Category: Questions and Answers

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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!

“Is Brother Ewald Frank ‘the wise and faithful servant’ of Matthew 24:45?”

It is alright for a preacher to identify himself as “faithful and wise servant” of Matthew 24:45, but to think and say that the Lord was prophesying about one man who would one day rise as “the faithful and wise servant” is in every way false. Furthermore, to teach that the faithful servant is the head over other servants of God because of these words –  “his lord hath made ruler over his household” (v.45) –  is a gross misinterpretation of Scripture!

When interpretation of Scripture veers out of context confusion begins where there should have been none.  When we look at how simple the parable of Matthew 24:45-51, and the obvious meaning of the phrase “fellowservants” in the passage, one wonders how such a strange doctrine rose from the Scripture.

Matthew 24:45-51 was a simple parable which the Lord spoke and was also recorded by Mark and Luke. The manner in which the parable was narrated indicates that it was not a prophecy but an illustration of a quintessential good servant or evil servant. The Lord begins by asking, “Who then is a faithful and wise servant, whom his lord hath made ruler over his household, to give them meat in due season?” (v.45). In these words he asked a question and indicated that a good servant ought to give his household meat in due season. He went further to state that “Blessed is that servant, whom his lord when he cometh shall find so doing” (v.46). Now, do you notice that if this were a prophecy of a certain individual to rise in this endtime, the words in Matthew 24:46 mean that the person should be alive until the coming of the Lord Jesus? Apart from that the prophecy further implies that the faithful and wise servant will eventually turn  into an evil servant who shall begin fighting his fellows servants  – “But and if that evil servant shall say in his heart, My lord delayeth his coming; And shall begin to smite his fellowservants The lord of that servant shall come in a day when he looketh not for him” (v.50). But we are certain that this isn’t foretelling the future of any individual because prophecy is never phrased with such “if” parabolic conditions. When this parable is read from the record of Luke, it is quite clear that the “wise servant” and “evil servant” are not two persons but actually referring to one person who may become evil – “Blessed is that servant, whom his lord when he cometh shall find so doing… But and if that servant say in his heart, My lord delayeth his coming; and shall begin to beat the menservants and maidens, and to eat and drink, and to be drunken; The lord of that servant will come in a day when he looketh not for him” (Luk.12:42-45).

Now notice that the evil servant smites his “fellowservants”! The word “fellow” indicates that he is not the only special one; he is one among other fellows. This even becomes more conspicuous when we read the record of the same parable by Mark. Mark wrote: “For the Son of man is as a man taking a far journey, who left his house, and gave authority to his servants, and to every man his work, and commanded the porter to watch” (Mar.13:33-37). Yes, servants of God have one authority, the Word of God!

An important question to ask at this point is this: What is the origin of ‘The Wise-Servant’ doctrine?

Whence came ‘The Wise-Servant’ Doctrine?

A false doctrine can arise out of a misinterpreted scripture or spiritual experience. The wise-servant doctrine arose from what I believe was a true spiritual experience.

Brother Ewald Frank once had a wonderful experience. God spoke to him to store the food because a draught was coming. When brother Branham met him, he told him both the experience and its interpretation. The food was the Message which was to be stored. After Brother Branham died, Brother Frank surely played an important role in ensuring that the Message be put in print form. However, God telling him to store the food because of the coming famine doesn’t mean he was the only one tasked with the responsibility. This is evident in the following words of Brother Branham’s prayer in the message, CHRIST IS THE MYSTERY OF GOD REVEALED (63-0728):

Bless our dear beloved pastor [Bro. Neville], the shepherd. We pray that you’ll anoint him with the Holy Spirit of Thy Word and reveal to them and feed the flock. Once, just a while ago when you showed the vision, the little tabernacle here . . . but to store up the food; that there would come a time when this would all be needed. When we seen Brother Sothmann and Brother Woods ready to cross over into another country to. . . But you said, “Store up this food here for the time.” Lord, reverently I’ve tried to do that.

If brother Neville would have let pride to get a hold of him, he would have started an agenda of proclaiming, “I am the one to feed the flock because the prophet said, ‘Feed the flock’”. It is important to always remember that whenever a thought or idea veers off from context misinterpretation follows and confusion occurs where there should have been none! In all this it is still interesting to note that the prophet had indicated what was the storehouse of the ‘food’ – not in Germany but Jeffersonville Indiana. Here is what he said in the message TAKING SIDES WITH JESUS (62-0601):

You remember what that dream that I got the interpretation was. “Go back and store up food.” Where was the store house? this tabernacle… And here’s where the food’s been stored up.

