20 May 2012

Does the Bible Say We Are Saved By Faith Alone? NO! (Part One)

Saint Iakovos/James is famous for his teaching on works, and that is why Luther wanted to take out His Epistle along with 2 Peter and Apocalypse Revelation out of the Bible along with the Old Testament books he moved to the back of the Bible (and then his followers eventually removed completely). Here is just one of his sayings:
Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death. Do not err, my beloved brethren. Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning. Of his own will begat he us with the word of truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures. Wherefore, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath: For the wrath of man worketh not the righteousness of God. Wherefore lay apart all filthiness and superfluity of naughtiness, and receive with meekness the engrafted word, which is able to save your souls. But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves. For if any be a hearer of the word, and not a doer, he is like unto a man beholding his natural face in a glass: For he beholdeth himself, and goeth his way, and straightway forgetteth what manner of man he was. But whoso looketh into the perfect law of liberty, and continueth therein, he being not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work, this man shall be blessed in his deed. If any man among you seem to be religious, and bridleth not his tongue, but deceiveth his own heart, this man's religion is vain. Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world. (Iakovos/James 1:15-27)
If we take a concordance and look up every occurrence of the word "faith," we come up with an undeniable fact the only time the phrase "faith alone" is used in the entire Bible is when it is condemned. The epistle of Iakavos/James only mentions it in the negative sense.
What doth it profit, my brethren, though a man say he hath faith, and have not works? can faith save him? If a brother or sister be naked, and destitute of daily food, And one of you say unto them, Depart in peace, be ye warmed and filled; notwithstanding ye give them not those things which are needful to the body; what doth it profit? Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone. Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works: shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works. Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble. But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead? Was not Abraham our father justified by works, when he had offered Isaac his son upon the altar? Seest thou how faith wrought with his works, and by works was faith made perfect? And the scripture was fulfilled which saith, Abraham believed God, and it was imputed unto him for righteousness: and he was called the Friend of God. Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only. (Iakovos/James 2:14-24)
Saint Iakavos (James), the foster-brother of the Lord says Faith without works is dead. Of course he means good works, not works of the Old Jewish Law.
This is a faithful saying, and these things I will that thou affirm constantly, that they which have believed in God might be careful to maintain good works. These things are good and profitable unto men. But avoid foolish questions, and genealogies, and contentions, and strivings about the law; for they are unprofitable and vain. A man that is an heretic after the first and second admonition reject; Knowing that he that is such is subverted, and sinneth, being condemned of himself. (Titus 3:8-11)
Here Saint Paul says we better be careful to keep doing good works!
Let us hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering; (for he is faithful that promised;) And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works: Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching. (Hebrews 10:23-25)
Now Saint Paul says we should make sure our brothers and sisters are doing good works.
But after thy hardness and impenitent heart treasurest up unto thyself wrath against the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God; Who will render to every man according to his deeds: To them who by patient continuance in well doing seek for glory and honour and immortality, eternal life: But unto them that are contentious, and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, indignation and wrath, Tribulation and anguish, upon every soul of man that doeth evil, of the Jew first, and also of the Gentile; But glory, honour, and peace, to every man that worketh good, to the Jew first, and also to the Gentile: For there is no respect of persons with God. (Romans 2:5-11)
Here Saint Paul says God will judge our works.
Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling. (Philippians 2:12)
Saint Paul here says that you have to work out your salvation, which is more than faith alone.
Know ye not that they which run in a race run all, but one receiveth the prize? So run, that ye may obtain. And every man that striveth for the mastery is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a corruptible crown; but we an incorruptible. I therefore so run, not as uncertainly; so fight I, not as one that beateth the air: But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway. (1 Corinthians 9:24-27)
Saint Paul says we need to perfect ourselves and make sure we do not lose our salvation.
Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not love, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal. And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not love, I am nothing. And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not love, it profiteth me nothing. Love suffereth long, and is kind; love envieth not; love vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up, Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil; Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth; Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things. Love never faileth: but whether there be prophecies, they shall fail; whether there be tongues, they shall cease; whether there be knowledge, it shall vanish away. For we know in part, and we prophesy in part. But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away. When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things. For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known. And now abideth faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love. (1 Corinthians 13:1-13)
Saint Paul is saying that above both works and faith is love.
Charge them that are rich in this world, that they be not highminded, nor trust in uncertain riches, but in the living God, who giveth us richly all things to enjoy; That they do good, that they be rich in good works, ready to distribute, willing to communicate; Laying up in store for themselves a good foundation against the time to come, that they may lay hold on eternal life. O Timothy, keep that which is committed to thy trust, avoiding profane and vain babblings, and oppositions of science falsely so called: Which some professing have erred concerning the faith. Grace be with thee. Amen. The first to Timothy was written from Laodicea, which is the chiefest city of Phrygia Pacatiana. (1 Timothy 6:17-21)
Saint Paul requires us to be rich in good works and said some that profess the faith have erred. Now let us look at Saint Peter after reading what Saint Iakavos and Saint Paul said:

