Wikipedia describes G. K. Chesterton as “…English writer, lay theologian, poet, philosopher, dramatist, journalist, orator, literary and art critic, biographer, and Christian apologist.” He’s not always right but is almost always interesting and sometimes absolutely profound. My favorite quotation is following:
“The One value that you have left when you have lost all your principles is tolerance.”
There are many of these unprincipled people among us who take great pride in their “tolerance,” but are in truth extremely intolerant.

The slogan of the United Methodist Church (UMC) is “Open Hearts, Open Minds, Open Doors.” Isn’t that nice? However, last month the UMC officials demonstrated what appears to be closed-minded intolerance by banning the Discovery Institute, from sponsoring an information table at the denomination’s upcoming General Conference planned for May of this year. Intelligent design is the idea that life and the universe show evidence of being the result of purposeful design rather than unguided processes. The UMC is very tolerant (supportive) of Southern Methodist University professors who dogmatically teach Evolution. I can personally testify that several of these supported professors are viciously opposed to the presentation of scientific evidence that supports Creation.
My brief experience at Cambridge exposed me to the pride the English take in their open-mindedness. It is strictly a surface phenomenon. I was amused by the recent blatantly intolerant reaction to the appointment of a new commentator on the BBC’s daily morning news programme, when it was learned that he was of all things, a creationist. The British newspaper, The Telegraph, said, “Dan Walker’s creationism is an affront to reason, science and logic. The BBC has done nothing to explain how someone who believes in the literal truth of Genesis can present the news accurately. …And while I have no doubt that Dan Walker is, in every other aspect, entirely qualified for his role as a presenter of the BBC’s morning news show, his appearance on BBC One and BBC News as the creationist face of the Corporation to millions is problematic. …Indeed, creationism is so silly that the government has de-funded schools which teach it. They are not eligible for taxpayer support, because they are promulgating an unscientific myth. …To believe that God literally created the earth in six days is to deny basic elements of logic. It may not be as offensive or insensitive as holocaust denial, but it is as logically defensible. The BBC’s mission to inform, educate, and entertain requires it to ensure that it handles news with impartiality, objectivity, and reason.”
The newspaper’s amazing reaction is the direct result of years of the censoring of evidence against evolution from public education systems, both in the US and England. The reporter appears genuinely convinced that such evidence does not exist. After all, he is well educated and he never heard of such. We contribute to this attitude when we sit with duct tape firmly affixed over our mouths and do nothing about it.
“Only conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or remain absent, I will hear of you that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel; in no way alarmed by your opponents — which is a sign of destruction for them, but of salvation for you, and that too, from God.” (Philippians 1:27-28)

The Dead Sea Scrolls have been found over 50 years ago, but have only be available to a very few until now. The scrolls have been released on a website so that more may have access to these documents. The importantance of these documents is their early confirmation of the Bible and its contents. The same Bible that you can now hold in your hand 2,000 years after Jesus was upon this Earth.

Take few minutes and look through this newly released, valuable archive.

View the Dead Sea Scrolls

In general, the “Christian” world fully agrees that for salvation a person must:

1) Hear about Jesus of Nazareth

2) Believe that He lived, was crucified, raised from the dead and is Deity

3) Turn away from sinful actions of life, repent

4) Tell others about our faith in Jesus

5) Live a life that is an imitation of the life of Jesus

With regard to faithful living, most (influenced by Calvinism – once saved, always saved) would say that if a person lives a godless life, they were never saved in the first place.

But these same people would “scream from the roof tops” that if baptism is required for salvation, it is a meritorious work and voids the idea of salvation as a gift from God.

Let’s look at this proposition from the viewpoint of grammar.

1) Hearing is not just the sound entering the ears. Hearing in this meaning is intellectually accepting information from any source (audio or visual, etc.) and “pondering” over it to determine if it is true. This takes effort on the part of the hearer.

2) Believing is not just a passive action. This is especially true if a person was raised in a culture that denies Jesus. Having been raised in a Hindu, Moslem, other culture and with other beliefs would make it difficult for a person to deny previous beliefs and accept Jesus. One who believes there is no sin has a major barrier to accepting Jesus as their “personal savior”.

3) Turning away from a life of sin is not easy. It really doesn’t matter if the sin is “stealing candy from grandmother’s cookie jar” to living in open fornication and adultery. Murder, drunkenness – take your pick. Repentance takes effort on the part of the sinner.

4) Telling others about your faith in Jesus is not “easy”. Some people are very shy and must overcome their fear of telling anyone anything (either in public or private). Others may live in an area where a declaration of faith in Jesus may be life threatening (either from the government or other “civilians” around them).

5) Living a life that imitates Jesus is never easy. The life of Jesus is “against nature”. Just something as simple as “turning the other cheek” flies in the face of self preservation.

Many other examples could be found for each of these items. My idea here is only to present that each of these represents action on the part of the individual (mental or physical action).

In a very simplified way, baptism on the other hand represents passiveness on the part of the baptized.

