Category: Questions and Answers

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What is the “secret place” of the Most High in Psalm 91:1?

Psalm Chapter 91 presents the world as a battle ground where various evils occur. The passage mentions about the “terror by night“,”arrow that flieth by night“, “pestilence“, and “destruction“. Woe to him that walks about with blindness in such a terrible place. Apostle Paul described the situation as a war with evil spiritual forces of darkness-“For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places” (Eph.6:12).

In those ancient times cities or nations use to have fortresses or towers. These were places of safety. They  were characterized by thick walls and high raised portions on the wall wherein a watchman would stand to observe and alert people in case of any approaching danger.

In case of danger and you were outside the gates, you would run into the fortress for your protection.

As a Born Again child of God you also need to live in the fortress of God’s Word. This world is dark and our true protection lies in the revelation of God’s counsel to our lives. When one develops a closer walk with God he or she will live by the speaking of God in his life. When God reveals his counsel to you, that gives you joy and out of that joy comes strength. The revelation of God’s will gives you sight to see and walk not as a blind man but one who sees. That is not the situation for many people. Their lives are open for the devil to play around with. They are naked before forces of darkness. But a believer walks with God and is actually hidden in Christ – “For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God” (Col.3:3).

When you live by the counsel God reveals to you, what you do is  being done in the name of the Lord. As a believer “whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus” (Col.3:17). That name is your protection and no amount of devils can defeat that. The name of the Lord is his presence and hedge around you; it is your ultimate tower of protection – “The name of the LORD is a strong tower: the righteous runneth into it, and is safe” (Pro.18:10).

Now, having explained the above, let us read Psalm 91. Note that the word used in the Hebrew text for “secret place” is sether sithrah and refers to a shelter of protection. It is because of this that other versions like NIV states, “He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty“. When you read the whole chapter you will realise that the shelter being referred to is actually a fortress or tower. The Jerusalem Bible puts it very well as follows:

If you live in the shelter of Elyon and make your home in the shadow of Shaddai, you can say to Yahweh, ‘My refuge, my fortress, my God in whom I trust!

And verses 14 and 15 continues to say:

I rescue all who cling to me, I protect whoever knows my name, I answer everyone who invokes me, I am with them when they are in trouble; I bring them safety and honour.

These verses clearly strike a chord with what we read in Proverbs 18:10, “The name of the LORD is a strong tower: the righteous runneth into it, and is safe”.

Was the conception of Jesus the transformation of theophany into human flesh?

Question:

“I thought that the Word or Logos (the Theopany Body) became literally flesh and that was the flesh body of Jesus Christ. Does it mean that the Body dwelleth in a Human body which was Jesus’ body? Hope you will give me the difference between these two statements. God bless”

No, the Word did not transform itself into flesh as a foetus in the womb of Mary. Again no, at the baptism of Jesus it was not the Word Body entering another (human) body.

In the New Testament the Word Body vanished (i.e. ceased to exist) in order for the Word to now be expressed through a human body. That human body had to grow and feed. When Jesus was born as a baby he breastfed just like all babies. That was not a theophany breastfeeding; it was a normal human body being prepared. It had to grow in stature until such a time when the Spirit would indwell it so that it would now be the new mask of the invisible God (Col.1:15, Heb.10:5). When Jesus began his ministry the power and glory of the Word was manifest through his ministry. That was the Word becoming flesh! Like in the words of Paul, “God was manifest in the flesh” (1 Tim.3:16). On page 22 of his book on the subject of the Godhead Richard Gan puts it in this good simple way:

In the old, the LOGOS was expressed in and through a spirit body; in the new, the LOGOS was expressed in and through a human body…

And on page 24:

The newborn baby Jesus became a living soul and grew up to express the Life of God. From thence there was no longer any manifestation of the Spirit (Word) Body. Theophany ceased but the WORD was still with God.

In Hebrews 1:1-2 we read that “God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, Hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son”. So, in that Old Testament era the Word would at one time take on a manner or form or body of what appeared like fire and at another time like a cloud. That doesn’t mean when it appeared like a cloud then the cloud was an incarnation of the previous manifestation of fire. The fire is ANOTHER FORM through which the LOGOS manifested or expressed itself. Hebrews 1:1-2 thus makes it clear that the body of Jesus was another (and actually the final) form through which the Word would manifest.

On his baptism we read that “the heavens were opened unto him and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove, and lighting upon him” (Mat.3:16. That is what indwelt Jesus on his baptism, the Spirit of the Word, which is God (cf. Joh.1:1). When that Spirit was in Christ it manifested the Spoken Word of Life – “For he whom God hath sent speaketh the words of God: for God giveth not the Spirit by measure unto him” (Joh.3:34); “It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life” (Joh.6:63).

