teachers, and administrators cheat, mishandle expenses, and engage in recruiting violations<em> ad nauseam</em>.</p> <p>Honesty is <em>not</em> merely the “best policy”—it is the <em>only</em> policy that works in the long run! Lying, half-truths, innuendo, and gossip ruin individuals, families, businesses, and even entire countries. With dismay, we see it happening around the world. Why?</p> <p>Clearly, the lack of basic moral instruction—at home and in all levels of education—is bearing a crop of immoral briars and brambles, not the wholesome fruit of honesty and integrity.</p> <p>Yet there is another source of oft-unrecognized falsehood. You may be surprised at the lack of honesty and integrity woven into mainstream Christian belief. Most major denominations and worldwide Christian-professing organizations teach that Jesus Christ has replaced or abolished God’s Ten Commandments given at Sinai and that Christians are effectively without obligation to obey them. Many acknowledge those commandments as sound moral “principles,” but not as a solid and definitive basis for Christian conduct.</p> <p>Examples of this departure from biblical instruction are many. The Fourth Commandment states, “Remember the Sabbath Day, to keep it holy” (<a href="">Exodus 20:8</a>). Scripturally, the Sabbath should be observed from sunset on Friday until sunset on Saturday. Yet most of mainstream Christianity observes Sunday as the day of worship. Similarly, though the Second Commandment prohibits using idols to represent God, many churches around the world ignore this and display pictures, statues, icons, or relics as a part of their worship.</p> <h2><strong>THE TRADITIONS OF MEN</strong></h2> <p>As the ancient Israelites were preparing to enter the Promised Land, God warned them, “…do not inquire after their gods, saying, ‘How did these nations serve their gods? I also will do likewise.’ <em>You shall not worship the Lord your God in that way</em>…. Whatever I command you, be careful to observe it; <em>you shall not add to it nor take away from it</em>” (<a href="">Deuteronomy 12:30–32</a>). Through the centuries, pagan traditions such as those tied up with Christmas, Easter, Halloween, and Valentine’s Day filtered into the practices of most mainstream Christians and their churches, even as these churches gradually abandoned the Holy Days that God actually commanded, found in Leviticus 23.</p> <p>The Apostle John made it very plain: “Now by this we know that we know Him, <em>if we keep His commandments</em>. He who says, ‘I know Him,’ and does not keep His commandments, is a <em>liar</em>, and the truth is not in him” (<a href="">1 John 2:3–4</a>). This statement corresponds well with Jesus Christ’s instructions in <a href="">John 14:15</a>: “If you love Me, keep My commandments.” To the disciples, He said, “If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love, just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and abide in His love” (<a href="">John 15:10</a>).</p> <p>In both the public square and church buildings, truth is often missing. Party ideology has replaced true concern for the governed. Man-made religious traditions have replaced biblical truths.</p> <p>You cannot fix the political dysfunction or reform the entrenched religious establishment, but you can “work out your own salvation with fear and trembling” (<a href="">Philippians 2:12</a>). How does one go about this profound life change? By embracing those truths that others reject.</p> <p>By making obedience to God’s truth a priority, you can be freed from the lies and deception that dominate this age—because “you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free” (<a href="">John 8:32</a>).</p></div> <div class="field field--name-field-category field--type-entity-reference field--label-above"> <div class="field__label">Category</div> <div class="field__items"> <div class="field__item"><a href="/taxonomy/term/9" hreflang="en">Christian Living</a></div> </div> </div> Thu, 04 Aug 2022 19:23:43 +0000 bduval 64 at Three Reasons Why The Nuclear Family Is Fundamental To Society <span>Three Reasons Why The Nuclear Family Is Fundamental To Society</span> <div class="field field--name-field-viewpoint-title field--type-string field--label-hidden field__item">Three Reasons Why The Nuclear Family Is Fundamental To Society</div> <span><span lang="" about="/user/7" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="">bduval</span></span> <span>Wed, 08/03/2022 - 17:16</span> <div class="field field--name-field-viewpoint-date field--type-datetime field--label-hidden field__item"><time datetime="2020-05-15T12:00:00Z">2020-05-15</time> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-viewpoint-presenter field--type-list-string field--label-hidden field__items"> <div class="field__item">Jonathan Riley</div> </div> <div class="field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary field--label-hidden field__item"><p>The nuclear family is the single most important institution in any society. Without it, our very existence would quickly become jeopardized. Yet there are some who are attempting to break down the family and by doing so, their efforts are an attack on humanity. Here are three reasons why the family unit is fundamental to society.</p></div> <div class="field field--name-field-viewpoint-thumbnail field--type-entity-reference field--label-above"> <div class="field__label">Viewpoint Thumbnail</div> <div class="field__item"><div> <div class="field field--name-field-media-image field--type-image field--label-visually_hidden"> <div class="field__label visually-hidden">Image</div> <div class="field__item"> <img src="/sites/default/files/styles/large/public/2022-08/VP-RNFF.jpg?itok=lbGnnSps" alt="Title" loading="lazy" typeof="foaf:Image" /> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-viewpoint-video-iframe field--type-iframe field--label-above"> <div class="field__label">Viewpoint Video Iframe</div> <div class="field__item"><div class=""> <h3 class="iframe_title">Three Reasons Why The Nuclear Family Is Fundamental To Society</h3> <style type="text/css">iframe#iframe-field_viewpoint_video_iframe-61 {/*frameborder*/ border-width:0;/*transparency*/ background-color:transparent;}</style> <iframe width="1168" height="657" name="iframe-field_viewpoint_video_iframe-61" id="iframe-field_viewpoint_video_iframe-61" title="Three Reasons Why The Nuclear Family Is Fundamental To Society" allow="accelerometer;autoplay;camera;encrypted-media;geolocation;gyroscope;microphone;payment;picture-in-picture" allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen" src=";cc_load_policy=1"> Your browser does not support iframes, but you can visit <a href=";cc_load_policy=1">Three Reasons Why The Nuclear Family Is Fundamental To Society</a> </iframe> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-viewpoint-tags field--type-string field--label-hidden field__items"> <div class="field__item">#nuclearfamily</div> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-viewpoint-category field--type-entity-reference field--label-hidden field__items"> <div class="field__item"><a href="/taxonomy/term/9" hreflang="en">Christian Living</a></div> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-viewpoint-link field--type-link field--label-hidden field__item"><a href="/video/viewpoint/three-reasons-why-nuclear-family-fundamental-society">Watch</a></div> Wed, 03 Aug 2022 17:16:20 +0000 bduval 61 at Does Character Matter? <span>Does Character Matter?</span> <div class="field field--name-field-viewpoint-title field--type-string field--label-hidden field__item">Does Character Matter?</div> <span><span lang="" about="/user/7" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="">bduval</span></span> <span>Wed, 08/03/2022 - 13:18</span> <div class="field field--name-field-viewpoint-date field--type-datetime field--label-hidden field__item"><time datetime="2018-05-16T12:00:00Z">2018-05-16</time> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-viewpoint-presenter field--type-list-string field--label-hidden field__items"> <div class="field__item">Michael Heykoop</div> </div> <div class="field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary field--label-hidden field__item"><p>With the sudden increase of sexual harassment claims against influential personalities, the question must be asked: “How did individuals of such low character come to prominence in the first place?”</p> <p>In watching politics, I often find myself amazed at how quickly an individual accused of just about anything can be vilified. The ink barely has time to dry on most stories, or whatever the equivalent saying would be for tweets, and then countless politicians declare their outrage at how shameful and immoral the accused is. It appears innocent until proven guilty has given way to the immediate ostracizing of anyone accused of wrongdoing. Of course, that is if the accused is a member of the opposing political party. Does character matter anymore?</p></div> <div class="field field--name-field-viewpoint-thumbnail field--type-entity-reference field--label-above"> <div class="field__label">Viewpoint Thumbnail</div> <div class="field__item"><div> <div class="field field--name-field-media-image field--type-image field--label-visually_hidden"> <div class="field__label visually-hidden">Image</div> <div class="field__item"> <img src="/sites/default/files/styles/large/public/2022-08/VP-DCM.jpg?itok=Qsf8Gel3" alt="inappropriate words on signs" loading="lazy" typeof="foaf:Image" /> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-viewpoint-video-iframe field--type-iframe field--label-above"> <div class="field__label">Viewpoint Video Iframe</div> <div class="field__item"><div class=""> <h3 class="iframe_title">Does Character Matter?</h3> <style type="text/css">iframe#iframe-field_viewpoint_video_iframe-60 {/*frameborder*/ border-width:0;/*transparency*/ background-color:transparent;}</style> <iframe width="1168" height="657" name="iframe-field_viewpoint_video_iframe-60" id="iframe-field_viewpoint_video_iframe-60" title="Does Character Matter?" allow="accelerometer;autoplay;camera;encrypted-media;geolocation;gyroscope;microphone;payment;picture-in-picture" allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen" src=";cc_load_policy=1"> Your browser does not support iframes, but you can visit <a href=";cc_load_policy=1">Does Character Matter?</a> </iframe> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-viewpoint-tags field--type-string field--label-hidden field__items"> <div class="field__item">#character</div> <div class="field__item">#mediabias</div> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-viewpoint-category field--type-entity-reference field--label-hidden field__items"> <div class="field__item"><a href="/taxonomy/term/9" hreflang="en">Christian Living</a></div> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-viewpoint-link field--type-link field--label-hidden field__item"><a href="/video/viewpoint/does-character-matter">Watch</a></div> Wed, 03 Aug 2022 13:18:24 +0000 bduval 60 at Biblical Principles of Health <span>Biblical Principles of Health</span> <div class="field field--name-field-title field--type-string field--label-hidden field__item">Biblical Principles of Health</div> <span><span lang="" about="/user/7" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="">bduval</span></span> <span>Mon, 06/20/2022 - 14:47</span> <div class="field field--name-field-booklet-author field--type-list-string field--label-hidden field__items"> <div class="field__item">Douglas S. Winnail</div> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-booklet-media field--type-entity-reference field--label-above"> <div class="field__label">Booklet Media</div> <div class="field__item"><div> <div class="field field--name-field-media-image field--type-image field--label-visually_hidden"> <div class="field__label visually-hidden"><a href="">Image</a></div> <div class="field__item"> <a href=""><img src="/sites/default/files/styles/large/public/2022-06/bph_cover_image%20%281%29.png?itok=VhjKaZuw" alt="Happy Family" loading="lazy" typeof="Image" /></a> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-booklet-teaser field--type-string field--label-hidden field__item">Modern science continues to validate the health laws of the Bible. God’s word points the way to a healthier life for all who are willing to learn!</div> <div class="field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary field--label-hidden field__item"><h2>ABOUT THE AUTHOR AND THIS BOOKLET</h2> <p>Douglas S. Winnail earned his Ph.D. in Anatomy &amp; Preventative Medicine at the University of Mississippi School of Medicine and his M.P.H. in Health Education, Nutrition &amp; International Health at Loma Linda University School of Public Health. He is an Evangelist with the Living Church of God in Charlotte, North Carolina, and serves as the Church’s Director of Church Administration, working with ministers around the world.</p> <p>The information in this booklet cannot replace a personal, one-on-one relationship with a qualified health professional. However, the Bible is a long-neglected resource for health and nutrition, and Dr. Winnail has dedicated much of his life to educating people about the wisdom it contains. Over the last four decades, he has instructed the students of several colleges and universities on the subjects of health and wellness, providing many of the very insights collected in this work.</p> <p>It is our hope that this booklet will inspire you to begin including God’s word as you make your own decisions about health, diet, and lifestyle.</p> <h2>PREFACE</h2> <h3>CHOICES WITH CONSEQUENCES: HOW DO WE APPROACH HEALTH?</h3> <p><em>Is good health a matter of “luck</em><em>”? Or can individuals make decisions that can improve the quality of their lives—and even extend their lives?</em></p> <p>In the opening chapters of the book of Genesis, we read that God planted many trees in the Garden of Eden for Adam and Eve. He called their attention, however, to <em>two trees in particular</em>. They symbolized two very different ways of life (<a href="">Genesis 2:9</a>), each with the ability to profoundly influence all of human history. We read that God let Adam and Eve <em>choose</em> between these two different ways of life (<a href="">Genesis 2:16–17</a>). Sadly, influenced by Satan, they made a fateful decision that has had <em>far-reaching</em> and <em>long-lasting</em> consequences. The Tree of Life represented obedience to God and embracing His way of life, outlined in the laws and instructions found in the Bible. The consequence of choosing that option is blessings of every kind. The Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil pictures humanity’s choice to follow human reasoning apart from God’s guidance. Adam and Eve chose that second tree, rejecting God’s way of life in favor of a path that leads to pain, suffering, and disease—consequences that inevitably result when human beings accept Satan’s deadly influence.</p> <p>Moses emphasized these same choices to the Israelites before they entered the Promised Land. He said, “I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing; therefore choose life, that both you and your descendants may live; that you may love the Lord your God, that you may obey His voice, and that you may cling to Him, for He is your life and the length of your days” (<a href="">Deuteronomy 30:19–20</a>). God’s way of life involves obedience to His laws and instructions, but Moses also warned that ignoring or disobeying God’s instructions would result in suffering and death. Regrettably, the Israelites chose the way that brought negative consequences—including sickness and disease!</p> <p>Throughout Scripture, we find again and again the same theme of two contrasting ways of life. Ancient King David wrote, “Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly… but his delight is in the law of the Lord” (<a href="">Psalm 1:1–2</a>). King Solomon stated similarly, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and instruction” (<a href="">Proverbs 1:7</a>). Solomon also warned, “There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death” (<a href="">Proverbs 14:12</a>). Jesus Christ taught His followers that most people choose the broad way that leads to suffering, while only a few find the narrow way that leads to life (<a href="">Matthew 7:13–14</a>). As you will discover in this booklet, the Bible and human history bear witness to a fundamental truth regarding physical health: <strong><em>Human beings have chosen an inadequate approach to health and disease, very different from what God originally intended for us to follow!</em></strong></p> <p>What you are about to read may surprise you! However, when you begin to understand and apply the simple yet powerful Bible-based principles we will discuss, you will embark on a remarkably practical path that may add years to your life, and even life to your years!</p> <p>Of course, God promises no one continuously perfect health in this life—which is only temporary (<a href="">Hebrews 9:27</a>; cf. <a href="">Ecclesiastes 9:11</a>). In fact, many causes of illness and injury in this world are due to the disobedience of <em>others</em> and are beyond our control. As the entire world continues to reject more and more of God’s way of life, it seems as if even the environment itself is turning against us!</p> <p>Yet, in the Bible, God provides us with powerful principles with the potential to make a real impact on the quality of our health—and on every aspect of our lives! As you learn more about the biblical approach to health, and put it into practice for yourself, you will be preparing for an exciting and challenging future that soon will change the whole world!</p> <h2>CHAPTER ONE</h2> <h3><strong>DISEASE: AN AGE-OLD CURSE</strong></h3> <p><em>Why have sickness and disease been so persistent and pervasive throughout human history?</em></p> <p>When we examine how various civilizations have dealt with health and disease, some very important lessons begin to emerge. From a public health standpoint, human history is the story of a <strong><em>continuing struggle against disease</em></strong>. Mummies from ancient Egypt and medical texts from the time of the pharaohs reveal that the ancient Egyptians suffered from many of the <strong><em>same</em></strong> diseases that currently afflict the modern peoples of Egypt: asthma, cancer, heart disease, varicose veins, epilepsy, blindness, scurvy, hepatitis, bubonic plague, and a host of parasitic diseases.</p> <p>Though many ancient civilizations had armies of priest-physicians, they <em>never succeeded</em> in eliminating the ever-present threat of disease. But why did they fail? Was it because they lacked modern scientific information and technology, or was it because of their basic approach to the subject of health and disease?</p> <p>Sadly, the picture has changed very little today. Although nations have spent <em>billions</em> of dollars and medical science has made enormous strides in identifying the causes of many diseases—even developing “miracle cures” and “magic bullets” to treat formerly fatal illnesses—the tragic effects of sickness and suffering still linger like a dark shadow over our modern world. We “declare war” on cancer, diabetes, and heart disease, yet they remain leading causes of death. Modern medicine has made an immense effort to eradicate malaria—a disease that helped topple the Roman Empire—yet malaria today is <em>returning</em> with a vengeance. Tuberculosis, once thought to be nearly eliminated in developed countries, is again spreading with the movements of people from less-developed parts of the planet. Despite massive efforts against the scourge of AIDS (Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome), the disease continues to ravage nations and destroy lives around the globe. Parasitic diseases continue to afflict millions of people.</p> <p>Is there something we have failed to see? Is there <em>another<strong> </strong>road</em> we have not taken—one that could lead to a better and healthier future in our struggle to overcome the scourge of disease?</p> <h3>SUBSTANCES AND SUPERSTITIONS</h3> <p>As we study thousands of years of recorded medical history, a very striking theme begins to emerge—as well as a sharp contrast. Most human societies have followed a similar approach in dealing with the problem of disease. Rather than change the behaviors that led to sickness, people sought to invoke their gods or appease them with superstitious ceremonies, sacrifices, and offerings.</p> <p>Most ancient civilizations also recorded extensive lists of substances used to treat diseases. Ancient writings contain details of surgical procedures for various pathological conditions, along with <em>spells</em> employed by sorcerers to drive away diseases. The knowledge of their medical treatments was usually held as the <em>exclusive domain</em> of the priest-physicians—which kept the average person dependent on the priesthood to deal with disease. In the early Americas, this private knowledge was often passed down from father to son within the priesthood. In Egypt, medical knowledge was guarded and transmitted in schools associated with the temples. The Egyptian practice of embalming the dead before burial also gave Egyptian physicians a considerable knowledge of human anatomy. The Greek poet Homer (ca. 850 BC) wrote, “In Egypt the men are more skilled in medicine than any of human kind,” and the Greek historian Herodotus (ca. 450 BC) noted that Egypt was full of physicians and that each physician specialized in treating specific diseases—of the eye, the teeth, the stomach, and other parts of the body.<sup><a href="">1</a></sup></p> <p>A comparative study of ancient civilizations around the world reveals that in addition to superstitious practices that looked to the gods for healing, such as temple sleep and wearing amulets, nearly all societies narrowly followed a <em>treatment-oriented</em> approach involving drugs and surgery when dealing with disease.</p> <p>None of these bygone societies succeeded in eliminating the curse of sickness and disease with such a focus, yet that same approach still dominates our health-care systems today—systems that are becoming prohibitively expensive and increasingly overwhelmed as the curse of disease continues to spread around the world! While we should be grateful for the ability of modern medicine to treat disease, is it possible we are <em>overlooking</em> another important dimension?</p> <h3>ANCIENT ISRAEL: PROMOTING HEALTH AND PREVENTING DISEASE!</h3> <p>History provides a <em>striking contrast</em> in the example of a nation that was given a very different approach for dealing with health and disease. The example is that of the Hebrews and the ancient nation of Israel—described primarily in the writings of Moses, though related, additional principles can be found throughout the Bible. In contrast to their neighbors and other civilizations in the ancient world, the inspired, biblical writings of the Hebrews do <em>not</em> record extensive lists of drugs and substances, nor do they provide details of surgical procedures for treating diseases. Instead, the Bible provides us with <em>fundamental principles</em> that modern medical scientists have come to realize can play powerful roles in <em>promoting health</em> and <em>preventing disease</em>.</p> <p>Various commentators throughout history have acknowledged the intent and benefit of these biblical guidelines. One scholar noted that “most of the biblical laws can be clearly seen to tend toward public health… the laws were wonderfully fashioned by God for the general health of the nation.”<sup><a href="">2</a></sup></p> <p>And, in further contrast to surrounding cultures, Hebrew priests did not guard these fundamental principles as their private knowledge. Instead, God told them to disseminate this vital information and make these fundamental principles public knowledge by <em>teaching</em> the people <em>how</em> they could <em>avoid</em> the curse of disease and live healthy lives! Israelite priests were to focus on <em>education and prevention</em>, not simply after-the-fact medical treatments! “Unlike their Egyptian predecessors, they avoided actual medical practice and concentrated upon the observance of health rules with regard to food, cleanliness and quarantine.”<sup><a href="">3</a></sup> In fact, as medical historians plainly acknowledge, “Moses recognized the great principle that prevention of disease is usually simpler and invariably more far reaching than the cure of disease.”<sup><a href="">4</a></sup> Moses has also been called “the greatest sanitary engineer the world has ever seen” and the public health guidelines he recorded in Leviticus “could be summed by the objects of sanitation today—pure food, pure water, pure air, pure bodies and pure dwellings.”<sup><a href="">5</a></sup></p> <p>The Bible also records that God revealed His way of life to ancient Israel so that the Hebrews would be lights and examples to the world (see <a href="">Deuteronomy 4:1–10</a>). God desired that other nations would see the Israelites’ success and want to follow their example. He did not want His laws to be the exclusive possession of Israel—they were meant to be shared with the world so other nations and peoples would be able to enjoy the benefits of this God-given way of life!</p> <p> The writings of Moses—along with other biblical principles we will discuss—outline a very particular, practical approach to the subject of health and disease. The biblical approach focuses on <em>education</em>—the <em>prevention</em> of disease and the <em>active promotion</em> of health—instead of merely cataloging cures and treatments.</p> <h3>ANCIENT HEALTH LAWS AND A MODERN DILEMMA</h3> <p>The Bible’s laws and instructions about health pose an interesting dilemma for anyone who believes in following biblical teachings. The Bible clearly states that certain foods must not be eaten and that certain behaviors are sinful and an abomination in God’s sight. Yet professing Christian theologians have claimed for centuries that these laws were burdensome restrictions applicable only to the Jews, and that Jesus came to abolish them once and for all. Critics dismiss these ancient laws as outdated, bizarre, sometimes barbaric, and certainly no longer binding upon Christians. Yet, others who read the Bible carefully find it odd that God would command His chosen people to follow these laws and instructions <em>for their own good</em> (<a href="">Deuteronomy 10:13</a>), then send Jesus Christ to somehow dismiss these same laws and instructions as unhelpful and no longer necessary. Anyone with common sense can see that this just does not add up.</p> <p>Many of the biblical health principles are found within the body of divinely inspired laws and statutes often referred to as the “Laws of Moses”—principles that have been the subject of considerable debate and speculation in theological circles as to their origin and purpose. Some scholars believe that Moses merely collected primitive taboos from neighboring nations to form a code of laws. Others claim that the designations of “clean” (fit for human consumption) and “unclean” (unfit for human consumption) were purely arbitrary, irrational, and unexplainable. Some speculate that unclean animals were imperfect members of their species—yet, if you told that to a pig, you would probably get a well-deserved snort of disgust! Some misguided theologians also assert that the biblical health laws have nothing to do with health, but were merely rituals designed to separate the Israelites from their pagan neighbors, and that only Jews (if anyone) need to observe these laws today. Or they simply assume these laws are relics of temple worship that are obsolete in our day. However, all these attempts to explain—or explain <em>away</em>—the biblical health laws are woefully inadequate and totally overlook historical, scientific, and biblical facts and observations that support very different conclusions.</p> <p>It is quite informative and instructive to read what more objective reference books say about the biblical health laws. <em>Halley’s Bible Handbook</em> states, “Moses’ Law… including its Health and Food regulations, was far purer, more rational, humane and democratic than, and showed wisdom far in advance of, anything in ancient legislation, Babylonian, Egyptian or any other.”<sup><a href="">6</a></sup> <em>Eerdmans Handbook to the Bible</em> states, “Today we are more able to understand and appreciate the sound principles of diet, hygiene and medicine which these laws express.”<sup><a href="">7</a></sup> Commenting on Leviticus 11, the <em>Expositor’s Bible Commentary </em>states, “the Levitical laws of cleanness have no known extensive parallel in the surrounding cultures”—so the idea that Moses borrowed primitive taboos does not hold up, because “surrounding cultures exhibit little of this sort of law.”<sup><a href="">8</a></sup> These are rather amazing statements!</p> <p>Although some scholars mistakenly assert that God gave the biblical health laws for ritual and ceremonial reasons rather than health, the <em>Expositor’s Bible Commentary</em> correctly states that the “spiritual and hygienic reasons for the laws may still be affirmed. They are remarkably valuable in the area of public health… and protected Israel from bad diet, dangerous vermin, and communicable diseases…. These were rule-of-thumb laws that God gave in His wisdom to a people who could not know the reason for the provision.”<sup><a href="">9</a></sup> Thus, the claims that these biblical health laws are outdated, old-fashioned, irrational, and have nothing to do with health are simply nonsense—biblically and scientifically groundless.</p> <h3>LEARNING FROM ISRAEL’S POTENTIAL AND FAILURE</h3> <p>But why did God record physical health laws in the Bible, which is a book of religion and not a book of medical science? When God brought the Israelites out of captivity in Egypt, He gave them laws, commandments, and statutes that would enable them to have a relationship with Him and to be blessed above all people on earth (<a href="">Deuteronomy 7:14</a>). Those laws included fundamental health laws designed to benefit them.</p> <p>As we will see, Scripture clearly reveals that health is the <em>result</em> of learning and obeying the physical laws and principles that God designed to promote health and help prevent disease. In the Bible, sickness and disease are the <em>result</em> of turning away from God and ignoring and disobeying these fundamental laws and principles. Any society that understands and obeys these laws is a healthier society.</p> <p>God plainly told the Israelites, “If you diligently heed the voice of the Lord your God and do what is right in His sight, give ear to His commandments and keep all His statutes, I will put none of the diseases on you which I have brought upon the Egyptians. For I am the Lord who heals you” (<a href="">Exodus 15:26</a>). This same instruction is repeated in <a href="">Exodus 23:22–25</a>, where God told Israel that, among other blessings for obedience, “I will take sickness away from the midst of you” (v. 25). Again, in Deuteronomy 7, He told Israel that, “because you listen to these judgments, and keep and do them… the Lord will take away from you all sickness, and will afflict you with none of the terrible diseases of Egypt which you have known, but will lay them on all those who hate you” (<a href="">Deuteronomy 7:12</a>, <a href="">15</a>). While there is certainly an element of active, divine blessing and cursing in these passages, we will see that it would be a grave mistake to assume this is the only element.</p> <p>The Bible reveals plainly that God gave the Israelites His laws <em>for their benefit</em> (<a href="">Deuteronomy 10:13</a>). They were in no way meant to be a burden (cf. <a href="">1 John 5:2–3</a>)—though so many have falsely been told otherwise.</p> <p>In fact, God wanted <em>other nations</em> to learn from Israel’s way of life, as well. Among His other purposes for Israel, God wanted their example to show the world a <em>way of life</em> that actually worked and brought real, measurable benefits. As Moses told them concerning these laws, “Therefore be careful to observe them; for this is your wisdom and your understanding in the sight of the peoples who will hear all these statutes, and say, ‘surely this is a wise and understanding people’” (<a href="">Deuteronomy 4:6</a>).</p> <p>On the other hand, God warned Israel that if they did <em>not</em> obey Him, plague, fever, and wasting disease would follow, among numerous other curses (<a href="">Deuteronomy 28:15–28</a>). And, regrettably, Israel did, indeed, do just that: turn their back on the God who loved them and on the way of life He had delivered to them!</p> <p>And, just as regrettably, those curses did, indeed, follow.</p> <p>While many of those curses would be the result of Israel’s spiritual condition and their rejection of their Creator, the inspired words of Scripture indicate that some of the curses they experienced would simply be <em>the natural effects</em> of their disobedience—a matter of cause and effect. For instance, through the prophet Jeremiah, God informed Israel, “<em>Your own wickedness</em> will correct you, and your backslidings will reprove you” (<a href="">Jeremiah 2:19</a>). Through Hosea, the Ever-Living One declares, “My people are destroyed for <em>lack of knowledge</em>. Because... you have <em>forgotten the law of your God</em>, I also will forget your children” (<a href="">Hosea 4:6</a>). God says that He gave Israel “the great things of My law, but they were considered a strange thing” (<a href="">Hosea 8:12</a>). How descriptive that is of our modern world.</p> <p>The results of violating the Creator’s health laws were among the punishing effects that ancient, rebellious Israel experienced. Yet, the lessons of ancient Israel are being repeated by many today. Sadly, many people from all walks of life—including many who consider themselves Christian—view the God-given health laws of the Bible as strange and outdated ideas that are no longer relevant in our modern scientific age. Yet nothing could be further from the truth, as we will see in the chapters that follow.</p> <h2>CHAPTER TWO</h2> <h3>DIETARY LAWS: DO YOU REALLY WANT TO EAT THAT?</h3> <p><em>Why did God prohibit the consumption of certain animals? Should we follow those same instructions today?</em></p> <p>For many people today, the dietary laws regarding clean and unclean animals are among the most puzzling instructions found in the Bible. For thousands of years, these laws have been a striking mark of identity separating those who follow biblical guidelines from the rest of the world (<a href="">Leviticus 20:25–26</a>). Yet, for centuries, these same instructions have also been a source of controversy and confusion among various religious groups, even those who claim to get their beliefs from the same book—the Bible.</p> <p>Perceptive scholars have recognized that these laws express God’s will and represent wise, reasonable, and beneficial measures revealing “God’s care for the health of His people.”<sup><a href="">1</a></sup> Sadly, most people today—including theologians—have little or no understanding of the sound medical reasons behind God’s instructions, because the scientific wisdom behind the biblical dietary laws is seldom taught or explained. Instead, these laws are commonly viewed as antiquated Old Testament regulations for the Jews that are no longer applicable for Christians or the general public. However, as <em>Eerdmans Handbook to the Bible</em> comments, “The lists of clean and unclean animals in Leviticus 11 and Deuteronomy 14… have a significance often ignored. Far from being a catalogue of food taboos based on fad or fancy, these lists emphasize a fact not discovered until late in the last century… that animals carry diseases dangerous to man.”<sup><a href="">2</a></sup> In fact, the same animals labeled unclean in Scripture <em>still carry</em> parasitic diseases that are dangerous to human beings today.</p> <p>Despite these important scientific facts, many theologians and secular scholars have dismissively referred to the dietary guidelines in Leviticus and Deuteronomy as meaningless, repulsive, arbitrary, irrational ideas that originated in primitive superstitions—not in the mind of God. They have even asked, “What has all this to do with religion?”<sup><a href="">3</a></sup></p> <p>Scripture reveals several important reasons for the dietary laws. In Exodus, we learn that God chose the nation of Israel and set them apart for a special purpose (<a href="">Exodus 19:5–6</a>), and the dietary laws contributed to that divine purpose: “I am the Lord your God, who has separated you from the peoples. You shall therefore distinguish between clean beasts and unclean.… And you shall be holy to Me, for I the Lord am holy, and have separated you from the peoples, that you should be Mine” (<a href="">Leviticus 20:24–26</a>). Living according to God’s divine laws should have made Israel a model nation—a light and example to the world—as nations saw the blessings they enjoyed, including blessings of good health (<a href="">Deuteronomy 7:15</a>).</p> <p>As we will see, not only would the dietary laws contribute to the Israelites’ good health, they would promote wise and efficient management of environmental resources. Understood this way, the distinction between clean and unclean animals plays a role in helping us “tend and keep” the land as good stewards of God’s creation (cf. <a href="">Genesis 1:28</a>; <a href="">2:15</a>). Indeed, to fully grasp the significance of the biblical dietary laws, we must see them in the context of God’s overall purpose for mankind.</p> <h3>STAY <em>ON</em> THE GRASS!</h3> <p>Leviticus 11 and Deuteronomy 14 are the primary passages in the Bible that describe the dietary laws. These chapters provide very specific information summarized in simple, easy-to-understand principles that could be applied long before the microscope was invented, and long before germ theory was proposed. Today, the discoveries of modern science are revealing just how important and practical these laws really are.</p> <p>Beginning in Leviticus 11, we read that God told Moses and Aaron to inform the Israelites, “These are the animals which you may eat among all the animals that are on the earth: Among the animals, whatever divides the hoof, having cloven hooves <em>and</em> chewing the cud—that you may eat” (vv. 1–3). Plant-eating mammals (herbivores) that fit this description are called <em>ruminants</em>. These animals have four-chambered stomachs that convert grasses that are inedible to humans and other animals into nutritious, high-quality protein products (meat and milk) that people can then use for food. Examples of clean animals would be all cattle, sheep, goats, deer, bison, moose, antelope, gazelles, caribou, and giraffes. They are all divided-hoof herbivores that obtain their food by grazing or browsing on grasses and other plants.</p> <p>From the standpoint of wise environmental management, these guidelines make a lot of sense. Vast areas of the globe are covered by rangelands (savannas, veldts, and pampas), which are often called “marginal lands” because they do not have enough rainfall to support the production of food crops like corn or wheat. “Cattle, sheep and goats have the ability to convert plant carbohydrates and proteins into available nutrients for human use, making otherwise unusable land productive.”<sup><a href="">4</a></sup></p> <p>The clean animals that God permitted His model nation to eat—easily discerned by split hooves and cud-chewing—were designed to produce nutritious food in an economical and ecologically sound manner. These guidelines were a key benefit that God wanted the world to see through the example of Israel.</p> <h3>NO PIGGING OUT</h3> <p>The dietary laws regarding cud-chewing beasts also prohibit the consumption of all carnivorous animals for very logical reasons. God created unclean animals, unsuitable for human consumption, for many other purposes. Carnivores, as beasts of prey, play an important role in controlling the populations of other animals. As an example, wolves and mountain lions, which feed on herds of deer, not only control numbers, but also help maintain the herd’s health by culling out older, sick, or infirm animals. That is one reason why we should not eat carnivores—they may eat sick animals and transmit diseases to humans.</p> <p>The pig or swine is specifically mentioned in Scripture as unclean and unfit to be human food (<a href="">Leviticus 11:7–8</a>; <a href="">Deuteronomy 14:8</a>). While some theologians have stated, “We do not know why the swine was forbidden,”<sup><a href="">5</a></sup> others find numerous reasons related to ecology, economics, nutrition, and public health. In the wild, swine are often nocturnal animals that root for food. Their nighttime feeding habits would keep contact with humans at a minimum. Domesticated pigs, however, have been used for centuries as scavengers around human settlements. Having an omnivorous animal like the pig around that can put on weight rapidly by eating anything from simple grain to garbage, dead animals, and human waste products—and that can later be slaughtered and used for “food”—seemed like a pretty good arrangement to many peoples.</p> <p>But is it? The similarities between human and pig digestive tracts make them ecological competitors for many of the same types of food, resulting in a great deal of corn and other grains to be diverted to feed hogs in order to satisfy society’s craving for pork, instead of feeding humans themselves more directly—and far more efficiently.<sup><a href="">6</a></sup></p> <p>But pigs are not the only animal the Bible warns us to avoid eating. Rabbits and rodents can transmit tularemia (also called rabbit fever, deerfly fever, and tick fever) to humans who come into contact with meat and body fluids from these animals. This bacterial disease is endemic in North America and across Europe, the Middle East, and Asia. It can also be transmitted by ticks or mosquitoes that bite an infected animal and then bite human beings.<sup><a href="">7</a></sup></p> <p>Biblical dietary guidelines also prohibit eating bats and monkeys—which have been implicated as the source of the Ebola virus that has emerged with devastating effects in equatorial Africa where both bats and primates are consumed as “bush meat.”<sup><a href="">8</a></sup> Bats and camels have been implicated in Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS). In fact, consuming unclean animals such as bats, pigs, civets, and various other “exotic” but unclean animals, has been implicated in the possible origins of many modern flu epidemics and pandemics of our times, such as Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS), Swine Flu, and the coronavirus that gave the world COVID-19. Virologist Michael Lai has noted, “The fact that both SARS and most flu viruses originated in southern China is no surprise,” citing the custom of those in the region to eat such wild animals. Lai highlights that SARS is suspected by some to have moved from animals to humans after first mixing with a human virus that may have been “brewing” in another animal, such as a pig.<sup><a href="">9</a></sup></p> <h3>LET US <em>NOT</em> EAT WORMS!</h3> <p>Trichinosis, caused by a small parasitic roundworm that gets into muscle tissue, is one of the major diseases transmitted by swine and other unclean animals. It is a global disease infesting approximately 11 million people.<sup><a href="">10</a></sup> This is not surprising, considering that pork has long been the most popular meat in the world, only recently surpassed by poultry.<sup><a href="">11</a></sup> On average, each American consumes more than 50 pounds (23 kilograms) of pork every year.<sup><a href="">12</a></sup></p> <p>Pigs are not alone, however, and <em>many</em> carnivorous and omnivorous animals are infected with the parasite <em>trichinella spiralis</em>. In addition to pork, bear and walrus meat have both served as significant sources of infections in humans. The list of unclean animals that transmit this parasite to people in their meat includes squirrels, rats, cats, dogs, rabbits, foxes, panthers, lions, and horses.<sup><a href="">13</a></sup> It is hardly an accident or coincidence that God prohibited the consumption of these animals.</p> <p>Tapeworms (<em>taenia</em>), which afflict about 100 million people worldwide, are another serious health problem. While beef and fish can contain tapeworms that will colonize the human digestive tract and cause discomfort, the pork tapeworm is much more dangerous. The larva of the pork parasite, once inside the human intestine, can migrate through the tissues to the heart, eyes, and brain—and can eventually cause death.<sup><a href="">14</a></sup> Pork tapeworm infections “are more prevalent in under-developed communities with poor sanitation where people eat raw or undercooked pork… in Latin America, eastern Europe, sub-Saharan Africa and Asia.”<sup><a href="">15</a></sup></p> <p>Although the general medical advice for avoiding parasitic infections from animals is to adequately cook the meat, the most effective way to avoid these diseases is to avoid eating unclean animals that do not have cloven hooves and do not chew the cud—as God instructed Moses and the Israelites 3,500 years ago. If <em>this portion alone</em> of the biblical dietary code were applied today, the global burden of parasitic disease could be dramatically reduced within a generation!</p> <h3>DON’T EAT THE CLEAN-UP CREW</h3> <p>After dealing with edible land animals, the second major set of divine dietary instructions concerned aquatic creatures. Scripture instructs, “These you may eat of all that are in the water: whatever in the water has fins and scales, whether in the seas or in the rivers—that you may eat.… Whatever in the water does not have fins or scales—that shall be an abomination to you” (<a href="">Leviticus 11:9</a>, <a href="">12</a>).</p> <p>These divinely ordained biblical guidelines were designed to point people to the safest kinds of fish to eat.</p> <p>Biblically clean fish generally swim free in bodies of water. Most unclean fish are either bottom-dwellers or predatory scavengers. The prohibition against eating fish that have no scales protects against the consumption of fish that often produce poisonous substances in their bodies. A U.S. Army survival manual comments: “Most poisonous fish have many similar physical characteristics. Generally, they are odd-shaped—box-like or almost round—and have hard skin (often covered with bony plates or spines), tiny mouths, small gills, and small or absent belly fins.”<sup><a href="">16</a> </sup>Many sea creatures noted for being venomous (e.g. four sharks, 58 stingrays, 47 catfish, 57 scorpion fish, 15 toadfish) do not have true scales.<sup><a href="">17</a></sup> Eels—nocturnal predatory scavengers that eat “almost any animal food, dead or alive”—would also be considered unclean because they lack scales.<sup><a href="">18</a></sup> Eel blood contains a toxic substance “which can be dangerous” if it comes “into contact with eyes or another mucous membrane.”<sup><a href="">19</a></sup></p> <p>Shellfish, lacking both fins and scales, are clearly excluded by the biblical dietary laws. But why would lobsters, crabs, crayfish, and shrimp—considered delicacies in much of the world—be prohibited? The answer lies in understanding the role they were designed to play in nature.</p> <p>Lobsters are nocturnal foragers. They are bottom-dwelling predatory scavengers that eat dead creatures and other bottom-dwelling organisms and debris.<sup><a href="">20</a></sup> They are usually caught in lobster pots baited with dead fish. Lobsters have long antennae and tiny hair-like sensors all over their bodies “that can detect specific chemical molecules in the environment (released by decaying organisms), which can help the lobster identify and locate food”—even in the dark! Lobsters have also been observed to bury a dead fish and then dig it up later, at intervals, to eat a bit more of it.<sup><a href="">21</a></sup></p> <p>Crabs have been called “professional garbage hunters” as they are scavengers that eat almost anything. The crab prefers dead fish but will eat any carrion. Common shrimp live by day in the mud or sandy bottoms of bays and estuaries, but by night become active as predatory scavengers and are “bottom dwelling detritus feeders.”<sup><a href="">22</a></sup></p> <p>These organisms were all created for a very important ecological purpose. They are, in essence, the “garbage collectors” or the “clean-up crew” for the bottoms of lakes, rivers, bays, and oceans. They were neither designed nor intended to be food for human beings.</p> <h3>DANGER ON THE HALF SHELL</h3> <p>There are also important and logical reasons why God created clams, oysters, mussels, and scallops, and then labeled them unclean and inappropriate for human consumption. These creatures are found in lakes, streams, and coastal areas where they perform specialized roles. As stationary filter-feeding mollusks, they pump large amounts of water over their mucus-covered gills, trapping tiny pieces of food (e.g. silt, plant debris, bacteria, viruses) which they then eat. As a result, some consider mussels and similar organisms the sea’s ultimate scavengers. <em>Filter-feeding organisms are the “vacuum cleaners” for aquatic environments. Their role is to purify the water.</em></p> <p>Once you understand the purpose for which God created shellfish, the reason they are considered unclean should become obvious. Most of us would be reluctant to make a meal from the contents of our vacuum cleaner bag, or from the material that collects on our furnace filter or septic tank. This well describes the role of shellfish: “Because shellfish feed by filtering the water that washes over the shellfish bed, they can accumulate disease-causing bacteria and viruses that are harmful to people.”<sup><a href="">23</a></sup></p> <p>How serious is the threat of disease from shellfish? The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has stated that “raw oysters, clams and mussels—so savored by gourmets—account for 85 percent of all the illnesses caused by eating seafood.”<sup><a href="">24</a></sup> Outbreaks of cholera, typhoid, hepatitis A, Norwalk virus, salmonella, and paralytic shellfish poisoning are just some of the health problems frequently linked to the consumption of these mollusks. Perhaps this is why Norwalk virus breaks out from time to time on cruise ships where these mollusks are commonly served. Public health authorities have recommended that pregnant women, the elderly and “individuals with immune systems weakened by certain diseases (cancer, diabetes, and AIDS) should… avoid eating or handling uncooked shellfish.”<sup><a href="">25</a></sup> Dangerous and potentially life-threatening consequences can be avoided by understanding and following the biblical dietary laws that prohibit eating marine organisms lacking fins and scales.</p> <h3>FROM BIRDS TO BUGS</h3> <p>The final groups of organisms covered by the biblical code are birds, insects, and reptiles. Essentially all the unclean fowl are either birds of prey or scavengers, like vultures and seagulls (<a href="">Leviticus 11:13–19</a>). Carnivorous birds are important in controlling populations of other animals. Their habit of eating the flesh and blood of their prey make these birds potential agents for transmitting disease. Predatory, fish-eating birds (e.g. eagles) tend to accumulate high levels of toxic chemicals in their bodies. Most of these birds are not important “food” sources for humans.</p> <p>Reptiles are also among the animals listed as unfit for human food (<a href="">Leviticus 11:29–30</a>; <a href="">42–43</a>). Regarding insects, only those from the locust and grasshopper family are permissible as food (vv. 21–23). These creatures are distinguished by having “strong hind legs for springing”<a href="">26</a>and historically have been a food source in the Middle East.</p> <h3>THE SKINNY ON FAT</h3> <p>The laws about clean and unclean animals are not the only biblical instructions that concern diet. Scripture tells us not only what animals are good for food, but what parts of the animal can be eaten and what parts cannot. The Bible plainly states that when we eat meat, we should avoid the consumption of fat and blood: “You shall eat neither fat nor blood” (<a href="">Leviticus 3:17</a>). Why would these two items be singled out? A closer look, both at the Bible and research, sheds more light.</p> <p>The “fat” described in the book of Leviticus is the visceral fat around the liver, kidneys, and intestines, and may include visible fat that can be trimmed off of meat (<a href="">Leviticus 3:3–16</a>). These fats were to be burned on the altar as a sacrifice to God, and they were <em>forbidden</em> for human consumption (<a href="">Leviticus 3:17</a>; <a href="">7:23</a>, <a href="">25</a>). But why would God instruct us not to eat these fats? Is He against flavorful food? In fact, the very fats listed by name in Leviticus as forbidden are a staple of British cooking—used for savory and sweet puddings and other traditional dishes.</p> <p>It is surely no coincidence that most modern medical studies indicate that diets that are high in certain kinds of fat, such as some associated with the list in Leviticus, are also associated with weight gain, obesity, heart disease, various kinds of cancer, and other problems.<sup><a href="">27</a></sup> And while there is some dispute about the complex details concerning which fats are good and which are bad,<sup><a href="">28</a></sup> the Bible’s advice is plain, easy to follow, and has been consistent for more than 3,000 years.</p> <p>However, not all fat is bad. For instance, the Bible does not forbid the consumption of marbled fat <em>within</em> meat that gives it flavor. This “intramuscular” fat is chemically distinct from the fat that God forbids, and studies suggest it contains several healthy fatty acids not present in the forbidden fats.<sup><a href="">29</a></sup> In moderation, milk, cheese, butter, and yogurts can be healthful food sources, which is in harmony with the meal that Abraham and Sarah served when they were visited by their Creator (<a href="">Genesis 18:6–8</a>). Of course, the Bible does not forbid nuts, seeds, fruits, vegetables, and (clean) fish, all of which can be sources of healthy fats.<sup><a href="">30</a></sup> The consistent advice given by various nutrition sources about dietary fats, even when those sources otherwise disagree, involves <em>moderation</em>, which is also a biblical principle (<a href="">Philippians 4:5</a>, <em>KJV</em>)—a principle that does not speak well of Western diets, with daily visits to fast-food establishments and their “super-size” approach to sugary sodas, mountains of fries, and fat-drenched, triple-patty burgers. Generally, biblical moderation is not on their menus.</p> <h3>SHOULD WE EAT BLOOD?</h3> <p>The consumption of blood as food is also forbidden by the biblical dietary laws (<a href="">Leviticus 3:7</a>; <a href="">7:26-27</a>). Yet, depending on your culture, it might come as a surprise to learn that animal blood is used in preparing <em>many</em> traditional foods—from black pudding in the United Kingdom and blood sausage (<em>blutwurst</em>) in Germany and other parts of Europe, to <em>tiê’t canh</em> in Asia, which is a pudding made from the raw blood of animals such as pigs or ducks.</p> <p>Some in the nutrition industry even advocate for the use of blood as a food, seeing it as a “wasted product” of slaughterhouses<sup><a href="">31</a></sup>—a potential “super food” and another way to profit off of the meat industry.<sup><a href="">32</a></sup>  However , most advocates make little mention of the health risks involved in making and consuming these blood products. In a report detailing the deaths of a number of people who had eaten <em>tiê’t canh</em> in celebration of Vietnamese Lunar New Year, Dr. Tran Van Ky of the Vietnam Association of Science, Technology, and Food Safety noted the deadly nature of the practice: “The blood carries many diseases from the animals. People eating raw blood from sick pigs can get swine bacteria, worms, and other digestive diseases, while those having blood from sick chicken can be infected with H5N1 or H1N1 viruses.”<sup><a href="">33</a></sup></p> <p>While many theologians believe the Old Testament commands about not eating blood were only for the Jews and were done away with by Jesus Christ, first-century apostles were <em>still</em> instructing New Testament Christians, including Gentiles, that they should not eat blood (<a href="">Acts 15:20</a>, <a href="">28–29</a>). As Dr. Ky noted, obeying this biblical health principle can mean the difference between life and death.</p> <h3>SWEETS AND STARCHES: APPLYING MODERATION AND DISCERNMENT</h3> <p>When it comes to the consumption of sugars and starches, the story is much the same. Our modern Western diet contains considerable amounts of these ingredients in highly refined forms—essentially stripped of other nutrients such as vitamins, minerals, and fiber—hence the term “empty calories.” Numerous studies have shown that regularly consuming sugar-laden soft drinks and “energy” drinks and sugary foods like breakfast cereals, cookies, candy, cakes, and similar processed foods can lead to serious health problems. Actually, the more readily available these added sugars are in our diets, the greater the risk of weight gain, obesity, high blood pressure, diabetes, heart disease, and other chronic conditions.<sup><a href="">34</a></sup></p> <p>However, many of these diseases and chronic conditions could be avoided by simply following biblical guidelines for the consumption of sugars. In the book of Proverbs, we find the principle of moderation, once again: “Have you found honey? Eat only as much as you need, lest you be filled with it and vomit” (25:16) and “it is not good to eat much honey” (25:27). Long before society realized that the excessive consumption of sugar was harmful to our health, the Bible counseled <em>moderation</em> and <em>self-control—two </em>vital qualities<em> </em>recommended in other scriptures as well (e.g., <a href="">1 Corinthians 9:25</a>; <a href="">Galatians 5:23</a>).</p> <p>Starches affect the body in a manner similar to sugar, and many studies have pointed to the dangers of a diet filled with refined starches and simple carbohydrates, as are found in many brands of bread found on grocery-store shelves—dangers including heart disease, diabetes, and various cancers. In contrast, foods and breads that contain <em>complex</em> carbohydrates—less refined and using the whole grain, including its fibrous components—have been shown to reduce the risks of the same diseases.<sup><a href="">35</a></sup></p> <p>Is it only a coincidence that God gave Ezekiel a recipe for a multi-grain bread that was made with wheat, barley, beans, lintels, millet, and spelt (<a href="">Ezekiel 4:9</a>), and not a “new and improved” bread made with bleached and refined white flour?</p> <p>These biblical principles about sugars, starches, and sweets serve as guidelines to anyone interested in promoting health and preventing disease. And studies make it clear that we disobey them at our peril.</p> <h3>PROPER USE OF ALCOHOL</h3> <p>Many sincere people believe it is wrong and even sinful to drink alcohol. Yet, Paul recommended that Timothy drink a bit of wine for his upset stomach (<a href="">1 Timothy 5:23</a>), though we do not know the details of the circumstance he was addressing. And we should note that Jesus’ first miracle was turning water into wine at a wedding feast (<a href="">John 2:1–11</a>). He would not have done this if drinking alcohol were a sin.</p> <p>In past decades, temperance movements have trumpeted the evils of drinking alcohol, and some religious groups teach abstinence. Nevertheless, medical research has confirmed that consuming moderate amounts of alcohol can have beneficial effects on health for some individuals.<sup><a href="">36</a></sup> In some cases, people who use alcohol in healthy moderation have fewer heart attacks than alcohol abusers or total abstainers! Moderate amounts of alcohol may also elevate levels of high-density lipoproteins (HDL) in the blood, which is advantageous to health.<sup><a href="">37</a></sup></p> <p>At the same time, today’s attitude toward alcohol has swung to the other extreme. Drinking to excess has become a norm for many in Western society, leading to inevitable, tragic consequences. But here, too, the Bible provides guidance. God’s word declares drunkenness a sin, and it is condemned throughout Scripture (<a href="">Proverbs 20:1</a>; <a href="">Ephesians 5:18</a>; <a href="">1 Peter 4:3</a>). Priests were forbidden to drink on the job (<a href="">Leviticus 10:9</a>) and kings were warned against it (<a href="">Proverbs 31:4–5</a>), ensuring that their judgment was not affected—just as extra care should be taken by all working in sensitive situations. How much heartache, injury, and even death could be avoided if the biblical instructions concerning moderate use of alcohol were followed?</p> <p>Again, it is not surprising that the biblical instructions about the proper use of alcohol are in harmony with scientific evidence and are still applicable today. The Bible explains that we <em>may</em> use alcohol, but we must have the character needed to use it <em>properly</em>—and drinking to excess is divinely forbidden.</p> <h3>DID JESUS ABOLISH THE DIETARY LAWS?</h3> <p>As we have seen, God revealed profound principles that would protect the environment, provide safe, healthful food, and reduce the risk of disease for individuals and societies who would follow these instructions. In fact, in the case of flu viruses and pandemics such as COVID-19 that originate in unclean animals, we see that obeying or disobeying God’s health laws in one part of the globe can affect the entire world!</p> <p>So, if these laws are so logical and beneficial for us, why do so-called “Bible-believing” Christians so often seem to be at the forefront of rejecting them?</p> <p>Broader theological and doctrinal mistakes aside, many have misunderstood and misinterpreted some biblical passages to their own harm. A closer look at these passages reveals the truth behind some of these mistaken interpretations.</p> <p>For example, in Mark 7, Jesus explained to critics why His disciples ate without following the Pharisees’ ceremonial hand-washing tradition. Some Bible translations add words to Jesus’ answer in verse 19, suggesting that He did away with the dietary laws—for example, the <em>Revised Standard Version</em> translates this phrase, “Thus he declared all foods clean.” However, this translation is misleading and puts words into Jesus’ mouth that He <em>did not say!</em> Jesus’ point was that orally ingested dirt, which is eventually eliminated, does not spiritually defile a person, since it does not enter the “heart” and influence attitudes (vv. 18–23). Dirt passes through the digestive tract and is eliminated. Some translations treat this phrase far more accurately, such as the <em>International Standard Version</em>, which reads verse 19 as saying, “Because it doesn’t go into his heart but into his stomach, and then into the sewer, thereby expelling all foods.”</p> <p>The dietary laws regarding clean and unclean animals are simply not being discussed in this chapter of Mark—nor in <a href="">Matthew 15:10–20</a>, which discusses the same event (but without the misleading translation). In fact, <a href="">Matthew 15:20</a> plainly sums up Jesus’ teaching: “These are the things which defile a man, but to eat with unwashed hands does not defile a man.”</p> <p>Some will also cite Peter’s vision recorded in Acts 10. In that vision, God showed Peter a collection of unclean animals and told him three times to “eat.” Peter declined, each time, because he believed eating those animals would be wrong (vv. 13–16). Remember, this was the same Peter, trained by Christ for three-and-a-half years, who heard Jesus’ statements regarding eating with hands unwashed in the manner of the Pharisees’ man-made traditions—yet he still believed years later that eating meat from unclean animals was wrong. Peter puzzled over the meaning of his vision (<a href="">Acts 10:17</a>) until three Gentile men came knocking at his door with a request to hear the Gospel explained (vv. 21–27). Peter would not previously have associated with these men who were outside the covenant community, because the Jews considered the Gentiles “unclean.”</p> <p>When Peter put the pieces of this puzzle together, he concluded: “God has shown me that I should not call any <em>man</em> common or unclean” (v. 28). He perceived that God wanted the Gospel to go also to the Gentiles, and that these Gentiles were to come into God’s Church as equal to those coming from a Jewish background. Peter does not conclude here, or anywhere else in the New Testament, that the dietary laws had been abolished. To draw a different conclusion is to interpret Peter’s vision differently than Peter did, himself!</p> <h3>CAN WE EAT “EVERY CREATURE”?</h3> <p>Some theologians try to use <a href="">1 Timothy 4:1–5</a> to suggest that the dietary laws are no longer valid for Christians. Yet, in these verses, the Apostle Paul was discussing false teachers who were promoting the idea that Christians could be “more spiritual” by practicing asceticism and vegetarianism, abstaining from foods that God had made for us to eat. When Paul states that “every creature of God is good, and nothing is to be refused if it is received with thanksgiving; for it is sanctified by the word of God and prayer,” we need to ask: Where in the Bible are any creatures “sanctified” or “set apart” by God for human consumption? The answer is found in Leviticus 11 and Deuteronomy 14, in the lists of clean animals. And where in the “word of God” would Paul have seen unclean animals “sanctified” or “set apart” by God for human consumption? The answer is—<em>nowhere!</em></p> <p>Paul was not setting God’s commands aside to declare unclean animals permissible to eat. Quite the contrary: He used the word of God to correct those who were condemning believers for eating meat based on the “commandments and doctrines of <em>men</em>”—not based on God’s commandments (<a href="">Colossians 2:21–22</a>).</p> <p>To cite these passages as an excuse to get around the biblical dietary laws is to ignore both God’s instructions and the public health benefits they bring!</p> <p>Furthermore, several Old Testament passages that discuss the coming Kingdom of God make no sense if Jesus did away with the dietary laws. For example, Isaiah records a prophecy of Christ’s attitude on this subject upon His return: “For behold, the Lord will come with fire and with His chariots, like a whirlwind, to render His anger with fury… For by fire and by His sword the Lord will judge all flesh… Those who sanctify themselves and purify themselves, to go to the gardens after an idol in the midst, eating swine’s flesh and the abomination and the mouse, shall be consumed together” (<a href="">Isaiah 66:15–17</a>).</p> <p>Isaiah is plainly stating that the judgment of God will fall on those who ignore and reject His divinely inspired laws—including the biblical dietary laws of clean and unclean animals.</p> <h3>FROM HERE TO ETERNITY</h3> <p>One of the most regrettable consequences of professing Christianity’s aversion to the dietary laws, spawned in the turmoil of the second century AD, is that millions have suffered and died from diseases they contracted by eating food that God never intended them to eat. Somehow, the Bible’s plain, simple statement that Satan would deceive the whole world (<a href="">Revelation 12:9</a>) has been overlooked or conveniently forgotten. This deception has included the belief that simple, practical, rational, and beneficial instructions about diet have been abolished and are no longer valid!</p> <p>However, this will soon change. When Jesus Christ returns to the earth, there will be a restoration of “all things” (<a href="">Acts 3:20–21</a>)—and “all things” would include the Creator’s biblical dietary laws.</p> <h2>CHAPTER THREE</h2> <h3>EXERCISE: A BODY DESIGNED TO MOVE</h3> <p><em>We are living in what may be the most sedentary era of human history. But our bodies were designed to move! There are benefits when we do, and we pay a price when we do not.</em></p> <p>A major aspect of Christ’s message was that “I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly” (<a href="">John 10:10</a>). This is surely pointing to the promise of eternal life, but it also points to an abundant life we can enjoy today. Thousands of people have found that when they embrace the way of life God holds out to them in His word and the teachings of Jesus Christ, they do experience a more abundant life now.</p> <p>Of course, many believe that they have an “abundant life” now thanks to modern inventions and the luxuries afforded to us in the twenty-first century. This is certainly true to a great extent, but it is not without irony, because we are allowing some of those modern inventions and luxuries to rob us of the <em>truly</em> abundant life we could be having, instead.</p> <h3>COUCH POTATOES PAY A BIG PRICE</h3> <p>Because of modern society’s shift from farming to manufacturing, and from vigorous outdoor activity to indoor leisure such as video games, television viewing, constant smartphone use, and hours daily spent on the Internet, our civilization is perhaps less active than at any other time in human history. This <em>epidemic of inactivity</em> has brought a decline in health and increasing rates of chronic diseases.</p> <p>Many studies show that as people sit more and move less, they face a higher risk of developing various health conditions including obesity, high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes, colon cancer, anxiety, depression, skeletal degeneration, and muscle atrophy.<sup><a href="">1</a></sup> The World Health Organization estimates that 60 to 85 percent of the global population does not get enough physical activity and says that a sedentary lifestyle contributes to 3.2 million preventable deaths a year.<sup><a href="">2</a></sup> Attention-getting headlines proclaim that lack of exercise is as dangerous as smoking and that teenagers in the United States are now as inactive as 60-year-old adults.<sup><a href="">3</a></sup></p> <p>One result of our modern “sitting disease” is undesirable weight gain and obesity—which goes hand-in-hand with inactivity. In the U.S., more than 30 percent of children and nearly 70 percent of adults are overweight or obese.