Biblical Answers to the World Mission Society Church of God

Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits, whether they are of God; because many false prophets have gone out into the world.--1 John 4:1

Are you or a loved one struggling with this group? Do you need Biblical answers about the World Mission Society Church of God (WMSCoG or CoGWMS), their founder Ahnsahnghong (Ahn Sahng/Sang-Hong) or their current leader "Mother Jerusalem" (a.k.a. "Heavenly Mother God," Zang/Zahng Gil-Jah, or Chung Gil Cha)? Thank you for coming here. I hope my blog helps you. Questions and comments are always welcome.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Other Mothers - Part 2

Back to my keyword study of "mother" in the Bible.  Just to review, I was looking up references to "mother" that could possibly refer to something other than a natural, human mother, to see if there is any support for a "Mother God."  Continuing with the next verses...

Hosea chapter 2, verses 2 and 4-5 (but read the whole chapter!)
“Rebuke your mother, rebuke her, for she is not my wife, and I am not her husband.  Let her remove the adulterous look from her face and the unfaithfulness from between her breasts. ... I will not show my love to her children, because they are the children of adultery.  Their mother has been unfaithful and has conceived them in disgrace.  She said, ‘I will go after my lovers, who give me my food and my water, my wool and my linen, my olive oil and my drink.’
This "mother" represents the nation of Israel who has been unfaithful to God.  If this was any kind of heavenly mother, she would be in trouble!

Hosea 4:5  You stumble day and night, and the prophets stumble with you.  So I will destroy your mother
A reading of Hosea chapter 4 (and the whole book of Hosea) reveals that the "mother" here continues to represent the nation of Israel.
 
Matthew12:49; Mark3:35; Luke 8:21
These three verses are tell of the same account.  I'll quote Mark 3:31-35:
Then Jesus’ mother and brothers arrived. Standing outside, they sent someone in to call him.  A crowd was sitting around him, and they told him, “Your mother and brothers are outside looking for you.”
“Who are my mother and my brothers?” he asked.
Then he looked at those seated in a circle around him and said, “Here are my mother and my brothers!  Whoever does God’s will is my brother and sister and mother.”
Jesus was saying that He considers all true Christians as close to Him as family.  It is a metaphor again, not representing a "heavenly mother."

Galatians 4:26 But the Jerusalem that is above is free, and she is our mother.
This is the verse that started my study, the verse that the WMSCOG uses all the time.  I studied it (and their interpretation) in depth in five parts starting here

Hebrews 7:3  Without father or mother, without genealogy, without beginning of days or end of life, resembling the Son of God, he remains a priest forever.
Although it may appear at first that this refers to a natural, human mother, examination of Hebrews chapter 7 shows something slightly different.  It does not mean that this priest did not have an actual mother that bore him, nor does it mean that the priest's mother was an unbeliever (as the WMSCOG interprets).  It's talking about the genealogy of a priest.  An Israelite priest must be from the tribe of Levi, but this priest was not from the tribe of Levi.  It was not his genealogy through his father or mother that made him a priest.

Revelation 17:5  The name written on her forehead was a mystery:
BABYLON THE GREAT
THE MOTHER OF PROSTITUTES
AND OF THE ABOMINATIONS OF THE EARTH.
Like in Jeremiah 50, this "mother" is specified as the kingdom of Babylon, but symbolizes the root of all the "abominations of the earth".  The WMSCOG says that this Babylon stands for the Catholic church from whom branched off all the all the current denominations of the Christian church that we see today.  (There is a chart on Wikipedia here.)  The WMSCOG also says that all of those denominations are the "prostitutes" mentioned in this verse.  Rev. 17:18 does say, "The woman you saw is the great city that rules over the kings of the earth." which at the time was Rome.  That is a topic for another day, but in any case, the "mother" in Revelation 17:5 is clearly not a "heavenly mother god." 

Isaiah 49:15 and 66:13  Can a mother forget the baby at her breast and have no compassion on the child she has borne? Though she may forget, I will not forget you! ... As a mother comforts her child, so will I comfort you; and you will be comforted over Jerusalem.”
These two verses use a "mother" as a metaphor for the compassion and comfort of God.  However, the WMSCOG agrees that the God speaking in the Old Testament is God the Father.  These verses show that God the Father also possesses the qualities of a mother Himself, but there is NOT a separate "God the Mother."

I've looked carefully and see no other verses about a "mother" that could possibly be referring to a "Mother God."  If you think I've missed something, please speak up!
The Bible does NOT testify to a second God, the "Mother".

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Christmas Thoughts

I'm taking a little break in my study of "Mother" to think about Christmas.
As I'm sure you know, the WMSCOG disagrees vehemently with the mainstream churches on the celebration of Christmas.  I just wanted to share some of my own thoughts on the subject.

  • There is a fantastic video called "The Star of Bethlehem."  If you have not seen it, I highly recommend it.  It's the kind of thing that makes you sit back in awe.  Really, very interesting!
  • The celebration of Christmas is NOT a requirement for salvation.  The WMSCOG says we are following rules made by men, but no, it is NOT a rule that must be followed.  We celebrate Christmas because we love the story of Jesus' birth and wish remember it, joined together in one accord.
  • Of course we do not know the actual date of Jesus' birth, but there is nothing unusual in celebrating a birthday on a different day.  In the UK, there is an official day set aside to celebrate the Queen's (or King's) birthday, and if it happens to be on the monarch's actual birthday, it's just a coincidence.  How many times are you (or your children) invited to birthday parties held on a different day than the actual birthday?  Does it make the celebration any less special?  Should we avoid celebrating unless we can do it on the actual birthday?  No, of course not.
  • Isn't it interesting that in our society (in the United States), there are religious groups (not just the WMSCOG) who do not celebrate Christmas because of its secular or materialistic or non-Christian aspects.  At the same time, there are atheists and other non-Christians who will not celebrate Christmas because of its distinctly Christian themes?
  • Christmas is widely known as the celebration of the birth of Jesus, despite all its secular (Santa Claus) and materialistic (gift giving) trappings.  We must admit that with all the focus on Jesus' birth, it is a fantastic witnessing upportunity.  When so many people are willing to come to church for Christmas, who may avoid church all the rest of the year (except maybe Easter), refusing to acknowledge Christmas is also refusing a chance to explain the the wonderful story to people who may not want to listen any other time.  Let's tell it with joy and excitement, not with condemnation that they shouldn't be celebrating Christmas Day.  That's what I think.
But here's the main thing I'd like to write about -- what about Christmas's relationship to pagan festivals?
You've probably heard about origins of the Dec. 25th celebration of Christmas and its various traditions like the Christmas tree.  For one thing, Wikipedia indicates that it may not all be as pagan as the WMSCOG claims.  Check out their articles on Christmas and Sol Invictus and the Christmas Tree.  But what if it does have its beginnings in paganism?

Paul said, "Though I am free and belong to no one, I have made myself a slave to everyone, to win as many as possible.  To the Jews I became like a Jew, to win the Jews.  To those under the law I became like one under the law (though I myself am not under the law), so as to win those under the law.  To those not having the law I became like one not having the law (though I am not free from God’s law but am under Christ’s law), so as to win those not having the law.  To the weak I became weak, to win the weak.  I have become all things to all people so that by all possible means I might save some.  I do all this for the sake of the gospel, that I may share in its blessings." (1 Cor. 9:19-23)

And when Paul was in Athens, he said, "People of Athens!  I see that in every way you are very religious.  For as I walked around and looked carefully at your objects of worship, I even found an altar with this inscription: TO AN UNKNOWN GOD.  So you are ignorant of the very thing you worship—and this is what I am going to proclaim to you." (Acts 17:22b-23)

Paul used the people's own cultures to teach them about God, even if it was a pagan culture.  Isn't it entirely likely that Paul and the other early Christian may have used the festivals in place at the time, showed the people truth about God using what they were already familiar with, and redirected them toward the one true God?

Why should Satan have permanent control over certain days?  Can they not be redeemed for the Lord?  I say, yes they can!

Merry Christmas to you all!

Luke 2:8-14
And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night.  An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified.  But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people.  Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord.  This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”
Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying,
“Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”

Monday, December 20, 2010

Other Mothers - Part 1

I wanted to know, besides Galatians 4:26 (which the WMSCOG misinterprets), are there any other references to a "mother" that would indicate a "Heavenly Mother" as the WMSCOG preaches?

