Accepting Christ

Accepting Christ

By Terrell Perkins

“All that is necessary to be a Christian is to accept Christ as one’s Savior. Nothing else is called for. That’s the message that evangelical Christians all over the world preach. Is that really what the Bible teaches? And just what does it mean to accept Christ as one’s Savior? The fact is, most Christians don’t understand what it means to accept Christ. To come to a correct understanding of it, one must understand it in the context of the entire Bible.

Even those who believe that the only thing necessary to being a Christian is accepting Christ as one’s savior will admit that the message of the scriptures points to Christ. It is therefore no great leap to assert that accepting Christ means to accept the message of the Bible as a whole. Though some would have us discard the “Old Testament” (OT) and read only the “New,” it is a fact that the Hebrew scriptures are the foundation for the Greek scriptures (New Testament — NT).

First, in explaining what the Bible is to someone who has never heard of it one could say: It is God’s revelation to mankind. He lets us know who He is, why we are here and what He expects of us. It is His instruction manual for the care and maintenance of mankind. It’s also a historical record of God’s dealing with mankind and, more specifically, Israel. It recorded what happened when mankind obeyed His instructions and what happened when mankind disobeyed His instructions. It records God’s grace in that it shows us a path for His forgiveness for our failures in obeying Him. And, it contains prophetic writings warning of the choices we will make. In short, it is a statement of God’s love for His children. God reveals Himself to us in the scriptures….”

(this article is an excerpt from the March–April 2014 edition of the Sabbath Sentinel)

To read the rest of this article, which starts on page 7, click this link: https://biblesabbath.org/media/Tss_03-04-14_LoRes_566.pdf

Biblical Rest in a Weary World

Biblical Rest in a Weary World
by Rev. Nicholas J. Kersten

In his recent book, “You Found Me,” evangelism researcher Rick Richardson, with the Billy Graham Center for Evangelism at Wheaton College, charts and interprets recent evidence about those people around us who do not believe in Jesus Christ. Contrary to some studies well‐publicized, Richardson believes that the standard, sloppy, defeatist narrative around Christian witness with those who don’t believe in our times is overplayed and overgeneralized, and in a way that discourages from living out what our faith teaches.

The remedy for this inertia in our witness, according to Richardson? Authentic faith which reaches out to our neighbors. According to Richardson, “…We belong out there [in the world] as individuals and the church; bless people where we live, work, study, and play; and then bring them into the community of our congregation. People then go through a cycle of becoming the beloved in community. They connect to Christians, contribute their gifts and abilities to the congregation, commit to Christ, and communicate what God has done in their lives, inviting others into the same journey.”1

I will comment further on some of Richardson’s findings in future columns, but for now I want to focus on one aspect of Richardson’s work: blessing people “out there.” As Seventh Day Baptists, we are missing one very important opportunity we have because of our Biblical convictions to bless the people around us in the underpromotion of our distinctive belief in the seventh day Sabbath of the Bible. Elsewhere in this issue of the SR, other articles have addressed our Biblical belief about Sabbath and how we can be led by the Scriptures and Spirit to keep it and believe rightly about it.

We need to carefully study the Scriptures on these matters for ourselves and to live from how we are led under the guidance of the Holy Spirit as we study, but that guidance is not only for us. Our genuinely lived‐out convictions regarding the Sabbath can be a powerful testimony to a world that is obsessed with never switching off. Real rest, even for our brothers and sisters in Christ who do not share our conviction, is difficult to find.

It has become so difficult to find that there is a proliferation of Christian books about finding “a Sabbath rest,” or “holding to the Sabbath principle.” We have important things to contribute to this conversation, both experientially and theologically, but our witness in these things is only as good as our lives can demonstrate. Ironically, one of the best things we may have to offer our world is our testimony as SDBs about what we refuse to do, or more correctly, when we refuse to do it. To a frantic world, an opportunity for real rest and fellowship with the God of the universe that can refresh us is very, very good news, both for believers and unbelievers alike.