<sup><a href="">4</a></sup> Globally, nearly 2 billion adults are overweight or obese—and this figure has more than doubled since 1980.<sup><a href="">5</a></sup> This has led public health officials to suggest that the world is facing a “pandemic”—a worldwide problem—of diseases related to physical inactivity and obesity.<sup><a href="">6</a></sup></p> <p>Children are, perhaps, the most tragic victims of our physically inactive age. Estimates suggest that nearly one-half do not get enough exercise to develop healthy hearts and lungs, and more than 90 percent have at least one major risk factor for heart disease.<sup><a href="">7</a></sup> Television viewing, video games, poor parental examples, and the elimination of recess periods from many primary schools have all been linked to the growing problem.<sup><a href="">8</a></sup></p> <p>This sad picture—a global epidemic of inactivity linked to an increase in chronic diseases—is hardly the “abundant life” that Jesus envisioned for us.</p> <h3>DESIGNED TO MOVE</h3> <p>Such sedentary lifestyles are in conflict with the Creator’s design of the body. Everything about our human body indicates that it was designed to <em>move!</em> And when we don’t use our bodies the way they were meant to be used, we shouldn’t be surprised when they begin breaking down.</p> <p>Wise King Solomon tells us through the ages, “Like a flitting sparrow, like a flying swallow, so a curse without cause shall not alight” (<a href="">Proverbs 26:2</a>), and the Apostle Paul mirrors that sage advice when he says, “Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap” (<a href="">Galatians 6:7</a>). The law of cause and effect cannot be removed from the world, and it applies to our sedentary lifestyles today. If we won’t get off the couch and use our bodies the way they were designed to be used, we can continue to expect the deteriorating condition of human health that we see on display in the statistics of our newspapers.</p> <p>However, most of these diseases associated with our sedentary lifestyle could be prevented, managed, and even reversed if we resolved firmly to embrace our Creator’s design, get up, and be more active! Our present flesh-and-blood bodies are <em>not meant</em> to live forever (<a href="">Hebrews 9:27</a>), but if we use them in accordance with their design, we will <em>maximize</em> the quality and quantity of the life we can live. Even the aged and infirm who have limited mobility can still experience some benefit from doing what they can.</p> <h3>THE BENEFITS OF ACTIVITY</h3> <p>Modern research shows that the benefits of physical activity are extremely important to every age group. Physically active children and adolescents have better health, stronger bones and muscles, better sleep and mood, less stress, a stronger immune system, and reduced risk for many diseases.<sup><a href="">9</a></sup> Physical activity that strengthens muscles and increases aerobic fitness also improves children’s thinking ability, working memory, academic performance, and self-confidence.<sup><a href="">10</a></sup>Active children are also less likely to engage in destructive behaviors like smoking and substance abuse.<sup><a href="">11</a></sup></p> <p>Physically active adults have a much lower risk of developing many diseases. They enjoy stronger muscles and bones, stronger immune systems, fewer colds and sick days, lower blood pressure, better weight control, reduced risk of cardiovascular disease and stroke, a more positive mental outlook, and faster healing of injuries.<sup><a href="">12</a></sup> In fact, even for those with a genetic predisposition to obesity, regular exercise seems to lower the impact of that influence by one-third.<sup><a href="">13</a></sup> The lives of physically active people are truly more abundant—as Jesus intended!</p> <p>There are also benefits for senior citizens who begin to exercise or who remain physically active to the extent they are able. They can maintain muscle mass and bone density, which helps with balance and mobility and can reduce the fear of falls and broken bones—helping them walk faster and climb stairs better.<sup><a href="">14</a></sup> Regular physical activity also helps them reduce excess weight, manage stress and improve mood, and reduce the risk or effects of diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and cancer.<sup><a href="">15</a></sup> Physically active seniors experience less depression and have less need for expensive medical care. Their life expectancy increases and their overall quality of life improves, which enhances their sense of independence.<sup><a href="">16</a></sup> Regular physical activity even appears to slow the normal aging process.<sup><a href="">17</a></sup> Even those confined to beds or wheelchairs feel better if they are involved in an exercise program.</p> <p>One of the most intriguing aspects of physical activity is its positive effect on the brain. People maintaining a physically active lifestyle are observed to be more mentally stable, handle stress more effectively, exhibit better mental skills (creativity, memory, math, organization, and logical reasoning), and suffer less depression.<sup><a href="">18</a></sup> This appears to be related to the role of exercise in supplying more oxygen to the brain, as well as faster transmission of nerve impulses and the release of mood-elevating, pain-killing endorphins, which cause the brain to relax naturally.<sup><a href="">19</a></sup></p> <h3>WILL WE CHANGE DIRECTION?</h3> <p>The closing years of the twentieth century witnessed a major effort to curb this epidemic of inactivity. More and more people began walking, running, swimming, cycling, and enrolling in exercise classes. Corporations began to develop health promotion programs for employees. There was even a proposal that the U.S. government produce warning labels (similar to those found on alcohol and tobacco products) stating, “The Surgeon General has determined that the lack of physical activity is detrimental to your health.”<sup><a href="">20</a></sup> Public policy experts now advocate vigorously for changes in established attitudes, habits, and behaviors, so that individuals and society may gain the benefits that regular physical activity can bring.</p> <p>If we want to experience the abundant life Jesus Christ spoke of, most of us will need to change how we think, what we believe, and how we live our daily lives—including our physical lifestyle.</p> <p>Changing attitudes and habits is not easy! Established thoughts and behaviors resist being altered. However, change is easier when we clearly see the dangers of continuing old habits, understand the benefits we can gain by adopting new behaviors, and learn what actions are needed to replace our old practices. This gives us a clear path to follow.</p> <p>Basic motives are also important, if we expect to achieve lasting changes. Most already understand that exercise or a more active lifestyle will improve their physical health or appearance, but that knowledge is insufficient to motivate them to <em>act</em>—or, if they <em>do</em> begin, to remain motivated enough to continue. We need a deeper and more profound motivation to achieve lasting changes, and our faith in God and desire to please Him with our stewardship of our bodies can help provide such motivation. When reasons of faith are coupled with physical reasons, real change is more likely to occur, because we are motivated by our core beliefs regarding what glorifies God and what does not.</p> <p>Paul told the Corinthians that “your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit… therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s” (<a href="">1 Corinthians 6:19–20</a>). Though this passage was written in response to sexual immorality among the Corinthians, it contains a broader principle that should grab our attention. Christians have a responsibility to take care of the body God has given us, to the best of our ability. This can become a powerful motivating factor!</p> <p>Paul further states that, while spiritual growth is most important, “bodily exercise profits a little” (see <a href="">1 Timothy 4:8</a>). Indeed, regular activity or exercise benefits the body in <em>this life</em> only. But from another perspective, the <em>self-discipline</em> required to exercise becomes part of our character—and character lasts for <em>eternity.</em></p> <p>Making changes in our lives, even small ones, can often be intimidating. But we need to remember that real Christianity is not a spectator sport! It is a challenging way of life that involves growing and changing, overcoming old attitudes and habits, and replacing harmful behaviors with new ones. But nothing happens until we decide to <em>begin</em>.</p> <p>And the good news about a more physically active lifestyle is that almost <em>any</em> amount of regular activity is better than none! Perhaps you’d like to start with 30 minutes of activity a day, but it seems too much. You could consider trying ten minutes three times a day. Instead of a coffee break, perhaps you could take a short walk. You might find that you feel refreshed, and the activity you can add to your life will burn off calories while strengthening your heart, lungs, bones, and muscles. You might exercise with a friend, or with your pet, or make it a family occasion. Let your children and grandchildren see your example. Invite them to come along—show them the path to follow. Regular physical activity will change your life—how you feel, how you think, and how you look.</p> <p>Of course, individual circumstances differ, and you should exercise prudence (<a href="">Proverbs 22:3</a>). Before beginning any exercise program, it would be wise to consult your physician. He or she will likely be very happy to help you discover types of physical activity that will work with you and your particular circumstances.</p> <h3>A NEW TAKE ON “WALKING WITH CHRIST”</h3> <p>Of course, Jesus Himself was no stranger to physical activity. Growing up as a carpenter (<a href="">Mark 6:3</a>), Jesus spent many hours sawing, smoothing planks, drilling holes, and fashioning joints with a hammer and chisel. As a builder “in a land of little wood,” Jesus probably also worked with stone.<a href="">21</a> This kind of labor in an age without power tools required a <em>considerable</em> expenditure of energy. Have you ever shaken hands with a carpenter or builder? Jesus was undoubtedly a strong, well-muscled person with a powerful grip.</p> <p>To journey across the hill country of Galilee, Jesus often walked. In making the customary three trips to Jerusalem each year to keep the Holy Days (Passover, Pentecost, and the fall Festivals—Leviticus 23; <a href="">Luke 2:41–42</a>), if He had walked the entire way, Jesus would have walked about 150 miles round-trip on each occasion. Just to keep the Holy Days, Jesus may have walked <em>in excess of 450 miles</em> each year. When you consider that He may have walked a mile or more a day during the rest of the year, it is not hard to see that Jesus could easily have walked more than 1,000 miles every year. That is <em>a lot<strong> </strong></em>of physical activity!</p> <p>None of us live in first-century Judea, but the idea that your Savior was physically active Himself may add even more motivation to use—to the fullest extent you can—the body that God has given you. Perhaps on your own walks through a park or along a trail, you can call to mind Jesus Christ and His own treks with His disciples through the hill country of Judea. We are even told by the Apostle John that we are to “walk just as He walked” (<a href="">1 John 2:6</a>)—a statement that clearly refers to His example of righteousness, yet one which may add some spring to our step in our daily outings, as we imagine ourselves “following His steps” in a very different sort of way!</p> <h2>CHAPTER FOUR</h2> <h3><strong>CONTAGION: DEFEATING INFECTIOUS DISEASE</strong></h3> <p><em>Does the Bible hold important keys for overcoming the global challenge of infectious disease? Can religion play a role in promoting health and preventing illness?</em></p> <p>Perceptive world leaders in government and medicine are beginning to realize that more money, medicines, research, and legislation will not win the battle against disease. Health systems in many nations are deteriorating under the strain of burgeoning populations and limited financial resources. New outbreaks, such as the COVID-19 pandemic, severely test health care systems as nations struggle to respond. Dr. Gro Harlem Brundtland, a former Director-General of the World Health Organization, acknowledged years ago that the goal of “health for all... remains elusive”—an illusion that keeps slipping over the horizon.<sup><a href="">1</a></sup></p> <p>Perhaps it is time to ask: Why, in the twenty-first century, are we still struggling to win the battle against disease? Have effective solutions been ignored? Are we overlooking powerful tools—provided by God—that could make tremendous inroads against the plague of infectious diseases that afflict and kill millions of people around the world?</p> <h3>A GLOBAL CURSE</h3> <p>In the early 1900s, infectious diseases were the leading cause of suffering and death in America and Europe. Improved sanitation, along with other medical developments, significantly reduced these plagues on those continents.</p> <p>Outside the developed world, however, we still see a staggering and sobering picture, as infectious diseases—abetted by poverty—ravage astonishing numbers of people. Preventable and curable illnesses like malaria, diarrhea, tuberculosis, and respiratory disease kill more than ten million people in less-developed nations every year—with children disproportionately affected.<sup><a href="">2</a></sup> The number of people who <em>live with </em>and <em>suffer from </em>these diseases is mind-boggling.</p> <p>More than 400,000 people die of malaria each year—including 300,000 children under the age of five—mostly in sub-Saharan Africa.<sup><a href="">3</a></sup> It is estimated that 3.2 billion people—about 40 percent of the world’s population—are at risk of contracting and dying of malaria.<sup><a href="">4</a></sup> In developing countries, diarrheal disease—which is as preventable and treatable as malaria—is another leading cause of death and disability in children.<sup><a href="">5</a></sup> More than 10 million people contract tuberculosis (TB) each year, causing nearly 2 million fatalities annually.<sup><a href="">6</a></sup> In fact, by some estimates “about one-third of the world’s population has latent TB”—meaning they are infected with the bacteria, but not ill.<a href="">7</a></p> <p>In tropical and sub-tropical parts of the world, some 2.5 billion people are at risk from the deadly mosquito-borne dengue fever. More than 50 million cases occur each year, and outbreaks are spreading beyond the tropics.<sup><a href="">8</a></sup> HIV/AIDS is rapidly becoming the greatest threat to health, economic development, and national stability in many African and Asian countries. Since its emergence, it has claimed more than 35 million lives. Today, nearly 37 million people are HIV-positive and about two million new cases are reported each year.<sup><a href="">9</a></sup> In developing countries, snail fever (schistosomiasis) affects some 207 million people,<sup><a href="">10</a></sup> while intestinal worm infections plague nearly 2 billion.<sup><a href="">11</a></sup> More than 190 million in poor rural areas are at risk for bacterial trachoma, the leading cause of visual impairment and blindness.<sup><a href="">12</a></sup> More than 120 million people are at risk for onchocerciasis (river blindness) and 18 million are infected annually.<sup><a href="">13</a></sup> Leprosy still disables between one and two million people, with about 200,000 new infections every year.<sup><a href="">14</a></sup></p> <p>These are truly astronomical numbers of human beings who suffer from the curse of infectious disease. To make matters worse, in recent years this heavy disease burden in developing countries has been compounded by another sobering development. As the citizens of these nations increasingly adopt the behaviors and dietary practices of more developed nations, they are seeing increases in heart disease, cancer, and other pathologies that are prevalent in much of the developed world.<sup><a href="">15</a></sup></p> <p>Tragically, the heaviest burden of infectious and chronic disease falls on “the bottom billion” who “essentially live on no money,” trapped in an endless cycle of poverty.<sup><a href="">16</a></sup> Many countries in these poorest and least-developed regions are burdened with crushing debt, crumbling infrastructures, and rampant corruption, and are simply unable to deal with such horrendous problems—so their people continue to suffer disproportionately under the global curse of disease. A British colonial physician once wrote that “the great mass of Africa... has carried a more grievous burden of disease than any other region of the world... and the present inhabitants of tropical Africa host a wider variety of human parasites than any other people.”<sub><a href="">17</a></sub> In some regions of tropical Africa, 60–90 percent of the population is infected with multiple parasites.</p> <p>To reduce and eliminate this agonizing burden of disease, we must understand and address the true causes of the problem.</p> <h3>BREAKING A VICIOUS CYCLE</h3> <p>For many health professionals, the only solution to the problem of infectious disease is to pour more money into developing medications and establishing clinics to deliver treatments. There is often a desire to kill the invading pathogen or to alleviate suffering by treating symptoms—but too rarely is there a focus on addressing the <em>underlying causes</em>. Most infectious diseases that afflict developing countries are associated with poverty—crowded, unsanitary living conditions, lack of clean water, failure to properly dispose of human waste and garbage, and lack of protection against disease-bearing insects (window screens, mosquito nets, repellants, and insecticides). People living in poverty simply do not have access to these health-promoting resources and tools—and cash-strapped governments cannot provide them. Sadly, corrupt leaders often add to the problem, skimming international aid money to enrich themselves.</p> <p>Ignorance also plays a crucial role. People living in poor rural areas around the globe often do not understand how infectious diseases are transmitted and how easily they can be prevented. Instead of recognizing the true causes of infectious disease (e.g. bacteria, viruses, protozoa, flies, and mosquitoes), sometimes “evil spirits” are blamed. Countless millions do not realize or want to acknowledge that sexual activity and injecting street drugs can transmit HIV/AIDS. Many swim, bathe, wash clothes, and drink water from streams, lakes, and waterholes contaminated by human and animal waste—which may be the only water available! The consumption of animals and other organisms that transmit disease is also a factor in the spread of serious illnesses. Traveling to and from disease-ridden areas and coming into close contact with sick people and their personal items also facilitate the spread of infectious diseases.</p> <p>Motivation is a vital factor in promoting health and preventing disease. Many <em>know </em>that hands should be washed carefully after urinating or defecating and before preparing or eating food, but they do not <em>act </em>on that knowledge. Changing individual behavior is a major challenge in the battle against disease. These fundamental issues must be addressed before the burden of sickness will be lifted and the battle against disease will be won.</p> <h3>A NEW PERSPECTIVE</h3> <p>But how can you eliminate disease and the consequences of poverty without money? How do you overcome ignorance? How do you motivate people to think and act differently? These are generally not areas of expertise for medical doctors, health planners, government ministers, or economists—yet finding answers in these areas is essential to lifting the burden of disease.</p> <p>Accomplishing these tasks without simply throwing money at the problems will require us to rethink our approach. Education obviously must play a major role in banishing ignorance, but how can large numbers of people be helped without building more schools, hiring more teachers, or putting more people on government payrolls? What a person <em>believes </em>is another major factor in motivating behavioral change. We might ask: <em>Is there anyone already in place who is capable of doing this kind of job?</em></p> <p>Believe it or not, religious leaders occupy an ideal position for eliminating ignorance and promoting behaviors that can defeat disease. In many countries, religious leaders have weekly contact with large numbers of people—and usually all age groups. They promote values that influence personal behavior. Many are already paid by a private organization, and many have selflessly provided of their own efforts and resources to supply aid, such as mosquito nets and funding for water wells.</p> <p>The major problem is that most religious leaders do not fully recognize the powerful potential of their position and have not been fully prepared to function in this vital role of teaching Bible-based principles of disease prevention and health promotion. Most clergy, like many in government and medicine, think the primary role of religion is to comfort the sick and console the bereaved. While these are helpful, they overlook another <em>God-intended role for religious leaders</em>—one clearly outlined in the Bible.</p> <h3>TEACHABLE PRINCIPLES FROM THE BIBLE</h3> <p>In an earlier chapter, we reviewed the positive impact on human health we would see if everyone obeyed God’s commands concerning clean and unclean animals. Choosing not to eat animals that were not designed for human consumption would, all by itself, go a long way toward reducing the damage done by infectious diseases! But the Bible’s guidance does not stop there.</p> <p>Biblical admonitions also tell us to avoid contact with animals that have died or with whatever has touched them (see <a href="">Leviticus 11:32–40</a>). Porous earthen vessels that had potentially become contaminated were to be destroyed to avoid spreading disease. These biblical regulations are consistent with sound microbiological techniques and are important procedures in fighting infectious disease. It was the priests’ job to teach and explain these principles. Priests were to designate as unclean those who had contagious diseases characterized by skin rashes—such as leprosy, measles, smallpox, and scarlet fever. Such individuals were isolated from others to prevent the spread of disease (see Leviticus 13). These biblical guidelines are the basis of medically sound <em>quarantine procedures </em>that have been used for centuries. There is a good reason why “social distancing” and quarantine were early, powerful tools in addressing the coronavirus pandemic of 2020—because the biblical health principle of separating oneself from disease is <em>effective</em>.</p> <p>The Bible’s guidelines include avoiding contact with the personal items of sick people, which can transmit germs (<a href="">Leviticus 13:47–59</a>). Contaminated items were washed or burned (which destroys microorganisms). Biblical health instructions even applied to dwellings: A house with mold or fungal growth was quarantined until the affected materials were scraped off, replaced, and covered in new plaster—and if a house could not be cleaned, it would be demolished (<a href="">Leviticus 14:33–48</a>).</p> <p>This instruction would go a long way to improving the lives of 25 million people in Latin America who are at risk for Chagas disease, which is caused by the bite of a kissing bug that lives in cracks and crevices of impoverished dwellings.<sup><a href="">18</a></sup> One duty of the Levitical priest was to promote health and help prevent disease by functioning as both a <em>building inspector and a public health educator.</em></p> <p>The Bible acknowledges that body fluids can transmit disease (Leviticus 15). Contact with human waste materials, nasal discharges, tears, saliva, or soiled towels can spread infectious disease. Trachoma—the result of a bacterial infection and the leading cause of preventable blindness—is spread by contact with soiled hand towels and eye-seeking flies that lay their eggs on human and animal waste.<sup><a href="">19</a></sup> People coming into contact with fluids from a sick person were to wash their hands and clothes in water, bathe, and remain isolated from other people until evening as a precaution against spreading disease (<a href="">Leviticus 15:11</a>). These were not mere ceremonial laws. The purpose of these sanitary laws was to promote health and prevent disease.</p> <p>One of the most practical and powerful biblical admonitions states that human waste should be buried away from habitations (<a href="">Deuteronomy 23:12–14</a>). This prevents waste materials from coming in contact with people, flies, and other organisms that transmit disease, and it preserves the purity of water supplies. Wearing shoes and not using human waste as fertilizer are also important preventive measures. Many diseases, such as diarrhea, dysentery, hookworm, roundworm, cholera, hepatitis, trachoma, and typhoid, result from contact with human waste.</p> <p><em>Sanitary disposal of human waste and access to clean water are two of the most important ways to prevent disease.</em><sup><a href="">20</a></sup> God told Israel’s religious leaders to promote these instructions that would protect the health of the populace. Tragically, modern religious leaders have failed to grasp the importance of their opportunity to provide biblical instruction that could significantly prevent disease and its spread.</p> <h3>CONFUSION ABOUT CIRCUMCISION</h3> <p>Anciently, God instructed Abraham and his descendants, the Israelites, to circumcise their male infants on the eighth day after birth (<a href="">Genesis 17:12–14</a>; <a href="">Leviticus 12:3</a>). Interestingly, this instruction harmonizes with scientific studies showing that a baby’s blood-clotting mechanism may not be fully developed until the eighth day, making it unwise to do a surgical procedure earlier because of the threat of hemorrhage.<sup><a href="">21</a></sup>While some well-meaning people consider male circumcision barbaric, medical science shows that the benefits outweigh the risks. Circumcised boys have a reduced risk of urinary infections, circumcised men have lower rates of prostate cancer and cancer of the penis, and women married to circumcised men have lower rates of cervical cancer.<sup><a href="">22</a></sup>Studies have concluded that circumcised males are less likely to contract or spread HIV/AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases because removing the foreskin eliminates an environment where the virus may reside.<sup><a href="">23</a></sup> While Acts 15 makes it clear that circumcision is no longer a <em>spiritual </em>requirement, medical evidence certainly supports the idea that circumcision, as described in the Bible, can help prevent disease and promote health.</p> <p>The custom of female “circumcision” is a <em>totally different matter</em>. This terrible practice is <em>not </em>biblical and should not be confused with the biblical circumcision of males, where only the foreskin is removed. Female “circumcision,” by contrast, is no act of circumcision at all, but is a horrific act of butchery in which part of a woman’s genitalia—not just excess skin tissue—is removed. Female “circumcision” is truly a barbaric mutilation and has nothing to do with biblical circumcision.</p> <h3>BODY PIERCINGS AND TATTOOS, TOO?</h3> <p>Although various pagan cultures throughout history have “decorated” the human body with tattoos, cutting, scarring, and inserting ornaments that expand lips and earlobes, these body-altering and deforming practices have in recent decades become a craze in Western nations. While many call these practices “body art,” the serious risks and health consequences of tattooing and exotic piercing are seldom mentioned or considered.</p> <p>God designed our skin as a barrier against disease-causing organisms. When we pierce that barrier, we create opportunities for bacteria and viruses to gain entrance to the tissues below the skin. Numerous reports warn that tattoos and piercings increase the risk of bacterial skin infections, granulomas, and blood-borne diseases like tetanus, staph, hepatitis, and HIV, as well as allergic reactions to the substances and tools themselves.<sup><a href="">24</a></sup> Many have warned especially against getting tattoos or piercings during pregnancy, due to risks of infection and the migration of toxic elements in tattoo pigments to the fetus.<sup><a href="">25</a></sup> While tattoos and piercings are relatively inexpensive to acquire, they can be painful and expensive to remove—<em>if </em>they <em>can </em>be removed.</p> <p>God inspired Moses to instruct the children of Israel—a nation that God intended to be a light and example to the world—with the words, “You shall not make any cuttings in your flesh for the dead, nor tattoo any marks on you” (<a href="">Leviticus 19:28</a>). Tattoos and cuttings on the flesh are unhealthful and carry the risk of infectious disease because they break the protective barrier that the skin provides. God made the human body “in His own image” (<a href="">Genesis 1:27</a>) and condemned these pagan religious customs, which deformed the body.</p> <p>There is a reason why health professionals warn patients away from tattoos and exotic body piercings: they can be dangerous to your health!</p> <h3>MORAL LAWS PREVENT INFECTIOUS DISEASE</h3> <p>The Bible defines marriage as a union of one man and one woman for life (<a href="">Matthew 19:4–6</a>) and takes a strong stand against sexual activity outside the confines of biblical marriage, such as adultery, fornication, and homosexuality (Leviticus 18). In sharp contrast to the modern notion that unrestricted sexual activity is liberating, the Bible pointedly states that “whoever commits adultery... lacks understanding” (<a href="">Proverbs 6:32</a>), and that sexually promiscuous people sin against their own bodies (<a href="">1 Corinthians 6:9</a>, <a href="">16–18</a>; <a href="">Romans 1:22–27</a>). Past public policies against such behaviors may have had morality in mind, but their effect was to help prevent the spread of <em>sexually transmitted diseases</em>—including HIV/AIDS, which has been called the “plague of the twenty-first century.”<sup><a href="">26</a></sup> Modern efforts to remove any moral consideration from public policy and to normalize promiscuity are contributing to the spread of epidemic diseases. The old advice that “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” has been largely forgotten, but it is still good advice—and is much less expensive in dollars <em>and </em>lives. Restricting sexual activity to husband and wife within a faithful monogamous marriage is by far the most effective way to avoid spreading sexually transmitted diseases. This was the biblical message God would have religious leaders convey—but it is a message often ignored today.</p> <p>Medical studies reveal reasons for the strong biblical warnings against the sexually promiscuous lifestyles that are prevalent today. Numerous reports show that “gay and bisexual men are more severely affected by HIV than any other group,” and that they “are also at increased risk for other STDs, like syphilis, gonorrhea and chlamydia.”<sup><a href="">27</a></sup> When the HIV virus gains entrance to the body, it weakens and eventually destroys the body’s immune system, leading to AIDS and making the person subject to other conditions and deadly opportunistic infections: pneumonia, tuberculosis, lymphomas, Kaposi’s sarcoma (cancer of blood vessel walls), shingles, encephalitis, and dementia. Studies also show that the more sexual partners you have, the higher the odds that you will contract HIV, which greatly increases the risks of contracting other infectious diseases and dying at a younger age.<sup><a href="">28</a></sup>Since there are no cures for HIV/AIDS, medical sources acknowledge the importance of eliminating dangerous and risky behaviors: Don’t have multiple sexual partners, don’t share needles and syringes (such as used for injecting drugs), don’t have sex with prostitutes, and be aware that tattoo needles might not be sterile.<sup><a href="">29</a></sup> This medical advice bears witness to the wisdom of ancient biblical instructions prohibiting high risk behaviors that bring serious consequences—fornication and adultery, homosexuality, and other dangerous activities.</p> <p>The clear intent of many biblical principles is to <em>prevent problems before they arise</em>. <a href="">Proverbs 22:3</a> states that “a prudent man foresees evil and hides himself, but the simple pass on and are punished.” From a public health perspective, most diseases can be prevented—saving lives and money—by taking wise precautions ahead of time.</p> <h3>THE COMING RESTORATION</h3> <p>Scripture explains that Satan has deceived the whole world (<a href="">Revelation 12:9</a>) and that leaders are often blind to obvious solutions (<a href="">Isaiah 56:10</a>; <a href="">Matthew 15:14</a>). Today’s theologians and pastors are mostly oblivious to the role they could play in preventing disease and promoting health by teaching people to differentiate between the clean and the unclean, in both food and behavior (<a href="">Ezekiel 22:26</a>).</p> <p>However, the time is coming when the whole world will learn to live by the laws of God—and will benefit from them. The Bible reveals that, while the “whole creation groans” for now (<a href="">Romans 8:18–23</a>), a “restoration of all things” lies just ahead (<a href="">Acts 3:19–21</a>). Jesus Christ will return to the earth to establish the Kingdom of God, and God’s law will be proclaimed to the whole world from Jerusalem (<a href="">Isaiah 2:2–4</a>; <a href="">9:6–7</a>). In this coming Kingdom, church and state will be united (<a href="">Revelation 5:10</a>). Jesus Christ and the saints will teach people to obey the laws and statutes of God (<a href="">Isaiah 30:20–21</a>), and mankind will experience the wonderful results of changed behavior. The battle against sickness will be won, and disease will begin to disappear (<a href="">Isaiah 35:5–6</a>; <a href="">Jeremiah 30:17</a>). While this sounds incredible, it is part of the Gospel—the good news of what the future holds!</p> <h2>CHAPTER FIVE</h2> <h3>THE MIND: SPIRITUAL DIMENSIONS OF MENTAL HEALTH</h3> <p><em>The Bible contains vital perspectives about mental health that have been overlooked and ignored in medical textbooks. Applying those perspectives could improve the lives of millions!</em></p> <p>Health professionals recognize there is more to being healthy than not being sick. Many understand that a good diet, regular exercise, and access to medical care do not guarantee that you will feel great and deal effectively with the challenges of life—which is why the World Health Organization defines health as “a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being, not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.”<sup><a href="">1</a></sup> This WHO definition acknowledges that what goes on in the brain and the mind can have a major impact on our physical health.</p> <p>Textbooks on health education mention that social and psychological factors—being able to function independently, express emotions in an acceptable way, interact effectively with others and feel connected, and manage stress—all contribute to better health. Environmental factors such as growing up in a safe, loving, and supportive family with opportunities for challenge and growth can also help with our psychological health. Even contact with nature has been found to make a difference.<sup><a href="">2</a></sup></p> <p>However, one of the most interesting and surprising developments in recent decades is the recognition that there are important <em>spiritual</em> dimensions to health. The concept of “spiritual health” recognizes that beliefs and values can influence behavior and health in very significant ways.<sup><a href="">3</a></sup> In fact, hundreds of studies are demonstrating that certain religious beliefs and practices have positive benefits on physical health.<sup><a href="">4</a></sup> Even more surprising is that modern scientific discoveries are confirming the validity of ancient biblical instructions that promote heath, and demonstrate that negative consequences occur when these spiritual principles are ignored.</p> <p>A major reason why these recent discoveries are so surprising is that anti-religious attitudes dominate the fields of sociology, psychology, psychiatry, and medicine, and have done so for the last several centuries. Since the mid-1800s, social philosophers have suggested that as societies become more modern and scientific, religion will lose its legitimacy and become obsolete.<sup><a href="">5</a></sup> Sigmund Freud called religion a childish superstition born out of a desire for “wish fulfillment”—a central thesis of his seminal book, <em>The Future of an Illusion</em>. Many clinicians since have agreed.</p> <p>As a result, few have considered the role of religion in promoting health or preventing disease. However, that biased mindset is becoming obsolete as clear evidence continues to emerge from scientific studies that shed light on why we are experiencing major health and social problems today.</p> <h3>THE INCREASING BURDEN OF MENTAL ILLNESS</h3> <p>Millions of people in our modern world struggle every day with mental illness—and that number is growing. The World Health Organization lists mental illnesses as the third-leading cause of disabling conditions in the world—just behind cardiovascular and common infectious diseases.<sup><a href="">6</a></sup> While clinical depression is ranked eighth in low-income countries, it is ranked first in mid- to high-income countries, along with anxiety disorders—demonstrating that modernization and affluence do not protect against these conditions. In the U.S., mental illness is the third leading cause of hospitalization for young people and adults (aged 18–44), and suicide is the second-leading cause of death for young people (aged 10–34)—the tenth leading cause of death overall.<sup><a href="">7</a></sup> Recent reports indicate that depression and anxiety are increasingly serious problems on college campuses—where in the last few decades depression has doubled and the number of suicides has tripled.<sup><a href="">8</a></sup></p> <p>Why are mental illnesses so prevalent and increasing in affluent, developed countries where people have ready access to some of the best health care in the world? Is there <em>something missing</em> in our approach to this pervasive problem?</p> <p>Long ago, Moses told the Israelites that they would be blessed if they obeyed the laws of God, but if they ignored those instructions, one consequence would be that, “The Lord will strike you with madness” (<a href="">Deuteronomy 28:28</a>). So, what biblical instructions and examples have we ignored that may be affecting the mental health of millions of people today? Do the results of modern research provide any clues?</p> <h3>THE VALUE OF CONTACT WITH CREATION</h3> <p>Over the last few centuries, the trend has been for people to move from rural areas into cities. In 1790, only 5 percent of the population of the United States lived in cities, yet today about 80 percent live in urban areas.<sup><a href="">9</a></sup> If global trends continue, about 68 percent of the world population will live in urban areas by 2050.<sup><a href="">10</a></sup> Such global urbanization is unprecedented in human history.</p> <p>While life in big cities definitely brings certain advantages, it is also associated with conditions than can have a negative impact on your health—especially mental health—if one is not careful.</p> <p>In addition to the crowding, congestion, noise, pollution, and stress of urban life, studies reveal that “city dwellers have a 20 percent higher risk of anxiety disorders and a 40 percent higher risk of mood disorders compared to people in rural areas. People born and raised in cities are twice as likely to develop schizophrenia.”<sup><a href="">11</a></sup> It is no coincidence that we see a dramatic rise in serious mental health issues that coincides with the movement of millions of people from rural to urban areas. Modern research is beginning to link declining mental health with the loss of contact with nature. Dr. Mardie Townsend, an honorary professor at the School of Health and Social Development at Deakin University in Australia, observes, “There is mounting evidence that contact with nature has significant positive impacts on mental health” and “the growing disconnection with our natural environment is exacerbating the escalating rates of mental illness.”<sup><a href="">12</a></sup> Her observations are backed up by literally hundreds of recent studies that document the consequences of what is termed “nature deprivation” or “nature deficit disorders” that are fostered not only by urban environments, but by hours spent looking at the screens of electronic devices—cell phones, tablets, and computers.<sup><a href="">13</a></sup></p> <p>One early study connecting nature with health compared the post-surgical responses of hospital patients who could see trees out their windows with patients who saw only a wall. The patients who had a view of nature had better recovery experiences.<sup><a href="">14</a></sup> More recent studies indicate that not only viewing nature, but viewing pictures of nature (e.g., mountains, trees, waterfalls, and pastures), and even listening to sounds of nature (e.g., waves, rain, and sounds of birds and animals) have similar positive effects on the mind and body.<sup><a href="">15</a></sup></p> <p>Going for a walk in a natural area or spending time in a natural environment has been shown to reduce muscle tension and stress; lower blood pressure, heart rate, and cholesterol levels; relieve depression and improve mood; reduce risk of mental illness; and increase longevity.<sup><a href="">16</a></sup>Going for a walk along a busy urban street does not have the same positive effects. Researchers report, “The range of specific health outcomes tied to nature is startling,” and its benefits include reducing depression and anxiety disorders, diabetes, infectious disease, cancer, cardiovascular disease, attention-deficit disorders, and more.<sup><a href="">17</a></sup></p> <p>The health benefits of contact with nature come from many factors. Plants give off phytoncides—antimicrobial organic compounds that reduce blood pressure and stimulate the immune system. Air in the forest and near running water contains negative ions that reduce depression and stimulate the immune system. Sights and sounds of nature depress the sympathetic nervous system (our fight-or-flight mechanism) and stimulate the parasympathetic nervous system (our rest-and-digest mechanism), which helps to restore attention and aid healing. Contact with nature elevates levels of DHEA (a hormone with anti-diabetic, anti-obesity, anti-depression, and heart-protective properties), helps control blood sugar, stimulates the immune system to produce anti-cancer cells, and reduces levels of proteins that have been linked with diabetes, depression, and cardiovascular disease.<sup><a href="">18</a></sup></p> <p>Studies have also revealed that children gain multiple benefits from spending time outdoors in contact with nature—benefits such as improved memory, learning, and decision-making skills; higher levels of resilience and self-worth; less depression and anxiety; and improvement in neuro-behavioral disorders (ADD and ADHD).<sup><a href="">19</a></sup> One large study reported that people living in “green” neighborhoods had 20 percent less disease than people living in “less green” surroundings.<a href="">20</a></p> <p>The conclusions of those who study the connection between nature and health all point in the same direction. Contact with nature is good for us as human beings, and the growing disconnect from natural environments that has accompanied the migration to cities has led to increasing rates of mental illness—a situation that needs to be changed “as a matter of urgency.”<sup><a href="">21</a></sup> Evidence continues to mount that “humans depend on nature not just for material requirements such as water, food and shelter, but also for their emotional, psychological and spiritual needs.”<sup><a href="">22</a></sup> Spending time in natural environments and even viewing nature is increasingly seen as “a major health determinant… that may constitute a powerful, inexpensive public health intervention”<sup><a href="">23</a></sup> for preventing mental illness and promoting more vibrant health for millions of people.<sup><a href="">24</a></sup></p> <p>But how do these discoveries about nature and mental health relate to what we find in the Bible? Modern research indicates that many biblical passages are not just quaint little bedtime stories—instead they offer perspectives that make a real impact on human health. <a href="">Genesis 2:7–19</a> reveals that God did not place Adam and Eve in an air-conditioned high-rise apartment building in a major urban setting, but in a natural environment—a garden with trees, vegetation, animals, and running water. In Psalm 23, David associates spending time in green pastures beside still waters with being refreshed.</p> <h3>THE ROLE OF RELIGION</h3> <p>Research has confirmed that religious belief, far from being a cause or a form of mental illness as some secular critics have claimed, can help protect against mental disorders and promote mental health. As we have already seen, the population shift from rural to urban centers in recent centuries has been accompanied by an increase in mental disorders, while during this same period there has been a shift away from religious commitment—especially in recent decades.<sup><a href="">25</a></sup> This same period has witnessed a shift from a more “socio-centric” society to a more “ego-centric or individualistic” society that has also been “accompanied by an increase in common mental disorders.”<sup><a href="">26</a></sup></p> <p>Religion appears to counter these negative trends by offering hope, social support, and a sense of belonging that is “good for our psychological and physical health.”<sup><a href="">27</a></sup> The move away from organized religion (which emphasizes social connectedness in congregations) has produced a “growing phenomenon of loneliness” that experts describe as a “global epidemic” that may contribute to “as many deaths as obesity.”<sup><a href="">28</a></sup> In the U.S., more than 25 percent of the population lives alone, and this social isolation more than doubles the risk of premature mortality. However, obeying biblical admonitions to assemble with other believers—such as in <a href="">Hebrews 10:24–25</a> where we are told not to forsake “the assembling of ourselves together” and the commands in Leviticus 23 to meet regularly in “holy convocation” on every weekly Sabbath and annual Holy Day—not only enhances individuals’ <em>spiritual</em> health, but can also promote better <em>mental</em> health and help to ward off mental illness.</p> <p>Serious mental depression is characterized by the tendency to withdraw from social contact and be alone, and to entertain thoughts of suicide. However, many studies document the significant role of religion in dealing with depression. Research shows that spiritually augmented behavioral therapy can help reduce hopelessness and despair, while depressed patients with strong religious faith recovered 70 percent faster than those with less strong faith, and depressed patients with religious affiliations made fewer attempts at suicide.<sup><a href="">29</a></sup> The connection between an increase in suicide and a decrease in religious sentiment was noticed more than a century ago, while more recent studies find a connection between higher suicide rates in less religious European countries than in more religious America.<sup><a href="">30</a></sup> Studies also show that highly religious adults—who pray daily and attend religious services regularly—are happier, more engaged with family, and more likely to help others.</p> <p>The Christian values of gratitude, thankfulness, forgiveness, and concern for others have long been recognized to contribute to better social relationships.<sup><a href="">31</a></sup> Modern research confirms that exhibiting an attitude of gratitude and thankfulness can bring a person multiple health-related benefits. Studies in the field of positive psychology document that grateful people take better care of themselves, exercise more regularly, have healthier diets, cope with stress better, are more optimistic, have stronger immune systems, and have lower rates of heart disease and cancer.<a href="">32</a> Grateful teenagers who appreciate what they have are happier, more positive and optimistic, and better-behaved. They get higher grades, have more friends, sleep better and longer, are less depressed, have stronger immune systems, and exhibit overall better health.<sup><a href="">33</a></sup></p> <h3>MEANING AND PURPOSE</h3> <p>Studying 4,500 adults, the Harvard School of Public Health found that people deal better with aging if they have <em>purpose</em> in their lives.<sup><a href="">34</a></sup> They found that people living with a purpose maintained more muscle strength, could walk faster, engaged in healthier behaviors, slept better, felt better, and lived longer than individuals who had little or no purpose in their lives. The study revealed that people who kept a more positive and purposeful mental perspective obtained physiological advantages that contributed to better health. Another account of the same study concluded that having a purpose in life—a reason to get up in the morning—provides a sense of psychological well-being that has benefits for a person’s physical and mental health.<sup><a href="">35</a></sup></p> <p>Discovering a purpose in life is also recognized as a basis for addiction recovery programs. Research indicates that people who develop addictions to alcohol, drugs, and other destructive behaviors appear to suffer from a deeper “spiritual malady.” Their lives are empty, unfulfilling, and unhappy. Seeing no meaning or purpose in life, and no reason to live, they often try to fill the void with chemical substances that provide a temporary high—which only brings more pain that eventually destroys their mental and physical health. Many rehabilitation programs have demonstrated that rekindling a sense of purpose is a key to recovery from addiction.<sup><a href="">36</a></sup> Clinical psychologist and addiction counselor Dr. Stanton Peele has challenged existing treatment ideas that addictions are a disease caused by abnormal neurochemistry and a malfunctioning brain. He believes that many addictions result from a lack of purpose and meaning in a person’s life<sup><a href="">37</a></sup>—and many recovering addicts would agree with his assessment!</p> <p>Finding a meaning and purpose in life is not usually considered to fall in the realm of medicine and is usually assumed to be the domain of philosophy and religion. Psychiatry and psychology may be helpful, but even those fields are limited to what can be seen and studied at the physical level. Spiritual concepts are beyond their scope, and are often considered to be merely matters of speculation. However, mental health specialists recognize that <strong><em>life purpose</em></strong> plays a central role in guiding our decisions, influencing our behavior, setting goals and directions for our life, and giving meaning to all we do. Some people derive a sense of “meaning” through the vocations they choose or the responsibilities they carry, but such purposes are dependent on our circumstances and perceptions, temporary and faulty though they may be. Only the inspired word of God can provide us with the transcendent, true, and <em>eternal</em> life purpose He has given us!</p> <p>If you are interested in learning more about this vital dimension of life, request our informative free resource <em>Your Ultimate Destiny</em>, available from any of the Regional Offices listed at the back of this booklet.</p> <h3>PUTTING IT ALL TOGETHER</h3> <p>Modern research has demonstrated that religious people who live by biblical guidelines have happier and healthier lives, experience less anxiety and depression, cope better with stress and difficult situations, are more optimistic, have more hope, and feel a greater sense of purpose and meaning in their lives. Results like these demonstrate that God teaches more than a mere set of beliefs in His word—He provides a <em>way of life</em>. A biblical worldview provides a perspective on life that is not merely informative and reassuring—it improves our lives (cf. <a href="">John 10:10</a>). That perspective on Scripture is tragically missing in our modern, secular, high-tech world. For your sake, don’t let it be missing from your life!</p> <h2>CHAPTER SIX</h2> <h3>HEALING: A GOD OF MIRACLES</h3> <p><em>In addition to providing laws and principles of good health, is it also possible that God will supernaturally intervene on our behalf? What does the Bible reveal?</em></p> <p>We are living in an age that promotes secularism and skepticism. Critics with a bias against the supernatural assert that God does not exist, that the Bible is only a book of myths and legends, that miracles cannot happen, and that beliefs in supernatural miracles are more common among “ignorant and barbarous nations”<sup><a href="">1</a></sup> or among “the uncivilized and uneducated.”<sup><a href="">2</a></sup> These perspectives, however—though they are given a high profile today by the media, educational establishment, and even some theologians—are directly contrary to what most people believe. Studies have shown that nearly 80 percent of Americans believe in God or a higher power<sup><a href="">3</a></sup> and that 71 percent of Americans believe that the Bible is inspired by God.<sup><a href="">4</a></sup> As for miracles, 51 percent of Americans believe that the miracles recorded in the Bible actually happened, 67 percent believe miracles can happen today, and nearly 40 percent say they have experienced miracles in their lives.<sup><a href="">5</a> </sup>Even more interesting is that about 74 percent of U.S. physicians believe that miracles happen today—and 55 percent say they have seen patients whose healing appeared to be miraculous.<sup><a href="">6</a></sup></p> <p>When we consider that skeptics’ ideas about the existence of a supernatural God and the validity of biblical miracles are so out of touch with the beliefs and experiences of millions of people—and even the views and experiences of many medical doctors—the time has come to consider what the Bible actually reveals on the important subjects of healing and miracles. Indeed, the clear statements of Scripture, the facts of history, and the experience of millions—including medical doctors—all reveal that miracles <strong><em>do</em></strong> happen! While God has given us clear instructions about how to promote and maintain our best health, we can <em>still</em> face a health challenge—and when we do, we can come to Him for miraculous healing.</p> <h3>WHAT IS A MIRACLE?</h3> <p>But what exactly is a miracle? A “miracle” can be defined as “a special act of God that interrupts the natural course of events.… A miracle may look like any unusual occurrence, but it has a supernatural cause. It is performed with divine power according to the divine mind, for a divine purpose, in order to authenticate a divine message or purpose.”<a href="">7</a> A miracle can also be defined as “an event or effect in the physical world deviating from the known laws of nature, or transcending our knowledge of these laws; an extra-ordinary, anomalous, or abnormal event brought about by super-human agency.”<sup><a href="">8</a></sup> A God who created the universe can certainly act within His universe in miraculous ways! To prove that miracles cannot happen, one would need to prove that God does not exist.</p> <p>The Bible describes dozens of miraculous events in both the Old and New Testaments. In fact, “The central claims of Christianity are dependent on the apologetic value of miracles”—the fact that the miracles described in the Bible actually occurred.<sup><a href="">9</a></sup> Miracles demonstrate the power of a supernatural God. If the miracles documented in Scripture never happened, the Bible cannot be trusted—which is the argument advanced by many secular critics. Yet, many of the authors of the biblical accounts of miracles claim to be eyewitnesses of those events (<a href="">2 Peter 1:16</a>)—and many of those same eyewitnesses died for their conviction that they spoke the truth.</p> <p>Like no other book ever written, the Bible gives us a glimpse of how <em>miraculous, supernatural intervention</em> can play a role in health, healing, and disease. Scripture reveals that God is a Being of love and compassion (<a href="">1 John 4:8</a>; <a href="">Psalm 86:5</a>; <a href="">Matthew 9:36</a>), whose qualities are evident in many miracles recorded in the Bible. Consider that God miraculously enabled Sarah to conceive a child in her old age to fulfill His promises to Abraham (<a href="">Genesis 17:15–19</a>; <a href="">18:10–15</a>). He miraculously fed the Israelites for 40 years in the wilderness after they left Egypt (<a href="">Exodus 16:12–15</a>, <a href="">32–35</a>). He miraculously provided food for Elijah and through him raised a widow’s son from the dead (1 Kings 17). He healed Hezekiah and gave him 15 more years to live after the king’s earnest prayers to God (<a href="">2 Kings 20:1–6</a>).</p> <p>The New Testament describes more than three dozen miracles performed by Jesus Christ—nearly <em>one-third</em> of the gospel of Mark is devoted to His miracles. In addition to turning water into wine (<a href="">John 2:1–11</a>), calming a storm (<a href="">Mark 4:37–41</a>), and walking on water (<a href="">Mark 6:48–51</a>), Jesus healed sicknesses and infirmities (<a href="">Matthew 8:1–17</a>), cast out demons (<a href="">Matthew 9:32–33</a>; <a href="">Mark 1:23–26</a>), restored sight to the blind (<a href="">Matthew 9:27–31</a>; <a href="">Mark 8:22–26</a>), and supernaturally fed several thousand people on two occasions (<a href="">Mark 6:35–44</a>; <a href="">8:1–9</a>).</p> <h3>A HEALING, LIFE-GIVING MINISTRY</h3> <p>According to Scripture, Jesus raised at least three individuals from the dead: a Jewish leader’s daughter (<a href="">Mark 5:22–24</a>, <a href="">35–43</a>), a widow’s son (<a href="">Luke 7:11–17</a>), and His friend Lazarus (<a href="">John 11:1–44</a>). Of course, God’s word records that Jesus foretold His own death and revealed that He would be resurrected after three days (<a href="">Matthew 17:22–23</a>). That same historical record notes that Jesus was <em>seen alive</em> during a 40-day period between His resurrection and His ascension (<a href="">Acts 1:3</a>) by the disciples (Luke 14) and others, including 500 people—most of whom Paul said were still alive when he wrote his epistle (<a href="">1 Corinthians 15:1–9</a>). Many sources confirm the biblical and historical evidence for this major miraculous event.<sup><a href="">10</a></sup></p> <p>The Bible records that Jesus commissioned His disciples to <em>carry on</em> this same kind of ministry—to preach the Gospel of the coming Kingdom of God (<a href="">Mark 1:14–15</a>; <a href="">16:15</a>) and to “heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out demons. Freely you have received, freely give” (<a href="">Matthew 10:5–8</a>; <a href="">Mark 16:15–18</a>). Jesus also told His disciples that they would do <em>even greater</em> works than He had done (<a href="">John 14:12</a>).</p> <p>Thus, we read in the book of Acts that Peter and John healed a crippled man, to the amazement of onlookers (<a href="">Acts 3:1–10</a>). The Apostles performed many “signs and wonders” that drew people from all around Jerusalem who brought their sick and saw them miraculously healed (<a href="">Acts 5:12–16</a>), and Stephen did great wonders among the people in Jerusalem (<a href="">Acts 6:8</a>), which engendered persecution by jealous religious authorities. Philip brought joy to the people of Samaria by performing miraculous healings and casting out demons (<a href="">Acts 8:5–8</a>). Saul—who became Paul—was stricken with blindness by God on his way to Damascus, then healed and converted (<a href="">Acts 9:1–22</a>). Peter healed a paralyzed man in Lydda and raised a woman named Dorcas from the dead in Joppa, a miracle that became widely known (<a href="">Acts 9:32–42</a>). Paul cast out a demon in Cyprus (<a href="">Acts 13:6–12</a>), then healed a crippled man in Lystra (<a href="">Acts 14:8–12</a>) and later brought a boy back to life who had fallen to his death in Troas (<a href="">Acts 20:8–12</a>). The biblical record is replete with example after example of Jesus Christ and His disciples miraculously healing the sick and suffering through God’s divine power.</p> <h3>DIVINE HEALING</h3> <p>But what do all these historical miracles have to do with Christians <em>today?</em></p> <p>The Bible promises us that “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever” (<a href="">Hebrews 13:8</a>) and reminds us that God says, “I am the Lord, I do not change” (<a href="">Malachi 3:6</a>). The God who healed those seeking Him centuries ago is the same God who rules in Heaven today!</p> <p>God inspired King David to write, “Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all His benefits: Who forgives all your iniquities, <em>who heals all your diseases</em>” (<a href="">Psalm 103:2–3</a>). While many acknowledge that God forgives sins, many seem not to believe that God <strong><em>also</em></strong> offers to <em>heal all our diseases</em>. One of His divine names is “The Lord Who Heals You,” a title He takes on Himself in <a href="">Exodus 15:26</a>: “If you diligently heed the voice of the Lord your God and do what is right in His sight, give ear to His commandments and keep His statutes, I will put none of the diseases on you which I have brought on the Egyptians. <em>For I am the Lord who heals you.</em>”</p> <p>As we have shown in this work, the biblical approach to health involves learning to follow the instructions God has revealed in Scripture. And disobeying His laws not only represents sin (<a href="">1 John 3:4</a>, <em>King James Version</em>), but also often has physical consequences for our lives and health.</p> <p>Though many seem to understand that Jesus’ sacrifice was intended to make possible the forgiveness of sins, many do <em>not</em> connect His sacrifice to physical healing. Yet the Bible makes plain that “by His stripes we are healed” (<a href="">Isaiah 53:4–5</a>; <a href="">1 Peter 2:24</a>). It is certainly <em>not</em> true that every sickness, disease, or injury is due to an individual’s sin—Christ made this plain to His own disciples (<a href="">John 9:1–3</a>; cf. <a href="">Luke 13:1–5</a>), and the Creator told Moses that He Himself “makes the mute, the deaf, the seeing, or the blind” (<a href="">Exodus 4:11</a>). However, some sickness, disease, and injury <em>is</em> due to sin, as we have demonstrated thoroughly in previous chapters. In either case, God offers the possibility of divine healing.</p> <p>The Apostle James advises Christians, “Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer of faith will save the sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven. Confess your trespasses to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much” (<a href="">James 5:14–16</a>). James clearly encouraged his fellow Christians to reach out to God for healing by calling the elders of God’s Church—an admonition that continues to be valid today! That admonition includes instruction to “confess your trespasses to one another” (v. 16), implying a responsibility on our part to identify and change anything we may be doing that is contributing to the problem.</p> <p>This does not mean that a Christian cannot consult a doctor, or that seeking medical help and advice demonstrates a lack of faith. Not at all! While human knowledge is always spotty and imperfect, we are blessed in modern times to have a <em>vast</em> amount of knowledge concerning how the body works. But regardless of other actions we may take, these verses <em>do</em> tell us that a Christian should seek healing from God and should do so through His appointed ministry.</p> <p>And what if the elders are far away? From the Church’s earliest days, the ministry made arrangements to send cloths, anointed with oil, when a personal visit to a sick or afflicted person was not feasible (<a href="">Acts 19:11–12</a>). The true Church of God, founded by Jesus Christ, continues this biblical practice.</p> <h3>FAITH AND PERSPECTIVE</h3> <p>The Bible indicates that healings often come to people with great faith (e.g., <a href="">Matthew 8:5–10</a>), yet this is not always the case. Sometimes God chooses to allow the faithful to bear a burden of infirmity for the sake of His larger purposes, and sometimes, in His mercy, He intervenes even for those whose faith is small.</p> <p>Lazarus had been dead for four days, and thus was certainly <em>not</em> exercising faith when Jesus raised him to life again (<a href="">John 11:37–44</a>; cf. <a href="">Ecclesiastes 9:10</a>)! The Apostle Paul certainly had a deep faith in God’s ability to miraculously heal (<a href="">Acts 19:11–12</a>)—even to resurrect (<a href="">Acts 20:9–12</a>). Yet he tells us that, although he “pleaded with the Lord three times” to heal him of an affliction, he came to understand that it was not God’s purpose to heal him at that time (<a href="">2 Corinthians 12:7–10</a>). Instead, God was looking to produce more important spiritual fruit in Paul’s life (vv. 9–10).</p> <p>Still, if we keep in mind that God’s vision is larger than ours and that we are to seek <em>His</em> will and not our own (<a href="">Matthew 26:42</a>), then we will beseech Him for intervention when we suffer from sickness or infirmity.</p> <p>Jesus instructed His disciples, “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened” (<a href="">Matthew 7:7–8</a>). Jesus also said that “whatever you ask the Father in My name He will give you” (<a href="">John 16:23</a>), and we are admonished to “ask in faith” (<a href="">James 1:6</a>)—knowing that God will answer in His time and in His way, and that “all things work together for good to those who love God” (<a href="">Romans 8:28</a>; see also <a href="">1 Corinthians 10:13</a>). How can we know that He hears our requests? The Apostle John tells us, saying it is “because we keep His commandments and do those things that are pleasing in His sight” (<a href="">1 John 3:22</a>). That would mean repenting of breaking His laws—including His laws and principles of good health.</p> <p>Scripture makes it clear that the God of the Bible is a supernatural, miracle-working God, and the miracles recorded and preserved in the Bible demonstrate His power and compassion as our loving Father—a Father who desires to act in the lives of those who love Him (<a href="">2 Chronicles 16:9</a>).</p> <p>For more perspective and inspiring details from your Bible about healing, as well as information about how you can receive the healing He provides, read our free booklet <em>Does God Heal Today?</em> You can request it from the Regional Office nearest you, listed in the back of this booklet, or read it online at <em></em>.</p> <h2>CONCLUSION</h2> <h3><strong>A WAY OF LIFE THAT WORKS!</strong></h3> <p><em>Will you make the right choices that promote physical and spiritual health?</em></p> <p>In the biblical account of the two trees (<a href="">Genesis 2:8–9</a>; <a href="">3:1–7</a>), we saw that God did not <em>force</em> Adam and Eve to accept His divinely revealed instructions. They chose to use human reasoning, separate from God’s directions. To win the age-old battle against disease, each of us must make our own choices today. Will we obey God, or do we think we have a better way (<a href="">Deuteronomy 30:15–20</a>; <a href="">Matthew 7:14</a>)? Will we choose wisely by considering the evidence (<a href="">1 Thessalonians 5:21</a>) and learning the lessons of history?</p> <p>We have seen that sickness and disease have plagued human beings through the ages and that civilizations, both ancient and modern, have struggled to cope with the toll in human suffering caused by ill health and infirmities. History records that most cultures have employed a common approach to this age-long battle with disease in our midst—an “after-the-fact” approach that relies on drugs, surgery, spells and enchantments, and entreating the gods with sacrificial offerings—even self-mutilation and human sacrifice. While modern medical science has made incredible strides in diagnosing and treating disease through medicines, therapies, and surgeries, we still face skyrocketing costs, new diseases, and the re-emergence of old diseases.</p> <p>The Bible, however, shows us a different way—through the example of a people with an<em> </em>approach using values and education to <em>prevent</em> disease rather than relying exclusively on treatments to mitigate disease once it has appeared. In striking contrast to other ancient civilizations, God gave the ancient Hebrews a set of laws and statutes that would set them apart from other nations and make them a light and example of a better way of life that promotes health and prevents disease. Unlike other nations’ priest-physicians who guarded their techniques as mysteries and secrets, the priests of ancient Israel were instructed to proclaim this valuable information as public knowledge. The biblical health laws were an important part of the Hebrew Scriptures and the religion and way of life of the Israelites.</p> <h3>DIVINE LAWS FROM THE DIVINE LAWGIVER</h3> <p>History confirms that the biblical health laws were unique and without parallel in the ancient world. These guidelines were simple yet comprehensive, and addressed a wide range of personal and public health issues—principles that were clearly ahead of their time! There was really no way to fully understand the reasons for these laws until the invention of the microscope, the discovery of bacteria, and the pioneering work of pathologists in recent centuries—advances that have proven these ancient biblical laws to be scientifically valid today.