Don’t Accept Generic Brands

Companies spend thousands of dollars advertising their brand. It seems to have become a necessity although most of the “brand names” are easily recognizable. But with the introduction of “generic” brands the manufactures want to be sure people are aware of “the real thing.” These generic brands are like their name brand counterparts, but you don’t generally see or hear the generics advertised. The greatest appeal of generic brands is that they do not cost as much. While the generics may be like the name brand, they are not identical, and the careful consumer can distinguish easily between “the real thing” and the imitations.

If we take the principle, the same could be said in the religious world. There is the “real thing” and the “generic.” While on the surface they look the same, a close examination shows the differences.

The Real Thing

After being arrested for healing a lame man and preaching the gospel, Peter and John were asked on trial before the Jewish council, “…By what power, or in what name, have you done this?” (Acts 4:7). Peter had already answered this question at least twice before they were arrested. To the lame man at the gate of the temple he had said, “In the name of Jesus Christ the Nazarene–walk!” (Acts 3:6). Later, when they were preaching on Solomon’s porch, Peter had proclaimed, “And on the basis of faith in His name, it is the name of Jesus which has strengthened this man whom you see and know” (Acts 3:16). So, when the Sanhedrin asked, “By what name,” the answer had already been given, but Peter was not ashamed to announce it again—“let it be known to all of you and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ the Nazarene, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead–by this name this man stands here before you in good health.” (Acts 4:10). Notice that Peter did not offer some generic response of a power or name that was like “the real thing.” He didn’t point to some imitation that was close.

Conclusion

Then, Peter concluded his remarks with this definitive statement, “For there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12). In that one affirmation of divine truth, the Scripture condemns all religious groups, “churches” and doctrines that do not conform to the name, authority and pattern of Christ.

Would you trust your soul’s salvation to some imitation or generic brand? Or is Christ your only authority?

Grace! Is It Possible To Fall

Most of our friends in the religious community want to tell us that when God decides to bestow His grace upon us, we have no choice in the matter. And once a man has entered God’s favor (been saved), his continuing to receive God’s grace is not conditional at all upon man’s teaching, actions or will. Article 9 of the Methodist Discipline states, “Justification by faith alone is a most wholesome doctrine and full of comfort.” I can see where “faith alone” would be a very comforting idea, can’t you? If that were true, you wouldn’t have to worry about anything you might do. In fact, it would leave you the option of doing anything you might desire. Things such as cheating, lying, committing sexual immorality (and all that it implies) or even murder might be engaged in without fear of any repercussions from God.

God’s Grace is Conditional

We see conditions placed on man’s continued salvation all the way through the Bible. In 2 Peter 1:10, Peter says, “…for as long as you practice these things, you will never stumble…” In this verse never falling is conditioned by the word “as long as you practice.”

It seems somewhat strange that people believe this, in that we have so much evidence in the Bible, of God placing conditions on mankind. In Gen. 2:16-17 God told Adam, “From any tree of the garden you may eat freely; 17 but from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat…” Is this not a command from God that Adam and Eve were required to keep? Because they transgressed that command (sinned), Adam (and Eve) were driven out of the garden and man was separated from God.

Grace must be Guarded

In Acts 8:13 Simon obeyed the gospel (called gospel of God’s grace in Acts 20:24). Yet after entering into a saved state he fell into sin as to be (1) doomed to parish, (2) having a heart not right with God, (3) needing to repent, (4) being guilty of wickedness, (5) poisoned by bitterness and (6) bound by iniquity. Some will tell us that he was not really saved, but the scriptures do not support such statements. Here is a man who entered the grace of God then turned to his own will and committed sin, refusing to abide by the conditions of the Lord and thus falling from grace. Either that, or with all the things mentioned here against him, he still goes to heaven. But in Revelation 21:27 we read, “nothing unclean, and no one who practices abomination and lying, shall ever come into it.” That means sin cannot enter heaven.

