CHRIST’S SUPERIORITY OVER THE PROPHETS

“God, who at various times and in various ways spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets, has in these last days spoken to us by His Son, whom He has appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the worlds”—Hebrews 1:1-2 (NKJV).

Before the Israelites finally entered the Promised Land, Moses gave them a review of God’s laws that they were to obey. In the second giving of the Law, known in Greek as Deuteronomy, Chapter 18, verse 15, God told Moses that He would raise up another prophet like him. God would put His word in that Prophet’s mouth, and whoever would not heed those words will be held accountable (verses 18-19).

The people needed to know when that Prophet came on the scene, so they could obey Him. Since false prophets abound, how would they know the true Prophet? God gave them a test. Deuteronomy 18:22 says, “when a prophet speaks in the name of the Lord, if the thing does not happen or come to pass, that is the thing which the Lord has not spoken; the prophet has spoken it presumptuously; you shall not be afraid of him.” A false prophet is known by his or her false prophecies. How many false prophecies does a prophet have to make before being labeled a false prophet? Just one.

Christ warned us against false prophets in the last days. He said in Mathew 7:15, “Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves.” They are deceivers. Again, he said in Mathew 24:24, “For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect” (KJV).

False prophets, false prophecies, and their organizations abound in our society. Remember the test: If a prophecy does not come to pass, that person is a false prophet. I personally possess a book printed in 1914 that stated the that world as we know it would come to an end on October 31, 1914. The author was Charles Taze Russell of the International Bible Students Association. Today that organization is called the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society, otherwise known as the Jehovah’s Witnesses. Although World War I broke out in 1914, the world did not come to an end. Not to be phased by his false prophecy, Russel “recalculated” to 1915, then 1917, the year in which he died. His followers then chose the dates 1918, 1925, and then as recently as 1975. Russell did not pass the true-prophet test. The Jehovah’s Witnesses are an organization founded by a false prophet. God said not to fear such a prophet.

Likewise, Joseph Smith made several false prophecies in his lifetime. Many leaders over the past few centuries have made many predictions that have not and cannot come to pass. Anyone claiming to be a prophet today must take painstaking care that they not be found to be false prophets. Listen carefully to what they say. If their prophecy does not come to pass, do not listen to them. Would you want to be guilty of following a false prophet? Not all churches teach the same thing, and not all prophets preach the same message.

God made Himself known by special revelation through the prophets. His fullest and final revelation came through Jesus Christ who is, “the exact representation of his being” (Hebrews 1:3 NIV). For “in him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily” (Colossians 2:9 KJV). From the biblical point of view, no prophet is superior to Christ. If you want to know God, then get to know Jesus Christ. He said, “He who has seen Me has seen the Father” (John 14:9 NKJV).

God put his words in Jesus’s mouth. Jesus said, “the Son can do nothing of Himself, but what He sees the Father do” (John 5:19). Further he said, “For I have not spoken on My own authority; but the Father who sent Me gave Me a command, what I should say and what I should speak. (John 12:49 NKJV) He is the Prophet that we should heed.

Jesus said, “Repent…and believe the gospel” (Mark 1:15 KJV). If you do not heed what Jesus says about salvation, you will be lost forever. You will be held accountable.

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THE SUPERIORITY OF CHRIST

Christ’s resurrection shows his superiority over all other religious leaders. Choose any religious leader from the past. All passed away. Choose any present leader. They will all pass away also. Christ died for our sins on the cross; he was buried and rose again the third day according to the scripture. (See First Corinthians 15:3-4). I have previously dealt with the reality of Christ’s resurrection in other blogs. My purpose here is to show his superiority. If you do not believe that Christ rose from the dead, then this article will mean nothing to you.

One purpose of the Book of Hebrews was to show Christ’s superiority. Over the next several weeks I will deal with each of these following topics in more detail. For now, I would just to give you a brief overview of the Book of Hebrews. Several books have been written on the superiority if Christ as seen in the Book of Hebrews. You can check them out for further study.