</p> <p>What our modern world has lost sight of, and what the ancient pagan world never understood, is that God is the author of the biblical health laws. The Bible reveals that God does not change (<a href="">Malachi 3:6</a>)—which means that His <em>fundamental laws</em> do not change. The laws of biology did not suddenly change or stop operating when Jesus was crucified. The same factors that caused or prevented disease in the days of Moses still operate today—and the health laws that God gave to Moses also remain just as effective!</p> <p>So, do not be misled by the arguments of those who claim that the biblical health laws are antiquated, outdated, and no longer applicable in our modern world. <em>Jesus Christ did not come to abolish the laws of God</em> (<a href="">Matthew 5:17</a>)! They are a product of the mind of our Creator and Designer. They reflect God’s will and are part of His plan for humanity. If you encounter priests, preachers, or professors who tell you otherwise, they simply do not know what they are talking about (<a href="">Isaiah 8:20</a>)!</p> <h3>AN AWESOME PURPOSE!</h3> <p>God is preparing a people to assist Jesus Christ in changing the course of human history. The coming government of God will eliminate the plague of disease and will promote a way of life that leads not only to physical, mental, and spiritual health, but also to eternal life.</p> <p>If we will submit our lives to God, seeking to live His way of life under Jesus Christ—including taking care of the body He has given us—we will receive a reward that includes reigning with Christ when He returns to establish the Kingdom of God to rule on the earth (<a href="">Revelation 5:10</a>). The saints who rule with Christ will function as teachers (<a href="">Isaiah 30:20–21</a>) who will explain the laws of God—including these important biblical principles of health—to all of humanity. Because of these efforts, “the earth will be full of the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea” (<a href="">Isaiah 11:9</a>).</p> <p>As you begin to grasp the scope of God’s plan for humanity, you will see there are powerful and exciting reasons for learning to live by the biblical principles of health inspired by our Creator.</p> <p>The biblical health laws and principles are fundamental keys, revealed by the Designer of humanity, to promote health and prevent disease. They are part of an entire way of life to which God is calling a relative few in this present age—to repent not just of poor health choices, but of poor spiritual choices, and to turn fully to God through repentance from sin, baptism, and receiving of God’s Holy Spirit. If you feel that God may be calling you to repentance and baptism, and you would like to know more about God’s ways, please contact the Regional Office nearest you, listed at the <em></em> website and in the back of our printed booklets. One of our representatives will be happy to talk to you, at a time and in a place convenient to you. Our representatives have for many years lived by the physical and spiritual precepts found in the Bible and will be happy to discuss any questions you may have.</p> <p>When properly understood, explained, and applied, God’s way of life has the potential of being a wonderful blessing for every human being who has ever lived. The Bible clearly reveals that when Jesus Christ returns to establish the Kingdom of God on planet Earth, the laws of God—<em>including the biblical health laws</em>—will be proclaimed to the world from Jerusalem (<a href="">Isaiah 2:2–4</a>). As human beings around the globe learn to live by these simple yet vitally important laws, their health will improve—and the age-old curse of disease will begin to disappear (<a href="">Isaiah 35:5–7</a>).</p> <p>But we don’t have to wait! We can embrace that way of life now—experiencing its benefits and learning how to teach them—by applying these living laws in our lives today.</p> <hr /> <p><strong><em>Chapter 1: Disease: An Age-Old Curse</em></strong></p> <p><sup><a href="">1</a></sup> Ralph A. Major, <em>A History of Medicine, </em>vol. 1 (Springfield: Charles C. Thomas, 1954), 27; and Otto Bettmann, <em>A Pictorial History of Medicine</em> (Literary Licensing LLC, 2012), 2–3.</p> <p><sup><a href="">2</a></sup> David Alexander and Pat Alexander, eds., <em>Eerdmans Handbook to the Bible </em>(Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1973),<em> </em>176.</p> <p><sup><a href="">3</a></sup> Bettmann, <em>A Pictorial History</em>, 13.</p> <p><sup><a href="">4</a></sup> Major, <em>A History of Medicine</em>, 62–64.</p> <p><sup><a href="">5</a></sup> Henry H. Halley, <em>Halley’s Bible Handbook</em> (Zondervan, 2014), 138.</p> <p><sup><a href="">6</a></sup> Halley<em>.</em></p> <p><sup><a href="">7</a></sup> David Alexander and Pat Alexander, eds., <em>Eerdmans Handbook to the Bible </em>(Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1973),<em> </em>175.</p> <p><sup><a href="">8</a></sup> Frank Gaebelein et al., eds., <em>The Expositor’s Bible Commentary, </em>vol. 2 (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1990), 568.</p> <p><sup><a href="">9</a></sup> Gaebelein et al., 568.</p> <p><strong><em>Chapter 2: Dietary Laws: Do You Really Want to Eat That?</em></strong></p> <p><sup><a href="">1</a></sup> Frank Gaebelein et al., eds., <em>The Expositor’s Bible Commentary, </em>vol. 2 (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1990), 530.</p> <p><sup><a href="">2</a></sup> David Alexander and Pat Alexander, eds., <em>Eerdmans Handbook to the Bible </em>(Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1973),<em> </em>176.</p> <p><sup><a href="">3</a></sup> “Leviticus 11–14,” <em>The Interpreter’s Bible</em> (Abingdon-Cokesbury Press, 1954), 52.</p> <p><sup><a href="">4</a></sup> “Ruminant Nutrition for Graziers,” ATTRA Sustainable Agriculture, 2008, accessed March 31, 2020.</p> <p><sup><a href="">5</a></sup> <em>The Interpreter’s Bible,</em> 56.</p> <p><sup><a href="">6</a></sup> Jonathan Foley, “It’s Time to Rethink America’s Corn System,” <em>Scientific American</em>, March 5, 2013.</p> <p><sup><a href="">7</a></sup> “Epidemiology of Tularemia,” <em>Balkan Medical Journal </em>31, iss. 1 (March 2014): 3–10.</p> <p><sup><a href="">8</a></sup> “Ebola (Ebola Virus Disease),” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, November 5, 2019; and “Ebola Virus Disease,” World Health Organization, February 10, 2020, <a href=""></a></p> <p><sup><a href="">9</a></sup> Joanne Lee-Young, “SARS: Where Did It Come From?,” <em>Popular Science</em>, July 2, 2003.</p> <p><sup><a href="">10</a></sup> “Parasites - Trichanellosis,” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, November 15, 2019.</p> <p><sup><a href="">11</a></sup> “Meat and Dairy Production,” <em>Our World in Data</em>, November 2019, <a href=""></a>.</p> <p><sup><a href="">12</a></sup> “Per capita consumption of pork in the United States from 2015 to 2029,” <em></em>, March 24, 2020.</p> <p><sup><a href="">13</a></sup> “Pork,” <em>World Book Encyclopedia, </em>vol. 15 (World Book, Inc., 1995), 679.</p> <p><sup><a href="">14</a></sup> Ralph Muller and John Baker, <em>Medical Parasitology </em>(J.B. Lippincott, 1990), 83–84.</p> <p><sup><a href="">15</a></sup> “Parasites - Taeniasis,” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, January 10, 2013.</p> <p><sup><a href="">16</a></sup> John Boswell, ed., <em>U. S. Armed Forces Survival Guide </em>(MacMillan, 2007), 244.</p> <p><sup><a href="">17</a></sup> Roger A. Caras, <em>Venomous Animals of the World </em>(Prentice-Hall, 1974), 103.</p> <p><sup><a href="">18</a></sup> “Eel,” <em>International Wildlife Encyclopedia, </em>vol. 7 (Marshall Cavendish, 1990), 824.</p> <p><sup><a href="">19</a></sup> Keith Banister and Andrew Campbell, <em>The Encyclopedia of Aquatic Life </em>(Facts on File, 1988), 26.</p> <p><sup><a href="">20</a></sup> “Lobster,” <em>Encyclopædia Britannica, </em>vol. 7 (Encyclopædia Britannica, 1995), 430.</p> <p><sup><a href="">21</a></sup> “Lobster,” <em>International Wildlife Encyclopedia, </em>vol. 13 (Marshall Cavendish, 1990), 1464.</p> <p><sup><a href="">22</a></sup> Banister et al., 235.</p> <p><sup><a href="">23</a></sup> “Shellfish Harvesting,” United States Environmental Protection Agency,<em> </em>March 2018.</p> <p><sup><a href="">24</a></sup> Roger W. Miller, “Get Hooked on Seafood Safety,” <em>FDA Consumer </em>25, iss. 5<em> </em>(June 1991): 7, <a href=""></a>.</p> <p><sup><a href="">25</a></sup> Guy Murdoch, “Consumer Tips,” <em>Consumer Research</em> (July 1993): 2.</p> <p><sup><a href="">26</a></sup> Gaebelein et al., 572.</p> <p><sup><a href="">27</a></sup> “Different Dietary Fat, Different Risk of Mortality,” <em>The Nutrition Source</em>, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, July 5, 2016.</p> <p><sup><a href="">28</a></sup> “Why Everything You Know About Nutrition Is Wrong,” <em>New Scientist</em>, July 10, 2019.</p> <p><sup><a href="">29</a></sup> Declan, J., et. al, “Health Implications of Beef Intramuscular Fat Composition,” <em>Korean Journal for Food Science of Animal Resources</em> 36, iss. 5 (October 2016): 577-582.</p> <p><sup><a href="">30</a></sup> “Good Fats, Bad Fats, and Heart Disease,” <em></em>, August 13, 2019.</p> <p><sup><a href="">31</a></sup> Jack A. Ofori and Yun-Hwa P. Hsieh, “Issues Related to the Use of Blood in Food and Animal Feed,” <em>Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition</em> 54, no. 5 (January 2014): 687-97.</p> <p><sup><a href="">32</a></sup> Jenny L. Cook, “Is black pudding the latest health food du jour?,” <em></em>, March 17, 2016.</p> <p><sup><a href="">33</a></sup> “Say no to pig blood pudding, doctors advise as swine bacteria kill 4,” <em></em>, March 1, 2013.</p> <p><sup><a href="">34</a></sup> “The Sweet Danger of Sugar,” <em>Harvard Men’s Health Watch</em>, November 5, 2019.</p> <p><sup><a href="">35</a></sup> “The Sweet Danger of Sugar”; and Jukka Montonen,, “Whole-Grain and fiber intake and the incidence of type 2 diabetes,” <em>The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition </em>77, iss. 3 (March 2003): 622-629.</p> <p><sup><a href="">36</a></sup> Harvey E. Finkel, “Wine and the Gastrointestinal Tract,” <em>Alcohol in Moderation Digest,</em> November 18, 2008.</p> <p><sup><a href="">37</a></sup> Christian Nordqvist, “Wine: Health Benefits and Health Risks,” <em>Medical News Today,</em> April 7, 2016; and Honor Whiteman, “Moderate drinking may benefit ‘good’ cholesterol levels,” <em>Medical News Today,</em> November 14, 2016.</p> <p><strong><em>Chapter 3: Exercise: A Body Designed to Move</em></strong></p> <p><sup><a href="">1</a></sup> Mfrekemfon P. Inyang and Stella Okey-Orji, “Sedentary Lifestyle: Health Implications,” <em>Journal of Nursing and Health Science</em> 4, iss. 2<em> </em>(March-April 2015): 20–25.</p> <p><sup><a href="">2</a></sup> Mukta Agrawal, “What do you know about a sedentary lifestyle?,” InLife Group<em>, </em>February 26, 2017.</p> <p><sup><a href="">3</a></sup> “Lack of exercise as ‘deadly’ as smoking,” National Health Service, July 18, 2012; and Robert Preidt, “Are U.S. Teens Now as Inactive as 60-Year-Olds?” <em>WebMD</em>,<em> </em>June 16, 2017.</p> <p><sup><a href="">4</a></sup> “Overweight &amp; Obesity,” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention<em>, </em>April 10, 2020.</p> <p><sup><a href="">5</a></sup> “Obesity and Overweight,” World Health Organization, April 1, 2020, <a href=""></a>.</p> <p><sup><a href="">6</a></sup> Matt Sloane, “Physical inactivity causes 1 in 10 deaths worldwide, study says,” Cable News Network<em>, </em>July 26, 2012.</p> <p><sup><a href="">7</a></sup> “The Facts on Sedentary Lifestyle,” WalkND,<em> </em>August 20, 2012, <a href=""></a>.</p> <p><sup><a href="">8</a></sup> Clifton B. Parker, “School recess offers benefits to student well-being,” <em>Stanford University News,</em> February 11, 2015; and Denise Mann, “Pediatricians Promote Benefits of Recess,”<em> WebMD, </em>December 31, 2012.</p> <p><sup><a href="">9</a></sup> Angelina Tala, “Exercise Benefits Children Physically and Mentally,” <em>Healthline, </em>January 10, 2017; and “How Regular Exercise Benefits Teens,” <em>WebMD,</em> April 18, 2019.</p> <p><sup><a href="">10</a></sup> Len Kravitz, “Exercise and Children: Better Brain Health, Less Obesity, Less Stress,” IDEA Health &amp; Fitness Association, May 10, 2017; and Maureen Salamon, “Stronger Muscles May Pump Up Kid’s Memory Skills,” <em>HealthDay, </em>April 19, 2017.</p> <p><sup><a href="">11</a></sup> David R. Brown, “Physical Activity, Sports Participation, and Suicidal Behavior: U.S. High School Students,” <em>Medicine &amp; Science in Sports &amp; Exercise Journal </em>39, iss. 12 (May 2005): 2248–2257.</p> <p><sup><a href="">12</a></sup> “Health Benefits of Physical Activity,” <em>OnHealth, </em>May 11, 2017, <a href=""></a>; Mayo Clinic Staff, “Exercise: 7 benefits of regular physical activity,” Mayo Clinic,<em> </em>May 11, 2019; Len Kravitz, “The 25 Most Significant Health Benefits of Physical Activity &amp; Exercise,” IDEA Health and Fitness Association, October 1, 2007; and “Physical Activity,” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention,<em> </em>February 7, 2020.</p> <p><sup><a href="">13</a></sup> Amy Norton, “No Excuses: Exercise Can Overcome the ‘Obesity Gene,’” <em>MedicineNet, </em>April 27, 2017.</p> <p><sup><a href="">14</a></sup> “Physical Activity,” World Health Organization, 2020, <a href=""></a>.</p> <p><sup><a href="">15</a></sup> NIH Senior Health, “Exercise: Benefits of Exercise,” Pasadena Senior Center, <a href=""></a>.</p> <p><sup><a href="">16</a></sup> Robert Preidt, “Exercise a Great Prescription to Help Older Hearts,” <em>Everyday Health,</em> March 24, 2017, <a href=""></a>.</p> <p><sup><a href="">17</a></sup> Wojtek J. Chodzko-Zajko et. al., “Exercise and Physical Activity for Older Adults,” <em>Medscape, </em>March 1, 2010.</p> <p><sup><a href="">18</a></sup> Sophia Breene, “13 Mental Health Benefits of Exercise,” <em>The Huffington Post</em>,<em> </em>December 6, 2017.</p> <p><sup><a href="">19</a></sup> “Exercise and Depression,” <em>WebMD, </em>February 18, 2020.</p> <p><sup><a href="">20</a></sup> Jayne O’Donnell, “Surgeon general to target couch potatoes,” <em>USA</em> <em>Today</em>, February 5, 1996, A1.</p> <p><sup><a href="">21</a></sup> <em>Everyday Life in Bible Times</em> (National Geographic Society, 1967), 330.</p> <p><strong><em>Chapter 4: Contagion: Defeating Infectious Disease</em></strong></p> <p><sup><a href="">1</a></sup> Katherine Yester, “The Global War for Public Health,” <em>Foreign Policy</em>, November 16, 2009.</p> <p><sup><a href="">2</a></sup> “Global Report for Research on Infectious Diseases of Poverty,” World Health Organization, 2012, 9; and Phillip Stevens, “Diseases of poverty and the 10/90 Gap,” <em>International Policy Network</em>, November 2004, 7.</p> <p><sup><a href="">3</a></sup> “Malaria in children under five,” World Health Organization, April 26, 2017.</p> <p><sup><a href="">4</a></sup> “Malaria,” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, September 16, 2019, <a href=""></a>.</p> <p><sup><a href="">5</a></sup> “Diarrhoeal Disease,” World Health Organization, May 2, 2017.</p> <p><sup><a href="">6</a></sup> “Tuberculosis,” World Health Organization, October 17, 2019, <a href=""></a>.</p> <p><sup><a href="">7</a></sup> “What is TB? How is it treated?,” World Health Organization, January 18, 2018.</p> <p><sup><a href="">8</a></sup> “Dengue and severe dengue,” World Health Organization, March 2, 2020.</p> <p><sup><a href="">9</a></sup> “HIV/AIDS,” World Health Organization, November 15, 2019.</p> <p><sup><a href="">10</a></sup> “Schistosomiasis (Bilharzia),” <em>Medscape</em>, September 20, 2018.</p> <p><sup><a href="">11</a></sup> Peter J. Hotez, <em>Forgotten People, Forgotten Diseases</em> (Second Edition, 2013), 5.</p> <p><sup><a href="">12</a></sup> “Trachoma,” World Health Organization, January 2, 2020.</p> <p><sup><a href="">13</a></sup> “Onchocerciasis (River Blindness),” <em>Medscape</em>, June 22, 2018.</p> <p><sup><a href="">14</a></sup> “Leprosy,” World Health Organization, September 10, 2019.</p> <p><sup><a href="">15</a></sup> “The maladies of affluence,” <em>The Economist</em>, August 9, 2007.</p> <p><sup><a href="">16</a></sup> Peter J. Hotez et al., “Rescuing the bottom billion through control of neglected tropical diseases,” <em>Lancet</em>, World Health Organization 373 (2009): 1570–1575.</p> <p><sup><a href="">17</a></sup> Oliver Ransford, <em>Bid the Sickness Cease: Disease in the History of Black Africa</em> (1984), 7, 13.</p> <p><sup><a href="">18</a></sup> “Chagas disease (also known as American trypanosomiasis),” World Health Organization, March 10, 2020.</p> <p><sup><a href="">19</a></sup> “Trachoma,” <em>Medscape</em>, July 24, 2019; and S.I. McMillen, <em>None of These Diseases</em> (Old Tappan: Fleming H. Revell, 1974), 20–21.</p> <p><sup><a href="">20</a></sup> Albertha A. Nyaku and Stanley K. Diamenu, “Water and Dirt—matters of life and death,” World Health Forum (Vol. 18, 1997), 266–268.</p> <p><sup><a href="">21</a></sup> McMillen, 20–21; and Bert Thompson, “Biblical Accuracy and Circumcision on the 8th Day,” <em>Apologetics Press,</em> 1993.</p> <p><sup><a href="">22</a></sup> “Circumcision Basics,” <em>WebMD</em>, November 13, 2018; and “Circumcision (male)” Mayo Clinic, March 31, 2020.</p> <p><sup><a href="">23</a></sup> Aaron A.R. Tobian and Ronald H. Gray, “The Medical Benefits of Male Circumcision,” <em>Journal of the American Medical Association</em>, JAMA Network 306, iss. 13 (October 2011); and Nancie George, “4 Health Benefits of Circumcision,” <em>Everyday Health</em>, May 29, 2014.</p> <p><sup><a href="">24</a></sup> Mayo Clinic Staff, “Tattoos: Understand risks and precautions,” Mayo Clinic, February 28, 2020; and “Think Before You Ink: Are Tattoos Safe?” U.S. Food and Drug Administration, May 2, 2017.</p> <p><sup><a href="">25</a></sup> “Tattoos When Pregnant,” American Pregnancy Association, accessed April 28, 2020; “Tattoos and Piercings During Pregnancy,” <em>Health and Parenting</em>, 2018; and “Toxic nanoparticles in tattoo inks may harm your immune system,” <em>The Times of India</em>, September 13, 2017.</p> <p><sup><a href="">26</a></sup> Sebnem Kalemli-Ozcan, “AIDS, ‘reversal’ of the demographic transition and economic development: evidence from Africa,” <em>Journal of Population Economics</em>, JSTOR 25, iss. 3 (July 2012): 871–897.</p> <p><sup><a href="">27</a></sup> “HIV Among Gay and Bisexual Men,” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, September 13, 2017, <a href=""></a>.</p> <p><sup><a href="">28</a></sup> “What Puts You at Risk for HIV?,” <em>WebMD</em>, January 15, 2020; and John R. Diggs, Jr., “The Health Risks of Gay Sex,” Corporate Resource Council, 2002, <a href=""></a>.</p> <p><sup><a href="">29</a></sup> “What You Need to Know About HIV and AIDS,” <em>WebMD</em>, June 23, 2019.</p> <p><strong><em>Chapter 5: The Mind: Spiritual Dimensions of Mental Health</em></strong></p> <p><sup><a href="">1</a></sup> <em>Constitution of the World Health Organization </em>(World Health Organization, 1948), 1, <a href=""></a>.</p> <p><sup><a href="">2</a></sup> Diane Hales, <em>An Invitation to Health, </em>(15th Edition, Wadsworth Cengage Learning, 2013).</p> <p><sup><a href="">3</a></sup> Hales.</p> <p><sup><a href="">4</a></sup> Harold G. Koenig, “Religion, Spirituality, and Health: The Research and Clinical Implications,” <em>ISRN Psychiatry</em> 2012 (December 16, 2012).</p> <p><sup><a href="">5</a></sup> Vexen Crabtree, “Secularization Theory: Will Modern Society Reject Religion? What is Secularism?,” The Human Truth Foundation,<em> </em>2008.</p> <p><sup><a href="">6</a></sup> “Global Leading Categories of Diseases/Disorders,” National Institute of Mental Health, accessed April 28, 2020, <a href=""></a>.</p> <p><sup><a href="">7</a></sup> “Mental Health by the Numbers,” National Alliance on Mental Illness,<em> </em>September 2019.</p> <p><sup><a href="">8</a></sup> Margareta Tartakovsky, “Depression and Anxiety Among College Students,” <em>PsychCentral, </em>October 8, 2018.</p> <p><sup><a href="">9</a></sup> “New Census Data Show Differences Between Urban and Rural Populations,” United States Census Bureau, December 8, 2016.</p> <p><sup><a href="">10</a></sup> “Urbanization,” <em>Our World in Data</em>, November 2019, <a href=""></a>.</p> <p><sup><a href="">11</a></sup> Rob Jordan, “Stanford researchers find mental health prescription: Nature,” <em>Stanford University News, </em>June 30, 2015.</p> <p><sup><a href="">12</a></sup> Tori Rodriguez, “The Mental Health Benefits of Nature Exposure,” <em>Psychiatry Advisor, </em>October 20, 2015.</p> <p><sup><a href="">13</a></sup> Ming Kuo, “How might contact with nature promote human health?,” <em>Frontiers in Psychology, </em>August 25, 2015; and “How Does Nature Impact Our Wellbeing?” University of Minnesota, 2016.</p> <p><sup><a href="">14</a></sup> Robert S. Ulrich, “View through a window may influence recovery from surgery,” <em>Science </em>224, iss. 4647<em> </em>(April 27, 1984): 420–421.</p> <p><sup><a href="">15</a></sup> Rodriguez, “Mental Health Benefits”; and Mardie Townsend and Rona Weerasuriya, <em>Beyond Blue to Green: The benefits of contact with nature for mental health and well-being </em>(Beyond Blue Limited, 2010) 1, <a href=""></a>.</p> <p><sup><a href="">16</a></sup> “Health and Wellness Benefits of Spending Time in Nature,” United States Department of Agriculture, <a href=""></a>; and Ulrich, “View through a window,” 420–421.</p> <p><sup><a href="">17</a></sup> Kuo, “Contact with nature.”</p> <p><sup><a href="">18</a></sup> Kuo.</p> <p><sup><a href="">19</a></sup> Townsend and Weerasuriya, <em>Beyond Blue to Green</em>.</p> <p><sup><a href="">20</a></sup> Kuo, “Contact with nature.”</p> <p><sup><a href="">21</a></sup> Rodriguez, “Mental Health Benefits.”</p> <p><sup><a href="">22</a></sup> Townsend and Weerasuriya, <em>Beyond Blue to Green</em>.</p> <p><sup><a href="">23</a></sup> Kuo, “Contact with nature.”</p> <p><sup><a href="">24</a></sup> Cecily Maller et al., “Healthy nature healthy people: ‘Contact with nature’ as an upstream health promotion intervention for populations,” <em>Health Promotion International </em>21, iss. 1 (March 2006): 45–54.</p> <p><sup><a href="">25</a></sup> George Barna and D. Kinnaman, eds., <em>Churchless: Understanding Today’s Unchurched and How to Connect with Them, </em>(Tyndale Momentum, 2014), 13.</p> <p><sup><a href="">26</a></sup> Dinesh Bhugra, “Commentary: Religion, religious attitudes and suicide,” <em>International</em> <em>Journal</em> <em>of</em> <em>Epidemiology</em> 39, iss. 6 (December 1, 2010): 1496–1498.</p> <p><sup><a href="">27</a></sup> Clay Routledge, “Is religion good for your health?,” August 31, 2009, <a href=""></a>.</p> <p><sup><a href="">28</a></sup> “Loneliness Can Impact Longevity,” <em>Newsmax Health, </em>August 8, 2017.</p> <p><sup><a href="">29</a></sup> Bhugra, “Commentary,” 1496–1498.</p> <p><sup><a href="">30</a></sup> Rodney Stark, <em>America’s Blessings: How Religion Benefits Everyone, Including Atheists</em> (West Conshohocken, PA: Templeton Press, 2012), 104-105.</p> <p><sup><a href="">31</a></sup> Robert A. Emmons and Michael E. McCullough, “Counting Blessings vs. Burdens; An Experimental Investigation of Gratitude and Subjective Well-Being in Daily Life,” <em>Journal of Personality and Social Psychology</em> 84, iss. 2 (February 2003): 377–389.</p> <p><sup><a href="">32</a></sup> Elizabeth Heubeck, “Boost Your Health with a Dose of Gratitude,” <em>WebMD, </em>January 11, 2006.</p> <p><sup><a href="">33</a></sup> “10 Reasons Why Gratitude is Healthy,” <em>The Huffington Post, </em>July 21, 2014, <a href=""></a>.</p> <p><sup><a href="">34</a></sup> Amanda MacMillan, “People Age Better If They Have a Purpose in Life,” <em>TIME</em>, August 16, 2017.</p> <p><sup><a href="">35</a></sup> Lisa Rapaport, “Can having a purpose in life keep you strong in old age?,” <em>Thomson Reuters, </em>August 31, 2017.</p> <p><sup><a href="">36</a></sup> “Life After Addiction: Finding Your Meaning and Purpose,” New Method Wellness, August 23, 2017.</p> <p><sup><a href="">37</a></sup> Stanton Peele, “Addiction Wars: Meaning and Purpose v. Disease,” <em>Psychology Today, </em>March 29, 2011.</p> <p><strong><em>Chapter 6: Healing: A God of Miracles</em></strong></p> <p><sup><a href="">1</a></sup> Norman L. Geisler, “Miracles, Arguments Against,” <em>Baker Encyclopedia of Christian Apologetics </em>(Grand Rapids: Baker, 1999), 459.</p> <p><sup><a href="">2</a></sup> Lee Strobel, <em>The Case for Miracles </em>(Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2018), 31.</p> <p><sup><a href="">3</a></sup> Kate Shellnutt, “80% of Americans Believe in God. Pew Found Out What They Mean,” <em>Christianity Today, </em>April 25, 2018.</p> <p><sup><a href="">4</a></sup> Lydia Saad, “Record Few Americans Believe Bible Is Literal Word of God,” Gallup,<em> </em>May 15, 2017.</p> <p><sup><a href="">5</a></sup> Strobel,<em> The Case for Miracles</em>, 30.</p> <p><sup><a href="">6</a></sup> Strobel,<em> The Case for Miracles</em>, 31; and Shoba Sreenivason and Linda Weinberger, “Do You Believe in Miracles?,” <em>Psychology Today, </em>December 15, 2017.</p> <p><sup><a href="">7</a></sup> Geisler, “Miracles,” 451.</p> <p><sup><a href="">8</a></sup> Herbert Lockyer, <em>All the Miracles of the Bible: The Supernatural in Scripture, Its Scope and Significance </em>(Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1961), 13.</p> <p><sup><a href="">9</a></sup> Geisler, “Miracles,” 451.</p> <p><sup><a href="">10</a></sup> Strobel,<em> The Case for Miracles</em>, 189–210; Josh McDowell, <em>The New Evidence that Demands a Verdict </em>(Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1999), 203–284; and Geisler, “Miracles,” 644–669.</p> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-booklet-category field--type-entity-reference field--label-above"> <div class="field__label">Booklet Category</div> <div class="field__items"> <div class="field__item"><a href="/taxonomy/term/8" hreflang="en">Life</a></div> <div class="field__item"><a href="/taxonomy/term/9" hreflang="en">Christian Living</a></div> </div> </div> Mon, 20 Jun 2022 14:47:04 +0000 bduval 59 at How a Christian Should Respond to Government? <span>How a Christian Should Respond to Government?</span> <div class="field field--name-field-viewpoint-title field--type-string field--label-hidden field__item">How a Christian Should Respond to Government?</div> <span><span lang="" about="/user/7" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="">bduval</span></span> <span>Wed, 06/08/2022 - 15:44</span> <div class="field field--name-field-viewpoint-date field--type-datetime field--label-hidden field__item"><time datetime="2020-12-25T12:00:00Z">2020-12-25</time> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-viewpoint-presenter field--type-list-string field--label-hidden field__items"> <div class="field__item">Stuart Wachowicz</div> </div> <div class="field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary field--label-hidden field__item"><p>Opinions vary widely regarding the proper administration of law and order in society today, often leading to unrest, protest and even violence. With such strong disagreement among people and groups, all striving to promote their own ideals and visions, are real peace and stability even possible? Ancient texts provide insights - for both government and the governed - that remain relevant even today.</p></div> <div class="field field--name-field-viewpoint-thumbnail field--type-entity-reference field--label-above"> <div class="field__label">Viewpoint Thumbnail</div> <div class="field__item"><div> <div class="field field--name-field-media-image field--type-image field--label-visually_hidden"> <div class="field__label visually-hidden">Image</div> <div class="field__item"> <img src="/sites/default/files/styles/large/public/2022-08/VP-HSCG.jpg?itok=toc43yKR" alt="government building" loading="lazy" typeof="foaf:Image" /> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-viewpoint-video-iframe field--type-iframe field--label-above"> <div class="field__label">Viewpoint Video Iframe</div> <div class="field__item"><div class=""> <h3 class="iframe_title">How a Christian Should Respond to Government?</h3> <style type="text/css">iframe#iframe-field_viewpoint_video_iframe-58 {/*frameborder*/ border-width:0;/*transparency*/ background-color:transparent;}</style> <iframe width="1168" height="657" name="iframe-field_viewpoint_video_iframe-58" id="iframe-field_viewpoint_video_iframe-58" title="How a Christian Should Respond to Government?" allow="accelerometer;autoplay;camera;encrypted-media;geolocation;gyroscope;microphone;payment;picture-in-picture" allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen" src=";cc_load_policy=1"> Your browser does not support iframes, but you can visit <a href=";cc_load_policy=1">How a Christian Should Respond to Government?</a> </iframe> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-viewpoint-tags field--type-string field--label-hidden field__items"> <div class="field__item">#Government</div> <div class="field__item">#Christianity</div> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-viewpoint-category field--type-entity-reference field--label-hidden field__items"> <div class="field__item"><a href="/taxonomy/term/9" hreflang="en">Christian Living</a></div> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-viewpoint-link field--type-link field--label-hidden field__item"><a href="/video/viewpoint/how-christian-should-respond-government">Watch</a></div> Wed, 08 Jun 2022 15:44:56 +0000 bduval 58 at The Holy Days: God’s Master Plan <span>The Holy Days: God’s Master Plan</span> <div class="field field--name-field-title field--type-string field--label-hidden field__item">The Holy Days: God’s Master Plan</div> <span><span lang="" about="/user/1" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="">4uwzvo</span></span> <span>Tue, 03/01/2022 - 16:50</span> <div class="field field--name-field-booklet-author field--type-list-string field--label-hidden field__items"> <div class="field__item">Roderick C. Meredith (1930-2017)</div> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-booklet-media field--type-entity-reference field--label-above"> <div class="field__label">Booklet Media</div> <div class="field__item"><div> <div class="field field--name-field-media-image field--type-image field--label-visually_hidden"> <div class="field__label visually-hidden"><a href="">Image</a></div> <div class="field__item"> <a href=""><img src="/sites/default/files/styles/large/public/2022-03/hd-3.0.3-cover.jpg?itok=tt_dlONt" alt="Unleavened Bread and wine" loading="lazy" typeof="Image" /></a> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-tag field--type-string field--label-hidden field__items"> <div class="field__item">#Christian Living</div> <div class="field__item">#Christianity</div> <div class="field__item">#God</div> <div class="field__item">#Holy Days</div> <div class="field__item">#Jesus Christ</div> <div class="field__item">#origins of traditions</div> <div class="field__item">#Salvation</div> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-booklet-teaser field--type-string field--label-hidden field__item">What are the most important days on the Christian calendar? Most would say Christmas and Easter. But the first followers of Jesus Christ observed NEITHER of these days. They followed Christ’s example and observed the SAME Holy Days that Jesus Christ Himself observed! The Holy Days are not obsolete “Jewish” observances, but in fact picture, in sequence, the destiny God has planned for ALL humanity. God Himself ordained these Holy Days for ALL of His people to observe.</div> <div class="field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary field--label-hidden field__item"><p>Sadly, most of us just “grew up” in Protestant churches—or in Catholicism—and basically took for granted all that we were taught about God, Christ and religion. Very few people usually bother—even after reaching adulthood—to actually study and genuinely prove WHY they believe what they believe. It just seems easier to “follow the crowd” and go along with whatever we have been taught.</p> <p>Have you been like this?</p> <p>Have you carelessly ASSUMED that the Bible teaches us to observe Christmas and Easter? Have you assumed that Christ, our example, and the original inspired Apostolic Church observed Christmas and Easter?</p> <p>If so, you could not have been more WRONG!</p> <p>For nearly all honest theologians and historians freely acknowledge that Christmas and Easter were injected into “Christianity” many years after the death of the original Apostles! Under the article “Christmas,” the <em>Encyclopedia Britannica</em> states: “in the Christian Church, the festival of the nativity of Jesus Christ. The history of this feast coheres so closely with that of Epiphany (q.v.), that what follows must be read in connection with the article under that heading…. The great church adopted Christmas much later than Epiphany; and before the 5th century there was no general consensus of opinion as to when it should come in the calendar, whether on the 6th of January, or the 25th of March, or the 25th of December…. In 1644 the English puritans forbade any merriment or religious services by act of Parliament, on the ground that it was a heathen festival, and ordered it to be kept as a fast. Charles II revived the feast, but the Scots adhered to the Puritan view” (vol. 6, 11th ed., pp. 293–294).</p> <p>The <em>Catholic Encyclopedia</em> tells us: “Christmas was not among the earliest festivals of the Church. Irenaeus and Tertullian omit it from their lists of feasts; Origen, glancing perhaps at the discreditable imperial Natalitia, asserts (in Lev. Hom. viii in Migne, P.G., XII, 495) that in the Scriptures sinners alone, not saints, celebrate their birthday…. In England, Christmas was forbidden by Act of Parliament in 1644; the day was to be a fast and a market day; shops were compelled to be open; plum puddings and mince pies condemned as heathen. The conservatives resisted; at Canterbury blood was shed; but after the Restoration Dissenters continued to call Yuletide ‘Fooltide'” (vol. 3, pp. 724, 728).</p> <h2><strong>REJECTING the Example of Christ and the Apostles</strong></h2> <p>A vital key to remember in trying to understand what happened is to realize that the vast majority of “Christian” priests and scholars have NOT seriously tried to follow the example of Christ and the original Apostles! As the professing Christian Church grew in the Roman Empire, they tried to make their religion more “convenient” to the pagans around them in an attempt to win them over, and also, at times, in an attempt to avoid persecution. As Dr. Rufus M. Jones points out: “If by any chance Christ Himself had been taken by His later followers as the model and pattern of the new way, and a serious attempt had been made to set up His life and teaching as the standard and norm for the Church, Christianity would have been something vastly different from what it became. Then ‘heresy’ would have been, as it is not now, deviation from His way, His teaching, His spirit, His kingdom…. What we may properly call ‘Galilean Christianity’ had a short life, though there have been notable attempts to revive it and make it live again, and here and there spiritual prophets have insisted that anything else than this simple Galilean religion is ‘heresy’; but the main line of historic development has taken a different course and has marked the emphasis very differently” (<em>The Church’s Debt to Heretics</em>, pp. 15–16).</p> <p>And mainstream Protestant author, Jesse Lyman Hurlbut—writing about the period between 313ad and 476ad—acknowledges: “The forms and ceremonies of paganism gradually crept into the worship. Some of the old heathen feasts became church festivals with change of name and worship. About 405ad images of saints and martyrs began to appear in the churches, at first as memorials, then in succession revered, adored, and worshipped” ( <em>The Story of the Christian Church</em>, p. 79).</p> <p>So, although the early “Christian” leaders were accommodative to the pagans around them, God warned our spiritual forefathers against following the customs of the surrounding heathen nations saying: “Do NOT inquire after their gods, saying ‘How did these nations serve their gods? I also will do likewise.’ You shall NOT worship the Lord your God in that way; for every abomination to the Lord which He hates have they done to their gods” (Deuteronomy 12:30–31).</p> <p>Jesus Christ warned the religious leaders of His day, “All too well you reject the commandment of God, that you may keep your tradition” (Mark 7:9). Notice carefully Jesus’ comment about rejecting the commandment of God by keeping human tradition. This is very definitely the case when we consider which days God made holy. For virtually no one keeps the days introduced by the pagans <strong><em>and</em></strong> also observes the biblical Holy Days that God commands and which Christ and the Apostolic Church observed.</p> <p>In effect, you have to CHOOSE.</p> <p>You have to choose between observing the “mass of Christ”— which pictures Christ as a helpless little child, and is surrounded by pagan concepts of the Yule log, the Christmas tree, Santa Claus and Rudolph the red-nosed reindeer—OR, on the other hand, observing the biblical Holy Days that picture, step-by-step, the awesome PLAN that God is working out here on earth. You have to choose between following Christ and the original Apostles, or following the Catholic “fathers” of the Dark Ages who increasingly injected layer after layer of rank paganism into professing Christianity.</p> <h2><strong>Which Will YOU Choose?</strong></h2> <p>As I explain in the booklet, <em>Which Day is the Christian Sabbath?,</em> if you were on the proverbial desert island with only a sacred calendar and a Bible, you would have to observe the biblical Sabbath and biblical Holy Days because these are the ONLY days the Bible commands or even directly talks about. For instance, the word “Christmas” is not even in the Bible. And there is not even the slightest hint in the Bible that we should observe the day of Christ’s birth, even IF we knew when it was—which we do not! And the word “Easter” is purposely not mentioned in any reputable modern translation of the Bible. It is incorrectly mentioned one time in the <em>King James Version </em>in Acts 12:4. But all scholars concede that the word “Pascha” from which it is translated is correctly rendered “Passover” and has no relation to Easter whatsoever. And, virtually all scholars recognize that the word “Easter” is simply a derivation of the name of the ancient goddess Ishtar or “Isis”—goddess of sex and fertility of the ancient Middle East. That, of course, is where “Easter eggs” come from—the pagan worship of sex and fertility.</p> <p>Interestingly, even though we were not taught about God’s Holy Days in Sunday School, God’s commanded days are mentioned quite often in the Bible! For these days were clearly commanded in the Old Testament and their observance by Christ and the Apostles in the New Testament certainly ratifies them for the Christian Church.</p> <p>Luke tells us: “And the Child grew and became strong in spirit, filled with wisdom; and the grace of God was upon Him. His parents went to Jerusalem every year at the Feast of the Passover” (2:40–41). Then the account describes how “when they had finished the days… Jesus lingered behind” (v. 43). All scholars recognize that “the days” spoken of here were the Days of Unleavened Bread, which come immediately after the Passover. So even though Jesus was “strong in the spirit” and able to discuss spiritual principles at the highest level with the doctors of the Jewish law, He joined His parents in keeping the Days of Unleavened Bread.</p> <p>During His ministry, we find Jesus going up to observe the Feast of Tabernacles in Jerusalem. He told His physical brothers, “You go up to this feast” (John 7:8). Clearly, they were instructed by the Son of God to go up to keep the Feast of Tabernacles! Then, Jesus Himself went up secretly, at first, so as not to arouse persecution (v. 10). Then “about the middle of the feast Jesus went up into the temple and taught” (v. 14).</p> <p>At the end of Jesus’ human life, Luke tells us: “Then came the Day of Unleavened Bread, when the Passover must be killed. And He sent Peter and John, saying, ‘Go and prepare the Passover for us, that we may eat…. ‘ Then He said to them, ‘With fervent desire I have desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer'” (Luke 22:7–8, 15). So as an adult—setting us an example—Jesus observed the Passover.</p> <p>Then we find that the inspired Apostolic Church began on another of God’s Holy Days, the Day of Pentecost, when the Holy Spirit was poured out: “When the Day of Pentecost had fully come, they were all with one accord in one place” (Acts 2:1). What if the disciples had rejected God’s Holy Days and were not even there on the day when the Holy Spirit was given?</p> <p>Some may assume that this was the only Day of Pentecost the early Church observed. Not so. For in Acts 20:16 we read, “For Paul had decided to sail past Ephesus, so that he would not have to spend time in Asia; for he was hurrying to be at Jerusalem, if possible, on the Day of Pentecost.” And Paul observed yet another Pentecost in Ephesus: “But I will tarry in Ephesus until Pentecost. For a great and effective door has opened to me, and there are many adversaries” (1 Corinthians 16:8–9).</p> <p>Also, the Apostle Paul clearly commanded the Gentile Church at Corinth to observe the Days of Unleavened Bread. Speaking of these days, Paul wrote: “Therefore purge out the old leaven, that you may be a new lump, since you truly are unleavened. For indeed Christ, our Passover, was sacrificed for us. Therefore let us KEEP THE FEAST, not with old leaven, nor with the leaven of malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth” (1 Corinthians 5:7–8). Paul was obviously speaking of “keeping the Feast” of Unleavened Bread.</p> <h2><strong>ALL Nations to Observe God’s Holy Days</strong></h2> <p>A powerful END-time prophecy makes it exceedingly clear that ALL nations will soon learn to observe the Feast of Tabernacles! Notice what God inspired the Prophet Zechariah to write about the years just ahead of us: “Behold, the day of the Lord is coming, and your spoil will be divided in your midst. For I will gather all the nations to battle against Jerusalem; the city shall be taken, the houses rifled, and the women ravished. Half of the city shall go into captivity, but the remnant of the people shall not be cut off from the city. Then the Lord will go forth and fight against those nations, as He fights in the day of battle. And in that day His feet will stand on the Mount of Olives, which faces Jerusalem on the east. And the Mount of Olives shall be split in two, from east to west, making a very large valley; half of the mountain shall move toward the north and half of it toward the south…. And it shall come to pass that everyone who is left of all the nations which came against Jerusalem shall go up from year to year to worship the King, the Lord of hosts, and to KEEP THE FEAST OF TABERNACLES. And it shall be that whichever of the families of the earth do not come up to Jerusalem to worship the King, the Lord of hosts, on them there will be no rain. If the family of Egypt will not come up and enter in, they shall have no rain; they shall receive the plague with which the Lord strikes the nations who do not come up to keep the Feast of Tabernacles. This shall be the punishment of Egypt and the punishment of all the nations that do not come up to KEEP the Feast of Tabernacles” (Zechariah 14:1–4; 16–19).</p> <p>Since EVERY human being on earth will soon learn to observe these biblical Holy Days, why not learn to obey God and start keeping them NOW? Why not become a spiritual “pioneer” and help blaze the trail for the BILLIONS of others who will come to this understanding soon after Christ’s return?</p> <p>“But,” you may say, “we have been taught that these are Jewish Holy Days! Are Christians to keep the Jewish Holy Days?”</p> <p>Well, I have just explained that ALL nations, Jew and Gentile, will soon learn to keep the biblical Holy Days—NOT because they are “Jewish”—but because God commands all of His people to observe them. And all of His people did keep them in the New Testament Church and, as we have seen, Christ kept them—setting us an example. The original Apostles kept them also.</p> <h2><strong>True Christians are the “Israel of God”</strong></h2> <p>A vital key to understanding is to truly grasp Jesus’ instruction to the Samaritan woman. He told this non-Jewish woman, “You worship what you do not know; we know what we worship, for salvation is of the Jews” (John 4:22).</p> <p>Although they often rejected His teaching or overlaid it with all kinds of human traditions, the Jewish people did preserve the knowledge of the Creator God and the only written Bible available to the original New Testament Christians—which we today call the Old Testament. Clearly, the Jews were given the “oracles of God” (Romans 3:1–2), which certainly included God’s Holy Days and the understanding of how to construct the sacred calendar upon which those days are based. So the Jews did “know” whom they worshipped. And through Christ and a correct understanding of the Old Testament, salvation was “of the Jews.” For in spite of human weakness and man-made tradition, the Jews have preserved God’s spiritual LAW, the Ten Commandments, the true Sabbath and the annual Holy Days that the Creator has commanded. And the Jewish race produced Jesus Christ—the prophesied Messiah.</p> <p>As the Apostle Paul was inspired to write, “For he is not a Jew who is one outwardly, nor is circumcision that which is outward in the flesh; but he is a Jew who is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the Spirit, and not in the letter; whose praise is not from men but from God” (Romans 2:28–29). So ALL true Christians are spiritual “Jews”! And we are bound to keep the spiritual laws and Holy Days that God gave Israel and which were reaffirmed by the example of Christ and the inspired New Testament Church.</p> <p>Again, the Apostle was inspired to write: “For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision avails anything, but a new creation. And as many as walk according to this rule, peace and mercy be upon them, and upon the Israel of God” (Galatians 6:15–16).</p> <p>Clearly, the “Israel of God” are the true people of God—those who are spiritually circumcised and have Christ living His obedient life in them through the Holy Spirit. So, yes, we must get rid of our prejudices and quit calling “Jewish” those things GOD gave for ALL His people of all races and all nations!</p> <p>True Christians are to keep holy the days God made holy. And we are to follow the example of Jesus and the original Apostles in so doing. Then, as we shall see, the understanding and observance of God’s Holy Days will open our minds to the great plan and PURPOSE that God is working out here below. Indeed, God does have a great plan in mind for all humanity. God reveals this to us through Paul’s letter to the Ephesians: “Having made known to us the mystery of His will, according to His good pleasure which He purposed in Himself, that in the dispensation of the fullness of the times He might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven and which are on earth—in Him, in whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestined according to the PURPOSE of Him who works all things according to the counsel of His will” (Ephesians 1:9–11).</p> <h2><strong>A Preview of the PLAN</strong></h2> <p>Most professing Christians observe what they call the “Lord’s Supper,” “mass,” “Eucharist” or some such observance involving the partaking of bread and wine that symbolize Christ’s sacrifice. Few even begin to understand why they are doing this and—as I just pointed out—there are several different types of observances involved when you consider the different branches of Christendom.</p> <p>But, as we shall see, these occasions are memorial observances of only the FIRST step in God’s Plan. For most professing Christians, all the other stages of God’s Plan are NOT observed in any way—and are therefore not understood in any way! Yet God has a “seven-step” plan—as are so many things God does revealed in patterns of seven. For in the beginning, God created the seven-day week (Genesis 1). The seventh day was revealed to be His Holy Sabbath (2:1–3). Later He gave exactly SEVEN annual Holy Days to reveal His overall plan and purpose in dealing with humanity (Leviticus 23). In the New Testament, we find the SEVEN Churches of Revelation described (Revelation 2–3). We read of the SEVEN seals, the SEVEN trumpets, the SEVEN last plagues, etc. For seven is the number of completion or perfection.</p> <p>Therefore, when we understand, it should seem ridiculous to observe just ONE of God’s annual Festivals picturing His Plan and OMIT all the others! As a “preview” of what is to come, let us very briefly examine all seven of God’s annual, spiritual Festivals so we can better understand His Plan and PURPOSE in these Festivals as we go along.</p> <p>First comes the solemn observance of Christ’s suffering and death on our behalf. The Bible calls this the “Passover.” It pictures our acceptance of Christ’s broken body and shed blood, which He offered as our Savior. But remember, this is only the first step in God’s Plan for us! Next, we need to GROW in grace and knowledge (2 Peter 3:18) and begin to put our old sinful ways and habits completely out of our lives. This “overcoming” process is pictured by the Days of Unleavened Bread.</p> <p>Third, all of us together in the spirit-begotten Church—the “little flock” (Luke 12:32)—are only the “firstfruits” of the great spiritual harvest that will occur after Christ’s Second Coming. So God’s third annual Festival, the Feast of Pentecost or Feast of “Firstfruits” pictures the fact that only a very small spiritual harvest is being reaped by God at this time. God is NOT TRYING to “save” the whole world now. Otherwise He would be doing so—and the BILLIONS of unbelievers of past ages and even in our present day in China, India and other nations would quickly come to full understanding of the true God and genuine acceptance of His Son as their Lord and Savior!</p> <h2><strong>END-Time Events Pictured in the SEVENTH Month</strong></h2> <p>Fourth, the cataclysmic events at the END of this present age and Christ’s return to earth are pictured by the Feast of Trumpets (Leviticus 23:24). Trumpets were literally used in ancient Israel as alarms of war. In our day, at the climax of a series of wars and worldwide upheavals, Jesus Christ will return and the dead will be raised “at the LAST TRUMPET” (1 Corinthians 15:51–52).</p> <p>Then, immediately after Christ’s return, Satan is supernaturally bound and put into the bottomless pit “so that he should DECEIVE the nations NO MORE” (Revelation 20:3). Finally, with Satan bound, man can become “at one” with God. This is clearly pictured by the fifth spiritual Festival—the Day of Atonement.</p> <p>After Christ’s return, God pours out His Spirit and begins to enlighten all humanity with the true understanding of His great PLAN. At that time, God says, “The earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea” (Isaiah 11:9). This is pictured by our joyous observance of the sixth Festival in God’s Plan—the seven-day Feast of Tabernacles or “Feast of Ingathering” (Exodus 34:22).</p> <p>God’s Holy Day calendar is based upon the harvest seasons of Israel. As indicated, this pictures for us the spiritual harvest God plans to reap. First, the small spring harvest pictured by the “Feast of Firstfruits.” Finally, at the END of this age, the massive autumn harvest is pictured by the “Feast of Ingathering.”</p> <p>Now, we come to the seventh and final spiritual Festival God gave His people. “But what part of His plan could still be left to picture?” you might ask. As shown earlier, even at the end of Christ’s 1,000-year reign there will be the untold BILLIONS of people of past ages who NEVER UNDERSTOOD virtually anything about the true God, about Jesus Christ or about God’s purpose for their lives. What will happen to these “unsaved” billions of human beings since “there is NO PARTIALITY with God”? (Romans 2:11). The solemn seventh Festival of God pictures the time when God will—for the FIRST time—open their minds to understand His Word and His will and give them a genuine opportunity to have their names written in the “Book of Life” (Revelation 20:11–12).</p> <p>With the observance of this seventh Festival that we call the “Last Great Day” (John 7:37), we finish the portrayal of the entire PLAN of our Creator. From our first acceptance of Christ as Savior to the picturing of His Second Coming all the way until the Last Great Day picturing the time when ALL human beings will finally have a real opportunity for salvation—these God-given, God-inspired Festivals picture the REAL plan of God. The pagan religious festivals that Satan has foisted off on a deceived humanity are indeed a cheap substitute. For, in reality, they picture a false god, a false Christ and lead to the acceptance of a false gospel, which directly contradicts the true message that Christ and the Apostles preached!</p> <p>These seven Festivals—two lasting seven days and five lasting one day—make 19 annual Feast days each year. Seven of these 19 days are special rest days or “Sabbaths.” These seven annual Sabbaths—also known as God’s annual Holy Days—are the First and Last days of the Feast of Unleavened Bread, the Feast of Pentecost, the Feast of Trumpets, the Day of Atonement, the First Day of the Feast of Tabernacles, and the Last Great Day.</p> <p>As we will see in this booklet, God’s Holy Days are far more than just days on which we cease from our normal work; they are far more than mere civil holidays. Other Jewish holidays, such as Hanukkah and Purim, played an important part in the civil life of the Jewish nation and are important to many Jews today. Yet those civil holidays are not Feasts of the Lord, as listed in Leviticus 23. They may be joyous national celebrations, like the Thanksgiving Day festivities held in the United States and Canada—but just as one would not expect a British citizen to observe Canada’s Thanksgiving, one would not expect a non-Jew to find relevance in a holiday established by the Jewish nation-state. And God did NOT command that these civil holidays be kept, as He commanded the observance of the Feasts listed in Leviticus 23.</p> <p>Now, let us retrace and fully understand the meaning and purpose of each of the SEVEN RELIGIOUS FESTIVALS that God gave for all mankind to keep. Remember, understanding and observing these Festivals helps us keep in mind the great MASTER PLAN of our Creator whereby He intends to enlighten and ultimately to save the vast majority of humankind.</p> <h2>Step 1:<br /> The Passover</h2> <p>Perhaps millions or even billions of years ago, God decided to bring forth creatures who would become His real sons and daughters. Beings who would come right out from Him, having His divine nature (2 Peter 1:4), His very CHARACTER placed within them through the Holy Spirit.</p> <p>They must not be merely created beings like the angels. They must have free moral agency—the capacity to “choose” between good and evil. And they must prove by a lifetime of overcoming that they would always choose God’s way, yield to Him, serve Him and NEVER turn aside as did Satan and one-third of the original angels (Revelation 12:4; cf. 1:20).</p> <p>Therefore, God decided that He would create the human race in His own image—having His form and shape and certain God-like capabilities, such as genuine mind power, creative imagination, freedom of choice, etc. God would allow humanity to SIN—under the influence of the fallen archangel Lucifer who has now become Satan the Devil. He would allow humans to go their own way for the first 6,000 years of human history. They would write the lessons of life through human experience and suffering yet, for the most part, not really LEARN those lessons until such time as God chose to supernaturally “call” each individual to genuine understanding and repentance (John 6:44).</p> <p>Since SIN in any form is rebellion against God, it is a truly horrible thing. And since God has decreed that “the wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23), God decided long ago that only the DEATH of His own Son, Jesus Christ, could truly atone for the awfulness of sin. “He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love…. In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace” (Ephesians 1:4, 7).</p> <p>God told ancient Israel that the “life of the flesh is in the BLOOD” (Leviticus 17:11). So God planned that His own Son’s blood would be shed. Christ would be the ultimate Passover Lamb—reconciling all true Christians to God the Father. “For indeed Christ, our Passover, was sacrificed for us” (1 Corinthians 5:7). And again, “Much more then, having now been justified by His BLOOD, we shall be saved from wrath through Him” (Romans 5:9).</p> <p>Weeks before they came to Mount Sinai and before the Old Covenant was even proposed, God told the people of Israel to set aside an unblemished male lamb (Exodus 12:3–6). This lamb was to be the “Passover lamb” and was to be slain on the eve of the 14th day of Abib—the first month of the year in God’s sacred calendar.</p> <p>God had determined to destroy ALL the firstborn in Egypt because of Pharoah’s refusal to let His people go. But God told the Israelites that if they would obey Him and kill and eat the Passover lamb—putting some of its blood on their doorposts and lintels of their homes—then “when I see the blood, I will PASS OVER you; and the plague shall not be on you to destroy you when I strike the land of Egypt. So this day shall be to you a MEMORIAL; and you shall keep it as a feast to the Lord throughout your generations. You shall keep it as a feast by an EVERLASTING ordinance” (vv. 13–14).</p> <p>So, more than 1,400 years ahead of time, God guided an entire nation of some three million people to preenact the awesome SACRIFICE that His own Son, Jesus Christ, would later make on behalf of all humanity. For the slaying of the Passover lamb directly portrays the sacrifice of Christ—the first step in God’s Plan to make human beings His full sons and daughters.</p> <p>The Passover pictures the fact that we are “being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God set forth to be a propitiation by His blood, through faith, to demonstrate His righteousness, because in His forbearance God had PASSED OVER the sins that were previously committed” (Romans 3:24–25).</p> <p>Every true Christian is commanded by God to KEEP the Passover! It is to be observed once a year as God commanded—on the very night in which Jesus was delivered to be crucified. The Apostle Paul explains: “For I received from the Lord that which I also delivered to you: that the Lord Jesus on the SAME NIGHT in which He was betrayed took bread; and when He had given thanks, He broke it and said, ‘Take, eat; this is My body which is broken for you; do this in remembrance of Me.’ In the same manner He also took the cup after supper, saying, ‘This cup is the new covenant in My blood. This do, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of Me.’ For as often as you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death till He comes” (1 Corinthians 11:23–26).</p> <p>Notice that first comes the partaking of the bread. This pictures Christ’s body, which is “broken” for us (v. 24). God’s Word clearly shows that Jesus suffered a horrible beating or “scourging” just before He was crucified. The historians tell us that this Roman scourging was done with a leather whip in which were fastened sharp pieces of metal designed to cut and tear the flesh. Because of the violence of this scourging and resultant loss of blood, many condemned prisoners died of the scourging itself even before they could be crucified.</p> <p>WHY did Jesus have to go through this awful beating?</p> <p>About 700 years before it occurred, God inspired the prophet Isaiah to describe what would happen and why: “Surely He has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed Him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement for our peace was upon Him, and by His stripes we are healed” (Isaiah 53:4–5).</p> <p>By Jesus’ stripes we are HEALED! And it is more technically correct to translate the phrase, “He has borne our griefs” as, “He has borne our SICKNESSES.” In the New Testament, Matthew describes Jesus healing many people who were sick, and then cites this as the fulfillment of Isaiah’s prophecy: “And He cast out the spirits with a word, and healed all who were sick, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Isaiah the prophet, saying: ‘He Himself took our infirmities and bore our sicknesses'” (Matthew 8:16–17).</p> <p>So when we eat the broken bread at Passover, we are reaffirming our acceptance of Christ’s broken body for our physical HEALING. Let us appreciate these vital symbols of our Savior’s sacrifice with deep humility, awe and FAITH in the Great God who made our physical healing and our spiritual forgiveness possible!</p> <p>Next, at the Passover service, we should partake of red wine to symbolize the shed blood of Jesus Christ in full payment for our sins. It is important to understand that Christ is our CREATOR. Therefore, His life is worth more than all of ours put together. The Gospel of John tells us this about Jesus Christ: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made…. He was in the world, and the world was made through Him, and the world did not know Him. He came to His own, and His own did not receive Him” (John 1:1–3, 10–11). So the Personality who had been with the Father from eternity “emptied” Himself (cf. Philippians 2:7, NRSV) of His divine glory and power and became our Savior. But in the beginning, it was Christ Himself who created mankind and all that is—acting, of course, for the Father. Ephesians 3 tells us that God “created ALL THINGS through Jesus Christ” (v. 9).</p> <p>No wonder the Bible speaks of the “precious” blood of Jesus Christ! For His is the blood of the Great Being who acted for the Father in creating the vast heavens, the earth and all that is.</p> <p>When we partake of the red wine symbolizing this awesome act of total humility on the part of our Creator, it should fill us with a deep sense of appreciation and WORSHIP toward our God and our Savior. If we have truly repented of our sins and accepted Christ as our Savior, we should have total FAITH that we have not been “redeemed with corruptible things, like silver or gold, from your aimless conduct received by tradition from your fathers, but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot” (1 Peter 1:18–19).</p> <h2>Step 2:<br /> The Feast of Unleavened Bread</h2> <p>Through the Passover sacrifice of Christ we are justified, forgiven of our past sins and “made right” in relation to God. “Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him” (Romans 5:9). But even though we are now forgiven our past sins, how will we become “overcomers” and put sin completely out of our lives?</p> <p>The Festival of Unleavened Bread provides the answer. And it pictures the next step in God’s Plan. Right after commanding the Passover, God told Moses: “Seven days you shall eat unleavened bread. On the first day you shall remove leaven from your houses. For whoever eats leavened bread from the first day until the seventh day, that person shall be cut off from Israel. On the first day there shall be a holy convocation, and on the seventh day there shall be a holy convocation for you. No manner of work shall be done on them; but that which everyone must eat—that only may be prepared by you. So you shall observe the Feast of Unleavened Bread, for on this same day I will have brought your armies out of the land of Egypt. Therefore you shall observe this day throughout your generations as an everlasting ordinance” (Exodus 12:15–17).</p> <p>Notice! As the Festival of Unleavened Bread was the time when God delivered Israel from Egypt—a symbol or “type” of SIN—so the symbolism of this Festival pictures true Christians coming out of spiritual Egypt—SIN! Leaven itself, of course, is also a symbol of sin. For when Jesus wanted to warn the disciples about the treacherous, sinful teachings of the Pharisees, He said to them, “Take heed and beware of the LEAVEN of the Pharisees and the Sadducees” (Matthew 16:6). Literal leaven causes bread to rise, to “puff up,” just as the attitude of sin—or self will—causes us to puff up and “do our own thing.” And leaven tends to spread itself through dough just as unchecked SIN tends to spread through the Church! Therefore the Apostle Paul told the Corinthians: “Your glorying is not good. Do you not know that a little leaven leavens the whole lump? Therefore purge out the old leaven, that you may be a new lump, since you truly are unleavened. For indeed Christ, our Passover, was sacrificed for us” (1 Corinthians 5:6–7).</p> <p>Many nominal Christians believe that we are “saved” when our sins are forgiven. And, indeed, we are at that time saved from the death penalty incurred by our past sins. But we can still fall away and lose out on salvation (Hebrews 6:4–8; 10:26–31; 1 Corinthians 9:27). Salvation is a process. We are now “being saved” (1 Corinthians 1:18) and ultimately “shall be saved”—if we endure to the end (Matthew 24:13). Paul explains, “For if when we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His LIFE” (Romans 5:10). If we observe just the Passover, we leave God’s plan incomplete. We leave Jesus hanging dead on the cross—end of story! Yet remember—our Savior rose again! And it is through His <em>resurrected</em> life that we <em>shall be</em> saved.</p> <p>Jesus told His followers, “If you want to enter into [eternal] life, keep the commandments” (Matthew 19:17). He also told us to “repent” (Mark 1:15)—that is, turn completely away from sin and go the other way, the way of righteousness. In other words, God requires that we make a covenant with Him to put sin out of our lives—to stop breaking His spiritual law and start keeping it. And then He expects us to follow through.</p> <p>The Apostle Paul wrote, “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast” (Ephesians 2:8–9). Many will say this verse proves that we need not do anything more than receive God’s free gift—that we do not need to keep God’s law. But how shortsighted a point of view this is, when you consider the very next verse, in which Paul explained that we are “created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them” (v. 10). Indeed, our whole <em>way of life</em> must change from disobeying God to <em>obeying</em> Him. Of course, He knows that we will not succeed perfectly in this while still in the flesh (Romans 7:18, 24; 1 John 1:8–10). But He still requires that we grow in His character through a process of striving against and overcoming sin (cf. 1 Corinthians 9:24–27; Revelation 2:11; 3:21; 21:7). Our past sinful life must be “crucified with Christ” (Galatians 2:20). We are baptized as a symbol of our old nature being figuratively buried with Christ, then raised from the “watery grave” of baptism as a symbolic “resurrection” to new life in Christ. That being so, we should from then on live according to His way. The Feast of Unleavened Bread pictures this process of living His way, putting sin out of our lives.</p> <p>So Paul commanded the Gentile Church at Corinth: “Therefore let us KEEP THE FEAST [the Feast of Unleavened Bread!], not with old leaven, nor with the leaven of malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth” (1 Corinthians 5:8).</p> <p>Obviously, this is a New Testament command to KEEP the Feast of Unleavened Bread! And this command was given to a primarily Gentile Church—so there was not any “Judaism” here! In verse 7, Paul links the unleavened bread Festival with the Passover that immediately precedes it. For again, Passover deals with forgiveness of past sins whereas the Festival of Unleavened Bread deals with the “follow through”—the determination, with God’s help, to GROW in grace and in knowledge “to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ” (Ephesians 4:13).</p> <p>So how are Christians to keep this Feast? As it approaches each year, true followers of New Testament Christianity are to remove leavening (and bread products that are already leavened) from their homes and property. Then for seven days they are to eat no leaven. (Incidentally, there is nothing wrong with literal leaven itself. It is simply a symbol for sin during this Feast.) And as they go through this Festival, if they happen across some leaven in their homes that they had previously overlooked, they are to put that out as well (Exodus 13:7).</p> <p>While they search about their property doing this “spring cleaning,” they should remember that, just as crumbs of leavened bread may fall into various nooks and crannies around their homes, so sin may be lurking in the hidden corners of their lives. Indeed, they may be quite surprised at some of the places they find leavening! Christians should be asking God to thoroughly clean them up and scrub them out <em>spiritually</em>—even showing them parts of their minds that they did not know were harboring sin.</p> <p>For seven days—the number of perfection—true followers of New Testament Christianity are to put leaven out of their homes and off their property. They are to focus on getting completely RID of sin. They are to remind themselves through the observance of these God-commanded actions that they have a continuing responsibility before God to overcome themselves, the world and Satan the Devil. This is the true meaning of the Days of Unleavened Bread!</p> <h2>Step 3:<br /> Pentecost</h2> <p>As we have seen, each of God’s commanded Holy Days builds on the previous one in picturing for us the great Master Plan that God has in mind for humanity. Passover pictures our acceptance of Christ’s broken body and shed blood—our forgiveness and reconciliation with God. Unleavened Bread pictures the need to come out of sin and to grow in grace and in knowledge.</p> <p>In describing how New Testament Christians can go above and beyond the carnal Israelites of old, the inspired writer of Hebrews tells us: “Therefore, since a promise remains of entering His rest, let us fear lest any of you seem to have come short of it. For indeed the gospel was preached to us as well as to them; but the word which they heard did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in those who heard it” (Hebrews 4:1–2). Through receiving the promised Holy Spirit, New Testament Christians can have genuine FAITH in God—far more fully understand His purpose—and be given a measure of God’s own character to help them overcome sin and grow in grace and in knowledge.