Also in Heb. 6:4-6 we read, “For in the case of those who have once been enlightened and have tasted of the heavenly gift and have been made partakers of the Holy Spirit, and have tasted the good word of God and the powers of the age to come, and then have fallen away, it is impossible to renew them again to repentance, since they again crucify to themselves the Son of God and put Him to open shame.” The writer here is speaking to those who need to go beyond the first principles of Christ (Heb. 5:12-14). It could not be the alien sinner since the sinner needs to obey the first principles not go beyond them. The writer is speaking to those (1) once enlightened, (2) who have tasted the heavenly gift, (3) partook of the Holy Spirit and (4) tasted the good word of God. Not one of these can apply to the alien sinner because the alien sinner has not tasted nor partaken of any of these and certainly not been enlightened, as the Bible throughout speaks of his state as “darkness”. Instead this is describing the child of God who has not born the proper fruits, with the warning he can fall away.

Letters are Addressed to Saved

Peter addressed his second letter to those who have already obtained faith of the same value (just as strong) as the apostles (2 Pet. 1:1). Would I be wrong in assuming that they were saved? After saying that they can pursue the course that will cause them to never fall (2 Pet. 2:10), he then points out that they can be “carried away by the error of unprincipled men” (2 Pet. 3:17). Surely it is clear that remaining in God’s favor (grace) is conditioned on continued obedience to Him. Either these spoken of could fall and be lost or Heaven will have some who have left faithfulness and embraced the error of the wicked. God knew that man would attempt to tamper with His will, so he left us clear statements to disprove these human theories. Read 1 Tim. 4:1-2 and Gal. 5:4.

John 10:28-29 reads, “I give eternal life to them, and they will never perish; and no one will snatch them out of My hand. My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand.” Some will raise the question, “doesn’t this prove that one cannot fall?” The forces of error will use many passages to try and lull people into security. What is said in John 10:28-29 is true; no man, no force, not even Satan himself, can forcibly remove a child of God from God’s care. No one who hears the voice of the Lord and follows Him is going to fall. And no power can remove such from God’s hand. But in the points, we have already made God’s Word speaks of those who decide to refuse to hear, refuse to follow, and willfully persist in entering a sinful way. No one snatched them from the Lord’s hand: they willfully departed. There is no doubt that one who abides by the conditions of God is enjoying God’s grace and will be saved eternally. Conversely one who decides to not continue in God’s Word will fall from grace (favor) and be eternally lost. Remember Peter’s admonition: “as long as you practice these things.”

Also See:

Remembering the Resurrection Annually

by Richie Thetford

The calendar reads “Easter Sunday.” As a result, many people throughout the world will be attending the “church of their choice” to remember the resurrection of Jesus. It won’t be the “normal” service, but rather a “special” service of remembering the resurrection of our Lord that no doubt will include different plays, skits, and dramas. The world calls this day “Easter Sunday,” the day of our Lord’s resurrection from the grave. But is it really?

I don’t recall reading anywhere in the Bible of the day nor the special celebration of the resurrection mentioned. Yet many “good intentioned people,” honestly believing that they are commemorating the resurrection of Christ, celebrate this “holy day” having no biblical authority whatsoever for the practice. Because of tradition, most people today believe that Easter has always been observed from apostolic times and is authorized in the scriptures. But how could they get such an idea?

There is an unfortunate translation in the King James Version of the New Testament which has, perhaps, led some astray. The Greek, pascha, is translated by the word “Easter” in Acts 12:4. This same word is properly translated in other versions and in every other passage where it is used in the King James Version, as “Passover.” Undoubtedly it was mistranslated here in Acts. And even if the word was properly translated, there is still no authority here for the observance of anything. That is why “Easter” as we know it is celebrated without proper Bible authority. The text of Acts 12:4 was in regard to the apostle Peter when he was put into prison during the days of Unleavened Bread or “Passover” as the NKJV, ASV, NASV, and NIV indicate. It is obvious that this passage of scripture is referring to the seven-day Passover festival. There is no place indicated in the New Testament that a “yearly” celebration of the resurrection of Jesus Christ was ever practiced. Yet today, thousands of people remember Him only this one day per year and they make it a grand festival.

Where Did “Easter” Come From Anyway?

The word “Easter” is derived from the Anglo-Saxon word “Eostre,” the name of the goddess of spring. Sacrifices were offered in her honor at the first full moon that came at the time of the vernal equinox. By the 8th century, the term came to be applied to the anniversary of Christ’s resurrection (ISBE, Vol 2, page 6). There has been much controversy about the time of this celebration. The Jewish Christians and Gentiles could not agree on a set date. But as time passed an increasing number of people celebrated the anniversary of the resurrection on the first day of the week annually. By the 7th century the practice of religious groups had become universally uniform. The agreed upon time is now the first Sunday following the full moon that comes on or after the vernal equinox and that date was set as March 21st. This is why there is a variation in Easter dates from March 22nd through April 25th. There has even been talk among the different religions as setting the date permanently on one Sunday between March 21st and April 25th.