I did a keyword search for "mother" in the Bible.  In the NIV there are 320 results.  The vast majority of those refer to actual, human mothers.  But what about the others?  Here are the verses about a "mother" that is not an actual, human mother....

2 Samuel 20:18-19  She continued, “Long ago they used to say, ‘Get your answer at Abel,’ and that settled it.  We are the peaceful and faithful in Israel. You are trying to destroy a city that is a mother in Israel. Why do you want to swallow up the LORD’s inheritance?”
This is when Joab was pursuing Sheba to the city of Abel Beth Maakah.  This is another city being likened to a mother.  It's not a heavenly mother.

Job 17:14  if I say to corruption, ‘You are my father,’ and to the worm, ‘My mother’ or ‘My sister,’
Here is Job lamenting about the grave, calling his mother the worm that will destroy his physical body.  It's not a heavenly mother.
 
Isaiah 50:1  This is what the LORD says: “Where is your mother’s certificate of divorce with which I sent her away?  Or to which of my creditors did I sell you?  Because of your sins you were sold; because of your transgressions your mother was sent away.
These verses talk about Israel being sent into exile in Babylon.  The "mother" here is the nation of Israel, not the WMSCOG's "Heavenly Mother."

Jeremiah 50: 11-13  Because you rejoice and are glad, you who pillage my inheritance, because you frolic like a heifer threshing grain and neigh like stallions, your mother will be greatly ashamed; she who gave you birth will be disgraced.  She will be the least of the nations—a wilderness, a dry land, a desert.  Because of the LORD’s anger she will not be inhabited but will be completely desolate.  All who pass Babylon will be appalled; they will scoff because of all her wounds.
In this passage, the "mother" is the nation of Babylon, the ones who have pillaged Israel and aroused the Lord's anger.  Could this represent the WMSCOG's "Heavenly Mother"?   Hmmmm....

Ezekiel 16:1-3  The word of the LORD came to me: “Son of man, confront Jerusalem with her detestable practices and say, ‘This is what the Sovereign LORD says to Jerusalem: Your ancestry and birth were in the land of the Canaanites; your father was an Amorite and your mother a Hittite.  (also in verses 44 and 45)
Talking about nations again, in Ezekiel 16 the Lord is telling how He chose the nation of Israel despite her miserable heritage.  He loved her and blessed her even though she was unfaithful.  If the WMSCOG can use Gal. 4:26 to prove that there is a "Heavenly Mother" then perhaps they can use this verse to prove there is a "Heavenly Grandmother"?  (I'm being sarcastic here, can you tell?)

Ezekiel 19:1-2, 10  “Take up a lament concerning the princes of Israel and say: “‘What a lioness was your mother among the lions!  She lay down among them and reared her cubs.... “‘Your mother was like a vine in your vineyard planted by the water; it was fruitful and full of branches because of abundant water.
Once again, the "mother" here is the nation of Israel.  In poetic language, Israel is being compared metaphorically to a lion and a vine.  It is not a heavenly mother.

Ezekiel 23:2, 4  “Son of man, there were two women, daughters of the same mother.  ... The older was named Oholah, and her sister was Oholibah. They were mine and gave birth to sons and daughters. Oholah is Samaria, and Oholibah is Jerusalem.
And here we are again in Ezekiel with "mother" symbolizing the nation of Israel.  Samaria was the capital of the Northern Kingdom, and Jerusalem was in the Southern Kingdom.  More poetic language, but not about a heavenly mother.

I'm not quite done with the list yet, but I think that's enough for today.  To be continued...

Click here to go on to Part 2.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Galatians 4:26 -- Part 5

Well, I hope my internet browser is going to work today long enough to get this posted.  Now where were we?....  Ah, yes...

Galatians 4:26  "But the Jerusalem that is above is free, and she is our mother."
So we've seen already some of the WMSCOG's misinterpretations regarding how Abraham repsresents God and how Isaac was chosen as heir.  The WMSCOG then goes on to explain how since Isaac was born from the free mother, so must we become a child of the "Heavenly Mother Jerusalem" (aka "Mother God") so that we can have the inheritance of eternal life.

But what is the message Paul really has for us in this verse?
I suggested it earlier, but if you haven't already read the book of Galatians, go ahead and read it, the whole thing.  It's not that long.  Then focus in again on the passage in question, chapter 4, verses 21-31.

First of all, Paul says in verse 24, "These things are to be taken figuratively...."  That means he's speaking in symbolism and allegory.  He's already warned us not to take the example literally--it's a metaphor.  "The women represent two covenants."  He tells us directly that he's going to use this metaphor to compare two covenants.

"One covenant is from Mount Sinai and bears children who are to be slaves: This is Hagar.  Now Hagar stands for Mount Sinai in Arabia and corresponds to the present city of Jerusalem, because she is in slavery with her children." (Gal. 4:24-25) 

He is using Hagar and the present city of Jerusalem to represent the Law, the covenant with Moses.  Those who trust that following the law will save them are slaves to that law.

Ishmael was born to the slave woman, Hagar.  Abraham and Sarah knew God had promised them a son, but it wasn't happening.  So they used their own efforts to make it happen, through Hagar.  There was nothing special about Ishmael's birth.  It's not unusual for elderly men to father children.

Those who trust in following the law, are also trusting in their own efforts to save them, just like Abraham and Sarah, through Hagar, used their own efforts to get a son.  But Ishmael was not the son that God had promised them...

But the Jerusalem that is above is free, and she is our mother....  Now you, brothers and sisters, like Isaac, are children of promise....  Therefore, brothers and sisters, we are not children of the slave woman, but of the free woman. (Gal. 4:26, 28, 31)

Sarah was the free woman, and Isaac, her son, was not born in the ordinary way.  Sarah was 90 years old when Isaac was born.  How can a 90 year old woman become pregnant and bear a son?  Only by a miracle of God.  When God promised them a son, it was Isaac he had in mind.  Isaac was born to fulfill that promise, and it was Isaac, not Ishmael, who became the heir of God's special covenant. (Gen. 17:19-21)

The descendants born to Abraham through Isaac were children of that promise.  By our faith, we Christians are considered the "spiritual seed" of Abraham, and we are heirs and children of God's promise too. (Gal. 3:26-29)

But what does Scripture say? “Get rid of the slave woman and her son, for the slave woman’s son will never share in the inheritance with the free woman’s son.” (Gal. 4:30)

The one who strives to accomplish salvation through their own efforts by following the law ("the slave woman's son") will not be able to share the inheritance of God that is only available to the one who has accepted God's gracious gift of salvation, by faith and not because of their own efforts ("the free woman's son").

Hagar and the "present city of Jerusalem" stand for the Jewish church at the time, which relied on following the law (think of the Pharisees), and likewise for all the current churches which teach that salvation must be earned by following the law.

Sarah and the "Jerusalem that is above" stand for the true church (not talking denomination here, but the general body of believers), which is in a state of freedom (see also Col. 2:14).

This fits with the theme of the book of Galatians.  By faith we are set free from slavery to the law.

It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery. (Gal. 5:1)

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Galatians 4:26 -- Part 4

Still working on...
Galatians 4:26  But the Jerusalem that is above is free, and she is our mother.

I'll be quoting again from the WMSCOG page about "Heavenly Mother."

They say that "through the history of Abraham's family, God has revealed to us how we can inherit the kingdom of heaven."  And that the "reason why Isaac was chosen as Abraham's heir was that Isaac was the son of Sarah, who was free.  This history shows us that the heavenly inheritance will be given to those who are born of the heavenly Mother, who is free."

I've already examnined how Abraham represents himself (not God), and how God established His covenant with Isaac because he was the promised child, born miraculously to Abraham and Sarah.

The WMSCOG says that God chose Isaac to become God's heir because his mother (Sarah) was a free woman, not a slave.  They say that Eliezer was a servant, so both his parents were slaves, thereby disqualifying him to be Abraham's heir.  And Ishmael's mother (Hagar) was also a slave, and "this is why God could not allow Ishmael to become Abraham's heir," even though his father (Abraham) was free.  They say that "the key factor in deciding an heir is 'Mother.'"

Is it true that the status of a child's mother (slave or free) determined whether or not that child could become an heir?  Let's think about this now...

Was Eliezer disqualified as an heir because his mother was a slave?  No, Abraham said, "You have given me no children; so a servant in my household will be my heir.” (Gen. 15:3)
Eliezer would have been Abraham's heir if Abraham had no children of his own when he died, despite the status of his mother.  (By the way, it's interesting to wonder why Abraham didn't mention his nephew Lot as his heir.  Makes me wonder exactly who Eliezer was to Abraham....)