As Seventh Day Baptists, we have long held that the seventh day of the week is sacred time, set apart and sanctified by God for rest—cessation from our weekly labors in a way that is totally different from the other six days of the week. We have affirmed this belief repeatedly, but a belief we don’t hold convictionally or won’t follow through on in our own lives has very little benefit to anyone, including ourselves. If it has been a while since you have gone back through Scripture and considered what God has done in providing the Sabbath for His people, it is high time for you to prayerfully return. This is not only for you, but for the good of our world and your neighborhood. God’s Spirit can work powerfully in your own life and in the lives that touch yours—but for that doorway to be open, you need to be in God’s Word, you need to be living out your conviction, and you need to be in contact with people who need God’s rest.

This article was first published in the February 2020 edition of The Sabbath Recorder, which is the official publication of the Seventh Day Baptist Church. We encourage you to follow them and read more of their material at: https://www.sabbathrecorder.com/

1 Rick Richardson, You Found Me: New Research on How Unchurched Nones, Millenials, and Irreligious are Surprisingly Open to Christian Faith. IVP Books, Downers Grove, IL. 2019, p230

When Is the Sabbath? How Can We Know?

When Is the Sabbath? How Can We Know?

By Kelly McDonald, Jr.

An important question many people have is as follows: When is the Sabbath?

In Genesis chapters 1 and 2, we learn about the creation of the heavens and the earth. In six days, God formed the face of the earth and fashioned it with animals and other living creatures. During these six days He created. On the seventh day, He rested.

“2 By the seventh day God had finished the work he had been doing; so on the seventh day he rested from all his work. 3 Then God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it he rested from all the work of creating that he had done” (Genesis 2:2-3, NIV).

This seven-day cycle was established and later spread throughout the whole world. Noah understood the seven-day cycle established at creation.  “He waited yet another seven days; and again he sent the dove out of the ship.  The dove came back to him at evening and, behold, in her mouth was a freshly plucked olive leaf. So Noah knew that the waters were abated from the earth. He waited yet another seven days, and sent out the dove; and she didn’t return to him any more” (Gen. 8:10-12).

Later in Genesis we learn that the children of Jacob or Israel went down to Egypt. While there, any knowledge of the seven-day week they might have had was lost. The Egyptians had a ten-day work week (Fagan, 476). After God brought them out of Egypt in Exodus chapters 12-14, one of His first acts was to reveal to them the true Sabbath.

In Exodus chapter 16, the Bible records the miraculous giving of the manna from Heaven. God told the Israelites to gather manna for five days and on the sixth day to gather twice as much. On the seventh day, they were not to gather any.

Many people have heard the story of the manna in the desert. Very few know that the lesson of the manna was to show them which day of the week was the Sabbath! He even said in Exodus 16:29, “Bear in mind that the Lord has given you the Sabbath; that is why on the sixth day he gives you bread for two days.”

From the time that the manna was given in Exodus chapter 16, the Jewish people have kept track of this day. In the Bible and the Jewish culture, the Sabbath is the only day of the week that is named. The other days of the week are named “first day”, “second day”, “third day”, etc. This is why no day of the week except Sabbath is named in the Bible.

This is one detail that made the day easy to preserve. It is the same day kept in Jesus’ time and the same day observed by Jewish people today.

In the first few centuries AD, several Roman historians noted which day of the week that the Jewish people rested. We have some of them listed below:

Frontinus (30-103 AD) wrote: “The deified Vespasian Augustus attacked the Jews on the day of Saturn, a day on which it is sinful for them to do any business, and so defeated them” (Strategems, book 2).

The Roman Historian Cassius Dio tells us that the Jewish people rested on the day that the Romans called the day of Saturn. “As it was, they made an excavation of what are called the days of Saturn and by doing no work at all on those days afforded the Romans an opportunity in this interval to batter down the wall…They build to him a temple that was extremely large and beautiful, except in so far as it was open and roofless, and likewise dedicated to him the day called the day of Saturn, on which, among many other most peculiar observances, they undertake no serious occupation” (Roman History, 37.16.2; 37.16.3).