Who can deny that in terms of the distribution of printed sermons of William Branham, Voice of God Recordings (in Jeffersonville Indiana) has done more than all efforts of other ministries put together? We may disagree with beliefs that come out of the Branham Tabernacle or Voice of God Recordings, but no one can deny that they are the main vehicles through which Brother Branham’s messages have been stored and distributed.

But, What really constitutes the ‘food’?

What really is the “meat in due season” that a faithful servant of God ought to give to his household? Is it merely repeating the messages of William Branham on the tapes, or reading the Spoken Word books? Does the giving out of the food mean  repeatitively sharing a testimony of what God did when His prophet was here?

We know that all prophets of the Old Testament pointed to the coming of the full manifestation of the Word in Christ. But after Christ came, taught and asecended to heaven, did the apostles go round only repeating word for word what Christ the ‘full word’ had taught? Was Peter’s mission to keep emphasising how he was the one given the keys to open the kingdom of heaven? Was that the ‘food’? Not so. In the epistles we find much more than Jesus taught, not because the Lord was not the full Word but, because the life of the Word was still present among them. Likewise, one can read a Spoken Word book but without inspiration his soul will still starve of the real food. The actual food is not the spoken or written words of William Branham but what the Spirit speaks through those words! Thus, without the Spirit one can listen to tapes but still not eat of that food which can sustain his or her present need. That food can only proceed from the mouth of God and only he that hath an ear to hear the Spirit can truly hear! God uses his servants to bring out this timely food. It is the meat in due season! It is not food taken from a microwave of a library. Thus, “every scribe which is instructed unto the kingdom of heaven is like unto a man that is an householder, which bringeth forth out of his treasure things new and old” (Mat.13:52).

In conclusion, let it be clear that there are only Seven Church Ages. To lift one man in this endtime as the successor of the Seventh Church Age messenger will land us into ‘Revelation Chapter 23’! May we therefore give heed to the admonition of saint Paul –  “that ye might learn in us not to think of men above that which is written, that no one of you be puffed up for one against another” (1 Cor.4:6).

Question: Does Ezekiel 16:11-14 permit women to wear earrings and adornments?

Response:

Dear brother,

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. 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).

Look at David. He had many wives. We know that God is not the author of polygamy. Polygamy is adultery! 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 really mean that God sanctioned the polygamous marriage of King David? How about the scripture which says 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 wouldn’t please 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). But would every child of God follow this same example through time? Not so. Later there was a nation of Israel which time and again would get 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 will always permit things but there are always consequences which follow. 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). When Israel was in a backslidden condition, Deborah, a woman rose to lead the nation. 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.

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).

That was in the Old Testament. But today that “which is in part” has been done away with. Christ came to restore us to that which was in the beginning. 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 paint on her lips or eyebrows!

It is the same with 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!

A C  Phiri

“Is it true that we should use ‘Yeshua’ not ‘Jesus’, because ‘Jesus’ is a pagan term which was contrived to make us worship Zeus?”

Advocates of the Yeshua doctrine argue that because a name of a person is a proper noun it cannot change when spoken in another language. So, although the New Testament was written in Greek and the Messiah’s name was in Hebrew, it has to be written and pronounced in Hebrew. It is further argued that the letter “J”, or the sound it represents, never existed at the time of the Lord, and so no one could have called Him by the pronunciation with a “J” sound. Extremists further claim that Iesous, the Greek rendition of the name Yeshua, from which the English word Jesus was derived,  is a compound word consisting of  names of pagan gods –  IEU and SUS (Zeus). Here a conspiracy theory is at play to suggest an evil scheme by Bible translators. And talking about conspiracy theories, the Internet is so full of them. Unfortunately, many Christians (including preachers) get whatever they find exciting on the World Wide Web, without carrying an objective analysis of facts.

A simple study on challenges of translation shows various difficulties that are often encountered when translating proper nouns from one language to another. The translation process of the Bible from Hebrew and Greek into English presents a typical example of this.