</p> <p>Speaking of the magnificent promises of God, Peter writes that “through these you may be partakers of the DIVINE NATURE” (2 Peter 1:4). Through the power of the Holy Spirit, God places within us His very own nature—His divine character—as we walk with Him and grow spiritually. This is what enables us to genuinely overcome sin—in contrast to the ancient Israelites, who never received the promise of the Holy Spirit.</p> <p>Coming soon after the Days of Unleavened Bread, the Feast of Pentecost or Feast of “Firstfruits” (Exodus 34:22) reminds us that God is now calling only a small “firstfruits” spiritual harvest, but that He will bless this small harvest by EMPOWERING us with His Spirit so that we can overcome and grow spiritually even though living in “this present evil age” (Galatians 1:4).</p> <p>In commanding the Feast of Firstfruits to ancient Israel, God told the Israelites to bring a sheaf of the “firstfruits” of the spring grain harvest to the priest (Leviticus 23:10). He was to wave this sheaf—in a solemn ceremony—to be accepted by God and thus obtain God’s blessing on this spring harvest and spiritually depict the resurrected Christ being accepted by the Father as the “first of the firstfruits”—the first human to be actually born of God by a resurrection. The “waving ceremony” took place on the Sunday immediately following the weekly Sabbath during the days of Unleavened Bread (v. 11). If you compare Matthew 28:9 with John 20:17, you will see that Christ presented Himself to the Father after His resurrection the previous evening (1 Corinthians 15:20, 23; Romans 8:29; Colossians 1:15, 18).</p> <p>The Israelites were to count 50 days beginning with this Sunday: “And you shall count for yourselves from the day after the Sabbath, from the day that you brought the sheaf of the wave offering: seven Sabbaths shall be completed. Count fifty days to the day after the seventh Sabbath; then you shall offer a new grain offering to the Lord. You shall bring from your habitations two wave loaves of two-tenths of an ephah. They shall be of fine flour; they shall be baked with leaven. They are the firstfruits to the Lord” (Leviticus 23:15–17). Pentecost literally means “50th.” By counting exactly 50 days from a designated Sunday, they would always end up a Sunday seven weeks later—but not, obviously, on any particular day of the month. If Pentecost had been commanded to be kept on a particular day of the month, the Bible would have clearly said so—and there would be no need to “count”!</p> <p>Then, on the day of Pentecost or “Firstfruits,” they were to offer two “wave loaves.” It was stated that these wave loaves “are the FIRSTFRUITS to the Lord” (v. 17). These “firstfruit” loaves evidently pictured both the Old Testament and New Testament people of God—since even the Old Testament prophets had the Holy Spirit of God (cf. 1 Peter 1:10–11).</p> <p>Again, one of the lessons of the “firstfruits” is that God is only calling out a small number of people—the “firstfruits”—in this age. As we have stated, the early spring harvest in Israel was a small harvest compared to the major harvest that came in the autumn.</p> <p>So it is today spiritually. Jesus Christ said: “Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are FEW who find it” (Matthew 7:13–14). And John reports Christ’s powerful warning: “No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him; and I will raise him up at the last day…. And He said, ‘Therefore I have said to you that no one can come to Me unless it has been granted to him by My Father'” (John 6:44, 65).</p> <p>Strange as it may seem to millions of “mainstream” Christians who have been taught that God is trying to “save” the world now, <em>the true God of the Bible is trying to do no such thing!</em> If He were, then the vast BILLIONS of human beings who have lived for millennia in India, China, Africa and elsewhere would have been “called” to Christianity. But the vast majority of them lived and died never hearing the name of Christ!</p> <p>The Feast of Pentecost or “Firstfruits” reminds us, year by year that those few called out of this world today are only the “firstfruits” and that a FAR LARGER harvest of souls will occur later—as we shall see. And as we read of the “outpouring” of the Holy Spirit on the first New Testament Day of Pentecost, we can be inspired that though small in number—we “called out ones” today have the POWER of the Holy Spirit to do the Work of God, as well as overcome ourselves with help never before given to human beings.</p> <p>For the inspired Peter proclaimed: “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is to you and to your children, and to all who are afar off, as many as the Lord our God will call” (Acts 2:38–39). Then we read Paul’s inspired words in Romans 5: “Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who has been given to us” (v. 5).</p> <p>And what kind of love is this poured out by the Holy Spirit? The Apostle John clearly stated, “For this is the love of God, that we KEEP HIS COMMANDMENTS. And His commandments are not burdensome” (1 John 5:3). Through the Holy Spirit, we receive the spiritual love of God—the kind of love we must have to fulfill God’s great spiritual law, the Ten Commandments, and build the very character of God. Yearly, the Day of Pentecost reminds us of our unique calling and of the strength we are given through God’s Spirit to make our “calling and election sure” (2 Peter 1:10).</p> <p><a id="calendar" name="calendar">The Holy Days — God's Master Plan</a></p> <table border="0" cellpadding="0" cellspacing="0" class="InsetTable-1"> <tbody> <tr> <th colspan="2">* Passover</th> <th>Feast of Unleavened Bread</th> <th>Day of Pentecost</th> <th>Feast of Trumpets</th> </tr> <tr> <td colspan="5">Old Testament meaning</td> </tr> <tr> <td colspan="2">A lamb was sacrificed and its blood placed around the doors of Israelite houses in Egypt, which God "passed over" when slaying the Egyptian firstborn. (Leviticus 23:5)</td> <td>A seven-day festival during which leavening (such as yeast, which causes bread to rise when baking) is put out of dwellings and is not eaten. (Leviticus 23:6-14)</td> <td>A day celebrating the gathering in of the first and smaller of the two annual harvests; observed 50 days from a fixed point in the previous Feast. (Leviticus 23:15-22)</td> <td>Called <em>Rosh Hashana</em> by the Jews; a day of rejoicing marked by the blowing of trumpets. (Leviticus 23:23-25)</td> </tr> <tr> <td colspan="5">New Testament meaning</td> </tr> <tr> <td colspan="2">Pictures Jesus Christ's shedding His blood for the sins of mankind.</td> <td>Pictures the Christian's duty to "put out sin" from a life yielded to Jesus Christ.</td> <td>Pictures the Christian's receiving God's Holy Spirit.</td> <td>Pictures a time of war and plagues, concluding with Jesus Christ's Second Coming.</td> </tr> <tr> <td>2007</td> <td>Apr 2</td> <td>Apr 3 - 9</td> <td>May 27</td> <td>Sep 13</td> </tr> <tr> <td>2008</td> <td>Apr 19</td> <td>Apr 20 - 26</td> <td>Jun 8</td> <td>Sep 30</td> </tr> <tr> <td>2009</td> <td>Apr 8</td> <td>Apr 9 - 15</td> <td>May 31</td> <td>Sep 19</td> </tr> <tr> <td>2010</td> <td>Mar 29</td> <td>Mar 30 - Apr 5</td> <td>May 23</td> <td>Sep 9</td> </tr> <tr> <td>2011</td> <td>Apr 18</td> <td>Apr 19 - 25</td> <td>June 12</td> <td>Sep 29</td> </tr> <tr> <td>2012</td> <td>Apr 6</td> <td>Apr 7 - 13</td> <td>May 27</td> <td>Sep 17</td> </tr> <tr> <td>2013</td> <td>Mar 25</td> <td>Mar 26 - Apr 1</td> <td>May 19</td> <td>Sep 5</td> </tr> <tr> <td>2014</td> <td>Apr 14</td> <td>Apr 15 -21</td> <td>June 8</td> <td>Sep 25</td> </tr> <tr> <td>2015</td> <td>Apr 3</td> <td>Apr 4 - 10</td> <td>May 24</td> <td>Sep 14</td> </tr> <tr> <td>2016</td> <td>Apr 22</td> <td>Apr 23 - 29</td> <td>June 12</td> <td>Oct 3</td> </tr> <tr> <td>2017</td> <td>Apr 10</td> <td>Apr 11 - 17</td> <td>June 4</td> <td>Sept 21</td> </tr> <tr> <td>2018</td> <td>Mar 30</td> <td>Mar 31 - Apr 6</td> <td>May 20</td> <td>Sept 10</td> </tr> <tr> <td>2019</td> <td>Apr 19</td> <td>Apr 20 - 26</td> <td>Jun 9</td> <td>Sept 30</td> </tr> <tr> <td>2020</td> <td>Apr 8</td> <td>Apr 9 - 15</td> <td>May 31</td> <td>Sept 19</td> </tr> <tr> <td>2021</td> <td>Mar 27</td> <td>Mar 28 - Apr 3</td> <td>May 16</td> <td>Sept 7</td> </tr> </tbody> </table> <p>(continuation)</p> <table border="0" cellpadding="0" cellspacing="0" class="InsetTable-1"> <tbody> <tr> <th colspan="2">Day of Atonement</th> <th>Feast of Tabernacles</th> <th>Last Great Day</th> </tr> <tr> <td colspan="4">Old Testament meaning</td> </tr> <tr> <td colspan="2">A day of fasting and repentance, known to the Jews as <em>Yom Kippur</em> (Leviticus 23:26-32)</td> <td>A seven-day celebration of the great fall harvest, observed by living in temporary dwellings for the duration of the Feast. (Leviticus 23:33-43)</td> <td>Adjacent to the Feast of Tabernacles, this eighth day is considered a separate Feast. (Leviticus 23:36, 39)</td> </tr> <tr> <td colspan="4">New Testament meaning</td> </tr> <tr> <td colspan="2">Pictures the binding of Satan at the beginning of the Millennium and the world becoming at one with God.</td> <td>Pictures the Millennium, when the earth will be ruled by Jesus Christ and His saints.</td> <td>Pictures the coming "Great White Throne Judgment" at which all of humanity not previously called will have the chance to hear the True Gospel and accept salvation.</td> </tr> <tr> <td>2007</td> <td>Sep 22</td> <td>Sep 27 - Oct 3</td> <td>Oct 4</td> </tr> <tr> <td>2008</td> <td>Oct 9</td> <td>Oct 14 - 20</td> <td>Oct 21</td> </tr> <tr> <td>2009</td> <td>Sep 28</td> <td>Oct 3 - 9</td> <td>Oct 10</td> </tr> <tr> <td>2010</td> <td>Sep 18</td> <td>Sep 23 - 29</td> <td>Sep 30</td> </tr> <tr> <td>2011</td> <td>Oct 8</td> <td>Oct 13 - 19</td> <td>Oct 20</td> </tr> <tr> <td>2012</td> <td>Sep 26</td> <td>Oct 1 - 7</td> <td>Oct 8</td> </tr> <tr> <td>2013</td> <td>Sep 14</td> <td>Sep 19 - 25</td> <td>Sep 26</td> </tr> <tr> <td>2014</td> <td>Oct 4</td> <td>Oct 9 -15</td> <td>Oct 16</td> </tr> <tr> <td>2015</td> <td>Sep 23</td> <td>Sep 28 - Oct 4</td> <td>Oct 5</td> </tr> <tr> <td>2016</td> <td>Oct 12</td> <td>Oct 17 - 23</td> <td>Oct 24</td> </tr> <tr> <td>2017</td> <td>Sept 30</td> <td>Oct 5 - 11</td> <td>Oct 12</td> </tr> <tr> <td>2018</td> <td>Sept 19</td> <td>Sept 24 - 30</td> <td>Oct 1</td> </tr> <tr> <td>2019</td> <td>Oct 9</td> <td>Oct 14 - 20</td> <td>Oct 21</td> </tr> <tr> <td>2020</td> <td>Sept 28</td> <td>Oct 3 - 9</td> <td>Oct 10</td> </tr> <tr> <td>2021</td> <td>Sept 16</td> <td>Sept 21 - 27</td> <td>Sept 28</td> </tr> </tbody> </table> <p><strong>* Observed the previous evening after sunset</strong></p> <h2>Step 4:<br /> The Feast of Trumpets</h2> <p>The first three of God’s commanded Festivals come in the spring. They all picture spiritual aspects of the Plan of God. The last four Festivals all fall in the seventh month—the month of finality or completion—and picture the completion of God’s plan on earth.</p> <p>The Feast of Trumpets occurs on the very first day of the seventh month of God’s sacred calendar. It ushers in the final events of God’s Plan. It pictures the MASSIVE intervention of God in human affairs—climaxing in the Second Coming of Christ as King of kings. Notice God’s original command to ancient Israel: “Speak to the children of Israel, saying: ‘In the seventh month, on the first day of the month, you shall have a sabbath-rest, a memorial of blowing of TRUMPETS, a holy convocation'” (Leviticus 23:24).</p> <p>In Israel, the blowing of trumpets was used as a signal for the people to assemble, to take some action—or as an alarm of WAR (Numbers 10:1–10). Therefore, being placed as it is just before the final events of this age, the Feast of Trumpets clearly signifies the soon-coming time of world upheaval, chaos and war that virtually all the prophecies of the Bible show will immediately precede Christ’s return.</p> <p>It should be noted that trumpets were also used to herald the coronation of a new king, as in the case of Israel’s King Solomon (1 Kings 1:34, 39). And the peaceful rule of Solomon, following the wars of his father David, was a type of the coming rule of the Prince of Peace, Jesus Christ (cf. 1 Kings 4:25; 1 Chronicles 28:5).</p> <p>This evil age of human self-rule will end with the human race standing on the very threshold of mass extinction. Indeed, the Bible has much to say about a terrible World War to come that will engulf the whole earth in the near future. To learn about this horrific time called the “Great Tribulation” (Matthew 24:21) and the circumstances that will bring it about, please write for our informative booklets, <em>The Beast of Revelation</em> and <em>What’s Ahead for America and Britain?</em> Both are available free of charge.</p> <p>Thankfully—before it is all over—God’s intervention will prevent humanity from utterly destroying itself (v. 22). For then the day of man will be over—and the Day of the Lord will commence. Yet it will not begin with peace and joy for everyone. Rather, the Almighty will have to enforce peace upon rebellious humanity—by first breaking its stubborn will. Thus, our Creator will intervene to show HIS POWER and remind a wayward civilization that HE is the ultimate RULER of heaven and earth.</p> <p>Notice Joel’s inspired prophecy: “Blow the TRUMPET in Zion, and sound an alarm in My holy mountain! Let all the inhabitants of the land tremble; for the day of the Lord is coming, for it is at hand” (Joel 2:1). So the blowing of trumpets here sounds an “alarm” that the prophesied “Day of the Lord is at hand”!</p> <p>Picturing the time when the Israelites are released from captivity at Christ’s Second Coming and are brought back to the land of Israel, the Prophet Isaiah proclaimed: “So it shall be in that day that the great TRUMPET will be blown; they will come, who are about to perish in the land of Assyria, and they who are outcasts in the land of Egypt, and shall worship the Lord in the holy mount at Jerusalem” (Isaiah 27:13).</p> <p>Of course, the “trumpet plagues” are described in Revelation 8 and 9. Coming after the Great Tribulation, these awesome plagues will literally SHAKE this earth like <em>nothing ever has before</em>. At a time when the prophesied Beast and False Prophet (cf. Revelation 13:15–18) have just destroyed millions of lives with awesome technological weapons of war, then the great God intervenes to show HIS POWER and remind a rebellious civilization that He is the ultimate RULER of heaven and earth. “So the seven angels who had the SEVEN TRUMPETS prepared themselves to sound. The first angel sounded: And hail and fire followed, mingled with blood, and they were thrown to the earth; and a third of the trees were burned up, and all green grass was burned up” (8:6–7).</p> <p>Finally, the Living Jesus Christ supernaturally intervenes to SAVE a rebellious humanity and to bring genuine PEACE to the world. “Then the seventh angel sounded: and there were loud voices in heaven, saying, ‘The kingdoms of this world have become the kingdoms of our Lord and of His Christ, and He shall reign forever and ever!'” (11:15).</p> <p>So Christ will return at the seventh trump! “Immediately after the tribulation of those days the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light; the stars will fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken. Then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in heaven, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. And He will send His angels with a great sound of a TRUMPET, and they will gather together His elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other” (Matthew 24:29–31).</p> <p>What is the significance of Christ sending angels to gather His elect at this time? As the Apostle Paul wrote regarding Christ’s return at the last trumpet: “But now Christ is risen from the dead, and has become the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep” (1 Corinthians 15:20). But notice what he further stated: “For since by man [Adam] came death, by Man [Christ] also came the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ all shall be made alive. But each one in his own order: Christ the firstfruits [i.e. the first of the firstfruits], afterward those who are Christ’s at His coming [i.e. the rest of the firstfruits]” (vv. 21–23). And when will it all happen? Paul wrote: “Behold, I tell you a mystery: We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed—in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the LAST TRUMPET. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed” (vv. 51–52). Perhaps there is nothing more encouraging than this amazing fact.</p> <p>Can we picture a great blinding LIGHT so radiant that humans cannot even look at it? That is how the risen Christ’s face will look as He returns in GLORY. Can we picture a massive TRUMPET BLAST literally SHAKING the earth and Christ returning as King of kings? Can we picture the true saints of God rising to meet Christ in the air and then descending with Him to the Mount of Olives to join Him in RULING this rebellious planet? (cf. Zechariah 14:1–4, 9; Revelation 2:26–27).</p> <p>All of these things will occur at the seventh trumpet! For although the Feast of Trumpets pictures the horrifying upsets and WARS and PLAGUES at the end of this human civilization, it also pictures the glorious DIVINE INTERVENTION of the Creator God who will finally restore order and bring genuine PEACE and JOY to a chastened humanity that is finally ready to “listen” to God and follow His righteous ways.</p> <h2>Step 5:<br /> The Day of Atonement</h2> <p>Following the enormous “shaking” of the nations and Christ’s return in mighty power, the next step in God’s Master Plan is for the peoples of the earth to become “at one” with God. Then they can willingly learn God’s ways and be blessed.</p> <p>But today, the nations are rebelling against God and His ways because they have been DECEIVED. In His wisdom and infinite mercy, God has made all human beings free moral agents. He knew that mankind would desperately want to try to do things his own way before finally learning that GOD’S way is right. Therefore, God has allowed humanity to be deceived—to be mainly “cut off” from God through these past 6,000 years of human history.</p> <p>In His revealed Word, God clearly tells us that Satan the Devil is the “god” of this present world, “But even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing, whose minds the god of this age has blinded, who do not believe, lest the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine on them” (2 Corinthians 4:3–4). Again, Paul was inspired to write: “And you He made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins, in which you once walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience” (Ephesians 2:1–2).</p> <p>Satan the Devil, the “prince of this world,” as Jesus called him (John 14:30, KJV), is working overtime to deceive humanity. Being the “prince of the power of the air,” Satan “broadcasts”—just like radio and television. But he spiritually broadcasts wrong attitudes and ideas. He makes mankind feel that God is either “dead” or that He is not “real,” that He is an ethereal God, a “blind force” way off somewhere and, always, that mankind does NOT need to obey God’s law and literally follow His ways, the Ten Commandments and keep holy His weekly Sabbaths and annual Festivals like Christ and the original Apostles did do—setting us an example.</p> <p>The beloved Apostle John wrote: “So the great dragon was cast out, that serpent of old, called the Devil and Satan, who DECEIVES THE WHOLE WORLD; he was cast to the earth, and his angels were cast out with him” (Revelation 12:9).</p> <p>The Apostle Peter was inspired to warn us: “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a ROARING LION, seeking whom he may devour. Resist him, steadfast in the faith, knowing that the same sufferings are experienced by your brotherhood in the world” (1 Peter 5:8–9).</p> <p>Therefore, at the beginning of Christ’s reign—IF there is to be genuine peace and a right spirit among men—Satan the Devil must be banished! Notice the commandment regarding the Day of Atonement in Leviticus 23:27–28: “Also the tenth day of this seventh month shall be the Day of Atonement. It shall be a holy convocation for you; you shall afflict your souls, and offer an offering made by fire to the Lord. And you shall do no work on that same day, for it is the Day of Atonement, to make atonement for you before the Lord your God.” This day was to be a “statute” FOREVER to the people of God. As we have seen, even the Apostle to the Gentiles was obviously KEEPING the Day of Atonement in a Roman prison ship in the middle of the Mediterranean Sea—years after everything was supposed to have been nailed to the cross! (Acts 27:9).</p> <p>A very clear indication of the real meaning of Atonement is given in Leviticus 16. Here we find an Old Testament ritual wherein two goats were to be presented before the High Priest. In Israel, “casting lots” was an appeal to GOD to decide a matter. So Aaron was to “cast lots” to find what each of these goats represented (Leviticus 16:8). One was to represent “the Lord”—the God of Israel who later emptied Himself and became our Savior (1 Corinthians 10:4). The other goat was to represent Azazel, which is a term—as many Hebrew references explain—for the “adversary,” Satan the Devil!</p> <p>The goat representing the “Lord” was to DIE. God told Aaron to “offer it as a SIN offering” (Leviticus 16:9) just as Jesus Christ gave His life for our sins. But regarding the “adversary goat,” God commanded: “Aaron shall lay both his hands on the head of the live goat, confess over it all the INIQUITIES of the children of Israel, and all their transgressions, concerning all their sins, putting them on the head of the goat, and shall send it away into the wilderness by the hand of a suitable man. The goat shall bear on itself all their iniquities to an uninhabited land; and he shall release the goat in the wilderness” (vv. 21–22). Then the man who led this goat symbolizing Satan into the “wilderness” was to bathe his body and even his clothing (v. 26) for, symbolically, he had come into direct contact with the very embodiment of evil—Satan the Devil!</p> <p>He had been used to separate Satan from the people of God. He had led the “adversary” goat to a wilderness—FAR AWAY—where he (Satan symbolically) could not hurt or deceive God’s people anymore!</p> <p>When was this ceremony to be carried out? “This shall be a statute forever for you: In the seventh month, on the tenth day of the month” (v. 29). Though the ancient Israelites understood that this ceremony was to be part of the observance of the Day of Atonement, very few grasped the real spiritual meaning this should have for New Testament Christians. For how could they, since they were blinded even to the meaning of the first goat—the Messiah—when He came to this earth to die for their sins?</p> <p>Yet the New Testament shows that this is exactly what happens when Christ returns. Jesus’ return as King of kings is described in Revelation 19:11–21. Then, in Revelation 20, we read that a mighty angel is appointed to remove Satan. “He laid hold of the dragon, that serpent of old, who is the Devil and Satan, and bound him for a thousand years; and he cast him into the bottomless pit, and shut him up, and set a seal on him, so that he should deceive the nations no more till the thousand years were finished. But after these things he must be released for a little while” (vv. 2–3). Clearly Satan—the “Azazel” or adversary—is CUT OFF from humanity so he is unable to DECEIVE mankind during the one thousand year reign of Christ!</p> <p>That is why humanity will quickly become “at one” with God’s ways—NO MORE SATANIC INFLUENCE. That is why, during the glorious reign of Christ, “They shall not hurt nor destroy in all My holy mountain, for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea” (Isaiah 11:9).</p> <p>And Isaiah further explains how at the time the blindness of humanity is fully removed, “He will destroy on this mountain the surface of the covering cast over all people, and the veil that is spread over all nations. He will swallow up death forever, and the Lord God will wipe away tears from all faces; the rebuke of His people He will take away from all the earth; for the Lord has spoken” (25:7–8). So with “Satan’s Broadcasting System” shut down and the BLINDNESS of humanity removed, man can indeed become “at one” with God. For Christ will have paid our part in our sins, but Satan the Devil will certainly be utterly banished to a symbolic “wilderness” or “bottomless pit” and be restrained and held in this kind of a prison for his part in our sins.</p> <p>God is just! He will place on Satan’s own head the enormous GUILT he bears for stirring up mankind against God, for DECEIVING humanity into thinking God is “unfair” and that His laws and righteous ways are not good. Finally, again, humanity will learn to APPRECIATE God and His ways, to genuinely LOVE and WORSHIP the true God of the Bible. For at this point, the “atonement” for humanity’s sins will be complete.</p> <h2>Step 6:<br /> The Feast of Tabernacles</h2> <p>After Satan is put away, the next stage of God’s Plan is the Millennial reign of Jesus Christ as King of kings. This involves Christ and the resurrected saints teaching ALL of humanity the ways of God. It involves the MASSIVE “fall harvest” of saints—the time when everyone then living will finally learn the ways of God and have full opportunity—without Satan’s deceptions—to serve and obey the Creator.</p> <p>In Leviticus 23:34, God commanded this Festival to ancient Israel, “Speak to the children of Israel, saying: ‘The fifteenth day of this seventh month shall be the Feast of Tabernacles for seven days to the Lord.'” So the Feast of Tabernacles was to last seven days. It pictures the seventh millennial day or 1,000-year period of human history—coming just ahead of us. In Leviticus 23, it is called the Feast of Tabernacles or “booths”—to remind Israel that they were “sojourners” in the land. Spiritually it reminds Christians that we are—as our father Abraham—”strangers and pilgrims on the earth” (Hebrews 11:13) looking forward to the Kingdom of God.</p> <p>But in Exodus 23 we find an autumn Festival described as “the Feast of INGATHERING, which is at the end of the year, when you have gathered in the fruit of your labors from the field” (v. 16). So it also pictures and celebrates the great fall harvest in Israel—picturing for Christians the great spiritual harvest of souls to be reaped during the one thousand year reign of Christ!</p> <p>As we have already seen, at that time the earth will become “full of the knowledge of the Lord” (Isaiah 11:9). And “they shall not hurt nor destroy in all My holy mountain.” There will be an outpouring of peace and JOY such as the world has never experienced: “No lion shall be there, nor shall any ravenous beast go up on it; it shall not be found there. But the redeemed shall walk there, and the ransomed of the Lord shall return, and come to Zion with singing, with everlasting joy on their heads. They shall obtain JOY and GLADNESS, and sorrow and sighing shall flee away” (35:9–10).</p> <p>The inspired Peter called this period the “times of restoration of all things, which God has spoken by the mouth of ALL His holy prophets since the world began” (Acts 3:21). Indeed, literally scores of prophecies throughout the Old and New Testaments speak of the time of Christ’s return, of all the world coming to understand, and of genuine peace and safety permeating the earth because humanity will be learning God’s righteous LAWS and practicing His entire way of life:</p> <p>“Now it shall come to pass in the latter days that the mountain of the Lord’s house shall be established on the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills; and all nations shall flow to it. Many people shall come and say, ‘Come, and let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob; He will teach us His ways, and we shall walk in His paths.’ For out of Zion shall go forth the LAW, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem. He shall judge between the nations, and rebuke many people; they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war anymore” (Isaiah 2:2–4).</p> <p>When the modern Israelites return from their end-time captivity: “They shall rebuild the old ruins, they shall raise up the former desolations, and they shall repair the ruined cities, the desolations of many generations…. Instead of your shame you shall have double honor, and instead of confusion they shall rejoice in their portion. Therefore in their land they shall possess double; EVERLASTING JOY shall be theirs” (Isaiah 61:4, 7).</p> <p>The millennial reign of Christ is definitely the time prophesied by Jeremiah: “Behold, the days are coming, says the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and 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, My covenant which they broke, though I was a husband to them, says the Lord. 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” (Jeremiah 31:31–33).</p> <p>For God’s magnificent spiritual law, the Ten Commandments, has NEVER been done away! But they have been “magnified” by Jesus Christ and made even more binding, so that we are to keep, not only the letter but the spiritual intent of God’s law. So we do not merely refrain from murder, we refrain from enmity and hate and the attitude of murder (Matthew 5:21–22). We are taught not only to forsake adultery, but not even to “look on” a woman to lust after her! (vv. 27–28).</p> <p>During the Millennium, God’s laws are to be written in the hearts and minds of His people all over the earth. For God’s laws expresses His very CHARACTER—the character He demands that we develop in order to be kings and priests forever in His Kingdom! This blessing will be afforded ALL MANKIND during the wonderful “Feast of Ingathering,” the 1,000-year reign of Christ here on this earth. Revelation 20 tells us: “Blessed and holy is he who has part in the first resurrection. Over such the second death has no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with Him a thousand years” (v. 6).</p> <p>So all true Christians should be preparing NOW to learn and PRACTICE God’s laws and His way of life so that they will be able to TEACH these things to others in Christ’s soon-coming world government. The inspired Apostle Paul admonishes true Christians: “Do you not know that the saints will judge the world? And if the world will be judged by you, are you unworthy to judge the smallest matters? Do you not know that we shall judge angels? How much more, things that pertain to this life?” (1 Corinthians 6:2–3).</p> <p>Will just the “true Christians” or the Israelites observe the Feast of Tabernacles? Notice Zechariah 14:1–4: “Behold, the day of the Lord is coming, and your spoil will be divided in your midst. For I will gather all the nations to battle against Jerusalem; the city shall be taken, the houses rifled, and the women ravished. Half of the city shall go into captivity, but the remnant of the people shall not be cut off from the city. Then the Lord will go forth and fight against those nations, as He fights in the day of battle. And in that day His feet will stand on the Mount of Olives.” Then read verse 9, “And the Lord shall be King over all the earth. In that day it shall be—’The Lord is one,’ and His name one.” And read verses 16–19, “And it shall come to pass that everyone who is left of all the nations which came against Jerusalem shall go up from year to year to worship the King, the Lord of hosts, and to keep the Feast of Tabernacles. And it shall be that whichever of the families of the earth do not come up to Jerusalem to worship the King, the Lord of hosts, on them there will be no rain. If the family of Egypt will not come up and enter in, they shall have no rain; they shall receive the plague with which the Lord strikes the nations who do not come up to keep the Feast of Tabernacles. This shall be the punishment of Egypt and the punishment of ALL the nations that do not come up to KEEP THE FEAST OF TABERNACLES.”</p> <p>The above verses should make it very clear that ALL nations will learn to keep the Feast of Tabernacles in a very few years under the immediate direction of Jesus Christ. Even the Egyptians, who may at first have resentments against anything “Jewish,” will, learn to OBSERVE the Feast of Tabernacles—and ALL of God’s commanded Festivals.</p> <h2>Step 7:<br /> The Last Great Day</h2> <p>Is this the ONLY day of salvation? The overwhelming majority of ministers, priests and “mainstream” Christians would resoundingly answer “YES.”</p> <p>But these same people utterly fail to realize the depth, breadth and width of the massive DECEPTION Satan the Devil has perpetrated on a confused humanity. As we have seen, the Bible clearly says that Satan “deceives the WHOLE WORLD” (Revelation 12:9). Again, Satan is the “god” of this present age (2 Corinthians 4:3–4). People generally follow Satan’s ways—not God’s.</p> <p>The Last Great Day pictures the amazing truth that God is NOT TRYING to save the world now! If the great GOD who made the universe were actually “trying” to save humanity, He would succeed. The BILLIONS of people in Asia, Africa and elsewhere would all become good Christians in short order! Yet the fact is that the OVERWHELMING majority of people throughout human history have NEVER subscribed to—or even been exposed to—<em>any form</em> of Christianity. And so it remains until this very day!</p> <p>What is the REAL answer to this dilemma?</p> <p>First of all, the Son of God stated plainly: “Most assuredly, I say to you, he who does not enter the sheepfold by the door, but climbs up some other way, the same is a thief and a robber…. Then Jesus said to them again, ‘Most assuredly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep'” (John 10:1, 7). And He inspired the Apostle Peter to declare about Himself: “This is the ‘stone which was rejected by you builders, which has become the chief cornerstone.’ Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is NO OTHER NAME under heaven given among men by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:11–12). So you either accept Christ—the TRUE Christ of the Bible—or you do not. And if you truly accept Christ as your Savior AND your Lord, you will <em>surrender</em> to Him and let Him rule your life. As Christ commanded, you will keep the Ten Commandments as a way of life (Matthew 19:17) You will let Christ live His Obedient life in you through the Holy Spirit (Galatians 2:20). And if you do not, you are NOT a Christian and you yourself may be BLINDED. It is just that simple.</p> <p>The overwhelming majority of mankind has been BLINDED to the knowledge of the true God and the true Christ. And yet again, God’s inspired Word tells us, “For there is NO RESPECT of persons with God” (Romans 2:11, KJV). And the Apostle Peter stated, when God began to call a few Gentiles to repentance, “Of a truth I perceive that God is NO RESPECTER of persons” (Acts 10:34, KJV).</p> <p>Is God contradicting Himself? Of course not! For God has NEVER said that He is trying save everyone “now”! God has said, “The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:9). It is God’s will that ALL “come to repentance”—but they certainly HAVE NOT done so in this age! Notice also how the Apostle Paul speaks of “God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth” (1 Timothy 2:3–4).</p> <p>It is simply a matter of TIMING.</p> <p>For in God’s time—as we shall see—all humans who have EVER lived will be given a real understanding of God’s Master Plan and Purpose, and the vast majority will ACCEPT God’s Truth once their eyes are fully opened. No, it is NOT a “second chance” as some would like to protest. It will be the first genuine opportunity for these people to come to understand the true God and the true Jesus Christ and Their great PURPOSE!</p> <p>The Bible speaks time and again about a time of “judgment” for ALL humanity. And as used, the term “judgment” does NOT usually mean condemnation but, rather, a time of decision—a time of trial and testing (cf. 1 Peter 4:17). Notice Jesus Christ’s own statements to those cities of His own day who REJECTED Him and His teaching: “Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if the mighty works which were done in you had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes. But I say to you, it will be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon in the DAY OF JUDGMENT than for you” (Matthew 11:21–22).</p> <p>The pagan cities who NEVER HEARD of Christ will have a “more tolerable” opportunity in the coming day of judgment. Notice how even the city of Sodom was included in this category: “But I say to you that it shall be more tolerable for the land of Sodom in the day of judgment than for you” (v. 24).</p> <p>If God judges these people by the same standard as others—which the Bible clearly indicates that He will—then the ancient pagans would have NO CHANCE for eternal life because they clearly did NOT accept Christ as their Savior or obey God’s ways. Again, the ONLY answer is that they will—in a coming judgment period—be given the opportunity to really understand God’s great PURPOSE, to accept Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior and then—at that time—to be “judged” by how they respond based on this genuine FIRST OPPORTUNITY for salvation.</p> <p>But does the Bible indicate that such a time is coming?</p> <p>Yes, it does! For in Revelation 20, after describing the Millennium and the short period after the Millennium, when Satan is released for a “little while” (v. 3), God goes on to describe a time of “judgment” for the dead people who died before the Millennium began and had never been converted. After describing a great “white throne,” notice what the Apostle John wrote under inspiration: “And I saw the dead, small and great, standing before God, and books were opened. And another book was opened, which is the Book of Life. And the dead were judged according to their works, by the things which were written in the books. The sea gave up the dead who were in it, and Death and Hades delivered up the dead who were in them. And they were judged, each one according to his works” (vv. 12–13).</p> <p>When these dead people are seen “standing,” this involves a resurrection! And notice that verse 12 also says that the “books” were opened. The Greek word <em>biblia, </em>from which the word “Bible” is normally translated, is used here. So these people—for the first time—have their minds and hearts opened to the Bible. They also have opportunity to obtain salvation—to have their names written in the “Book of Life.” In this “Great White Throne Judgment Period,” they are truly being “called.” Satan is once again banished. Their minds are now opened to real understanding. In this judgment period, even the inhabitants of Sodom and hundreds of other pagan or deceived cities of the past, may have a better opportunity than some who lived at the time of Christ. For these ancient pagans never before understood virtually ANYTHING about the true God or His ways. They were NOT responsible for being “blinded”!</p> <p>Countless millions of these men and women of past ages may zealously grasp on to the Truth when they fully understand. They may become better Christians—better servants of God—than many of us who sometimes take God’s precious Truth for granted and are not as zealous as we should be.</p> <p>How clear!</p> <p>God will resurrect the countless millions who lived and died long before Christ came and brought the full understanding of salvation. Additional BILLIONS who have lived and died since Jesus Christ, or who <em>now live</em> but are BLINDED to the knowledge of the true God and His purpose—all these will be brought to REAL understanding and repentance! They will be given God’s Holy Spirit—the very nature and character of GOD that will be imparted to them after real repentance and baptism—just as it is to us today. Then they, too, will have an opportunity for some years to “grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 3:18).</p> <p>They will have an opportunity for full salvation—eternal life in the very Kingdom and Family of GOD. It is only a matter that the TIME of their “calling” is later than many of ours—but it is SURE to come!</p> <p>Then, finally, every single human being who has EVER drawn breath will have had a genuine opportunity for salvation! And so the SEVENTH of God’s Holy Days, the mysterious “eighth day” coming immediately after the Feast of Tabernacles—but as a separate Festival (Leviticus 23:36)—pictures this wonderful time soon after the Millennium when ALL humanity will finally be given an opportunity to understand the Truth.</p> <p>This is obviously the time Jesus was referring to in John 7: “On the last day, that <strong><em>great day</em></strong> of the feast, Jesus stood and cried out, saying, ‘If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink. He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water'” (vv. 37–38). For in the Great White Throne Judgment “anyone”—EVERYONE who has every lived—will finally have his or her eyes opened and be given the opportunity to respond to God and to receive His Holy Spirit.</p> <p>With this seventh God-commanded Festival, the picture of God’s Plan is now COMPLETE. In realizing the marvelous wisdom and mercy of God in all of His Plan, we may truly say with the Apostle Paul in Romans 11:32–33: “For God has committed them all to disobedience, that He might have mercy on all. Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and His ways past finding out!”</p> <h2>Conclusion:<br /> FOLLOW God’s Plan!</h2> <p>If the Living God is opening your mind to His Truth, then you have the responsibility to act on it (James 1:22; 4:17). And to help you in doing so, please be informed that the Living Church of God—which sponsors this booklet and the <em>Tomorrow’s World </em>magazine and telecast—has ordained ministers and local congregations or video groups throughout the world. They meet together for worship regularly each Sabbath and on the annual Holy Days as well.</p> <p>If you are interested in observing these days with us, please write or phone the Living Church of God office nearest you. All of our office addresses and phone numbers are listed at the end of this booklet. Be assured that no one will call on you unless you request it. If you desire, one of our representatives will set up an appointment at a time and place convenient for you. You will NOT be pressured to “join” anything. In fact, our minister or local representative may suggest that you do further reading, take your time and be sure that you truly want to live by every word of God.</p> <p>Then, once you do start attending services with God’s people and truly observing His weekly and annual Sabbaths, you can expect to be amazed at how spiritually uplifted you will feel.</p> <p>Attending services, hearing God’s Truth spoken each week and having the opportunity to fellowship with happy, forward-looking people of like faith will truly be a delight. In all of this, you will be a spiritual “pioneer.” You will have shown your Creator that you are willing to “step out in faith” to obey His inspired Word in spite of possible obstacles and opposition.</p> <p>In so doing, you will be preparing for the first resurrection, the “better resurrection” (Hebrews 11:35). And if you stand firm in this way of life you will, in the end, hear these encouraging words from Jesus Christ: “Well done, good and faithful servant; you were faithful over a few things, I will make you RULER over many things. Enter into the joy of your lord” (Matthew 25:21).</p> <p>We hope to hear from you soon.</p> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-booklet-category field--type-entity-reference field--label-above"> <div class="field__label">Booklet Category</div> <div class="field__items"> <div class="field__item"><a href="/taxonomy/term/9" hreflang="en">Christian Living</a></div> <div class="field__item"><a href="/taxonomy/term/16" hreflang="en">Doctrine</a></div> <div class="field__item"><a href="/taxonomy/term/17" hreflang="en">God</a></div> </div> </div> Tue, 01 Mar 2022 16:50:24 +0000 4uwzvo 36 at Successful Parenting: God’s Way <span>Successful Parenting: God’s Way</span> <div class="field field--name-field-title field--type-string field--label-hidden field__item">Successful Parenting: God’s Way</div> <span><span lang="" about="/user/1" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="">4uwzvo</span></span> <span>Mon, 02/28/2022 - 21:46</span> <div class="field field--name-field-booklet-author field--type-list-string field--label-hidden field__items"> <div class="field__item">Jeffrey Fall</div> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-booklet-media field--type-entity-reference field--label-above"> <div class="field__label">Booklet Media</div> <div class="field__item"><div> <div class="field field--name-field-media-image field--type-image field--label-visually_hidden"> <div class="field__label visually-hidden"><a href="">Image</a></div> <div class="field__item"> <a href=""><img src="/sites/default/files/styles/large/public/2022-02/sp-successful_parenting_gods_way_2.1.3-cover.png?itok=CPnTRNHQ" alt="family" loading="lazy" typeof="Image" /></a> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-tag field--type-string field--label-hidden field__items"> <div class="field__item">#Family</div> <div class="field__item">#Parenting</div> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-booklet-teaser field--type-string field--label-hidden field__item">What is the real purpose of parenting? Is it merely to bring up children to become independent and competent adults, or is there something more? Read on, for the amazing answer!</div> <div class="field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary field--label-hidden field__item"><h2>CHAPTER 1</h2> <h2>IN GOD’S IMAGE</h2> <p>For millennia, the cycle of human life has continued. Children are born, they grow up, and most eventually produce children of their own. One generation dies, and is replaced by the next. Yet few have understood the answer to the age-old question: “What is the <em>purpose</em> of this repeating cycle of life?” To those steeped in the mistaken belief system of evolution, their only conclusion is that this cycle of human life exists solely to reproduce the species. Life has no meaning, they believe; it just exists.</p> <p>To those of us who have proved for ourselves the existence of the Creator God, it logically follows that our Creator made us for a purpose. The word of God very clearly reveals that amazing purpose: “Then God said, ‘Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness'” (<a href="">Genesis 1:26</a>). Human beings were created in the <strong>likeness of the God Family</strong> (<a href="">Ephesians 4:14–15</a>). If we are willing to be trained by the Family of God (God the Father and His Son, Jesus Christ), and open to developing in ourselves the very character and mindset of God Himself, we can at Christ’s return literally be fully born into the Family of God, in which Jesus Christ was “the firstborn among many brethren” (<a href="">Romans 8:29</a>).</p> <p>In the meantime, “as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God.… The Spirit… bears witness with our spirit that we are the <strong><em>children</em></strong> of God” (<a href="">Romans 8:14</a>, <a href="">16</a>). <strong><em>What an awesome privilege!</em></strong> If we are <strong><em>willing</em> </strong>to be led and trained by our spiritual parent (God the Father) and our “elder brother” (Jesus Christ), we can eventually fulfill God’s stated purpose for us: to be fully created in His image. God’s intent is to bring up godly children, <strong><em>in His image</em></strong>, who will reign under Him as kings and priests with Jesus Christ on this earth: “And have made us kings and priests to our God; and we shall reign on the earth” (<a href="">Revelation 5:10</a>).</p> <p>For Christian parents, the ultimate goal is to lay a foundation in their children’s young impressionable years, so they will always desire to fully seek God as <em>their</em> Father. That is the goal, though parents cannot <em>force</em> children to make the right decisions. Even God, our Father, does not force us to make right decisions. He will <em>lead</em> us and <em>direct</em> us, but He will not <em>force</em> us. The goal of godly parenting is to help our children <strong><em>want</em></strong> to walk in the footsteps of parents who are living God’s way of life, and who are walking in the footsteps of <strong><em>their</em></strong> spiritual Father. As parents, we want to develop our <em>children’s</em> desire to follow God, not just emphasize <em>our</em> desire for them to follow God.</p> <p>Both my wife and I were blessed to have parents who were very consistent in parenting. Not all have been privileged to experience a pattern of consistency in parenting, but we all experience the pattern of our spiritual Father, who is totally consistent with us. We can clearly see from God’s word that the Creator of the universe operates on the “blessing for obedience and correction for disobedience” principle. If we follow this principle consistently in parenting, we lay the foundation for the future family of God.</p> <p>Yes, our personal example is of the utmost importance! Children must see the real God through their parents’ eyes. Young children’s perception of God is primarily developed by their parents’ example. We cannot hope to rear godly children if we, as parents, are not genuine godly examples. If children see intolerance, hypocrisy, self-centeredness and frequent anger, they will not likely be attracted to their parents’ belief system. Instead, the authority figures in their youth will provoke a negative attitude toward God’s authority later in life.</p> <p>Parents need to prove fully, in their present life experience, that God’s way of life is of very high value and <em>works</em> for them! If we have not clearly demonstrated to our children that God’s principles work for us, how will we ever convince them that God’s laws are worthwhile, and that the godly principles we teach are good for them?</p> <p>As important as our example is, however, it is only a part of the whole. Even if every one of us could become the “perfect parent,” our perfection <strong><em>would not</em></strong> guarantee a perfect outcome. The Bible clearly speaks of Adam as “the son of God” ( <a href="">Luke 3:38</a>), yet we know that God refused to <strong><em>force </em></strong>Adam and Eve to make the right decision. God <strong><em>taught </em></strong>Adam and Eve to live His way of life, yet the perfect Parent had children who chose to reject His example and teaching. Later, God’s child (Adam) reared a son (Cain) who became a murderer.</p> <p>So, do we have any hope of rearing children who will <strong><em>commit their lives</em></strong> to God? We live in a world that is under the influence of the “god of this age” (<a href="">2 Corinthians 4:4</a>), the “prince of the power of the air, the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience” ( <a href="">Ephesians 2:2</a>). The entertainment media are saturated with the perverted mindset of Satan’s way of life. This world’s educational system is steeped in the satanic theory of evolution, as well as a continual erosion of any sense of morality or values.</p> <p>One of the fundamental keys in parenting is that we must actively be demonstrating to our children that God’s way works for us! By the example of our own lives, we must be able to show our children that God’s principles will bring joy to their lives <strong><em>far beyond</em></strong> what Satan’s system has to offer. “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control” ( <a href="">Galatians 5:22–23</a>). If you ask people on the street whether they would like to have a life full of love, joy and peace, universally they will say: “Absolutely!” The problem is that the average person today does not recognize the principles of God as the cause that will bring the effect of a very stable and joyous life. This occurs primarily because the world has not been called to <strong><em>true</em></strong> Christianity; rather, it is exposed to a false “so-called” Christianity. We as parents must expose our children to the truth of the Bible; not <strong><em>just </em></strong>in the truth (doctrine) we teach, but also in the truth we <strong><em>live</em></strong>. If children experience a parent who gives <strong><em>unconditional</em></strong> love, has clear-cut rules that are consistently reinforced and genuinely displays the fruits of God’s Spirit, it will not be difficult for them to develop respect and obedience to God as they grow up.</p> <p>Many people have accepted the satanic lie that God’s way of life is a “real drag.” They think God restricts us from every pleasure, resulting in a dull life of suffering and self-denial. If this is <strong><em>our</em></strong> image of God, our children will in time notice our approach—and it will become <strong><em>their</em></strong> image of God as well. If, instead, parents are truly thankful for the great God, and grasp the tremendous blessing of understanding God’s way of life (which defines what is harmful for us and what will bring an abundant life, emotionally, mentally, physically and spiritually), our children will internalize this instead.</p> <p>A Christian’s children have a special blessing. The Apostle Paul reminded the Corinthians that a child with even one converted Christian parent is “holy” (<a href="">1 Corinthians 7:14</a>)—which means that such a child is unique in God’s sight and has been “set apart.” But will all such children of believers eagerly respond to God? Their physical parents can play a major role in making it very easy—or very difficult—for them to respond.</p> <p>We need to realize that to be “called by God” simply means that one has received an invitation from God. Sometimes invitations are sent to those asked to come to a wedding. Often, the invitation is sent with an R.S.V.P., which requests your response to the invitation. If you intend to come, you must let the host know your intentions so a place will be saved for you.</p> <p>Jesus Christ taught that the Kingdom of Heaven is like an invitation to a wedding: “The kingdom of heaven is like a certain king who arranged a marriage for his son, and sent out his servants to <strong>call</strong> those who were <strong>invited</strong> to the wedding; and they were not willing to come” (<a href="">Matthew 22:2–3</a>). As with any invitation, some individuals accept, and some do not even bother to respond. The English words “call” and “invite,” found in verse 3, are translated from the same Greek word. To be “called” by God and to be “invited” by God are one and the same.</p> <p>This is the invitation the Apostle Peter was describing on the Day of Pentecost when he said: “For the promise is to <strong><em>you</em></strong> and to <strong><em>your children</em>,</strong> and to <strong><em>all who are afar off</em></strong>, as many as the Lord our God will call” ( <a href="">Acts 2:39</a>).</p> <p>Here we see that God offers His gift of the Holy Spirit not just to the “you” who heard Peter speaking on Pentecost, but also to those who are “your children”—the offspring of Christian parents—and to those who “are afar off, as many as the Lord our God will call”—those whom God will call over time.</p> <p>For all of these, the promise of receiving God’s Spirit is conditional upon seeking and experiencing genuine repentance and surrender in baptism (v. 38). Clearly, though the children of converted parents have potential access to God, not all will seek Him.</p> <p>Our goal as parents, then, is to do the best job we can possibly do in turning our children’s hearts to their true Father, the Supreme God. We want to mold them as best we can, <strong><em>while we have the opportunity</em></strong> in their early years to lay a foundation for their future. Not every child will <strong><em>choose</em></strong> to go God’s way fully, but our teaching and training will not be wasted! Knowledge of God’s laws, at least to the extent that they are followed, will still benefit our children in their lives. This is true even for those whose parents are not Christians. God’s laws operate on cause and effect, and to the extent that even non-Christians apply the spiritual laws of God, they <strong><em>will</em></strong> have better lives.</p> <p>Those children who have been taught God’s way of life in their childhood will at least have a foundation they can turn to if and when they <strong><em>choose</em></strong>. Of course, Christian parents hope and pray that our children <strong><em>will</em></strong> turn to God now. But if they do not, we can at least know that every moment that we spend teaching them ( <a href="">Deuteronomy 6:4–7</a>), every positive example and every loving concern for our children will not be lost. They will have a positive foundation to turn to before the close of this age, even if it is at the White Throne Judgment (<a href="">Revelation 20:11–12</a>).</p> <p>And for those children who “see the light” in their youth and turn fully to their God, what an amazing future they have! God offers to be their parent and their partner for life, guiding them through every decision and milestone in their life, just like a loving physical father. The result will be better marriages, stronger families, peaceful and stable minds—and birth into the very Family of God at Christ’s return. They will have the opportunity to work with Jesus Christ Himself as He establishes His Kingdom and brings peace to the earth. Cities will be rebuilt God’s way, without pollution or crime or the blight of overcrowded inner city slums. Our children <strong><em>can </em></strong>have the opportunity of being in on this worldwide transformation of this new age.</p> <p>Parents who are begotten “children of God” have a responsibility to help in fulfilling Christ’s “great commission” at the end of this age. Their prayers and financial support can help the Work of God in announcing the coming Kingdom of God “in all the world as a witness” ( <a href="">Matthew 24:14</a>). We also find that before the Day of the Lord and the end of the age there will be an effort to “turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the hearts of the children to their fathers, lest I come and strike the earth with a curse” (<a href="">Malachi 4:6</a>). The ultimate Father, to whom the hearts of the children must be turned, is God the Father. As we have seen, God’s purpose on this planet is to “make man in Our image, according to Our likeness” (<a href="">Genesis 1:26</a>). God is creating future members of His Family, in the spiritual and character image of God as His literal children.</p> <p>So we parents have a very high calling. Our God is training <strong><em>us</em></strong> as <strong><em>His children</em></strong> in His image! In turn, God is calling us to train and shape <strong><em>our children’s</em></strong> young impressionable minds in His image. This is a lofty goal in a dark and dangerous world. But as a loving parent, God promises that: “‘I will never leave you nor forsake you.’ So we may boldly say: ‘The Lord is my helper'” (<a href="">Hebrews 13:5–6</a>). The closer we move to our Father, the more we will in our own lives emulate His qualities as the perfect parent. Every last parent has made mistakes in parenting, but God knows that parents, like their children, are capable of learning and changing.</p> <p>Yes, this is easier said than done, but with God’s guidance there is real hope. If we maintain the guiding principle of rearing children “in God’s image,” we will have all the resources of the Creator God to draw on.</p> <p>If our ultimate goal as parents is to bring up our children “in God’s image,” it will become our guiding light and central theme for everything we do in our family. Our real desire then, becomes the creation of a culture of God within our home. One definition of culture that especially applies is “a particular stage of advancement in civilization” (<em>Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary</em>). In this case, as we advance, it is the “advancement in civilization” of the future Family of God.</p> <p>As parents and grandparents—as for <em>all </em>begotten children of the great God—let us rededicate our lives to turning the hearts of the children to their spiritual Father. This is the <strong>ultimate goal and purpose </strong>of parenting: to have children <strong>“in God’s image.”</strong></p> <h2>CHAPTER 2</h2> <h2>SELF-ESTEEM OR SELF-CONTROL?</h2> <p>Why is parenting so difficult? One obvious answer is that there are so many variables, many of which are beyond our control. Our primary examples in parenting have been our own parents. Whatever we have experienced from our parents is the pattern that is indelibly stamped on our minds, whether good or bad. The example we have experienced with our own parents, of course, cannot be changed; the past is beyond our control. But none of us are prisoners of the past. With God’s help, we <em>can</em> change the present!</p> <p>The society we live in also shapes and molds our children. Violence and sexual themes flood the media as never before, and peer pressure in the school system is ever present. Satan broadcasts constantly as the “prince of the power of the air” ( <a href="">Ephesians 2:2</a>), and he is ever ready and willing to influence our children.</p> <p>Even the supposed “experts” on parenting have strongly disagreed among themselves. Over the last century, we have seen wild swings of the pendulum among those who claim to know the answers. Society has debated as to what is most important in parenting: developing <em>self-esteem</em> or <em>self-control</em>? Those who believe self-control is the primary value subscribe to what can be called the <em>authoritarian</em> method of parenting, where: “The parent’s word is law, not to be questioned, and misconduct brings strict punishment. Authoritarian parents seem aloof from their children, showing little affection or nurturance. Maturity demands are high, and parent-child communication is rather low” ( <em>The Developing Person Through the Life Span</em>, Kathleen Berger, p. 287).</p> <p>Of course, these traits are a mixture of good and bad. When misconduct brings consistent punishment, the demand for maturity is high. However, studies show: “Children whose parents are authoritarian are likely to be obedient but not happy” (<em>ibid.</em>, p. 288).</p> <p>In the early years of our family (which included two girls and two boys, seven years apart), I leaned too much to the authoritarian model, though I have since changed significantly. Fortunately for our children, my wife was more balanced from the beginning, and added a nurturing dimension.</p> <p>In contrast to those who most value self-control, parents who consider self-esteem the primary goal of parenting tend to subscribe to the <em>permissive</em> method, in which: “The parents make few demands on their children, hiding any impatience they feel. Discipline is lax. Parents are nurturant, accepting and communicating well with offspring. They make few maturity demands because they view themselves as available to help their children but not as responsible for shaping how their offspring turn out” (<em>ibid</em>., p. 287).</p> <p>Here, again, these traits are a mixture of both good and bad. The positive aspects are that parents are nurturant and accepting, communicate well with their children, and view themselves as available to them. The negative aspects are that these parents make few demands on their children, hiding any impatience they feel, and making few demands of maturity. Such parents do not view themselves as responsible for shaping how their offspring turn out. Amazingly, studies show that: “those whose parents are permissive are likely to be even less happy and… lack self-control” (<em>ibid</em>., p. 288).</p> <p>So which is the most important goal in parenting: developing <em>self-esteem</em> or <em>self-control</em>? Is the <em>authoritarian</em> or the <em>permissive </em>model the best method of parenting? Parents’ answer to this question tends to determine their style of parenting, and the end of the pendulum to which they swing. Those who consider self-esteem the crucial factor in human development tend to be more permissive in parenting, while those who are convinced that self-control is the crucial factor in life tend to be much more authoritarian.</p> <p>A similar question might be phrased: When pouring a concrete foundation, which is more important, the cement powder composed of minerals, sand and rock, <strong>or</strong> the water that mixes into the powder?</p> <p>In fact, <strong><em>both are needed</em></strong> to make a strong lasting foundation. The proportions of water and powder must be properly balanced to have any lasting strength. Too much water and not enough cement will make a very weak foundation. Too much cement and too little water will produce a weak and crumbly foundation. <strong><em>Both are crucial</em></strong> for lasting strength.</p> <p>As you may well suspect, both self-esteem and self-control are equally essential for a child’s lifelong well-being. Either end of the pendulum of permissiveness and authoritarianism will bring severe deficiencies in parenting.</p> <p>Children reared by authoritarian parents—who experience strong self-control and discipline without an equal emphasis on self-esteem nurtured with unconditional love—grow up with a sense of never measuring up. They tend not to venture out of their limited comfort zone. Socially they are self-conscious, and they feel insecure and anxious. They grow into teens and adults who are always trying to prove themselves.</p> <p>Children reared by more permissive parents tend to have more self-esteem, but lack self-control. For the rest of their lives, they become slaves to their immediate impulses. They cannot sit still long enough to pay attention in the classroom. Succeeding in college is difficult, and holding down a job for any length of time may be equally difficult. Having never developed the valuable trait of self-control, they have difficulty tolerating situations that are not immediately pleasant.</p> <p>Clearly, an imbalance in either self-esteem or self-control is a serious handicap for the rest of a child’s life.</p> <p>What every child needs is a <strong><em>balance</em></strong> of the two, which we could call <strong><em>loving authority</em></strong>. This would consist of equal parts of self-esteem (developed through unconditional love) and self-control (fostered by authoritative discipline and training). Together, these will build a stronger foundation for a child, just as the right balance of powder and water bond together into the most stable concrete.</p> <p>In this style of parenting, “parents set limits and enforce rules, but they are also willing to listen respectfully to the child’s requests and questions. Parents make high maturity demands on offspring, communicate well with them and are [nurturing]” (<em>ibid</em>., p. 287).</p> <p>When you think about it, isn’t this <strong><em>exactly</em></strong> the style of parenting that we find in the Bible? God sets limits for us, but He is ever willing to listen to us as we come to Him in prayer. He makes high maturity demands for our spiritual growth, but continually communicates with us through His written word, giving us equal amounts of encouragement and forgiveness.</p> <h2>THE IMPORTANCE OF TEACHING SELF-CONTROL</h2> <p>When children are reared in a permissive environment, without real control and guidelines, the price is always high. Jacob Aranza, author of <em>Lord, Why Is My Child a Rebel?,</em> had this to say: “Do you want to know the most bitter, resentful children I’ve ever met? The kids whose mothers and fathers failed to provide guidelines and discipline. Children who live in permissive homes have trouble believing their parents really care about them” (p. 45).</p> <p>Some doubt that children really want guidelines. But, in fact, firm guidelines and restrictions provide a measure of safety and security.</p> <p>Whenever I drive across my favorite bridge, the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, I have no trouble driving in the lane closest to the edge. Although the bridge is more than 265 feet above the water, I gain a sense of safety and security from the guard rail at the edge of the bridge. I have never even come close to hitting the guard rail, but if it were someday removed and you asked me to drive across the bridge in the same right lane, I know I would refuse. More than 265 feet above the water, my sense of safety and security would be totally gone.</p> <p>The same principle applies to parenting. Take away the guard rail, and the safe and secure limits are gone; a sense of insecurity and a fear of the unknown are always present. An extreme example would be of a child who has become lost in a crowd, and has absolute total freedom. A child’s fear of danger when facing the unknown can be overwhelming.</p> <p>When children are given solid guidelines over which they cannot cross (like the Golden Gate Bridge rail), those guidelines become internal restraints that we call “self-control.” In children, self-control becomes the restraint (or “guard rail”) exercised upon impulses, emotions, fears and desires. When children cross over the guard rail and receive discipline, they learn that their actions have consequences. Well-disciplined children are a delight to their parents, because they are not constantly trying to cross over the guard rail.</p> <p>God made this abundantly clear when He inspired the instruction to parents: “Correct your son, and he will give you rest; yes, he will give delight to your soul” (<a href="">Proverbs 29:17</a>).</p> <p>Have you ever seen a child who was totally out of control, running and screaming and getting into everything imaginable while the mother was shopping? Any parent who ever experiences this becomes totally “stressed out.”</p> <p>Years ago, my wife would take our four children grocery shopping. The youngest rode in the cart, and the older ones walked along holding onto the side of the cart. Our children were normal rambunctious children, but they came to know that the grocery cart was like the guard rail of the Golden Gate Bridge. Cross that rail, and there were serious consequences.