At least fourteen Roman writers attest that the Jewish people honored the Sabbath; most of them wrote that they rested on the day. Frontinus, Cassius Dio, and others link it to the day of Saturn.

Saturn is the name the Romans gave to the day of the week we presently call Saturday. The Sabbath was so widespread in the Roman world that they developed a word in their language (Latin) for that day (sabbatis).

The Hebrew word for Sabbath is Shabbat. In many current and ancient languages, the word for Saturday is a variation of the phonetic sounds relating to Shabbat or sabbat. I have included a short list below. Some of these languages are over one thousand years old!

Indonesian – Sabtu

Tagalog (Philippines) – Sabado

Latin – Sabbatum

Greece – Sabato or Savatoh

Spanish – Sabado

Portuguese – Sabado

Russian – Subota

Arabic – Al Sabt

Somali (East Africa) – Sabti

Mandingo also called Mandinka (West Africa) – Sibiti

Ormo or Galla (East Africa) – Sanbata tenna

Kisii, also called Gusii or Ekegusii (Africa) – Esabato

In Greece, Friday is called paraskevi or Preparation day. It comes from the ancient Jewish and Christian custom of preparing on Friday to keep the Sabbath. One reason why this happened is because the Sabbath begins Friday at sunset. In fact, this is when all Biblical days occur.

Genesis 1:5b “…And there was evening, and there was morning—the first day.”

Deut. 24:15 – “…Pay them their wages each day before sunset, because they are poor and are counting on it.”

Ephesians 4:26 – “’In your anger do not sin’: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry…”

We can see from these examples that a day in the Bible begins and ends at sunset. Night time is the beginning portion of a day and day time is the concluding portion. This helps us define a Biblical day.

It is very clear that the Sabbath is from Friday sunset through Saturday sunset. This set apart day is mentioned over 140 times in the Bible. He has left us a witness through history, language, and the example of the Jewish people. He made provision for us; He made sure that we would know when the Sabbath is today. Jesus said that the Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath (Mark 2:27). It was set apart for all mankind.

Kelly McDonald, Jr

BSA President – www.biblesabbath.org

Bibliography

Dio Cassius. Roman History. 37.16.2; 37.16.3.

Fagan, Brian M. ed. The Oxford Companion to Archaeology. Vol. 1. Oxford University Press. New York, 1996. Page 202. p 476.

Frontius. Strategems. book 2.

All verses, unless otherwise noted, come from the New International Version (NIV).

What does John 5:18 really teach about Sabbath Keeping?

What does John 5:18 really teach about Sabbath Keeping?

By Wilbur C. Dornberger

“In John 5:18 the issue is really whether Jesus Christ kept the Sabbath or not, and whether or not Christians are obligated to keep a day that (as some teach) their Lord Himself defiled or profaned.

In regard to this question several scriptures come so forcefully to mind; they are 2 Corinthians 5:21: “For he hath made him [Jesus Christ] to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.” “We have a great high priest, that is passed into the heavens, Jesus the Son of God . . .[who] was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin” (Hebrews 4:14, 15). “Sin is the transgression of the law” (1 John 3:4). “Ye shall keep the sabbath therefore; for it is holy unto you: everyone that defileth it shall surely be put to death: for whosoever doeth any work therein, that soul shall be cut off from among his people” (Exodus 31:14). “The letter (of the law) killeth, but the spirit giveth life” (2 Corinthians 3:6).

We must conclude from the above that Jesus never transgressed, defiled, or departed from the will of God…”

(this article is an excerpt from the Oct 1980 edition of the Sabbath Sentinel)

To read the rest of this article, which starts on page 6, click this link: https://biblesabbath.org/media/tss_282Oct1980.pdf

Constantine’s Vision in 312 AD

Constantine’s Vision in 312 AD

By Kelly McDonald, Jr.