Translation & Transliteration

It is important to note that there is translation and there is also transliteration.

The aim of translation is to ‘transfer’ the meaning of words from one language to another. Here a challenge rises when there is an objective to let words be pronounced correctly in the target language. This is achieved by transliteration.

Transliteration involves changing letters of a word in one language into letters of the alphabet of  the target language in order to preserve its pronunciation. This may seem a simple process when dealing with sentences but problematic when you encounter proper nouns.

How Yeshua became Jesus

Note that Yeshua was transliterated as Iesous in Greek to preserve its pronunciation. But when further translated into English a completely different pronunciation came up. How did this happen? Was it a conspiracy to make people worship a pagan god? Not so. Let us look at the history of how Yeshua became Jesus.

  1. The name Yeshua is a Hebrew transliteration which begins with the sound of “Y” as in the word “Yes”.

Note: The New Testament was written in Greek. In this language the “Y” sound is represented by the letter “I”. So, in order to convey the same pronunciation in Greek, Yeshua had to be transliterated starting with the letter I and hence the name Iesous.

2. In the name Yeshua, after the “Y” sound comes the “e” sound, as in “Yes”. There was no problem in transliterating this sound as there was an equivalent letter in Greek to represent it, Iesous.

Note: The “e” in Yeshua is pronounced as in the word “Yes”, not as in “See”. However, when the name was transliterated into Iesous and then into Jesus, English speakers pronounced the “e” as in “See” and hence the modern mispronunciation of Jesus. Even so, a number of languages have retained the correct pronunciation of the name.

3. Next we come to the “sh” sound in Yeshua. This is where translators encountered a problem because whilst this sound exists in Hebrew it does not exist in Greek. So, translators went for the letter in the Greek alphabet which is close to the “sh” sound and that was the sigma which gives an “s” sound as in “Sad.

Note: If the English Bible translators had transliterated the name Jesus straight from Hebrew, the name would have maintained the “sh” sound found in Yeshua because English language has the “sh” sound. But they transliterated Jesus from the Greek Iesous and hence the disappearance of the “sh” sound in English.

4. The “u” sound in Yeshua is the same as in “rule” or “true”.

Note: The English language provides two ways of pronouncing the sound of letter “u”. It can be pronounced as in the word “true” or as in the word “cut”. In Iesous it is correctly pronounced with the “u” sound as in “true”. But English speakers mispronounced it as in the word “cut.

5. The asound at the end of Yeshua is replaced with the “s in Iesous.

Note: The Greek language has genders for nouns so that all names that end with the letter s are male names. It is for this reason that although Iesous was an attempt to transliterate the name Yeshua, it never ended with an usound (as in the word true) but with  s to denote its masculinity. An example of this in the Scripture is how the Hebrew name Isaiah appears as Esias in the New Testament (Luk.4:17). Note that the New Testament was written in Greek.

6. When translating Iesous into English, the “Y” sound of “I (as in Yes) was at first retained but  later was lost to the “J” sound as in Jam.

Note: Letter J at one time was just another style or shape for writing letter I.  In Roman numerals it was used to show the end of a series of Is. For example, number 13 when written as a Roman numeral is XIII but would be written with the last I having a serif tail, XIIJ.

In the alphabet the two letters “I” and “J” were also used interchangeably and were both pronounced with the “Y” sound as in “Yes” so that a Hebrew name with the “Y” sound like Yeshua became Iesous in Greek or Iesus in English. This can be seen in the Tyndale version of the Bible, known to have been the first English translation. A verse in this Bible reads: “She had brought forth hir first sonne and called hys name Iesus” (Mat.1:25).

In later English versions of the Bible names starting with the Y-sound were transliterated with letter J because then it had the Y-sound. So words such as Yerushalaim and Yarden became transliterated as Jerusalem and Jordan respectively.

