Posts Tagged ‘sacraments’

Body Without Spirit

 

Today, reply is on two Scriptures that are to be read with a view to the doctrine that faith without works is dead. The two verses contrast believing and doing while also calling into understanding the perverseness of impenitence and willful sin (iniquity), the integrity of genuine relationship with divinity, and the essential operations of divine faith, grace, redemption, righteousness, and salvation. Even where they are unstated, and do not appear plainly written within the wording for a specific Bible verse or passage, mature Christians are ever to acknowledge that what is written also serves as the declaration of divine prerogative, sacred promise, eternal purpose, and the sovereign will of GOD. There are two forms of works that make faith visible: sacred works (e.g., confession; forbearance; forgiveness; praise; intercessory prayer) and secular works (e.g., caring for orphans and widows; feeding the hungry; giving shelter to the homeless). The two both appear through operations of the Holy Spirit; are necessary to each other being sound and whole; and they ought not be compared, or assigned value as though they are competing against one another. John 3: 15-16, King James Version (KJV) reads : 15 That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life. 16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. Matthew 7: 21-23, KJV reads: 21 Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. 22 Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? 23 And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity. A fighter in the “Yahoo! Answers” public forum on Religion and Spirituality who uses the ID “I trust the count” (Level 7 with 276,857 points, a member since March 02, 2006) posted the following:

 

Jesus claims everyone who believes in Him will be saved according to John 3:15-16, what about the people in Matthew 7:21-23?

Are the people in Scriptures John 3:15-16 the same people as those in Matthew 7:21-23?

What is so different about the people in John 3:15-16 and Matthew 7:21-23?

 

THE GOLDEN ARROW: For what saith the scripture? Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness. Now to him that worketh is the reward not reckoned of grace, but of debt. But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness. (Romans 4: 3-5, King James Version, KJV)

 

THE DOUBLE DAGGER: We Have To Believe (01/06/2019); Known By His Fruit (11/04/2018); Ye That Work Iniquity (09/24/2018); “I Never Knew You” (03/23/2018); Attending Church a “Chore”? (01/23/2018); Praying For “More Faith”? (01/12/2018); The Savior of “All”? (08/22/2017); Salvation By Faith Alone? (01/19/2017); Many Are Called… (10/15/2015)

 

I trust the count”, the two scripture passages (group of verses) you present must be understood on the basis of their fit with other teachings. The power and process of life in Christ must come into view as more than intellectual content, emotions, ideals, good intentions, thoughts, or finite self-will. There also must be action, obedience to divine law, performing the righteousness within the law, and completing unselfish works. The Bible is a special collection and library of sacred books that preserve the divine law, doctrine, guidance, instruction, and principles provided from divinity (we also say, the Godhead; the Father, the Son, the Holy Spirit) so that created beings and living creatures may exist in continuing relationship as life companions to GOD. Therefore, the holy writings include such features as parables, praises, prayers, promises, prophesies and visions. Because the sacred knowledge shared within the Scriptures has been gathered by multiple writers, from thousands of events that occur within thousands of lives, over the course of thousands of years, there are multiple presentations of the same point of understanding that emerge from diverse aspects of focus, and that may use different language. To properly acknowledge all of the various requirements that must be met to receive the full benefit and privilege available to the offspring of GOD, a sinner must become a developing Christian believer who will be made mature/ripe for harvest by Jesus Christ at his appearing (we also say, the Advent; the Rapture; the Second Coming). Those who will meet the Lord in the air will have been prepared through discovery, gradual growth, learning, practice of the sacraments, unselfish service, and suffering. Consider again the following verses that clarify and complete the two verses you have highlighted:

1. John 7: 14-18, King James Version (KJV): 14 Now about the midst of the feast Jesus went up into the temple, and taught. 15 And the Jews marvelled, saying, How knoweth this man letters, having never learned? 16 Jesus answered them, and said, My doctrine is not mine, but his that sent me. 17 If any man will do his will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God, or whether I speak of myself. 18 He that speaketh of himself seeketh his own glory: but he that seeketh his glory that sent him, the same is true, and no unrighteousness is in him.

2. Hebrews 11: 6, KJV: 6 But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.

3. James 2: 19-20, KJV: 19 Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble. 20 But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead?

There is far more that should be said, correctly examined, and spiritually apprehended. (For example, 4. James 2: 14-18, KJV: 14 What doth it profit, my brethren, though a man say he hath faith, and have not works? can faith save him? 15 If a brother or sister be naked, and destitute of daily food, 16 And one of you say unto them, Depart in peace, be ye warmed and filled; notwithstanding ye give them not those things which are needful to the body; what doth it profit? 17 Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone. 18 Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works: shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works.) Even so, I trust this fragment will be useful. Be it unto you according to your faith.