There are a significant number of Christians who believe that Constantine was the first Christian Emperor. Those who hold this view often point to one major event either as his moment of conversion or the beginning of that process: his vision before the battle of Milvan Bridge. In this article, we will the review historical evidence to examine what really happened. This evidence will have a major impact upon one’s view of his possible conversion.

In 312 AD, Constantine fought Maxentius for control of the Western Roman Empire at a battle commonly called the Battle of Milvan Bridge. Just before his victorious battle, contemporary witnesses claim that he had an experience that changed his life and the course of history. We will briefly review the two known accounts of it.

The first account was written by Lactantius, who was the personal tutor of Constantine’s son, Crispus. He wrote just a few years after the victory. He claimed that Constantine had a dream with a heavenly sign where he was instructed to put the Greek letters chi and rho on the shields of his soldiers. Lactantius said that these letters were short hand for Christ. He attributed Constantine’s victory in part to the use of these letters.

He wrote: “Constantine was directed in a dream to cause the heavenly sign to be delineated on the shields of his soldiers, and so to proceed to battle. He did as he had been commanded, and he marked on their shields the letter Χ, with a perpendicular line drawn through it and turned round thus at the top, being the cipher of Christ. Having this sign (ΧΡ), his troops stood to arms…” (Of the Manner In Which the Persecutors Died, Chapter 44).

The second account comes from Eusebius, an early Christian historian. The events leading up to the vision and just after it are recorded in his work The Life of Constantine (book 1, sections 27-31). He composed it about 330 AD. It is a rather lengthy account, so I will summarize it for space’s sake.

Before the battle with Maxentius, Eusebius claimed that Constantine pondered the failure of past emperors. He then chose to dedicate himself to the deity of his father. Sometime before the battle, Eusebius wrote that Constantine saw a cross of light appear above the sun (about noon that day). It had an inscription attached to it: “Conquer by this.” He then wrote that Christ came to Constantine at night and instructed him to make a cross with a vertical spear, a gold bar horizontally across it and precious stones adorning the cross. The Greek letters chi-rho were also placed on it. He claimed that Constantine used this symbol in his armies (Life of Constantine, 1.27-31).

When we compare and contrast these accounts of the same event, we find significant differences and some similarities.

The first problem is that the accounts do not completely agree. Lactantius said that Constantine had a dream with the chi-rho alone, whereas Eusebius wrote that he had a daytime vision with an elaborate cross above the sun. He was then informed in a dream about the meaning.

The second problem with both stories is the use of the chi-rho. The use of this symbol cannot be the definite confirmation of any conversion experience. These letters were used together as a symbol many centuries before Christianity. The Emperor Ptolemy III, who ruled Egypt from 246-225 BC, minted the Chi-Rho with the likeness of Zeus on some of his coins (picture of this coin below). The chi-rho was used by the ancients to denote something excellent and was even used as a marker for important passages in manuscripts (Mitchell, pp 34-35).

Picture #1: Ptolemy III with picture of Zeus on one side and on the other an eagle with chi-rho between its legs.

ptolemy iii coin chi rho

The third problem is found in Eusebius’ version. He initially wrote about Constantine’s victory over Maxentius in the 320s AD in a work titled Church History. In this account, he never mentioned a vision, dream, or any similar experience. If it was such an important part of Constantine’s life and the battle, then why did he leave it out of that work?

The fourth problem is similar. When Eusebius finally recorded Constantine’s vision almost 20 years after the event, he said that Constantine only told him about the vision. He further confessed that the Emperor conveyed it long after the events occurred. “But since the victorious emperor himself long afterwards declared it to the writer of this history…” (Life, 1.28). If Constantine only told him long afterwards, then why would Lactantius have written a version of the events two decades before?

The fifth problem, also found in Eusebius’ version, is the mention that Constantine chose the deity that his father worshiped: “…therefore felt it incumbent on him to honor his father’s God alone” (ibid, 1.28). What deity did his father adore?