May I conclude with these words: if the body of Jesus was the theophany-turned-human, the question arises: what will become of that ‘theophany-turned-human’ when Christ hands the kingdom back to the father so that God may be “all in all” (1 Cor.15:28)? Please note that in the Old Testament when God manifested in form of fire, the fire wasn’t God. When God manifested in elements of dust fashioned into a human body like he did to Abraham, the dust or body of flesh was not God! When God was done with his use of that body, the dust went back to the ground, the theophany ceased until another time that there was need for its manifestation.

Was Jesus God when he was a baby?

Questions asked during India visit

Question No.5

“Was Jesus God when he was a baby?”

In Acts 2:36 we read that, “Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly, that God hath made that same Jesus, whom ye have crucified, both Lord and Christ”. This one passage of Scripture shows us that there is God and there is Jesus the man and it is God who made Jesus both Lord and Christ. Secondly, the verse also tells us that Jesus was not Lord and Christ from eternity or from birth but that he was made Lord and Christ at a certain time of his life.

It is important to know that Jesus was a ‘mask’, so to speak, or a body,  through which the invisible God manifested. Like Paul stated in his letter to the Colossians, Jesus was “the image of the invisible God” (Col.1:15). However, he did not become that body or mask right from birth. The body had to be prepared until such a time when the glory of God would manifest through it : “Wherefore when he cometh into the world, he saith…a body hast thou prepared me” (Heb.10:5). Jesus grew in “stature” (Luk.2:52) and when he was about thirty years of age, he was ready to be endowed with that Spirit without measure (Joh.3:34).

At his baptism when the Spirit of God came into him God declared “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased” (Mat.3:17). From that time mankind saw the God of heaven living among them through Jesus. It was for this reason he was named Emmanuel which means “God with us” (Mat.1:23), and Thomas called him, “My Lord and my God” (Joh.20:28) . That was the mystery of godliness – “God was manifest in the flesh” (1 Tim.3:16).

It is when that glory of God began to manifest in Jesus’ life that the Word was made flesh. The Word being made flesh does not mean the Word became blood cells, skin, or muscles as a fetus! Rather, it refers to the manifestation of the power of the Word through the flesh, that is, “God was manifest in the flesh” (1 Tim.3:16).  The Amplified Version phrases it this way – “He (God) was made visible in human flesh“, and in the NIV it states, “He appeared in a body“. Yes, God appeared in that body WHEN it was fully prepared for its work (Heb.10:5). John wrote that “the Word was made flesh and dwelt among us, AND WE BEHELD HIS GLORY” (Joh.1:14). That refers to the power of the Word that began to manifest through the Lord and made people to behold the glory of God. That cannot be said to have occurred when Jesus was born as a baby or during his childhood years.

If it is wrong for Christians to wear earrings, why does Ezekiel 16:11-12 say that God decked Israel with ornaments and bracelets?

Questions asked during India visit

Question No.4

If it is wrong for Christians to wear jewelry, why does Ezekiel 16:11-12 say that God decked Israel with ornaments and bracelets?

The counsel of God is perfect. What God requires of us is and will always be right. However, time and again man always drifts from the original plan or perfect will of God. An example of this is how man started engaging in divorce. Divorce was never part of God’s perfect will but because of the hardness of man’s heart He permitted it (Mat.19:8). When God permits something, even a vain thing that is unprofitable to man, it is in hope of something better to come, and also for eyes of man to see and learn. “For the creature”, Paul writes, “was made subject to vanity, not willingly, but by reason of Him who hath subjected the same in hope” (Rom.8:20). It is for this reason that although God knew about the imperfectness of the Old Testament Law He still let it take full course. He permitted the Law of Moses so “that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God” (Rom.3:19)The Law was to show man that even when he knew the good thing to do he was insufficient to perform true righteousness (Rom.7:19).

Another example of God permitting something which is not His will can be found in the life of David. He had many wives. We know that God was never the author of polygamy. For “they twain shall be one flesh… they are no more twain, but one flesh” (Mat.19:1-8). But, how could God say to David, “And I gave thee thy master’s house, and thy master’s wives into thy bosom…and if that had been too little, I would moreover have given unto thee such and such things”? (2 Sam.12:8-9). Does this sentence mean God sanctioned the polygamous marriages of King David? How about the scripture which says that God had put a lying spirit in Ahab’s prophets (2 Chro.18:21-22); would God lie?

It is important to know that God is everywhere and sovereign and therefore, whatever He permits the free-will of man to do, even when it is a terribly evil thing, that is by implication His cause!  Is it any surprising then that in Isaiah He declared saying, “I form the light, and create darkness: I make peace, and create evil: I the LORD do all these things” (Isa.45:7)?

In Genesis chapter 35 we read about God telling Jacob to go to Bethel. Jacob knew that the gods and type of garments his family wore weren’t  pleasing to God. So he commanded them saying “Put away the strange gods that are among you, and be clean, and change your garments” (v.2). Surely a spiritual person is able to discern the perfect will of God. When Jacob’s family heard the instruction, they did more than they were told for “they gave to Jacob all the strange gods which were in their hand , and all their earrings which were in the ears” (v.4). Why did they put off the earrings if there was nothing wrong with wearing them? And would all Israelites follow the example of Jacob’s family through time? Not so. Later there was a nation of Israel which time and again got attracted to the vain beauty of pagan nations. Their hearts coveted after that and yes God gave them the vanity they desired but with consequences! Yes, God can permit an undesirable thing but there will always be consequences which follow.