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THE BLACK PHOENIX

Washington, DC

Holy Matrimony

 

Today, holy matrimony within the church body, fornication, and divorce among Christians are topics.  The outcome of divorce is to be peace.  As a sacred practice (we say, sacrament) within the church, holy matrimony addresses more than the happiness, love, and prosperity of a single couple.  There are issues of eternal life, family stability, godliness, new creation, oneness without sameness that should appear throughout the assembly, and developing believers becoming ripe for harvest by the Lord at his appearing.  In sanctifying Israel as a covenant people and nation belonging to GOD, Moses introduced divorce to release women from the abuse they were suffering in marriage.  In the early church, believers are encouraged to marry and avoid fornication; however, during times of persecution, unmarried believers are counseled to remain single.  Divorce is not automatically a condemnation of ones spirit content and divine makeup.  Even so, in addition to situations of adultery, divorce also may be a remedy where a wife hinders her husband’s prayers, nags, practices idolatry, irreverence, prostitution or witchcraft, and is a “stranger” outside the covenants of GOD.  The annulment of holy matrimony through divorce acknowledges that the holiness of the Lord is profaned.  Divorce is mistakenly taken to be a form of excommunication; yet, the disunion of joined spirits is only accomplished through the operations of divinity.  Among those commanded to “love your enemy,” divorce separates and denies a couple a right to cohabit; however, it does not remove their duty to acknowledge accountability, or to continue showing forbearance, forgiveness, and respect.  A writer in the “Yahoo! Answers” forum using the ID “East” (Level 1 with 116 points, a member since September 06, 2015) posted the following:

 

Why do Christians not frown on divorce?

In the Bible, Jesus Himself says that you should not get divorced except if your spouse was unfaithful, and that marrying a divorced person is adultery.

Why do Christians focus on so many “values” issues but not divorce?

I’m asking as a Christian. I will ignore answers that bash Christianity.

 

THE GOLDEN ARROW:  Judah hath dealt treacherously, and an abomination is committed in Israel and in Jerusalem; for Judah hath profaned the holiness of the LORD which he loved, and hath married the daughter of a strange god.  The LORD will cut off the man that doeth this, the master and the scholar, out of the tabernacles of Jacob, and him that offereth an offering unto the LORD of hosts.  And this have ye done again, covering the altar of the LORD with tears, with weeping, and with crying out, insomuch that he regardeth not the offering any more, or receiveth it with good will at your hand.  Yet ye say, Wherefore?  Because the LORD hath been witness between thee and the wife of thy youth, against whom thou hast dealt treacherously:  yet is she thy companion, and the wife of thy covenant.  And did not he make one?  Yet had he the residue of the spirit.  And wherefore one?  That he might seek a godly seed.  Therefore take heed to your spirit, and let none deal treacherously against the wife of his youth.  For the LORD, the God of Israel, saith that he hateth putting away:  for one covereth violence with his garment, saith the LORD of hosts:  therefore take heed to your spirit, that ye deal not treacherously.  (Malachi 2:  11-16, King James Version, KJV)

 

THE DOUBLE DAGGER:  Conforming to Divine Standards (06/18/2017); Marriage Is A Sacrament? (06/11/2017); The Wife of Your Youth? (12/22/2015); Dating and Worship? (09/11/2014); Quality Time Together? (09/12/2014); GOD and Adultery? (06/11/2014); A Hardened Spirit? (06/12/2014)

 

“East”, the future soundness of a marriage relationship can not be predicted; however, by following familiar and fixed patterns (e.g., ABC), we can have a sense of sequence and what else may be on the way (XYZ).  Many mature Christian believers regard divorce as a peculiar divine judgment intended to resolve ongoing and recurring conflict between two or more spirits that have been joined through the sexual intercourse provided to consummate marriage.  The application of divine law for the settlement of disputes comes into view.  Where marriage is only a carnal and social institution, marriage comes under the jurisdiction of civil law, family courts, and the oversight of the community-at-large and the general public.  Law enforcement and the courts become involved to establish equity regarding such issues as joint financial obligations, credit ratings, custody for the children, the disposition of ownership for jointly held property, and domestic violence.

Even where young adults and their parents are careful to practice discernment during the dating and courtship phase of relationship and trust-building before emotional, psychological, and sexual commitments are made, correctly apprehending the spirit content and eternal purposes within another developing believer is not a simple process.  There are many subtleties (i.e., barely visible differences; hidden shifts in meaning, quality, and value), and the candidates for holy matrimony often are driven by finite human tools such as intellect, secular knowledge, and romanticism.  Sexual joining may occur through behavior that appears innocent (e.g., kissing (oral sex), holding hands), because joining occurs on multiple levels, and is not just “physical”.

Fornication (the defilement of ones inborn spirit by sexual partners who may not be physically present) can result in a couple being bound to, or dominated by strangers, and those whose spirit makeup are not compatible.  Where she has had 6 partners, 7 will be joined to her mate; where he has had 7, 8 will be joined to her; and, where the Spirit of Christ does not reign and rule over the conjunction of 15 spirits, expressing such elements as disposition, inclinations, and moods can regularly display anger, confusion, fear, and self-contradiction.  More than this, where the 6 each have had 5, and the 7 each have had 5—do the math!  And their partners may have had multiple partners.  (Many think this may have accounted for the demoniac who told Jesus his name was Legion.)

Where couples who are learning and growing as individuals do not, in fact, grow together in the same direction, with shared goals and experiences of new knowledge, divorce may become necessary for the sake of conscience, and for the sacred commitment to Christ.  Thus, in counsel through the Apostle Paul, it is written:  1st Corinthians 7:  10  And unto the married I command, yet not I, but the Lord, let not the wife depart from her husband:  But and if she depart, let her remain unmarried, or be reconciled to her husband:  and let not the husband put away his wife.  12 But tot the rest speak I, not the Lord:  if any brother have a wife that believeth not, and she be pleased to dwell with him, let her not leave him.  14 For the unbelieving husband is sanctified by the wife, and the unbelieving wife is sanctified by the husband:  else were your children unclean; but now are they holy.  15 But if the unbelieving depart, let him depart.  A brother or a sister is not under bondage in such cases:  but God hath called us to peace.