The Proper Remembrance Of Jesus

I’ve filled you in on the history of this word “Easter” so that you will understand that it originated as a pagan holiday festival and later became a yearly festival to remember the resurrection of Christ among different religious groups across the world.

The Lord’s church does not celebrate “Easter.” Members of the Lord’s church celebrate the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ on the first day of every week as we are instructed in the New Testament. We can turn to the book of Acts and read: “Now on the first day of the week, when the disciples came together to break bread…” (Acts 20:7). We have an approved example from this text that lets every Christian know when one is to partake of the emblems which represent Christ’s shed body for us. It says the first day of the week. It does not say “The first day of the week, once a year!” In 1 Corinthians 11:23-29, we can further understand the significance of this memorial feast that we partake of weekly. We learn that it represents the body and blood of Jesus and it says, “For as often as you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death till He comes.” Again, how often should a Christian eat the bread and drink the cup? The first day of the week! There are many religious denominations out there today that do not partake of the Lord’s Supper once per week. Some will do it bi-monthly, others monthly, still others just once or twice per year. Any individual that is striving to do “all the oracles of God” (1 Pet. 4:11), must understand that God sets the standard (rules) that we must go by today – not man (Acts 5:29). The New Testament is our standard. I urge you to examine the Bible, and then look at what you may be practicing in your religion, and then determine whether it is from God or from man!

HOMOSEXUALS AND LESBIANS:

Sanctified or Sinners?

by Ted J. Clarke

Introduction

On the ABC Television Network’s ‘Turning Point,’ November 7, 1996, Elizabeth Vargas did a report entitled, “Same Sex Marriages, For Better of For Worse?” Toward the end of the piece an Episcopal priest led a procession carrying a cross. There were two men hand in hand, and two women also walking hand in hand. The priest said a ceremony of “union” for the two men and the two women. As the men looked at each other and the two women did the same, in unison they repeated the words, “I will be your partner, your lover, in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.” These people claim that the Bible does not condemn same sex relationships and marriages, that it only speaks out against homosexual and lesbian relationships when they are “abusive,” not when they are committed monogamous relationships. When two homosexual men or two lesbian women are in such relationships, we are told, God accepts them completely and so should we. Does the Bible teach that God approves of these relationships? It does not!

When Alfred Kinsey did his infamous research on the sexual habits of the human male, he concluded that 10% of the population were homosexual. Kinsey’s study is known to be severely flawed, since part of his sampling used men in prison where normal sexual relations of men with women were not an option. The National Opinion Research Center says that its surveys between 1989-1992 showed 2.8% of the men surveyed were exclusively homosexual and 2.5% of the women were exclusively lesbian. The National Survey of Men reported that only 1.1% had been exclusively homosexual in the previous year. This one to three percent is well below Kinsey’s erroneous data on the subject.

However, it is certainly true that these small percentages are vocally loud! They have influenced the President to implement a “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy in the military; they have influenced large corporations like AT&T and Disney to give them the same benefits as legally married men and women; they have influenced some state legislatures to give them preferential treatment, claiming to be a minority which is discriminated against like blacks and women. Of course, one cannot help being born black or a woman, but it has not been proven that one cannot help being homosexual or lesbian. How do you think the government or these corporations would respond to me (a white male), if I went to them and said, “I want you to consider me as a black woman. I just can’t help but think of myself as a black woman and I want all the minority rights you would give to her.”? Well, they would usher me right to the nearest exit, and rightly so. Saying I feel black and feel like a woman wouldn’t make me a black woman. Neither does someone saying he or she feels like loving someone of the same sex mean that God made them that way. In fact, this is a watershed as to whether or not one believes the Bible, since it condemns all homosexual/lesbian relationships; and it will determine whether or not the God of the Bible is truly the God He claims to be. If homosexuals cannot help being what they are (they claim God made them that way), but yet the Bible condemns homosexuality and says they will be eternally lost, then God is not a just God and the Bible is not worth following.

Is There A “Gay” Gene?