Here is another case: wasn’t it considered a curse for women to lead people? “As for my people, children are their oppressors, and women rule over them. O my people, they which lead thee cause thee to err, and destroy the way of thy paths” (Isa.3:12). But was it not God who raised Deborah, a woman, to lead the nation of Israel. Does that mean God is pleased with women being in leadership or being preachers? Many who are blind to the simple truth of Scripture would say so, but Deborah herself knew that this was against normal order when she said to Barak, “I will surely go with thee: notwithstanding the journey that thou takest shall not be for thine honour; for the LORD shall sell Sisera into the hand of a woman” (Jud.4:8-9). The sins of Israel were many and God permitted that.

In the time of Ezekiel, the infidelity of Israel against God’s Law was thus illustrated: “I decked thee also with ornaments, and I put bracelets upon thy hands, and a chain on thy neck. And I put a jewel on thy forehead, and earrings in thine ears, and a beautiful crown upon thine head” (Eze.16:11-12). But what resulted from this beauty of Israel? The scripture continues: “But thou didst trust in thine own beauty, and playedst the harlot because of thy renown, and pouredst out thy fornications on every one that passed by; his it was”(v.15).

In the New Testament Christ came to restore man to the perfect will of God. To all those who walk in the Grace God has given us through Calvary we have left the “shadows” of the Law behind us because the Light of God’s Truth has shined upon us. We don’t take pleasure in carnality. We are the Bride of Christ “whose adorning [is] not that outward adorning of plaiting the hair, and of wearing of gold” (1 Pet.3:3). We surely can never hide in shadows of the night like prostitutes and thieves when the Day-star has dawned upon us!

Be assured that if the family of Jacob upon conviction of the word they received from Jacob about some holy place they were to go to, gave up their earrings and garments, Eve who was in Eden, in the very presence of God, a pure daughter of God, would have never perforated her nose or ears to try to look beautiful! If the Fall had not occurred Eve would still have been alive today and there certainly wouldn’t be any paint on her lips or eyebrows!

Why was the Serpent cursed to become another animal (a snake)?

Questions asked during India visit

Question No.3

In the Bible we read about how God judged or cursed people with diseases, disasters, or how he caused death upon them. However, the judgement passed on the Serpent in Genesis Chapter 3 was strange: The Serpent was changed to a different kind of animal, a snake. Why was this so?

Note:The response below assumes that you know the truth about the Serpent Seed doctrine. If you don’t, please read a book by Richard Gan titled The Original Sin. It is available here or send us a request for a printed copy of the book (Email voiceoftheword@live.com).

We should first understand the truth about the sin that Adam committed in the Garden of Eden. We know that the woman was deceived by the Serpent and not the man (1 Tim 2:14), but the Scripture also states that through man sin and death entered the world (Rom.5:12-14). So, if Adam was not deceived but yet committed sin, what was his transgression?

It is important to remember that in Eden God had made a man and a woman  to become one flesh. “Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh” says the Scripture (Gen.2:24). Becoming one flesh as husband and wife is accomplished through sexual intercourse; like Paul exclaimed to Corinthians, “know ye not that he which is joined to an harlot is one body? for two, saith he, shall be one flesh” (1 Cor.6:16). By this law it is gross confusion when a person commits adultery and this sin was punishable by death in the Old Testament. Although under the old covenant divorce was permitted a divorced woman could not return to again become wife of her former husband. That would be a great abomination which would pollute the land of Israel (Deu.24:1-4, Jer.3:1). All such undesirable things were brought about by the Fall. And events of the Fall in Eden have important lessons for the church which Paul illustrates as a bride of Christ.

In one passage of Scripture (2 Cor.11:1-3) apostle Paul expressed his concern over the prospective marriage between Christ and His Bride. He compared the espousal to that of Adam and Eve but he feared that what happened to Eve might also occur to the Bride of Christ. [Note: If the Original Sin committed in Eden merely involved the eating of a literal fruit from a tree (as traditional theology presents) won’t Paul be way out of context to compare eating a mango, guava or whatever fruit, to a nuptial matter?]

Our interest in 2 Corinthians 11:2-3 should be to ask, What was Paul’s “fear”? This is what we read in 2 Corinthians 11:2-3: “for I have espoused you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ. But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtlety, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ.” Why is there an emphasis of “ONE husband“? Would it not have sufficed to only state that “I have espoused you to a husband” or “I have espoused you to Christ your husband”?