Constantine’s father, Constantine Chlorus, was not known to worship or honor any one deity. The coins he minted just before his death depicted the god Jupiter, the deified Hercules, and the god Genius (Sear, pp 233-264). These were all common coin issues. More evidence of his religious allegiance is found in a panegyric from the time period. A panegyric is formal speech given to honor the virtue of a person and exalt praises for him/her. In one of these speeches, Jupiter and Hercules were proclaimed as patron deities for the government; he was described as being divine (Nixon and Rodgers, pp 113-114). Right after his death, a panegyric was delivered that praised Chlorus for being “divine” and described him as being taken to heaven by the chariot of Sol, the sun god (ibid, 209). These details strongly conflict with the notion that Chlorus worshiped the God of the Bible.

The sixth problem, found in Eusebius’ version, is the use of the cross. The cross was not a symbol used by the earliest church; it pre-dates Christianity for hundreds, if not thousands of years. It is originally derived from pagan worship in Assyria and Babylon (for general information see: Encyclopedia Britannica 11th edition article “Cross”; for Assyrian reference, see: Layard’s Nineveh Inscriptions plate 59; for cross usage with the god Tammuz, see the alabaster relief in the Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, Germany). This was controversial in the early church. Tertullian defended cross usage among Christians from the accusation of pagan worship (see his work To the Nations, 1.12).

Also consider the opulence with which the cross was adorned in Eusebius’ version. The cross (or possibly stake) was a symbol of Christ’s suffering. It was made of wood. It is neither suggested to be replicated nor adorned in the New Testament.

Lastly, we must consider another contemporary account of Constantine’s life. Did you know that Constantine had a similar vision about two years before the battle of Milvan Bridge? In the year 310, an orator delivered a panegyric before Constantine. This speech alleged that he had a vision of himself as Apollo with the goddess Victory holding a wreath in her hand. He then inferred that, like Apollo, Constantine would one day rule the whole world. Constantine then gave gifts and riches to the temple of Apollo (Nixon and Rodgers, pp 249-250).

As we consider the three accounts, Lactantius, Eusebius, and the panegyric, it seems that Constantine had a reputation for having visions (whether he had them or not). Which vision did Constantine really see before the battle with Maxentius? Did Lactantius and Eusebius edit his real experience? Did Constantine even have a vision? It is entirely possible that Constantine could have seen a cross and chi-rho, but attributed the vision to the sun god (Apollo or Sol Invictus).

While we cannot know the heart of someone else, Jesus instructed us to look at his/her fruit (Matthew 7:16). If Constantine had an experience with Jesus that changed his life and these symbols were part of it, then his behavior would bear witness to it. Let’s review the events that followed the battle.

Constantine won the battle with Maxentius; he became ruler over the Western Empire. An inscription dating to the year after this vision is dedicated to Mithras, which involved sun worship (Vermaseren, p 508; CIMRM no. 523). Within a few years of this event, he dedicated a special commemorative Arch to honor the victory over Maxentius. We find no symbols of the cross or chirho carved anywhere on the arch. No honor is given to Jesus Christ or the God of the Bible. The inscription on top of it does not honor God or Jesus for the triumph. However, there are carved medallions on each end. One end depicts Apollo (or Sol Invictus), the sun god. The other end depicts Diana, in honor of the moon (Frothingham, pp 368-389; Planter, pp 36-38).

Following the example of other Emperors, he minted coins of Sol Invictus early in his political career (as early as about 307 AD). These continued far beyond the date of 312, perhaps being made as late as 325/326 AD. Over 100 coin issues with Sol Invictus were minted or struck during his reign. Other gods were also depicted on his coins during this same time period. The god Mars was inscribed on coins from 307-317; Jupiter was depicted on coins from 306-324; and the goddess Victory was depicted on coins throughout his reign (information on coins in this paragraph taken from Sear, pp 363-491).