How about Ishmael?  Was he disqualified because his mother was a slave?  God's special covenant was not passed to Ishmael, that's true, but God did promise to bless him and make him into a great nation.  (Gen. 17:20).

What about when Sarah said to Abraham, "Get rid of that slave woman and her son, for that woman’s son will never share in the inheritance with my son Isaac.”  (Gen. 21:10)  Can you understand Sarah's animosity toward Ishmael?  Ever since she offered her maidservant to her husband she had regretted it and had problems getting along with Hagar.  Finally she had a son of her own, and she "saw that the son whom Hagar the Egyptian had borne to Abraham was mocking." (Gen. 21:9)  It is no wonder she wanted him gone.

If you read further in Genesis 21, you see that God told Abraham not to worry about Ishmael.  Even though Ishmael would not receive Abraham's earthly inheritance or be a part of the covenant God made with Abraham, He told Abraham He would still "make the son of the slave into a nation also, because he is your offspring.” (Gen. 21:13)

Another question is... Are there other cases in the Bible that would show us if a mother's status (slave or free) did indeed influence someone's inheritance?

There are three that come to mind.
#1 -- After Sarah died, Abraham married again, a woman named Keturah, and she bore him sons.  (Gen. 25:1-2)  We don't know anything about Keturah, but it's likely that she was not a slave, isn't it?  Yet, "Abraham left everything he owned to Isaac." (Gen. 25:5)  But with Ishmael gone, Isaac was the firstborn son, with all the privileges associated with that birthright.

#2 -- Isaac married Rebekah and had twin sons, Esau and Jacob.  Esau and Jacob had the same mother, a free woman, and yet Jacob (the second born) got the birthright and the blessing of the firstborn instead of his brother.  (Gen. 25:19-34 and chapter 27)  There wasn't even a blessing left for Esau. (Gen. 27:38-40)  At least Ishmael got a blessing.

#3 -- The 12 sons of Jacob came from 4 different women.  (Gen. 29:31-35; 30:1-24 and 35:16-18)  Leah and Rachel, his two wives were free women, and they gave him 6 and 2 sons respectively.  Rachel's servant Bilhah bore Jacob 2 sons, and Leah's servant Zilpah also bore Jacob 2 sons.  The mothers of those 4 sons were slaves.  Were they excluded from the inheritance of their father, Jacob?  NO.  God blessed ALL 12 sons of Jacob and grew them into the 12 tribes of Israel.

So the WMSCOG's logic chain to interpret Galatians 4:26 is flawed.  Next time we can examine what that passage from Galatians really means.

Click here to go on to Part 5.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Galatians 4:26 -- Part 3

Galatians 4:26  But the Jerusalem that is above is free, and she is our mother.

So to prove that this verse is speaking about a "Mother God," the WMSCOG first tries to show (through the parable of Lazarus and the Rich Man) that Abraham represents God in the Bible.  But we've just seen that Abraham in fact represents...himself, the physical father of the Jewish nation.  But let's get past that, just for the sake of argument, and see if the rest of their interpretation makes sense...

Their next step is to show that Isaac, the son God promised to Abraham, was Abraham's heir.

Yes, that is true, though not quite through the way the WMSCOG explains on their webpage about the "Heavenly Mother."  The quotes I use from the WMSCOG in this post are from there.

They compare three people who could have possibly been Abraham's heir.  The first is Eliezer, Abraham's servant.  Here's Genesis 15:2-4...
But Abram said, “Sovereign LORD, what can you give me since I remain childless and the one who will inherit my estate is Eliezer of Damascus?”  And Abram said, “You have given me no children; so a servant in my household will be my heir.”  Then the word of the LORD came to him: “This man will not be your heir, but a son who is your own flesh and blood will be your heir.”

The WMSCOG says, "When Abraham was an old man and had not yet borne a son, he asked God to allow his servant Eliezer to be his heir."
 
If you read what Abraham said, you'll see that he was NOT asking God to let Eliezer be his heir.  In Genesis 15:1 (ESV), God tells Abraham, ""Fear not, Abram, I am your shield; your reward shall be very great."
 
Abraham remembers God's promise to him from Genesis 12 that God would make him into a great nation and give his offspring the land of Canaan.  Abraham does not want Eliezer to become his heir.  He wants God to fulfill His promise.  "What can you give me since I remain childless?" he asks.  No "reward" would mean as much to him as having a child of his own.
 
The next possibility is Ishmael, the son born to Abraham through Hagar, Sarah's maidservant.
Genesis 16:1-2  Now Sarai, Abram’s wife, had borne him no children. But she had an Egyptian slave named Hagar; so she said to Abram, “The LORD has kept me from having children. Go, sleep with my slave; perhaps I can build a family through her.”  Abram agreed to what Sarai said.

God had promised Abraham a son (Gen. 15:4), but his wife was not able to give him any children, and they were getting old.  So Sarah and Abraham think perhaps this promised son is going to come from another woman, and they try out their idea.  Finally Abraham (at 86 years old) has a son, Ishmael.  Can you imagine the joy Abraham felt, even though this son was not from Sarah?

The WMSCOG says, "When Abraham said to God, 'If only Ishmael might live under your blessing,' God did not allow Ishmael to become his heir.  Instead, God promised Abraham that he would have a son through his wife, Sarah."

God did speak to Abraham again when he was 99 years old in Genesis 16.  He DID promise Abraham that Sarah would give him a son, and that it would be through this son, Isaac, that God would establish His covenant to make him into a great nation.

But can you imagine Abraham's thoughts about Ishmael, his first and long-awaited child?  Ishmael (about 13 years old by now) would have been special to Abraham, and so Abraham would have hoped God had a special blessing for Ishmael.

Did God refuse to make Ishmael Abraham's heir?  God did say that it would be through Isaac that Abraham's covenant would be fulfilled, but what happened to Ishmael?  Was he kicked to the side?

No, God said, "And as for Ishmael, I have heard you: I will surely bless him; I will make him fruitful and will greatly increase his numbers. He will be the father of twelve rulers, and I will make him into a great nation." (Gen. 17:20)

God heard Abraham's request for Ishmael and blessed him!

So, yes, Isaac was the heir of the covenant promised to Abraham.  He was the son God promised to Abraham--born by a miracle of God, and not through the ordinary way.  But it's not quite the way the WMSCOG tries to explain it.

Click here to go on to Part 4.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Galatians 4:26 -- Part 2

Galatians 4:22-26
"For it is written that Abraham had two sons, one by the slave woman and the other by the free woman.  His son by the slave woman was born according to the flesh, but his son by the free woman was born as the result of a divine promise. ... Now Hagar stands for Mount Sinai in Arabia and corresponds to the present city of Jerusalem, because she is in slavery with her children.  But the Jerusalem that is above is free, and she is our mother."

The logic that the WMSCOG uses to interpret this verse is complicated (to me, at least). It's going to take several posts to cover it all. I'll take it step by step...

Their first step towards their conclusion that this verse points to "Mother God" is to say that Abraham represents God in the Bible.  To do this they go to the story Jesus told of Lazarus and the rich man from Luke 16.

Luke 16:22-24
“The time came when the beggar died and the angels carried him to Abraham’s side. The rich man also died and was buried.  In Hades, where he was in torment, he looked up and saw Abraham far away, with Lazarus by his side.  So he called to him, ‘Father Abraham...'"

On their website page about "Heavenly Mother," the WMSCOG says,
"Lazarus was obviously carried to God's side after he had died; however, the Bible sates that Lazarus was carried to Abraham's side.  In the parable, the rich man, who went to hell, called up to God in the distance; however, the Bible states that the man saw Abraham, and called up to him, saying, 'Father Abraham.'  Who is the only one who is worthy to be called 'Father' in the spiritual world?  God is the only one who can be called upon in this way.  Then, whom does Abraham represent?  Logically, the character Abraham was chosen to represent God."

Does Abraham represent God?  Is that why he's called "father" in the spirit world and why Lazarus is described as being taken to Abraham's side?  No...
Abraham is the physical father of the whole Jewish nation:
No longer will you be called Abram; your name will be Abraham, for I have made you a father of many nations. (Gen. 17:5)

"Father" was not just a word used for a person's direct father.  Their grandfather, great-grandfather, great-great-grandfather, and all of their forefathers were also called "father."
God spoke through Joshua to the Israelites about their "father Abraham" even though they were many generations removed from him:
But I took your father Abraham from the land beyond the Euphrates and led him throughout Canaan and gave him many descendants. I gave him Isaac... (Joshua 24:3)
Here are more references to "Father Abraham": John 8:56; Acts 7:2; Romans 4:12; James 2:21.