A) Try to baptize someone who is twice your size and afraid of the water. Baptism requires the receiver to “passively submit” to being baptized by the other person.

B) Baptism, from the new testament scriptures, represents the believer submitting their life to God and the passive acceptance of their faith in the power of God to save and the willingness of God to accept the death of Jesus as payment for their sins.

If we list these items in the “usual” way and identify the grammatical nature of each element we find this “chart”

1) Hear Active

2) Believe Active

3) Repent Active

4) Confess Active

5) Be baptized Passive

6) Live faithfully Active

But the religious world in general says that all of the others are “required” either for or as a recognition of salvation but baptism “cannot be” required.

If you haven’t started “laughing out loud” at the foolishness of the world’s arguments, it is only because you recognize the power of the Devil in his condemning most of mankind to eternity separated from God. The Devil never wants us to “submit” to the Lord (James 4 : 7) because it destroys his power.

And he took the cup, and gave thanks, and said, Take this, and divide it among yourselves: For I say unto you, I will not drink of the fruit of the vine, until the kingdom of God shall come. And he took bread, and gave thanks, and brake it, and gave unto them, saying, This is my body which is given for you: this do in remembrance of me. Likewise also the cup after supper, saying, This cup is the new testament in my blood, which is shed for you.
(Luke 22:17-20)

Jesus’s words to his disciples. To remember Him everytime they partook of the fruit of the vine and the bread. Jesus’ memorial given by his own words. Yet men are content in focusing attention on the death, burial & resurrection of the savior on one day each year. Look at what the early church did with Jesus’ words.

And they continued stedfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers.
(Acts 2:42)

How often did they do continue in the apostles’ doctrine? During the time of Paul and his teaching, this is what we read.

And upon the first day of the week, when the disciples came together to break bread, Paul preached unto them, ready to depart on the morrow; and continued his speech until midnight.
(Acts 20:7)

The first day of the week is when the disciples came together to break bread. How many first days of the week are there? A simple question, but one easily answered if you look at your calendar and consider how often there is a first day of the week (Sunday) in your life. We must conclude that every first day of the week is when we must remember our Lord’s death. Not just on one day each year. Remember his death always and especially on the first day of each week.

*What is the meaning of antichrist? * The word “anti” means opposed to or
over against. So the antichrist/s are those opposed to Christ by exalting
themselves over Him. He mention the antichrist and antichrists. Many carried
the message and spirit of the one who is referred to as antichrist.

*Who was antichrist? * Antichrist and the antichrists were once Christians
in the true sense *1. Jn. 2:19*, but developed a different spirit and left
the body of believers. Their going out from the church accomplished one good
thing. It manifested those who were the true disciples as opposed to the
false who made shipwreck of the faith *1. Tim. 1:19. *Jesus had taught that
some who were once His disciples would be affected by the world and fall
away *Lk. 8:11-15*. So the antichrists composed a movement of people who by
a subtle but denial of the deity of Christ had departed the true faith
denying who Jesus really was and still is.

*Who was the antichrist or antichrists? * In the 1^st century the “Gnostic
heresy” theory developed. *Gnostics *felt their understanding of the hidden
knowledge (*/gnosis/*) made them spiritually elite, so they could live above
the normal distinctions between right and wrong. In their subtle (sometimes
not so subtle) denial of the deity of Christ they drew a distinction between
the human and the divine nature or Christ. The removal of all moral
absolutes, with a complete disregard for Christian ethics opened for them
the gates of sensualism and licentiousness allowing them to practice a
deplorable, despicable lifestyle.

The “Gnostic theory” taught that matter is inherently evil. Therefore a
divine being could not take on human flesh. So they drew a distinction.
Deity came upon the physical Jesus at His baptism but departed prior to His
crucifixion. Another group taught *”docetism”*

a doctrine that Christ only seemed to have a human body. The result was the
same for both ideas. Both denied the incarnation of Christ by drawing a
distinction between the physical Jesus and the Spiritual Jesus.

John plainly condemned the theory of “Gnosticism” 1. Antichrists were
“*liars*.” We may not know all there is to know about them but they were
*”liars”* *1. Jn. 2:22*. Some denied the deity of Christ, others denied His
humanity but both are lies. 2. They were also *”deceivers”* who were leading
Christians *astray 2. Jn. 7; 1Jn. 2:26*. So they were both liars and
deceiver. 3. They opposed Jesus. They tried to take His place *Matt. 24:5,
24*. Paul’s man of sin *2. Thes. 2:3, 4* seems to bear a strong identity
with John’s antichrist. Some have even connected the land beast of Rev. 13
with the antichrists.

One thing is certain. Antichrists were already in the world in the 1^st
century *1. Jn. 4:3 *and had many disciples so it was certainly a 1^st
century problem. The antichrist/s had made a public appearance since it was
the “last hour.” I believe the last hour runs parallel to the last days (the
Christian era). In Jewish terminology “the last hour” was a time of
consummation, when one era has reached the end for which history had been
moving it. The end of one era, the beginning of another *Heb. 1:1-3; Gal.
3:26-29* (what God began in Abraham ended with the coming of the Christ,
*Lk. 24:44-47 *(the end of the Law, prophets, psalms, and the beginning of a
new era, repentance and forgiveness of sins.