Two types of Sol Invictus coinage issued between 320 and 325 are very instructive. One depicted Sol giving Constantine the world (with the goddess victory standing on top of the world). The second depicted Sol crowning Constantine Emperor. In the 320s, he defeated his brother-in-law Licinius to become sole ruler of the Roman world. Could these coins depict what Constantine viewed as the fulfillment of the panegyric from years before? Possibly.

He did eventually mint coins and medallions with the chi-rho symbol – but there is no indication that he clearly intended or understood this to be a Christian symbol.

Consider the evidence. He made an inscription to Mithras. The Arch of Constantine honored the sun and moon gods. On many coins, Sol was depicted as his Comitii or companion. When Constantine dedicated Constantinople in 330/331, he brought images of other gods, especially those that honor the sun, into the city (Sozomen, Church History, 2.5; Zosimus, History, 2.31). Even later in life, coins were made which depicted him as the sun god.

The evidence points to Constantine interpreting the vision to mean that the sun god gave him the vision and the victory.

Kelly McDonald, Jr.

BSA President – www.biblesabbath.org

Works Cited
Encyclopedia Britannica 11th edition. Article: Cross

Eusebius of Caesarea. Life of Constantine, 1.27-31. McGiffert, Rev. Arthur Cushman. Schaff and Wace, ed. Nicene and Post Nicene Fathers. Vol. 1: Eusebius. New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons: 1904. pp 489-491.

Frothingham, A.L. American Journal of Archaeology. Vol. 16. No. 3. Pp 368-386. “Who Built the Arch of Constantine? Its History from Domitian to Constantine” (Jul-Sept 1912).

Lactanius. Of the Manner in Which the Persecutors Died, 44. Fletcher, William (trans). Ante-Nicene Fathers. Roberts and Donaldson ed. Vol 7. New York: 1890. p 318.

Layard, Austen Henry. The Monuments of Nineveh. Illustrated in One Hundred Plates. London: 1853.

Mitchell, JB. Chrestos: A Religious Epithet; Its Import and Influence. London. 1880. pp 34-35.

Nixon, C.E.V and Rodgers, Barbara Saylor, trans. In Praise of Later Roman Emperors. The Panegyrici Latini. University of California Press, Los Angeles. 1994. pp 113-114, 209, 249-250.

Platner, Samuel Ball. A Topographical Dictionary of Ancient Rome. London: Oxford University Press, 1929. pp 36-38.

Sear, David. Roman Coins and their Values, Volume IV. Spink, London, 2011. Pp 233-264,  363-491.

Sozomen. Church History, 2.5. Hartranft, Chester D. trans. Schaff, Philip and Wace, Henry, ed. Nicene and Post Nicene Fathers of the Christian Church. Second series. Vol. 2. The Christian Literature Company: New York: 1890.  p 262.

Tertullian. Against the Nations, 1:12. Roberts, Rev. Alexander and Donaldson, James, eds. The Ante-Nicene Fathers. Vol. 3. New York, 1918. 121-122.

Vermaseren, MJ. Corpus Inscriptionum Et Monumentorum Religionis Mithriacae. Martinus Nijhoff. 1956. No. 523, p 208.

Zosimus. History. 2.31. Vossius, G.J. trans. The History of Count Zosimus. London: 1814. pp 52-53.

What to Hold Lightly; What to Hold Tightly

What to Hold Lightly; What to Hold Tightly

by Kenneth Westby

“Our lives are filled with our things and also our hopes and dreams. On some we have a tight grip, others we hold loosely if at all. How we hold on to the things and hopes of life largely determine the direction our lives take. Sadly, many people, maybe most people, live inverted lives, holding the wrong things tightly while holding the most important things lightly, if holding them at all.

An ambitious farmer was having one bumper crop after another. Things were good and he was prospering beyond that of other farmers. He needed to expand his operation, to farm more land, to build new and bigger barns for his land’s bountiful production. He was already counting his money and looking to a well-provided and secure future, an early retirement and years of ease eating, drinking and making merry.

Then, out of the blue, he heard the most shocking news of his life: God said, “You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?” One can imagine a heart attack, a terrible accident, or a deadly assault by robbers. Suddenly, all his cherished accumulations from a life of hard work taken from him in a minute. He held tightly what he should have been holding but lightly.