Paul’s fear was that the espousal to “one husband” would be spoiled like what had been done to Eve by the Serpent! Any reasonable mind listening to Paul’s words would next ask, “to whom was Eve espoused and what was the role of the Serpent in spoiling that espousal?” Well, in Eden Eve had been espoused to Adam but before he could come into her, she became one flesh with the Serpent. When that happened Adam lost her. However, to redeem her, he committed intercourse with her and hence was numbered with the transgressors.

In all this we should see that Adam was not deceived into the sin. He knew the consequences of what he had done, and he did it to lay the sin on himself and hence save Eve from destruction: Adam was a son of God and God’s program for Earth was to manifest through him. God would not destroy him. By taking the iniquity of Eve on himself he both polluted the land and brought death on it, but also took everything into suspense, so to speak, because the woman now had TWO HUSBANDS,  and one of them was a son of God! That could simply not be permitted.

How would God resolve this deadlock? To simply curse the erring serpent with a disease or even killing it would never erase both the memory and fact that Eve had become one flesh with the Serpent. In her blood Eve would still be a wife of TWO HUSBANDS. The only way to retain her status as a wife of “one husband” was to change the Serpent from one kind of specie to another. This transformation completely de-arranged the DNA of the Serpent so that whatever blood had become one with Eve no longer had a creature from which it came! That which was one with Eve had ceased to exist. The anatomy of the Serpent was so changed that no trace of it has been fathomed. Its the “Missing Link”; the serpent-kind was completely eliminated from the Earth, leaving neither root nor branch of its memory! In this way there was no more chance of further intermingling between human beings and serpent creatures. Clearly the intermingling between Eve and the Serpent had set a bad precedence which would have recurred between future children to come. That one curse halted all that.

How shall ‘unity of the faith’ in Ephesians 4:13 be accomplished if we are not all to rally behind one man?

Questions asked during India visit

Question No. 2

How shall “unity of the faith” in Ephesians 4:13 be accomplished if we are not all to rally behind one man? 

Many believers have been caught up in the delusion of mistaking unity of opinions for unity of the faith. When William Branham died many people crafted the idea that we should only say what the tapes say. Did unity come out of such endeavors? No. Today there are countless divisions among different Message groupings but who all profess to take the prophet as their absolute. We then had our beloved brother and apostle, Raymond Jackson, being used by the Lord in the teaching of the Word. With time the term “apostle” wasn’t enough; an idea of “Chief Apostle” was conceived and it was believed that for the unity of faith to materialize everyone had to believe and recognize brother Jackson as the chief. One man from Nigeria became so fanatical about this idea that he went ahead to proclaim that Jackson won’t die but would lead believers into the Rapture. Dreams and scriptures were used to justify the claim. After Jackson died no lessons were learnt, instead an unimaginable and more ridiculous thing followed – the Nigerian man proclaimed himself to be the successor of Jackson as  “the Lead Apostle”. Is it possible for a man with such a record to have any followers? Well, his disciples are now getting to be everywhere you go. God forbid, but suppose anything happened to the fellow and nothing of his predictions comes to pass would there be any lessons learnt? Believe it or not, more stupid ideas will pop up having more zealous followers! How long shall it take before people learn to “not to think of men above that which is written” (1 Cor.4:6)?

So, how will the unity of faith materialize if we are not to rally behind one man, someone asked.

First it is important to know that any unity founded on grounds of rallying behind a man will surely end up in a babel of confusion. Birth of confusions which lead to various splinter groups whenever a founder figure head dies testifies to this fact.  And is that not what happened one day when men said to each other,“Go to… let us make us a name, lest we be scattered abroad upon the face of the whole earth” (Gen.11:4)? The unity could not be accomplished when the language of the people got confounded. However, there is a record of a unity which God had blessed. It is found in Acts Chapter 2. The events of this passage of Scripture are opposite to what happened at the tower of Babel. In Jerusalem it is different languages that were present but which got unified, so to speak, by the outpouring of the Holy Ghost. Men who were not in the faith listened to the Words Peter proclaimed and were pricked in their hearts.

In Acts Chapter 10 we read about a Gentile who was prayerful, humble and devout. He did not know the good news of Jesus Christ, but because of his prayers and humility something wonderful was about to happen that would bring him into the faith and knowledge of the Son of God. It so happened one day that Cornelius started praying and fasting. On the other end was another man, Peter, an apostle of the Lord Jesus Christ. He knew nothing about Cornelius but an angel had instructed Cornelius about Peter whilst he prayed. He sent for men to call him. As the men went on their way Peter had gone up on the housetop to pray and there he saw a vision. It is important to notice here how both Peter and Cornelius were caught up in the same spirit and vision.  When the men of Cornelius arrived to get Peter God had already done the work! Peter went to the house of Cornelius, preached the Word and the gentiles came into the one faith of Jesus Christ as they received the Holy Spirit baptism! Dear friend, this was the working of the Spirit to bring together men who were once apart both in distance, race, spirit, and faith!