</p> <p>Well-disciplined children, who are gradually taught self-control from the earliest age, have a foundation laid for a much more successful life. A five-year-old with self-control can sit quietly in class or in church without talking, and can learn much more quickly. The same child as a high school student can sit through classes that are difficult or uninteresting, and “stick it out.” Their prospects for college are that much greater.</p> <p>When self-disciplined teenagers reach adulthood, they become much more valuable and successful employees. They tend to be on time to work. They handle difficult assignments with far less complaining, and they do not get caught up in office squabbles with people who may rub them the wrong way. In short, they are more successful in their jobs, they keep their jobs longer—and when it is layoff time, they tend to be the <em>last</em> to lose their jobs, not the <em>first</em> to be fired.</p> <p>Self-control, taught at an early age through firm guidelines that cannot be violated, results in children and adults who have more control over their emotions and irrational behavior. If parents allow children to express rebellion at the earliest age, they lay the foundation for lifelong temper tantrums.</p> <p>When my wife and I lived in San Francisco while I was attending dental school, we learned of a tragic example of the consequences of lack of self-control. One day, the traffic was particularly heavy across the Oakland Bay Bridge. A hurried driver cut in front of another motorist, who in turn passed him and purposely hit the brakes immediately in front of the first driver. They jockeyed back and forth for position until one finally pulled out a gun, pulled up alongside the other driver, and shot him dead on the spot.</p> <p>This was an example of a temper tantrum on wheels, which we call “road rage.” It resulted in gunfire, murder and many years in prison. The seeds for such a lack of self-control invariably start in childhood.</p> <p>God’s word teaches us to chasten our children “while there is hope” ( <a href="">Proverbs 19:18</a>). In other words, <em>do it in the early years</em>. If you wait until a child is in grade school to begin teaching him the lessons of self-control, it is almost too late for his maximum success in life. It is never too late to try, but any success will be diminished.</p> <p>Self-control learned in early childhood is also a crucial ingredient in any future marriage relationship. The self-controlled adult is less likely to have an adult temper tantrum and lash out in uncontrollable anger. It is much better to be corrected as a young child for emotional tirades and outbursts, than to face loss of job, marriage failure or even prison time after a loss of control as an adult.</p> <h2>BUILDING SELF-ESTEEM</h2> <p>As we have seen, self-control is only half of what is needed to rear a well-adjusted child and adult. The second vital ingredient in <strong><em>loving authority</em></strong> is the self-esteem that is generated with unconditional love. Real love is unconditional. The Apostle Paul was inspired to write: “Love suffers long and is kind… bears all things.… Love never fails” (<a href="">1 Corinthians 13:4</a>, <a href="">7–8</a>).</p> <p>“Unconditional love means loving a teenager [or a child of any age], no matter what. No matter what the teenager looks like. No matter what his assets, liabilities and handicaps are. No matter how he acts” (<em>How to Really Love Your Teenager</em>, Ross Campbell, M.D., p. 25).</p> <p>Of course, parents do not always love a child’s behavior, but we do love the child no matter what. God loves us, even though we make our share of mistakes. Christ loved us and died for us, even while we were going the wrong way. “God demonstrates His own love towards us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (<a href="">Romans 5:8</a>).</p> <p>If we make the huge mistake of only loving our children when they please us, we will rear children who never feel that they “measure up.” All children make mistakes, and when love is dependent on being “mistake-free,” they will forever feel like incompetent failures. In the same way, if God only loved us when we were praying, fasting, studying the Bible or serving someone else, we would be unloved most of the time.</p> <p>Similarly, as adults, if our spouse only loves us when we are doing something pleasing, such as bringing a gift, cooking a nice meal or giving a back rub, we will feel unloved more often than not, and our relationship will suffer. <strong><em>Love must be unconditional!</em></strong></p> <p>Scripture instructs us: “Fathers, do not provoke your children [to anger], lest they be discouraged” ( <a href="">Colossians 3:21</a>). Children need to feel loved, and not just feel corrected. If our only communication with our children is correction, it will not take long for them to become discouraged and feel like an “inadequate unloved failure”—a consequence of the authoritarian style of parenting.</p> <p>Many of us parents really <strong><em>do</em></strong> love our children, but have not adequately communicated this to them. Children care more about how we act toward them, than about what we say or what we feel inside. So how can we show love to them in ways that they can readily understand and appreciate?</p> <p>One vital tool is <strong><em>eye contact</em></strong>. Looking a child in the eyes in a loving manner says, loud and clear: “I value you; you are important to me.” Have you ever felt really close to anyone who would not maintain eye contact with you? Of course not! An inability to maintain eye contact comes across as aloofness and lack of caring. For children’s emotional well-being, they need eye contact from their parents. Children seem to look deeply into others’ eyes, seeing their degree of sincerity and genuineness.</p> <p><strong><em>Physical contact</em></strong> is another vital tool needed for showing love to children. Notice how Jesus Christ Himself interacted with young children: “Then they brought little children to Him, that He might touch them; but the disciples rebuked those who brought them. But when Jesus saw it, He was greatly displeased and said to them, ‘Let the little children come to Me…’ And He took them up in His arms, laid His hands on them, and blessed them” (<a href="">Mark 10:13–14</a>, <a href="">16</a>).</p> <p>Almost everyone knows that babies need physical contact to develop properly. But as children enter the teen years, physical contact tends to decrease more and more. Eventually, physical contact in many families occurs only when it is deemed absolutely necessary. At any age, a hand on the shoulder, a pat on the back and an occasional hug are always possible. Appropriate physical contact is a life-long value between parents and children. While children may not appreciate public demonstrations of affection, sincere expressions of approval and encouragement that begin in the early years will still be appreciated in the teenage years.</p> <p><strong><em>Undivided attention</em></strong> is also vital. Undivided “focused attention means giving your teenager [or child of any age] full, undivided attention in such a way that he feels truly loved, that he knows he is so valuable in his own right that he warrants your watchfulness, appreciation, and uncompromising regard” (Campbell, p. 31).</p> <p>So, back to the question: Which is more important in parenting: self-esteem or self-control? <strong><em>Both</em></strong> are absolutely <strong><em>vital</em></strong>! A child who feels unloved will not prosper, and a child who is never taught self-control will be severely limited in life: in school, in college, on the job, in marriage—and, spiritually, with God.</p> <p>Children who receive unconditional love, and are taught obedience through <strong><em>loving authority</em></strong>, have the greatest likelihood of success in life. Authority without unconditional love invariably brings anger and rebellion. When the proper balance is applied, God’s summary of obedience and self-discipline can be realized: “Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right.… And you, fathers, do not provoke your children to wrath, but bring them up in the training [nurture] and admonition of the Lord” (<a href="">Ephesians 6:1</a>, <a href="">4</a>).</p> <h2>CHAPTER 3</h2> <h2>CONSISTENCY: THE PATH TO SECURITY</h2> <p>Our spiritual Father is totally consistent in how He deals with us, His children. His guidelines are always valid, and His word is totally trustworthy. He does not violate His own spiritual law; His attitude is not: “Do what I say, not what I do.”</p> <p>God tells us: “For I am the Lord, I do not change” (<a href="">Malachi 3:6</a>). This means that God is consistent in His laws, His spiritual principles and His way of life. What if our God were inconsistent?</p> <p>We often see the fruit of inconsistency in the daily lives of those around us. Years ago, my wife and I watched one such glaring example at the supermarket. A mother with several children was doing her shopping, and her children were wild. They were running up and down the aisles and pulling things off the shelves. Every so often, the mother would yell out in extreme frustration: “Get over here or I am going to spank you!” They would calm down for a moment or two, and they would take off again. After a few minutes, the mother would yell out: “Do you want me to whip you?”</p> <p>This yelling, screaming, inconsistent mother made her life miserable! Her children always knew that if they slowed down for a few moments, their mother’s wild and irresponsible threats would subside, and they could soon go back to what they were doing.</p> <p>Unlike this harried mother, Jesus Christ and God the Father are totally consistent, for our benefit. They want what is best for us, and they will not confuse us with inconsistency.</p> <p>The dictionary defines “consistency” as: “constant, steady, regular, persistent, unchanging, undeviating, unified” ( <em>Webster’s Seventh New Collegiate Dictionary</em>). That describes the type of parent that anyone would want, especially when accompanied by a healthy dose of unconditional love and appropriate forgiveness. This is fertile ground for a child’s healthy growth, along with having a sense of being valued and the security of firm guidelines that will not change.</p> <p>Even rebellious teens will tell you that they need <strong><em>consistent</em></strong> parents. Consistency is the bedrock of confidence! It is something that children can count on. Children with consistent parents may not always like every parental guideline, but at least their world is stable and not constantly changing. They know what to expect.</p> <p>Consistency in discipline and parental example is crucial! People most often think of discipline as “punishment,” but punishment is only one aspect of discipline. Discipline is “training that corrects, molds, or perfects the mental or moral character” (<em>ibid.</em>).</p> <p>Christ’s early followers who were being trained in the Way of life were called “disciples.” The word “disciple” is derived from the word “discipline.” Christ taught the disciples; He encouraged them, and sometimes corrected them. His goal was to train disciples who could live and teach the Christian discipline (the Way of life).</p> <p>Parents train, or discipline, their children with encouragement, praise and rewards, and also with correction and penalties. This is the same principle that God uses with us. He promises us blessings for obedience ( <a href="">Deuteronomy 28:1–14</a>) and correction and penalties (curses) for disobedience (<a href="">Deuteronomy 28:15–46</a>).</p> <p>Regrettably, many parents have tried to rework the Creator’s parenting (child training) principles into whatever seems best to them. Unwittingly, they may be acting as though they know more about parenting than God Himself does.</p> <p>In previous decades, many parents relied primarily on restrictive authority and on punishments for disobedience. Little encouragement or unconditional love was given, and parents with this approach became unloving authoritarians. In recent years, the pendulum has swung in the opposite direction, with parents offering ample praise and encouragement, but little or no correction or discipline for disobedience. Permissiveness is the ditch in which children never learn or gain self-control.</p> <p>So being consistently authoritarian is not the answer! Being consistently permissive is not the answer! True consistency requires the balance that we find in God’s word—which includes real blessings for obedience, and penalties for disobedience.</p> <p>Consistent penalties for disobedience teach children a lesson that will benefit them for their entire lives—the lesson of “cause and effect.” This is how the world operates. If you jump out your second-story bedroom window, gravity will always work, and you will pay a price for your mistake. Drive your car too fast around a curve, on a rainy night, and there will be a price to pay. Break the laws of the land, and there is a price to pay. Transgress God’s spiritual laws, and there is always a price to pay. Children need to live in a family environment where they know that if they violate the parents’ rules or standards of behavior, there is always a price to pay.</p> <p>Parents who do not teach their children “cause and effect” do their children a serious disservice. How can a child learn cause and effect if he never experiences the effect of his behavior? How can a toddler learn cause and effect if, when he is told to “come here,” he can ignore his father without any follow-up discipline? How can a young child learn cause and effect if he throws an angry tantrum in his mother’s face and she simply shrugs her shoulders in exasperation? How can a teenager learn cause and effect if he receives a ticket for reckless driving and his parents pay the fine?</p> <p>Consistency with a toddler, with rules and guidelines and punishment for disobedience, leads to consistency as a teen, which leads to consistency as an adult, which can lead to consistency as a future son of God. The process of learning cause and effect—with consistent blessings for obedience and correction for disobedience—is the foundation for future character formation and for a successful life. Parents can either assist God with this process, or can make the eventual conversion process more difficult for their children.</p> <p>“Because the sentence against an evil work is not executed speedily, therefore the heart of the sons of men is fully set in them to do evil” ( <a href="">Ecclesiastes 8:11</a>). The pattern that is set in childhood generally carries on throughout life. A parent who does not consistently discipline quickly for disobedience does not establish the “cause and effect” principle in a child’s early years. The resulting child, teen and adult sees rules and guidelines (whether in the home or in the school system or on the job) as restrictions that only occasionally bring negative consequences.</p> <p>Many parents never experienced consistent discipline from their own parents, but we all have experienced the pattern of our spiritual Father, who is totally consistent in dealing with us. We can see from Scripture that God gives blessings for obedience, and corrects us when we disobey. Applying this principle in our parenting makes life much happier. Once a child receives understandable guidelines, any infraction results in discipline. The reality of cause and effect sets the pattern for life. Some “do-gooders” may not believe in any corporal punishment whatsoever, thinking that they have children’s well-being at heart, but they fail to understand human nature and what is truly best for children: unconditional love and learned obedience with applied correction.</p> <p>God’s word tells us: “Now no chastening [discipline] seems joyful for the present, but grievous.… afterward it yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it” (<a href="">Hebrews 12:11</a>, <em>KJV</em>). How peaceful it is when children have been taught obedience right from the start. Even young children can be a real joy to a family when they are taught the habit of obedience.</p> <p>When a child is old enough to be taught to “come” when called, for example, there are never any exceptions to obedience. I have seen some parents actually count: “1, 2, 3” and when the child does not come, the parent may finally walk over to him and pull him by the hand. This becomes an early lesson to the child on how he can control his parents.</p> <p>Another popular threat is: “I’m telling you for the last time.” Even this threat may become: “This is your last… last chance.” I saw one amazing example of this with a young father and his little son: the “three ‘no’ rule”—meaning that the father’s first two “no’s” were ignorable; only the third was supposed to count. Yet even after “‘no’ number three,” there was never any follow-up discipline; the father would simply walk over, grab his son, and take him away from whatever he was not supposed to be doing.</p> <p>Many parents tell their children, over and over again, to “do something” or to “stop doing something.” Finally, they explode in anger when they cannot tolerate their children’s disobedience any longer. This teaches a child that “cause and effect” only applies when parents become exasperated, and that the “trick” for a child is to learn to read the signs of when parents are coming close to their limit.</p> <p>Parents make it <em>so much</em> easier on themselves when they teach their children that “no” means “no” and “yes” means “yes.” Life is much more difficult for parents who allow whining and pleading to occur. “But Mom… why can’t I? Pleeeeeease, I really want to!” When parents give in to such pleas, they teach their children an important lesson: if they whine and plead long enough, the parent will eventually give in, and they will get what they want.</p> <p>Every parent who has disciplined a child has likely found at times that the child was crying not from sorrow or repentance, but from obvious anger. Anger is like a “muscle”—the more it is exercised, the more it will develop. If a child’s anger is not addressed, the necessary lesson will not be learned—and nothing will be gained but a hardening of the child’s attitude. In this circumstance, it becomes necessary to remind the child why he was disciplined in the first place, and then explain that he will also be disciplined for his attitude of anger. In most cases, the child’s attitude will change quickly, and his cry will turn more to a repentant spirit than to rebellion or anger.</p> <p>For most young children, there are other appropriate forms of punishment besides spanking. Of course, “the punishment should always fit the offense.” In our household, we would occasionally have our children stand in a corner for minor offenses. This seemed to be effective, since they really disliked the boredom of standing facing the corner of the room without being allowed to look around.</p> <p>Once, one of our sons ran outside, slamming the door behind, rattling the windows with the force of the slamming door. My wife had previously pointed out why slamming the door was not acceptable in our home, so he knew better but had simply “forgotten.” When children are quickly disciplined in spite of the excuse “but I forgot,” it is amazing how quickly their memory is sharpened. In this particular situation, my wife simply had our son open and close the door quietly 25 times. It really seemed to drive home the point, and his memory was no longer an issue.</p> <p>One form of punishment that we found to be <strong><em>ineffective</em></strong> was sending a child to his room. Most children today have plenty to do in their rooms, and this “punishment” simply allows them extra time to be angry and to sulk. In most cases, loving discipline can be carried out quickly, and the parent can then comfort the child, reminding him of how much he is loved. It is also helpful to remind the child occasionally that God holds the parents responsible for how they train their children.</p> <p>As children are taught the principle of cause and effect: “blessing for obedience and punishment for disobedience”, it is important that we not forget the “blessing for obedience” side of the equation. Verbal approval for a job well done, including a greater level of eye contact and a smile, can accomplish a great deal. Children, like adults, appreciate being appreciated. We need to follow the example of our spiritual Father who absolutely promises to reward those who seek Him. “For he who comes to God must believe that He is [exists] and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him” (<a href="">Hebrews 11:6</a>). God’s promise of reward for obedience can be a strong motivator.</p> <p>Years ago, when two or three of our children were still pre-school age and could not yet read, my wife made a chart for all four of our children. She used pictures to remind them of their daily and weekly chores, rewarding them with a certain amount of money for each completed job. There was a drawing of a made-up bed to remind them of that daily chore. There was a picture of a toothbrush, of a dog with its bowl, of a pair of pajamas hanging on a hook, and of children sitting at the table (with smiles on their faces) with a clock nearby to remind them to be on time at the breakfast table. At the end of the month, the rewards were added up and money was given to the children. It was theirs to save or spend, after their tithe to God was set aside.</p> <p>Occasionally you hear of people who believe children should never be paid for doing chores. They think it will ruin their character to be paid for their work. Yes, it is true that children should not be paid for routine obedience, such as coming when called or playing nicely with their brothers and sisters. But teaching children the value of the work ethic with rewards is certainly a right principle. Giving children an allowance without expecting anything in return is the wrong principle. Even God promises to reward us for our efforts: “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.” ( <a href="">Matthew 16:27</a>) Are we wiser at parenting than God the Father Himself?</p> <p>The sooner we ingrain in our young children the overall principle of consistent blessing for obedience and correction for disobedience, the more obedient a child becomes—and the more peaceful a household becomes. <strong><em>Consistency</em></strong> is a tremendous key!</p> <p>We must remember that children, since they have human nature, are attracted to disobedience like a magnet—and disobedience must be <em>dealt with</em> consistently. On the other hand, obedience and doing what is right must be <em>taught</em>. Proper parenting is a huge dose of <em>child training</em> . <a href="">Proverbs 22:6</a> instructs us to “train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it.”</p> <p>Every rule or guideline should be logical and explainable. “Just because I said so” does not inspire the right motivation for long-term obedience. Instead of just telling a toddler “don’t run into the street,” you can add: “I don’t want you to be hit by a car and injured or killed.”</p> <p>“Don’t jump on the couch,” could be explained, “it will ruin the couch” or “you could fall off and injure yourself” or “it is distracting adults who are trying to have a conversation.” Then, after the explanation, <strong><em>every</em></strong> infraction must be followed by further loving discipline.</p> <p>The foundational purpose of <strong><em>any</em></strong> discipline must be the child’s well-being! The underlying reason for discipline should never be anger or a desire to “get even.” Most parents have probably, at some time, lashed out in anger when frustrated or exasperated. This is something that we must all work to overcome. Remember God’s instruction: “And you, fathers, do not provoke your children to wrath, but bring them up in the training and admonition of the Lord” (<a href="">Ephesians 6:4</a>). Children must learn and know that we discipline them because we love them. We really do want what is best for them, and we want them to grow up to be happy and successful adults as well as fulfilled members of the Family of God.</p> <p>How crucial it is that we begin to teach our children today, no matter what their age, the vital lesson of “cause and effect”—blessing for obedience and correction for disobedience. This is the foundation for their eventual eternal life. My wife has a “theme scripture” for parenting; she may have “worn it out” on our children, but I am extremely thankful for it: “I call heaven and earth as witnesses today against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing; therefore choose life, that both you and your descendants may live” ( <a href="">Deuteronomy 30:19</a>). This is God’s principle of parenting for us as future sons of God. It should also be our principle of parenting, with our own children, for their life-long happiness.</p> <h2>CHAPTER 4</h2> <h2>PASSING THE BATON</h2> <p>All Christian parents want their children to grow up to <strong>really</strong> love God and His way of life. We know the tremendous benefits that God’s law will bring to our children, both now and in the future—a stable and fulfilling life now, and eventual eternal life in God’s family at Jesus Christ’s return. All parents want this for their children, but they may wonder: how can parents succeed in “passing the baton” and in teaching their children to want this for themselves?</p> <p>Christian parents have a very high and a very challenging “dual calling.” Our Heavenly Father is training parents (who are His children) in His image. In turn, Christians’ primary duty as parents is to train and shape their children’s hearts and minds in God’s image.</p> <p>Passing the baton to the next generation, however, remains a very difficult task in Satan’s world. The pervasive influence of mankind’s perverse society, supported by Satan’s broadcasting as “the prince of the power of the air” ( <a href="">Ephesians 2:2</a>), provides a very formidable foe in our attempt to mold our children’s hearts and minds in God’s image!</p> <p>Scripture shows us that even the best possible parent will not automatically achieve a perfect outcome. Adam was truly a “son of God” ( <a href="">Luke 3:38</a>), yet God did not force even Adam and Eve to make the right decisions! God <strong>taught</strong> Adam and Eve His way of life, yet the perfect Parent allowed his children to <em>accept</em> or <em>reject</em> His example and teaching.</p> <p>The same applies to human parents. Parents cannot force their children to seek God as their Father. But parents can certainly help lay the foundation for their children to have a better life now, and eventually to surrender to the true God. We know from Scripture that God will open the minds of all human beings, either in this lifetime or in a future resurrection, and that most whose minds are opened will choose to receive the tremendous blessings and benefits of obeying the true God.</p> <p>How, then, can parents begin to transfer to their children the desire to seek God fully? Every salesman knows that to sell his product, he must first create a desire. Parents must somehow help their children desire God’s way of life. Children must be brought to understand that God’s way of life will benefit them—that it brings very real blessings and rewards for them personally. People are always motivated by what they <strong><em>want</em></strong>—not by what they <strong><em>should want</em></strong>.</p> <p>The world tries to convince children of a huge satanic lie—that God’s way of life is a terrible sacrifice, and a “real drag.” When children understand that God’s way of life brings blessings and benefits—for themselves, and for their loved ones—they will begin to see through the world’s Satanic propaganda, and will grow in their desire to live God’s way.</p> <p>God motivates parents in a similar way. He provides the sure knowledge of tremendous benefit for those who <em>choose</em> to follow Him. Scripture explains that “he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a <strong>rewarder</strong> of those who diligently seek Him” (<a href="">Hebrews 11:6</a>). One who does not believe that there is <em>substantial reward</em>—benefit—in seeking God will never be motivated to follow Him. This applies to parents, and it certainly applies to children.</p> <p>From Genesis to Revelation, the Bible is full of the knowledge of blessings for obedience. “And all these <strong>blessings</strong> shall come upon you and overtake you, because you <strong>obey</strong> the voice of the Lord your God” ( <a href="">Deuteronomy 28:2</a>). Every day, the benefits of God’s way can fill our lives: “Blessed be the Lord, Who daily <strong>loads us with benefits</strong>” ( <a href="">Psalm 68:19</a>).</p> <p>Ultimately, parents have just two ways to convince children that God’s way of life will benefit them greatly: teaching diligently, and demonstrating by positive example. Neither teaching nor example alone will accomplish the task, without the other. Some parents have been outstanding examples, but have not taken the time to teach godly principles on their children’s level, using vivid examples that children can grasp and clearly understand. As a result, their children may love and respect their parents, but be unable to understand or apply God’s principles in their own lives. By contrast, other parents have diligently taught their children God’s principles, but have been poor examples of the principles they taught. Their children will often rebel against the hypocrisy they perceive in their parents, and will turn against religion—and even against authority in general. The “do as I say, not as I do” approach rarely convinces anyone.</p> <p>Notice God’s instruction to parents: “Therefore you shall lay up these words of mine in your heart and in your soul, and bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall teach them to your children…” ( <a href="">Deuteronomy 11:18–19</a>). The principles of God are to become bound up in our mind (what we <strong>think</strong>) and in our hand (what we <strong>do</strong> as an example)—<strong><em>and</em></strong> we must <strong>teach</strong> them effectively to our children.</p> <h2>EFFECTIVE TEACHING</h2> <p>Children must recognize, by their parents’ instruction and example, that God’s way of life is loaded with blessings and benefits for them personally. Long before it is asked, parents must help their children answer the question: “Why should I follow God? What’s in it for me?” Unless parents can answer this question with honesty and sincerity, they will never reach their children effectively. King David understood this question perfectly, and said: “Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not <strong>all His benefits</strong>” ( <a href="">Psalm 103:2</a>).</p> <p>Of course, parents do not want to create self-centered children who think only of their own benefits. The idea is to help children understand that <em>all </em>of God’s laws are for their own good. As children grow, they can then understand, by extension, that God’s laws are good for their family and friends—and indeed that <strong><em>every human being</em></strong> will benefit from God’s laws and His way of life.</p> <p>Scripture makes it clear that children can be taught God’s way of life most effectively in the home, informally and constantly: “And these words which I command you today shall be in your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall <strong>talk of them</strong> when you <strong>sit</strong> in your house, when you <strong>walk</strong> by the way, when you <strong>lie down</strong>, and when you <strong>rise up</strong>” (<a href="">Deuteronomy 6:6–7</a>).</p> <p>Parents should constantly point out to their children the benefits of God’s way of life—sitting on the couch watching television, driving down the street, reading the paper and at <em>every opportunity</em> when God’s way of life can be contrasted with the suffering that this world’s lifestyle brings. There is no shortage of examples in this sick world; the question is: will parents put in the effort? Granted, it takes considerable time and a consistent focus on this meaningful goal, but it has <strong>huge</strong> payoffs. Relying on church services, by themselves, will not accomplish the task. Parents must reinforce lessons learned in church, wherever possible, with both a mother’s nurturing love and gentle teaching, and a father’s consistent guidance and support.</p> <p>Parents will find it helpful to frame God’s laws in terms of “cause and effect.” Children can easily grasp the “<strong>cause and effect</strong>” concept when discussing physical laws, such as gravity. If they jump out of a tall tree, gravity will yank them to the ground, resulting in a broken leg or a very painful sprain. The <strong>effect</strong> (the painful injury) was <strong>caused</strong> by violating the law of gravity (jumping out of the tree). God’s spiritual laws operate the same way. If we violate God’s laws, we automatically injure ourselves (or others) in some way. If we obey God’s laws, there is an automatic benefit or blessing.</p> <p>My wife consistently emphasized the <em>choices</em> in our children’s lives by maintaining clear rules of the household. When our children disobeyed those rules, we could remind them that they <strong><em>chose</em></strong> to disobey, so they had <strong><em>chosen</em></strong> to receive some form of punishment. This applied in the physical realm as well as the spiritual, as when my wife reminded our children to be very careful with knives, using them only when we gave permission. Our young sons tended to be intrigued with knives’ shiny sharp blades, and sometimes attempted to cut into something on their own. When they did, they usually ended up with cuts on their hands. After one such mishap, I overheard one of our children telling my wife what his brother had done, saying: “Mommy, he wasn’t supposed to do it, and he punished himself!” At least the concept was making sense!</p> <p>Helping children understand the causes and effects of all of God’s laws is crucial to helping them really want the benefit of God’s way, instead of the harm they will do to themselves when they disobey God’s laws. Notice God’s instruction to us: “I call heaven and earth as witnesses today against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing [benefits] and cursing [penalties]; therefore choose [God’s way of] life, that both you and your descendants may live; that you may love the Lord your God, that you may obey His voice, and that you may cling to Him, for He is your life and the length of your days” (<a href="">Deuteronomy 30:19–20</a>).</p> <p>Every family sets rules for its children. Most parents would never allow their children to run into the street after a bouncing ball; the chance of being hit by a passing car is too great. Clearly, this rule is for a child’s benefit and is easy to explain. In the same way, parents can explain to their children that God also has certain Family rules—His laws—that are for our protection. Even by appealing only to a child’s self-interest, parents can explain that God’s law against stealing, for example, will protect them from possible jail time—or even from being shot at by the one from whom they are stealing!</p> <p>Parents’ goal in parenting is to explain, in language that their children can <em>understand</em>, how all of God’s principles are for their own good—and in fact that they are the <em>“<strong>blueprint of human happiness</strong>.”</em> Teaching God’s principles on the basis of obedience—”just because God said so”—is a start, but a child’s motivation and understanding must go far deeper. The more that parents can frame God’s laws by the concept of <em>cause</em> and <em>effect</em>—benefits for obedience and penalties for disobedience—the more likely that children will internalize them. After all, people do not want to harm themselves. We <strong><em>all</em></strong> want the benefit of a good life, full of happiness and joy instead of misery and emptiness. Even “godly” parenting is ultimately deficient if it does not help children understand and truly grasp how God’s way of life brings them very real benefits.</p> <p>When children reach their teenage years, parents have the same goal—teaching the benefits of God’s way—but must help their children understand more complex reasoning than in their earlier years. While this takes significant parental energy, it is well worth the effort. Many teenage boys can readily understand that physically assaulting a woman is wrong, but how would you explain to your teenage son that lusting after near-naked images of women is also wrong—that it will harm him and that, conversely, avoiding such lust will greatly benefit him? How could you convince a teenager who does not really grasp Jesus’ instruction: “But I say to you that whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart” (<a href="">Matthew 5:28</a>)? How would you combat a teenager’s assertion: “What’s the difference? Who is it going to harm? After all, I am not married, and I am only looking.”</p> <p>Teenagers need to be taught that years of lusting will result in <em>great harm</em> to one’s future marriage and happiness! Those who have become deeply involved in “visual immorality” (magazines, movies, internet, “adult entertainment clubs,” etc.) literally experience a chemical response in the brain that mimics the chemical response generated by real live human contact! The brain can store images of airbrushed or surgically enhanced bodies that one has seen, and then compare a future mate to those false ideals. So we see that <strong>consistent lust</strong>, inflamed by visual immorality, will reduce appreciation for one’s own mate, and will diminish the potential for happiness in marriage. The old adage, “the grass is always greener on the other side of the fence,” becomes especially true when one lives in a fantasy world of visual immorality. Children need to be taught that God’s law regarding sexuality is a blessing that will enhance their lives, and marriages, in the years ahead of them.</p> <h2>FAMILY TESTIMONIES</h2> <p>Family testimonies, or family stories of God’s dramatic interventions, healings and other blessings, can help children appreciate the reality of God, and of His loving nature as a living and vital Lord who is personally interested in our lives. Our family tells and re-tells many such stories of how we have experienced, through dramatic healings and protections from accidents, many wonderful examples of God’s love, power, mercy and concern for us. We have never claimed to deserve God’s intervention, but those interventions have been a frequent reminder to our children of just how loving and merciful our God truly is.</p> <p>For example, years ago, on one cold and rainy day in the Arkansas Ozarks, we were driving to church. All of a sudden, our car’s windshield wipers quit clearing the windshield. We quickly realized that we were being hit by freezing rain. My wife immediately suggested: “We all need to pray that God will protect us.” She and our four children closed their eyes and prayed silently for God’s protection; I tried as best I could to pray silently while driving. About five miles further along, on the shady north side of the mountain, we suddenly hit “black ice” and began to slide down the road sideways—out of control! Just then, another car coming the opposite way also hit the ice and lost control. We were hurtling toward each other at about 40 miles per hour—a combined speed of about 80 miles per hour if we were to hit each other! It was a sure collision. The thought flashed through my mind: “<strong>This is it!</strong>” Just at the last possible moment, we felt a <strong>tremendous unseen force</strong> push us sideways off the road. We came to a soft landing in the mud, hitting nothing. Ten feet further on the left was a large cement culvert, and to the right of the road was a 40-foot embankment leading down to a river. Our hearts were pounding as we realized we were unhurt. We sat there, stunned, extremely thankful for God’s intervention.</p> <p>Over the years, my wife and I have talked with our children about many such dramatic interventions—including many healings. These stories have become our personal family “<strong>testimonies</strong>” of God’s intervention—stories that have reinforced our appreciation of the <strong>love</strong>, the <strong>reality</strong> and the <strong>power</strong> of our God. All parents should regularly share personal testimonies from their own lives, to help bind their children to the real God.</p> <p>Parents have an obligation before God to do the best they can to train and shape their children’s minds in His image. Parents must consistently use <em>every godly tool</em> that is available, knowing that their children will be affected not only by teaching but by personal family stories of God’s love and mercy. As children see the example of their parents’ lives, they can see for themselves that God’s way of life will also benefit them tremendously, and that His laws are for their own good.</p> <h2>CHAPTER 5</h2> <h2>THE LEGACY OF EXAMPLE</h2> <p>As parents anticipate the birth of a child, rarely do they fully recognize that <em>their own living example</em> will be the most profound influence on the child’s future moral character and spiritual development.</p> <p>Parents’ personal example is <em>crucial</em> if children are to see God’s way of life as a way of blessings and benefits. Parental example is a form of teaching, in which the lessons are taught by actions, rather than words. There is an old saying: <em>“Your actions speak so loud, I can’t hear what you are saying.” </em>Children often forget verbal teaching far more quickly than they can forget the vivid example they see daily of their parents’ actions and attitudes. Parental examples and attitudes are deeply implanted into a child’s subconscious mind, and are later reflected in their children’s behavior.</p> <p>Certainly parents should make it their agenda to teach their children verbally all the principles of God. But if parents’ <em>actions do not match their words,</em> the teaching will most certainly be invalidated. As children grow up, they become very gifted at comparing what they <em>hear</em> being taught with what they <em>see</em> in the living example. We must never forget that Jesus Christ taught a <em>way of life</em>, rather than an “ivory tower” philosophy. The moral values that parents exhibit through actions and attitudes in daily life will be the foundation of their children’s attitudes, values and behavior.</p> <p>Even if parents could be perfect in their teaching and example, there is no guarantee that their children will ultimately follow their parents’ choice to obey God. However, it can almost be guaranteed that children who experience parental hypocrisy will reject their parents’ value system. The importance of parental example cannot be emphasized enough.</p> <p>Child development experts recognize that small children look to their parents—who have from infancy been their providers, nurturers and teachers—almost as gods. Young children believe anything their parents tell them, and expect that parents can fix anything—from an injury to a toy to an injustice from a friend. God designed this early dependency and trust so that parents can guide and train the young receptive mind in a wholesome and godly way. Young children form their perception of God primarily through their parents’ example. Parents have little hope of rearing godly children if they are not genuinely godly examples themselves! If children see intolerance, self-centeredness, lying, greed, unfriendliness and frequent anger, they are unlikely to be attracted to their parents’ belief system regardless of any long-winded lectures a parent may give.</p> <p>Parents must have fully proven—and must be demonstrating in their present life experience—that God’s way of life is of great value, and works for them. Children who do not see that God’s way of life works for their parents are not likely to believe that God’s way of life will work for them.</p> <h2>REFLECTING GOD’S NATURE</h2> <p>It is vital that, in their dealings with their children, parents radiate God’s nature. Children need to see in their parents’ routine example a genuine love for God, His Church and His way of life. Children who see hypocrisy will eventually reject parental training. Children who see genuineness and sincerity, however, will much more readily accept the godly principles taught by their parents and the Church.</p> <p>Parents have a great responsibility to stand in as <strong><em>ambassadors</em></strong> for God and Jesus Christ in their children’s lives, by setting the right example so their children will eventually transfer to God Himself the respect and trust they have first developed for their parents. As children mature, they will subconsciously transfer to God the experience they have had with their parents. If parents have been critical and unforgiving, children will tend to see God that way. If parents have been suspicious and judgmental, children will have difficulty accepting Christ’s mercy and forgiveness. If parents have been inconsistent in teaching obedience to rules and respect for authority figures, children will not respect God, nor will they be concerned about breaking His rules.</p> <p>In short, children must see some of God’s very nature in their parents’ lives. The Bible calls this the “fruit of God’s Spirit.” This “fruit” or “evidence” of God’s Spirit is simply the way God thinks and acts, and is the key to a tremendous life for parents and children alike. As Paul wrote: <em>“the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control” </em>( <a href="">Galatians 5:22–23</a>). The more parents’ thoughts, words and actions display these fruits of the Spirit, the more their children will be attracted to their parents’ way of life. Obviously, no parent is a perfect example. But parents who really want their children to desire God’s way of life will themselves seek God wholeheartedly.</p> <h2>RESPECT FOR GOD</h2> <p>Parents often shape dramatically their children’s respect for God’s Church, and for the principles it teaches. If parents continually complain that it is difficult to live God’s way of life, is it any wonder when their children grow up to reject “this difficult way of life”? Over the years, I have sometimes heard parents say: “It is so difficult for our teens not to be able to attend sports events on the Sabbath.” When parents portray God’s way of life as a burden, children <em>will</em> feel disadvantaged. On the other hand, when parents portray God’s way of life as an awesome advantage and a blessing, children will value it.</p> <p>Children who hear parents continually expressing their <em>thankfulness</em> for what God has done in their lives, no matter what their current situation, will benefit tremendously as they begin to acquire the “big picture” from their parents. This life is a training ground for the future family of God, and we will “graduate” to our <em>real career</em> at Christ’s return! As children begin to realize what an awesome and very real future they are being trained for, they become more capable of thinking in the long term, as they can begin anticipating and preparing for God’s Kingdom.</p> <p>Parents who are working together—supporting each other as a team, working as a “united front”—multiply the power of example. When children see their parents expressing love and appreciation for each other, with an occasional “I love you” accompanied by a hug, they naturally develop a greater sense of security. The children know they are loved, and they know that the two most important people in their lives love each other. Their world is secure, and they readily desire to follow the pattern of love and security that their parents are demonstrating as the outcome of God’s way of life.</p> <p>On the other hand, children who continually see parents fighting, arguing and being disrespectful of each other will, in time, realize that their parents’ “way of life” is not working for them, no matter what they preach. Marriage is a “living laboratory” that can demonstrate either the tremendous benefits of God’s way of life, or the destructive effects of the world’s way of life. It would be wonderful if all children could learn equally well from a poor parental example—learning what not to do—but the reality is that children can recognize where there is unhappiness, and naturally reject the parents’ way of life that seems to have brought them such unhappiness.</p> <h2>TOTAL TRUTHFULNESS</h2> <p>Children absolutely need to see in their parents an example of <em>total truthfulness</em>! Truth is the foundation of God’s way of life: “The entirety of your word is truth” (<a href="">Psalm 119:160</a>). If children see their parents lie or deceive (as is the standard in much popular entertainment today), they have no reason to accept the spiritual principles in which the parents say they believe! When children see total truthfulness in their parents, this lends tremendous credibility to the concept that there are spiritual laws that must not be violated. When parents are quick with a “white lie” to escape an awkward situation, children quickly pick up on this example, and soon begin to play by the same rules. Even worse is when parents ask their children to lie for them—perhaps telling a child who answers the phone to say that the parent “is not here.” If God’s principles do not apply in these situations, how will children ever know that it is important to tell the truth? For children who experience parental lying, the whole concept of truth becomes relative to what seems best at the moment.</p> <p>If lying is part of parents’ character, their children will not trust them. Similarly, God will not be able to trust parents who lie, and He says plainly that no liars will be in His Kingdom (<a href="">Revelation 21:8</a>). If parents <em>live</em> by the principle of truthfulness, and teach it diligently to their children from an early age, lying will become almost nonexistent. This then becomes the foundation of great trust between parents and children, which builds a very strong parent-child relationship.</p> <h2>TRUE VALUES</h2> <p>Children also learn much by observing the standards their parents use in valuing other people. In today’s society, it seems that the three main false standards of value are power, money and appearance. Parents do their children a huge disservice when they shower extra attention and favor on others with more power, wealth or beauty—they are, in effect, telling their children that they are much more impressed by the world’s values than by godly values and character.</p> <p>God’s standard of human worth is clear: “Do not look at his appearance or at his physical stature… For the Lord does not see as man sees; for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord <em>looks at the heart</em>” ( <a href="">1 Samuel 16:7</a>). Parents should apply this principle to their children. Approval and acceptance of children should be based on unconditional love and on character. If young children are <em>frequently</em> told: “you are such a <em>beautiful</em> little girl” or “what a <em>handsome</em> young man you are,” they are receiving the wrong message of their value. Parents’ compliments should primarily be focused on children’s <em>character </em>and good <em>deeds</em>. Children should be praised and encouraged when they are honest, caring and sharing, when they show integrity, and when they regularly seek God through prayer and Bible study.</p> <p>Parents who are unduly focused on their own attractiveness can also send the wrong message. Children quickly pick up on their parents’ values. Mothers whose dress is immodest—favoring provocative clothing such as tight pants, short skirts or low-cut or clinging tops—are telling their children that such appearance is valued in a wife and mother, and that her main value is her ability to attract attention and even lust. Given such an example, daughters will expect to dress in a more extreme and revealing way than their mothers, and sons will look for the same in a wife. God, however, set the standard for godly women when He inspired Paul to write: “I also want women to dress modestly, with decency and propriety, not with braided hair or gold or pearls or expensive clothes, but <em>with good deeds, appropriate for women who profess to worship God”</em> ( <a href="">1 Timothy 2:9–10</a>, <em>NIV</em>).</p> <p>This principle, of course, applies equally to fathers. When one’s main sense of value and self-worth comes from appearance and clothing, children notice. Also, when children see that their father takes the most notice of a woman’s clothing and her body, then this sends the wrong signal. Yes, wives need to know that their husbands find them attractive, but what children really need to hear is that their father deeply appreciates and values their mother’s godly traits and character.</p> <h2>TIME WITH GOD</h2> <p>Children should be able to notice their parents’ personal prayer and study time. It is fine, and not to be avoided, for children occasionally to wander into their parents’ bedroom and find one or both parents on their knees praying. Such an example will be impressed on their children’s minds for the rest of their lives as they recognize their parents’ prayer routine as an essential priority in their lives.</p> <p>When parents consistently pray over each meal, children learn to respect God more than their hunger. Parents can even encourage their toddlers to keep quiet during mealtime prayer, by holding their hands throughout the prayer and showing them how to bow their heads. This way, they not only see the importance their parents place on communicating with the God who is so important in their lives—they also learn early how to model that same respect themselves.</p> <p>Children also learn from the example of seeing their parents studying God’s word daily. Although it is usually easier to study while children are asleep, parents may find it helpful to vary their schedule occasionally, so children can see the example of parents who study God’s word. It is a healthy part of a child’s development to recognize that parents need to spend time with their Heavenly Father. Children also benefit from learning to entertain themselves quietly while parents are studying, supervised by a parent but knowing not to interrupt.</p> <p>If children see that their parents study God’s word <em>only</em> once a week at church, they too will most likely adopt the same pattern. Through their parents’ example, they will perceive that studying is a duty and a chore to be “worked in” once a week. By contrast, children who see their parents happily studying God’s word daily will in time expect to mimic their parents’ pattern of making Bible study and prayer a valued daily link to the Great God.</p> <p>Children should also see occasional fasting as a normal part of their parents’ lives, as part of seeking God’s guidance regarding what is best for the family, and regarding their personal spiritual growth. As children mature and face key decisions of their own, their parents’ example of fasting will become increasingly beneficial. They will come to appreciate God’s promise that, if they fast regularly for the right reasons: “The Lord will guide you continually” (<a href="">Isaiah 58:11</a>). Children who learn this lesson from their parents’ example will have inherited a tremendous life-long legacy for success as they learn to turn to God in times of need, decision-making and even repentance.</p> <p>Parents’ example of church attendance will also have a crucial effect on their children. Young people who see their parents reluctantly drag themselves to church, or see them miss frequently, will begin to see church attendance as an option, or as an “obligation” that must occasionally be met to satisfy God or the minister. <em>What a horrendous mistake!</em> By contrast, if children see their parents <em>gladly</em> attending, with the rare exception of illness, they will begin to appreciate their parents’ genuine desire to learn more about God and His way of life.</p> <p>As the years go by, and children see their parents’ example of valuing time spent in prayer, Bible study, church attendance and occasional fasting, they will come to appreciate that their parents place the utmost importance on their relationship with God. While even the most outstanding parental example will not absolutely guarantee success in passing along to children the value of living God’s way, a poor example will surely hinder children’s ability to appreciate their parents’ way of life. Christian parents must make it obvious to their children, by the example of both words and deeds, that following the way of life exemplified by Jesus Christ is the true path to joy and happiness.</p> <h2>CHAPTER 6</h2> <h2>CREATING A GOD-CENTERED FAMILY CULTURE</h2> <p>All too often, parents tend to compartmentalize God in their family life. We view the Christian walk as composed of certain Christ-like behavior patterns, church services, and perhaps occasional family Bible studies. In truth, this is a good start, but there is <em>far more </em>to creating a <em>culture of God</em> within our homes. If we visualize our entire family life as a pie chart, most would view the spiritual aspect of parenting as a small percentage of the whole: simply a small piece of the pie. In contrast, if we truly do want to rear children “in God’s image,” then the spiritual focus must encompass the <em>entire pie</em>.</p> <p>What does this mean? Simply that <em>every</em> decision we make as parents should revolve around the question: “Will this <em>increase</em> or <em>decrease</em> the likelihood that my child will grow up ‘in God’s image’?” Perhaps a father is considering a second part-time job, which would help the family afford a vacation cabin. Certainly the family would value the cabin—but the second job would cause him to spend much less time with his children. So, what would more likely turn the children toward God when they are older: the pleasure of a cabin in the woods, or the presence of a <em>devoted father</em> spending more time each day with his children?</p> <p>When a family’s parenting is guided by this type of priority-setting, a much more stable foundation is being laid, which will dramatically increase the likelihood that children will walk in their parents’ spiritual footsteps. Years ago, we hung a plaque on a wall in our home, with a scripture that summarizes this principle: “As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord” ( <a href="">Joshua 24:15</a>).</p> <p>What, then, are some of the significant principles that will help us guide our family decisions in this way, creating a God-centered family culture? Let us consider five vital principles:</p> <p><strong>Principle 1: Go to the source</strong></p> <p><strong>of true godly culture—God Himself</strong></p> <p>In and of themselves, parents almost inevitably lack sufficient <em>wisdom</em> and <em>understanding</em> to guide their children’s young minds in a godly direction. Adults’ primary model for parenting, of course, comes from their own parents. All parents enter the parenting years influenced by whatever flaws were present in their own upbringing. No matter how much we appreciate our parents—most of whom did the best they knew how—the fact is that none of us have grown up with flawless examples by which we can pattern our own parenting. For that matter, none of our parents grew up with ideal examples, either—a pattern that extends all the way back to the first human children, Cain and Abel.</p> <p>Yet, if we have not laid a godly foundation for our children when they are small, it becomes all the more difficult to establish that foundation when they mature into their teen years. Thankfully, we can turn to the perfect parent, God Himself, and seek His help when we lack what it takes. God tells us in His word that if a parent <em>“does not provide for his own, and especially for those of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever</em>” ( <a href="">1 Timothy 5:8</a>). God, as our parent, lives by this same principle and is ever willing to give <em>us</em> all the help we need, <em>if</em> we are willing to go to the source.</p> <p>Parents all too often realize that they lack the necessary wisdom to handle so many of the difficult and frustrating circumstances they encounter in rearing children. In my own family’s history, there have been many situations in which my wife or I realized that we were “in over our head.” But God has given us—His spiritual children—a promise: <em>“If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally”</em> ( <a href="">James 1:5</a>).</p> <p>When a family situation is particularly difficult, it is time to focus even more fervently on seeking God’s help, wisdom and direction. Once, when Jesus’ disciples were frustrated by their inability to cast out a demon from a young man, Jesus told them: ” <em>This kind can come out by nothing but prayer and fasting” </em>(<a href="">Mark 9:29</a>). And so it is with so many difficult problems in life, including parenting—some problems are overcome “<em>by nothing but prayer and fasting.”</em> In fasting, we move closer to our God, admitting our weaknesses and our total need for His guidance, wisdom and insight. God promises that when we take this approach of seeking God aggressively through fasting: <em>“The Lord will guide you continually”</em> ( <a href="">Isaiah 58:11</a>). We must be willing to <em>ask</em>, in order to receive!</p> <p><strong>Principle 2: Be willing to put</strong></p> <p><strong>your children ahead of yourself</strong></p> <p>Our human nature—and the world around us—teach a very contrary principle: <em>“Find yourself, discover yourself, and take care of ‘number one’ because no one else will.”</em> But what comes about when we follow the world’s advice and make ourselves “number one”? If we do so, and neglect our responsibilities in parenting, we will leave a void in our children’s lives—a void that <em>will</em> be filled, by society and by Satan’s mindset! Remember, <em>we</em> may neglect our children’s upbringing, but Satan will <em>never</em> neglect to do what he can to influence them!</p> <p>Paul’s admonition to the Philippians applies especially to parents. “Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others. Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus” ( <a href="">Philippians 2:4–5</a>). Most parents—especially mothers—can remember the countless times that they were awakened in the middle of the night by the cries of a newborn baby. It would be a rare parent, indeed, who would simply ignore a newborn’s cry with the thought: “I need my sleep; I have to take care of myself.” Most parents find that it comes fairly naturally to put the physical needs of their children ahead of their own—but it is rare indeed for a parent to put their children’s long-range spiritual needs at the forefront of the family’s priorities. Parents need to ask themselves, from time to time: “Have I put the needs of ‘self’ ahead of the need to rear my children ‘in God’s image’?” It takes an investment of time to put our children’s spiritual needs first, but God wants parents to take advantage of every opportunity to teach their children godly principles. “You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up” ( <a href="">Deuteronomy 6:7</a>).</p> <p><strong>Principle 3: Make a godly mindset</strong></p> <p><strong>the chief influence on your children</strong></p> <p>It is a high calling for human beings to be given the responsibility of molding young minds in the image of God. We cannot accomplish this by wishful thinking or simply by desire. It requires a huge investment of time and effort, and careful attention to the roles God has given to parents. God wants husbands to be fully supportive of their wives as <em>“keepers at home” </em>( <a href="">Titus 2:5</a>, <em>KJV</em>). When a wife and mother is able to spend her hours as a full-time “keeper at home,” she can create a warm and nurturing environment while serving as the chief influence in forming her young children’s character. Sending young preschool children to a day-care center during their formative years dramatically changes the dynamics of rearing children “in God’s image.” Day after day, children in such situations quickly have their view of life shaped by other children and adults around them. The significant question for a parent becomes: “Do I want my little child’s mind formed by our family, or by the world?”</p> <p>Many parents will say: “Yes, we know that having a full-time Mom at home is ideal, but we simply can’t afford it.” Sadly, it <strong><em>is</em></strong> often true that a mother must work so that a family can make ends meet. But we should not overlook another vital dimension of help and support: God Himself. He is not limited in resources, nor is He limited in the capacity to provide for His own children. If we turn our desire over to God in frequent prayer, reminding God that we <strong><em>really want</em></strong> our children to grow up loving Him and living His way of life, God will hear! Ask God to show you <em>how</em> to economize or do your part in lowering expenses or increasing income. Often, the seemingly impossible <em>is</em> possible through God, if we fully trust Him, and ask according to His will: “With men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible” (<a href="">Matthew 19:26</a>).</p> <p>God’s word also tells us: “Those who seek the Lord shall not lack any good thing” ( <a href="">Psalm 34:10</a>). Since God knows the value of the mother’s role at home, we should trust Him to provide so this will be possible. Yes, this may require a family to reduce its physical standard of living, but if the family’s chief goal is to bring up children <strong><em>in God’s image</em></strong>, God assures us that with His help it is possible!</p> <p>Many couples discover that when a mother quits working, the family is not nearly as “behind” financially as they had feared. When a working mother gives up her paycheck, she also gives up many extra costs that go with being a working mother: perhaps a second car payment, extra insurance, gasoline, clothes for the workplace, dry cleaning bills, more restaurant meals and packaged foods for the family, and so on. Often, the loss in income is not nearly as great as it might first appear.</p> <p>When a mother is able to stay at home full-time, young children’s sponge-like minds will be guided and shaped primarily by a devoted mother and father, rather than primarily by the world. Though family circumstances vary, it is generally true that the longer a mother can be a full-time Mom at home, the better for the children. An increasing number of parents who have the resources and ability are choosing to “home school” their children, because of concerns about the quality and environment of schools in today’s society. Yes, there are cases where a mother must work, and cannot provide an “ideal” environment for her children. This is not an ideal world, and we <em>do</em> have to make the best of circumstances that are beyond our control. Single parents have a unique burden in parenting, which can only be lightened by a <em>very close</em> relationship with God the Father and Jesus Christ. Successful single parents do all they can to seek God’s guidance, asking Him to give them added help and extra ability to fulfill the spiritual needs of a young child. God Himself takes a special interest in widows or single parents who are struggling to rear their children “in God’s image.” God says that He is a “father of the fatherless, a defender of widows<em>“</em> ( <a href="">Psalm 68:5</a>).</p> <p><strong>Principle 4: Cultivate the concept</strong></p> <p><strong>that “we are different from the world”</strong></p> <p>Being different from the world does not mean that Christians are “better” or “superior” in a self-righteous way. It does mean that Christians recognize that they have a different set of standards and a different calling, which they should work at transmitting to their children. Being different from the world is not something that Christians should be ashamed of; it <em>is</em> something that they should be <em>thankful</em> for and <em>strive for</em> ! God’s people are certainly unique in many ways, and are even called “a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people<strong>”</strong> (<a href="">1 Peter 2:9</a>, <em>KJV</em>).</p> <p>Being <em>peculiar—</em>unique—does <em>not</em> mean that Christians are odd, strange or weird! It <em>does</em> mean that they have a different set of standards—God’s laws—and a different order of priorities in life: seeking “first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness” (<a href="">Matthew 6:33</a>). If children perceive that their parents <em>fear</em> or are <em>embarrassed by</em> being different from the world, they will internalize the wrong standard: that what people in the world think of us is more important than what God thinks of us.</p> <p>We can help our children value being different—help them value God’s ways—by continually emphasizing to them the <strong><em>benefits</em></strong> of God’s way of life, as opposed to the natural <strong><em>penalties</em></strong> of following the world. Yes, this does take a huge investment of time and energy, but the reward is immeasurable!</p> <p><strong>Principle 5: Guard children’s minds</strong></p> <p><strong>from the influence of the ungodly</strong></p> <p>It is <em>so</em> crucial that we <em>protect </em>our children from Satan’s influence and propaganda onslaught, but we also do not want to bring them up naïve and ignorant of the world, vulnerable to Satan’s devices. Jesus Christ expressed similar sentiments when He prayed that God would protect His followers: “I do not pray that You should take them out of the world, but that You should keep them from the evil one<strong>” </strong>( <a href="">John 17:15</a>).</p> <p>Some parents, when seeking a neighborhood where they will buy a house or rent an apartment, make a priority of finding a neighborhood where there are many other children with whom their children can play. This is an excellent choice if you want to rear children who spend most of their free time absorbing the mindset of the world. When our family has looked for places to live, we have actually been delighted to find an older neighborhood with few children. Does this mean we wanted to isolate our children? Not at all! Our goal has been to let our children mix with other children in regulated, supervised activities—not in unregulated and unsupervised “free time.”