It was in the year 1524 when  an Italian scholar, Gian Trissino (1478–1550), distinguished the two letters to represent two different sounds so that J now had the ‘dg’ sound as in the word “Jam. However, the English language Bibles were never updated to take into account the new sound of J. Gradually the Y-sound was lost to the new J-sound. Over  the decades and a century people became used with reading and pronouncing “J” as in “Jam” . Thus, words like Jerusalem and Iesus were now pronounced with the ‘dg’ sound as we know them today. In the year 1611 a new version of the Bible, the King James Version, had the objective of acknowledging the vulgar (common) pronunciation of words. The purpose of this was to use words in Scripture that people were familiar with. As noted in the Britannica Encyclopaedia:

An elaborate set of rules was contrived to curb individual proclivities and to ensure the translation’s scholarly and nonpartisan character. In contrast to earlier practice, the new version was to use vulgar forms of proper names (e.g., “Jonas” or “Jonah” for the Hebrew “Yonah”).[1]

In the book of Acts we read about a group of young men who saw apostle Paul casting out demons and they started imitating his ministry. They started a ‘deliverance ministry’ and were using the Jesus-Name formula to pray for people. (Isn’t this typical of many young people today who have enthused themselves into starting ministries which the Lord has not commissioned?).

The sons of Sceva began to pray over people “in the name of Jesus”. One day things didn’t go well when an evil spirit spoke from a man asking, “Jesus I know, and Paul I know; but who are ye?” (Act.19:15).

Now, what pronunciation did this demon use when speaking the name “Jesus”? Well, whatever it was, whether  in Hebrew as Yeshua or in Greek as Iesous, one thing should be certain: the demon was not afraid to speak the name! That tells you and I that the power of the name of the Lord does not lie in speaking or mentioning it as is commonly believed among many Christians. However, there was something different when Paul mentioned “in the name of Jesus.” Demons trembled. So, what was the difference?

The difference was that when  Paul addressed the demons by saying, “I command you, in the name of the Lord Jesus, to come out of the man”, he truly was speaking  in the name of the Lord. God sent him and His presence accompanied him and that was what evil spirits feared. To do things in the name of the Lord is to perform them in accordance with His will and power.

When you pray to God, He does not sit still waiting to hear if your vowels and consonants are coming out right.  What God is able to do when we pray is not a question of whether we pronounce the name of Jesus Christ correctly but whether we have the power of Christ inside our hearts – “Now unto Him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us” (Eph. 3:20).


[1] Britannica Encyclopaedia (2016). King James Version Sacred Text.[Online] Available from: https://www.britannica.com/topic/King-James-Version [Accessed 17th November, 2016].

Is Jesus ‘God’ or ‘Son of God’?

On one side of the argument are those who proclaim Jesus to be the very Almighty God who pre-existed as Yahweh. Scriptures like John 20:28 are used to support this view – “And Thomas answered and said unto [Jesus], My Lord and my God”, or John 14:8-9 which says, “Philip saith unto him, Lord, show us the Father, and it sufficeth us. Jesus saith unto him, Have I been so long time with you, and yet hast thou not known me, Philip? he that hath seen me hath seen the Father.

On the other side of the argument are those who believe that Jesus must only be referred to as “Son of God”, not “God”. Again there are verses used to support this view such as Ephesians 3:14 which makes a distinction between the Father and Jesus – “For this cause I bow my knees unto the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ”, and Colossians 1:2 which distinctly identifies the Father to be God – “Grace be unto you, and peace, from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.”

One time at a convention of believers I was sitting with different ministers around a table when someone asked a question: “Brother Andrew, is Jesus ‘God’ or ‘Son of God’?” I knew that the question did not rise out of a desire to learn but to raise an argument. As though thirsty and in need of a drink I asked for some water to be poured in a glass which was on the table. Someone filled it quickly. I lifted the glass in my hands and asked, “What am I holding in my hands?” The person answered, “Water”. To that I responded, “Will I be in order to correct you by saying, ‘Wrong! It’s a glass I am holding and not water.’ Is it not true that for the convenience of language you have called the glass by the new identity of the substance which has possessed it”?

Is this ‘water‘ or ‘a glass of water‘? 

To understand the Godhead one needs more than letters, words or semantics. Theologians look into Scripture and theorize three persons into the Godhead. They call the persons God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. But this is a stark contradiction of the command given to the Hebrews, “Hear,O Israel: The LORD our God is one LORD” (Deu.6:4). And contrary to the idea that God the Father is with the Son and the Holy Spirit besides him, Yahweh declares “I am the LORD, and there is none else, there is no God beside me” (Isa.45:5). But so confident are Trinitarians that they refer to Jesus, or the Holy Spirit, or the Father as a member, a portion,or a third of the Godhead. This again contradicts the Word which says, “In Him [Jesus] dwelleth all the fullness of the Godhead bodily” (Col.2:9).  