Grace and peace be multiplied unto you through the knowledge of God, and of Jesus our Lord, According as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue: Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust. And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge; And to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness; And to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness love. For if these things be in you, and abound, they make you that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. But he that lacketh these things is blind, and cannot see afar off, and hath forgotten that he was purged from his old sins. Wherefore the rather, brethren, give diligence to make your calling and election sure: for if ye do these things, ye shall never fall:  (2 Peter 1:2-10)
It looks like Saint Peter agrees with Saint Paul that Love is greater than Works and Faith. Does Saint John agree with Saints Iakavos/James, Paul, and Peter on this?


In this the children of God are manifest, and the children of the devil: whosoever doeth not righteousness is not of God, neither he that loveth not his brother. For this is the message that ye heard from the beginning, that we should love one another. (1 John 3:10-11)

And what did the great Saint John the Theologian see in his Revelation of the Apocalypse?
And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works. And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works. And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire. (Apocalypse/Revelation 20:12-15)
It is all good and well that Jesus Christ's apostles all said that Love and Works were necessarily beyond Faith, but what did Jesus, who is God the Son, Himself say?
Believest thou not that I am in the Father, and the Father in me? the words that I speak unto you I speak not of myself: but the Father that dwelleth in me, he doeth the works. Believe me that I am in the Father, and the Father in me: or else believe me for the very works' sake. Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do; because I go unto my Father. And whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If ye shall ask any thing in my name, I will do it. If ye love me, keep my commandments. (John 14:10-15)
Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted. Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth. Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled. Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy. Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God. Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God. Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness' sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake. Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you. Ye are the salt of the earth: but if the salt have lost his savour, wherewith shall it be salted? it is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men. Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid. Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven. (Matthew 5:3-16)
Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it. Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves. Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles? Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit. A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit. Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire. Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them. Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity. Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock: And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell not: for it was founded upon a rock. And every one that heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them not, shall be likened unto a foolish man, which built his house upon the sand: And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell: and great was the fall of it. (Matthew 7:13-27)
When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory: And before him shall be gathered all nations: and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats: And he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left. Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: For I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in: Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me. Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink? When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee? Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee? And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me. Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels: For I was an hungred, and ye gave me no meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me no drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me not in: naked, and ye clothed me not: sick, and in prison, and ye visited me not. Then shall they also answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, or athirst, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not minister unto thee? Then shall he answer them, saying, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye did it not to one of the least of these, ye did it not to me. And these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal. (Matthew 25:31-46)
Clearly, the new false doctrine of Sola Fide (Faith Alone Saves) is heretical and unbiblical! You need Faith to be saved, but it is only a first step which are followed by Repentance, Baptism, and Chrismation (receiving [being sealed with] the Holy Spirit), among others! So let's get out there and in love let us feed the hungry, give drink to the thirsty, shelter the homeless, clothe the naked, visit and ransom the captive, visit the sick, bury the dead, along with other good works of mercy!


18 May 2012

Why Were the Jews the Chosen People? PART TWO

Justin Martyr (about 100 to 165): "For the true spiritual Israel ... are we who have been led to God through this crucified Christ."
Earlier this year I posted about "Why Were the Jews the Chosen People?" as in the past-tense. I wanted to back up what I said there with Bible verses.