One researcher named Simon LeVay, looking into the possibility of being “born gay, pointed in his studies to a section of the brain in homosexuals which seemed to be smaller in “gays” than in heterosexual men. Since this area of the brain was known to house the sexual stimulus of a man toward a woman, this researcher decided this indicated some people are born to be homosexuals. However, other scientists said, “Wait a minute.”‘ Perhaps this area of the brain is smaller, not because it was so at birth, but because this part of the brain was not used as intended, in developing social relationships with women. God’s law in all creation is use it or lose it. Other parts of the brain show similar types of shrinkage from non-use, so this claim of LeVay does not prove homosexuals are born that way.

Another claim for homosexuals being “born” that way comes from some work done by J. Michael Bailey and Richard C. Rillard. These men said they discovered that 52% of identical twin brothers are both gay, while only 22% of non-twin brothers are gay. This, we are told, means that if homosexuality has a genetic basis, many of the second twins should also be gay.” But again, “Wait a minute.”‘ If homosexuality has a genetic basis and identical twins have identical genetic makeup (and it is identical), then 100% of the second twins should be gay, not just 52%. If nearly half are not gay then there is no genetic factor making someone gay. The fact that there is an unusual closeness between most twins, along with other environmental and developmental factors, could account for the high percentage of gay identical twins. Don’t blame God. Additionally, if being homosexual was genetic, then one could not change that any more than one could make his blue eyes brown or his black skin yellow. Yet many who have been practicing homosexuals or lesbians have changed their sexual orientation to heterosexuality, simply by their own will to do so. Homosexuality is “want to,” not “have to.”

Old Testament Condemnation of Homosexuality

Early in Scripture the Bible discusses the sins of Sodom and Gomorrah in Genesis 13:13, saying, “But the men of Sodom were wicked and sinners before the Lord exceedingly.” Before going further, remember the natural state in which God created mankind “male and female,” telling them to “be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish [literally=fill] the earth” (Genesis 1:27-28). It took a male and female to multiply, and it still does today, the natural way God created and intended for all time. The account is expanded in Genesis 2:18-24 as it discusses the “one flesh” relationship of the man and woman. Trying to become one flesh in any other way is unnatural and sinful.

Genesis, chapter 19, clearly condemns homosexuality. The angels who came in the “form” of men to rescue Lot before God destroyed Sodom, were sought out by the men of Sodom, who did not know that they were heavenly messengers. Lot persuaded the angels not to stay in the street that night, aware that the men of Sodom would sexually attack them. Even in Lot’s own house the men of Sodom came to take them out of Lot’s care, that they might “know them” (Genesis 19:1-5). The word for “know” is a common Hebrew word used hundreds of times in the Old Testament for “to get to know, become familiar with.” However, there are times when it has a definite sexual connotation, as it does here. It is used of Adam’s sexual relations with Eve in Genesis 4:1, 25, and of Cain with his wife (4:17). This use of “knowing” someone sexually was also common in the language of the New Testament. Joseph “knew not” Mary until alter Jesus was born (Matthew 1:25). We use the word “know” in the same sense today, when we speak of carnal knowledge, meaning things sexual.

The fact that Lot offered his virgin daughters to these Sodomite men illustrates the extreme vulgarity with which Lot viewed this sin. The men rejected Lot’s offer, showing the depravity of mind they possessed (Genesis 19:7-9). We do not claim that Lot was right in what he did. Not at all! He had placed himself in a wicked environment and had stayed in that area to maintain his wealth, in spite of the horrible sins of the people which vexed his own soul (2 Peter 2:6-7). He was now desperate to show the Lord his concern for the heavenly messengers. Jude 7 answers the argument of some homosexuals that Sodom’s sin was simply being “inhospitable.” Jude writes, “Even as Sodom and Gomorrah, and the cities about them in like manner, giving themselves over to fornication, and going after strange flesh, are set forth for an example, suffering the vengeance of eternal fire. “The word “fornication” means all illicit sex, specifically “going after strange flesh,” here meaning the unnatural desire of men to have sex with other men.