Those with eyes to see should perceive that there is and has always been ONE Almighty Spirit who is everywhere and has neither beginning nor end. However, note that before anything was created He could not be called God. God is something that is worshipped but there were no angels or man to worship Him. But even if angels or human beings were created, how would they ever relate with, or comprehend, such an eternal being which was not confined to Space and Time?

The almighty invisible Spirit had to manifest in form in order to relate in Space and Time. That was the first thing to proceed from the Almighty Spirit and thus was the beginning of Time, the Alpha (Isa.44:6). The Alpha was not ‘another God’ but a visible ‘mask’ of the invisible Spirit through which He would create and relate with everything. In the future, Time will wind up and end in Him as the Omega. Thus, whenever God in Scripture is referred to as the Alpha and Omega, it is a description of His being in Time, not in Eternity.

The visible mask became “the angel of His [invisible] presence” (Isa.63:9). It was that mask, the first thing to be created by God, which began to speak, “LET THERE BE…!”and things began to come into existence (Joh.1:1-3, Rev.3:14, Pro.8:22-24). It was through that mask that angels and human beings could look at God. So, although “no man has seen God at any time” (Joh.1:18), it was that mask – which sometimes appeared like an angel, like a  human being, like a fire, like a cloud, like alight –  that the prophets of old looked at, and for the limitation or convenience of language and communication, declared that they had seen God: “Then went up Moses, and 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 a sapphire stone” (Exo.24:9-10).

When God manifested in a light or cloud, the light or cloud was not God, but for the convenience of language and communication, a person could say, “I have seen God”! Even when God took on the form of dust and appeared like a human being to Abraham, that visible form of dust was not God. It was only a form through which the invisible God had manifested. But in language we will still say, God “appeared” to Abraham (Gen.18:1). Likewise, when we come into the New Testament the same thing happened. However, God no longer appeared in temporal manifestations of light, cloud, or angelic form. In the New Testament Yahweh “prepared” a human body through which He would manifest (Heb.10:5). When that body was 30 years old it was ready to be filled by God’s Spirit and be used as the image of the invisible God. Yes, that was Jesus “the image of the invisible God” (Col.1:15, Heb.1:1-3).

So, it should be clear now that when we refer to Jesus as God, the way Thomas did in John 20:28, we are referring to Him as the manifestation of God in flesh. Like in the words of Paul to Timothy, “great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifest in the flesh, justified in the Spirit, seen of angels, preached unto the Gentiles, believed on in the world, received up into glory” (1 Tim.3:16). And we are “looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our saviour Jesus Christ” (Tit.2:13, Isa.43:11).

“Is having a pastor or leader in church being denominational?”

One day I found the following words quoted in a Facebook post:

I dont believe a fellowship can be healthy without headship. An animal with two or more heads will soon or later create a ‘beast’ of confusion. A church ought to have one person who can lead, teach, or guide, either as a pastor or an elder. When the pulpit is left open to different ministers, be assured that the flock won’t be grounded on the rock. That will also open room for ambitious people who will bring up all sorts of ideas…

It was a quote of my words. As always happens on Social Media, different people began to express their views over the statement. One comment caught my attention:

No one should lead the Church except the Holy Spirit (John 16:13). That definition above is only fitting for [an] organisation and denomination. Believers who wanted to be led by people instead of the Lord have a spirit of denominationalism. The reason why Nicolaitism exists today is because of this thinking that a pastor should be the leader…you cannot find that in the word of God.

It is strange how simple things can easily be misunderstood and blown out of context. I had to give a little more explanation to show how scriptures can easily be misapplied. The following was my response:


With all due respect to everyone on this thread, kindly allow me to submit this (especially that this is about words quoted from me). Its a lengthy text, but kindly take time to read.

Whenever a discussion or question veers from context and winds up into a play on semantics, confusion begins where there should be none. And whenever a response to a question is out of context, it may present something TRUE but yet not the TRUTH!

Consider the matter at hand here, that to say “ a church ought to have one person who can lead, teach or guide, either as a pastor or an elder” is an error, and that “no one should lead the church except the Holy Spirit (Joh.16:13).” Really? What is to lead? When a church has a leader is that really Nicolaitanism? That is not only blowing things out of context but out of proportion.