The unity of the faith materializes when the flesh of man gets out of the way; when men and women yield their minds and hearts to the Holy Spirit; when men die to the flesh and their carnal will of the mind to look up to to the Lord Jesus. True ministers of Christ  – apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors, and teachers –  do not lead people to glorifying a man. They proclaim the Word of God and guide the flock to grow in the knowledge of Christ. Ministers who truly believed the Message of the prophet sent to this age will preach the Word with the same attitude of William Branham, and this was Branham’s attitude for which many seriously fall short of:

Not for one moment do I bring a message to the people that they may follow me, or join my church, or start some fellowship and organization. I have never done that and will not do that now. I have no interest in those things, but I do have an interest in the things of God and people, and if I can accomplish just one thing I will be satisfied. That one thing is to see established a true spiritual relationship between God and men, wherein men become new creations in Christ, filled with His Spirit and live according to His Word. I would invite, plead and warn all to hear His voice at this time, and yield your lives completely to Him, even as I trust in my heart that I have given my all to Him. God bless you, and may His coming rejoice your heart” (Exposition of the Seven Church Ages).

Now it is important to know that the knowledge that God gives through His ministry – whether it be an exhortation or revelation of a mystery – is never for the purpose of merely letting us know something we didn’t know. Neither is it for the turning of our ‘heads’ so that we can exclaim, “Oh, I didn’t know that!” and perhaps boast to a denominational Christian saying, “Hey, The Holy Trinity is a false doctrine, and do you know the mystery of the Seven Seals?” God’s Word is a life-transforming power. When He gave the revelation of the Seals for example, it was to show us how the spirit of pride and error entered the early church and with time got formalized until Christendom became so empty of the true counsel of God. Such a revelation ought to inspire the heart of a believer and turn them from their carnal passions and begin abiding and bearing forth fruit of the will of God in their lives. Isn’t that what ‘Elijah’ was sent for  – “he shall turn the heart of …the children to their fathers” (Mal.4:6).

There is one body, and one Spirit” Paul wrote, “One faith…And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; For the perfecting of the saints…Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ“. The “perfect man” shall never come about by merely trying to agree on a list of doctrines, and neither will it come by completing an alleged syllabus or curriculum of mysteries; the perfect man shall manifest when you continuously die to your flesh and allow Christ to fill your heart, leading you in your daily life. What translated Enoch was his close walk with God. When we walk closely with Him we shall grow in our knowledge of Him as our eyes get opened to mysteries of His Word.

If according to Matthew 12:31-32 it is possible to blaspheme the “Holy Ghost” but not the “Father”, isn’t that evidence of the Trinity in the Bible?

Questions asked during India visit

Question No. 1

If according to Matthew 12:31-32 it is possible to blaspheme the “Holy Ghost” but not the “Father”, isn’t that evidence of the Trinity in the Bible?

Before answering this question I should first point out a serious error in the question: Matthew 12:31-32 does not state anything about blaspheming the “Father”; it mentions “Son of Man”, not “Father”! Secondly, even if Matthew 12:31-32 had used Father or Son of Man, that would actually contradict the Trinity doctrine which assumes that the three persons of Father, Son, and Holy Ghost are equal and the same and hence a sin against any of them would logically attract the same penalty! But putting that aside let’s clear the misconception.

This is what Matthew 12:31-32 says:

Wherefore I say unto you, All manner of sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven unto men: but the blasphemy against the Holy Ghost shall not be forgiven unto men.  And whosoever speaketh a word against the Son of man, it shall be forgiven him: but whosoever speaketh against the Holy Ghost, it shall not be forgiven him, neither in this world, neither in the world to come.

We find these similar words in Luke 12:10, but here is how Mark recorded the same speech of the Lord:

“Verily I say unto you, All sins shall be forgiven unto the sons of men, and blasphemies wherewith soever they shall blaspheme: But he that shall blaspheme against the Holy Ghost hath never forgiveness, but is in danger of eternal damnation: Because they said, He hath an unclean spirit” (Mar.3:28-30).

Notice how Mark generalizes his phrase: instead of “the Son of man” as stated by Matthew and Luke, he sates  “wherewith soever they shall blaspheme“. The difference in the phrases, and also what the Lord was clearly emphasizing, is this: Although as men (human beings) we may disagree on things we do or believe, and although others may even go as far as insulting another man or his works,  cursed is a person who over-steps his boundary to insult God! Such a person has spoken an unholy thing about the Holy Spirit.  Please note that throughout the Scripture, “Holy Spirit” is not another God apart from Yahweh.  “God is Spirit” (Joh. 4:24) and “He is…holy” (1 Pet.1:15) and is thus the Holy Spirit [If you believe in the Trinity consider this question: Whose child or son was Jesus: was he a child of the Father or the Holy Ghost? Read Mat. 1:18].

When the Lord Jesus used the term “Son of Man”, as recorded by Matthew and Luke, He in no way was referring to himself as another God who is more tolerant to insults  than ‘God the Holy Spirit’! The Lord was referring to himself as a human being. So, to put it another way : You may sin against men and may be forgiven, but to insult the Holy Spirit is putting yourself in danger of eternal damnation. That’s exactly what the pharisees had done: the Lord had delivered a man possessed by an evil spirit and they accused him of using an unclean spirit to perform the wonder. They blasphemed!