There is far more to be said, correctly examined, and made a part of our own developing belief.  Even so, I trust this fragment will be useful.  Be it unto you according to your faith.

 

THE BLACK PHOENIX
Washington, DC

 

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give-receive

 

Today, reply is to a teen on giving as a sacrament and sacred discipline within the body of Christ.  The questions I respond to in this sacred writings blog usually are taken from an Internet site that serves as a public forum.  While the writers there often are insulting by accusing divinity, making use of sarcasm, or even deliberately blaspheming, many pose questions very close to those I once asked as a young Christian believer, and that continue as hidden, suppressed and unasked among some who are long-time church members.  In the church, giving is a duty, an obligation, and a privilege that further establishes sacred balance, interdependence, maturity, and stability.  Money may serve as an emblem and token for a broad range of offerings that include allegiance, effort, esteem, labor, possibilities, reverence, and amounts of time.  Abundance and plenty promote confidence, joy, and security; and giving expresses eternal purpose and love by adding and imparting value to the beloved.  A fighter at “Yahoo! Answers” using the ID “Anonymous” (no profile information appears) posted the following:

 

Why is money even a thing with church?

I know I’m only 15 and Adults think teenagers don’t know anything, but this time I think it’s the adults who are blind. Recently I stopped going to church with my mother because I started to find the collection bowl for God’s offering and the pastor’s offering offensive. I mean like what does God want with money? Nowhere in the bible does God ever ask us to render money unto him. So I ask the office lady at my Church what happens to the money collected as the Church and she says “Electricity, water, upkeep and other programs like the deconess breakfast don’t pay for themselves.” I then ask her why the pastor needed an offering and she said “The pastor is a hardworking man and we have to give what we can to help him out.”

At this I ran out the church with my head sweltering. I mean why would we call an offering that’s going to the church bank account an offering to God? It smells heavily of bait & switch. And then why would we give the pastor ANYTHING? A priest is supposed to spread the word because God commands his heart, not to line his wallets. To that end I thought priest were supposed to live a humble life never accepting money for themselves? It makes it seem like Church is more a business than a school of God. I don’t think money should have anything to with Church because it brings greed and corruption.

Update: @Anon It’s obvious you don’t either, seeing as you failed to elaborate on your general remark.

Update 2: @James We’re not in elementary. There is no need for name calling. I’m just trying to figure out the heart of this dilemma.

 

THE GOLDEN ARROW:  Now I have prepared with all my might for the house of my God the gold for things to be made of gold, and the silver for things of silver, and the brass for things of brass, the iron for things of iron, and wood for things of wood; onyx stones, and stones to be set, glistering stones, and of divers colours, and all manner of precious stones, and marble stones in abundance.  Moreover, because I have set my affection to the house of my God, I have of mine own proper good, of gold and silver, which I have given to the house of my God, over and above all that I have prepared for the holy house.  Even three thousand talents of gold, of the gold of Ophir, and seven thousand talents of refined silver, to overlay the walls of the houses withal:  The gold for things of gold, and the silver for things of silver, and for all manner of work to be made by the hands of artificers. And who then is willing to consecrate his service this day unto the LORD?  Then the chief of the fathers and princes of the tribes of Israel and the captains of thousands and of hundreds, with the rulers of the king’s work, offered willingly,  And gave for the service of the house of God of gold five thousand talents and ten thousand drams, and of silver ten thousand talents, and of brass eighteen thousand talents, and one hundred thousand talents of iron.  And they with whom precious stones were found gave them to the treasure of the house of the LORD, by the hand of Jehiel the Gershonite.  Then the people rejoiced, for that they offered willingly, because with perfect heart they offered willingly to the LORD:  and David the king also rejoiced with great joy.  (1st Chronicles 29:  2-9, King James Version, KJV)

 

THE DOUBLE DAGGER:  What Does Divinity Want? (03/13/2017); Fundraising A Sacred Practice? (01/01/2017); About Giving to GOD (12/13/2016); More On Sacrificial Giving (11/03/2015); A $1,000 Dollar Seed? (11/02/2015); Christ Receives the Tithes? (08/04/2015); A Price for Religious Liberty? (06/30/2015); On Being Good Stewards (12/17/2013); Traditional Marriage? (12/18/2013)

 

“Anonymous”, here are some important ideas for developing believers.  Giving within the church to the church is a work of faith.  Correctly understood, sinners become members of a church so they may be continually and regularly nourished and supported while they are being permanently changed and transformed through divine operations by the imparted Spirit of GOD.  Many of us have experienced and participated in programs offered by Christian congregations and assemblies of faith as aspects of our own family life, and a special form of inheritance from our parents or other caretakers.  In many cases, such beginnings have been only carnal, material, secular, and social.  Thus, we repeatedly hear, You must be born again.  There must be the death and burial of the inborn spirit, with resurrection having divine DNA, so to speak.  Well-meaning, yet, vain (lacking spirit substance) practices often are brought into the place for service and worship as though the church is only another community recreation center.  Thus, it is difficult to apply discernment (i.e., correctly recognize and respond to spirit content from the makeup of GOD that will appear within sacred events, oneself, other persons, prophecy, the holy writings, etc.).