</p> <p>When our children were growing up, we involved them extensively in community athletic leagues. Our two sons and two daughters were involved in such supervised activities as tee ball, baseball, softball, soccer, gymnastics, ballet, tap dance and swimming. They actively mixed with children from all backgrounds, but that mixing was “purpose-driven.” Our children were participating in activities where coaching and teamwork were central.</p> <p>What we sought to avoid were the unsupervised activities with neighborhood children—in the alley, or out in the woods, or at the local hangout or at the movies, or even at friends’ homes when their parents were gone. We did not want to give our children a “green light” to mix freely with the world’s mindset, which is characterized as having “walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit who now works in the sons [children] of disobedience<strong>“</strong> ( <a href="">Ephesians 2:2</a>). This is <em>not</em> to say that we wanted to separate our children totally from the world; we simply wanted to expose them to the world in a <em>structured </em>and<em> controlled</em> way.</p> <p>Though we <em>do</em> have friendly acquaintances who are not Christian, God’s people should be our <em>true</em> friends, and we should emphasize and teach our children God’s key directive that we be “not unequally yoked together with unbelievers<strong> </strong>( <a href="">2 Corinthians 6:14</a>). This does not <em>at all</em> mean that we think we are better than others, but it <em>does</em> mean that we take God’s word and His principles seriously! If we saturate our minds with close friendships in the world, this will, in time, tend to shift our focus away from the Kingdom of God and toward the things of Satan’s world.</p> <p>If we encourage our children, and our teens, to fully intermingle with the world—through neighborhood sleepovers, close neighborhood friends, school dances and dating in the world—we are slowly but surely inviting them to accept the world’s influence and mindset. Time spent together is certainly a factor of friendship with the world, and God warns all of us: “Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Whoever therefore wants to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God<strong>” </strong>( <a href="">James 4:4</a>). Close friendships in the world inevitably become an increasing link to this world’s society, and to a value system alien to God’s people.</p> <p>This is <em>not</em> to say that all those “of the world” are to be shunned and avoided at all costs. There are many “good” people in society who are doing the best they know how in living moral lives. But if our goal in parenting is to rear the next generation “in God’s image,” we will increase the likelihood of doing so <em>if</em> we encourage our children to form their <em>closest, deepest</em> friendships with those walking the same path to God’s Kingdom. Remember, every aspect of our parenting should revolve around the question: “Will this <em>increase</em> or <em>decrease</em> the likelihood that my child will grow up ‘in God’s image’?”</p> <h2>CHAPTER 7</h2> <h2>PUTTING GOD’S WAY INTO ACTION</h2> <p>Since the central focus of godly parenting is to bring up children <em>“in God’s image”</em>—with Jesus Christ’s values, thoughts and way of life—a vital aspect of parenting is building children’s character through the activities and interactions of the family.</p> <p>Most children grow up influenced by society through the overwhelming imprint of the school system, the twisted entertainment lessons of movies and television and the pervading influence of peer groups. Parents may try to counter the corrosive effects of society’s godless direction with their loving teaching and right example, but an additional component is needed. Here is how God Himself summarized godly parenting:</p> <p>“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your might. And these words which I command you today shall be in your heart; you shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up. You shall <em>bind them as a sign on your hand</em>, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes”( <a href="">Deuteronomy 6:5–8</a>).</p> <p>Notice what parents are told concerning teaching God’s principles to their child—to “bind them as a sign on your hand.” What does this mean? Binding God’s principles <em>“as a sign on your hand</em>” signifies the <em>daily activities of family life</em>! All the verbal teaching</p> <p>in the world will not be enough if a healthy dose of “character building in action” is lacking! Family activities can be a tremendous tool to teach the principles of God. Yes, children learn much</p> <p>by “<em>hearing</em>” (parental teaching) and “<em>seeing</em>” (parental example), but there is also much to be learned by “<em>doing</em>” (putting godly principles into action).</p> <p>So how do family activities and interaction fit in? Family activities are meant to build strong, healthy family relationships. All of God’s spiritual laws revolve around developing a strong relationship with God (loving Him above all else) and developing healthy relationships with people (loving others as oneself). As parents develop warm, loving and active relationships with their children, they are laying the foundation for a <em>future</em> warm, loving and active relationship with God the Father and Jesus Christ!</p> <p>By contrast, children who grow up in sterile environments with very little parent/child interaction do not readily develop the capacity to identify with and love God, their spiritual parent. Many children have grown up with uninvolved parents, and as adults feel a great deal of difficulty identifying with the greater authority of God, the ultimate parent. Children who have seen their parents as uninvolved, harsh or judgmental will most likely later in life also perceive God as uninvolved, harsh or judgmental.</p> <p>It has often been said that friendship is a factor of time spent together. It can also be said that godly character developed in childhood can depend greatly upon <em>quality time</em> spent between child and parent. I have talked with many adults who admit that one of the great voids of their life has been the lack of a mother’s or father’s active involvement and interest in their childhood. Perhaps the father worked long hours and regularly came home exhausted, only to collapse in front of a television or disappear into some other activity. Or perhaps the mother was primarily involved with a career or her own personal interests, not finding quality time at crucial moments for her children. Whatever the circumstances, without parental involvement many valuable opportunities can be lost in the vitally formative years of a growing child’s life. Children primarily left to their own devices, spending most of their time with the television, school friends, video games or the Internet, will begin to identify <em>more</em> with the society around them than with their own parents’ values.</p> <p>Parents who see the value of family activities with warm interactions will find many opportunities to share God’s way of life with their children. Children can <em>learn</em> and <em>experience</em> the joy of outgoing concern and compassion for others, teamwork, love for God’s creation, the value of close family relationships, and many other building blocks of a Christian life to demonstrate that God’s way of life really does work!</p> <p>What are some specific ways in which parents can use family time and activities to reinforce godly principles?</p> <h2>RECREATIONAL ACTIVITIES</h2> <p>Some parents assume that all recreational activities are created equal, but adult children looking back on their childhood do not seem to agree. When I recently asked my four children what family activities they remember and value the most, they did not mention the trips to Disneyland or other theme parks, or an exotic trip to a Pacific island. What they did remember and value the most was the <em>time spent together</em> in varied activities as a family that involved a lot of talking and shared interaction. As one daughter said, it “had more to do with the family atmosphere rather than the activity itself!”</p> <p>Interestingly enough, the money spent has little to do with the value of the time spent together. Simple activities, like family hikes along the river where our children grew up, quickly came to mind. These were times to look at a bug, or hear a duck quack as it paddled its way down river, or be amazed at the tremendously varied plant life that grew along the tangled river bank. These opportunities to marvel at God’s handiwork on a lazy afternoon gave us a real-world classroom to point out the awesome mind of the Creator, as well as explaining the illogical theory and “religion” of evolution. The time spent together talking, skipping rocks across the river, and helping children over a fallen log along the way, was another way of saying “I love you; I am interested in you, and I care about what you are thinking.” Obviously, busy parents could always be doing something seemingly more valuable at home but children build strong family bonds, one moment at a time.</p> <p>Hanging on my study wall is a photograph I value greatly. My sons and I are wearing backpacks, with snow-covered mountains in the background. We had decided, while the boys were still teens, for the three of us to hike part of the stunningly scenic John Muir Trail in the Sierra Mountains of California. In preparation, we decided on a fitness routine incorporating weightlifting and running. The three of us were motivated by each other, and I faced the harsh reality of seeing teenage sons that could out-lift me in weight training and out-do me in our running! It became a year-long effort with a goal that became contagious, and drew in our youngest daughter as well! The respect and camaraderie we shared formed a bond of which we still have very special memories. We worked hard together, planned for and accomplished the hike that will always stand out in our memories!</p> <p>More recently, two of our children accompanied my wife and me on a day-long hike snowshoeing to the very edge of a 3,000-foot cliff overlooking Yosemite Valley in the renowned Yosemite National Park. For a beginning snowshoe experience, it took a lot of effort huffing and puffing through miles of snowy terrain. As we finally reached the car at the end of the day, our son stated, “Activities like this, in which we work hard and tire out together, seem to pull us together in a special way.” How true this is! It is not hours spent sprawled on the living room couch watching a movie without moving a muscle that builds family bonds and godly family values. No, it takes <em>time spent together interacting</em>. The goal then is for parents to always be striving to “work in” or highlight some character-building principle, while having a good time as a family.</p> <p>So many other opportunities abound in which parents can incorporate activities into events that help children develop right character, as well as rounding out their interests, education, and social opportunities. Visits to historical locations and museums emphasizing the contributions of those who preceded us in our national history help to teach the lesson of appreciating the contribution and sacrifice of others. Additionally, an occasional cultural event such as taking in an uplifting and inspiring concert helps children learn and appreciate music of balance and harmony. With a little effort it can be pointed out that God appreciates balance and harmony in music as well as in His creation and all aspects of a godly lifestyle.</p> <h2>BALANCED WORK ETHIC</h2> <p>Today, children often grow up with one of two opposite attitudes concerning the value of work. Some children acquire from their parents the assumption that work is an evil to be avoided if at all possible. Countless millions of individuals lavish any extra money they have on state lotteries, casino gambling or sports betting, looking for the “one big hit” that would free them from the drudgery of work. Other children see their parents existing for years on the welfare rolls, putting little effort into changing their difficult situation and lifestyle.</p> <p>At the opposite extreme are the many parents who work very hard at trying to get ahead in life, but who sacrifice their children along the way. They think that if they just work long and hard enough, and finally earn enough money, their children will have the “good life.” In truth, many children receive an abundance of electronic “toys” bestowed by guilt-ridden, hard-working and seldom-seen parents. These children would benefit <em>so much more</em> from the example of parents who <em>not only</em> provide for their children’s basic physical needs, but <em>also</em> provide for their emotional and spiritual needs by investing time in their children’s thinking process, personality and spiritual development, while taking the time for some laughter along the way.</p> <p>Group work projects involving both parents and children can go far in helping instill a balanced work ethic in their children. Working together as a family helps to instill the value of work along with a sense of teamwork and “pulling your own weight.” The process of working together contributes to a “we” rather than an “I” mentality, contributing to their sense of a secure belonging within the family unit. In our family, the most frequently used work projects involved the yard, where everyone could lend a hand no matter what the age. There always were leaves to rake, plants to prune, weeds to pull, floors to sweep and lawns to mow.</p> <p>Our children often recall with laughter that their mother’s favorite Mother’s Day activity was a family work day in the yard. After a hearty breakfast, when the handmade cards had been read, her request for the day was that we all spend a few hours with her in the colorful flower beds, pruning bushes and roses together as a family. Yes, the children probably would have preferred to be swimming or enjoying some other activity, but they certainly <em>did</em> learn that working together produced a very appreciative mother—along with a beautiful yard toward which we had all contributed, and could all enjoy together. Their mother had worked and sweated along with the rest of us, even on Mother’s Day.</p> <p>Every family’s situation is different, and not everyone has a yard that can be the focus for children learning to work together, but the inside of the house or apartment is always a work opportunity just waiting to happen. There are always rooms to vacuum, bathrooms to clean, windows and mirrors to wash and trash to empty. One key is for children to be assigned age-appropriate jobs, with everyone working together along with one or both parents.</p> <p>While we wanted our children to know that their contribution was expected as family members, we still recognized that family chores can also be the vehicle for lessons of money management. We decided to set varying monetary amounts for various chores, with some jobs assigned daily, some weekly and others dependent on the individual child’s personal industriousness and how much they wanted to earn. It was interesting to see the individual natures of the four children: some spent their small earnings quickly on small items, and some saved and never spent. With time, they all came to realize that most everything material in life must be earned, and hard-earned dollars can quickly be spent and lost on items that have no lasting or redeeming value.</p> <p>Seeing to it that children have family chores and a proper work ethic, also develops the key concept of responsibility. This contributes to a sense of <em>belonging</em> to the family unit, and can help develop a sense of personal satisfaction in being successful at finishing their assignments or commitments. Responsibility also helps to prepare them for the real world of adulthood, where following through on assignments in college and later on the job can be crucial to their success. Ultimately, the strong concept of personal responsibility will better prepare them in their commitment to God, His spiritual laws and His way of life.</p> <h2>OUTGOING CONCERN IN ACTION</h2> <p>Jesus Christ and the apostles repeatedly taught that the very foundation of God’s way of life is the godly character trait of <strong>love. </strong>The Savior stated: “<strong>This is My commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you” </strong>(<a href="">John 15:12</a>). Paul summarized it well when he stated<strong>: “Love does no harm to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfillment of the law”</strong> ( <a href="">Romans 13:10</a>). This essential trait of Jesus Christ and of the Father can perhaps be best described as <em>“outgoing concern.”</em></p> <p>If our children are going to grow up really wanting to follow their parents in seeking God and living a life <em>“in His image,”</em> it is absolutely essential that children learn this core trait of God, <em>through the actions of the parents</em>! Obviously, outgoing concern must be experienced and shown consistently, day by day, from parent to child, as well as between husband and wife. If this is not the case, all the preaching and teaching in the world by the parents will not accomplish the desired goal. Children are very observant critics, often citing hypocrisy as a reason for abandoning their parent’s belief system. This consistency of outgoing concern for others is the basis of the Ten Commandments, of which the first four require outgoing love for God, and the last six require outgoing love toward all other people.</p> <p>Less commonly practiced is the outgoing concern that children need to see directed to others <em>outside</em> the immediate family. If this godly trait is only directed <em>within</em> the family, children can readily grow up to be self-centered and uncaring toward others. A child or parent who only sees the need for outgoing concern <em>within</em> the family will never see the need of the very Work of God in which the Church has been commissioned to <strong>“go into all the world and preach the Gospel”</strong>(<a href="">Mark 16:15</a>). Christ made it clear that <strong>“Freely you have received, freely give”</strong> ( <a href="">Matthew 10:8</a>).</p> <p>Tithes and offerings given freely to God’s Work help children realize that the world is a much bigger place than just their immediate family. Children can be emotionally involved and excited in seeing <em>where</em> their offerings and tithes go, becoming aware of the benefit to others. For example, when our young daughter realized that her contribution covered the cost of printing and mailing a church booklet to some person watching our church’s television program, she decided to increase her offering, excited to realize that she, as an individual, played a part in the larger “Work” of God. Family discussions and prayers help focus young minds on the bigger picture of the meaning and goal of life, giving children a positive outlook on a plan so much larger than our physical existence. Parents’ non-judgmental and positive approach will help children develop a strong desire to <em>choose</em> to be a part of the spiritual body of Christ as they mature.</p> <p>Children’s real-life personal involvement in giving of their time is also a key element in developing their concern for others. Some years ago, our family participated in an “Adopt the Elderly” program with older members of our church. At first, we were participating to be supportive of the elderly in their loneliness. Little did we realize that there would be many rewards and benefits not only to us, but to our children as well! In preparation for each visit, we reminded our children that while their “real” grandparents were not in the area, the elderly in the Church were “related” through the same “spiritual Father,” so they could look to them as a type of grandparent as well. Our children began looking forward to the visits, and started taking cards, cookies or drawings to these new “grandparents.” The children learned to listen quietly to stories told, looked carefully at objects of interest shown to them, and developed an interest in a bygone era to which they had not previously given much thought. They enjoyed the individual love and warmth that was reciprocated to them!</p> <h2>GOD’S WAY WORKS!</h2> <p>The experience of parenting can be one of the most challenging and difficult tasks in a parent’s life, yet it has the potential of being <em>the most</em> fulfilling and richest experience in life! Frustrations, concerns and worries may abound, yet nothing is more satisfying to parents than seeing their children sincerely enjoy living God’s way of life. We understand that not every child reared in the Church will “catch the vision” and develop <em>“in God’s image,”</em> but it is a given that our efforts are never wasted! Even if they veer from the direction learned within the home, our children who have been taught and seen demonstrated God’s way of life in their childhood will have a foundation on which they can rely, whether in this life or in God’s Kingdom.</p> <p>There is no richer inheritance that parents can give their children than to see, hear, and experience the fullness of the blessings that come from choosing obedience and fulfillment in God. Parents who devote the time and the commitment—showing genuine love and interest in their children—will receive a reward that will bless them, and their children, to the end of their days! <strong>“Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord, the fruit of the womb is a reward. Like arrows in the hand of a warrior, so are the children of one’s youth. Happy is the man who has his quiver full of them </strong>” (<a href="">Psalm 127:3–5</a>).</p></div> <div class="field field--name-field-booklet-category field--type-entity-reference field--label-above"> <div class="field__label">Booklet Category</div> <div class="field__items"> <div class="field__item"><a href="/taxonomy/term/9" hreflang="en">Christian Living</a></div> <div class="field__item"><a href="/taxonomy/term/18" hreflang="en">Family</a></div> </div> </div> Mon, 28 Feb 2022 21:46:17 +0000 4uwzvo 33 at Restoring Original Christianity <span>Restoring Original Christianity</span> <div class="field field--name-field-title field--type-string field--label-hidden field__item">Restoring Original Christianity</div> <span><span lang="" about="/user/1" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="">4uwzvo</span></span> <span>Mon, 02/28/2022 - 21:09</span> <div class="field field--name-field-booklet-author field--type-list-string field--label-hidden field__items"> <div class="field__item">Roderick C. Meredith (1930-2017)</div> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-booklet-media field--type-entity-reference field--label-above"> <div class="field__label">Booklet Media</div> <div class="field__item"><div> <div class="field field--name-field-media-image field--type-image field--label-visually_hidden"> <div class="field__label visually-hidden"><a href="">Image</a></div> <div class="field__item"> <a href=""><img src="/sites/default/files/styles/large/public/2022-02/roc-restoring_original_christianity_2.0.3-cover.png?itok=lF6TafCH" alt="Picture of Jerusalem" loading="lazy" typeof="Image" /></a> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-tag field--type-string field--label-hidden field__items"> <div class="field__item">#Christian Living</div> <div class="field__item">#Doctrine</div> <div class="field__item">#False Religion</div> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-booklet-teaser field--type-string field--label-hidden field__item">If Jesus of Nazareth were to return to the earth today, would He recognize the religion that is using His name? Not at all! Mankind has twisted Jesus Christ’s teachings so that the religion bearing His name has practically no relationship to what He and the Apostles actually lived and believed. Can you find a Church that strives to live by the original teachings of Christianity? Can you prove for yourself what God’s Truth really is? This booklet will give you the all</div> <div class="field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary field--label-hidden field__item"><p>If Jesus of Nazareth were to return to the earth today, would He recognize the religion that is using His name? Would He be shocked to find that people claiming to be His followers have been waging <strong><em>war</em></strong> against each other almost continually for the last 1,900 years—Catholic fighting Catholic, and Protestant fighting Protestant? That His professed followers believe doctrines <strong><em>totally contrary</em></strong> to what He taught, observing different days of worship, different customs and—most importantly—having a totally different concept of God and of His purpose than Jesus and the original Apostles did?</p> <p>Jesus might wonder: “Why are they putting <strong><em>My</em></strong> name on all this “stuff”?</p> <p>Yet most genuine religious scholars recognize that <strong><em>vast </em></strong>changes have overtaken professing Christianity—rendering it totally different from the Christianity of Jesus and the Apostles! As respected mainline Protestant scholar Jesse Lyman Hurlbut acknowledges:</p> <blockquote> <p>“For fifty years after St. Paul’s life a curtain hangs over the church, through which we strive vainly to look; and when at last it rises, about 120ad with the writings of the earliest church-fathers, we find a church in many aspects very different from that in the days of St. Peter and St. Paul” (<em>Story of the Christian Church</em>, p. 41).</p> </blockquote> <p>If the leaders, during this time which Hurlbut elsewhere called an “age of shadows,” were filled with and led by God’s Spirit, then why would the Church suddenly be “very different”? For the Bible tells us that Christ is “the <strong><em>same</em></strong> yesterday, today and forever” (Hebrews 13:8). Yet the professing Christian church today is <strong><em>not</em></strong> even remotely the same as the one Jesus founded.</p> <p>Describing the time period after all the original Apostles and their successors had died out, Hurlbut writes:</p> <blockquote> <p>“The services of worship increased in splendor, but were less spiritual and hearty than those of former times. The forms and ceremonies of paganism gradually crept into the worship. Some of the old heathen feasts became church festivals with change of name and of worship. About 405ad images of saints and martyrs began to appear in the churches, at first as memorials, then in succession revered, adored, and worshiped. The adoration of the Virgin Mary was substituted for the worship of Venus and Diana; the Lord’s supper became a sacrifice in place of a memorial; and the elder evolved from a preacher into a priest” (p. 79).</p> </blockquote> <p>Notice Hurlbut’s statement that “some of the old heathen feasts became church festivals.” They “became” that way because God Himself had predicted that <strong><em>evil</em></strong>men and false leaders would take over most of the Church! Remember this inspired warning the Apostle Paul gave the Ephesian elders: “For I know this, that after my departure savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock. Also from among yourselves men will rise up, speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after themselves. Therefore watch, and remember that for three years I did not cease to warn everyone night and day with tears” (Acts 20:29–31).</p> <p>When Paul realized the depth of the <strong><em>apostasy</em></strong> that would overtake most of the Church, it hit him emotionally. He then “did not cease to <strong><em>warn</em></strong> everyone night and day with tears”! Very few people today seem to be concerned enough about this massive apostasy to even begin to shed tears over this awesome change.</p> <h2>HOW Could This Happen?</h2> <p>This massive apostasy occurred because men and women back then, just like today, did not zealously <strong><em>prove</em></strong> to themselves where God’s Truth was being taught. That is why the living Christ corrected those Christians living near the end of the Apostolic Era: “Nevertheless I have this against you, that you have left your first love. Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent and do the first works, or else I will come to you quickly and remove your lampstand from its place—unless you repent” (Revelation 2:4–5).</p> <p>And what about today? How can we account for the more than 400 different denominations and sects—all calling themselves “Christian”? And all of them having some type of different ideas, traditions and approaches and yet claiming to follow the same Jesus Christ?</p> <p>Part of the answer is the fact that <em>extremely few</em> professing Christians really study their Bibles! So they do not “<strong><em>prove</em></strong>” virtually anything they believe by carefully researching it in the Bible! Oh, they may enthusiastically study books and articles on health, on self-improvement or on investing and making more money. But somehow it does <em>not</em> occur to them to thoroughly study the most <strong><em>vital</em></strong> subjects of all: <em>Is there a</em><strong><em>real</em></strong> <em>God?</em> <em>If so, what is His </em><strong><em>purpose </em></strong><em>in creating human beings? And </em><strong><em>how</em></strong><em> can we fulfill that purpose?</em> Yet the Bible commands: “<strong><em>Prove</em></strong> all things, hold fast that which is good” (1 Thessalonians 5:21, <em>KJV).</em></p> <p>Most people have just “accepted” the religion passed down through their families. Most have just “gone along” with the beliefs and the traditions taught to them as children. Noting the public’s lack of attention to their religion,<em> Los Angeles Times</em>religion writer Teresa Watanabe reported:</p> <blockquote> <p>“According to one religious research firm, two-thirds of Americans don’t regularly read the Bible or know the names of the Four Gospels. More than half of Americans surveyed can’t name even five of the Ten Commandments. And the majority say they find the Good Book irrelevant.… ‘We still hold the Bible in high regard, but in terms of actually spending the time reading it, studying it and applying it—that is a thing of the past,’ said George Barna. The reasons cited range from changes in American culture to the intrinsic difficulty of the text itself.</p> <p>Now religious organizations are making a major effort to jazz up the ancient Scripture’s doddering image. Bible publishers are producing a dizzying array of products, with translations and editions pitched to every conceivable niche market, to convince people that the book is neither arcane nor irrelevant” (<em>Los Angeles Times</em>, July 23, 1999).</p> </blockquote> <p>Of course, the real underlying cause of this massive religious apostasy is that this is Satan’s world and that he has totally <strong><em>deceived</em></strong> the vast majority of humanity. In the comfortable surroundings of western civilization, most Americans, Canadians and others fail to realize that the <em>overwhelming majority</em> of human beings have never believed in <strong><em>any</em></strong> form of “Christianity”—let alone the real Christianity of Christ and the Apostles! The vast majority of humans are—<em>and always have been</em>—Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, Shintoists, atheists or agnostics.</p> <h2>A Very REAL Satan Is Involved</h2> <p>If you will study and believe your own Bible, you will find that Satan the devil is described as the one “who deceives the <strong><em>whole</em></strong> world” (Revelation 12:9). You will also find Satan referred to as “the prince of the power of the air, the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience” (Ephesians 2:2). For Satan “broadcasts” a selfish, rebellious attitude throughout this earth. He is the one who is influencing deceived men into injecting <strong><em>enormous</em></strong> amounts of licentious sex, violence and a general spirit of disrespect and lawlessness into the so-called “entertainment” you and your children see or hear on television, at the movies, on the radio or when playing various kinds of perverted computer games which simulate almost indescribable acts of perversion or violence. Do you know who is really laughing at all this “fun stuff”? <strong><em>Satan</em></strong> <em>is!</em></p> <p>For by perverting mankind’s normal interest in sex and excitement, and by cleverly injecting sick humor into so many of television’s “situation comedies,” Satan is able to cleverly mislead mankind into abusing, degrading and ultimately <strong><em>destroying</em></strong> itself if God does not intervene at the last minute to stop it (Matthew 24:21–22). Satan is truly the “god” of this present world! The Apostle Paul was inspired to write, “But even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing, whose minds the <strong><em>god</em></strong> of this age has blinded, who do not believe, lest the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine on them” (2 Corinthians 4:3–4).</p> <p>Most important of all, Satan has injected into mainstream “Christianity” a whole series of totally <strong><em>false</em></strong> ideas about the origin and destiny of man, of what God is like, of what God’s awesome <strong><em>purpose</em></strong> is, and how we are to achieve that great purpose. Additionally, Satan has confused people about prophecy so much that most professing Christians and even most professing Christian ministers and priests simply throw up their hands and almost totally neglect biblical prophecy. Yet our Creator devotes about one-fourth of the entire Bible to the “<strong><em>sure</em></strong> word of prophecy” (2 Peter 1:19, <em>KJV).</em></p> <p>Have you ever looked at traditional Christianity and asked yourself: <em>“Is this religion really based on the Bible? Is </em><strong><em>this</em></strong><em> the religion founded by Jesus Christ and taught by His Apostles?” </em>If Jesus Christ is the Savior of the world, then his life should be an example for His followers. But <em>practically no one</em> actually <strong><em>follows</em></strong> His example!</p> <h2>Christianity Without Christ?</h2> <p>Instead, mankind has made its own religion that is <em>almost completely different</em> from what Jesus Christ preached and practiced. And they call that religion “Christianity,” as if it were connected with Jesus Christ! As the philosopher and theologian Soren Kirkegaard put it:</p> <blockquote> <p>“The Christianity of the New Testament simply does not exist… what has to be done is to throw light upon a criminal offense against Christianity prolonged through centuries, perpetrated by millions (more or less guiltily), whereby they have cunningly, under the guise of perfecting Christianity, sought little by little to cheat God out of Christianity and have succeeded in making Christianity exactly the opposite of what it is in the New Testament” (<em>Attack Upon Christendom</em>, Kirkegaard, 1956, pp. 32–33).</p> </blockquote> <p>Those are strong words, but they are hardly unique. Professor Rufus M. Jones concurs, noting how Christ’s true teachings were quickly detached from the religion bearing His name:</p> <blockquote> <p>“If by any chance Christ Himself had been taken by His later followers as the model and pattern of the new way, and a serious attempt had been made to set up His life and teaching as the standard and norm for the Church, Christianity would have been something <strong><em>vastly different</em></strong> from what it became. Then ‘heresy’ would have been as it is not now, deviation from His way, His teaching, His spirit, His kingdom.… What we may properly call ‘Galilean Christianity’ had a short life, though there have been notable attempts to revive it and make it live again, and here and there spiritual prophets have insisted that anything else other than this simple Galilean religion is ‘heresy’; but the main line of historic development has taken a different course and has marked the emphasis very differently” (<em>The Church’s Debt to Heretics</em>, Jones, 1924, pp. 15–16).</p> </blockquote> <p>We should not be surprised that mankind tried to remake Christianity its own way. Mankind has tried for thousands of years to find its own way. Humanism, materialism, socialism, communism or capitalism—human society has invented so many philosophies in the <strong><em>vain</em></strong> hope of giving meaning to life without God, and creating through human effort a happy and prosperous society on the earth.</p> <p>The truth is clear. Modern “Christianity” <em>has become</em> “<strong><em>vastly</em></strong> <strong><em>different”</em></strong>—as Professor Jones wrote—from the Christianity of Christ! But what has been the result? Nations are almost constantly at war with each other, the rich prosper while the poor starve and disease runs rampant. “The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation,” wrote Henry David Thoreau. He was <strong><em>right</em></strong>! But neither Thoreau nor most of mankind have had their eyes opened to the solution, the <strong><em>Truth</em></strong> that would fill their lives with meaning and joy and peace.</p> <p>Some might say, “So what?” But this is no small matter we are talking about. Frankly, we are talking about the way to eternal <strong><em>life</em></strong> on the one hand, or eternal <strong><em>death</em></strong> on the other (Romans 6:23). For if you do not have the Christianity of Christ, <em>you have no Christianity whatsoever!</em></p> <p>Jesus Himself warned, “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’” (Matthew 7:21–23). It is important to realize that Christ will say to those failing to do the “will” of the Father: “I <strong><em>never</em></strong> knew you.” In plain language, these deceived churchgoers will be told that they were, in fact, never acquainted with the Christ they claim to serve. They were never really converted<em>. They were never really “Christian”!</em></p> <p>Again, Jesus said, “But why do you call Me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and not do the things which I say?” (Luke 6:46). A “lord” or “master” is someone you <strong><em>obey.</em></strong> But most professing Christian ministers and their followers do <strong><em>not</em></strong> follow the clear teachings and examples of Jesus and the Apostles. And most of them do not even bother to deeply study their Bibles to find what those teachings and examples are!</p> <h2>Restoring Original Christianity</h2> <p>The key issue, then, is our desire and willingness to get back to the true Christian faith, “the faith which was <strong><em>once for all</em></strong> delivered to the saints” (Jude 3). Are you willing to genuinely try to follow the Christianity of Christ? Or are you willing to “take a chance” in your relationship with God and in your quest for eternal life?</p> <p>Frankly, the “little flock” (Luke 12:32)—the true Church of God—has always understood the need to pattern itself after the teachings and examples of Christ and the Apostles. Although very few have seriously attempted to follow this pattern, many scholars and religious historians have understood the concept of the “Jerusalem Church of God.” This is a vital concept to understand if we are sincerely interested in contending “for the faith once delivered.”</p> <p>The Apostle Paul was inspired to write to the Thessalonians, “For you, brethren, became <strong><em>imitators</em></strong> of the churches of God which are in Judea in Christ Jesus” (1 Thessalonians 2:14). The book of Acts makes it clear that the earthly “headquarters” Church of God—for many decades—was the Jerusalem Church. It was here that the Holy Spirit was originally poured out on the true Christians (Acts 2). It was here where Peter, James and John carried on most of their ministry for many years (cf. Acts 4:1; 8:1; 11:1–2). Later, it was to the leadership at Jerusalem that Paul and Barnabas came to settle the major question of circumcision for the Gentiles and related questions (Acts 15:4-6).</p> <p>As renowned historian Edward Gibbon wrote: “The first fifteen bishops of Jerusalem were all circumcised Jews; and the congregation over which they presided united the law of Moses with the doctrine of Christ. It was natural that the primitive tradition of a church which was founded only forty days after the death of Christ, and was governed almost as many years under the immediate inspection of his apostle, should be received as the standard of orthodoxy. The distant churches very frequently appealed to the authority of their venerable Parent” (<em>The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire</em>, chap. 15, sec. 1, p. 389).</p> <p>As indicated above, the only major ministerial conference indicated in the New Testament was held at Jerusalem. Here lived the leading original Apostles. Here was the true “mother” church (<strong><em>not</em></strong> Rome!). And it was to Jerusalem Paul and Barnabas had come even earlier, lest, as Paul had put it, “I might run, or had run, in <strong><em>vain</em></strong>” (Galatians 2:1–2).</p> <p>After the major Jerusalem conference, Paul and Silas traveled through Asia Minor visiting the churches: “And as they went through the cities, they delivered to them the decrees to keep, which were determined by the apostles and elders <strong><em>at Jerusalem”</em></strong> (Acts 16:4).</p> <h2>Paul Looked to Jerusalem</h2> <p>Clearly the original Apostles and the Jerusalem Church of God set the inspired “pattern” for true Christianity—<strong><em>not</em></strong> just for that time—but for <strong><em>all</em></strong> time! Contrary to the heretical Protestant ideas that the Apostle Paul later was used by God to “reinvent” Christianity, the real Apostle Paul of the Bible—as we have seen—constantly showed deep respect for the original Apostles and deferred to the leadership at Jerusalem in all major matters! And it was the Apostle Paul who wrote the primarily Gentile church at Corinth: “Circumcision is nothing and uncircumcision is nothing, but keeping the commandments of God is what matters” (1 Corinthians 7:19). Noted historian Carl von Weiszäcker wrote in 1895:</p> <blockquote> <p>“Paul was far from confining his interest to the Gentile Christian Church which he had himself founded. His thoughts were much too lofty to leave Jewish Christianity to itself. He toiled not merely for his own work, but for the Church of God… the whole Church. He never forgot for a moment the true birthplace of the gospel. And for him the Christians in Jerusalem were always the [saints].… He did not however merely entertain a grand policy of ecclesiastical union, but his first and constant thought was that the primitive Church was the foremost divine institution under the Gospel.… In the early Apostles he saw… the Apostles of the Lord. From them the testimony of the Resurrection emanated (1 Corinthians 15:1 ff.). They were ever the apostles, whom God had placed at the head of His Church, the first of those divinely commissioned men who held the leading office in the Body of Christ” (1 Corinthians 12:28) (<em>The Apostolic Age of the Christian Church</em>, pp. 12–13).</p> </blockquote> <p>Later in Paul’s ministry, he traveled again to Jerusalem: “And when we had come to Jerusalem, the brethren received us gladly. On the following day Paul went in with us to James, and all the elders were present” (Acts 21:17–18). Notice that Paul presented himself to James, the Lord’s brother, who by now was undoubtedly the chief Apostle at Jerusalem—Peter probably having gone to the “lost sheep” of the house of Israel in northwest Europe and the British Isles.</p> <p>After rejoicing in the good news Paul brought about God’s Work among the Gentiles, the Jerusalem leadership told Paul: “You see, brother, how many <strong><em>myriads</em></strong>of Jews there are who have believed, and they are all zealous for the law” (v. 20). The term “myriad” literally means “tens of thousands.” So as not to confuse or discourage these many Jewish Christians, Paul was asked by the Jerusalem Church to go through an offering ceremony to publicly demonstrate that he was <strong><em>not</em></strong>teaching in any way against God’s laws. The Jerusalem leaders exhorted Paul: “Take these men along and be purified with them and pay all the expenses connected with the shaving of their heads. This will let everyone know there is no truth in the reports they have heard about you and that you still <strong><em>regularly</em></strong> observe the Law” (v. 24, <em>Jerusalem Bible</em>).</p> <p>If Paul had in fact been teaching against God’s Law in <strong><em>any</em></strong> way—especially the <strong><em>spiritual law</em></strong> containing the Ten Commandments—he most certainly would <strong><em>not</em></strong>have gone through this ceremony of the law of Moses! That particular ceremony—probably a thanks offering at the conclusion of the Nazarite vow—was <strong><em>not</em></strong>necessary for a New Testament Christian. But it was not “sinful” either! And Paul’s deep respect for God’s Law, for the original mother church and the pattern of <strong><em>obedience</em></strong> to God’s Law—all this guided Paul in his decision to go ahead and participate in this ceremony. By guiding Paul in this—and putting this example in the Bible—God is showing <strong><em>all</em></strong> of us that Paul’s approach was one of <strong><em>obedience</em></strong> to law, <strong><em>not</em></strong> one who tried to do away with or “reason around” God’s spiritual laws as so many Protestant theologians teach!</p> <h2>What Did Christ Do on Earth?</h2> <p>Nearly all professing Christians understand that in order to be an acceptable sacrifice for mankind’s sins, Jesus Christ had to keep the Law perfectly. But what law did He keep, and what did He expect of His followers? Here is how Christ Himself described His mission:</p> <blockquote> <p>“Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill. For assuredly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle will by no means pass from the law till all is fulfilled. Whoever therefore breaks one of the least of these commandments, and teaches men so, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever does and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven. For I say to you, that unless your righteousness exceeds the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 5:17–20).</p> </blockquote> <p>Many Christians do not grasp the importance of those words. Christ said that not “one jot or one tittle” (the tiniest marks in the Hebrew script) of the law would pass from the law until heaven and earth pass away. Since heaven and earth have not passed away, we must understand that the law remains. And Christ condemned those who would falsely teach men to break even the “least of these commandments.” Rather, He explained that those who both <strong><em>do</em></strong> and <strong><em>teach</em></strong> the commandments will be called <em>“great” </em>in the kingdom of heaven!</p> <p>Did His “fulfilling” the law somehow change these commands? Or did they change after Christ’s resurrection? No! Heaven and earth did not pass away at His resurrection. And we must understand what He meant when He said that he would “fulfill” the law. One scholar explains His words as follows:</p> <blockquote> <p>“Did [Jesus] fill or fulfill the [Law]? The common word <em>plerôsai</em> means ‘to fill.’ At [Matthew] 5:17 most translations render it ‘to fulfill.’ The theological implications often drawn are that [Jesus] fulfilled all the prophecies of the [Old Testament] pertaining to the Jews, so that none remain for them now; and that he kept the [Law] perfectly, so that no one need obey it today. But these conclusions do not follow logically, and in fact they contradict [Jesus’] immediately preceding statement that he did not come to abolish (or destroy) the [Law]. More fundamental for translation, however, is the question of whether <em>plerôsai</em> in this verse should be rendered ‘to fulfill’ at all. [This] translator’s view is that [Jesus] came to fill the [Law] and the ethical pronouncements of the Prophets full with their complete meaning, so that everyone can know all that obedience entails. For this reason the <em>Jewish New Testament</em> says that [Jesus] came ‘not to abolish but to complete.’ In fact, this is the subject of the entire Sermon on the Mount; and [Matthew] 5:17, understood in this way, is its theme sentence” (<em>Jewish New Testament</em>, Stern, 1995, pp. xxii–xxiii).</p> </blockquote> <p>In other words, Jesus came, as Isaiah prophesied (Isaiah 42:21), to “magnify” God’s law and to show its fullest <em>intent</em> and <em>purpose. </em>What Jesus Christ sought to abolish were the abuses of the law, and the man-made traditions that perverted the law. His sacrificial death, foreshadowed by the temple sacrifices, made those animal sacrifices and washings irrelevant for Christians. But His life showed that the <em>spiritual</em> law—the Ten Commandments—<em>was and would remain</em> relevant for those seeking to obey Him. One cannot properly understand His teachings without understanding the Old Testament scriptures and the law they contain, as noted by Frederick Holmgren:</p> <blockquote> <p>“The Old Testament brings gifts to the Christian tradition. One of those gifts is the Torah (the Law).… Jesus embraced the Torah of Moses; he came not to end it but to fulfill it (Matthew 5:17)—to carry its teachings forward. Further, to those who came to him seeking eternal life, he held it up as the essential teaching to be observed (Luke 10:25–28). Despite Jesus’ conflict with some interpreters of his day, both Jewish and Christian scholars see him as one who honored and followed the Law. When Jesus proclaims the coming rule of God, he speaks nowhere in detail about the inner character of this rule. He does not need to because that has already been described in the Old Testament.… The Old Testament is not an antiquated Scripture; its life-giving teachings are needed by the church” (Frederick C. Holmgren, “Preaching the Gospel Without Anti-Judaism,” <em>Removing Anti-Judaism from the Pulpit</em>, ed. Howard Clark Kee and Irvin J. Borowski, 1996, pp. 72–73).</p> </blockquote> <p>Indeed, Jesus Christ taught from the Old Testament, and He lived by it, as did His followers.</p> <h2>What Did the Apostles Teach?</h2> <p>We have seen that Jesus Christ plainly upheld God’s law. Yet some churches falsely accuse the Apostles—especially the Apostle Paul—of teaching that Christians need no longer follow Jesus Christ’s example. Indeed, even in the first century ad we see that some were twisting Paul’s words for their purposes (cf. 2 Peter 3:16). Yet when writing to the young evangelist Timothy, Paul plainly reminded him “that from childhood you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness” (2 Timothy 3:15–16).</p> <p>When Timothy was a child, the “Holy Scriptures” he knew were the Old Testament scriptures. Most of the New Testament books did not yet exist! Paul says that these Old Testament scriptures are “able to make you wise for salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.” Paul saw no conflict between Old Testament scripture and Christian faith and practice, and confirmed that <strong><em>all</em></strong> Scripture (including the Old Testament) is profitable for <em>doctrine</em> and for <em>instruction in righteousness</em>. These are not the words of someone teaching that the God’s Old Testament laws have been done away!</p> <p>The Apostle Paul instructed Christians: “Imitate me, just as I also imitate Christ” (1 Corinthians 11:1). The Apostle John observed: “He who says he abides in Him ought himself also to walk just as He walked” (1 John 2:6).</p> <p>These two, like all the Apostles, knew that Jesus Christ came to show the perfect <strong><em>example, </em></strong>and that Christians <em>ought to follow His example,</em> strengthened by the Holy Spirit. This was the commonplace understanding in the Apostle Paul’s day, as Christianity spread across the Roman Empire.</p> <blockquote> <p>“Everywhere, especially in the East of the Roman Empire, there would be Jewish Christians whose outward way of life would not be markedly different from that of the Jews. They took for granted that the gospel was continuous with [the religion of Moses]; for them the New Covenant, which Jesus had set up at the Last Supper with His disciples… did not mean that the covenant made between God and Israel was no longer in force. They still observed the feasts of Passover, Pentecost and Tabernacles; they also continued to be circumcised, to keep the weekly Sabbath and the Mosaic regulations concerning food. According to some scholars, they must have been so strong that right up to the fall of Jerusalem in ad70 they were the dominant element in the Christian movement” (<em>Judeo-christianisme</em>, “Paul and Jewish Christianity,” Davies, 1972, p. 72, quoted in Bacchiocchi, <em>From Sabbath to Sunday</em>, p. 151).</p> </blockquote> <p>So for about the first 40 <strong><em>years</em></strong> of Christianity, guided by the Holy Spirit, the “dominant element” in the Church of God was still following Christ’s example of keeping the weekly and annual Sabbaths commanded by God. They were still following the example set by the Jerusalem Church of God!</p> <h2>Who <strong><em>dared</em></strong> to change all of that?</h2> <p>As we have seen, it was <strong><em>not</em></strong> the Apostle Paul. It was certainly <strong><em>not</em></strong> any of the original 12 Apostles. Rather, as the time period—which is fittingly called the “Dark Ages”—began to get underway, misguided false religious leaders began to change virtually <strong><em>everything</em></strong> that had made the Christian religion totally different from the pagan cults of the Roman Empire.</p> <p>Some wrongly teach that after Jerusalem fell and the Temple was destroyed in 70ad, Christians were no longer to keep the law as had Jesus Christ and the Apostles. So it is important to note that the Apostle John, the last surviving Apostle, wrote the book of Revelation <strong><em>after</em></strong> the Temple was destroyed. And in that book, he upheld the law of God! “Blessed are those who do His commandments, that they may have the right to the tree of life, and may enter through the gates into the city” (Revelation 22:14). John heard these words from God, and knew the importance of obeying Him: “And he who overcomes, and keeps My works until the end, to him I will give power over the nations” (Revelation 2:26). Clearly, Christians were keeping the law, living just as Jesus Christ did, long after the Temple was destroyed! Scholars concur. “The first Christians continued to observe the Jewish festivals [the biblically-taught festivals], though in a new spirit, as commemorations of events which those festivals had foreshadowed” (<em>Encyclopædia Britannica</em>, 11th ed., vol. 8, p. 828).</p> <h2>What Was First-Century Christianity Like?</h2> <p>Most professing Christians today have <em>no idea</em> what first-century Christianity was really like! Yet for decades—<strong><em>long</em></strong> after Christ’s death and resurrection and the disciples’ reception of the Holy Spirit—the true Christians all believed and practiced a way of life and worship <em>totally</em> <strong><em>different</em></strong> from professing Christianity today!</p> <p><strong><em>How</em></strong> was it different?</p> <p>As we saw earlier from Professor Davies, the early Christians “took for granted that the gospel was continuous with [the religion of Moses]; for them the New Covenant, which Jesus had set up at the Last Supper with His disciples… did not mean that the covenant made between God and Israel was no longer in force. They still observed the feasts of Passover, Pentecost and Tabernacles; they also continued to be circumcised, to keep the weekly Sabbath and the Mosaic regulations concerning food.”</p> <p>Subtly, but surely, Satan the devil has deceived most of today’s professing ministers into believing that Christianity was a “brand new religion”—seemingly <em>cut off</em> from the Old Testament and the teaching God gave through Moses. And although some may not be consciously aware of it, a definite <strong><em>anti</em></strong>-Jewish bias crept into early Christianity and has <em>continued to this day!</em></p> <p>But the biblical and historical facts show that Christianity was a continuation—an enlargement and “magnification” of the teachings God gave through Moses—<strong><em>not</em></strong>something brand new! As the Apostle Paul was inspired in the <em>New</em> Testament to explain to the Gentile Christians at Ephesus: “Now, therefore, you are no longer strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, having been built on the <strong><em>foundation</em></strong> of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief corner stone” (Ephesians 2:19–20). So a basic part of the very “foundation” of Christianity was the writings and teachings of the Old Testament prophets—those writings which Christ and the Apostles referred to as “Scripture” again and again!</p> <p>For Jesus Christ was a circumcised <em>Jew</em> (Luke 2:21–22; Hebrews 7:14). It was Jesus’ “custom” to keep the seventh-day Sabbath—right along with the other Jews (Luke 4:16). Far from abrogating God’s Sabbath, Jesus said that the Sabbath was made for “man”—<strong><em>not</em></strong> just the Jews, and that <em>He</em> was “Lord” of the Sabbath. So the Sabbath is, in fact, the true “Lord’s Day” as far as a day of rest and worship is concerned!</p> <p>Long after the crucifixion, it was the Apostle Paul’s “custom” also to keep the seventh-day Sabbath (Acts 17:2). We also find Paul observing the annual biblical festivals such as Pentecost (1 Corinthians 16:8), Passover and Unleavened Bread (1 Corinthians 5:7–8) and other festivals.</p> <p>The true Church of God—<em>named</em> “Church of God” <strong><em>12</em></strong> <strong><em>times</em></strong> in the New Testament—was itself started on the Day of Pentecost, one of the seven annual Sabbaths God gave Israel. At His second coming, Christ Himself will return at the “seventh trump” (Revelation 11:15)—pictured by the Feast of Trumpets, another one of the biblical Holy Days. And the Living Jesus Christ, who inspired the entire Bible, also inspired His servant Zechariah to explain that after Christ’s second coming the <strong><em>whole world </em></strong>will be observing the Feast of Tabernacles! (read carefully the entire 14th chapter of Zechariah). Also, during the soon-coming Millennial reign of Christ, Isaiah tells us, “‘And it shall come to pass that from one New Moon to another, and from one <strong><em>Sabbath</em></strong> to another, all flesh shall come to worship before Me,’ says the Lord” (Isaiah 66:23).</p> <p>So true Christians who observe the biblical Sabbaths and biblical festivals are, in fact, “pioneers.” They are not only following the “pattern” of the original Christianity taught and practiced by Jesus Christ; they are “pioneering” the <strong><em>Way</em></strong> <em>of life</em> which <strong><em>all</em></strong>nations will soon be learning in tomorrow’s world!</p> <p>For example, the seventh-day Sabbath pictures the reign of Christ during the coming seventh millennium of human history. It is the “rest” which God commanded from the beginning (Hebrews 4:4). That is why Paul was inspired to write, “There remains therefore a rest for the people of God” (v. 9). It is important to realize that the Greek word here translated “rest” is <em>sabbatismos</em>—the “keeping of a Sabbath”—whereas <em>katapausin</em> is the normal Greek word for taking rest and is the word used throughout the rest of Hebrews 4.</p> <p>Incidentally, if you would like full, documented <strong><em>proof</em></strong> that Christians today should keep the biblical Sabbath, then write for our powerful and absolutely vital booklet, <em>Which Day is the Christian Sabbath?</em> It will be sent to you at no charge upon your request. Just write or call us at the address nearest you listed at the end of this booklet.</p> <p>God’s Sabbath and His annual Holy Days picture His great <strong><em>Plan.</em></strong> But true Christianity, of course, involves far more than keeping the biblical Sabbaths. As we have already intimated, it involves an entire <strong><em>Way</em></strong> <em>of life</em> based on Jesus’ example and His teaching, “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by <strong><em>every</em></strong> Word of God” (Luke 4:4).</p> <h2>Jesus MAGNIFIED God’s Law</h2> <p>In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus certainly did <strong><em>not</em></strong> “do away” with God’s spiritual law (Matthew 5:17). Rather, He “magnified” the Ten Commandments. He explained that we must not only refrain from killing other human beings, we must not even look on them with contempt or hatred (vv. 20–23), as that is the “spirit” of <strong><em>murder.</em></strong>We are <strong><em>not</em></strong> to “hate” even our enemies. As Jesus said clearly: “But I say to you, <strong><em>love</em></strong> your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you” (v. 44).</p> <p>We are <strong><em>never</em></strong> to commit adultery. But, as Jesus clearly said: “You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I say to you that whoever <strong><em>looks</em></strong> at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart” (vv. 27–28).</p> <p>The early Christians were taught that they should <strong><em>give</em></strong> in a very private manner—<strong><em>not</em></strong> showing off, or having a big “foundation” in their own name to perpetuate <em>their </em>honor in the giving (Matthew 6:1–4). True Christians were to <strong><em>pray</em></strong> <em>regularly</em> and <em>privately—</em><strong><em>not</em></strong> showing off their oratorical skills before men or using certain words or phrases over and over in “vain repetition” (vv. 5–13). And true Christians certainly would <strong><em>fast</em></strong> regularly (vv. 16–18), following biblical examples of doing without food and water in order to humble the self and get closer to the invisible God as Jesus did (Matthew 4), Moses did (Deuteronomy 9:9, 18) and the Apostle Paul did (Acts 9:9).</p> <p>In our materialistic age, we need to understand that the <em>original </em>Christians did not allow themselves to be overcome by the desires for money, or material things as most professing Christians do today (Matthew 6:19–20). As Jesus later warned His followers: “Now he who received seed among the thorns is he who hears the word, and the cares of this world and the deceitfulness of riches choke the word, and he becomes unfruitful” (Matthew 13:22). Rather, as the book of Acts explains: “Now the multitude of those who believed were of one heart and one soul; neither did anyone say that any of the things he possessed was his own, but they had all things in common” (Acts 4:32).</p> <p>First century Christianity was squarely based on the teachings of the “law and prophets”—except for those animal sacrifices and washings which pre-figured the sacrifice of Christ and the cleansing of the Holy Spirit. These sacrifices and washings were made obsolete (Hebrews 9:9–12). But the <em>spiritual</em> <strong><em>laws</em></strong> of God were <strong><em>never</em></strong> done away. Rather, as Jesus’ beloved disciple John was inspired to write: “Here is the patience of the saints; here are those who keep the <strong><em>commandments</em></strong> of God and the faith of Jesus” (Revelation 14:12).</p> <h2>A View of First-Century Christianity</h2> <p>If you could somehow “look in on” true Christianity during the first century and even beyond, what would you see? You would see a group of dedicated believers in Jesus as the promised Messiah. You would see a community of believers to whom the God of Israel, the God of Creation, was <strong><em>real.</em></strong> For these people would not just talk about the <em>person</em> of Jesus Christ. They would <strong><em>do</em></strong> <em>what He commanded.</em></p> <p>With Christ living in them through the promised Holy Spirit, they would keep <strong><em>all ten</em></strong>of the Ten Commandments as a <strong><em>way</em></strong> <em>of life.</em> As they learned to <strong><em>“grow</em></strong> in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 3:18), there would be in their community <strong><em>no crime—</em></strong>no murder, rape, robbery or assault. No fornication or adultery. And except in rare incidents of sexual misconduct, there would be no divorce and remarriage (Matthew 5:32). Obviously, such Christians would have in their society <strong><em>no </em></strong>pornography and <strong><em>no</em></strong> gross sex and violence of <strong><em>any</em></strong> kind in their “entertainment”—whether in books, plays, or (among today’s Christians) television, movies, computer games or the Internet. Rather, all these dedicated, wholesome families would be <strong><em>obeying</em></strong> their “Lord,” not just using His name while they contradicted by their lifestyle everything He taught (Luke 6:46). They would be resting and worshiping God on the <em>seventh-day</em> Sabbath as He commanded—constantly being reminded by this biblical day of worship that the <em>true</em> God is the <strong><em>Creator</em></strong> of all that is (Exodus 20:8–11).</p> <p>True Christians, for instance, would <strong><em>never</em></strong> be found fighting or butchering their fellow Christians—as has happened over and over again in the last few centuries in France, Belgium, Germany and Italy. In first century Christianity, the members of God’s Church <strong><em>never</em></strong> prayed to dead, so-called “saints” or to idols. They <strong><em>never</em></strong>worshiped the Virgin Mary. Of course, they understood that as a normal wife, Mary had <em>at least</em> <strong><em>six</em></strong> other children by her husband after Jesus’ supernatural birth had taken place (Matthew 13:55–56).</p> <p>In first century Christianity, the dedicated ministers and elders in the Church of God were primarily husbands and fathers (1 Timothy 3:1–5; Titus 1:5–9). They were taught that in “latter times” some would be <strong><em>deceived</em></strong> by “doctrines of demons” into thinking it was wrong for men—certainly including ministers or priests—to marry (1 Timothy 4:1–3). Meeting regularly in plain surroundings on the day God made holy, <em>His </em>Sabbath, God’s ministers were instructed: “Preach the <strong><em>word!</em></strong> Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to <strong><em>fables”</em></strong> (2 Timothy 4:2–4).</p> <p>Indeed, as we have seen, mankind has been turned aside to “fables.” Today, in dark, dank, foreboding cathedrals, priests and ministers in strange-looking “Mother Hubbard” gowns go through incomprehensible rituals, chant prayers and responsive readings—and expound the Bible itself very seldom. They have <em>very little</em> to say about the <strong><em>way</em></strong> <em>of life</em> which Christ and the Apostles taught or about the one-fourth of the Bible which was <em>prophetic,</em> or about the true <strong><em>purpose</em></strong> which God is working out here on earth.</p> <p>As the New Testament makes plain, first century Christians would be “feeding on Christ” (John 6:57) by constant <em>study</em> of the Bible. Remember God’s description of the Bereans? “These were more fair-minded than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness, and <strong><em>searched</em></strong> <em>the Scriptures daily</em> to find out whether these things were so” (Acts 17:11).</p> <p>First century Christians, then, would be trying sincerely, with God’s promised help, to <strong><em>live</em></strong> by every Word of God. They would be following Christ’s example of obedience to God’s laws—<strong><em>not</em></strong> the ways, the rituals or the religious festivals learned from the pagans around them.</p> <p>Again, they would not only believe in the <em>person</em> of Jesus Christ, but they would <em>believe</em> and <strong><em>practice</em></strong> what He taught: “If anyone loves Me, he will keep My <strong><em>word;</em></strong>and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home with him” (John 14:23). And they would believe what the Apostle John wrote near the end of the Apostolic Age: “Therefore let that abide in you which you heard <em>from the</em><strong><em>beginning.</em></strong> If what you heard from the beginning abides in you, you also will abide in the Son and in the Father” (1 John 2:24).</p> <p>Most first century Christians would have deeply understood the fundamental teaching of the Apostle Paul: “I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ <strong><em>liveth</em></strong> in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me” (Galatians 2:20, <em>KJV).</em> The Bible makes it clear that “Jesus Christ is the <strong><em>same</em></strong> yesterday, today and forever” (Hebrews 13:8).</p> <p>So true Christians—<em>through Christ living in them</em>—would be <strong><em>obeying</em></strong> the Ten Commandments as Jesus did, keeping the seventh-day Sabbath and biblical Holy Days as Jesus did and following the entire <strong><em>way</em></strong> <em>of life</em> modeled by Jesus Christ and the original Apostles whom He taught. As they worshiped together, sang together and <em>served </em>one another, they would have been filled with <strong><em>love</em></strong>—with worship and adoration toward the Great God, and with kindness and out-flowing concern toward one another.</p> <p>For Christ would be living within them His loving, serving and obedient life. And they would be filled with and led by God’s Spirit (Romans 8:14). That very love of God flows down the riverbed of the Ten Commandments. As Jesus’ beloved Apostle explains: “For this <em>is</em> the <strong><em>love</em></strong> of God, that we <strong><em>keep his commandments.</em></strong> And His commandments are not burdensome” (1 John 5:3).</p> <h2>HOW Was the Truth Lost?</h2> <p>Some teach that their denomination was given the authority to change Christ’s teachings, and that by this authority its members need no longer obey Christ’s commandments or follow His example. The largest professing Christian sect calls itself “universal” and claims to trace its human leadership back to the Apostle Peter—from whom it claims the authority to change biblical doctrines, even though Peter himself never did so.</p> <p>Sincere members of that church would be shocked to learn that many of those who today call themselves Christians can trace their faith not to Peter, but to Simon Magus, mentioned in Acts 8! This Simon Magus was at the heart of the apostasy that turned much of the first-century Church away from Christ’s teachings.