Does this story seem familiar? It should. Jesus told it in parabolic form two thousand years ago (read the parable in Luke 12:13-21)….”

(this article is an excerpt from the March-April 2015 edition of the Sabbath Sentinel)

To read the rest of this article, which starts on page 4, click this link: https://biblesabbath.org/media/TSS_2015_March-April-LowRes.pdf

The White Horse of Deception

The White Horse of Deception

by Jim O’Brien

Hi Friend,

“I watched as the Lamb opened the first of the seven seals. Then I heard one of the four living creatures say in a voice like thunder, “Come!” I looked, and there before me was a white horse! Its rider held a bow, and he was given a crown, and he rode out as a conqueror bent on conquest.” (Revelation 6:1-2)

Even people who aren’t familiar with the Bible have heard of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse and most are vaguely aware that they represent some terrible calamities that will occur before this age of man comes to an end.

But understanding the symbolism doesn’t come from a cursory reading. What is so evil about a White Horse? White is a color of purity so why does it portend such bad things?

Some people believe the White Horse is a reference to Christianity and therefore it is a good horse. But if that is so, why is this horse carrying an armament of war and why is it bent on “military” conquest?

Maybe the White Horse does not represent Christianity at all. Maybe this horse is just as evil-in some ways possibly even worse than those that follow.

C.S. Lewis gave us a clue when he wrote, “Theocracy is the worst of all governments. If we must have a tyrant, a robber baron is far better than an inquisitor.” Lewis went on to say, “Of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It would be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron’s cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience.”

The White Horse represents a deceptive force that engulfs the world. By definition deception is causing people to accept as true something that is false. It is exemplified by a person who believes he is right even when he is wrong.

Deception precedes evil because evil begins in the mind. To paraphrase Proverbs 23:7, “As [a man] thinks in his heart, so is he.” When a person has a warped worldview, he will act according to those wrong perceptions.

Donna and I were discussing current events recently when I opined that the people expounding these irrational views must know they are wrong. She pulled me up short, “No!” she exclaimed, “they believe these things!” She is right. These people are so deceived they actually believe their lies are true. That’s what makes them dangerous.

The most evil people who ever existed were evil because they could not question their own infallibility. Did the Muslim terrorists who flew planes filled with innocent people into the World Trade Centers ever doubt their own ideas? Did Hitler ever doubt the ethics of his politics when he led the world into a war that cost the lives of over 50 million people? Did Stalin doubt his own righteousness when he murdered 20 million of his own citizens? Did Mao ever doubt himself when he murdered as many as 100 million citizens of China?

These men were convinced they were right-but they were deceived and compelled to force their wrong beliefs on the rest of the world. Such evil was started by the White Horse of religious zeal for wrong doctrines, and when deceived men acquired the sword of political power they went forth to conquer by force. When force was insufficient, destruction and death soon followed.

The day came that the Son of God stepped down from the throne of the universe in the 3rd Heaven to bring truth to the earth! It took the Creator of the earth to untangle the web of deception. Jesus said, “I am the way and the truth and the life!” (John 14:6). It is Truth that sets us free!” (John 8:31). Truth is the only thing that can save a person from deception.

Until next time,

Jim O’Brien

This article was originally published on February 21, 2020 on The Church of God Cincinatti’s website. We encourage you to follow them at http://www.cogcincinnati.org/

 

Sabbath Meditation #22 – Protection Against Self-Slavery

Sabbath Meditation #22 – Protection Against Self-Slavery

by Kelly McDonald, Jr.

“If thou turn away thy foot from the Sabbath, from doing thy pleasure on my holy day; and call the sabbath a delight, and the holy of the Lord, honourable; and shalt honour him, not doing thine own ways, nor finding thine own pleasure, nor speaking thine own words, 14 then shalt thou delight thyself in the Lord; and I will cause thee to ride upon the high places of the earth, and feed thee with the heritage of Jacob thy father: for the mouth of the LORD hath spoken it.” (Isaiah 58:13-14).