In the same way obedience—putting aside ones own will to carry out and perform the will of another—is one of the most recognizable expressions of genuine love (and so is acknowledged in the vows of holy matrimony), other unmistakable marks of mature love among Christians are accountability, commitment, continually acquiring sacred knowledge, and outpourings of gratitude, respect, and thanksgiving.  The Holy Spirit must impart inseparable aspects of divinity to those who are “born again,” and they must “grow up again” enduring challenges, “growing pains,” and even suffering with Christ.  Included are faith, holiness, joy, hope, meekness, lovingkindness, wisdom, and wrath against sin.  Because every believer does receive some measure of fresh spirit content, believers are accounted as a new creation through Jesus Christ having oneness without sameness.  There can be great diversity within a congregation, for all do not have the same level of knowledge, maturity, and willingness to unselfishly serve.

Salvation is carried out and completed through divine operations, rather than through application of finite tools such as feelings, intellect, logic, philosophy, and science.  Sin opposes the continued existence of divine law, the Law Giver, and the Creation grounded in sacred law.  Because the living accept sin as natural, normal, and in no way contrary their own makeup, sin may dominate awareness and self-will (willpower) within created beings and living creatures.  Sin can not influence or manipulate the divine will; thus, the living are granted fresh endowments of divine will to reinforce their character, focus, and process when identifying and resisting sin.  Through the Spirit, giving, stewardship, and other forms of service are aspects of sacrament (sacred practice), and are no longer inappropriate, irritating, and upsetting.  By continual practice, the discipline and order within the community of shared spirit is to become “second nature” like breathing in and out.  Consider again the following:

(1.)  Proverbs 19:  16-18, King James Version (KJV):  16 He that keepeth the commandment keepeth his own soul; but he that despiseth his ways shall die.  17 He that hath pity upon the poor lendeth unto the LORD; and that which he hath given will he pay him again.  18 Chasten thy son while there is hope, and let not thy soul spare for his crying.

(2.)  Proverbs 19:  22, KJV:  22 The desire of a man is his kindness:  and a poor man is better than a liar.

(3.)  James 2:  14-19, KJV:  14 What doth it profit, my brethren, though a man say he hath faith, and have not works? can faith save him?  15 If a brother or sister be naked, and destitute of daily food,  16 And one of you say unto them, Depart in peace, be ye warmed and filled; notwithstanding ye give them not those things which are needful to the body; what doth it profit?  17 Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone.  18 Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works:  shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works.  19 Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well:  the devils also believe, and tremble.

(4.)  1st Corinthians 9:  11-14, KJV:  11 If we have sown unto you spiritual things, is it a great thing if we shall reap your carnal things?  12 If others be partakers of this power over you, are not we rather? Nevertheless we have not used this power; but suffer all things, lest we should hinder the gospel of Christ.  13 Do ye not know that they which minister about holy things live of the things of the temple? and they which wait at the altar are partakers with the altar?  14 Even so hath the Lord ordained that they which preach the gospel should live of the gospel.

There is far more to be said, correctly examined, and spiritually apprehended.  (For example, (5.)  1st Chronicles 29:  10-18, KJV:  10 Wherefore David blessed the LORD before all the congregation:  and David said, Blessed be thou, LORD God of Israel our father, for ever and ever.  11 Thine, O LORD is the greatness, and the power, and the glory, and the victory, and the majesty:  for all that is in the heaven and in the earth is thine; thine is the kingdom, O LORD, and thou art exalted as head above all.  12 Both riches and honour come of thee, and thou reignest over all; and in thine hand is power and might; and in thine hand it is to make great, and to give strength unto all.  13 Now therefore, our God, we thank thee, and praise thy glorious name.  14 But who am I, and what is my people, that we should be able to offer so willingly after this sort? for all things come of thee, and of thine own have we given thee.  15 For we are strangers before thee, and sojourners, as were all our fathers:  our days on the earth are as a shadow, and there is none abiding.  16 O LORD our God, all this store that we have prepared to build thee an house for thine holy name cometh of thine hand, and is all thine own.  17 I know also, my God, that thou triest the heart, and hast pleasure in uprightness. As for me, in the uprightness of mine heart I have willingly offered all these things:  and now have I seen with joy thy people, which are present here, to offer willingly unto thee.  18 O LORD God of Abraham, Isaac, and of Israel, our fathers, keep this for ever in the imagination of the thoughts of the heart of thy people, and prepare their heart unto thee:)  Even so, I trust this fragment will be useful.  Be it unto you according to your faith.