The Book of Hebrews shows:

  • His superiority over all the Old Testament prophets (Hebrews 1:1, 2)
  • His superiority over the angels (Hebrews 1:3-14)
  • His superiority over Moses (Hebrews 3:3-6)
  • His Sabbath rest superior to the Old Testament Sabbath rest (Hebrews 4:1-11)
  • His High Priesthood ministry superior to all others (Hebrews 7:26-8:6)
  • His Covenant superior to the Old Testament covenant (Hebrews 8:6-7). The first covenant (OT) is obsolete (Hebrews 8:13). Jesus is the mediator of a new covenant (Hebrews 12:24). The law is but a shadow of the good things that were to come. As Paul said in Colossians 2:16-17, “So let no one judge you in food or in drink, or regarding a festival or a new moon or sabbaths, which are a shadow of things to come, but the substance is of Christ. Christ is as superior to the law as the substance is to the shadow that it casts.
  • His sacrifice superior to the OT sacrifices (Hebrews 9:11-15). His sacrifice fulfilled all the OT sacrificial system (Hebrews 9:24-28)

There is no other sacrifice: “For if we sin willfully after we have received the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins” (Hebrews 10:26). This verse is not talking about the loss of salvation, as some have taken it to mean out of the context of the entire Book of Hebrews. It means that once you know all about Christ and his sacrifice, you have received knowledge of the truth, and if you reject that and try to turn back to the old covenant, you will die in your sin because there is no other sacrifice. The Jewish Temple was destroyed by September 8, 70 AD some 1948 years ago. Since that time, Jews have been unable to offer sacrifices for their sin. The good news is that those sacrifices never saved in the first place (See Hebrews 10:4). Jesus’s sacrifice can save forever those who come to him (Hebrews 7:25). If you reject Christ’s sacrifice once for all on the cross for you, there is no other sacrifice. No other religious leader ever died in your place, and no other religious leader ever came back to life. Only Christ did. He is superior to all others.

SEEING CHRIST IN THE PASSOVER

Much of what is celebrated today as Easter has nothing to do with the biblical account, and we need a biblical understanding of Easter. Bunnies, eggs, and lilies are not what the Easter story is about. It is about that first day of the week where a small group of Jesus’s followers went to his tomb to prepare him for burial. They discovered the stone that had blocked entrance to the sepulcher had been rolled away. They heard the angelic story of his resurrection. Therefore, many Christians attend worship on Sunday.

The night before he was crucified, Jesus celebrated Passover with his disciples in an upper room (1 Corinthians 11:23ff.). A Bible chart by Rose Publications says, “The Passover is the Old Testament feast that celebrates and remembers God’s liberation of Israel from Egypt.” After four hundred years of living in Egypt, God’s people cried out to him for deliverance. Through a series of ten plagues, God showed his superiority over the gods of Egypt. The final plague was to take the lives of all the firstborn among the Egyptians. The only way to be free from this plague was the blood of the Passover sacrifice. Exodus 12 details the instructions for the celebration.

The Passover marked a new beginning for the Israelites. It took place in the first month of their year. In Christ, every believer has a new beginning by becoming a new creation through faith in Christ. Families chose a year-old male lamb without defects for the sacrifice. Christ also was inspected by Pilate, Herod, Annas, and Caiaphas. None of them found any fault in him. Christians are redeemed “with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot” (1 Peter 1:19).

The entire community was required to participate in the Passover meal. To become a part of God’s community, each person must accept Christ’s sacrifice. “The righteousness of God apart from the law is now revealed, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets, even the righteousness of God, through faith in Jesus Christ, to all and on all who believe” (Romans 3:21-22).

The lamb’s blood was spread on the sides and top of the door frame. First John 1:7 says, “the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin.” At Christ’s baptism, John the Baptist called Jesus, “The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!” (John 1:29).

The Passover was to be permanent memorial for the Jews to remind them of God’s deliverance from their bondage. Jesus took the bread from his last supper with the disciples and said, “Take, eat; this is My body which is broken for you; do this in remembrance of Me” (1 Corinthians 11:24 NKJV). For Christians, the Lord’s Supper is the permanent memorial of the price Christ paid to deliver us from the bondage of sin and death. He also took the cup after his last Passover supper and said, “This cup is the new covenant in My blood. This do, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of Me” (1 Corinthians 11:25 NKJV). The Lord’s Supper is a memorial, not a re-enactment of Christ’s sacrifice.

No bone in the Passover lamb was broken. To hasten the death of those on the cross, Roman soldiers went to break their legs. As Christ had already died, they did not break his legs.

Hebrews 8:6, 13 says, “But now He has obtained a more excellent ministry, inasmuch as He is also Mediator of a better covenant, which was established on better promises…In that He says, ‘A new covenant,’ He has made the first obsolete. Now what is becoming obsolete and growing old is ready to vanish away.” (NKJV). Christ gave the Passover a fuller meaning. God said, “And when I see the blood, I will pass over you.” (Exodus 12:13) They demonstrated their faith through their obedience to his requirements. He did not say, “When I see your religion,” or “When I see your good works.”