Consider Western culture for a moment.

In Western culture, we have a life full of stuff/things. There’s a gadget for almost every need. They appear to make life more convenient and easier; in many cases they do.

We also have an endless number of events that we could attend. There are concerts, sporting events, shopping events, political events, festivals, parades, marches, special classes, and the list goes on and on. There is an event or cause for nearly every interest a person could have.

In addition to events, there are also many avenues for personal pursuits and achievements. There are college degrees that can be earned, positions available within civic organizations, job promotions, and so forth.

These are all a part of the “world” or kosmos in which we live.  If allowed to continue unchecked, they will create an almost continuous state of motion and unending busy-ness. They will make us slaves to self.

In Genesis 1:27-28, God gave mankind dominion over creation. Since then, we have exercised that authority to establish structures and civilizations. We have created things to serve us. Unfortunately, the world created by humans has slowly taken dominion over us. The things made by humans rule over the creators. It has devolved to the point that our modern world has diminished the importance of the Creator God.

In the beginning, mankind only had the things which God made; this was the sole delight of Adam and Eve. As time has passed, we have created things to which we take delight. In Isaiah 58:13-14, we learn that we should find our joy in the LORD on the Sabbath. We are asked not to seek our own purposes, delight or way. Even our words are supposed to be directed away from personal pursuits and towards His work in our lives. When we do so, we will reap rewards from Him. In Isaiah 58:14, God shares special blessings we receive from honoring the Sabbath.

There must be a point at which the busy-ness of our modern world stops so that we can focus on the higher purpose for which we were created. The Sabbath gives us this opportunity on a weekly basis. Spending the time to honor God in this way will refocus us from the temporary world created by people to the Creator of the Universe. It allows us to stop and reflect on God’s direction for our lives while separated from our own pursuits. We can then pursue Him without the distractions of the human-created world.

A life guided only by self-centered pursuits will lead to endless activity with little thought of God’s plan. Don’t be enslaved; allow the author of freedom to liberate you from this kosmos and even free you from yourself.

We will continue this thought even deeper in a future Sabbath meditation.

Selah.

Kelly McDonald, Jr.

BSA President www.biblesabbath.org

New Free Booklet: Prevalence of the Sabbath in the Early Roman Empire

New Free booklet: Prevalence of the Sabbath in the Early Roman Empire

by Kelly McDonald, Jr.

The BSA has a brand new booklet for FREE download.

Click the picture below to download it!

BSA President Kelly McDonald, Jr. examines Jewish, Christian, and Roman (non-Christian) sources to show that MANY Gentiles in the early Roman world already kept the seventh-day Sabbath (Friday sunset through Saturday sunset). It was the only day of rest available in the Roman world in the first century AD.

booklet

The Sacred Name Movement

The Sacred Name Movement

By Ruth Fink

“The Sacred Name Movement began in the late 1930s when members of the Church of God, 7th Day, began to think on the question posed by the wise man in Proverbs 30:4: ‘What is his name and what is his son’s name, if thou canst tell?’

But the ground work was being laid almost a century earlier when, in 1857, Alexander MacWhorten of Yale University wrote a book called The Memorial Name, which he believed was Yahveh. Around the turn of the century, the Hebrew scholar F.L. Chapell delivered 6 lectures on the names of the deity; these were published in 1911. Dr. Chapell referred to the stir caused by the publication of MacWhorten’s book and said, “But there has been, especially during the last fifty years, a great interest among the scholars in this name” (The Standard Bearer, Dayton, Ohio, 911).

Research revealed that the Hebrew form of the name of the Most High was four Hebrew letters (tetragrammaton) transliterated variously as…”

(this article is an excerpt from the Sept 1988 edition of the Sabbath Sentinel)

To read the rest of this article, which starts on page 7, click this link: https://biblesabbath.org/media/tss_377Sept1988.PDF