 
THE BLACK PHOENIX
Washington, DC

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Today, points are shared to clarify differences among public confession, personal testimony, and proper devotion to GOD.  In the same way confession to GOD during prayer that should be private and personal does not replace repentance, public confession of wrongdoing does not supply the same benefit as testimony to reveal the work of Christ in ones life.  Reverend William Aitcheson, a Catholic priest in nearby Arlington, Virginia, who has been serving in the church for many decades, published an article in one of the diocese newspapers apologizing that he once was a leader within the Ku Klux Klan (KKK).  Many all across America have been enraged and incensed by recent events that have called forth expressions of bigotry, hate, prejudice, racism, and violence, and that resulted in a young woman’s death (Heather Heyer, Charlottesville, VA).  Others have been cast down, made to feel shame, and are suffering great humiliation.  Prominent among the institutions and organizations involved have been the KKK, Neo-Nazis, and White Supremacist groups that exist in the United States under lawful provisions for “free speech.”  Those who repent, and turn to Christ to become his new creation may only demand and expect to see change in their own lives, and that mostly within their own conduct, commitment, consciousness, and sense of purpose.  Many others involved will not have developed and grown as much.  Thus, making public proclamation of sins from the past is not of itself a genuine act of repentance; and in the case of the priest, his confession has called forth accusations, placing blame, condemnation, and demands for payment, rather than the manifestation of the Holy Spirit within the church, and the heartfelt displays of humility, mature understanding, and godly love he hoped would appear his fellow believers. 

 

THE GOLDEN ARROW:  Who hath believed our report? and to whom is the arm of the LORD revealed?  For he shall grow up before him as a tender plant, and as a root out of a dry ground:  he hath no form nor comeliness; and when we shall see him, there is no beauty that we should desire him.  He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief:  and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not.  Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows:  yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted.  But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities:  the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.  All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD hath laid on him the iniquity of us all.  He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth:  he is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he openeth not his mouth.  He was taken from prison and from judgment:  and who shall declare his generation? for he was cut off out of the land of the living:  for the transgression of my people was he stricken.  And he made his grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death; because he had done no violence, neither was any deceit in his mouth.  Yet it pleased the LORD to bruise him; he hath put him to grief:  when thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin, he shall see his seed, he shall prolong his days, and the pleasure of the LORD shall prosper in his hand.  He shall see of the travail of his soul, and shall be satisfied:  by his knowledge shall my righteous servant justify many; for he shall bear their iniquities.  Therefore will I divide him a portion with the great, and he shall divide the spoil with the strong; because he hath poured out his soul unto death:  and he was numbered with the transgressors; and he bare the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors.  (Isaiah 53:  1-12, King James Version, KJV)

 

THE DOUBLE DAGGER:  What Can Canvas Show? (07/10/2017); Prophecy Over Personal Testimony? (06/29/2017); Recounting Past Sins? (03/04/2015); Not A Matter Of Opinion? (04/24/2014); What Faith Makes Possible (04/25/2014); Escape from Racism (10/24/2012); Christians Who Ignore GOD’s Laws (10/25/2012)

 

Confession pertains to judgment and salvation.  In accordance with the Scriptures, three forms of confession may appear:  (1) a confession of need), (2) a confession of transgression/wrongdoing, and (3) a confession of conviction and faith.  Given the operations of pride are little different than sin, public confession may corrupt a congregation of believers, for such confession may mask bragging, deceit, divisiveness, self-promotion, showing off, and vainglory.  While testimony may be shared to build up and edify the body of believers, confession is an aspect of judgment, and is more correctly directed only to GOD who is judge.  Confession is not to be made to those who are foolish and unwise regarding the things of judgment.  To truly benefit all concerned, it is often more necessary that the discipline, maturity and strength of silence be practiced in place of confession; and it is in silence that ones trust in GOD shines forth most brightly.  In the same way peaceful protest and counter demonstrations are resulting in destructive confrontations, the sharing of confessions focused on sins of the past are now promoting a great upheaval among Americans.  It is foolish and unwise to seek “justice” against those from earlier periods of history on the basis of the social standards and cultural values of the present day.  There are those demanding rejection of the early pioneers and those who contributed to the development of our Nation and its greatness.  Included have been George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, and even, Christopher Columbus.  Just as the operations of mercy appear primarily during judgment, forbearance, forgiveness and reconciliation are to appear during confession.  Consider the following:

(1.)  Confession as a sacred practice and in the course of formal ministry is not on the same level as gossip.  This is specially so during practices and sacraments focused on healing as in James 5:  13-16, King James Version (KJV):  13 Is any among you afflicted? let him pray. Is any merry? let him sing psalms.  14 Is any sick among you? let him call for the elders of the church; and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord:  15 And the prayer of faith shall save the sick, and the Lord shall raise him up; and if he have committed sins, they shall be forgiven him.  16 Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.

(2.)  Confession may be demanded within the law, yet, confession will not answer all the requirements and sanctions of the law that also address correction, full disclosure, financial liability, and punishment.  Loss and damage from transgression becomes more completely crystallized in the light of confession.  Thus, the enormity of the sin of Achan at Jericho in taking the “accursed thing” (a goodly Babylonish garment, and two hundred shekels of silver, and a wedge of gold of fifty shekels weight) is staggering, for it resulted in despair throughout the camp, Israel’s first defeat, and the death of 39 men at Ai (see Joshua 7, KJV).  Judgment is not complete until the findings and sentence of the law have been carried out.

(3.)  The principles and rules of confidentiality that bind a confessor and prohibit his discussing and revealing what has been exchanged in ministry also binds the person who makes a confession.  Disbelievers, ones parents, ones spouse, ones children have no authority to rank and rate the quality, sincerity, and value of your prayers, or whatever else may occur within other aspects of our own intimate relationship with GOD.

(4.)  Correctly understood, the admission of wrongdoing is also the admission of guilt, yet, is distinct from the acceptance and acknowledgment of accountability.  Many are willing to admit wrongdoing and express sorrow for their errors, however, they also must be willing to accept accountability for “cleaning up the mess,” healing, making compensation, correction, and restitution. 