To “lead” is to guide, rule, or to be followed by people. Another term often used in place of “lead” in the English language is “head.” Now, much as we live in a time of carnal men leading churches through pride or selfish reasons, we must not lose sight of the fact that leadership is rooted in the Scripture. I know of a church in my country which has no pastor; they don’t have one person to guide the assembly on doctrine or conduct. Everyone is free to minister. As expected, the church always suffers from breakaways and strange doctrines.

Consider what Hebrews 13:7 says:  “Remember them which have the rule over you, who have spoken unto you the word of God: whose faith follow, considering the end of their conversation.” Another translation puts it this way: “Remember your leaders who have spoken to you the word of God; and considering the issue of their conversation, imitate their faith” (DBV). Compare this verse with 1 Timothy 3:4-5.

Firstly, was the writer of Hebrews encouraging Nicolaitanism by stating that preachers were rulers in the house of God? Ofcourse a carnal person can blow the verse out of proportion and make himself a pope in a congregation. Well, “spiritual things are spiritually discerned” (1 Cor.2:14) and I want to believe I am speaking to spiritual people who will understand my words in their context. Note that the Greek term for the phrase “rule over you” in Hebrews 13:7 is “hegeomai” and it means to “lead” or “command with authority.” If one has ever experienced sitting under a true anointed ministry – I have – they will know that truly God-called men rule the house of God with the authority of God’s Word! (1 Tim.4:11-16). And ofcourse spiritual people are able to discern when such a man veers off into pride and ceases to rule by God’s authority.

Secondly, what does the writer of Hebrews mean when he says “whose faith follow”? What is the term used to describe a person followed by other people? Leader, right? Did not Paul say “Be ye followers of me, even as I also am of Christ” (1 Cor.11:1). So, will a carnal mind be in order to say, “Paul was wrong, we need to follow Christ, not him!” Such is always the result of failing to grasp words within their context.

Consider this: the Lord Jesus taught that we should call no man on earth “father” (Mat.23:9).  Was Paul in error to write believers at Corinth, saying: “I write not these things to shame you, but as my beloved sons I warn you. For though ye have ten thousand instructors in Christ, yet have ye not many fathers: for in Christ Jesus I have begotten you through the gospel” (1 Cor.4:14-15)? Here Paul was admonishing a church that although there were many preachers who may have visited the assembly to exhort or instruct in faith, it was him specifically who begat them in the gospel! A person who would only dwell on semantics and miss the context of words can accuse Paul of error – “We are sons of God, not your sons!” or “We get born again by the Holy Spirit; its not you who begat us!” On the other extreme end again, a proud person can misapply this scripture to justify their egoistic ambitions. But to those with ears to hear what the Spirit says to the churches, they have the discernment to know when a man’s rulership in the house of God has ceased to be one of the Word, but of his carnal ambitions. Shalom.

“Brother Phiri I heard an Adventist preacher explaining that Matthew 24:39-40 is not about the Rapture. The people who ‘shall be taken’ actually go into destruction (as it was in the days of Noah)…”

Question:

“Brother Phiri I heard an Adventist preacher explaining that Matthew 24:39-40 is not about the Rapture. This passage of Scripture  says, ‘For as in the days that were before the flood they were eating and drinking…and knew not until the flood came, and took them all away; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. Then shall two be in the field; the one shall be taken, and the other left.’ This verse shows that just like the flood of Noah took away the sinful people, so shall one be taken (into destruction) and the other left (for the salvation of God). This is further established by 1 Thessalonians 4:17 which states, ‘we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air’ “


This is a case of gross misinterpretation of terms and phrases used in Scripture. I also once saw an Adventist preacher use the above reasoning to rubbish the doctrine of the Rapture. The audience seemed so stimulated by the preacher’s eloquence and ability to connect the wordings of different passages of Scripture. Hearing him speak I came to learn that not all stimulation is of the Holy Spirit; some stimulation can result from a concoction of poorly mixed Scriptures.  Let us approach this question beginning with 1 Thessalonians 4:17.

  • Understanding the word “remain” in 1 Thessalonians 4

When a person only reads verse 17, which says “we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air”, and then tries to make a connection with the English wording in Matthew 24:39-40, it seems to suggest that the ones who remain actually meet the Saviour, and those who are “taken” actually go into destruction.