And thou, Solomon my son, know thou the God of thy father, and serve him with a perfect heart and with a willing mind: for the LORD searcheth all hearts, and understandeth all the imaginations of the thoughts: if thou seek him, he will be found of thee; but if thou forsake him, he will cast thee off for ever.
(1 Chronicles 28:9)

I saw in the night visions, and, behold, one like the Son of man came with the clouds of heaven, and came to the Ancient of days, and they brought him near before him. And there was given him dominion, and glory, and a kingdom, that all people, nations, and languages, should serve him: his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom that which shall not be destroyed. I Daniel was grieved in my spirit in the midst of my body, and the visions of my head troubled me. And the kingdom and dominion, and the greatness of the kingdom under the whole heaven, shall be given to the people of the saints of the most High, whose kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and all dominions shall serve and obey him. Hitherto is the end of the matter. As for me Daniel, my cogitations much troubled me, and my countenance changed in me: but I kept the matter in my heart.
(Daniel 7:13-15, 27-28)

Then came his disciples, and said unto him, Knowest thou that the Pharisees were offended, after they heard this saying? But he answered and said, Every plant, which my heavenly Father hath not planted, shall be rooted up. Let them alone: they be blind leaders of the blind. And if the blind lead the blind, both shall fall into the pit.
(Matthew 15:12-14)

Hear another parable: There was a certain householder, which planted a vineyard, and hedged it round about, and digged a winepress in it, and built a tower, and let it out to husbandmen, and went into a far country: And when the time of the fruit drew near, he sent his servants to the husbandmen, that they might receive the fruits of it. And the husbandmen took his servants, and beat one, and killed another, and stoned another. Again, he sent other servants more than the first: and they did unto them likewise. But last of all he sent unto them his son, saying, They will reverence my son. But when the husbandmen saw the son, they said among themselves, This is the heir; come, let us kill him, and let us seize on his inheritance. And they caught him, and cast him out of the vineyard, and slew him. When the lord therefore of the vineyard cometh, what will he do unto those husbandmen? They say unto him, He will miserably destroy those wicked men, and will let out his vineyard unto other husbandmen, which shall render him the fruits in their seasons. Jesus saith unto them, Did ye never read in the scriptures, The stone which the builders rejected, the same is become the head of the corner: this is the Lord's doing, and it is marvellous in our eyes? Therefore say I unto you, The kingdom of God shall be taken from you, and given to a nation bringing forth the fruits thereof. And whosoever shall fall on this stone shall be broken: but on whomsoever it shall fall, it will grind him to powder. And when the chief priests and Pharisees had heard his parables, they perceived that he spake of them. But when they sought to lay hands on him, they feared the multitude, because they took him for a prophet.
(Matthew 21:33-46)

O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not! Behold, your house is left unto you desolate.
(Matthew 23:37-38)

Pilate saith unto them, What shall I do then with Jesus which is called Christ? They all say unto him, Let him be crucified. And the governor said, Why, what evil hath he done? But they cried out the more, saying, Let him be crucified. When Pilate saw that he could prevail nothing, but that rather a tumult was made, he took water, and washed his hands before the multitude, saying, I am innocent of the blood of this just person: see ye to it. Then answered all the people, and said, His blood be on us, and on our children.
(Matthew 27:22-25)

Then began he to speak to the people this parable; A certain man planted a vineyard, and let it forth to husbandmen, and went into a far country for a long time. And at the season he sent a servant to the husbandmen, that they should give him of the fruit of the vineyard: but the husbandmen beat him, and sent him away empty. And again he sent another servant: and they beat him also, and entreated him shamefully, and sent him away empty. And again he sent a third: and they wounded him also, and cast him out. Then said the lord of the vineyard, What shall I do? I will send my beloved son: it may be they will reverence him when they see him. But when the husbandmen saw him, they reasoned among themselves, saying, This is the heir: come, let us kill him, that the inheritance may be ours. So they cast him out of the vineyard, and killed him. What therefore shall the lord of the vineyard do unto them? He shall come and destroy these husbandmen, and shall give the vineyard to others. And when they heard it, they said, God forbid. And he beheld them, and said, What is this then that is written, The stone which the builders rejected, the same is become the head of the corner? Whosoever shall fall upon that stone shall be broken; but on whomsoever it shall fall, it will grind him to powder. And the chief priests and the scribes the same hour sought to lay hands on him; and they feared the people: for they perceived that he had spoken this parable against them. And they watched him, and sent forth spies, which should feign themselves just men, that they might take hold of his words, that so they might deliver him unto the power and authority of the governor.
(Luke 20:9-20)