There is far more to be said, correctly examined, and spiritually apprehended.  (For example, (5.)  It is an error to think that public confession featuring the details of wrongdoing is of any benefit to the body.  “All have sinned and come short” is sufficient to identify the need for grace without there being an exhaustive detailing of mistakes and transgressions.  The duty for clergy is not to offer others or themselves upon an altar of condemnation, spiritual confusion, and personal sacrifice; rather, it is to offer Jesus Christ.)  Even so, I trust this fragment will be useful.  Be it unto you according to your faith.

THE BLACK PHOENIX
Washington, DC

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The photo features a Latter Day Saints (LDS/Mormon) baptism pool in the Temple at Salt Lake City, Utah

 

Today, points are shared on church architecture, water baptism, and becoming a full member within a sacred body.  The writer at “Yahoo! Answers” using the ID “marquinishia” (Level 1 with 6 points, a member since May 21, 2015) posted the following:

 

Why do churches have an indoor pool behind the pastor?

It was hot during service last Sunday. Why didn’t the pastor open up the pool for us? This is my second time going to service.

 

THE GOLDEN ARROW:  And all the people gathered themselves together as one man into the street that was before the water gate; and they spake unto Ezra the scribe to bring the book of the law of Moses, which the LORD had commanded to Israel.  And Ezra the priest brought the law before the congregation both of men and women, and all that could hear with understanding, upon the first day of the seventh month.  And he read therein before the street that was before the water gate from the morning until midday, before the men and the women, and those that could understand; and the ears of all the people were attentive unto the book of the law.  And Ezra the scribe stood upon a pulpit of wood, which they had made for the purpose; and beside him stood Mattithiah, and Shema, and Anaiah, and Urijah, and Hilkiah, and Maaseiah, on his right hand; and on his left hand, Pedaiah, and Mishael, and Malchiah, and Hashum, and Hashbadana, Zechariah, and Meshullam.  And Ezra opened the book in the sight of all the people; (for he was above all the people;) and when he opened it, all the people stood up:  And Ezra blessed the LORD, the great God. And all the people answered, Amen, Amen, with lifting up their hands:  and they bowed their heads, and worshipped the LORD with their faces to the ground.  Also Jeshua, and Bani, and Sherebiah, Jamin, Akkub, Shabbethai, Hodijah, Maaseiah, Kelita, Azariah, Jozabad, Hanan, Pelaiah, and the Levites, caused the people to understand the law:  and the people stood in their place.  So they read in the book in the law of God distinctly, and gave the sense, and caused them to understand the reading.  And Nehemiah, which is the Tirshatha, and Ezra the priest the scribe, and the Levites that taught the people, said unto all the people, This day is holy unto the LORD your God; mourn not, nor weep. For all the people wept, when they heard the words of the law.  Then he said unto them, Go your way, eat the fat, and drink the sweet, and send portions unto them for whom nothing is prepared:  for this day is holy unto our LORD:  neither be ye sorry; for the joy of the LORD is your strength.  (Nehemiah 8:  1-10, King James Version, KJV)

 

THE DOUBLE DAGGER:  Baptism and Sacred Practices? (06/02/2017); …Gathered In My Name (05/29/2017); Operations of Christian Faith (04/28/2017); The Extravagance of Love? (04/02/2017); Spirit Content From GOD? (09/26/2016); Going to Church Before Baptism? (05/05/2015); Understanding Spiritual Growth? (03/13/2015)

 

“marquinishia”, the pool you see is not for amusement, entertainment, leisure, or play.  Water baptism is a “sacrament” (i.e., sacred practice) to make visible otherwise unseen operations performed by the Holy Spirit that transform sinners to exist as members of the church created by Jesus Christ.  There must be the death and burial of ones inborn spirit with rebirth from divine DNA, so to speak.  A baptism font is used in those settings where the physical actions to establish a person as “born again” require only that they be sprinkled with water.  A standing pool for baptism is used where the complete immersion of the candidate for membership is required.  Here, rivers and running water may be preferred, for they convey the washing away of sins more correctly than standing pools that will stagnate and accumulate uncleanness.

The differences we see when viewing the places of assembly for Christian worship often indicate differences in their doctrines and sacred practices.  Because the pattern of things in heaven were copied by Moses, Ezra, King Solomon and others when raising up the Tabernacle and the Temple, many modern day church groups use devices and images described in the holy writings.  Assemblies that promote family life, community service, and missionary outreach may seek to create a friendly and welcoming atmosphere by using plush carpets, casual seating, and audio-visual aides such as flat screen TV.  By contrast, congregations devoted to prayer, preaching, and proclaiming prophecy often are austere and plain.  They may feature a pulpit raised above the people to display the speaker; the speaker may appear alone on a platform that has a book stand that serves as a “sacred desk;” or the speaker, being on the same level as those gathered, may go in and out among those attending in order to establish more intimate contact with the believers.