To have a correct understanding of what Paul was saying in the passage we should read the passage beginning with verse 13. When we do that what will immediately become clear is that Paul was encouraging believers not to lose hope when someone dies. In verse 15 he explained that at the time of the coming of Christ there will be two groups of people – those who died and those who will be alive at the time of Christ’s coming. Those who died will be raised with a changed body, and “we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord” will also be changed! So he says that there will be a group which will be alive, and will remain in this state of being alive (without tasting death) until the day of the coming of the Lord.

As well explained in the Cambridge English dictionary, the word “remain” has two meanings:

1) Remain means “to stay in the same place or in the same condition”. For example, his parents ordered him to remain at the house for a few weeks.

2) Remain also means “to continue to exist when other parts or other things no longer exist.

It should be very clear that the phrase “remain unto the coming of the Lord uses the word remain in the context of the second definition above. The word is not about a place but a state of being alive or dead!  We can therefore paraphrase the verse to read, “We which are alive and will continue to exist (or be alive) up to the time of the coming of the Lord…”

Before we analyse Matthew 24:39-40 let us read the same message of Christ as was recorded by Luke.

  • Looking at the record of Luke

In Luke 17 the Lord first mentions about Lot being taken out of Sodom before the destruction fell – “But the same day that Lot went out of Sodom it rained fire and brimstone from heaven, and destroyed them all.” (Luk.17:29, cf. Gen.19:16). The Lord went further to say that it shall be so in that day when the Son of Man shall be revealed. And then he admonished: “Remember Lot’s wife” (v.32). Well, after telling them about Lot moving out of Sodom, what did he want the disciples to remember about Lot? Simply that at the time of the family being taken out of Sodom she remained because of her unbelief! It is from there that the Lord continued saying, “I tell you, in that night there shall be two men in one bed; the one shall be taken, and the other shall be left” (v.35). In the context of the story of Lot and his wife, it is clear that the ones being taken out go into safety, and those remaining are left to destruction. Now, let’s move on and analyse the account in Matthew 24:39-40.

  • Understanding the word “taken” and “left” in Matthew 24.

Apart from reading a passage of Scripture in its context, to gain a correct understanding of words used in the Bible, looking up words in Hebrew or Greek (languages that were used to write Scripture) can be of great help. Matthew 24:39-40 reads “And knew not until the flood came, and took them all away; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. Then shall two be in the field; the one shall be taken, and the other left.

In verse 39 the words  “took them all away” were translated from two Greek words – airo and hapas. Airo means to remove,  lift up or to keep in suspense as with what flood waters can do to a person. Hapas means everyone. So this speaks of a people being lifted up or blown away in suspense by flood waters. However, the phrase “shall be taken”, used in verse 40, has a different meaning:  The Greek word used is paralambano and means “to receive near” as in an intimate act or relation, or to “take with.” It does not suggest anything destructive.

The word “left” (in verse 40) in Greek is aphiemi and means to be in a state of being forsaken, omitted, put (or sent) away, or suffering. So, to suggest that those who are left in the wording of Jesus are the good people who will experience the goodness of God is grossly misleading!

  • “Wheresoever the body is…”

Finally let us look at what the Lord answered when he was asked by the disciples about where the people “taken”  will go –  “Two men shall be in the field; the one shall be taken, and the other left. And they answered and said unto him, Where, Lord? And he said unto them, Wheresoever the body is, thither will the eagles be gathered together” (Luk.17:36-37).

The question the disciples asked reveals that this wasn’t about being “taken” as in a flood! Consider this: if someone told you, “There will be a flood which will sweep across this place and may blow us away”, won’t it be preposterous to ask: “Where exactly will the flood take us?”

Now to suggest that those who are taken are unbelievers and are therefore likened to carcass to be eaten up by vultures (as was explained by the preacher I heard) would be incongruent with the thought portrayed by the words of the verse. The answer given by the Lord to the question of where the taken ones will go was – “wheresoever the body is [i.e. the place] thither will the eagles be gathered”. It should be clear here that the people being taken are represented by eagles (not the carcass!). So, contrary to the idea that they are taken into destruction, they are actually taken into a place where they will be feasting!