</p> <p>Scripture recounts that all of Samaria gave heed to Simon Magus as someone great, calling him “the great power of God” (Acts 8:9–10). That phrase represents Simon’s “claim to be the bearer of divine revelation” (<em>The New Testament Environment</em>, Lohse, p. 269). Simon received baptism and became a nominal Christian, but the Apostle Peter recognized Simon as being “poisoned by bitterness and bound by iniquity” (Acts 8:23). Simon’s Samaritan religion was also greatly influenced by Greek philosophy, and early Christian writers reviled him<em>. Eerdman’s Handbook to the History of Christianity</em> notes: “Early Christian writers regarded Simon as the fount of all heresies” (p. 100). The <em>Encyclopaedia Britannica</em> (11th ed.) in its article on Simon Magus identifies him as the “founder of a school of Gnostics and as a father of heresy.” Noted historian Edward Gibbon says the Gnostics “blended with the faith of Christ many sublime but obscure tenets which they derived from oriental philosophy” (<em>The Triumph of Christendom in the Roman Empire</em>, p. 15).</p> <p>Simon Magus and others sought to create a syncretistic faith, mixing popular devotions with their philosophies, and adding a covering of Christ’s words, to create a religion that could win mass acceptance. As noted historian Will Durant wrote:</p> <blockquote> <p>“Christianity did not destroy paganism; it adopted it. The Greek mind, dying, came to a transmigrated life in the theology and liturgy of the Church; the Greek language, having reigned for centuries over philosophy, became the vehicle of Christian literature and ritual; the Greek mysteries passed down into the impressive mystery of the Mass. Other pagan cultures contributed to the syncretist result. From Egypt came the ideas of a divine trinity… and a personal immortality of reward and punishment; from Egypt the adoration of the Mother and Child, and the mystic theosophy that made Neoplatonism and Gnosticism, and obscured the Christian creed; there, too, Christian monasticism would find its exemplars and its source. From Phrygia came the worship of the Great Mother; from Syria the resurrection drama of Adonis; from Thrace, perhaps, the cult of Dionysus, the dying and saving god.… The Mithraic ritual so closely resembled the eucharistic sacrifice of the Mass that Christian fathers charged the Devil with inventing these similarities to mislead frail minds. Christianity was the last great creation of the ancient pagan world.… [The Eucharist] was a conception long sanctified by time; the pagan mind needed no schooling to receive it; by embodying the ‘mystery of the Mass,’ Christianity became the last and greatest of the mystery religions” (<em>The Story of Civilization</em>, Vol. 5, Durant, pp. 595, 599).</p> </blockquote> <p>In the fourth century after Christ, the Roman emperor Constantine adopted Christianity as his religion. More properly, one might say that he “adapted” it, since what went by the name of “Christianity” was <strong><em>dramatically</em></strong> transformed under his imperial influence.</p> <p>Under Constantine’s direction, the Council of Nicaea was held in 325ad. Though he had not yet been baptized, Constantine presided over the council’s opening session and took part in its discussions, believing that it was his duty as emperor to oversee the establishment of doctrine for the church. But was Constantine presiding over the council as a former pagan now turned Christian, or did he use the Council of Nicaea to infuse his pagan background into what would become “official” Christianity? Respected historian Paul Johnson has observed the following regarding Constantine’s religious views:</p> <blockquote> <p>“There is some doubt about the magnitude of Constantine’s change of ideas.… He himself appears to have been a sun-worshipper, one of a number of late-pagan cults which had observances in common with the Christians. Thus the followers of Isis adored a madonna nursing her holy child; the cult of Attis and Cybele celebrated a day of blood and fasting, followed by the Hilaria resurrection-feast, a day of joy, on 25 March; the elitist Mithraics, many of whom were senior army officers, ate a sacred meal. Constantine was almost certainly a Mithraic, and his triumphal arch, built after his ‘conversion,’ testifies to the Sun-god, or ‘unconquered sun.’ Many Christians did not make a clear distinction between this sun-cult and their own. They referred to Christ ‘driving his chariot across the sky,’ they held their services on Sunday, knelt towards the East and had their nativity-feast on 25 December, the birthday of the sun at the winter solstice. During the later pagan revival under the Emperor Julian many Christians found it easy to apostatize because of this confusion; the Bishop of Troy told Julian he had always prayed secretly to the sun. Constantine never abandoned sun-worship and kept the sun on his coins. He made Sunday into a day of rest.…” (<em>A History of Christianity</em>, Johnson, 1976, pp. 67–­69).</p> </blockquote> <p>If you read the above historical quotes carefully, you will understand that—during the appropriately named “Dark Ages”—nearly all the aspects of <strong><em>paganism</em></strong> were introduced into professing Christianity. False concepts of the “mystery of the mass,” the <em>worship</em> of the Virgin Mary patterned <em>directly</em> after the worship of the pagan goddesses, the idea of a “little Lord Jesus” being born on December 25, calling it “Christmas” and connecting it with all the pagan rituals of the Saturnalia—all these <strong><em>false</em></strong> concepts and more were woven into what became “mainstream” Christianity.</p> <p>Centuries later, the Protestant “reformers” were able to see a <strong><em>few</em></strong> of the problems of this Roman religion. But most of these pagan concepts were so thoroughly inculcated into their minds that the reformers made only a very few “surface” changes.</p> <h2>The “Reformation” Reformed Very Little</h2> <p>Martin Luther—the “father” of the Reformation—and other reformers still held hostile attitudes against all things “Jewish,” including the Sabbath of Jesus Christ, the annual festivals and, in fact, literal obedience to the Ten Commandments. That is one reason Martin Luther presumptuously added something to God’s own Word! In Luther’s translation of the New Testament, he deliberately added the word “alone” to Romans 3:28. Luther was so adamant against the necessity of obeying God’s law—confusing it perhaps with Catholic canon law and Catholic rituals—<em>that he added a word to God’s inspired revelation</em>!</p> <p>Romans 3:28 in the <em>New King James Version </em>reads: “Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith apart from the deeds of the law.” Luther added the word “alone” (<em>sola</em> in Latin) so that in his German-language New Testament the phrase became “justified by faith alone”—a plainly wrong change without support in the text. When one critic raised an objection to his changing Scripture, Luther haughtily replied: “Should your Pope give himself any useless annoyance about the word <em>sola</em>, you may promptly reply: ‘It is the will of Dr. Martin Luther that it should be so.’” (John Alzog, <em>Manual of Universal Church History</em>, Dublin: M.H. Gill and Son, 1902, p. 199). And, we may add on good authority, no other reason for such unscriptural changes as these was ever given. When it came to Luther’s own personal doctrinal convictions, Martin Luther was truly a <em>self-willed</em> man.</p> <p>His third tractate of 1520, <em>On Christian Liberty,</em> asserts that a Christian man is spiritually <em>subject to no man or to any law.</em> He contended that since we are justified by <em>faith alone,</em> we are no longer under obligation to keep the law of God.</p> <p>And, as is well known, Luther called the book of James an “epistle of straw” because James clearly taught the necessity of obedience to the Ten Commandments! Notice James 2:10–12: “For whoever shall keep the whole law, and yet stumble in one point, he is guilty of all. For He who said, ‘Do not commit adultery,’ also said, ‘Do not murder.’ Now if you do not commit adultery, but you do murder, you have become a transgressor of the law. <em>So speak and so </em><strong><em>do</em></strong><em> as those who will be judged by the law of liberty.”</em></p> <p>It is exceedingly clear in this passage of inspired Scripture that James is talking about the ten “points” of the Ten Commandments. He tells Christians to keep the <strong><em>whole</em></strong> law. James then concludes by teaching <em>New</em> Testament Christians to “speak and to <strong><em>do”</em></strong> as those who will be <strong><em>judged</em></strong> by God’s law.</p> <p>So although often sincere, the Protestant reformers carried over most of the anti-law, anti-obedience attitudes they had come to adopt in their rebellion against “Mother Rome.” Yet, like Rome, they were still involved in a paganized system of false doctrines, wrong Holy Days and false concepts of God, which God Himself describes in Revelation 17:4–5: “The woman was arrayed in purple and scarlet, and adorned with gold and precious stones and pearls, having in her hand a golden cup full of abominations and the filthiness of her fornication. And on her forehead a name was written: MYSTERY, BABYLON THE GREAT, THE MOTHER OF HARLOTS AND OF THE ABOMINATIONS OF THE EARTH.”</p> <p>As this form of “Christianity” became the state religion, masses of former pagans “converted.” Many did so out of convenience rather than conviction, and kept their old beliefs privately. Others came to the new syncretistic faith uneducated in its beliefs, and able to receive only the most basic instruction.</p> <h2>A PAGANIZED “Christianity”</h2> <p>The church gained from Constantine and the Empire not just new doctrines, but new organization. Rome had a long-standing imperial cult, and its practices found a home in this compromised Christianity. Will Durant observes:</p> <blockquote> <p>“Christianity… grew by the absorption of pagan faith and ritual; it became a triumphant Church by inheriting the organizing patterns and genius of Rome.… As Judea had given Christianity ethics, and Greece had given it theology, so now Rome gave it organization; all these, with a dozen absorbed and rival faiths, entered into the Christian synthesis. It was not merely that the Church took over some religious customs and forms common in pre-Christian Rome—the stole and other vestments of pagan priests, the use of incense and holy water in purifications, the burning of candles and an everlasting light before the altar, the worship of the saints, the architecture of the basilica, the law of Rome as a basis for canon law, the title of Pontifex Maximus for the Supreme Pontiff, and, in the fourth century, the Latin language as the noble and enduring vehicle of Catholic ritual. The Roman gift was above all a vast framework of government, which, as secular authority failed, became the structure of ecclesiastical rule. Soon the bishops, rather than the Roman prefects, would be the source of order and the seat of power in the cities; the metropolitans, or archbishops, would support, if not supplant, the provincial governors; and the synod of bishops would succeed the provincial assembly. The Roman Church followed in the footsteps of the Roman state; it conquered the provinces, beautified the capital, and established discipline and unity from frontier to frontier. Rome died in giving birth to the Church; the Church matured by inheriting and accepting the responsibilities of Rome” (<em>The Story of Civilization</em>, Vol. 5, Durant, pp. 575, 618–619).</p> </blockquote> <p>As new and false elements were added to this “Christianity,” the authentic elements were crowded out. Sometimes this occurred because of anti-Semitic feelings. Since Jesus Christ was physically from the tribe of Judah, many Gnostics denied His bodily appearance—they refused to accept that their God had been from this much-despised tribe. Others perverted Christ’s teachings because they hated the nation from which those teachings came. They knew that Christians kept the “Jewish” Holy Days and adhered to other practices that pagan observers found offensive. Early church historian Eusebius wrote of those who, holding this sentiment, sought to replace the New Testament Passover that Christ kept with the Easter festival drawn from Ishtar-worship:</p> <blockquote> <p>“It appeared an unworthy thing that in the celebration of this most holy feast we should follow the practice of the Jews [of keeping Passover on the 14th of Nisan], who have impiously defiled their hands with enormous sin, and are, therefore, deservedly afflicted with blindness of soul.… Let us then have nothing in common with the detestable Jewish crowd; for we have received from our Savior a different way.… Beloved brethren, let us with one consent adopt this course, and withdraw ourselves from all participation in their baseness.… For how should they be capable of forming a sound judgment, who, since their… guilt in slaying their Lord, have been subject to the direction, not of reason, but of… every impulse of the mad spirit that is in them?… Strive and pray continually that the purity of your soul may not seem in anything to be sullied by fellowship with the custom of these most wicked men.… All should unite in desiring that which sound reason appears to demand, avoiding all participation in the perjured conduct of the Jews” (Eusebius, <em>The Life of Constantine</em>, bk. 3, chaps. 18–19, <em>Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers</em>, 1979, vol. 1, pp. 524–525).</p> </blockquote> <h2>A Far “Different” Way</h2> <p>Yes, many taught that “we have received from our Savior a different way.” But that way is not found in the Bible. Instead, it is found in the customs of the Greeks and Romans and other European converts who adopted Christianity on the surface but kept their old ways. With the passage of time, these old ways overwhelmed the teachings of Jesus Christ and the Apostles, as discussed by John Romer below:</p> <blockquote> <p>“Subtly, so subtly that the bishops themselves had not seen them, the old gods had entered their churches like the air of the Mediterranean. And they live still in Christian ritual, in the iconography and the festivals of Christianity. When Julian arrived in Antioch in 362… the great Christian city was in mourning, bewailing in the Levantine manner the annual death of Adonis, Venus’s beautiful lover. At Ephesus, though the sanctuary of Diana, goddess of the city, was taken down… her statues were carefully buried in dry sand. And when the Third Council of the church assembly at Ephesus solemnly voted that henceforth the Virgin Mary should be honoured with the title of Theotokos, the God-bearer, Ephesus, itself for centuries the city of the virgin hunter Diana, became the city of the Virgin Mary, the Mother of God. In Egypt, too, the ancient sign of life, the ankh, which the gods had carried in their sculptures for thousands of years, was easily transformed into the Christian cross; the figure of Isis nursing her child Horus, Isis Lactans, became the figure of the Virgin with Jesus at her breast.… At Rome, Romulus and Remus were swapped for the biblical saints Peter and Paul. And still in the fifth century, the Pope had to stop the early morning congregation of St Peter’s from walking up the church steps backwards so as not to offend Sol, the rising sun god. Similarly, 25 December, now Christ’s birthday, was also the day of Sol Invictus’ festival and Constantine’s birthday. This festival was celebrated by cutting green branches and hanging little lights on them, and presents were given out in the god’s name. Sol’s weekly festival Sol-day—Sunday—became the Christian Sabbath. Just as Apollo of Delphi had made a beautiful transformation to become the Roman Sol Invictus, so later he became a Christ of the sun. All three of them are sometimes pictured in their fiery chariots… with… radiant haloes” (<em>Testament: The Bible and History</em>, Romer, 1988, pp. 230–31).</p> </blockquote> <p>So we can see that true Christianity has been opposed from the very beginning by those who would turn it away from the true God whose commandments Jesus Christ upheld. But many of today’s professing Christians do not realize just where those commandments came from, and who proclaimed them on Mount Sinai.</p> <h2>The God of the Old Testament</h2> <p>In Matthew 22:42–45, Jesus challenged the religious leaders: “‘What do you think about the Christ? Whose Son is He?’ They said to Him, ‘The Son of David.’ He said to them, ‘How then does David in the Spirit call Him “Lord,” saying: “The Lord said to my Lord, ‘Sit at My right hand, Till I make Your enemies Your footstool’”? If David then calls Him “Lord,” how is He his Son?’” The Pharisees were not able to answer. For they knew that King David of Israel certainly had no <em>human</em> “lord.” This scripture had to be describing <em>two personalities</em> in God’s Family—one greater than the other. And, as should be obvious to us, David’s <em>immediate</em> “Lord”—the one who later became Jesus of Nazareth—was told to sit at the right hand of the Father <strong><em>until</em></strong> it was time for Him to become King of kings.</p> <p>Yet the Jews had known that the coming Messiah was to be a literal “son of David.” How could this one also be David’s “Lord,” but have a still “greater” Lord telling Him what to do?</p> <p>In 1 Corinthians 10:1–4, we read that ancient Israel was baptized into Moses and they all “ate the same spiritual food, and all drank the same spiritual drink. For they drank of that spiritual <strong><em>rock</em></strong> that followed them, and that <strong><em>rock</em></strong> was Christ.” Again, it is clear—as a number of Bible commentaries acknowledge—that the spirit Personality who dealt with ancient Israel was the One who became Christ. For, as we have seen, Jesus said that “no one” had ever seen “God”—obviously meaning the One we call the Father.</p> <p>Yet, right after giving the Ten Commandments and some of the statutes to ancient Israel, we find that the “God of Israel” did indeed appear to some of Israel’s leaders! “Then Moses went up, also Aaron, Nadab, and Abihu, and seventy of the elders of Israel, and they saw the God of Israel. And there was under His feet as it were a paved work of sapphire stone, and it was like the very heavens in its clarity. But on the nobles of the children of Israel He did not lay His hand. So they saw God, and they ate and drank” (Exodus 24:9–11). So more than 70 of the leaders of Israel <strong><em>“saw </em></strong>the God of Israel”—<strong><em>not</em></strong> God the Father, but the “Word” who later became Jesus Christ (John 1:1–12). Could anything be more clear?</p> <p>It was the One who became Jesus Christ who literally walked and talked with Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. <em>He</em> was the One who dealt directly with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. <em>He</em> was the One who spoke “face to face” with Moses (Numbers 12:8). <em>He</em> was the One who spoke the Ten Commandments from the top of Mount Sinai! <em>He</em> was the One who commanded the seventh-day Sabbath.</p> <p>If all professing Christians were taught the <strong><em>truth</em></strong> that the One who became their Savior is the One who gave the Ten Commandments, perhaps their actions would be quite different. The world would be a <strong><em>much</em></strong> safer place! All would realize that true Christianity is a <strong><em>law abiding</em></strong> religion—a <strong><em>way</em></strong> of life based on the great spiritual law of God. They would learn that—although <em>no one</em> is suddenly perfect, and we are commanded to <strong><em>grow</em></strong> in Christ’s character—it is possible to follow Christ’s inspired example through His Spirit within us.</p> <h2>How Can a Christian Live as Christ Did?</h2> <p>The Bible makes it plain that Christians are to keep God’s commandments. The Apostle John wrote: “Now by this we know that we know Him, if we keep His commandments. He who says, ‘I know Him,’ and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him. But whoever keeps His word, truly the love of God is perfected in him. By this we know that we are in Him. He who says he abides in Him ought himself also to walk just as He walked” (1 John 2:3–6).</p> <p>But how can Christians walk “just as He walked”? If Jesus Christ had to come and give His life because all have violated God’s law, how can anyone keep that law? Again, perhaps the most concise explanation was given by the Apostle Paul. “I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, <em>but Christ</em> <strong><em>liveth</em></strong> <em>in me:</em> and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me” (Galatians 2:20, <em>KJV).</em></p> <p>A Christian does not obey the law on his own, but through the power of Christ living in Him. Paul goes on to emphasize that law-keeping comes through the grace of God, and that law-keeping does <strong><em>not</em></strong> earn grace. “I do not set aside the grace of God; for if righteousness comes through the law, then Christ died in vain” (Galatians 2:21). With God’s grace, a converted Christian <strong><em>will</em></strong> keep the law; but without that grace, <strong><em>no amount</em></strong> of effort will bring righteousness and salvation.</p> <h2>What Should a Christian Do?</h2> <p>One can recognize a true Christian as someone striving, through Christ’s help, to live by every word of God (cf. Matthew 4:4). “Therefore you shall be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect” (Matthew 5:48). By yielding to Jesus Christ, the fruits of the Spirit will become more and more evident in a Christian’s life.</p> <p>A Christian is more than someone who “knows” the truth. The Gnostics believed that “knowledge” brought salvation, and some today would deny that one has to “do” anything as a faithful Christian. Yet Scripture gives a very different instruction: “But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves” (James 1:22).</p> <p>Christians are to <strong><em>do</em></strong> as Christ did. In the “Great Commission” He instructed His followers: “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations… teaching them to observe <strong><em>all things</em></strong> that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:19–20). Christians are to take His message to “all the nations” and teach “all things” that He commanded! They were <strong><em>not</em></strong> to <strong><em>change</em></strong> His message so much that it is today almost unrecognizable!</p> <p>Sadly, many who call themselves Christians today—<em>even commandment-keeping Christians</em>—have turned inward. Saying that they must “prepare the bride” (the Church) for Christ’s return, they neglect the Bridegroom’s instructions. How can the Church “prepare” for His coming by neglecting His instruction to preach the Gospel of the Kingdom to <strong><em>all</em></strong> nations? (Matthew 24:14). It cannot! That is why the Living Church of God has sent you this booklet, and why we print booklets, magazines, a Bible study course and other publications. It is why we broadcast the <em>Tomorrow’s World</em> telecast. It is why we use the Internet and other tools that God provides to do His work as He opens doors for His Message to be given to the world as a witness before He returns!</p> <p>It is important that all our readers fully recognize that those of us in this Work—those of us on the staff of the <em>Tomorrow’s World</em> magazine, of the <em>Tomorrow’s World</em>television program and, indeed, all of us involved in this Work of the Living Church of God—are all dedicated to the task of <strong><em>restoring the original Christianity taught and practiced by Jesus Christ and His Apostles!</em></strong></p> <p>As you read our articles and booklets, and as you view the <em>Tomorrow’s World </em>program, it is vital that you recognize “where we are coming from.” For we intend to continue to preach and teach the <strong><em>same message</em></strong> that Jesus and the early Apostles did. We intend to restore—in all of its spiritual aspects—the way of life that Jesus and the Apostles lived and taught. Also, guided by God’s Spirit, we will continue to preach the inspired prophecies of the Bible and warn those willing to listen of what lies ahead.</p> <p>As the time of God’s intervention in human affairs and the soon-coming <strong><em>Great Tribulation</em></strong> approaches, it is absolutely vital that you and your loved ones make sure that you truly belong to Jesus Christ—the Christ of the Bible—that you are worshiping God “in spirit and in truth” (John 4:23), and that you are part of the true Church of God which teaches and practices the Christianity of Jesus and the original Apostles. “He who has an ear, let him hear” (Revelation 3:13).</p></div> <div class="field field--name-field-booklet-category field--type-entity-reference field--label-above"> <div class="field__label">Booklet Category</div> <div class="field__items"> <div class="field__item"><a href="/taxonomy/term/9" hreflang="en">Christian Living</a></div> <div class="field__item"><a href="/taxonomy/term/16" hreflang="en">Doctrine</a></div> <div class="field__item"><a href="/taxonomy/term/6" hreflang="en">False Religion</a></div> </div> </div> Mon, 28 Feb 2022 21:09:27 +0000 4uwzvo 30 at God’s Plan for Happy Marriage <span>God’s Plan for Happy Marriage</span> <div class="field field--name-field-title field--type-string field--label-hidden field__item">God’s Plan for Happy Marriage</div> <span><span lang="" about="/user/1" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="">4uwzvo</span></span> <span>Wed, 03/02/2022 - 16:53</span> <div class="field field--name-field-booklet-author field--type-list-string field--label-hidden field__items"> <div class="field__item">Roderick C. Meredith (1930-2017)</div> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-booklet-media field--type-entity-reference field--label-above"> <div class="field__label">Booklet Media</div> <div class="field__item"><div> <div class="field field--name-field-media-image field--type-image field--label-visually_hidden"> <div class="field__label visually-hidden"><a href="">Image</a></div> <div class="field__item"> <a href=""><img src="/sites/default/files/styles/large/public/2022-02/hm-gods_plan_for_happy_marriage_2.0.2-cover.png?itok=zwZqz6Zy" alt="A couple getting married" loading="lazy" typeof="Image" /></a> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-booklet-teaser field--type-string field--label-hidden field__item">There really are “keys” and time-tested principles which can help produce truly JOYOUS marriages! Our success in marriage depends upon our willingness to USE these keys in our own lives.</div> <div class="field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary field--label-hidden field__item"><h2>Preface</h2> <p>Scores of women have told me, with tears in their eyes: “My husband just won’t talk to me! He is distant. He won’t share things with me anymore. Even though we share the same house and the same food, I feel so <strong><em>alone</em></strong> most of the time!”</p> <p>The breakdown of marriage and family in western societies is by now legendary. The statistics are terrible, but would be much worse were it not for the millions of couples choosing to live together nowadays <em>without</em> benefit of marriage. Since there never was a marriage, neither is there a recorded divorce if these couples break up—which they do even more quickly than those who bothered to get married.</p> <p>Even so, Associated Press recently reported that some 19.4 million American adults are currently divorced, representing 9.8 percent of the population. So nearly one out of ten American adults is now divorced! However, of course, many others were <em>previously divorced</em> but have since remarried. By any estimate, tens of millions of Americans have at one time or another gone through the trauma of divorce, and other tens of millions have been deeply hurt by divorce: children, close relatives, friends and associates. It is sad to say, but divorce is “as American as apple pie!”</p> <h3>What Does GOD Say?</h3> <p>But what does <strong><em>God</em></strong> have to say about divorce and about the real <em>meaning</em> and <strong><em>purpose</em></strong> of marriage? This is vital to understand. For history shows us that <em>any </em>nation whose society allows or causes its families to come apart soon begins to disintegrate. Most historians note that “the breakdown of the family” was one of the symptoms, if not <em>causes</em>, of the fall of the Roman Empire. And in our newspapers, we read countless articles describing how young people in fatherless homes tend to turn to drugs, illicit sex and crime <em>far more</em> than do those raised in stable families.</p> <p>In fact, roughly 20 million American children under 18 years of age in the United States live with just one parent. This represents 28 percent of all children. The <em>majority</em> of these—84 percent—live with their mother. In other words, approximately 17 <strong><em>million</em></strong> American children live in fatherless homes!</p> <p><em>No wonder </em>youth crime has been spiraling upward for decades. <em>No wonder</em> our world has produced an entire generation of young people seemingly unafraid to do wrong. They seem to have no conscience. They are absolutely blatant in their sarcasm and in their rebellion against the rules of society and against the laws of God. As many have observed, this is the <strong><em>“in your face”</em></strong> generation. In a dual prophecy that certainly refers, in type, to our day, the prophet Isaiah was inspired to write: “I will give children to be their princes, and babes shall rule over them. The people will be oppressed, every one by another and every one by his neighbor; the child will be insolent toward the elder, and the base toward the honorable” (Isaiah 3:4–5).</p> <p>In the New Testament, the Apostle Paul describes that “in the last days perilous times will come: for men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good, traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having a form of godliness but denying its power. And from such people turn away!” (2 Timothy 3:1–5). Such people who are unthankful, unholy, unforgiving and disobedient to parents are <strong><em>very unlikely</em></strong> to have strong, stable, loving marriages!</p> <p>What we all need, then, are “keys” to building <strong><em>God</em></strong>-centered marriages, and principles as to how <em>He</em> would have us live together joyously as husbands and wives. The following are just such godly principles gleaned from more than 50 years in pastoral and family counseling, much reading and studying, and more than 45 years of happy marriage.</p> <p> </p> <h2>Chapter One</h2> <h3>Build a God-Centered Marriage</h3> <p>“Unless the Lord builds the house, they labor in vain who build it” (Psalm 127:1). Many of you reading this may need to go back and re-prove to yourselves the <strong><em>reality</em></strong> of God! For we certainly did <strong><em>not</em></strong> just “happen.” Our human minds were obviously created by something greater than ourselves. The pervasive <strong><em>laws</em></strong> all around us—such as the laws of gravity, inertia and thermodynamics—all demand a great <strong><em>Lawgiver.</em></strong> The magnificent designs of our human bodies, and of the plants, animals and heavenly bodies, all demand a great <strong><em>Designer.</em></strong> The inspired prophecies of the Bible, which <em>have been</em> and now <em>are being</em> fulfilled, all demand the reality of a personal God—a God who sits at the controls of the universe and actually <strong><em>intervenes</em></strong> in His creation—a God who is working out a supreme <strong><em>purpose </em></strong>here on earth!</p> <p>As you come to know that very real God, you will increasingly understand that He really does know what is best for you, and for every area of your life<em>, certainly including your marriage</em>. For <em>He</em> is the One who <strong><em>Creator</em></strong> us male and female. He is the One who created our bodies and minds, and who <em>specifically designed</em> the differences between us and even the different ways men and women think and view the world around them.</p> <p>The Great <strong><em>Creator</em></strong> made man and woman for one another. He certainly knows better than <strong><em>all</em></strong> the psychologists and marriage counselors put together how our bodies and minds work, and how we can best relate to one another in marriage. The Holy Bible tells us, “and the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being” (Genesis 2:7). A little later we read, “and the Lord God said, ‘It is not good that man should be alone; I will make him a helper comparable to him'” (v. 18).</p> <p>Man alone is <strong><em>not</em></strong> complete. Adam felt that incompleteness and that utter loneliness. He had <em>no one</em> of his kind to talk to or to share things with. He <em>had no one</em> to love and to cherish, to have and to hold—<em>no one</em> with whom, to the depths of his being, he could feel that he really belonged.</p> <p>Our Heavenly Father understood this.</p> <p>So God put Adam to sleep and <em>literally</em> took one of Adam’s ribs and made it into a woman! Of course, God <em>could</em> have done it another way. But He chose to show both male and female that we ultimately belong together. So God took something from Adam’s side, near Adam’s heart, and made Eve. “And Adam said: ‘This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man'” (v. 23).</p> <p>In the original Hebrew language, this verse reads: “She shall be called <em>Ishah</em> [from <em>Ish</em>] because she was taken out of <em>Ish</em> [man].” And so God made a “helper” comparable to Adam” (v. 20)—one to whom he could truly relate and share his thoughts, his plans, his hopes and dreams.</p> <h3>God’s Purpose in Marriage</h3> <p>It is vital that we understand from the very beginning that man and woman were <strong><em>created</em></strong> by God. They were to share life together in love. Yet the woman was made to be a “helper” to the man. She was made <em>from</em> man and—despite all the pronouncements of the modern “experts”—a woman can find her greatest joy and fulfillment in relating to, helping, supplementing and assisting her husband in their life together, in bearing children, and in managing a household.</p> <p>A very real Satan the Devil is doing all he can to <strong><em>obliterate</em></strong> this concept from the minds of young people today. Through the psychologists and marriage counselors, through the media and even through the educational system, Satan is busily attacking God’s plan for the family. He is vigorously <em>pumping</em> out the concept that mankind was <strong><em>not</em></strong> created by a real God. He wants us to believe that we just “happened” to evolve, that there is no supreme <strong><em>purpose</em></strong> for our lives, and that men and women are <strong><em>not</em></strong> essentially different in many ways, so it <em>does not make any difference</em> as to the roles they play and which one is the <em>leader</em> in the family.</p> <p>Now, Satan has even begun to influence certain segments of our society to accept the idea that a “family” need <strong><em>not</em></strong> consist of a husband and wife. It may be two or more people of the same sex just “living together.” However, <strong><em>if</em></strong> you believe the Bible, notice what Jesus said about marriage: “Have you not read that He who made them at the beginning made them male and female, and said, ‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.’ So then, they are no longer two but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let not man separate” (Matthew 19:4–6). Jesus puts God squarely in the picture. He shows that God did create the first woman for the first man. He then caused them to come together, as man and wife, to become “one flesh” in this God-ordained relationship. God intends all marriages since to follow this example.</p> <p>Jesus explained that only because of the “hardness” of their hearts did God permit a husband and wife to divorce. And that was only for sexual immorality. Jesus clearly referred to the Genesis “creation story” as a <strong><em>fact.</em></strong> Jesus acknowledged that God “made us male and female” (v. 4). Again, Jesus said, regarding marriage: “What <strong><em>God</em></strong> has joined together, let <strong><em>not</em></strong> man separate” (v. 6). If this profound realization—that it is <strong><em>God</em></strong> who ordained marriage—is at the very heart of <em>your </em>marriage, you will have an infinitely better chance at success.</p> <h3>The Husband’s Responsibility</h3> <p>Certainly a man ought not to marry a woman unless he really and truly loves her. Yet, sorrowfully, we must acknowledge that millions of men have never learned the meaning of the word “love.” Because of cheap movies and wrong examples, they have all too often learned to confuse “love” with lust. They seem to think that a base, animal sexual desire to “get” satisfaction from another person of the opposite sex constitutes love. Nothing could be further from the truth!</p> <p>For true love involves a giving—a sharing of plans, hopes and dreams between two people who want to build an entire life together until death does them part. If they are not able to talk things over, smile into each other’s eyes, share little joys and intimacies and stick together when the big trials come, their love is lost indeed.</p> <p>The Apostle Paul commanded: “Husbands, love your wives and do not be bitter toward them” (Colossians 3:19). Some husbands do allow themselves quickly to become “bitter” because their wives do not measure up to an angelic idol of perfection envisioned in their own human imaginations!</p> <p>But a wife was never intended to be an idol! She was never designed to be perfect in this life any more than her husband was! She was not intended to be a perfect housekeeper, mother, companion and Hollywood sex goddess all wrapped up in one individual!</p> <p>Rather, she was designed and created—by the Maker of us all—to be a sweetheart, help and inspiration to a man who would share himself with her, go over his plans, hopes and dreams with her, give her encouragement and guidance, and lead, <em>not drive</em>, their home in an attitude of confidence and love!</p> <p>All too often, especially in our modern world, men seem to think that it is up to the “little woman” to talk about spiritual things and get the children interested in matters concerning God and the Church. This is not true, and any man who fails his God-given responsibility in this is simply selling out his own birthright! For God intended the man, if he will act on his responsibilities and opportunities, to be the spiritual leader in the home.</p> <p>Notice this inspired scriptural statement: “But I want you to know that the head of every man is Christ, the head of woman is man, and the head of Christ is God” (1 Corinthians 11:3).</p> <p>Every man alive has the opportunity to be the direct representative of God over his own home—in teaching, instructing, leading and inspiring his wife and children to learn and obey the words of the Holy Bible and to worship and serve the God who made them. Most wives and children will instantly and gladly respond if given half a chance! Men need to realize this. They must set a dynamic example of dedication to their Creator, study of His Word, prayer to God at mealtimes—and family prayer as well as private prayer on one’s knees in the bedroom, closet or other private place.</p> <p>The man should set an example of self-discipline in the fear of God. He should show that he is man enough—strong enough—to conquer his lusts and control his appetites. By conquering his smoking habit, by controlling his drinking and other appetites, by restraining his emotions and directing them in the right channels, by controlling and guiding his tongue according to the “law of kindness,” he can set an example which will never be forgotten by his sons and daughters as they grow up. And this example will certainly command the respect, admiration and love of any sensitive, wise woman.</p> <p>So <em>if</em> you will truly study the Bible to see what it says about marriage, if you will strive—with God’s help—to follow the biblical teachings, principles and examples in <em>your marriage</em>, then you will be blessed indeed. If a newly married couple would get down on their knees and <em>sincerely</em> beseech God to lead and guide in their marriage, and then <em>study</em> His inspired Word and <em>follow it</em>, they would have a kind of “heaven on earth,” at least as far as their marriage was concerned!</p> <p>As much as this may surprise some who are not familiar with God’s ways, this is a <strong><em>fact.</em></strong> I have seen these principles work in this way in my own marriage and in the marriages of many, many others who trusted in God. <em>To the degree</em> that we follow this teaching, it <em>works.</em></p> <p>It is up to every one of us to make <strong><em>God</em></strong> the very <strong><em>center</em></strong> of our marriage! Wholeheartedly seek to find His will in every aspect of your marriage—<em>and then follow it!</em></p> <p> </p> <h2>Chapter Two</h2> <h3>Commitment and Trust</h3> <p>One of the traditional marriage ceremonies includes the expression, “till death do us part.” Although many young people today disdain this notion, it is absolutely <em>vital </em>that every marriage be built on this understanding. As we have seen, it is <strong><em>God</em></strong> who ordained marriage. It is Jesus Christ who said, “What therefore <strong><em>God</em></strong> hath joined together, let not man put asunder” (Matthew 19:6, <em>KJV<strong>).</strong></em> Although modern psychologists, counselors and even many professing Christian ministers seem anxious to provide married people with all kinds of “escape hatches,” God does not! Yes, “sexual immorality” (<em>porneia</em> in the Greek) is a God-acknowledged ground for divorce. But it <em>is God’s expressed will</em> that marriage be a <strong><em>life-long commitment! </em></strong>Notice this key passage in God’s revelation to mankind:</p> <blockquote> <p>“And this is the second thing you do; you cover the altar of the Lord with tears, with weeping and crying; so He does not regard the offering anymore, nor receive it with goodwill from your hands. Yet you say, ‘For what reason?’ Because the Lord has been witness between you and the wife of your youth, with whom you have dealt treacherously; yet she is your companion and your wife by covenant. But did He not make them one, having a remnant of the Spirit? And why one? He seeks godly offspring. Therefore take heed to your spirit, and let none deal treacherously with the wife of his youth. ‘For the Lord God of Israel says that He hates divorce, for it covers one’s garment with violence,’ says the Lord of hosts. ‘Therefore take heed to your spirit, that you do not deal treacherously'” (Malachi 2:13–16).</p> </blockquote> <p>In the above verses, God speaks of marriage being a “covenant” relationship. He shows that one of the purposes of marriage is to produce “godly offspring.” Obviously, a stable and loving relationship is necessary in order to provide this. Three times in this passage, God speaks of one behaving “treacherously” and breaking up a marriage.</p> <p>For, among other things, marriage is a “test.” It is a test to see how <strong><em>loyal</em></strong> you will be to God’s instruction regarding marriage and to your mate with whom you share this sanctified relationship. How much will you “give” of yourself to this other human being? How much will you be patient, kind and humble in order to make it work? Additionally, God says that He “hates” divorce (v. 16). God does not hate divorced people, but He despises the selfishness, the lust, the vanity, the self-centeredness and the “treachery” that is nearly always present when marriage is ruptured by divorce.</p> <p>The powerful, God-inspired teaching of the Apostle Paul must be taken into account in every marriage: “Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is head of the wife, as also Christ is head of the church; and He is the Savior of the body. Therefore, just as the church is subject to Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in everything. Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her” (Ephesians 5:22–25). These verses clearly show that marriage is a <strong><em>type</em></strong> of the relationship between Christ and the Church. The relationship is one of <strong><em>total</em></strong> submission to one another and to the will of God. It is to be a <strong><em>lasting</em></strong> relationship—lasting “till death do us part.” It is to picture the love, the total out-flowing concern and the resulting <strong><em>trust</em></strong> and <strong><em>stability</em></strong> that exists between Christ and His true Church.</p> <h3>Successful Marriage Requires Effort</h3> <p>To have this kind of <strong><em>God</em></strong>-ordained relationship in <em>your</em> marriage, you must both work at it! You will need to put the thought and energy into building your marriage that a top scientist might expend on an important new invention. Truly happy and successful couples <strong><em>never</em></strong> take their marriages for granted. Truly Christian couples regularly pray about their marriages. They <em>study</em> the Bible and other sources to improve their marriages. And they make a mutual <em>commitment to make their marriages last</em>—”till death do us part.”</p> <p>All of this builds within their marriage a sense of “trust” and of stability. Indeed, as the author of Proverbs wrote: “Who can find a virtuous wife? For her worth is far above rubies. The heart of her husband safely <strong><em>trusts</em></strong> her; so he will have no lack of gain. She does him good and not evil all the days of her life” (Proverbs 31:10–12). What a beautiful picture of loving service and commitment on the part of a godly wife! Such a wife ought to be deeply appreciated and treasured.</p> <p>A man with a truly loving wife should certainly respond in kind by “laying down his life” for his mate—loving her, honoring her, protecting her, providing for her and <em>serving</em> her in every way he can. And <em>any</em> decent husband should never, ever, <strong><em>ever </em></strong>let his mind or his emotions get involved romantically with another woman. Jesus Christ calls this kind of lustful thinking adultery: “But I say to you that whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart” (Matthew 5:28).</p> <p>If acted upon, such a <em>treacherous deed</em> will not only devastate his wife and probably wreck their marriage, it will bring about a depth of sorrow and agony—let alone <strong><em>anger</em></strong>—to the husband of the other woman.</p> <p>The One who made us male and female tells us: “Whoever commits adultery with a woman lacks understanding; he who does so destroys his own soul” (Proverbs 6:32). The original Hebrew is sometimes translated “lacks heart” instead of “lacks understanding.” For such ill-conceived, rotten, totally selfish behavior will virtually “tear the heart” out of a loving husband who finds that he has been defrauded and dishonored in this way. Certainly the same thing happens to a wife who finds herself defrauded. For the deep feelings of love and trust, of hearth and home, of deep commitment and security are suddenly <strong><em>shattered!</em></strong> No wonder this passage continues: “For jealousy is a husband’s fury; therefore he will not spare in the day of vengeance. He will accept no recompense, nor will he be appeased though you give many gifts” (vv. 34–35).</p> <p>All of us who are married, or who may in the future be married, should make a <em>profound commitment</em> to <strong><em>honor</em></strong> our marriage vows in every way! We should study God’s Word on this subject, pray daily regarding our marriage and our family, <em>thank God regularly</em> if we have a loving and faithful mate, and do all within our power—with God’s help—to build a deep sense of love, of trust and of stability within our marriage. “Live joyfully with the wife whom you love all the days of your vain life which He has given you under the sun, all your days of vanity; for that is your portion in life, and in the labor which you perform under the sun” (Ecclesiastes 9:9). In this physical life there is no greater blessing than this kind of sanctified relationship!</p> <p> </p> <h2>Chapter Three</h2> <h3>Heartfelt Communication</h3> <p>As stated earlier, scores of women have cried out to me in despair: “My husband just won’t talk to me! That is why we are not close—he just doesn’t share anything with me. He just sits glumly at the table at mealtime or reading a paper or watching TV at night!”</p> <p>The above example is typical of literally millions of marriages. Often, at least one of the partners <em>thinks</em> that he or she communicates. But the other partner, normally the woman, knows that they do not and feels alone and frustrated. She senses that she and her husband are simply coexisting in the same house. They do not necessarily fight and hurt each other physically or even verbally. But there is not the openness, the closeness, the total sharing of two lives, the love that there should be.</p> <p>One authority on the subject quoted a woman discussing her ten-year marriage: “It’s heartbreaking. Before I was married, I used to go out to restaurants and just by looking around the room I could tell who was married and who wasn’t. Either the married couples were eating in dead silence, or the woman was gabbing away while the man ate and pretended she wasn’t there. I swore that this would never happen to me—but it has.”</p> <p>Why such cases as the above? Why do husbands and wives, of all people, fail to communicate more fully with one another?</p> <p>Loving means sharing. Every husband worthy of the name ought to cultivate the habit of talking over his plans and hopes with his wife, sharing with her many of his innermost thoughts and desires—not just the negative ones!— and make her feel deeply “a part” of him. This very attitude and approach means more to a woman than most men can even realize! Yet <em>very few</em> husbands share their lives in this way with their mates.</p> <p><strong><em>Why?</em></strong></p> <p>Newlyweds often work hard at learning and adjusting to each other’s attitudes and preferences. They take pleasure in exchanging opinions on almost everything.</p> <p>After a few months, however, the opinions are all exchanged, the attitudes seemingly understood and the interest and excitement of “getting to know you” is over.</p> <p>As the marriage continues and children come along, the wife’s interest and talk is increasingly about her children and a myriad of domestic details that usually hold little or no interest for the husband. The couple often take for granted each other’s attitudes on certain topics rather than even bothering to discuss them.</p> <p>Most husbands care to hear only good news about their children, and are either irritated or bored if the wife confides in them the detailed problems involved in rearing their family. Wives usually miss their husbands most when the children are small. Having no adult in the house to talk to all day, such wives feel an urgent necessity to talk with their spouses at night. But many husbands retreat behind their papers or quietly turn on the Television rather than endure what they feel is a boring “rehash” of household frustrations.</p> <p>A man needs to treat his wife as a “sweetheart.” He needs to cultivate and build an atmosphere of love, romance and intimacy in their home—kissing his wife when he returns from work, holding her hand as they are taking walks, and embracing her often throughout the day with free and lavish affection.</p> <p>True love certainly involves deep and abiding respect. A man ought to be grateful and thankful that the woman who is his wife has decided to cleave to him above all others unto death. He ought to appreciate that fact—and the many, many good qualities of help, patience and service, which practically every wife possesses. He ought to encourage and bring out the best in her—not constantly harp and carp away at her in belittling criticism which only causes her, in most cases, to degenerate and respond in kind.</p> <p>A man ought to respect the fact that his wife is an adult human being made in the image of God. He needs to realize that some day—according to the awesome plan of our Great God—she is intended to become a glorified spirit being ruling with Christ over this earth, even managing angels (1 Corinthians 6:3)!</p> <p>With this kind of understanding and respect, every truly Christian husband should completely <strong><em>share</em></strong> his thoughts, his plans and his <strong><em>life</em></strong> with the lovely human being he has chosen to be his life partner. “My wife is my best friend,” should <strong><em>not</em></strong> be merely a cliché. It should be a <em>reality</em>. A mate who is a real friend helps us build our self-esteem, encourages us through the hard times and keeps us from being lonely. Couples who can discuss honestly whatever is important to <em>them—including their own relationship</em>—are happier and much more likely to have a lasting marriage. Even though there is a perceived risk in self-disclosure, getting the problems out in the open is much better than allowing festering hurts and misunderstandings to grow.</p> <h3>Communicate in a Positive Way</h3> <p>Remember that “listening” to your mate’s innermost hurts and concerns does <strong><em>not </em></strong>automatically call for your “judgment” or for your advice. Often it is better just to be someone to talk to. Then, over time, your mate will usually solicit your advice or comment. But let that be done on <em>their</em> initiative, not yours. But you need to show love and concern. You need to be willing to <strong><em>take time</em></strong> to really “listen” to your mate—showing <em>genuine interest</em> in what your sweetheart is saying and is going through. In this process, learn to ask questions and draw your mate out so you can more fully understand the situation: “Tell me more!” “I see. Do I understand this is what you are saying?” “I hadn’t realized that. Please help me understand more completely so I can share your concern,” and similar words of loving concern.</p> <p>Never, <strong><em>never</em></strong> take advantage of your mate’s openness or self-disclosure! Then he or she will close up like a clam in the future. Regard the verbal intimacies you share in marriage as a sacred trust—to be kept confidential just between the two of you and never to be used as a “club” to gain advantage in a later argument or any other situation.</p> <p>On the other hand, the approach of praising and encouraging your mate is vital. Be sure your praise is sincere and usually specific. Praising your wife for lovingly preparing a special meal, praising your husband for usually getting up first and warming up the home—these are examples of the kind of thoughtfulness and encouraging remarks that can inspire your mate and build love and appreciation within your marriage. In fact, think about that word “appreciation.” I can never forget the constant expressions of thankfulness and appreciation uttered by my own mother. It made <em>all</em> of us in the family love and appreciate her more—and I am sure it contributed a great deal to the happiness and stability of my parents’ long and happy marriage.</p> <p>Remember that, in marriage especially, you should try to keep communication <em>positive</em>. For one partner to be constantly “picking at” or criticizing the other is not the kind of communication we are talking about! This type of negative harping is destructive to a marriage and should be avoided at all costs. A man is absolutely <em>stupid</em> to be continually haranguing and correcting his wife! How can she respond to him as a loving sweetheart when she is regularly “put down” and corrected by her husband? And the Bible makes it very plain that a wife is equally wrong if she is continually complaining, griping or haranguing her husband. “Better to dwell in a corner of a housetop, than in a house shared with a contentious woman” (Proverbs 21:9).</p> <p>But, again, the loving, positive flow of communication, information and sharing of plans and dreams between a husband and wife is the very essence of a happy marriage. <em>Think about it!</em> Even <strong><em>God</em></strong> “shares” <em>His</em> hopes and plans with us puny mortal beings! “No longer do I call you servants, for a servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all things that I heard from My Father I have made known to you” (John 15:15). If the living Jesus Christ was concerned enough to share “all things” with us that He heard from God the Father, how much more should we be willing to open up and share our thoughts and dreams with our own mates?</p> <h3>Work and Dream Together</h3> <p>In your walks and talks and laughter and tears, go back <em>together</em>, and relive the thoughts of a young boy who sat on a hillside, looking at the sky and dreaming of the future. Discuss and analyze those dreams lovingly and understandingly with one another. Then work and pray together to make them come true.</p> <p>In like manner, relive the hopes and aspirations of a young girl who often walked alone at sunset across her father’s fields—dreaming of a husband and home of her own someday, of children, security, warmth, laughter and joy. Be sure you work <em>together</em> to make <em>her</em> dreams come true.</p> <p>Learn to <em>respond</em> to one another—openly and lovingly. Have no improper secrets. Bear no grudges. This is your only life, your only mate, your only love. Learn to think and feel in unison, solving all your problems <em>together</em> as a team. The mutual encouragement and stimulation you will feel, along with the added warmth and love you will experience, will add an extra dimension of understanding and purpose and joy to your life that cannot be obtained in any other way. Truly, “it is not good that man should be alone” (Genesis 2:18).</p> <p> </p> <h2>Chapter Four</h2> <h3>Marriage Means Giving</h3> <p>More than any human being has ever done, Jesus Christ exemplified the love of God. He did it in many, many different ways. But one of the greatest and most obvious ways is that He gave <em>His life</em> willingly and poured out His shed blood in order to be our Savior.</p> <p>As we have seen, the relationship between Christ and the true Church pictures the relationship between husband and wife. After a lifetime of giving and serving, at the end of His human life, Jesus Christ gave Himself for the Church. So all husbands are instructed: “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and <strong><em>gave</em></strong> Himself for her, that He might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the word, that He might present her to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she should be holy and without blemish. So husbands ought to love their own wives as their own bodies; he who loves his wife loves himself” (Ephesians 5:25–28).</p> <p>Normally, each of us just naturally thinks about his own needs. We take care of our own desires. We cater to what pleases us. But since God has made us “one flesh” in marriage, we need to learn to <em>think that way</em>—to constantly consider the needs and desires of our mate and how to take care of our “other half”! This involves thinking and planning and self-discipline. It involves the <strong><em>giving</em></strong> of oneself to another human being. <em>And that is what marriage is all about!</em></p> <p>One of the most meaningful sayings of Jesus Christ is found not in the Gospels, but in a statement of the Apostle Paul recorded in the book of Acts: “I have shown you in every way, by laboring like this, that you must support the weak. And remember the words of the Lord Jesus, that He said, ‘It is more blessed to <strong><em>give </em></strong>than to receive'” (Acts 20:35). In marriage, especially, it really is more “blessed” to <em>give</em>. For in most cases “the more you give the more you get.” As you genuinely try to encourage, to serve and to <strong><em>give,</em></strong> you will find that your mate will tend to reciprocate. You will <em>both</em> be giving. You will <em>both</em> be serving. You will both be pleased and even delighted at the warmth and appreciation this virtuous cycle creates in your marriage.</p> <p>Each husband must carefully <em>think through</em> how he can increase his wife’s joy and fulfillment of life. Perhaps he can help her with the dishes and the housework at times. Most likely he should do virtually all of the heavy lifting chores around the home. Perhaps he can encourage her to get more sleep, more exercise, more recreation or a change of pace. If the family can afford it, maybe he can take her out to dinner once or twice a week, or on occasional weekend “honeymoon” trips to get her away from the normal routine and work. Surely he can try to enrich his wife’s life and his own by taking her to symphony concerts, art museums, educational lectures and other uplifting places. Whatever may be appropriate in each individual situation, all of these things and more are ways a husband may “give” to his wife.</p> <p>In turn, a wife should often think about how she can enrich her husband’s happiness and his physical, emotional and intellectual life. Perhaps she can prepare his favorite meals more often. She may want to encourage him to get more exercise and sleep, and to take care of himself so he will be around longer. Perhaps she can take a nap in the afternoon or after work, or take a quick shower and change clothes so she will look and feel alert and pretty each evening, like she did when they were courting. She can encourage him to share his opinions about current events or about spiritual subjects. In whatever ways, she can respond generously to his affection, and try to make him feel “ten feet tall”—and extremely grateful to have married such a loving wife.</p> <p>You may have heard that marriage is supposed to be a 50–50 proposition. You go half-way, and your spouse goes half-way. But <em>who</em> determines the half-way point if you disagree? True love, by contrast, means giving <em>without expecting anything in return</em>—giving 100 percent—and going above and beyond what you think is “expected” of you.</p> <p>Christ talked about this principle of going the extra mile when He said: “And whoever compels you to go one mile, go with him two” (Matthew 5:41). Yes, even if you do not humanly feel like it<em>, go the extra mile</em> and give to your spouse. God will add what you lack. Ask Him to help you give more affection, love and respect to your spouse, and in time you will be blessed with the rewards and benefits of an improved marriage.</p> <p>So think about ways you can give to your mate. Little gifts or words of appreciation make a big difference. An unexpected hug or kiss, requiring little effort on your part, may be a <em>treasured</em> gift in the eyes of your spouse. A simple question such as: “How was your day?” may be a welcome gift of attention to your spouse, providing a chance to share private thoughts and feelings.</p> <p>I know a busy couple who nevertheless make time to show each other their mutual love and concern. One evening, while the wife was serving dinner, she asked her husband: “Is there anything else you need? The husband smiled and said: I need your love.” She smiled. He pushed back the chair. She sat on her husband’s lap, and they hugged and kissed. That kind of spontaneity, that <em>eagerness</em> to give to one another, helps to generate an atmosphere of love and peace.</p> <p>It is not always romantic and it is not always idealistic, but night and day, year after year, a happy couple will strive to “give” of themselves to each other. Each will try to help his or her mate achieve the full human potential God intends, in every possible way. For we do not “get” a happy marriage unless we learn to <strong><em>give</em></strong> a happy marriage!</p> <p> </p> <h2>Chapter Five</h2> <h3>Learn To Forgive</h3> <p>Another absolute imperative in a truly happy marriage is the willingness to <strong><em>forgive. </em></strong>When two people share their entire lives, when they are together much of each day and night, there is bound to be friction occasionally. For we are, after all, only human. And by far the best way to solve this real problem is <strong><em>God’s</em></strong> way.</p> <p>To sulk, to brood, to conjure up evil thoughts about your mate or attribute to your mate wrong motives is totally senseless. It only breeds more trouble, more discontent and possibly even divorce. Certainly, as we have said, you need to <em>talk about</em> your hurts and misunderstandings. Try to really <em>listen</em> to your mate’s point of view—<strong><em>not</em></strong> just sit there and think about what you are going to say next! Do <strong><em>not</em></strong> just think about how you are going to get back at them or “get even.”</p> <p>Get even?</p> <p>Get even with <strong><em>whom?</em></strong> If you fully grasp and accept the fact that you and your mate are “one flesh” and <strong><em>bound</em></strong> <em>together by God for life</em>, then you would be trying to “get even” with <strong><em>yourself! </em></strong>You would simply be hurting yourself. You would, in effect, be “counter-attacking” yourself.</p> <p>So if after a family argument or hearty discussion with your mate about some hurt—real or imagined—you still feel upset or angry with your mate, what should you do? Again, you simply need to do what God says you always need to do in such situations—<strong><em>forgive</em></strong> <em>the other person!</em></p> <p>“But it was really <em>their fault!</em>” we find ourselves saying. “And besides, they haven’t even apologized to me, so how can I forgive them?” Through heartfelt prayer and God’s guidance, you can learn to forgive all kinds of people for all kinds of real or imagined “wrongs” they have inflicted on you; that other driver “cutting you off” at the freeway exit, the kid next door playing his rock music way too loud into the night or the neighbor lady gossiping about you.</p> <p>Speaking of actions far, far worse than any of these, the One who is our ultimate Example, Jesus Christ, said<em>: “Father, <strong>forgive </strong>them, for they do not know what they do</em>” (Luke 23:34).</p> <p>All of us must come to realize that most people do not “mean” to hurt us. They do not “mean” to do evil. They are simply human. They blurt out hurtful words or take harmful actions without thinking through what they are really doing. And so often it “hurts.”</p> <p>But the One who gave His life for us commands: “For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses” (Matthew 6:14–15). If, then, we are to forgive every person in this way<em>, how much more should we forgive our precious mate who has now become our own flesh and bone?</em></p> <p>What if your husband <em>keeps on</em> tracking in dirt from the yard or grease from the garage? What if your wife <em>keeps on</em> burning the toast once or twice a week?</p> <p>Learn to approach your mate constructively and talk it over, of course. But <em>if</em> some of these human foibles persist, even for years<em>, then just keep right on forgiving. </em>After all, would you rather scrape your burnt toast once in a while or would you rather live <strong><em>alone, </em></strong>do your own cooking and have no one to talk to or cuddle with on cold wintry nights? Never forget what Jesus commanded: “Then Peter came to Him and said, ‘Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? Up to seven times?’ Jesus said to him, ‘I do not say to you up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven'” (Matthew 18:21–22).</p> <h3>The Spirit of Forgiveness</h3> <p>We all need to regularly <em>ask God in prayer</em> to give us the “spirit of forgiveness.” Some people seem to have a terribly hard time forgiving others. It is almost as though they “enjoy” carrying hurts and grudges around with them for years.</p> <p>Remember, your anger toward other human beings usually does not hurt <em>them</em> at all. In fact, they may not even be aware of it! But <em>it does hurt you.</em> It does make you grumpy and miserable and often hard to live with. Professionals have found that these negative emotions often contribute to ulcers, stomach upsets, high blood pressure, stroke or even heart attack. Your negative emotions can literally <strong><em>kill</em> </strong>you!</p> <p>Again, ask your heavenly Father to help you get completely over this tendency and learn to love and to forgive all men—<em>especially</em> your own mate! Try to change your pattern of thinking so that you don’t get “hurt” so easily. Remember that God is called “the Father of mercies” (2 Corinthians 1:3). As you realize your <em>own</em> need to be forgiven again and again, ask God to help you forgive others.</p> <p>The Apostle Peter was inspired to instruct all men to “honor” their wives, “as being heirs together of the grace of life, that your prayers may not be hindered” (1 Peter 3:7). Peter then proceeds to give instructions that apply to our entire Christian lives—but <em>especially to our marriages:</em> “Finally, all of you be of one mind, having compassion for one another; love as brothers, be tenderhearted, be courteous; not returning evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary blessing, knowing that you were called to this, that you may inherit a blessing. For ‘He who would love life and see good days, let him refrain his tongue from evil, and his lips from speaking deceit. Let him turn away from evil and do good; let him seek peace and pursue it'” (vv. 8–11).</p> <p>We all need to view marriage as a kind of “workshop” to teach us <em>how</em> to give, <em>how </em>to share and <em>how</em> to forgive others on a continuing basis. As we study the above verses carefully, it becomes obvious that God wants us to learn to treat our mates with special kindness and courtesy. Yet, in most marriages, each partner quickly learns to take the other “for granted.” So each mate tends to let down and to speak disrespectfully and bluntly to the other. Each partner may forget how easy it is to hurt the other by thoughtless words and actions. Each may forget how vitally important it is in marriage to “seek <strong><em>peace</em></strong> and pursue it.”