Would a school qualification or government regulation end the problem of immoral pastors in Zambia?

Question:

Looking at the unprecedented occurrence of scandals committed by Christian pastors (especially those of the new mushrooming churches) in Zambia, isn’t the government in order with its plans to start regulating churches by ensuring that only people trained in recognised colleges of Theology  should be allowed to be pastors?

Response:

Will educating pastors really help alleviate the problem of scandals, fake miracles, and all sorts of deceptive schemes that have infiltrated churches in Zambia? Will education deliver Christian congregations from the immoral behaviour of pastors? Is that what the Christian reverend, at the helm of the Ministry of Religion and National Guidance, sees as the solution? Well, we have the biggest Christian denomination that has the most educated preachers but yet continues to make shocking headlines.

  • BBC News, 26 February 2019

Catholic Church child sexual abuse scandal

From Australian country towns to schools in Ireland and cities across the US, the Catholic Church has faced an avalanche of child sexual abuse accusations in the last few decades. High-profile cases and harrowing testimony given to public inquiries have continued to keep the issue in the headlines.

In the most recent of these, Cardinal George Pell was convicted of abusing two choir boys in Melbourne in 1996. He is Australia’s highest-ranking Catholic, and was previously Vatican treasurer – meaning he was widely seen as the Church’s third most powerful official. And Theodore McCarrick, a former cardinal in the US, was defrocked over abuse claims just 10 days earlier – making him the most senior Catholic figure to be dismissed from the priesthood in modern times.

Meanwhile alleged cover-ups continue to dog the Church, and victims groups say the Vatican has not done nearly enough to right its wrongs. In an effort to address the problem, Pope Francis recently held an unprecedented summit on paedophilia in the Church.

  • BBC News, 2 December 2018

Pope Francis ‘worried’ about homosexuality in the priesthood

Pope Francis has said that homosexuality in the clergy is a “serious matter” that “worries” him.  The comments were made in an interview about religious vocations, given to a Spanish missionary priest as part of an upcoming book. The pontiff described homosexuality as “fashionable”, and urged clergy to observe their vow of celibacy.

Jesus on Trial

Zambia is a Christian nation and this is enshrined in the nation’s supreme law of the land – the constitution:

WE, THE PEOPLE OF ZAMBIA: ACKNOWLEDGE the supremacy of God Almighty; DECLARE the Republic a Christian Nation while upholding a person’s right to freedom of conscience, belief or religion.

Now, let’s summon the founder of Christianity, Jesus Christ, to stand before our proposed piece of legislation which intends to set  minimum academic requirements for a preacher or teacher of the Gospel. The question is, Would he pass the judgement and hence be licensed to preach the Gospel in this Christian Nation? Before we do that let us ensure that our court session is in the same context as those which were in the tims of Jesus and his apostles. Let us look at three things which  characterised the religious systems in the days of Jesus Christ and his apostles:

1) Like today there used to be established schools of theology which also produced learned men, including those who were revered and esteemed as “doctors”. In Luke 2:46 we read that the boy Jesus, was found “in the temple, sitting in the midst of the doctors, both hearing them, and asking them questions”.

2) Like today there were established institutions which were responsible for authorising men to preach. It is for this reason that one day when the Pharisees and Teachers of the Law found Jesus preaching to a congregation they asked him, “who gave thee this authority?” (Mat.21:23).

3) Like the proposed piece of legislation would require, even then preachers were expected to be literate; they were supposed to be able to read and have knowledge as an educated person. It is because of this that people marvelled at Peter and John when they “perceived that they were unlearned and ignorant men(Act.4:13).

So, seeing that our modern society is characterised by the same three norms above, our trial of Jesus Christ would be very much in context. Let us thus proceed with the prosecution by seeing it through what the Lord and his apostles already went through:

1. Who authorised Jesus and his apostles to preach?

The Pharisees and Teachers of the Law were faced with the same question. In that time there had been incidences of influential men who misled people into false hopes (Act.5:34-39) and the Pharisees may have felt justified in accusing Jesus of teaching doctrines which they believed broke tradition and led people into error. They decided to legally implicate Jesus by inquiring about his preaching license: “who gave thee this authority?” (Mat.21:23). In answering them he distinguished between men called by God and those who rise by the authority of man:  “I also will ask you one thing …The baptism of John, whence was it? from heaven, or of men? And they reasoned with themselves, saying, If we shall say, From heaven; he will say unto us, Why did ye not then believe him? But if we shall say, Of men; we fear the people; for all hold John as a prophet” (Mat.21:24-25).