Those who are “born again” as Christian believers must also “grow up again,” endure “growing pains,” and become mature in commitment, discernment, service, and understanding.  While such believers will be accounted as a new creation, a son or daughter of GOD, and a joint-heir with Christ, the developing believers must become ripe (we say, mature) for harvesting by the Lord at his appearing (we say, the Advent, the Rapture, the Second Coming).  Believers are to increasingly display an endowment of spirit substance from the makeup of GOD.  Included are faith, holiness, longsuffering, lovingkindness, meekness, wisdom, and wrath against sin.  Consider the following that uses language from the Bible:

(1.)  Romans 6:  3-7, King James Version (KJV):  3 Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death?  4 Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death:  that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.  5 For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection:  6 Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin.  7 For he that is dead is freed from sin.

(2.)  Acts 19:  2-7, KJV:  2 He said unto them, Have ye received the Holy Ghost since ye believed? And they said unto him, We have not so much as heard whether there be any Holy Ghost.  3 And he said unto them, Unto what then were ye baptized? And they said, Unto John’s baptism.  4 Then said Paul, John verily baptized with the baptism of repentance, saying unto the people, that they should believe on him which should come after him, that is, on Christ Jesus.  5 When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.  6 And when Paul had laid his hands upon them, the Holy Ghost came on them; and they spake with tongues, and prophesied.  7 And all the men were about twelve.

(3.)  Romans 8:  5-9, KJV:  5 For they that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh; but they that are after the Spirit the things of the Spirit.  6 For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace.  7 Because the carnal mind is enmity against God:  for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be.  8 So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God.  9 But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his.

There is far more to be said, correctly examined, and spiritually apprehended.  (For example, (4.)  Romans 6:  8-13, KJV:  8 Now if we be dead with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with him:  9 Knowing that Christ being raised from the dead dieth no more; death hath no more dominion over him.  10 For in that he died, he died unto sin once:  but in that he liveth, he liveth unto God.  11 Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord.  12 Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that ye should obey it in the lusts thereof.  13 Neither yield ye your members as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin:  but yield yourselves unto God, as those that are alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness unto God.)  Even so, I trust this fragment will be useful.  Be it unto you according to your faith.

THE BLACK PHOENIX
Washington, DC

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Christ on the Throne

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Today, focus is on depictions of Jesus Christ shared by creative artists and painters.  Images can be very graphic and memorable that, in truth, are only intended to fuel the “lusts of the eyes.”  As believers in Jesus Christ, our discipline must become to “walk by faith, not by sight.”  I continue the  conversation begun with PTF, a writer at thoughts.com who commented on the photograph shown with (10/30/2016) Frequency of The Lord’s Supper? (see below) by stating: 

The photo by the way is the wrong depiction…he looks colored. There are actual true depictions of Christ Jesus.

Black Jesus

My reply was: 

Be encouraged! Many mature Christians believe as I do that no artistic rendering of Christ will be accurate and trustworthy as a tool for the church that is “realistic” and accurate in detail. At best, they “suggest” to a mass audience what the Savior may have looked like; and so eye, hair and skin color do not really matter. In the experience (some would say, prophetic vision) granted me through the Spirit of GOD more than 40 years (a generation) ago, neither his nor my skin color was an issue between us.

 

THE GOLDEN ARROW:  Judge not according to the appearance, but judge righteous judgment.  (John 7:  24, King James Version, KJV)


THE DOUBLE DAGGER:  Law and Divine Process (05/28/2017); Divinity Must Be Proclaimed? (05/09/2017); Convicted By His Humility (09/10/2015); GOD Appearing in Dreams? (05/03/2015); Not Images Used in Worship? (09/14/2014); Death is a Divine Tool (09/15/2014); To See With New Eyes (11/06/2012); A Life Companion? (11/07/2012)

 

In my understanding, where we truly seek the Lord, our vision should be directed upward to recognize and respond to spirit content, rather than appearances, apparel, fantasies, and sentiments aroused (e.g., anxiety about judgment, bereavement, fear, friendliness, intimidation, sorrow).  Images that convey inseparable aspects and qualities from the makeup of divinity should appear projecting such substance as balance, holiness, humility, longsuffering, lovingkindness, peace, person, presence, wisdom, and wrath against sin.

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At one time, I avoided using all religious illustrations and photographs, here, because I felt they often foster unwanted conflict, controversy, disagreements, and fleshly errors.  Developing believers, who still lack the maturity provided by the Holy Spirit, tend to receive simple things (that in fact are profound) as final, “literal” and suitable for broader application and use than are fitting.  They even may respond displaying patterns that are little different from idolatry and false worship.  We find this is true whether the images presented are supposed to be of Jesus, his mother Mary, the apostles, or even “ordinary believers” within the church engaged in practicing such customary activity as praise, prayer, and the Lord’s Supper.

Ebony Christ

Unlike Islamic believers, the followers of Jesus Christ need not hesitate to use drawings, images and photographs feeling that they blaspheme and offend divinity, or insult fellow believers.  There is no exalting of carnal reason, deceit, guile, and senses of the flesh (e.g., hearing, seeing, tasting, touching) above receiving imparted spirit content from GOD; and there is no unhealthy dependence on products from finite human imagination.  Sinners may approach the living GOD without fear of being rejected or denied on the basis of many features from the ministry of the Risen Lord that appear as his love for the Father, his reconciliation to sinners, his resurrection to serve as High Priest of the heavenly Temple and to preside as Judge over the Eternal Tribunals, his full embrace of the Holy Spirit, and his soon to be revealed ascendance to the Throne of Glory in addition to his rule from the Throne of Grace.  Going further, Christian believers may approach the Most High on the basis of their own faith received from Christ, their own meekness (i.e., willingness to learn and accept correction) received from the Holy Spirit; their own awe, respect, and reverence; their own willingness to be joined to Christ; their own willingness to obey; and their own willingness to trust.