He was in the world, and the world was made by him, and the world knew him not. He came unto his own, and his own received him not. But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name:
(John 1:10-12)

Jesus said unto them, If God were your Father, ye would love me: for I proceeded forth and came from God; neither came I of myself, but he sent me. Why do ye not understand my speech? even because ye cannot hear my word. Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it. And because I tell you the truth, ye believe me not. Which of you convinceth me of sin? And if I say the truth, why do ye not believe me? He that is of God heareth God's words: ye therefore hear them not, because ye are not of God. Then answered the Jews, and said unto him, Say we not well that thou art a Samaritan, and hast a devil? Jesus answered, I have not a devil; but I honour my Father, and ye do dishonour me. And I seek not mine own glory: there is one that seeketh and judgeth. Verily, verily, I say unto you, If a man keep my saying, he shall never see death. Then said the Jews unto him, Now we know that thou hast a devil. Abraham is dead, and the prophets; and thou sayest, If a man keep my saying, he shall never taste of death. Art thou greater than our father Abraham, which is dead? and the prophets are dead: whom makest thou thyself? Jesus answered, If I honour myself, my honour is nothing: it is my Father that honoureth me; of whom ye say, that he is your God: Yet ye have not known him; but I know him: and if I should say, I know him not, I shall be a liar like unto you: but I know him, and keep his saying. Your father Abraham rejoiced to see my day: and he saw it, and was glad. Then said the Jews unto him, Thou art not yet fifty years old, and hast thou seen Abraham? Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Before Abraham was, I AM. Then took they up stones to cast at him: but Jesus hid himself, and went out of the temple, going through the midst of them, and so passed by.
(John 8:42-59)

Then came the Jews round about him, and said unto him, How long dost thou make us to doubt? If thou be the Christ, tell us plainly. Jesus answered them, I told you, and ye believed not: the works that I do in my Father's name, they bear witness of me. But ye believe not, because ye are not of my sheep, as I said unto you. My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me: And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand. My Father, which gave them me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father's hand. I and my Father are one. Then the Jews took up stones again to stone him.
(John 10:24-31)

But all these things will they do unto you for my name's sake, because they know not Him that sent me. If I had not come and spoken unto them, they had not had sin: but now they have no cloke for their sin. He that hateth me hateth my Father also. If I had not done among them the works which none other man did, they had not had sin: but now have they both seen and hated both me and my Father. But this cometh to pass, that the word might be fulfilled that is written in their law, They hated me without a cause.
(John 15:21-25)

Then Peter, filled with the Holy Ghost, said unto them, Ye rulers of the people, and elders of Israel, If we this day be examined of the good deed done to the impotent man, by what means he is made whole; Be it known unto you all, and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom ye crucified, whom God raised from the dead, even by him doth this man stand here before you whole. This is the stone which was set at nought of you builders, which is become the head of the corner. Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.
(Acts 4:8-12)

And when they agreed not among themselves, they departed, after that Paul had spoken one word, Well spake the Holy Ghost by Esaias the prophet unto our fathers, Saying, Go unto this people, and say, Hearing ye shall hear, and shall not understand; and seeing ye shall see, and not perceive: For the heart of this people is waxed gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes have they closed; lest they should see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their heart, and should be converted, and I should heal them. Be it known therefore unto you, that the salvation of God is sent unto the Gentiles, and that they will hear it. And when he had said these words, the Jews departed, and had great reasoning among themselves.
(Acts 28:25-29)

Brethren, my heart's desire and prayer to God for Israel is, that they might be saved. For I bear them record that they have a zeal of God, but not according to knowledge. For they being ignorant of God's righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God. For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth. For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek: for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon him.
(Romans 10:1-4, 12)

Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith. But after that faith is come, we are no longer under a schoolmaster. For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus. For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus. And if ye be Christ's, then are ye Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise.
(Galatians 3:24-29)

When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with him in glory. Mortify therefore your members which are upon the earth; fornication, uncleanness, inordinate affection, evil concupiscence, and covetousness, which is idolatry: For which things' sake the wrath of God cometh on the children of disobedience: In the which ye also walked some time, when ye lived in them. But now ye also put off all these; anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy communication out of your mouth. Lie not one to another, seeing that ye have put off the old man with his deeds; And have put on the new man, which 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 3:4-11)

Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling. For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure. Do all things without murmurings and disputings: That ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world; Holding forth the word of life; that I may rejoice in the day of Christ, that I have not run in vain, neither laboured in vain.
(Philippians 2:12-16)

For many deceivers are entered into the world, who confess not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh. This is a deceiver and an antichrist. Look to yourselves, that we lose not those things which we have wrought, but that we receive a full reward. Whosoever transgresseth, and abideth not in the doctrine of Christ, hath not God. He that abideth in the doctrine of Christ, he hath both the Father and the Son. If there come any unto you, and bring not this doctrine, receive him not into your house, neither bid him God speed: For he that biddeth him God speed is partaker of his evil deeds.
(2 John 1:7-11)


14 May 2012

Modern Christianity's Latest Heresy: Rejecting Hades and Christ's Descent into Hades

Over the Lenten and Paschal season there have been many news stories how modernistic "Christians" are removing from the Apostles' Creed the part about Jesus' Descent in to Hades, even though the event is completely Biblical. Well now, I hear that modern Christians are now even denying Hades' existence, saying it is a theological invention. Funny, since their religion is a modern made-up invention having nothing to do with the longstanding teachings of the Church. Who are they to call this teaching an invention?

Here is the Apostles' Creed just as an FYI:
I believe in God, the Father almighty, creator of heaven and earth.
I believe in Jesus Christ, His only Son, our Lord.
He was conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit and born of the Virgin Mary.
He suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died, and was buried.
He descended to Hades. On the third day he rose again.
He ascended into Heaven and is seated at the right hand of the Father.
He will come again to judge the living and the dead.
I believe in the Holy Spirit,
the holy catholic Church, the communion of saints,
the forgiveness of sins,
the resurrection of the body,
and life everlasting.
Amen.
Now I will agree that the Nicene Creed is better, but for whatever reason, many Western Christians prefer the Apostles' Creed, so we will go with that. I will also look at various Bible versions which are not my favorites, and may translate the Greek word άδης differently, just to show a point. The original Greek clearly says that there is a Hades and that Jesus, who is the Christ, God the Son, descended to it.

So, what is Hades, exactly? The Old Testament view of the afterlife was that all people, whether righteous or unrighteous, all went to Sheol/Hades when they died. No Hebrew figure ever descended into Sheol/Hades and returned. Several works from the Second Temple period elaborate the concept of Sheol, dividing it into sections based on the righteousness or unrighteousness of those who have died.

The New Testament maintains a distinction between Hades, the common "place of the dead", and the eternal destiny of those condemned at the Final Judgment, variously described as Gehenna, "the outer darkness," or a lake of eternal fire. Some Modern English translations of the Bible maintain this distinction (e.g. by translating Hades as "the Pit" and Gehenna as "Hell"), but the influential King James Version used the word "hell" to translate both concepts causing mass confusion, it seems.

After the soul leaves the body, it journeys to the abode of the dead (Hades). Before Christ came, this was the end, except that these souls that knew, expected the Christ to come to them and be their Saviour. When we die, we must remain in this condition of waiting. Because some have a prevision of the glory to come and others foretaste their suffering, the state of waiting is called "Particular Judgment". When Christ returns in His second glorious coming, the soul rejoins its risen and perfected body to be judged by Him in the Last judgment. The 'good and faithful servant' will inherit eternal life, the unfaithful with the unbeliever will spend eternity in hell. Their sins and their unbelief will torture them as fire." A final Universal Judgment will be pronounced on all human beings when soul and body are reunited in the resurrection of the dead. The fate of those in the abode of the dead differs, even while awaiting resurrection: "The souls of the righteous are in light and rest, with a foretaste of eternal happiness; but the souls of the wicked are in a state the reverse of this."

So now that we understand what Hades is, let's look more in to where Hades and Christ's descending is mentioned in the Old and New Testaments.

In the Septuagint (the ancient pre-Christian, pre-Masoretic translation of the Old Testament into Greek which is older than the modern Hebrew versions available today), the Greek term "ᾅδης" (Hades) is used to translate the Hebrew term "שׁאול" (Sheol) in, for example, Isaiah 38:18. This use refers the term hades to the abode of the dead in general, rather than the abode of the wicked.