God spoke again to the Israelites through Isaiah about their father Abraham:
look to Abraham, your father, and to Sarah, who gave you birth. When I called him he was only one man, and I blessed him and made him many. (Isa. 51:2)

In my culture and in my family, we are not accustomed to calling our grandfathers "Father," but we do make a big deal of them on Fathers Day every year along with our immediate fathers.  I have heard many interesting stories about great-grandfathers I never knew, and I am excited at the prospect of meeting them one day in heaven.  Is there any reason to think we won't be calling our own earthly fathers by the names we've always known them?  Dad, Daddy, Papa, Grandpa, Gramps, Father?

Now imagine what it is like for an Israelite who has grown up with stories of their great ancestral father, Abraham....  How they might long to meet Abraham in heaven and call him Grandpa, Father.  This is a different sense of the word than calling God, "Father."  Can you see?

In the parable, Lazarus was carried to "Abraham's side" to show that he was in heaven with Abraham.  It's interesting to look up the phrase "the bosom of Abraham."  The rich man called Abraham "father" because he was Jewish and Abraham was his great-great-great...grandfather.

Then, as the WMSCOG asks, whom does Abraham represent?
Abraham represents Abraham, the patriarch of the Jewish nation.

The WMSCOG's first misinterpretation here is to assume that Abraham represents God.

Click here to go on to Part 3.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Galatians 4:26 -- Part 1

It seems the WMSCOG is constantly quoting Galatians 4:26 to prove that there is a "Mother God":
"But the Jerusalem that is above is free, and she is our mother."

What does that verse mean?  Does it indicate another God, the "Mother," as the WMSCOG claims?
Those are the questions I wanted to explore in my studies.

The first thing to do, before examining the details of the WMSCOG's interpretation, was to read it myself in context.  And not just the whole of Galatians chapter 4, but to read the whole book of Galatians--it's only 6 chapters long.  If I read the whole book at once, it will help me get a clearer idea of Paul's message.  (You can read it for yourself, too.)

This is a letter written by Paul to the Galatians when he had heard that they were turning away to other gospels.  He warns them not to accept any gospel other than the truth that Paul had given them, even if it appears to come from a trustworthy source. (Gal. 1:6-9)  He continues throughout his letter to compare the freedom we have in Jesus Christ with the slavery of being under the Law.

I'm going to pull out some verses and main points...

This matter arose because some false believers had infiltrated our ranks to spy on the freedom we have in Christ Jesus and to make us slaves. (Gal. 2:4)
We who are Jews by birth and not sinful Gentiles know that a person is not justified by the works of the law, but by faith in Jesus Christ. So we, too, have put our faith in Christ Jesus that we may be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the law, because by the works of the law no one will be justified. (Gal. 2:15-16)
I do not set aside the grace of God, for if righteousness could be gained through the law, Christ died for nothing! (Gal. 2:21)

ALL of chapter 3, here's verse 11: Clearly no one who relies on the law is justified before God, because “the righteous will live by faith.”
and verse 18: For if the inheritance depends on the law, then it no longer depends on the promise; but God in his grace gave it to Abraham through a promise.
and verses 21-22: Is the law, therefore, opposed to the promises of God? Absolutely not! For if a law had been given that could impart life, then righteousness would certainly have come by the law. But Scripture has locked up everything under the control of sin, so that what was promised, being given through faith in Jesus Christ, might be given to those who believe.

Comparing heirs and slaves, Gal. 4:1-7, here's verse 7: So you are no longer a slave, but God’s child; and since you are his child, God has made you also an heir.
Concern that they are turning back to slavery, Gal. 4:8-9...Formerly, when you did not know God, you were slaves to those who by nature are not gods. But now that you know God—or rather are known by God—how is it that you are turning back to those weak and miserable forces? Do you wish to be enslaved by them all over again?
Using Hagar and Sarah to compare the Old Covenant and New Covenant, slavery to the Law vs. the promise of freedom through faith. (Gal. 4:21-31)  Here are verses 23-24a: His son by the slave woman was born according to the flesh, but his son by the free woman was born as the result of a divine promise.  These things are being taken figuratively: The women represent two covenants.

You who are trying to be justified by the law have been alienated from Christ; you have fallen away from grace. (Gal. 5:4)
The acts of the flesh compared to the fruit of the Spirit, Gal. 5:13-26, here's verses 17-18: For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are in conflict with each other, so that you are not to do whatever you want. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.
and Gal. 6:15...Neither circumcision nor uncircumcision means anything; what counts is the new creation.

When you look at the book of Galatians as a whole, it is not talking about the existence of a "Mother God" at all.  The passage about Hagar and Sarah is just one example among many points in Paul's message that we are not under the regulations of the Law any more.  We are free, no longer slaves to obeying the Law!  We can know the grace of God through faith.

More about Galatians 4:26 next time...

Click here to go on to Part 2.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

ONE God -- Has Another Been Hiding?

How does the World Mission Society Church of God reconcile their doctrine of two gods with so many verses showing that there is only one God?

"There is the Savior's name for each age, but the name of God as female does not appear.  For God the Father stands as a representative, just as only a father's name appears on a doorplate in the home though there is a mother.  In the book of Romans it is described that through one man, Adam, sin entered the world.  Actually it was Eve who sinned first, but Adam's name was representatively mentioned.  It is the same with the Savior's name for each age; only the name of God the Father has been representatively used."
from the sermon "The Elohim Gods."

So apparently the WMSCOG believes that when God says, "Let us...," it means "God the Father and God the Mother."  And when God speaks with I and me, it also means "God the Father and God the Mother," because God the Father is representing both of them.  Just like when only a father's name is on the doorplate of the home, even though the wife (mother) lives there too.

No, that doesn't work.  Let's think about it...
Think of a home that belongs to Mr. and Mrs. Example.  We knock on the door, and Mr. Example opens it and talks to us.  Mrs. Example is in one of the bedrooms, so we can't see or hear her.

If Mr. Example says, "This house belongs to me.  I live here.  I am in charge of my house." -- Even though Mrs. Example also lives there and shares the rule of the household, it is still a true and acceptable statement.

On the other hand, if Mr. Example says, "No one else lives here but me.  I am the only one in charge of this house.  I am alone here." -- Those are not true statements.  He would be lying.  Even speaking as the representative of his household, he cannot make statements like that truthfully.

Just to review, God said...
"I am God [El], and there is no other." (Isaiah 45:22)
"Is there a God [Eloah] besides me?  Indeed there is no other Rock; I know not one." (Isaiah 44:8)
(El and Eloah are both singular.)

God cannot truthfully make the statements He did, if there was a Mother God waiting in the wings for her time to come.

Monday, November 1, 2010

ONE God -- More Verses

In my last post, I showed verses from Isaiah where God (YHWH) claims to be the only God (which He is--He cannot lie).  Here are more verses from that also tell us there is only ONE God (not two, as the WMSCOG claims).

Note that in the New Testament, the Greek word for God, Theos, is singular.

My emphasis is shown in bold....

“I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. You shall have no other gods before Me."  (Exodus 20:2-3)

"Now see that I, even I, am He,
      And there is no God besides Me;
      I kill and I make alive;
      I wound and I heal;
      Nor is there any who can deliver from My hand." (Deuteronomy 32:39)

"Now therefore, O LORD our God, I pray, save us from his hand, that all the kingdoms of the earth may know that You are the LORD God, You alone." (2 Kings 19:19)

"Then you shall know that I am in the midst of Israel:
      I am the LORD your God
      And there is no other.
      My people shall never be put to shame."  (Joel 2:27)

Jesus answered him, “The first of all the commandments is: ‘Hear, O Israel, the LORD our God, the LORD is one. And you shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ This is the first commandment.  And the second, like it, is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’  There is no other commandment greater than these.” So the scribe said to Him, “Well said, Teacher. You have spoken the truth, for there is one God, and there is no other but He." (Mark 12:29-32)

Therefore concerning the eating of things offered to idols, we know that an idol is nothing in the world, and that there is no other God but one.  For even if there are so-called gods, whether in heaven or on earth (as there are many gods and many lords), yet for us there is one God, the Father, of whom are all things, and we for Him; and one Lord Jesus Christ, through whom are all things, and through whom we live.  (1 Corinthians 8:4-6)

You believe that there is one God. You do well. Even the demons believe—and tremble! (James 2:19)

Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory for ever and ever. Amen. (1 Timothy 1:17 NIV)

Saturday, October 30, 2010

ONE God -- Verses from Isaiah

I was reading in the book of Isaiah and was struck once again at how often God reminds us that He is the only God to be worshipped.  There is only ONE God, not two as the WMSCOG teaches.  God would not say something in the Bible that He would have to contradict later in order to reveal "Mother God" to the world.  No, that would make Him out to be a liar, which He cannot be.