Note that this in no way implies that Christians must not obey authorities. What we must know is that Jesus never meant to launch an organisation. His teachings were about a life to be lived, not a religion! People who receive the same inspiration of living like Christ can come together to pray, share the Word, and glorify God as a family, not a bureaucracy! Trouble begins when men institutionalise what was supposed to be a simple life into a full-fledged money-making scheme and organisation. History testifies that any revival which began with the inspiration of the Holy Spirit but later cooled down to formality quickly extinguished as spiritual men eventually got replaced with carnal ones who met the minimum requirements set by a system.

2. Was Jesus a learned (or trained) preacher?

It is interesting to note that the founder of Christianity, Jesus, never went to school and he actually criticised the then established (traditional) institutions. He condemned them to have had no real life of God’s Word – “Making the word of God of none effect through your tradition, which ye have delivered: and many such like things do ye” (Mark 7:13). But although Jesus was not educated, he wasn’t an ignoramus. He was knowledgeable and full of wisdom and that is what confounded His critics: “And the Jews marvelled, saying, How knoweth this man letters, having never learned? Jesus answered them, and said, My doctrine is not mine, but his that sent me. If any man will do his will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God, or whether I speak of myself” (Joh. 7:15-17).

Paul, an apostle of the Lord Jesus, had gone to a school of theology and had acquired the revered status of Pharisee. However, upon meeting the Light of the Gospel, he threw away all his theology and called it “dung” (there is a modern term for that  – shit!) – “I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ” (Phi.3:8). Paul declared that the doctrine of Christ he had was not learnt from man ( through a  seminary or school of theology) – “But I certify you, brethren, that the gospel which was preached of me is not after man. For I neither received it of man, NEITHER WAS I TAUGHT IT, but by the revelation of Jesus Christ” (Gal.1:12).

3. Were apostles Peter and John educated?

Well, here is what happened one time when they had been arrested by some religious authorities: “Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were unlearned and ignorant men, they marvelled; and they took knowledge of them, that they had been with Jesus” (Act.4:13).

May I state here that education is very important. There are many problems that can be overcome in Africa and other Third World countries by eradicating illiteracy and empowering people with knowledge of science, financial management, entrepreneurship, health, etcetera. Such education should also inform people about human behaviour and how to relate with one another. True knowledge is light that can flash a beam to dissipate dark clouds of superstition. It is important to note here that many Christian congregants are duped and abused by false prophets and apostles not because the pastors are not educated but because people are poor, ignorant, and foolish! Our government should ask itself: How is it that there are many developed countries with Christian churches but which have not wasted any tax-payers money into establishing some ‘Ministry of Religion and National Guidance’? Why are there countries which have moved from Third World to Developed status within decades but without having had to call for  a national day of prayer and fasting? If we apply our hearts to sincerely  seek answers to these important questions we will realise that ignorance of the masses is the number one problem.

In Zambia the ignorant masses have been exploited by both false prophets (whether educated or not) and politicians (whether educated or not). A false prophet can claim to  create miracle money and a politician is that messiah who is always able to save people from their poverty! Don’t both these deceivers often boast of academic credentials? Don’t they both ride on people’s ignorance? A politician can mess up an economy through poor fiscal policies, an immoral governance system or perpetrating rampant corruption; his people may be hungry and angry for a while but all a politician may have to do is go into a solemn religious prose and call for a day of prayer, and the ‘peace-loving people’ will applaud their great humble leader. In the light of all this, it should be seen that if we ever think education can solve the problem of immorality in the church then it should be masses who should be educated, and not the so-called prophets. If anyone thinks education is the tool to heal a person of immoral or deceptive behavior, let them check the academic credentials of men in power who destroyed Hiroshima and Nagasaki in August 1945.

Dearly beloved, the problem of strange practices in  churches today is not a result of having uneducated pastors; it is the moral compass which has ossified in man! If educating the clergy produces morally upright men Catholic clerics would be angels! Those who know scriptures understand that it was already foretold that “there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction. And many shall follow their pernicious ways; by reason of whom the way of truth shall be evil spoken of. And through covetousness shall they with feigned words make merchandise of you: whose judgment now of a long time lingereth not, and their damnation slumbereth not” (2 Pet.2:1-3).

Can the Parable of Ten Virgins be related to the Parable of the Sower?

Question:

Shalom sir

I just finished studying your article titled Be ye Fruitful , in which you explain about the four types of ground where the seed of the sower fell into (Matthew 13: 3-9). I also read Brother Richard Gan’s message on the Ten Virgins. I want to ask, what “grounds” out of the four can we say the foolish virgins fall into?


Response

Dear brother,

It is important to understand that a parable is a story with a specific theme used to illustrate a truth. So, wherever we see a parable in Scripture we must first recognise its theme and the truth it intends to convey.