Thus too, in New Testament Greek, the Hebrew phrase "לא־תעזב נפשׁי לשׁאול" (you will not abandon my soul to Sheol) in Psalm 16:10 is quoted in Acts 2:27 as "οὐκ ἐγκαταλείψεις τὴν ψυχήν μου εἰς ᾅδου" (you will not abandon my soul to Hades).

In the textus receptus version of the New Testament, on which the English King James Version is based, the word "ᾅδης" (Hades), appears 11 times; but critical editions of the text of 1 Corinthians 15:55 have "θάνατος" (death) in place of "ᾅδης". While the King James Version translated "ᾅδης" as "hell", except in this very verse of 1 Corinthians, where it uses "grave". Modern translations, for which there are only 10 instances of the word "ᾅδης" in the New Testament, generally transliterate the word, as "Hades".

In all appearances but one, "ᾅδης" has little if any relation to afterlife rewards or punishments. The one exception is Luke's parable of Lazarus and the rich man, in which the rich man finds himself, after death, in Hades, and "in anguish in this flame", while in contrast the angels take Lazarus to "the bosom of Abraham", described as a state of comfort.

Death and Hades are repeatedly associated in the Book of Revelation. The word "Hades" appears in Jesus' promise to Peter: "And I also say unto thee, that thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it" (Matthew 4:18), and in the warning to Capernaum: "And thou, Capernaum, shalt thou be exalted unto heaven? thou shalt go down unto Hades." (Matthew 11:23)

Now what about Christ descending in to Hades? Let's look in to that too!

Several passages from the Old and New Testament teach that Christ descended into Hades, the realm of the dead before the Ascension. These include:
  • Matthew 12:40 draws a comparison between Jonah being swallowed by a huge fish, and Christ being three days in the earth.
  • Acts 2:27-31 declare in effect that Hades could not hold the crucified Christ.
  • 1Peter 3:19–20 says that Jesus "went and made a proclamation to the spirits in prison, who in former times did not obey, when God waited patiently in the days of Noah…."
  • 1Peter 4:6 says that the gospel was "proclaimed even to the dead…"). ("εἰς τοῦτο γὰρ καὶ νεκροῖς εὐηγγελίσθη…")
  • Ephesians 4:8–10 "When he ascended on high, he led captives in his train and gave gifts to men. (Now this, 'He ascended'-- what does it mean that He also first descended into the lower parts of the earth? He who descended is also the One who ascended far above all the heavens, that He might fill all things.)"
  • διὸ λέγει, ἀναβὰς εἰς ὕψος ᾐχμαλώτευσεν αἰχμαλωσίαν, ἔδωκεν δόματα τοῖς ἀνθρώποις. τὸ δὲ ἀνέβη τί ἐστιν εἰ μὴ ὅτι καὶ κατέβη εἰς τὰ κατώτερα [μέρη] τῆς γῆς; ὁ καταβὰς αὐτός ἐστιν καὶ ὁ ἀναβὰς ὑπεράνω πάντων τῶν οὐρανῶν, ἵνα πληρώσῃ τὰ πάντα. Verse 8 is a truncated paraphrase adapting Psalm 68:18.
  • Zechariah 9:11 refers to prisoners in a waterless pit. "As for thee also, by the blood of thy covenant I have sent forth thy prisoners out of the pit wherein is no water." The verses' reference to captives has been presented as a reflection of Yahweh's captives of the enemy in Psalm 68:17–18: "God's chariots were myriad, thousands upon thousands; from Sinai the Lord entered the holy place. You went up to its lofty height; you took captives, received slaves as tribute. No rebels can live in the presence of God."
  • Isaiah 24:21-22 also refers to spirits in prison, reminiscent of Peter's account of a visitation to spirits in prison: "And it shall come to pass in that day, that the LORD shall punish the host of the high ones that are on high, and the kings of the earth upon the earth. And they shall be gathered together, as prisoners are gathered in the pit, and shall be shut up in the prison, and after many days shall they be visited."
  • The Gospel of Matthew 27:51-53 relates that immediately after Christ died, the earth shook, there was a Crucifixion darkness and eclipse, the veil in the Temple was torn in two, and many people rose from the dead and walked about in Jerusalem and were seen by many people there.
According to the apocryphal The Gospel Of Nicodemus, the Harrowing of Hades was foreshadowed by Christ's raising of Lazarus from the dead prior to his own crucifixion. The hymns proper to the weekend suggest that John the Baptist prepared the way for Jesus in Hades by prophesying to those held there that Christ would soon release them, just as he prepared the way for Jesus on Earth.