The following verses are from Isaiah chapters 42-46.  Look how often God repeats it in these five chapters.
I'll include the Hebrew word used for God in each.  You can see, it doesn't matter whether you're talking about "Elohim," "El," or "Eloah," the LORD (YHWH, Jehovah) is the only one.

"I am the LORD, that is My name;
      And My glory I will not give to another,
      Nor My praise to carved images."
(Is. 42:8)

“You are My witnesses,” says the LORD,
“And My servant whom I have chosen,
 That you may know and believe Me,
 And understand that I am He.
 Before Me there was no God [El] formed,
 Nor shall there be after Me.
 I,even I, am the LORD,
 And besides Me there is no savior."
(Is. 43:10-11)

Thus says the LORD, the King of Israel,
    And his Redeemer, the LORD of hosts:
   "I am the First and I am the Last;
    Besides Me there is no God [Elohim]."
(Is. 44:6)

"Do not fear, nor be afraid;
      Have I not told you from that time, and declared it?
      You are My witnesses.
      Is there a God [Eloah] besides Me?
      Indeed there is no other Rock;
      I know not one.’”
(Is. 44:8)

I am the LORD, and there is no other;
There is no God [Elohim] besides Me.
I will gird you, though you have not known Me,
That they may know from the rising of the sun to its setting
That there is none besides Me.
I am the LORD, and there is no other;
(Is. 45:5-6)

This is what the LORD says: ... "They will bow down before you and plead with you, saying, 'Surely God [El] is with you, and there is no other; there is no other god [Elohim].'" (Is. 45:14 NIV)

For thus says the LORD,
      Who created the heavens,
      Who is God [Elohim],
      Who formed the earth and made it,
      Who has established it,
      Who did not create it in vain,
      Who formed it to be inhabited:
      “I am the LORD, and there is no other."
(Is. 45:18)

"Tell and bring forth your case;
      Yes, let them take counsel together.
      Who has declared this from ancient time?
      Who has told it from that time?
      Have not I, the LORD?
      And there is no other God [Elohim] besides Me,
      A just God [El] and a Savior;
      There is none besides Me.
      Look to Me, and be saved,
      All you ends of the earth!
      For I am God [El], and there is no other."
(Is. 45:21-22)

"Remember the former things of old,
      For I am God [El], and there is no other;
      I am God [Elohim], and there is none like Me,"
(Is. 46:9)

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Mothers and Fathers...and Snails

An interesting thing happened at our house.  Some time ago I put a snail in our aquarium, but it died after a while.  Occasionally when I cleaned the tank, I'd find some tiny "rocks" stuck on the filter.  I could tell they were snail-shaped, but very, very tiny.  I threw them back into the water to see what would happen.

Yesterday, we were admiring our fish and noticed many snails.  Those tiny snail-shaped "rocks" were real snails that had grown and were now about the size of a pencil eraser.  They are the same color as the rocks and hard to see on the bottom of the tank, but when they are crawling on the aquarium walls, it's obvious that they are living snails.  You might think my family strange, but we adore our baby snails.  They are cute!

How did they all get there?  Snails can reproduce themselves without a partner.  They don't need a mother and a father to make babies.  One snail is both mother and father at the same time.

That brings me to one of the lines of thought the World Mission Society Church of God uses to show the existence of "God the Mother."  Here it is:

Families here on earth have a father, a mother, sisters and brothers.  Things on earth are copies and shadows of things in heaven.  We have a physical father, and we have a spiritual Father (God).  We have physical brothers and sisters, and we have spiritual brothers and sisters (fellow believers).  We have a physical mother, therefore we must have a spiritual mother also--"Heavenly Jerusalem Mother."

They talk about how all the creatures on earth come from a mother and a father.  They conclude that since all creatures must have a mother and a father to come into existence, then all creation testifies to the existence of a "Heavenly Mother."  If you ever read any member blogs, you might see posts about this accompanied by cute pictures of both human and animal babies and family groups.

The official church website's page about Heavenly Mother states,
"It is written that God's invisible qualities have been clearly seen and can be understood through what has been made (Rom. 1:20).  Is there any creature that is given life through only their father, alone, without a mother being present?...  Since it is written that God created all things by His will, a certain will of God was expressed when He created mothers on this earth.  As you know, all creatures have a mother figure.  There is not a single creature that can come into existence without a mother."

That is not true.  Our snail was what's called a simultaneous hermaphrodite.  There are also creatures that reproduce by parthenogenesis (some types of reptiles, insects, and fish).  There are a variety of creatures that can come into existence with only one parent.

Just thought you might find that interesting....

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Is God Male or Female? Both or Neither?

Genesis 1:26-27
Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.”  So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.

The WMSCOG says that since "God created man in his own image" and there are both male and female humans, then there must be two "Gods"--a God of the male image ("God the Father") and a God of the female image ("God the Mother").

I've already shown that the Hebrew word Elohim used here does not indicate that there are plural "Gods" creating the human race (see my study on Elohim, part 1, part 2, and part 3).  If it did, then "said" and "created" would also have also be plural verbs, but they are singular.  Plus, it would have said "their own image" and "they created," but those pronouns are singular also.

But besides that, what about gender--does God have a gender?  Is God male or female, neither or both?  And is that what being made "in his image" is about?
The questions below in red are what came to mind through this study.

If humans are created in God's image, does that mean God has a body like ours?
No, God is spirit, not flesh like us humans.  (Yes, Jesus was God manifest in the flesh, but we're talking about the overall nature of God.)
John 4:24   God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.
The Bible talks about "spiritual bodies," but they are different than our earthly bodies, so we cannot say that God's image is a body like ours.  (1 Corinthians 15:40,44)

Is there any place for the differences between the genders in the spirit realm? 
These two verses would indicate no:
Mark 12:25   For when they rise from the dead, they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like angels in heaven.
Galatians 3:28   There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.

God is referred to as "He" throughout the Bible.  Does that mean He is male?
No, not necessarily.  All nouns in Hebrew are either feminine or masculine.  There are no neutral nouns (it).  Everything is a "he" or a "she," even the door, the rock, and the fence.  It's interesting to note that while Hebrew nouns for "God" are grammatically masculine, the Hebrew word for God's "Spirit" is grammatically feminine.  It's not possible in Hebrew to refer to God as gender-neutral, so there is still the possibility that He is neither male nor female (or that He is both at once).

How about the masculine images of God that we see in the Bible--the Father and the Son, and even the Bridegroom?  Does that mean He's male?
There are some feminine images of God too.  They appear less often, but they are there.  For example, God is pictured as a mother (Isaiah 49:14-15, 66:13), a woman in labor (Isaiah 42:24), having a womb and giving birth (Job 38:29, Deuteronomy 32:18)...
Then there is "El Shaddai" -- This Hebrew title of God means "The All Sufficient God" and is usually translated "God Almighty."  It comes from the word "shad" which means "breast."  So it describes God's sufficiency like a mother who is able to provide all the nourishment her new baby needs.  It's used 48 times.  Here it is in Genesis 17:1
When Abram was ninety-nine years old, the LORD appeared to Abram and said to him, “I am Almighty God [El-Shaddai]; walk before Me and be blameless."

So is this proof that there is "God the Mother" as well as "God the Father" just as the WMSCOG teaches?
No.  If  you look more carefully, those verses that show God in a feminine light refer to the LORD, which is YHWH, or Jehovah.  The WMSCOG teaches that Jehovah is "Father God" and not "Mother God."  So these verses are NOT referring to their separate "Mother God."  Instead they describe feminine traits of Jehovah.

Then, is God both male and female at the same time, since He is pictured sometimes as male and sometimes as female?
No, not exactly.  He is also pictured as a...
lion (Jeremiah 35:28 and 50:44)
bear (Lamentations 3:10 and Hosea 13:8)
hen (Matthew 23:37 / Luke 13:34)
rock (Deuteronomy 32:18 and 2 Samuel 22:47)
fire (Deuteronomy 4:24)
dove (John 1:32)
God is pictured as having hands (Exodus 33:22-23), feet (Isaiah 66:1; Nahum 1:3), and eyes (2 Chronicles 16:9), but also wings and feathers (Psalm 63:7 and 91:4).