When God looks at your life, will he see the blood of Christ, or will he see your man-made religion? There is no difference between Jew or Gentile, “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). No one can keep all of God’s laws perfectly. The good news of Easter is that you can be “justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus” (Romans 3:24).

THE SIXTH COMMANDMENT

Recent attempts locally to remove monuments of the Ten Commandments seem to reflect a nationwide trend to move away from “Religious” monuments. While the Constitution guarantees freedom of religion, one group by name wants freedom from religion. Opponents want to remove the monument claiming it violates the separation of church and state.

If we remove the religious element from the Ten Commandments, what is left? Let us abolish and repeal the Ten Commandments and see what happens. This should not be shocking since we already ignore most of them anyway. People frequently take God’s name in vain. The Sabbath is routinely broken. Thievery abounds. Adultery is rampant. Covetousness is now a motivation. Children often dishonor their parents. Our idols today come in the forms of worshiping cars and sports teams rather than bowing before metallic statues. Neglect of regular worship demonstrates that most people put other things before God. Lying is common on every level.

The sixth commandment says, “Thou shalt not kill” (Exodus 20:13 KJV). Apart from abortion, let’s deal with the sin of murder. If we were to do away with the law (we can’t have this law because it is religious, so, the government must not enforce it), how would that affect society? Without God, what would be the moral basis for not murdering?

Objection: “Everyone knows murder is wrong!” Says who? If we cannot take God’s word for it, who can say that murder is morally evil? Without an objective standard stating that murder is evil, why should we not practice it?

Objection: “You’re being absurd. No one would accept murder as moral and acceptable.” Ask the millions who perished under the Nazi Third Reich. Not only did the Nazis accept it morally, they also thought of it as necessary in their evolutionary ideology of the pure Aryan race. Since we are being forced to accept atheistic evolutionary religious dogma, what if it is better to enhance my survival by murdering someone else so I can survive? I am not talking about self-defense. I am talking about what if I want your property or your spouse, and I decide I want to take them from you? Since murder cannot be outlawed because of its religious nature, what would morally prevent me from committing murder to get what I want?

Such philosophy lay behind the expansion of the Axis nations before WWII. The Japanese saw China’s resources, so, they invaded their land and killed their people. The Nazis viewed Poles as inferior, so they invaded Poland. Later they confiscated the property of the Jews and systematically began to kill them, along with other undesirable people, such as Gypsies and Slavs. So, without an objective moral standard, murder can no longer be considered a sin.

If we remove the religious nature of laws and morality, the only basis would be based on majority vote. If everyone decided that it was legal to kill a certain group of people, and we voted to make it legal, no one could say it was morally wrong. It is not just the matter of the monuments; it is also a matter of the principles.

If we remove religion, what makes the Declaration of Independence and the United States Constitution morally right? Nothing. In a pure Democracy, the people could vote to overturn them, and then we would have tyranny, which these documents were designed to prevent. “Morality is not determined by a majority vote.” (Frank Turek “Stealing from God” p.98)

This is called the moral argument for God. Turek goes on to say, “If there is no God above Hitler and every other human, who says murder is wrong?” (p. 96). If society is allowed to determine right and wrong for itself, would you rather live in a society designed by Mother Teresa or Adolph Hitler? (p. 97).

During the Eighteenth Century a man named Thomas Paine also wanted to do away with religion. He wanted to usher in the Age of Reason. Paine believed that people could be good without religion (See my blog “Good Without God”), and that we should do away with religion altogether. Franklin responded by refuting Paine’s beliefs claiming many people could not overcome vices without the restraints that religion provides. Franklin wrote: “If men are so wicked with religion, what would they be if without it?” You can read Franklin’s entire response here: https://wallbuilders.com/benjamin-franklins-letter-thomas-paine.

This railing against God is not new, and it will not stop. It began in Eden’s garden and continues today.

A Pure Race?

A surge in the interest of genetics and ancestry has sprung up over the last few years. Websites advertise on television that you can find out what your ancestry is and where your family came from. One company even takes a saliva sample to determine your genetic make-up. By looking at the genetic markers, doctors can use that information to determine your predisposition towards certain diseases. Others search their ancestry simply out of curiosity.

One woman talks about learning her ancestry. A pie chart appears on the screen showing percentages of her genetic make-up. “I had no idea,” she says regarding her Native American ancestry. She is standing next to supposed Native American pottery. Looking closely at the chart, you can see that her Native American profile is only twenty-six percent. Twenty-three percent is Iberian. Another section of twenty-three percent is “other.” So, what is she? Totaled, those three percentages only equal seventy-two percent. Other percentages are: Eight percent, Asia; five percent, Africa; fifteen percent, Italy/Greece.