The Harrowing of Hades was taught by theologians of the early church. Here are just a few examples from the first few hundred years of Christianity:
If you believe in the Bible, you have to believe in Hades and Christ's descent into Hades. But maybe none of this means anything to the worldly men of man-made, watered down, pseudo-religion made by man for man in the name of Christ, but truly is only made to fit in to the world and to this age?

03 May 2012

The Man Blind from Birth by Metropolitan Anthony Bloom

(The five Sundays following Pascha (Easter) emphasize, through the appointed Scripture readings and hymns, (1.) the post-resurrection appearances of Christ; (2.) the Church’s early life and missionary endeavors (epistle readings are taken from the Book of Acts); and (3.) aspects of baptism, through which we ourselves have died and risen with the Lord to a new life in God (Gospel readings are taken from the most “sacramental” of the Gospel accounts, that of John the Theologian. Several focus on acts or conversations that take place near or around “water,” reminding us of our own baptism into Christ). May 20th will be the last of the Sundays of the Paschal Season, that of the Blind Man. The Gospel reading for that day is, John 9: 1-38. The following is a sermon given by Metropolitan Anthony on that lesson).

We heard today the story of the man born blind. We do not know from experience what physical blindness is, but we can imagine how this man was walled in himself, how all the world around him existed only as a distant sound, something he could not picture, imagine. He was a prisoner within his own body. He could live by imaginations, he could invent a world around himself, he could by touch and by hearing approximate what really was around him; but the total, full reality could only escape him.

We are not physically blind, but how many of us are locked in themselves! Who of us can say that he is so open that he can perceived all the world in its depth? We meet people, and we see them with our eyes; but seldom it happens that beyond the outer shape, features, clothes — how often does it happen that we see something of the depth of the person? How seldom it is that we look into a person’s eyes and go deep in understanding! We are surrounded by people and every person is unique to God, but are people unique to us? Are not people that surround us just “people,” who have names, surnames, nicknames, whom we can recognize by their outer looks but whom we do not know at any depth?

This is our condition: we are blind, we are deaf, we are insensitive to the outer world, and yet, we are called to read meanings. When we meet a person, we should approach this person as a mystery, that is as something which we can discover only by a deep communion, by entering into a relationship, perhaps silent, perhaps in words, but so deep that we can know one another not quite as God knows us, but in the light of God that enlightens all and each of us.

And more that this, we can do, each within his own power, within his own gifts, what Christ did: He opened the eyes of this man. What did this man see? The first thing he saw was the face of the Incarnate Son of God, in other words, he saw love incarnate. When his eyes met the eyes of Christ, he met God’s compassion, God’s tenderness, God’s earnest concern and understanding. In the same way could so many people begin to see, if by meeting us they meet people in whose eyes, on whose face they could see the shining of earnest, sober love, of a love that is not sentimental but is seeing, a love that can see and understand. And then, how much could we be to people around us a revelation of all the meanings that this world holds and contains through art, through beauty, through science, through all the means by which beauty is perceived and proclaimed among human beings.

But are we doing this? Is our concern to convey the width, and the depth, the beauty and the meaning of things to every person whom we meet? Are we not rather concerned with receiving than with giving? And yet, St. Paul who knew what it meant to receive and to give, said, “It is a more blessed thing to give than to receive.” And yet how much had he received! He had received the knowledge of God in his own experience; he had received teaching, and knowledge, and experience within the Old Testament, and then Christ revealed Himself to him: what did he not receive! And yet, he exulted more in giving than in receiving, because he did not want to be the owner of all the richness that had come his way; he wanted to share it, to give it, to set aglow and afire other lives than his own.

Let us reflect on how rich, how richly endowed we are, how much it was given us to see, and to hear. And let us realize at the same time how tragically walled we are within ourselves, unless we break this wall in order to give, as generously, as richly, as abundantly as we were given. And then indeed, our joy will be fulfilled according to Christ’s promise. And no one, nothing will ever be able to take it away from us. Amen! Christ is Risen!


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