Is God literally all of these things?  Then neither must He be literally male or female.
All of these descriptions of God are literary devices (anthropomorphisms or personifications) to show God to us in a way we can understand.

I will conclude with a quote from a dear family friend, who is a Bible scholar, former pastor, and missionary worker.  (Thank you, Brother, for your guidance with this study.)

"Being made in the image of God has nothing to do with gender or flesh, but that man and woman were made in the likeness of God's morality (holiness without sin), socially made to have fellowship both with God and man (remember God came seeking Adam and Eve in the garden to walk with them) and mentally able to make decisions and choices, reason and love all of which separated man and woman from the animal kingdom."

For more information about God as male or female, please read The Image of God here.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Studying the Bible

I've been sharing here the many personal Bible studies I've done in examining the teachings of the WMSCOG and how they compare to the Bible and the views of mainstream Christianity.  I'd like to share with you the resources and methods I use in understanding the Bible.  If you aren't already, you might want to utilize these in your own studies.

  • Prayer - Pray for wisdom and understanding as you read and study.
  • Read the Bible, A LOT! - Don't just read verses here and there or short devotions.  Read whole chapters and books!  Take some time to read it through beginning to end.  Get a good grasp of the Bible as a whole, so when you do just study a few verses, you understand how they fit into the whole counsel of the Bible.
  • Follow principles of the Inductive Study Method - Read more about Inductive Bible Study here.  Use observation, interpretation, and application to study the Bible and live by its truths.  Here's an overview of this method.
  • Use a variety of Bible translations - It helps you get a fuller picture of the passage.  Biblegateway.com is fantastic for this.
  • Pastors and teachers at your church - They have a lot of experience with the Bible.  It's ok to ask them questions.  If it's an unusual question that they don't have an answer for, you might be able to work on it together.
  • A Concordance (or Keyword search online) - Find verses that use a particular word (English) to study what the Bible has to say about it.  For example, you can look up "love" to see what the Bible has to say about love.  Be sure you read around the word too to get its context.
  • A Topical Bible (I use Nave's) - Find passages about a particular topic, even if the verse doesn't include the word.  For example, look up passages about marriage, even if the word "marriage" isn't in the verses.
  • A Hebrew and Greek Lexicon (like Strong's) - Use with a Bible or concordance that shows the reference numbers of each word.  (I especially like Interlinear Bibles.)  Look up the definitions of the original language to help you understand words, verses, and passages better.  You can also look up other verses that use the same Hebrew or Greek word to get a clearer picture of it.
  • Commentaries - These take you deeper into the Word through Bible scholars who have studied the context, language, history, etc.  Be sure to check out the author's background to make sure you agree with their philosophies.  For example, some have different views on such things as the work of the Holy Spirit today.
  • Books by Christian authors - Browse your local Christian bookstore, such as Berean, Lifeway, or Family Christian Store.  Again, check out the author.
  • Online - Search for a topic online, BUT BE VERY CAREFUL!  There are thousands of websites that look Christian at first glance but are not what they appear.  ALWAYS look for a statement of faith, or "what we believe," or "about me", or some other way to see how their faith matches up with yours.  Don't blindly accept anyone's Bible "knowledge."  Know where they are coming from spiritually.
The WMSCOG and other cults with tell you not to use your own interpretation, your own mind, in reading the Bible, or you risk misunderstanding it.  That's not true.
God gave you the Bible, and He gave you your brain.  If you don't use them both together, you risk following false doctrine.  It is possible to read the Bible for yourself and understand it.

Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. -- 2 Timothy 2:15

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Everlasting Covenant - One More Thing

I have to correct something I wrote in part 1 of my look at what the everlasting covenant might be. I'm not above correcting myself... :)

When I was looking at the covenants called "everlasting" and saw God's covenant with Noah I straight away remembered all the Sunday School lessons I've taught about Noah and the rainbow and how it was God's promise not destroy the earth with a flood again. I too quickly categorized it as a one-sided covenant and ruled it out of my search, BUT....

In my reading today I was reminded that the covenant with Noah DOES have requirements for the people to keep. So it is possible, after all, that this was the everlasting covenant mentioned in Isaiah 24:5. We'll call it...

Everlasting Covenant Possibility 4
God's covenant with Noah after the flood, Genesis 9:16
Focusing in on Genesis 9:4-6
But you shall not eat flesh with its life, that is, its blood. Surely for your lifeblood I will demand a reckoning; from the hand of every beast I will require it, and from the hand of man. From the hand of every man’s brother I will require the life of man.
“ Whoever sheds man’s blood,
      By man his blood shall be shed;
      For in the image of God
      He made man.

The part required of man in this covenant is to honor life, both that of people and of animals.
Looking at society today, I'd say that this covenant it being broken every day by someone or another.

Now, looking at the 4 possibilities, I'm reminded of something Jesus said in the book of Mark when a teacher of the law came to ask what the greatest commandment was. Jesus said,
Jesus answered him, “The first of all the commandments is: ‘Hear, O Israel, the LORD our God, the LORD is one.  And you shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.' This is the first commandment.  And the second, like it, is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.' There is no other commandment greater than these.”  (Mark 12:29-31)

I see that the first 3 possibilities can be rolled into "Love the Lord your God," and the 4th is "Love your neighbor as yourself." Interesting, isn't it?

This concludes (hopefully!...for now, at least) my personal study into the everlasting covenant.

Studying the Bible yourself is a great way to make it come alive, but it's always good to read what several other Bible scholars say. It helps to have their perspective and extensive research so you don't accidentally go way off track.
If you'd like to study more about the covenants, you might like the book, The Covenants, by Kevin Connor and Ken Malmin. It's written in an outline form and summarizes all of God's covenants.

Monday, October 18, 2010

What is the Everlasting Covenant? - Conclusion

And so there are:
Circumcision, Genesis 17:7
The Sabbath, Exodus 31:16
and Jesus, Hebrews 13:20
All three are called everlasting covenants.  Which is it?...
(Update--There is one more possibility in my next post "One More Thing."  Don't miss it!)
The covenants of circumcision and the Sabbath are altered in the New Testament.  They were not required for Gentile believers, and though the Jewish believers continued them, they recognized that the acts of circumcision and keeping the Sabbath were not what brought them salvation, but their faith--belief in the Lord Jesus.  So in a way, we could say they were swallowed up into the covenent concerning Jesus.  That points us to the covenant described in Hebrews 13:20.
Now may the God of peace who brought up our Lord Jesus from the dead, that great Shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant

While looking up "everlasting covenant" I saw that there are six verses that say God will make an everlasting covenant with His people.  They don't say exactly what it will be, but that it will happen.  Here they are:
Isaiah 55:3 and 61:8
Jeremiah 32:40 and 50:5
Ezekiel 16:60 and 37:26

Those verses point to a time which was in the future for Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Ezekiel.  Jesus and His everlasting covenant was in the future for them, and so it still fits.  And Isaiah 55:3 can provide confirmation:
Incline your ear, and come to Me.
      Hear, and your soul shall live;
      And I will make an everlasting covenant with you—
      The sure mercies of David.

"David" was a prophetical name used for Christ.  You can see it in Jeremiah 30:9, Ezekiel 34:23-24 and 37:24-25, and Hosea 3:5.

But the question that remains is, what is our part in keeping (or accepting) this everlasting covenant through Jesus. Is it keeping the Passover with all the particular regulations as the WMSCOG says, or is it something else? That's a good question for another day...

By the way, when my sister asked me this question, this is exactly what I did.  I started looking in my Bible for every instance of "everlasting covenant" and listing the possibilities.  That's when things got difficult with the conversation, and we didn't get any farther.  I don't know if it was something about the way I was studying the Bible, or if it was the result of pent up frustrations after some heated discussions.  But it's too bad, because I think we would have at least agreed on the right section of the Bible to settle on.

Click here for a little more on the Everlasting Covenant.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

What is the Everlasting Covenant? - Part 3

Continuing on...What is the everlasting covenant broken in Isaiah 24:5?

Just a note...there are a lot of verses listed here, and I think it will take too much room to write them all out.  You might want to have your Bible handy...or BibleGateway.com which can look up the verses quickly for you.