Another character thinks he is German; but after checking his ancestry, he discovers that he is Scottish. He changes his lederhosen for a kilt. His DNA reveals fifty-percent from Ireland, Wales, and Scotland (Even in that, he is not pure). Twenty-eight percent of his DNA comes from Scandinavia. Ten percent comes from Italy/Greece. Another ten percent registers as “other.”

All this research indicates that there is no longer a pure race. These various mixtures also show that being “bi-racial” is a myth. It is only a socio-political construct. DNA shows that we are all “Multi-racial” to put it in politically correct terms. Only one human race exists, and that is the human race. This can be demonstrated by persons of “differing races” having children. If we were not all the same race, that would be impossible. In reality, interracial marriage does not exist. All of us are human. There are no other races.

The Bible also reflects this truth. In addressing the Athenians, the Apostle Paul said, “[God] hath made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth, and hath determined the times before appointed, and the bounds of their habitation;” (Acts 17:26 KJV). One blood means Adam and Eve; and later, all of us as descendants of Noah and his wife. No race evolved from any common ancestor. Biblically speaking, no race is more evolved, and therefore superior to another.

While racism has always existed, it has no place in Christianity. For example, the word “barbarian” comes from a root meaning “stammering” (http://www.dictionary.com/browse/barbarian?s=t) The Greeks looked down on others who did not speak as eloquently as they. Barbarianism means being crude, savage, and uncivilized.

Paul told the Colossians not to regard others in such terms. He said the new man “is renewed in knowledge after the image of him that created him: Where there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcision nor uncircumcision, Barbarian, Scythian, bond nor free: but Christ is all, and in all” (Colossians 3:10-11 KJV). Class distinctions should not be part of church life.

The study of DNA can also put to rest some myths that have persisted for around two centuries. Two religious views try to explain what happened to the supposed ten “lost tribes” of Israel. One view is that the tribes migrated north after their captivity and became the ancestors of the Anglo people. These people were to inherit the promises of Abraham, and that would explain the prosperity of England, and by extension, the United States. That is known as the Anglo-Israel theory. That has been proven to be false, but several churches still hold to that teaching.

The other view is that the “lost tribes” made their way across the ocean and became the ancestors of the Native Americans. More than twenty years ago a video came out showing that the Native Americans descended from Mongolian tribes rather than Semitic tribes. There is no genetic connection between Native Americans and Jews in Pre-Colombian times. Genetic studies have disproved both teachings.

If we are going to celebrate diversity, let us begin by celebrating the diversity within each of us. No one is a member of a pure race. If we learn to embrace this biblical truth, racism can come to an end.

HAZARD COMMUNICATION BASICS

On June 1, 2015, OSHA implemented the Globally Harmonized System of identifying hazardous materials. A hazardous material is any material or agent that can cause harm to humans or the environment. Particularly any chemicals classified as hazardous substances must be identified with a Safety Data Sheet, formerly known as an MSDS.

Before that deadline, the MSDS had no standardized formatting so that if you were exposed to a dangerous chemical, you would have to look through the sheets to find proper first aid procedures. Today you will find that in Section 4.

The SDS also lists all the ingredients in a substance like the container label. There a consumer will find potential risks associated with coming into contact with the chemical. Anything that is poisonous must be labeled to protect people working with or near the chemical.

Poison can often toxicly affect others even in minute amounts. Consider commercial rat poison. The SDS for a common poison states that it contains only 0.005% poison by volume. The rest of the substance is not harmful. At least it is inert, but a large portion of the material must be beneficial to the rodent otherwise, it would never ingest the poison. That means that 99.995% of the material is nonpoisonous, however, if you were to eat it, you would become extremely ill and may even die.

False religion is also a toxic substance, but never labeled as such. Today’s tolerant, non-judgmental culture likes to say that all religions are beneficial, that they all teach the same things. Many believe that you can find common ground in all religions, so we should not judge or label the teachings of various religions.

Now apply that to rat poison. Let’s say that since it is 99.995% good, we should have no problem eating it since it contains many of the same ingredients we find in other food. If it were not labeled as poison, people would become ill from eating it. Some might even die. It is that 0.005% poison that kills.

So how much do all religions have in common? When you study them, you find that they have very little in common. One quick test is to see what different religions say about Christ. Was he God in the flesh, was he Satan’s brother, was he the Archangel Michael, or just a prophet.