</p> <p><em>Think about it. </em>Think about how hard it probably is for your mate to put up with all of the acts of personal selfishness and the idiosyncrasies that <em>you (and all of us!)</em>have. If the situation were reversed, would you want to put up with <strong><em>you?</em></strong></p> <p>None of us can be joyful if we carry hurts and grudges around with us—<em>especially toward our mates.</em> So, with God’s help, learn to completely <strong><em>forgive</em></strong> your mate on a daily basis and move forward together to build a genuinely close and loving relationship.</p> <p> </p> <h2>Chapter Six</h2> <h3>Build Your Family Kingdom</h3> <p>Building a happy marriage should also include the idea of building a “family kingdom.” There is an old saying: “A man’s home is his castle.” This analogy should apply to his entire family, where he is the <em>king</em>, his wife the beloved <em>queen</em>, and his children the royal princes and princesses who need <em>training</em> to fulfill their future responsibilities. So the parents enthusiastically work <em>together</em> to ensure that these future leaders are carefully nurtured, guided, disciplined and trained for the important roles they must play in years to come.</p> <p>The intelligent and joyous blending of these two concepts in marriage—the open and loving union of the bodies, hearts and minds of the married couple, and the creation of the vital “family kingdom”—can and should produce an opportunity and an atmosphere where men and women can find complete fulfillment. This fulfillment is pictured by the Psalmist: “Blessed is every one who fears the Lord, who walks in His ways…. Your wife shall be like a fruitful vine in the very heart of your house, your children like olive plants all around your table” (Psalm 128:1, 3).</p> <p>Once you fully grasp these concepts relating to the meaning and purpose of marriage, why not set about building your marriage and your home around them?</p> <p>Instead of the husband and wife being bored and disinterested in sharing each other’s thoughts, both should be vitally interested in the miniature “family kingdom” which, <em>together</em>, they are energetically building. There should be a purposeful common interest in teaching and improving their home and their financial position and in planning for the future—<em>their</em> future.</p> <p>For in a truly happy marriage, it is not “my house,” “my car,” or even “my paycheck.” Rather, the attitude <em>should</em> be “<em>our</em> house, <em>our</em> income, <em>our</em> future.”</p> <h3>Build Your “Castle” Together</h3> <p>And so the mutual attitude should constantly be forward-looking and planning for improvements in your “castle,” your home. The wife’s feelings, and her understanding and expertise in home decorating, landscaping, appliances, etc., should always be taken into account. Every major purchase such as a home or car should be a <em>family project</em>—affording the opportunity and benefit of a sharing experience between husband and wife.</p> <p>Nothing to talk about?</p> <p>No, <em>everything</em> to talk about and share. That is the correct answer.</p> <p>Without being silly or unrealistic about it, husbands and wives should think of themselves as “partners” in a great adventure—in building a career, a business, a life <em>together</em>. They should talk over details regarding their mutual allies—their friends, business associates and relatives. With both husband and wife entering wholly into the discussion, they should plan their mutual strategy and discuss in detail what each can contribute to bring their goals in life closer to reality.</p> <p>Then there are the children. What an area of discussion, planning, mutual problem solving and heartfelt sharing of hopes and dreams they provide!</p> <p>Setting family goals together regularly can indeed produce a very meaningful “togetherness.” If both husband and wife are working, they may wish to have detailed discussions about how to set aside enough money so that after a few years the wife can stop working and they can have children. Later, they both need to <em>discuss together</em> how they can financially and otherwise plan for the time when the husband or wife—or both of them—may have to retire. <em>How</em> can they afford to do this? <em>Where</em> can they move to reduce expenses? <em>What kind</em> of lifestyle will give both of them the fulfillment they need as these events unfold? Can they develop a home-based business where they can continue to earn at least a modest income even after one or both of them retire?</p> <p>If husband and wife each think of themselves as a “team,” their marriage can mean so much more. They will each be contributing on a regular basis to the “family kingdom.” They will each be giving, building and sharing the great adventure of life <em>together</em> in a special way.</p> <p> </p> <h2>Chapter Seven</h2> <h3>Romance Is Vital</h3> <p>We are discussing “romance” last of all. Though it is the catalyst that draws young couples together, it often makes them forget the importance of the other aspects of marriage—many of which we have just discussed.</p> <p>However, we must be certain <strong><em>not</em></strong> to leave “romance” out of the picture. For no matter how long two people have been married, no matter how “old” they seem to be, the deep human need for romantic love and affection is still there in most individuals. The desire to kiss and to cuddle, “to have and to hold,” is almost as basic in many people as breathing in and breathing out.</p> <p>And there is <strong><em>nothing</em></strong> wrong with that!</p> <p>For the Great God, who made us male and female, specifically designed our sexual parts. He made males and females attractive to one another. He created within us the feelings and emotions that lead to sexual expression. What was God’s first recorded command to Adam and Eve? “Then God blessed them, and God said to them, ‘Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it'” (Genesis 1:28).</p> <p>Note that in granting our first parents the “gift” of sex and human reproduction, God “blessed” them. For, if rightly used within the confines of marriage, sex is indeed a blessing. In a physical sense it brings about the complete union of the hearts, minds, emotions and bodies of two human beings who love each other so deeply they have committed themselves to each other for <strong><em>life.</em></strong> As we have seen, their coming together pictures the total union which will someday be achieved between Christ and the true Church of God (Ephesians 5:22–25).</p> <p>This sanctified union of man and woman in marriage is so important that God devoted one of the Ten Commandments to protecting it! For our Creator commanded: “You shall <strong><em>not</em></strong> commit adultery” (Exodus 20:14). And Jesus Christ enlarged or magnified this command—making it all the more binding: “You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I say to you that whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart” (Matthew 5:27–28).</p> <p>However, if sex is used in marriage as a reaffirmation of love, of trust, of the spirit of <strong><em>giving</em></strong> of each mate to the other—then it is a beautiful and sacred thing in the sight of God. And, frankly, it should <strong><em>not</em></strong> be cheapened and made to seem coarse and common by its constant display, as in modern films, television and other media. This only serves to drag down into the gutter what <strong><em>God</em></strong> intended to be the supreme physical expression of married <strong><em>love</em></strong>—picturing Christ and the Church.</p> <p>As I hope we can all see, Satan is “devilishly” clever in the way he can degrade and cheapen some of God’s blessings by inciting the <strong><em>misuse</em></strong> of something. And by deceiving millions of people into misusing the gift of sex, Satan is able to tear down the God-given <em>basis</em> for all decent society—the home and the family. <em>That is <strong>exactly </strong>what is happening to most of our western societies at this time!</em> On the other hand, God wants young married couples to love each other to the full. His inspired revelation tells us: “Marriage is honorable among all, and the bed undefiled; but fornicators and adulterers God will judge” (Hebrews 13:4).</p> <p>Again, the Bible instructs us: “Let your fountain be blessed, and rejoice with the wife of your youth. As a loving deer and a graceful doe, let her breasts satisfy you at all times; and always be enraptured with her love. For why should you, my son, be enraptured by an immoral woman, and be embraced in the arms of a seductress?” (Proverbs 5:18–20).</p> <p>When a young couple first start courting, they usually spend a <strong><em>lot</em></strong> of time in romantic activities. They will take long walks under the moonlight. They will eat out at romantic cafés, perhaps go</p> <p>dancing, hold hands, laugh together and try to fully understand and appreciate this other person whom they are considering as a life-partner. They will nearly always be clean, neat, well-groomed and perhaps wearing a fine perfume or cologne. In every way, they will “put their best foot forward.”</p> <p>But after marriage and the honeymoon period, most couples begin to let down. The husband may not bathe properly before coming to bed. The wife may let her hair look like a mop or wear dowdy dresses around her husband. She may “forget” to bathe, or perhaps to put on a pretty dress and look special to him when he comes home from work. Nowadays, with so many wives in the work force, this is even harder for a woman to do.</p> <p>However, <em>both</em> husband and wife must try to “keep the fires burning” in their romance! They should try to do all they can to continue to show each other the special attentions and courtesies they did when they were courting and when they were first married. A loving husband will kiss his wife goodbye in the morning, give her a special hug and kiss when he returns from work, thank her and kiss her again “for dessert” after the evening meal. Perhaps he will help her put away the dishes, sneak up and hug her while she is standing by the sink, etc. Each mate should try to lavish affection and appreciation on the other. Then, the “finale” will come very easily and naturally. For the two mates will have been “loving” each other <em>all day long</em> and, in a physical way, it will make their marriage a joyous and beautiful thing!</p> <p>Give a great deal of thought and attention to this absolutely <strong><em>vital</em></strong> aspect of your marriage. Do not let <em>anything</em> get in the way of building this kind of loving, romantic atmosphere in your home. Do not let “job worries” interfere. Do not let concerns over the children, over keeping the house in “perfect” condition or over <strong><em>anything </em></strong>stop you from building within your home and marriage the special romance and <strong><em>joy </em></strong>that your Creator intended!</p> <p>Husbands, <strong><em>do not</em></strong> be fussy, or grumpy or demanding toward your wife. Love and encourage her and cause her to <em>want to respond</em> to your constant affections and kindness. Try to “give” yourself to your mate in every way you can and make her life full and joyous.</p> <p>Wives, put forth the time and effort to be your husband’s “sweetheart.” Return his affection and try to inspire and encourage him in every way you can. Within God’s laws, try in every way to make him feel happy and fulfilled. Smile at him, “kid” with him, kiss him back passionately and make him glad that he married <em>you</em>.</p> <p>In all of these ways, and more, each of you should learn to genuinely love and to “cherish” your mate. Get down on your knees in prayer and ask <strong><em>God</em></strong> to help you be the loving mate you ought to be! And give Him grateful <strong><em>thanks </em></strong>for providing you with a life-long partner, a lover, a friend, a companion with whom you can fully share the blessings of this physical existence.</p> <p>Ask God to help you put to use <em>all</em> of the above “keys” to a <strong><em>joyous</em></strong> marriage. Then, in spite of the trials and tests that come to all of us, you will have someone who is truly “special” to encourage you and help you along the way. And, in this God-ordained union we call marriage, you will be learning in a remarkable way how to obey the second great commandment from our Creator: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself” (Matthew 22:39).</p></div> <div class="field field--name-field-booklet-category field--type-entity-reference field--label-above"> <div class="field__label">Booklet Category</div> <div class="field__items"> <div class="field__item"><a href="/taxonomy/term/9" hreflang="en">Christian Living</a></div> <div class="field__item"><a href="/taxonomy/term/18" hreflang="en">Family</a></div> </div> </div> Wed, 02 Mar 2022 16:53:48 +0000 4uwzvo 48 at God’s People Tithe! <span>God’s People Tithe!</span> <div class="field field--name-field-title field--type-string field--label-hidden field__item">God’s People Tithe!</div> <span><span lang="" about="/user/1" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="">4uwzvo</span></span> <span>Mon, 02/28/2022 - 20:10</span> <div class="field field--name-field-booklet-author field--type-list-string field--label-hidden field__items"> <div class="field__item">Roderick C. Meredith (1930-2017)</div> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-booklet-media field--type-entity-reference field--label-above"> <div class="field__label">Booklet Media</div> <div class="field__item"><div> <div class="field field--name-field-media-image field--type-image field--label-visually_hidden"> <div class="field__label visually-hidden"><a href="">Image</a></div> <div class="field__item"> <a href=""><img src="/sites/default/files/styles/large/public/2022-02/gt-2.0.1-cover.jpg?itok=MzQQfWoI" alt="Lady holding a basket of vegetables" loading="lazy" typeof="Image" /></a> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-tag field--type-string field--label-hidden field__items"> <div class="field__item">#Christian Living</div> <div class="field__item">#Finances</div> <div class="field__item">#Tithing</div> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-booklet-teaser field--type-string field--label-hidden field__item">Did you know that the Creator has a financial law that is applicable to true Christians today, and that Almighty God will bless those who are willing to obey this law in faith?</div> <div class="field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary field--label-hidden field__item"><h2>CHAPTER 1<br /> AN ECONOMIC TRAIN WRECK?</h2> <p>What does the word “tithe” mean? Is the law of tithing in force <em>today?</em> Did <em>Jesus</em> <em>Christ</em> Himself indicate that we should tithe?</p> <p>The answers to these and other related questions are important to understand, especially since the United States, Canada, Britain and Australia will soon be <strong><em>punished</em></strong> for carelessly disobeying the law of tithing—and many other laws of God. We have been physically blessed above all peoples on earth because of a promise God made to Abraham millennia ago. But now the British Empire is no more. Even its prestige in the Commonwealth is fading. And, as you will observe over the next several years, America’s national “pride” and prestige will plummet.</p> <p>Although America is still the world’s most powerful nation, it is also the world’s greatest <strong><em>debtor</em></strong>. We owe other nations far more than <em>any</em> nation has ever owed in human history. And although its debt is smaller than ours in dollar amounts, Canada’s debt is bigger <em>in proportion</em> to its population!</p> <p>The time will soon come for all of us to “pay the piper”! Many respected economists have been warning for years about this growing problem. As the <em>San Diego</em> <em>Union-Tribune</em> reported on November 22, 2000:</p> <blockquote> <p>“Many private economists say the deficit may have reached a level that could pose a risk to the overall economy if foreigners, who have been eager to sell their products and hold dollar-denominated investments, suddenly decide to dump their U.S. holdings. That could send stock and bond prices plunging.</p> <p>“The inevitable question raised by huge and growing trade deficits is whether this situation represents a train wreck waiting to happen,” said Ken Mayland, economist with Clear View Economics in Pepper Pike, Ohio.</p> </blockquote> <p>An economic train wreck “waiting to happen”? <strong><em>Why</em></strong>?</p> <p>Because our peoples—individually and collectively—have <strong><em>forsaken</em></strong> God and His laws, He is beginning to withdraw His blessings from us. <em>That</em> is the actual reason we are the world’s “greatest debtor.” That is the reason increasing millions of Americans and Canadians are seeking relief from mounting personal debts by declaring bankruptcy.</p> <p>Yet even in the traumatic years preceding the Great Tribulation, God will protect and bless those who <em>serve Him</em> and truly <strong><em>obey</em></strong> His laws—including the law of tithing.</p> <p>What <em>is</em> a tithe? The word “tithe” is simply an old English word meaning “tenth.” It refers to the giving of a “tenth” of one’s income to God or for other charitable purposes. And Almighty God directs that this tenth be given <em>to Him—</em>to His true ministers to do <em>His </em>Work—not just to be handed out anywhere.</p> <p>The <em>law of tithing</em> simply means that the Great God who made us—who gave us our life, our talents, our minds, the strength with which we work and the very land and materials which we employ in our work—requires us to <em>pay </em>Him the <em>first tenth</em> of our increase or income.</p> <p>As far as the direct matter of <em>tithing</em> is concerned, God does not consider that we are “giving” anything—but are <strong><em>paying</em></strong> our Creator a very nominal amount that He requires as our Maker, our Sustainer, our Landlord, our Protector and our God!</p> <p>Nevertheless, the Almighty promises: “Honor the Lord with your possessions, and with the firstfruits of all your increase; so your barns will be filled with plenty, and your vats will overflow with new wine” ( Proverbs 3:9–10).</p> <p>Yes, if you are faithful in <em>obeying God</em> and paying Him the <em>first tenth—</em>or “tithe”—of your income—He will <strong><em>bless</em></strong> your life in many physical and material ways. He has <strong><em>promised</em></strong>—<em>and God never breaks His word!</em></p> <p>In Malachi 3, speaking to modern-day Jacob or <em>Israel </em>(v. 8), God declares: “Will a man rob God? Yet you have robbed Me! But you say, ‘In what way have we robbed You?’ In <strong><em>tithes</em></strong> and <strong><em>offerings</em></strong>.” God here indicts our modern English-speaking people for <strong><em>robbing</em></strong> our very Creator and His Work today! No wonder there is so little true religion left on earth today! <em>No wonder</em> there is so much confusion and deceit going about in the name of Christianity!</p> <p>God continues: “You are cursed with a curse, for you have robbed Me, even this whole nation” (v. 9).</p> <p>Then God <strong><em>promises</em></strong> <em>in His word:</em> “Bring all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be food in My house, and <em>try Me now in this</em>, says the Lord of Hosts, if I will not open for you the windows of heaven and pour out for you such blessing that there will not be room enough to receive it” (v. 10).</p> <p>Here is a blistering <strong>challenge</strong> from Almighty God!</p> <p>God says He will bless you if you begin <em>tithing—</em><strong>as</strong><em> He commands—</em>through <em>faith</em> in Him and in His word. Literally <em>hundreds</em> of case histories may be cited to show that God certainly <em>does bless</em> the tither even in <em>material</em> ways. He may not always do so <em>immediately.</em> You may have to obey Him and exercise <em>faith</em> for a while. But as you <em>serve</em> Him, <em>obey</em> Him and <em>trust</em> Him, God <strong>will</strong> keep His part of the bargain.</p> <h2>CHAPTER 2<br /> A LAW TAUGHT BY GOD</h2> <p>In spite of the obvious <strong>blessings</strong> that come to those who <em>obey</em> God’s tithing law, some still have arguments or questions. Was the idea of tithing an invention of <em>Moses?</em> Was it “done away” by Jesus? Was it just for the <em>physical </em>nation of Israel—a form of taxation for both church and state?</p> <p>Long before the “law of Moses” was ever codified, Abraham was faithfully paying <strong>tithes</strong> to God! We read in Genesis 14:17–20 how Abraham honored God’s High Priest Melchizedek after God had delivered his enemies into his hand: “And he gave him a <strong>tithe</strong> of all.”</p> <p>This is an <em>enormously important</em> <em>example</em> that is usually overlooked or minimized by many. It is a vital example because Abraham was—in a special way—a type of God Himself. He was the one human being God chose to <em>pre</em>-enact the sacrifice which God would later make—the willingness to <strong>give up </strong>his own son (Genesis 22). He is the one God inspired the Apostle Paul in the New Testament to describe as the <strong>father </strong>of the faithful (cf. Romans 4:1, 11, 16). Certainly the “father” of the faithful was a human type of God—and his example is basic to all true religion!</p> <p>And what “key” example did Abraham set in regard to being “faithful” with our financial resources? Abraham “<strong>tithed</strong>” to the very Personality who later became Jesus Christ. Abraham did not tithe only the fruits of his labor, he tithed on a bounty that had virtually been given him by God. So tithing is <strong>not </strong>merely on the increase of one’s crops or animals—as certain critics contend—it is on <strong>any </strong>financial increase which God grants us as His created children!</p> <p>Later, Jacob promised to serve the God of Abraham and stated: “Of all that You give me I will surely give a <strong>tenth</strong> to You” ( Genesis 28:22).</p> <p>Still later, when God <em>temporarily</em> instituted the Levitical priesthood, He directed that the tithe be paid to <em>them</em> during that time as <em>His human representatives:</em> “And all the tithe of the land, whether of the seed of the land or of the fruit of the tree, is the Lord’s. It is holy to the <strong>Lord</strong>…. And concerning the tithe of the herd or the flock, of whatever passes under the rod, the tenth one shall be holy to the <strong>Lord</strong>” (Leviticus 27:30, 32).</p> <p>Now notice Numbers 18:21: “Behold, I have given the children of Levi all the <strong>tithes</strong> in Israel as an inheritance in return for the work which they perform, the work of the tabernacle of meeting.”</p> <p>Since God’s ministry during this time was a <em>physical</em> ministry—of offering sacrifices and oblations—and since the Levites were <em>fulfilling</em> this ministry <em>as their work,</em> God’s <strong>tithe</strong> went to them as <em>His representatives</em> and <em>servants.</em></p> <h3>NEW TESTAMENT INSTRUCTIONS ON TITHING</h3> <p>In the New Testament, God inspired the Apostle Paul to show that the law of tithing is now <em>altered</em> or <em>changed</em> so that the tithes are <em>once again</em> to be paid to God’s <em>spiritual </em>priesthood—as that of Melchizedek to whom Abraham paid tithes. This account is found in the seventh chapter of Hebrews.</p> <p>Paul describes how Abraham paid tithes to Melchizedek (v. 2). Next, he describes how <strong>great</strong> Melchizedek’s priesthood must have been (vv. 3–4). Then Paul shows that the Levites <em>themselves—</em>through their ancestor Abraham—paid tithes to Melchizedek, obviously a <strong>greater</strong> priest in view of this fact (vv. 9–10).</p> <p>In verses 11–12, Paul shows that the Levitical priesthood was only temporary and <em>never brought to perfection.</em> Therefore, once again the <em>spiritual priesthood</em> of Melchizedek has been <em>reinstituted</em> through Christ and the tithing law is again <strong>changed</strong> so that God’s tithes revert as before to the <em>spiritual</em> priests—<em>the true ministers of Jesus Christ.</em></p> <p>The Apostle Paul was writing to Jewish Christians who understood at least the letter of God’s Law and had no “argument” about the <strong>fact</strong> of the tithing law. While his main emphasis is the <em>greatness </em>of Christ’s spiritual ministry, nevertheless it is important to realize that throughout the above New Testament passage Paul <em>definitely</em> <em>speaks of tithing as a </em><strong>law</strong>! And he shows that it is a law, which has existed since antiquity, from the days of Melchizedek—and <strong>still exists</strong>—although now <em>changed</em> so that the tithes revert once again to God’s <em>spiritual ministers</em> who are doing His work today!</p> <p>So anyone who <em>fails to tithe</em> is breaking an important <strong>law</strong> of the Creator God! This is one reason for so many <em>personal </em>and <em>financial</em> <strong>curses</strong> on our land today!</p> <h3>JESUS CHRIST PERSONALLY TAUGHT TITHING</h3> <p>As the God of the Old Testament, Jesus Christ taught tithing. Remember, Jesus Christ <strong><em>is</em></strong> the God of the Old Testament. As the Apostle Paul explained to the Corinthian brethren: “Moreover, brethren, I do not want you to be unaware that all our fathers were under the cloud, all passed through the sea, all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea, all ate the same spiritual food, and all drank the same spiritual drink. For they drank of that spiritual <strong>Rock</strong> that followed them, and <em>that Rock was</em> <strong>Christ</strong>” ( 1 Corinthians 10:1–4). Later in this same chapter—talking about this same time period—Paul wrote: “Nor let us tempt <strong>Christ</strong>, as some of them also tempted and were destroyed by serpents” (v. 9). So it was <strong>Christ</strong> they were dealing with back in the Old Testament! Most theologians realize this because there are so many references to it. But most “play it down” because of the implication that it was <strong>Christ </strong>who spoke the Ten Commandments and gave other laws which “modern churchianity” chooses not to obey!</p> <p>Yes, Christ was the “Word”—the divine “Spokesman” for the Father <em>from the beginning </em>( John 1:1–10). So the “Word”—who <em>later became Christ</em>—is the One who <em>guided </em>and<em> blessed</em> Abraham in <strong>tithing</strong> to God. And Christ is “the <strong>same</strong> yesterday, today and forever” (Hebrews 13:8). Therefore, we <strong>must not </strong>negate or minimize this <em>fundamental example of tithing</em> set by the very “father” of God’s faithful!</p> <p>In the New Testament, did Jesus Christ abolish this practice? No! He followed it, as did His Apostles! Although some of the New Testament books were written even after the Temple was destroyed in 70ad, we find no scriptural command to stop tithing, and no indication that the Apostles and the Apostolic Church ceased to tithe!</p> <p>As we have seen, Jesus Christ is the “Word” of God—the One who inspired the Old Testament. As the Word of God, He gave the laws listed in the Old Testament, then He spiritually <strong><em>magnified</em></strong> and <strong><em>explained</em></strong> them in the New Testament.</p> <p>Still, some will insist: “We want you to show us any <strong><em>direct</em></strong> statements by Christ which prove that He approved the tithing law.” All right, you shall have them! But will you then <strong><em>believe</em></strong>? Will you then <strong><em>obey</em></strong> Him?</p> <p>In speaking to the scribes and Pharisees, who often made a self-righteous display of strictly keeping some of the smaller points of God’s Law, Jesus said: “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you pay <strong>tithe</strong> of mint and anise and cummin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faith. <em>These you ought to have done</em> [these weightier matters]<em>, </em>without leaving the others [carefully <strong>tithing</strong>] undone” (Matthew 23:23).</p> <p>Is that clear enough? Jesus said that spiritual qualities such as <em>mercy</em> and <em>faith</em> ought to be put ahead of carefully and strictly paying tithes on every little plant that might grow in your garden—<em>especially</em> when that strictness leads to self-righteousness. But Christ said “ <strong><em>not</em></strong> to leave the other undone”—<strong><em>not</em></strong> to fail to pay your full tithes as God has commanded!</p> <p>In Luke 11:42, this <em>same command</em> is repeated in a similar manner—inspired to be placed here also by God’s Holy Spirit!</p> <p>Man would like to regard God’s tithing law as of <em>least</em> importance. But speaking of even the smaller points of God’s Law, Jesus stated: “Whoever therefore breaks one of the <em>least</em> of these commandments, and <strong><em>teaches</em></strong> men so, shall be called <strong>least</strong> in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever does and teaches them, he shall be called <strong>great </strong>in the kingdom of heaven” ( Matthew 5:19).</p> <p>How plain! If we are looking for an argument, we will always find one. But if we are willing to <em>“hunger and thirst”</em> for righteousness, to obey even the smaller points of God’s Law, we will be <strong><em>blessed</em></strong> for so doing.</p> <h2>CHAPTER 3<br /> ROBBING GOD?</h2> <p>When we study the Old Testament, we find that it is actually possible for human beings to “rob God.” Yet we also find an amazing promise that God has made to those who obey Him.</p> <p>Around 586bc, the Jews were carried into exile to Babylon because of their gross negligence in obeying God. Among their chief sins were Sabbath-breaking, idolatry and not distinguishing between the common and the holy (Ezekiel 22:26 )—clearly indicating a failure to pay tithes. For their disobedience, the Jews suffered many years of captivity in the land of their enemies until finally, around 539bc, Babylon was overthrown by the Persian Empire under Cyrus the Great, and God caused this victorious king to issue an edict permitting the Jews to return to the Promised Land.</p> <p>About two years later Cyrus allowed Zerubbabel, the reestablished nation’s new governor, to lead a group of Jews from Babylon back to the Promised Land. This migration included more than 42,000 men, along with many more women and children (cf. Ezra 2), who began building a new temple for God. But before they had even laid the foundation, opposition from neighboring armies stopped their work, and building ceased.</p> <p>Approximately 15 years later, the prophet Haggai explained the financial woes the Jewish nation was then experiencing. Their problems, he explained, were a direct result of failure to support the rebuilding of the temple of God—His Work of that day—through tithes and offerings. Under the urging of Haggai and the prophet Zechariah, work was resumed around 520bc and the temple was completed in 516bc—exactly 70 years after the Jews were taken into captivity.</p> <p>After the Jews’ return from Babylonian captivity, one of their greatest sins was failure to pay tithes to God. Nehemiah, however, while governor in the 440s bc, began exhorting the people to zealously obey their Creator. As a result, they all “joined with their brethren, their nobles, and entered into… an oath to walk in God’s Law… and to observe and do all the commandments of the <strong>Lord</strong> our Lord, and His ordinances and His statutes” ( Nehemiah 10:29).</p> <p>Remember, God’s “statutes” <em>included </em><strong>tithing</strong>. And God’s word tells us that in Tomorrow’s World His people will be walking in His “statutes” (Ezekiel 36:27). So God’s <strong>tithing law </strong>was followed by Abraham, validated by Jesus Christ, and will be followed by God’s people even during the coming millennial reign of Christ!</p> <p>Nehemiah and the Jews agreed “to bring the <strong>tithes</strong> of our land to the Levites, for the Levites should receive the tithes in all our farming communities.… and we will not neglect the house of our God” (Nehemiah 10:37, 39). They seemed fully determined that they would not overlook the needs of God’s Work and of those who served in it. The people agreed to make sure that the priests and Levites were given the tithe that was due them for the service they rendered to their fellow Israelites.</p> <p>Deplorably, however, it was not long after Nehemiah’s reforms that most of the Jews once again became very lax in keeping God’s laws and statutes. Breaking God’s tithing law was a particular problem, as clearly revealed by the prophet Malachi in the book that bears his name—written in the late 400s bc.</p> <p>Speaking through this prophet, the Almighty asked: “Will a man rob God? Yet you have robbed Me! But you say, ‘In what way have we robbed You?’ In <strong>tithes</strong> and <strong>offerings</strong>. You are cursed with a curse, for you have robbed Me, even this whole nation” (3:8–9). And for this same reason, our people today—just like the ancient Jews—are under a divine curse!</p> <p>Many fail to realize that all of mankind’s woes—his headaches and heartaches, his problems of crime and violence, drug abuse and disease—are the direct result of breaking the laws of Almighty God. And one of the most frequently broken of these laws is God’s command to tithe faithfully. When human beings disobey their Creator by ignoring this law, they bring upon themselves a divine curse!</p> <p>Consider what is happening today in the United States and the British-descended nations. There are many reasons for our soaring national and personal debts, chief among them being gross financial mismanagement and neglecting to “render… to God the things that are God’s” ( Mark 12:17)!</p> <p>As we saw earlier, America has in recent years gone from being the largest creditor nation to the largest debtor nation. Bankruptcies by the millions have been filed in our courts. Remember that, according to the word of God, nations that do not tithe are under a curse. Could it be, then, that the aforementioned economic problems are the direct result of that curse—brought upon ourselves—for failing to obey Almighty God?</p> <p>Malachi 3 does not say that failing to pay tithes is robbing the priests. Rather, it plainly states that such behavior is, in fact, <strong>robbing God</strong>! And that, in the eyes of the Almighty, is <em>very serious business</em>!</p> <h3>A PROMISE OF BLESSING</h3> <p>The Creator God speaks to all those who come to know about His law of tithing: “‘Bring all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be food in My house, and <strong>prove</strong> Me now in this,’ says the <strong>Lord</strong> of hosts, ‘if I will not open for you the windows of heaven and pour out for you such blessing that there will not be room enough to receive it’” (v. 10)!</p> <p>This is quite a challenge that Almighty God gives to every person who knows about Him and His law of tithing. He says to “prove” Him—that is, test Him, try Him out—and you will see! These verses are nothing less than a solemn promise from our Creator to <strong>bless</strong> those who faithfully tithe—those who make God their financial partner! But this does not say that God will make tithe-payers rich!</p> <p>God did greatly bless Abraham with material wealth (Genesis 13:2). And we know that Abraham tithed. God also blessed Jacob shortly after he vowed to tithe to Him (30:43). God most definitely wants His people to “prosper… and be in health” (3 John 2). But He also realizes it is not good for everyone to be rich (1 Timothy 6:9–10,17–19)! Some people simply cannot handle riches. And in the <em>New </em>Testament age when God is now calling people to <em>spiritual conversion</em>, God’s blessings will be predominately spiritual—<em>more </em>of God’s spiritual <em>strength, wisdom</em> and <em>love</em>—and <strong>eternal life </strong>in God’s Kingdom (see 2 Peter 1:5–11).</p> <p>But if we faithfully tithe, God promises to “rebuke the devourer [of the land, i.e. insect plagues] for your sakes, so that he will not destroy the fruit of your ground, nor shall the vine fail to bear fruit for you in the field… and all nations will call you blessed, for you will be a delightful land” ( Malachi 3:11–12).</p> <p>In the book of Proverbs, God reinforces His promise: “Honor the <strong>Lord</strong> with your possessions, and with the firstfruits of all your increase; so your barns will be filled with plenty, and your vats will overflow with new wine” (3:9–10).</p> <p>God Almighty has all power. He can and will bless any person or nation that obeys Him—keeping His solemn promise to bless those who faithfully pay Him the tithe that is rightfully His. Remember, “God… cannot lie” (Titus 1:2). And “the Scripture cannot be broken” (John 10:35)!</p> <p>If a nation will faithfully pay tithes to God Almighty, He has promised to bless that entire nation. But even if the <em>nation</em> as a whole will not tithe, then, on principle, God is still duty-bound by His Word to bless <em>every</em> <strong>individual</strong> who faithfully tithes!</p> <p>To most people, it seems illogical that parting with a portion of “our” money will make us far better off financially than if we held onto it. Yet that’s what God says! Moreover, He tells us: “There is one who scatters, yet increases more; and there is one who withholds more than is right, but it leads to poverty” (Proverbs 11:24). This is a <strong>living law</strong>. Believe your Bible! God’s way is real. It works! And it was made for you!</p> <h2>CHAPTER 4<br /> DO YOUR PART FULLY</h2> <p>Yes, Jesus Christ <em>taught tithing!</em> And, as we have seen, He commanded His Apostles to teach the nations “<strong>all</strong> things that I have commanded you.” He then promised: “I am with you always, even to the end of the age” ( Matthew 28:20).</p> <p>So, if we would have God’s <em>blessing</em> and live the abundant life, which Jesus Christ promised, we should <em>pay God’s tithe faithfully </em>and also do all the other things that Jesus taught.</p> <p>Among these other teachings, relating to our job and success, Jesus said: “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven” (Matthew 5:16). True Christians, then, are to be an <strong>example</strong> to others in all that they say or do.</p> <p>The Living Christ inspired the Apostle Paul to write: “Bondservants [or workers], obey in all things your masters [bosses or supervisors] according to the flesh, not with eyeservice, as men-pleasers, but in sincerity of heart, fearing God. And whatever you do, do it heartily, <em>as to the Lord</em> and not to men” (Colossians 3:22–23).</p> <p>Christ’s word here instructs you to put your <em>whole heart</em> into your work at <strong>all</strong> times—whether the boss is around or not! You are told to do this <em>sincerely</em> and <em>earnestly</em> as if you were working for <em>God Himself.</em> For, in fact, <em>you are!</em> The true Christian life is a life “calling”—or vocation in the fullest sense of the term.</p> <h3>BE ZEALOUS IN YOUR WORK</h3> <p>In His word, God states: “He who has a slack hand becomes poor, but the hand of the diligent makes rich” ( Proverbs 10:4). Are you really <strong>diligent</strong> in your work?</p> <p>Again, God states: “Wealth gained by dishonesty will be diminished, but he who gathers by labor will increase” ( Proverbs 13:11). Many people today earn their living in what might be termed “marginal” occupations—such as gambling, selling people things they do not need or taking unnecessary profits as a middleman. But God says that the basis of permanent wealth and His blessing will be given to a man who labors—really <em>produces</em> and <em>accomplishes</em> something worthwhile!</p> <p>Now notice Proverbs 13:18: “Poverty and shame will come to him who disdains correction, but he who regards a rebuke will be honored.” In this proverb, God advises you to <em>heed the instructions</em> of those over you in your work or in any situation in life. Learn to do the job, <em>as your boss wants it done!</em> Learn to <em>listen carefully—</em>to <strong>think</strong>—to keep <strong>growing</strong> in knowledge and ability on the job!</p> <p>A <em>very</em> <em>important</em> principle for daily living is brought out in Proverbs 15:22: “Without counsel, plans go awry, but in the <em>multitude of counselors</em> they are established.” When a <em>big</em> decision comes up involving your business or farm—or selling your house or changing jobs—learn to seek advice from <em>many quarters!</em> Learn to weigh this advice <em>carefully</em> and <em>objectively—</em>asking <em>God’s guidance</em> and <em>wisdom.</em></p> <p>Finally, God commands: “Do not love sleep, lest you come to poverty; open your eyes, and you will be satisfied with bread” ( Proverbs 20:13). Learn to <em>rise early,</em> to <em>work diligently</em> and to <strong>produce</strong> in your job or business!</p> <p>Then <em>obey</em> God’s <em>financial law </em>of tithing—recognizing that <em>all </em>the strength and ability with which you produce in your line of work, <em>all</em> the materials you use, <em>all</em> the food you eat and air you breathe in order to gain strength—<em>all this comes from God,</em> who only asks that you pay Him <strong>one-tenth</strong> of what you produce in return!</p> <h3>BE DILIGENT IN SERVING THE LIVING GOD!</h3> <p>Once you have made your decision to tithe, be sure you send your tithes to God’s representatives who will be doing <em>His </em>Work and preaching <em>His</em> message! Just as God commands you to be <em>diligent</em> in serving your human bosses, how much more <strong>zealous</strong> should you be in obeying your very Maker in this financial law?</p> <p><em>Do not </em>start thinking you cannot afford to pay tithes. You <em>cannot afford not to!</em></p> <p>God often works through <em>human</em> instruments. He will work <em>through you</em> if you will yield to Him and put His Kingdom <strong>first</strong> in your life. As we have seen, the law of tithing was a part of <em>Christ’s Gospel.</em> As such, it must be proclaimed to the world—and to <em>you—</em> as a witness.</p> <p>Ask God for wisdom, faith and strength of purpose to obey Him in this financial <em>law.</em> It will cause you to put God <em>first.</em> It will force you to <em>budget—</em>to <em>plan—</em>to <em>organize</em> your affairs perhaps more than ever before. It will lead you to <em>exercise</em> <strong>faith</strong> in your Creator to back up His laws and His promises.</p> <p>But God <em>cannot</em> lie. So you will find that it is very much “possible” for you to tithe! And—if you act in <em>love</em> and <em>faith—</em>the physical and spiritual blessings that come will be just as <strong>real</strong> as God Himself is real.</p> <p>God’s servant Herbert W. Armstrong wrote about a real-life example of how God does definitely intervene and <strong>bless </strong>those who tithe:</p> <blockquote> <p>It was late in 1933—the very depth of the great depression. Ed Smith was a well driller by profession, but nobody seemed able to afford to have wells drilled.</p> <p>Ed and his wife, Emma, attended services I was then holding in a one-room country schoolhouse twelve miles west of Eugene, Oregon. Ed made no profession of Christianity until later. But he attended services, and went up and down the countryside discussing Bible doctrines with his professing Christian neighbors.</p> <p>“You’ve got to pay tithe and obey God,” he insisted. “The Bible says so. It’s <strong>plain</strong>!”</p> <p>One of his neighbors became irritated.</p> <p>“Look here, Ed,” the neighbor exploded, “why do you come around here trying to talk me into these things, when you don’t obey the Bible and pay tithes yourself?”</p> <p>“Because,” came Ed’s quick and ready answer, “I don’t profess to be a Christian, and you do. Besides,” he added, “I can’t afford to tithe, anyway.”</p> <p>There are thousands who, like Ed Smith, reason in their own minds that they cannot afford to tithe, even though, like Ed Smith, they realize the Bible commands it.</p> <p>I heard about the above conversation, and preached a sermon on the question of whether the unconverted should obey the Ten Commandments and pay tithes, or whether, as Ed has reasoned, these things were only for Christians. I pointed out that God’s law was put in motion for <strong>man’s good</strong> —it is <strong>the way</strong> of life that brings peace, happiness, prosperity, the full, abundant, interesting life, success, joy, <strong>here and now</strong>, as well as eternal life through Christ for the saved.</p> <p>I showed that it <strong>pays</strong>, and is the only sensible way of life, entirely apart from the matter of salvation—and that, even if one is finally lost, he who sins little shall be punished with <strong>few</strong> stripes. I pointed out God’s promises to <strong>prosper</strong> the tithe-payer, and that this is a definite <strong>law</strong> God has put in motion, which operates inexorably and automatically on the just and the unjust alike.</p> <p>Ed began to obey the Bible. At the very next service—we were holding services at this little schoolhouse three times a week, and three other nights a week in a hall in downtown Eugene at the time—Mrs. Smith smilingly handed me a one dollar bill.</p> <p>“That’s Ed’s first tithe,” she said triumphantly. “We are now down to $10, and Ed decided to start tithing with what we have on hand.”</p> <p>The very next service she came to me with another happy smile.</p> <p>“Here’s a five dollar bill,” she said. “The very next day after Ed gave God’s Work a tenth of all he had, a customer who had owed him $50 for a year came and paid up. So here’s the tithe of that $50. After paying the total $6 tithe, we now have $54 on hand instead of the $10 we had the other day.”</p> <p>It was beginning to <strong>pay</strong>! But only <strong>beginning</strong>! By the next service, as I remember it, Ed had received his first order in one or two years to drill a new well, for which he received cash payment. Before he finished that job, another was contracted. Soon he had three or four jobs coming in at once, and was forced to begin employing men to work for him.</p> <p>Ed Smith was only one of <strong>many</strong> I have known who learned <strong>by experience</strong> that one cannot afford <strong>not</strong> to pay God the tithe that <strong>belongs</strong> to God! I remember Ed Smith did encounter some troubles of a different nature later, and his wife and son were sent to the state tuberculosis hospital, and he finally broke down in real repentance, accepting Jesus Christ as Savior. He came to me, according to the command of James 5:14, and both his wife and son were completely healed and returned home.</p> <p>This is a true story, and the name is not fictitious. Ed Smith died several years ago, but I’m happy to remember these incidents in his life in the hope they may start many others on the right and profitable, as well as the Christian way of life.</p> </blockquote> <p>We should all learn from the above account. Also, as we have seen, you will be following the direct New Testament teaching of Jesus Christ who said <strong>not</strong> to leave the “other [tithing] undone” (Matthew 23:23)! Our Father in heaven wants all of us to be generous and wholehearted in our tithes <em>and in our offerings.</em> For He inspired the Apostle Paul to write: “But this I say: He who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and he who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. So let each one give as he purposes in his heart, not grudgingly or of necessity; <em>for God loves a </em><strong>cheerful</strong><em> giver. </em>And God is able to make all grace abound toward you, that you, always having all sufficiency in all things, may have an abundance for every good work” ( 2 Corinthians 9:6–8).</p> <p>Remember the Great God whom we serve is “able” to give you the “breaks”—to bless you so that you have an “abundance” for every good work (v. 8). Yes, tithing involves <strong>faith</strong> that God is there—that He will <em>back up</em> His inspired word and will <strong>do</strong> what He has said He will do.</p> <p>So as the clouds darken on the world horizon and nations experience more physical and financial problems of every sort, it is very important that you have the Creator <strong>God</strong> on your side. Even though He may not make you wealthy, He has always promised <strong>to take care of you</strong> if you serve and obey Him. He will make sure that you always have enough to get by. When others are starving or in horrible difficulty, the God of the Bible absolutely promises His faithful servants: “I will <strong>never</strong> leave you nor forsake you” ( Hebrews 13:5).</p> <p>So for your <em>own good,</em> come join the thousands who <strong>trust</strong> in God to back up His promises! Pay the Creator of heaven and earth the “tithes” you owe Him—plus generous offerings—and see Him become more “real” in your life as you truly serve and obey Him.</p> <h2>CHAPTER 5<br /> HELPING OTHERS AS GOD HELPS YOU</h2> <p>When we pay the tithes and offerings that God commands, we not only bring blessings to ourselves; we also allow God to use us to bless others. God uses our tithes to provide for other people and give them His much-needed Truth. So by diligently giving back to God 10 percent of all our increase, we are forced to think of others—rather than selfishly retaining everything for ourselves (Philippians 2:4–5). Christ said: “It is more <strong>blessed</strong> to give than to receive” (Acts 20:35).</p> <p>When we are motivated by a desire to serve others, we develop a giving, sharing, caring and generous spirit. “The generous soul will be made rich, and he who waters will also be watered himself” (Proverbs 11:25). This means we should not give “grudgingly or of necessity; for God loves a <strong>cheerful</strong> giver” ( 2 Corinthians 9:7)! Of course, tithing <strong>is</strong> a “necessity,” but our motivation should extend beyond that—it should be to gladly and willingly please God and help others.</p> <p>Christ set the perfect example by being willing to give us everything, including His very life. “For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich [He and the Father own everything!], yet for your sakes He became poor [by becoming human], that you through His poverty might become rich” (2 Corinthians 8:9). God Almighty is the Great Giver of every good and perfect gift (James 1:17). And what does the Eternal promise to give everyone who overcomes selfish human nature? “He who overcomes shall inherit all things [the entire universe with all its riches!]” ( Revelation 21:7). We must transcend the mostly selfish mindset that comes so naturally and learn to truly care for the happiness and well-being of others ( Mark 12:31). Yes, we can be a blessing to other people!</p> <p>One important way God blesses others is through your example. Others who may know that you are a tithe-payer can see you learning to love, fear, obey and serve your Creator. They will also see you being blessed—perhaps materially, and certainly spiritually—growing closer toward God in faith and obedience. And it</p> <p>is often through your positive example that others are inspired</p> <p>to walk on that same path in order to experience those same blessings.</p> <p>Another vitally important lesson tithing teaches is true <strong>humility</strong> and heartfelt <strong>obedience</strong> to our Creator. Through tithing, we acknowledge that God is our Ruler and is, therefore, the real Possessor of everything ( Genesis 14:22). In the final analysis, we mortals do not actually own anything! We are merely stewards or custodians of a few of God’s possessions.</p> <p>And by faithfully tithing, we learn another important lesson—<strong>faith</strong>. It takes genuine faith to believe that God exists “and that He is a <strong>rewarder</strong> of those who diligently seek Him” (Hebrews 11:6). It takes faith to obey God, especially when it seems we “can’t really afford to tithe.” But as we have already seen, if we “prove” God in the right way, He promises to pour out such blessings upon us that “there will not be room enough to receive it” ( Malachi 3:10)!</p> <p>By exercising faith in God we become stronger and stronger—overcoming day by day—and thereby improve our chances of becoming pillars in His everlasting Kingdom (cf. Revelation 3:12). Of course, this does not mean that we earn our salvation or that we, of ourselves, can do anything that is truly “good” (cf.Matthew 19:17; Romans 3:10–12). But when our good works are done by and through the indwelling power of the Holy Spirit—through which God lives in us—then we are indeed following in Jesus’ footsteps! Christ said that even He could do nothing of Himself (John 5:19, 30; 8:28).</p> <p>Furthermore, living by faith will build in us even greater faith! We will come to trust God more. We will stop worrying and fretting so much about our personal finances—for we will absolutely believe the words of Jesus Christ: “Therefore do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or… ‘What shall we wear?’… For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things [life’s basic necessities]. <em>But seek</em> <strong>first </strong><em>the kingdom of God and His righteousness</em>, and <strong>all</strong> these things shall be added to you. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow” ( Matthew 6:31–34). What wonderful peace of mind we will experience when we come to fully trust in God (Philippians 4:6–7).</p> <p>After regularly setting aside the tithe of our income for use in God’s Work, we quickly learn that we can live on the remaining portion. Of course, this requires careful budgeting and financial discipline! And God will help in other ways. Many Christians have been astounded by the rare opportunities, unexpected discounts or other “blessings” that come their way once they begin to tithe faithfully.</p> <p>Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior, said: “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal; but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Matthew 6:19–21).</p> <p>Jesus taught us to give generously of our “treasure.” Remember that it was He who said: “It is more blessed to give than to receive.” He highly commended the poor widow who gave so generously to God’s treasury at the temple in Jerusalem. “Then He looked up and saw the rich putting their gifts into the treasury, and He saw also a certain poor widow putting in two mites [coins of little monetary value]. So He said, ‘Truly I say to you that this poor widow has put in more than all; for all these out of their abundance have put in offerings for God, but she out of her poverty has put in all the livelihood that she had’” (Luke 21:1–4).</p> <p>On another occasion, Jesus said: “Give, and it will be given to you: good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over will be put into your bosom. For with the same measure that you use, it will be measured back to you” (6:38)! Clearly, Christ commanded us to give. And that command comes with a promise that if we do give, we will receive far more in return. God promises to bless those who faithfully give their tithes and freewill offerings to Him and His Work—those who give in the <strong>right attitude </strong>of love and outgoing concern.</p> <p>Our motive for giving should never be self-aggrandizement. We should not “give” for the express purpose of receiving a rich return on our “investment”—like the false “gospel of wealth and prosperity” that we examined in the last chapter. But if we give from a pure and generous heart, then God says we will certainly be blessed.</p> <p>The Apostle Paul told Timothy: “Command those who are rich in this present age not to be haughty, nor to trust in uncertain riches but in the living God, who gives us richly all things to enjoy. Let them do good, that they be rich in good works, ready to give, willing to share, storing up for themselves a good foundation for the time to come, that they may lay hold on eternal life” ( 1 Timothy 6:17–19).</p> <p>If we faithfully support the true Work of God in this age by tithing and giving offerings, and if we willingly give financial or other support—that is, alms—to the needy whom we encounter, then the Almighty will count those good works as eternal treasure laid up in the “Bank of Heaven.” By our faithful obedience to God, His Work will be done—and His Gospel will be taken to all the world!</p> <p>If we faithfully “render… to God the things that are God’s” (Matthew 22:21), then He promises to bless us in this life! Tithing done in a good attitude will positively affect your life now in so many ways, but all the more powerfully <strong><em>for all eternity</em></strong> in tomorrow’s world! Then all those who have tithed faithfully of their “riches” will fully understand what Paul called “the unsearchable riches of Christ” (Ephesians 3:8). Surely no one would want to miss out on that!</p> <h2>CHAPTER 6<br /> WHERE SHOULD YOU SEND GOD’S TITHE?</h2> <p>It is vitally important that you send God’s tithe to His true representatives! As the end of this age approaches, they will be carrying out Christ’s commission with increasing <strong><em>power</em></strong>. They will make plain the Good News of the soon-coming <em>Kingdom</em> or <em>Government of God.</em></p> <p>Without fear or favor they will explain the <strong><em>laws</em></strong> of that Kingdom. They will make plain and clear the <em>hundreds</em> of prophecies referring to this end-time. Through God’s Spirit, they alone can be <em>definite</em> and <em>specific</em> about the tremendous events soon to occur on this earth!</p> <p>Jesus spoke prophetically of the great worldwide Work His true ministers would carry out in this last age: “And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in all the world as a <em>witness</em> to all the nations, and then the end will come” ( Matthew 24:14).</p> <p>You need to check up and <strong><em>prove</em></strong> to yourself that the <em>Tomorrow’s World</em> broadcast and magazine is fulfilling Christ’s commission! If this is not yet clear to you, then just keep an open mind and let the fruits <strong><em>prove</em></strong> to you where Almighty God is really working!</p> <p>Somewhere on earth today are true ministers of God. Frankly, they will be part of the true Church of God—<em>named</em> the “Church of God” <em>twelve times</em> in the New Testament (see Acts 20:28;1 Corinthians 1:2;15:9; 1 Timothy 3:15, etc.). These faithful ministers will be obeying God’s command to His true servants: “<strong>Cry aloud</strong>, spare not; lift up your voice like a trumpet; tell My people their transgression, and the house of Jacob their <strong>sins</strong>” (Isaiah 58:1).</p> <p>Specifically, they will be <strong>warning</strong> the American and British-descended peoples—the direct descendents of the “Ten Lost Tribes of Israel”—that the coming <strong>Great Tribulation</strong> will be directed primarily at them <em>unless they repent</em> (Ezekiel 33:1–7). In what is essentially both a commission and a <em>dual prophecy</em>—<em>partially fulfilled</em> but not <em>completely </em>fulfilled until the <strong>end</strong>-time, Jesus Christ told His servants: “And you will be hated by all for My name’s sake: but he who endures to the <strong>end </strong>will be saved. When they persecute you in this city, flee to another. For assuredly, I say to you, <em>you will not have gone through the</em> <strong>cities of Israel</strong> before the Son of Man <strong>comes</strong>” (Matthew 10:22–23).</p> <p>Therefore, though small in number (the “little flock,” Luke 12:32), God’s true church at the very end will be preaching a <em>powerful </em>message which will bring about severe persecution. God’s people will be small in number but will be <em>increasingly recognized</em> because of the powerful message they are preaching. They will definitely <strong>not </strong>be among the “mainstream” churches—carefully blending in with this world’s society. And they will be going over the “cities of Israel” ( Matthew 10:23) with God’s warning message—proclaiming the soon-coming Kingdom of God by way of radio, television, the Internet and through publications to the peoples of America, Canada, Britain, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa and to <em>all the world</em>!</p> <p><strong>Where</strong> is that electrifying message being preached with increasing power today? <strong>Who </strong>has both the <em>understanding</em> and the <em>courage</em> to challenge our modern society and its organized “churchianity” with the <em>full</em> and <em>undiluted</em> message of the Bible?</p> <p>Check up and see where the Truth of the Bible is being made <strong><em>plain</em></strong> and <strong><em>clear</em></strong>. Determine <em>positively</em> for yourself (Acts 17:11) where the <em>real</em> Good News of the Kingdom of God (Tomorrow’s World) is being preached (Matthew 24:14)! Find out who is <em>warning the world</em> of the specific, major prophesied events now beginning to affect <em>your </em>life! And most important for you personally, find that Work which shows how you can escape being destroyed during those same prophesied events. Look for the Work God is using <em>today</em> to bring the <em>answers</em> for your tomorrow!</p> <p>For this is <em>your</em> life—your <strong><em>only</em></strong> life! If you will take the trouble to <em>prove</em> it with an <em>open mind,</em> you <strong><em>can</em></strong> know where God is working!</p> <p>Many of you—as I did—have grown up in a “mainstream” church. Of course, there are “nice” people there. And their highly educated ministers are often good speakers with rich, mellifluous voices. The music is pretty and the pageantry is impressive.</p> <p>But is the real <em>understanding</em> of God’s supreme <strong>purpose </strong>for our lives made clear in these churches? Are the specific laws of God and the <em>way of life</em> Jesus and the Apostles proclaimed being taught and practiced? And is that vital fourth of God’s word— <strong>biblical prophecy</strong>—being made clear and proclaimed as a “witness?”</p> <p>God’s <em>true</em> ministers are carrying on His Work. They represent Him and, as <em>God’s </em>representatives, it is to <em>them</em> that you should pay your tithes and cheerfully give your offerings. God then directs them to use His money for His Work<em>. Come help</em> <em>humanity!</em> This dying world desperately <strong><em>needs</em></strong> to be reached with God’s full <em>Truth</em>. It needs the <em>understanding</em> of the purpose for human existence, the great living <strong><em>laws</em></strong> of life, the <strong><em>definite</em></strong> prophesied events soon to occur in our time and the <strong><em>meanings</em></strong> of all these things! <em>That </em>is exactly what <em>this </em>Work of God is all about!</p> <h2>CHAPTER 7<br /> THE ABUNDANT LIFE GOD DESIRES FOR YOU</h2> <p>Professing Christians and others who hope for an afterlife may console themselves with the promise of everlasting joy and happiness in the next world. But in this life, the fear of financial ruin or just the daily frustration of trying to pay bills on time leaves many feeling frustrated, unfulfilled and hopeless! Yet Jesus Christ Himself said: “I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly” ( John 10:10). And the Apostle John wrote to the Christians of his day, saying: “I pray that you may prosper in all things and be in health” (3 John 2).</p> <p>Make no mistake! We are not preaching a gospel of “prosperity” or “health and wealth.” The very focus of God’s way of life is not about how to “get,” but rather how to “give”—thereby learning how to live in true peace and tranquility, filled with enthusiasm and joy! Nevertheless, God does materially bless and prosper those who properly follow His laws of financial success.</p> <p>If we <em>faithfully tithe</em> and do <em>our part</em>, the great God whom we serve will <strong>never </strong>let us down! Our heavenly Father will <em>always</em> provide for our genuine needs. He will never allow us to be completely “wiped out” financially—and be destitute or starving. This may not even seem like a possibility for many of you now. But as the events Jesus specifically prophesied begin to occur—including drought, famine and disease epidemics (Matthew 24:7; Revelation 6:5–8), then the promise of God’s blessing and protection is going to look <em>mighty good</em>!</p> <p>King David of Israel was inspired to write: “The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord, and He delights in his way. Though he fall, he shall not be utterly cast down; for the Lord upholds him with His hand. I have been young, and now am old; yet I have not seen the righteous forsaken, nor his descendants begging bread” (Psalm 37:23–25). Since our God and Savior is “the <strong>same </strong>yesterday, today and forever” (Hebrews 13:8), God has bound Himself to take care of His <em>faithful </em>during the hard times ahead. How <em>vital </em>it is that we <em>fully obey</em> our Creator!</p> <p>And there are important spiritual benefits as well. Having your mind free from fear, doubt and worry is essential to a right relationship with God. Endless fretting about how to make the next house or car payment causes us to be self-absorbed—unable to truly focus on God and what He wants to teach us. Worry and anxious care over money matters is an enemy of <strong>faith in God</strong> (cf.Matthew 6:24–34; Luke 12:13–34). And faith in God—including faith in His tried and true principles—is an integral part of the real solution to our financial woes.</p> <p>Sadly, most of humanity is unaware that God has anything important to say about our personal finances. That general ignorance—along with unwise spending habits—is primarily why many people are barely scraping by. Their funds seem insufficient for much beyond mere subsistence. That is also part of the reason why so many are trapped under a heavy load of personal debt and seem utterly unable to rid themselves of that oppressive nightmare! Such people often fall prey to depression and self-pity.</p> <p>But, as you have seen in this booklet, there is a way out! That way, though, <em>requires </em><strong>faith</strong> <em>in God and submission to His commands</em> (Psalm 19:7–11). Sadly, many people think that submission to God is like living under tyranny. But just the opposite is true! “His commandments are <strong><em>not</em></strong> burdensome” (1 John 5:3)! God’s way is always liberating—it frees us from oppression and burdens. “Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden,” said Christ, “and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light” ( Matthew 11:28–30).</p> <p>Our financial burdens are no exception. If you have fallen into a deep financial rut—or wish to avoid doing so in the future—you must heed God’s instructions. In so doing, your life will be remarkably blessed and, as a result, God will help you to resolve whatever financial problems you have faced!</p> <p>In summary, we are now definitely in the prophesied “last days” of this world’s civilization as we know it ( 2 Timothy 3:1). The living Christ is coming soon to take over the governments of this world (Revelation 11:15). God is now calling out a few thousand individuals to be prepared to serve under Christ in His coming world government. He is “testing” His people to see who He can <em>really count on</em> —those whose hearts are truly in His service and in His Work today. God reveals that He hears our prayers “because we <em>keep His commandments</em> and <strong>do </strong>those things that are pleasing in His sight” (1 John 3:22).</p> <p>In the mind of any honest student of the Bible, there should be <em>no question</em> but that tithing to God and to His Work is certainly “pleasing” in God’s sight! Long before the “Law of Moses,” Abraham tithed. And this was definitely a “key” example for us today. For Abraham is called the “ <strong>father </strong>of the faithful”—the very type of person we should all emulate.</p> <p>Later, as part of a prophecy which “bridges” the gap between the Old and New Testaments—placed in the <em>very last book</em> of the Old Testament and pointing toward the New Testament—God inspired Malachi to tell us: “Will a man rob God? Yet you have robbed Me! But you say, ‘In what way have we robbed You?’ In <strong>tithes</strong> and <strong>offerings</strong>” (Malachi 3:8). Those who try to get around tithing and who ignore this very plain warning are going to be <strong>shaken </strong>in the day of God’s wrath!</p> <p>Finally, when one of the personalities of God “emptied” Himself ( Philippians 2:7) and came down to this earth, He said that we should learn to exercise “judgment, mercy and faith” and “<strong>not </strong>to leave the other [<strong>tithing</strong>] undone” ( Matthew 23:23, <em>KJV</em>). Would <em>you </em>dare to disobey this direct instruction from the Son of God? Would <em>you</em> dare to leave God’s law of tithing “undone?”</p> <p>As this present world comes to a close, as the God of heaven looks down on earth to discern which men and which women truly <em>fear God</em> and have profound respect for Him and for His laws, it is very doubtful if He has much interest in the trick arguments of carnal men trying to get around His instruction to tithe. Rather, as our Creator tells us: “But on this one will I look: On him who is poor and of a contrite spirit, and who <strong>trembles</strong> at My word” (Isaiah 66:2).</p> <p>May God grant each of us a truly yielded heart and mind so that we will continuously strive to see “how close” we can draw to God—not how close we can get to the edge of the cliff without falling off! Rather, let each of us prayerfully determine how <em>much </em>we can give and how <em>much </em>we can do to help prepare for God’s Kingdom and to help send His message to this dying world.</p></div> <div class="field field--name-field-booklet-category field--type-entity-reference field--label-above"> <div class="field__label">Booklet Category</div> <div class="field__items"> <div class="field__item"><a href="/taxonomy/term/9" hreflang="en">Christian Living</a></div> <div class="field__item"><a href="/taxonomy/term/16" hreflang="en">Doctrine</a></div> </div> </div> Mon, 28 Feb 2022 20:10:02 +0000 4uwzvo 25 at