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The issues of eternal life and spiritual growth should be a Christian believer’s continual focus.  We must choose what we say and see with a sense of its eternal meaning, quality, and value.  Our goal should be to prophecy, that is, to comfort, edify, exhort and nourish.  Thus, it is not a transgression of divine law, or a violation of genuine faith to carefully consider alternative ways of sharing the oneness without sameness that resides within us and around us as deposits of sacred truth.  Because through Jesus Christ we are called to “see with new eyes”, we even may behold and consume with the artist Salvador Dali, The Sacrament of the Lord’s Supper as a spiritual act through visual behavior, not only as oral behavior, and a ceremony of eating and drinking.

Last Supper Dali

There is far more to be said, correctly applied, and spiritually apprehended.  (For example, 2nd Corinthians 4:  17-18, King James Version (KJV):  17 For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory;  18 While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen:  for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal.)  Even so, I trust this fragment will be useful.  Be it unto you according to your faith.

THE BLACK PHOENIX
Washington, DC

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Today, that marriage relationships are to be vessels containing divine spirit comes into view.  Many of the elements for the authority and power seen through mature love and lasting marriage relationships must be imparted from divinity as inseparable aspects of the divine makeup.  Included are commitment, duration, faith, gratitude, humility, jealousy, longsuffering, lovingkindness, and wisdom.  The writer at “Yahoo! Answers (New Zealand)” using the ID “Alucard” (Level 1 with 2 points, a member since May 02, 2016) posted the following:

 

Is marriage a religious thing?

 

THE GOLDEN ARROW:  As for me, this is my covenant with them, saith the LORD; My spirit that is upon thee, and my words which I have put in thy mouth, shall not depart out of thy mouth, nor out of the mouth of thy seed, nor out of the mouth of thy seed’s seed, saith the LORD, from henceforth and for ever.  (Isaiah 59:  21, King James Version, KJV)

 

THE DOUBLE DAGGER:  Thoughts on Sexual Relationships (03/07/2017); Law Requires Genuine Righteousness (07/28/2016); The Wife of Your Youth? (12/22/2015); The Church as a Bride? (05/15/2013); How Do I Repent? (05/16/2013); A Life Companion? (11/07/2012); On Asking Why (11/08/2012)

 

“Alucard”, among Christian believers and within the body of Christ (i.e., the church), holy matrimony is a sacred practice (we say, sacrament) along with baptism, confession, penance, and sharing the blood and body of Jesus using the emblems of bread and wine.  For Christian believers, the marriage relationship between a man and a woman is a special tool used by GOD to accomplish multiple divine operations.  Included are Incarnation (the appearance of divinity using flesh and material form), prophecy (we say, comfort, edification, and exhortation), redemption, revelation, and sanctification.  For believers, then, holy matrimony is a gift from GOD; and the meaning and value of “marriage” is not merely carnal, material, sexual, or social.  Through operations of the imparted, indwelling Spirit from the makeup of GOD, holy matrimony will display upon earth the active presence who is GOD enthroned in heaven.  Because sexual joining occurs on many different levels all at the same time (emotional, physical, psychological, spiritual), there are divine provisions to provide balance, correction, healing, security, and stability.  The joining of spirits that occur through sexual intercourse and through fornication can result in defilement, domination, and a peculiar impotence of a person’s inborn spirit.  Holy matrimony is a tool to establish, continue, and fulfill divine law, sacred inheritance, eternal purpose, and immutable promise.  Consider the following that uses language from the Bible:

(1.)  Genesis 2:  18, King James Version (KJV):  18 And the LORD God said, It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him an help meet for him.

(2.)  1st Corinthians 7:  1-4, KJV:  1 Now concerning the things whereof ye wrote unto me:  It is good for a man not to touch a woman.  2 Nevertheless, to avoid fornication, let every man have his own wife, and let every woman have her own husband.  3 Let the husband render unto the wife due benevolence:  and likewise also the wife unto the husband.  4 The wife hath not power of her own body, but the husband:  and likewise also the husband hath not power of his own body, but the wife.

(3.)  1st Peter 3:  1-4, KJV:  1 Likewise, ye wives, be in subjection to your own husbands; that, if any obey not the word, they also may without the word be won by the conversation of the wives;  2 While they behold your chaste conversation coupled with fear.  3 Whose adorning let it not be that outward adorning of plaiting the hair, and of wearing of gold, or of putting on of apparel;  4 But let it be the hidden man of the heart, in that which is not corruptible, even the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price.

There is far more to be said, correctly applied, and spiritually apprehended.  (For example, (4.) 1st Peter 3:  7-9, KJV:  7 Likewise, ye husbands, dwell with them according to knowledge, giving honour unto the wife, as unto the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life; that your prayers be not hindered.  8 Finally, be ye all of one mind, having compassion one of another, love as brethren, be pitiful, be courteous:  9 Not rendering evil for evil, or railing for railing:  but contrariwise blessing; knowing that ye are thereunto called, that ye should inherit a blessing.)  Even so, I trust this fragment will be useful.  Be it unto you according to your faith.

THE BLACK PHOENIX
Washington, DC

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