Everlasting Covenant Possibility 2
The Sabbath, Exodus 31:16

Here is Exodus 31 verses 13, 16, and 17
13 “Speak also to the children of Israel, saying: ‘Surely My Sabbaths you shall keep, for it is a sign between Me and you throughout your generations, that you may know that I am the LORD who sanctifies you. 16 Therefore the children of Israel shall keep the Sabbath, to observe the Sabbath throughout their generations as a perpetual covenant. 17 It is a sign between Me and the children of Israel forever; for in six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth, and on the seventh day He rested and was refreshed.’”

I've already written about the Sabbath, which you can read under the topic of "Sabbath."
Colossians 2:16, Galatians 4:9-11, Romans 14, and
Acts 15:28-29 are some of the verses in the New Testament indicate that the Sabbath is not required for salvation.
But the Sabbath is a foreshadow of the rest we have with God--rest from all our work.  (Hebrews 3 and 4, especially 4:9-11)
How do we enter God's rest?  By believing.  (Hebrews 3:18-19 and 4:3, 6, 11)
Note that in the NIV the word "disobedience" in those verses is translated "unbelief" in the KJV.
That's because the Greek word there means "disbelief, disobedience, unbelief."  It's talking about the kind of true belief that results in obedience.

Everlasting Covenant Possibility 3
The everlasting covenant of Jesus, Hebrews 13:20
(It's called the "eternal covenant" in the NIV.)

Hebrews 13:20
Now may the God of peace who brought up our Lord Jesus from the dead, that great Shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant

Hebrews 9:14-15 (although it's good to read the whole chapter to see the context)
how much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without spot to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?  And for this reason He is the Mediator of the new covenant, by means of death, for the redemption of the transgressions under the first covenant, that those who are called may receive the promise of the eternal inheritance.

This new, eternal covenant was put into effect by the blood of Jesus Christ.

Now, this is where the WMSCOG connects the everlasting covenant to Passover, because at the Last Supper Jesus says, "This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins." (Matthew 26:28)
They interpret it to mean that you must physically take the bread and wine on the exact day and time of Passover (and not at any other time) to keep this covenant.   For the WMSCOG, breaking this covenant means not keeping the Passover.

Mainstream Christians interpret this bread and wine as symbolic of Jesus' broken body and shed blood on the cross for the forgiveness of sin.  As a mainstream Christian, for me it's not a matter of breaking or keeping this covenant, but rather accepting or rejecting it.  But for argument's sake, I would equate breaking this covenant as rejecting it--rejecting Jesus, His sacrifice, and therefore rejecting God totally.
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I'm not quite done looking at this everlasting covenant question.  The point of this little study is to show that we can search the Bible to find possible answers to our question.  We don't have to blindly take the answer given to us.
Now that we've found the possibilities, it's time to evaluate them and see if we can pinpoint the one answer, since our question must have only one answer.

Click here to go on to Part 4, the conclusion.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

What is the Everlasting Covenant? - Part 2

What is the everlasting covenant broken in Isaiah 24:5?

That is the question the WMSCOG will ask and then proceed to explain why they believe it is the Passover.

The WMSCOG takes great pains to point out that they do not believe in "interpretations of men" but only what's written in the Bible.  So before stringing together a bunch of verses to support anyone's nice sounding idea, why not go straight to the Bible and see if it tells us directly what the everlasting covenant is?

I started with keyword searches to find a "covenant" that was described as "everlasting," "lasting," "eternal," or "forever."  There are actually quite a few, so I ruled out covenants where it was one-sided, a promise of God to do something and didn't include any requirement from the people.  You can't break the covenant if it requires nothing from you, right?  Then we can see if any of the ones left fit with Isaiah 24.  You can try this yourself and let me know if you found anything I missed....

I've narrowed it down to 3.  (I almost included God's covenant with David in 2 Samuel 7--see 2 Sam. 23:5; Psalm 89:28; and 2 Chron. 13:15 and 21:7 for descriptions of it as everlasting--but God said that even if the people turned away from Him, He would still keep His promise.  Therefore it's a one-sided promise.)

So here are the first one, and I'll address the others next time...

Everlasting Covenant Possibility 1
God's covenant with Abraham in Genesis 17:7
(This covenant is passed down to Isaac and Jacob, see 1 Chronicles 16:17 and Psalm 105:10)

In Genesis 17, God promises Abraham that He will make him into the father of many nations, that He will give them the land of Canaan, and that He will be their God.
Then, starting in verse 9, we see what God requires Abraham to do.  Here are verses 9 and 10:
And God said to Abraham: “As for you, you shall keep My covenant, you and your descendants after you throughout their generations. This is My covenant which you shall keep, between Me and you and your descendants after you: Every male child among you shall be circumcised

The people's part of this "everlasting covenant" is circumcision.

Physical circumcision was an outward reminder to be circumcised in your heart. (Jeremiah 4:4 and 9:25)
Jesus was circumcised. (Luke 1:59 and 2:21)
Must we be circumcised today?  Not physically, it is circumcision of the heart that counts. (Romans 2:28-29 and 3:30)
So how can our part of this covenant be broken today?  By not having our heart circumcised.
What does it mean to have your heart circumcised?  Put off your sinful nature by having faith in Jesus.
Read Colossians 2.  The whole chapter is good, but focus in on verses 11-13:

In Him you were also circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, by putting off the body of the sins of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ, buried with Him in baptism, in which you also were raised with Him through faith in the working of God, who raised Him from the dead.  And you, being dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He has made alive together with Him, having forgiven you all trespasses [sins],

Click here to go on to Part 3.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

What is the Everlasting Covenant? - Part 1

Isaiah 24 begins with a description of the devastation of the earth, and then verses 5 and 6:

The earth is also defiled under its inhabitants,
      Because they have transgressed the laws,
      Changed the ordinance,
      Broken the everlasting covenant.

Therefore the curse has devoured the earth,
      And those who dwell in it are desolate.
      Therefore the inhabitants of the earth are burned,
      And few men
are left.

The question posed by a commenter from this verse is… What is the everlasting covenant that was broken?

My sister asked me the same question, but she did not like my answer and the conversation stopped.  (I have to admit, I was quite frustrated at the time, and the conversation got heated, so I’m sure my tone of delivery didn’t help.)  She never followed up by telling me what her answer was.

I know that question was not asked simply for me to ponder over.  It was asked because she wanted to tell me what the everlasting covenant was that not being kept by these people who were being destroyed.  I believe she would have continued on to explain that the everlasting covenant was the Passover, and that we needed to keep the Passover so that we would not break the everlasting covenant and so we would be protected in the last days.  Am I right?

So what is this “everlasting covenant” in Isaiah 24?  Is it the Passover, or could it be something else?

I didn’t want to speculate, so I went straight to the Bible to search for what it says about a “covenant.”  There are a number of covenants that God makes in the Bible, and more than one of them are described as “everlasting” or “eternal” or “lasting” or to be kept “forever.”

Some of those covenants are promises that God made and intends to keep, with no requirements from the human race at all.  In Genesis 9, God makes an everlasting covenant never to destroy the earth and all its life with a flood again.  There is nothing we need to do as part of that agreement—it’s all God. (Click here for a correction to this part about Genesis 9.)  We can never break that type of covenant. 

We need to look for the kind of covenant where God did give the people some responsibility to keep on their part.
 
So that's the direction I'll be going next.  Stay tuned.... 


Click here to go on to Part 2.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Feast of Trumpets

The WMSCOG Feast of Trumpets has just passed, being celebrated on Oct. 8.

I'm wondering if anyone can enlighten me yet on why it was kept at the beginning of the eighth month instead of the seventh month as specified in Leviticus 23:24.

I wrote previously about this mistake in their calendar here, but just to sum up...

The WMSCOG prides itself in keeping the "sacred calendar," and we can see in the Bible that months are kept from new moon to new moon (Isaiah 66:23).

The WMSCOG celebrated Passover this year on March 29, which makes the new moon of Mar. 15 as the beginning of the first month on their calendar.  I'll put up the list of new moons again for you...
Mar. 15 -- 1st new moon starts the 1st month
Apr. 14 -- 2nd month starts
May 13 -- 3rd month starts
June 12 -- 4th month starts
Jully 11 -- 5th month starts
Aug. 9 -- 6th month starts
Sept. 8 -- 7th month starts
Oct. 7 -- 8th month starts

I'm not going to argue about a day (Oct. 7 vs. Oct. 8), but we are definitely in the 8th month.  I don't see any way the WMSCOG can reconcile this with Lev. 23:24, especially since the records show that some years they keep the date in the seventh month, and other years in the eighth month--it's not consistent one way or the other.