Leviticus 20:13 clearly states, “If a man also lie with mankind (other men), as he lieth with a woman, both of them hath committed an abomination: they shall surely be put to death; their blood shall be upon them.” Homosexuals who seek God’s approval for their wicked deeds say this verse merely prohibits homosexual rape, not a loving relationship between two consenting members of the same sex. However, “both, they, them” have committed an abomination worthy of death under Old Testament law. This is not speaking of forced rape, but mutually consensual sex. That is why “both” were condemned! What about verse 15 which says, “And if a man lie with a beast, he shall surely be put to death: and ye shall slay the beast.” Does that mean this verse is a law against raping a beast? If the man had a “loving relationship” with the beast, would that be all right? Ridiculous? Yes, and so is the idea that the Lord was only prohibiting homosexual rape. Rape is prohibited, both in Leviticus 18 and chapter 20, and distinctions are made between rape and homosexuality. Just as rape is wrong in every case and sex with animals is wrong in every case, so it is wrong in every case for a man to lie with another man, or a woman to lie with another woman. It is an “abomination!” (Leviticus 18:22)

New Testament Condemnation of Homosexuality

In discussing the horrible sins of the Gentile world, Paul did not neglect homosexual and lesbian activities. Speaking of these sexual sins in Romans 1:24-27, Paul noted that “God also gave them up to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonor their own bodies between themselves: Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed forever. For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature: And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman burned in their lust one toward another, men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompense of their error which was meet [fitting].” These acts of sexual immorality did not come from minds which God made to be that way or being born that way, but “through the lusts of their own hearts.” Notice also that Paul is not describing homosexual rape, but all homosexuality! These men were not raping one another, they were “burn[ing] in their lust one toward another.” This is mutual reciprocal lust, not rape. Men do not have any God given inclination nor right to burn in lust for other men, nor women for women. Such is “uncleanness, unnatural, and unseemly.”

First Corinthians 6:9-11 also speaks out against homosexuality (and lesbianism) when it says, ‘Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived, neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind… shall inherit the kingdom of God.” Sexual sins will keep one from heaven, whether fornication, adultery, or homosexuality. The “effeminate” are men who “play” the more passive role of a woman in a homosexual relationship, while the “abusers of themselves with mankind” are the more active aggressors “playing” the role of a man. I say “playing” these roles because neither is truly being what God created them to be. A homosexual man may “play” the role of the woman, but he is not a woman. The homosexual man only “plays” the role as a man, because he is unnaturally making love to another man and that is not what God created man to do sexually. Both will be lost unless they repent through faith in Christ and obey the gospel. After naming an entire list of sins, sexual and otherwise, Paul said of the Corinthians, “And such were some of you: but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God” (1 Corinthians 6:11). While some of the Corinthians had been homosexuals, they had to quit practicing those acts when they became Christians, just like the thieves had to quit stealing and the drunkards had to quit drinking. If they did not, they could not enter God’s kingdom, receiving forgiveness of sins.

Conclusion

In addition to sexual perversion, homosexuals and lesbians who strangely seek to have the approval of God for their abominations commit another type of perversion. They pervert the text of the Scriptures to justify their perverted acts of sex. Believers in the Bible and the God of the Bible cannot surrender what the Scriptures teach on this topic without removing all hope for the salvation of homosexuals and lesbians. Unless they are taught the truth on these matters and give up these ungodly sexual acts; coming to God through faith in Christ (Hebrews 11:6), repenting from past sins (Acts 17:30-31), confessing Jesus is Lord (Romans 10:9-10), and being baptized into Christ to have their sins washed away (Acts 2:38; 22:16), they will not, they cannot be saved!

While the Bible shows the unnatural status of homosexuality, it is a sin no greater than many others which will keep us from heaven. Other sexual sins will also keep us out of the kingdom. To speak out against homosexuality is no worse than speaking out against idolatry, stealing, lying, adultery, etc. One is not being homophobic (afraid of homosexuals) when one objects to their often-obscene public behavior and tries to teach them the truth of the gospel, encouraging them to repent and change their ways. Still, this is not just another type of illicit sexual activity; it changes the very nature which God created in us into something so unnatural that it cannot fulfill the purpose for which God originally made us male and female and gave the institution of marriage (Genesis 1 & 2). It can destroy souls, families, and nations. Love the souls of homosexuals and seek to convert them to Christ, but do not surrender one particle of biblical truth in your approach to them. Speak the truth in love (Ephesians 4:15), wielding the sword of the Spirit which is the word of God (Ephesians 6:17).