The bible only mentions the word Easter once and that instance refers to the Jewish Passover (Acts 12:4). Additionally the bible speaks clearly about remembering Christ’s death, burial and resurrection often. God’s word speaks many times about keeping this memorial on the first day of the week. Since the first day of the week happens each and every week we must conclude that the event is important enough to keep it in our minds often. Certainly we are not to keep the memorial just one time per year as is the current religious tradition.

For an answer to this question I would suggest the following posting. Please take a moment to read for yourself what simple things the bible says about this topic. It is best that we do not add or take away any portion of God’s Word (Rev 22:18-19).

In our search for truth found in God’s word we will look today at Christmas.

When looking at a simple word study we find that the term comes from Christ’s Mass or Mass of Christ. This term is of Roman Catholic origins. The date for Christmas was determined to be December 25th in the year 325 AD by decree/consent. Since it is not found as a date in the bible we would then conclude that this is a tradition of men and not a commandment.

A reason that December 25th was selected is that it coincided with the feast of Saturnalia that began on December 21st. This was a pagan feast. Some speculation about selecting the date was that it would be a palatable date for any pagan converts to catholicism. Catholic history has several examples of allowing certain pagan traditions into the doctrine that later becomes widely accepted by most/all then later added to the doctrine published from Rome.

The fact this day is called a holiday is also of concern from a biblical standpoint. Since one day is not be considered above another we would be in violation of scripture to focus our attention on a single date. Our commandment for observing a date is only found in the memorial of Christ’s death. It’s origins go back to the early church and can be seen in our New Testament today. Those early Christian’s met on the first day of each week (Sunday) to observe the memorial that Christ established regarding his death/burial/resurrection. Christ asked his apostles to remember this when he was with them just before his crucifixion. New testament believers have followed this pattern on the first day of the week ever since.

In conclusion, the bible make no mention of this date and therefore man’s tradition is the only logical conclusion regarding it’s origin. We must serve God and Him only. The bible does not give example of man seeking to serve God in man’s own way. God has not made provision for adding any additional tradition or service that is outside of his revealed scripture.

This is the time of the year that we hear songs sung again and again about the birth of Christ, goodwill toward men, and many other songs that make us feel good. But, I’m reminded of the words of Paul who wrote to the Philippians, “Rejoice in the Lord always, and again I say rejoice.” (Philippians 4:4) There is no special time implied for this. We are to rejoice always. We as Christians, above all people, should feel the need to rejoice the whole year around. The lead article in today’s bulletin pointed out that Jesus based his teaching on the two greatest commandments – “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind” and “Love thy neighbor as thyself.” (Matthew 22:37,39) There is no special time of the year for this either. This week many “CEO Christians (Christmas, Easter and Occasionally) will attend the church of their choice. This is not what the Bible teaches. God does not want us to worship him on a few special occasions. The special occasion he has in mind is the first day of the week where we remember His son’s redeeming death on the cross, not his birth. His birth is important because it fulfills prophecy and begins his journey as man on earth (Emmanuel—God with us) where he was tempted just like we are but without sinning. May God bless us as we worship him on the day he has chosen and in the manner he has chosen.

Will our world end in the year 2012? This question is actually very easy answer. By looking into the bible we can see very simple statements that lead us to the truth on this matter.

Be ye therefore ready also: for the Son of man cometh at an hour when ye think not.
-Luke 12:40 KJV

Watch therefore, for ye know neither the day nor the hour wherein the Son of man cometh.
-Matthew 25:13 KJV

But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only.
-Matthew 24:36 KJV

Therefore, by the very fact that this date has been mentioned it now becomes a certainty that it will not be the final day of creation.

Besides the obvious statement regarding churches of Christ being a denomination similar to protestants there is strong biblical evidence to the contrary. Passages like Romans 16:16 lead us to believe that all churches were of Christ until apostacy began just years later. Certainly there is no mention of anything called Catholic until many hundress of years after the establishment of the church on the day of Pentecost (Acts 2).

Along with this information here is an exerpt that also sheds light on the question of whether the true church was some contrivance of reformation that was created by Alexander Campbell in the past two centuries.

Dr. Robinson, principle of Overdale College in Birmingham, England, states, “In the Furness District of Lancashire, in North West England, there existed in 1669, during the reign of Charles II, a group of eight churches of Christ. Most of them are not now in existence. An old minute-book has been found on the year 1669 and it shows that they called themselves by the name church of Christ, practices baptism by immersion, celebrated the Lord’s Supper each Lord’s Day, and had elders and deacons. There was also a church of Christ in Dungannon, Ireland, in 1804 and in Allington, Dengigshire.
In 1735, John Davis, a young preacher in the Fife District of Scotland was preaching New Testament Christianity, twenty-five years before Thomas Campbell (Alexander Campbell’s father) was born.”


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