The application of a parable is always restricted to its theme. The failure to comprehend this has made some theologians stretch interpretations into exaggerations. That is the case with one well known organisation whose leaders have explained that the “wise virgins” of Matthew 25:1-13 do not to refer to the “Bride”. It is explained that in this parable the ten bridesmaids are escorting the bride and therefore can’t refer to the Bride of Christ. The Bride of Christ is said to be that small number of 144,000 of Revelation Chapter 7. It is further believed and taught that these 144,000 are the only people that will be given the priviledge to go to heaven; the rest of believers will only live on earth. Then they move to Matthew 22:1-14 to further emphasise that “the king” had invited guests to the marriage feast of his son. Here again it is assumed that the bride to the king’s son is what referred to the selected few and  all other Christians are the ones invited to the feast! All such strange interpretations arise from stretching parables beyond their theme.

Parable of Ten Virgins (Mat. 25:1-13)

We must ask ourselves this: When we look at the parable of ten virgins, what is the theme of the story? What is the message that was intended to be communicated? The message or theme of the parable can easily be found in the last words of admonishment the Lord said after telling it – “Watch therefore, for ye know neither the day nor the hour wherein the Son of man cometh” (Mat.25:13). So the Lord wanted to tell us about the importance of being always ready and he decided to use an illustration of a wedding. But a wedding has so many activities and different players: there is the groom, the bride, the bridesmaids, the friend of the bridegroom, the parents presenting the bride, etcetera. The Lord had to pick characters and activities that were appropriate for the message He wanted to convey. He decided to use bridesmaids and there was a good reason for that.

In the parable bridesmaids were called virgins. Here it is important to know that Jesus was not an American or European. He lived in that oriental (middle-eastern) region of the world and so his manner of language and illustrations were of that world. In the oriental weddings bridesmaids were unmarried young women. And as Brother Richard Gan has explained in detail, in THE FINALE,  “At an appointed time, these maidens were supposed to go forth and receive the bridegroom in his procession to the bride’s home… As it was usually conducted in the evening, lights were needed” (p.50). It is here where we can see that the Lord chose bridesmaids to emphasise the importance of being ready for the “appointed time”! Thus, the theme of the parable is not about the identity of the bride or the feasting during the event; those things are completely silent in the parable because the parable’s message is not about them! The parable is about readiness to meet the Bridegroom!

Parable of the Marriage Feast (Mat.22:1-14)

A simple reading of Matthew 22:1-14 shows that the parable is not about the king’s son or bride. The parable is about an invitation to a wedding feast; a wedding feast which some people despised to attend and others attended, and out of those who attended some were accepted (“chosen”) and others rejected for dressing inappropriately. The Lord concluded the narration of the parable by admonishing with these words, “For many are called, but few are chosen”.

The Parable of the Sower and the Seed (Mat.13:1-23)

The theme of the parable of the sower and the seed is about the different ways people hear the Word of God and why some people prosper in their hearing and others do not. In speaking the parable the Lord explained, “Hear ye therefore the parable of the sower. When any one heareth the word of the kingdom, and understandeth it not, then cometh the wicked one, and catcheth away that which was sown in his heart. This is he which received seed by the way side… But he that received seed into the good ground is he that heareth the word, and understandeth it; which also beareth fruit, and bringeth forth, some an hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty” (v.18-23). This parable applies to “any one [that] heareth the Word of the Kingdom”. That “any one” lived in the days of the Lord Jesus, in the days of the early church, or through the Church Ages. That “any one” could be a brother or sister in a local church. While it may be correct to say that the Foolish Virgins are not “he that received seed into the good ground” (v.23), to now find the specific category of the three other grounds they may belong to becomes a futile exercise because the theme of the parable of the Wise and Foolish Virgins is not about hearing but about readiness to meet the Bridegroom! The analogies in the two parables are simply too incongruent to be related.

“What does it mean to come to ‘the unity of the faith?'”

This question is clearly drawn from Ephesians 4:13 which says, “Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ.

First it is important to note from this verse that IT IS NOT different faiths that will get united but “we”, the people of God, who shall come into the unity of the Faith. The Faith is already ‘united’, so to speak, for  “There is…one Faith” (Eph.4:4-5)! However, it is the carnal mind of man that always hinders the full expression of that Faith. It is the carnal ideas and doctrines of man that have always distorted the right perception of “the knowledge of the Son of God”.  The “knowledge of the Son of God” has always been complete and perfect but ours is a world of imperfect minds trying to  grasp  the perfect knowledge of God. From time to time carnal ideas distort the right perception of the Truth. It is for this reason that people have conjectured different interpretations of Scripture. To correctly perceive Truth one has to be led by the Spirit!

Spiritual people die daily to their flesh and thus continually get filled with the Spirit (1 Cor.15:31). The Spirit guides them into all Truth (Joh.16:13). That Truth is the knowledge or Word of God. As we look into the mirror of that Word, we continually get transformed – “with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord” (2 Cor.3:18).

All who are on this path of dying to self, and letting the Spirit of Christ fill them, will one day grow “unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ” (2 Cor.3:18).  When that is accomplished, the divisions which came by carnality would be overcome because we would all be dead to every carnal idea or thought. Thus, the Unity of the Faith can only be a work of the Holy Spirit; No council of men, or  a group of ministers trying to rally behind one man, can ever produce it!