I'd be very happy to get some help with this.  Does anyone have anything to say?

Thursday, October 7, 2010

The Trinity...but Not the Trinity

In my last post, there was a comment left by "Anonymous" which leads me to talk today about the Trinity.

Anonymous pointed out that the WMSCOG calls Ahnsahnghong "Father Ahnsahnghong," and "Christ Ahnsahnghong," and also the "Holy Spirit."  Yet as Christians, we do not call Jesus "Father Jesus."

This is because WMSCOG's interpretation of the Trinity is different than the mainstream Christian doctrine of the Trinity.

I asked a teacher at my sister's church about the Trinity during one of my study sessions with her.  I was wondering how "Mother" fit into the Trinity--does she actually make the 3-in-1 God a 4-in-1 God?  No they believe she is an entirely separate female "God."  It is the male "God" (Ahnsahnghong) who has shown himself through the Trinity.

She described the Trinity as similar to water.  Water can appear as a liquid, solid, or gas, but it's still water.  Likewise, God has shown Himself as the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, but all of those are still one God.  Or, she said, you could imagine an actor playing different roles on the stage.

Then she went on to say that because of this, you can interchange the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit throughout the Bible and not have a problem.  You could say that God the Son gave Moses the 10 Commandments, or you could say that the God the Father died on the cross, or the disciples were baptized in God the Son on the day of Pentecost in Acts chapter 2.  That's when I knew something was not quite right, but I couldn't put my finger on it until another of my readers here referred me to the term "Modalism."

The mainstream Christian doctrine of the Trinity is one God in three eternal, coexistent Persons, each distinct from the other yet all together one God.

But the WMSCOG interpretation sounds more like Modalism, which is that the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are different "modes" of one God, but not distinct Persons.

Modalism is apparently one of the most common errors in regards to the Trinity, and it's easy to fall into.  I've noticed this myself after researching it.  In trying to explain the Trinity to my own children, I found that I sometimes used examples that actually show Modalism rather than the Trinity.  So it's something for us all to be aware of.

There are resources around the web about Modalism.  Here are a couple links that you might use to get started if you wanted more info:
at basictheology.com
and at gotquestions.org

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I just need to add a little note to this post...

The WMSCOG has a problem with the traditional doctrine of the Trinity. They think it's confusing that the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit would be different yet the same.

The Trinity is a very difficult concept to understand. Here are two very good pages from gotquestions.org that help explain and put it in perspective:
What does the Bible teach about the Trinity?
and What is Trinitarianism?  Is Trinititarianism Biblical?
They also include a different picture illustrating the Trinity than my example of a Venn diagramm in the comments below.  No picture will explain the Trinity fully--it's just meant to help.

My purpose of this post is not to argue Modalism vs. the Trinity.  I believe in the Trinity, but I can understand where the idea of Modalism comes from.  My purpose is to point out that the WMSCOG does not believe in the Christian definition of the Trinity.  They have taken the word and given it a different meaning.  It's something you should be aware of when they they are talking to you about the "Trinity."

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

The Bride IS the Church

You may have read my previous post, Who Is the Bride, where I looked at Bible verses using metaphors of a bride or wife of God.  If you remember, the WMSCOG leader I spoke to was adamant that the Church was NEVER referred to as the Bride.  But the Scriptures do indeed show that the "Bride" or "Wife" of the Lord is not a female God, but the collective people of God--the Israelites / the Church.

This week I happened to watch a WMSCOG produced video, and I was shocked to see that in its effort to show the Catholic Church as the great prostitute (from Revelation), they unwittingly admit that the Church IS the Bride after all!

You can see this video yourself on YouTube.  There are actually several of the same video available to view.  It's called "The Identity of 666."  The video is 7:32 minutes long, but the revealing part is found at about 0:37.

The subtitles say (and I'm quoting, even the verse reference is there):
"In the Bible, "woman" refers to "church." (Ephesians 5:23)
So, the prostitute means the "Antichrist church" that does not follow her husband, Christ."

Those are the WMSCOG's own words!  So if the "Antichrist church" does not follow her husband, Christ, then we can understand that the true church does follow her husband, who is Christ.

Here's Ephesians 5:23
For the husband is head of the wife, as also Christ is head of the church; and He is the Savior of the body.

Caught in their own contradiction once again!

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Elohim, Part 3

So the question I left with last time was...
If Elohim is a singular God, why did he speak of "us" and "our" in Genesis 1:26, 3:22, 11:7, and in Isaiah 6:8?

I believe in the Trinity, so I would like to think that God is speaking to Himself as in Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.  But these verses are not what the concept of the Trinity is based on, and it is not necessary that God is speaking to His own Trinity.

A single person speaking in terms of "us," "we," and "our" when only meaning his own one self?  It happens in everyday life...

Have you heard of Queen Victoria, when she was not happy, saying, "We are not amused."  She didn't say "I am not amused" although that's what she meant.  This "royal we" happens with rulers all the time.  You can even look up "royal we" on Wikipedia--it's a well known phenomenon.
How about phrases like these.  Have you ever used these and really meant "I" or "me"?...
"Oh, yes, we'll be there!"
"Give us a chance!"
This happens with us regular people too.

Here is an example from the Bible:
Daniel 2:36
This is the dream. Now we will tell the interpretation of it before the king.
Daniel talks about himself as "we" instead of "I" when it was really Daniel alone who received the interpretation of the dream and was taken to the king.  (See Daniel 2:19 & 24)

The "royal we" is one thing happening with these verses in Genesis and Isaiah.  But I want to show you something else.  A leader (like a King or Queen) who has a council, a group of their closest advisors, will use "we" when addressing his council.  It doesn't mean the other members of the council are also kings.  It happens today and through history, and you can observe it in the Bible.  Watch how King Ahab used "we" and "I":

2 Chronicles 18:5
Then the king of Israel gathered the prophets together, four hundred men, and said to them, “Shall we go to war against Ramoth Gilead, or shall I refrain?”
So they said, “Go up, for God will deliver it into the king’s hand.”
King Ahab says, "Shall we go to war..., or shall I refrain?"  His council of prophets answers, "Go."  This "go" is not "take your army and all of you (plural) go"--it's a command for "you (singular) go."

Not that God actually needs advisors, but could He have a royal council which He converses with?  Yes!  Check out these verses...

Jeremiah 23:18 & 22
For who has stood in the counsel of the LORD,
      And has perceived and heard His word?...

But if they had stood in My counsel,
      And had caused My people to hear My words,
      Then they would have turned them from their evil way
      And from the evil of their doings.

"They" in these verses are the false prophets.  They did not know what went on in God's council.

1 Kings 22:19-22
Then Micaiah said, “Therefore hear the word of the LORD: I saw the LORD sitting on His throne, and all the host of heaven standing by, on His right hand and on His left.  And the LORD said, ‘Who will persuade Ahab to go up, that he may fall at Ramoth Gilead?’ So one spoke in this manner, and another spoke in that manner.  Then a spirit came forward and stood before the LORD, and said, ‘I will persuade him.’   The LORD said to him, ‘In what way?’ So he said, ‘I will go out and be a lying spirit in the mouth of all his prophets.’ And the LORD said, ‘You shall persuade him, and also prevail. Go out and do so.’What a vision of the royal council of God Micaiah had!  Here's God allowing His angels to offer suggestions, and He accepts one of them.

Job 1:6 (NIV)
One day the angels came to present themselves before the LORD, and Satan also came with them.
Job 2:1 (NIV)
On another day the angels came to present themselves before the LORD, and Satan also came with them to present himself before him.
Here it is again--God surrounded by His angels for a meeting.

So there you go--God sometimes refers to Himself with the "royal we" because He is KING and has His heavenly council about Him.  It does NOT mean that He is speaking to another God with Him.

The conclusion is that Elohim uses a plural suffix with singular adjectives/verbs/etc. not to indicate plural Gods, but one God who is superior, majestic, great, and absolute.  And that He is.

Those of us who believe in the Trinity, the three-in-one God, can see hints of the Trinity in this interesting plural form of Elohim, used in a singular sense to describe God.  That, supported by the rest of Bible's insistence that there is only one God, makes it clear that indeed, there is only one true God.

But if God made humans in His image, and there are both male and female, doesn't that have to mean that there is a male God for the male image and a female God for the female image (as the WMSCOG claims)?  No.  But that's a topic for next time...