Previously I wrote that there are only two religions in the world—biblical Christianity, and everything else. Three areas to look at are: Was Jesus Christ God in the flesh? What kind of works do we have to perform to be saved? Is the Bible sufficient to tell us everything we need for salvation, life and godliness?

Only biblical Christianity states that 1) Jesus Christ was God in the flesh. (In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God; And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us” John 1:1, 14). 2) We are only saved by what Christ accomplished on the cross and our works add nothing to it. (Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us,” Titus 3:5. “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast” Eph. 2:8-9). 3) the Bible alone is sufficient to tell us everything we need to know to be saved and to live a godly life. (“From childhood you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus” 2 Timothy 3:15. “His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness” 2 Peter 1:3).

Other religions teach that Jesus was not God, that we must perform some kinds of works or rituals to be saved, and we need other books or materials to learn how to be saved. In the same way that poison must have some good things to attract the rodent, so false religions have some qualities to attract adherents. While all other religions may have some truth in them, remember that it only takes 0.005% error to kill you. Religions should be marked as hazardous to your spiritual health.

#WhatDidYouExpect

Time magazine’s recent announcement of their “Person of the Year” reflects a serious trend in our culture and society. Time’s “Person of the Year” named a group of people rather than an individual. Time chose to honor “The Silence Breakers,” those who spoke out about sexual harassment in the workplace. Ever since the subject broke several weeks ago, it seems that every day, accusations fly against more people—politicians and entertainers, even religious leaders have been accused of impropriety.

#WhatDidYouExpect? Remember the sexual revolution of the 60’s and 70’s? Hugh Hefner first published Playboy Magazine in 1953 and opened the Playboy Club in 1960. About that time, Joseph Fletcher, an Episcopal priest, popularized the idea of situational ethics, approaching ethical issues from the standpoints of pragmatism, relativism, positivism, and personalism. Essentially no two situations are identical, so no set rules apply. All moral decisions were to be made on a sliding continuum.

The Twentieth Century was known for the rise of this continuum as the philosophy of moral relativism. This philosophy has been condensed into such beliefs that there are no absolutes (in itself an absolute statement), and there is no right or wrong. Everything is simply a matter of preference. You like chocolate. I like vanilla. “What’s right for you may not be right for others,” They say.

More recently, the idea of political correctness states that if you make any type of moral distinction, say between gay marriage and straight marriage, that is being judgmental (in itself being judgmental). For more than five decades, universities, movies, and television have been affirming that nothing can be considered right or wrong any more. Those who hold antiquated ideas such as the biblical idea of one man plus one woman are woefully on the wrong side of history. We need to be free from antiquated Victorian repressive sexual mores. (Have you ever wondered what “Victoria’s Secret” is?)

#EnterTheHypocrisy. The flip side of “what’s right for you may not be right for others” is “what’s wrong for you may not be wrong for others.” Now many are coming forward saying that certain behaviors are wrong! How can that be after saying for decades that there is no right or wrong, there are no absolutes? You can’t have it both ways. Either there is some objective measure of right and wrong, or there is not.

#YouCan’tHaveItBothWays. If you don’t like what you are harvesting, try planting different seeds. Society is simply reaping what it has sown. Young actresses play highly sexualized characters in movies and television, then become offended when producers, directors, and co-workers treat them as the characters they portray. You can’t have it both ways.

“Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. Whoever sows to please their flesh, from the flesh will reap destruction” (Galatians 6:7-8). When I was a youth, my pastor used the illustration of a father taking his sons fishing early one morning before sunrise. They went down to the river and out on the dock. The father placed the lantern on the dock while he and his sons got into the boat. As they began preparing their gear for fishing, they noticed that it was becoming increasingly dark and difficult to see inside the boat. The father looked up and noticed that the knot had come untied, and their boat had drifted slowly downstream. They had drifted away from the light of the lantern.

Decades ago, society purposefully loosed the moorings from the dock, and our society has been drifting ever since. Then we wonder why we are experiencing so much domestic violence, child abuse, substance abuse, mass shootings, high divorce rates, The Knockout Game,” and myriads of other societal maladies. We are drifting, and we can’t even say we are drifting, because to say we are drifting is judgmental. To say we need a standard is deemed politically incorrect, so our metaphorical hands are tied.

#IsItAnyWonder. We should not be surprised. My father often said that we spend our youth sowing our wild oats, then our final years praying for crop failure. We cannot mock God. We are reaping what we have sown. The current societal conditions do not surprise me at all. What surprises me is that the church has come to reject the revelation in God’s Word. “Where there is no revelation, people cast off restraint; but blessed is the one who heeds wisdom’s instruction” (Proverbs 29:18 NIV).