The New Testament Views On Interracial Marriages

(Unless otherwise stated, all Bible quotations are from the English Standard Version).

Some Christians, based on some Old Testament commandments that forbade the Jews from intermarrying with other races, still believe the various races should not co-mingle in marriage. Thus, such people frown at interracial marriages, seeing them as a violation of Scripture. What does the New Testament teach about interracial marriages? Are the marital restrictions of God’s people in the Old Testament still applicable to saints in the New Testament? This article seeks to answer these questions through a careful examination of the Scripture.

Let’s start by reviewing the marital restrictions among God’s people in the Old Testament, and the reasons behind such divine prohibitions. From the time of Abraham, we notice a specific concern among God’s people about marrying outside the clan. Abraham married his half-sister Sarah (it wasn’t until the time of Moses that God forbade marriages between siblings and half–siblings), and when it was time for his son Isaac to marry, Abraham, now far away from his home country and forbidden by God to return back there, gave specific instructions to his servant to go back among his people to get a wife for his son. Isaac was devastated when his firstborn Esau decided to marry among the Canaanites, rather than go back to choose a wife from among his parents’ people. For this reason, Isaac had to send his second son, Jacob, away to his mother’s people, in order to get a wife from among them. The patriarchs’ reason for avoiding marriages outside of their clan was to avoid co-mingling with pagans who could lead them astray from the worship of the one, true God, Yahweh. The Mosaic Covenant codified this marital restriction among the Jews, and offered stern warning against marrying outside of the tribes of Israel, who alone had the correct revelation of the true God. Again, the danger of being spiritually derailed by idol worshipers was the main reason God forbade the Jews from marrying non-Jews.

Genesis 20:1-13
From there Abraham journeyed toward the territory of the Negeb and lived between Kadesh and Shur; and he sojourned in Gerar. And Abraham said of Sarah his wife, She is my sister. And Abimelech king of Gerar sent and took Sarah. But God came to Abimelech in a dream by night and said to him, Behold, you are a dead man because of the woman whom you have taken, for she is a man’s wife. Now Abimelech had not approached her. So he said, Lord, will you kill an innocent people? Did he not himself say to me, She is my sister? And she herself said, He is my brother. In the integrity of my heart and the innocence of my hands I have done this. Then God said to him in the dream, Yes, I know that you have done this in the integrity of your heart, and it was I who kept you from sinning against me. Therefore I did not let you touch her. Now then, return the man’s wife, for he is a prophet, so that he will pray for you, and you shall live. But if you do not return her, know that you shall surely die, you, and all who are yours. So Abimelech rose early in the morning and called all his servants and told them all these things. And the men were very much afraid. Then Abimelech called Abraham and said to him, What have you done to us? And how have I sinned against you, that you have brought on me and my kingdom a great sin? You have done to me things that ought not to be done. And Abimelech said to Abraham, What did you see, that you did this thing? Abraham said, I did it because I thought, There is no fear of God at all in this place, and they will kill me because of my wife. Besides, she is indeed my sister, the daughter of my father though not the daughter of my mother, and she became my wife. And when God caused me to wander from my father’s house, I said to her, This is the kindness you must do me: at every place to which we come, say of me, He is my brother.

Genesis 24:1-9
Now Abraham was old, well advanced in years. And the LORD had blessed Abraham in all things. And Abraham said to his servant, the oldest of his household, who had charge of all that he had, Put your hand under my thigh, that I may make you swear by the LORD, the God of heaven and God of the earth, that you will not take a wife for my son from the daughters of the Canaanites, among whom I dwell, but will go to my country and to my kindred, and take a wife for my son Isaac. The servant said to him, Perhaps the woman may not be willing to follow me to this land. Must I then take your son back to the land from which you came? Abraham said to him, See to it that you do not take my son back there. The LORD, the God of heaven, who took me from my father’s house and from the land of my kindred, and who spoke to me and swore to me, To your offspring I will give this land, he will send his angel before you, and you shall take a wife for my son from there. But if the woman is not willing to follow you, then you will be free from this oath of mine; only you must not take my son back there. So the servant put his hand under the thigh of Abraham his master and swore to him concerning this matter.

Genesis 26:34-35
And Esau was forty years old when he took to wife Judith the daughter of Beeri the Hittite, and Bashemath the daughter of Elon the Hittite: Which were a grief of mind to Isaac and to Rebekah (AKJV).

Genesis 28:1-9
Then Isaac called Jacob and blessed him and directed him, You must not take a wife from the Canaanite women. Arise, go to Paddan-aram to the house of Bethuel your mother’s father, and take as your wife from there one of the daughters of Laban your mother’s brother. God Almighty bless you and make you fruitful and multiply you, that you may become a company of peoples. May he give the blessing of Abraham to you and to your offspring with you, that you may take possession of the land of your sojournings that God gave to Abraham! Thus Isaac sent Jacob away. And he went to Paddan-aram, to Laban, the son of Bethuel the Aramean, the brother of Rebekah, Jacob’s and Esau’s mother. Now Esau saw that Isaac had blessed Jacob and sent him away to Paddan-aram to take a wife from there, and that as he blessed him he directed him, You must not take a wife from the Canaanite women, and that Jacob had obeyed his father and his mother and gone to Paddan-aram. So when Esau saw that the Canaanite women did not please Isaac his father, Esau went to Ishmael and took as his wife, besides the wives he had, Mahalath the daughter of Ishmael, Abraham’s son, the sister of Nebaioth.

Deuteronomy 7:1-6
When the LORD your God brings you into the land that you are entering to take possession of it, and clears away many nations before you, the Hittites, the Girgashites, the Amorites, the Canaanites, the Perizzites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites, seven nations more numerous and mightier than yourselves, and when the LORD your God gives them over to you, and you defeat them, then you must devote them to complete destruction. You shall make no covenant with them and show no mercy to them. You shall not intermarry with them, giving your daughters to their sons or taking their daughters for your sons, for they would turn away your sons from following me, to serve other gods. Then the anger of the LORD would be kindled against you, and he would destroy you quickly. But thus shall you deal with them: you shall break down their altars and dash in pieces their pillars and chop down their Asherim and burn their carved images with fire. For you are a people holy to the LORD your God. The LORD your God has chosen you to be a people for his treasured possession, out of all the peoples who are on the face of the earth.

1 Kings 11:1-10
Now King Solomon loved many foreign women, along with the daughter of Pharaoh: Moabite, Ammonite, Edomite, Sidonian, and Hittite women, from the nations concerning which the LORD had said to the people of Israel, You shall not enter into marriage with them, neither shall they with you, for surely they will turn away your heart after their gods. Solomon clung to these in love. He had 700 wives, princesses, and 300 concubines. And his wives turned away his heart. For when Solomon was old his wives turned away his heart after other gods, and his heart was not wholly true to the LORD his God, as was the heart of David his father. For Solomon went after Ashtoreth the goddess of the Sidonians, and after Milcom the abomination of the Ammonites. So Solomon did what was evil in the sight of the LORD and did not wholly follow the LORD, as David his father had done. Then Solomon built a high place for Chemosh the abomination of Moab, and for Molech the abomination of the Ammonites, on the mountain east of Jerusalem. And so he did for all his foreign wives, who made offerings and sacrificed to their gods. And the LORD was angry with Solomon, because his heart had turned away from the LORD, the God of Israel, who had appeared to him twice and had commanded him concerning this thing, that he should not go after other gods. But he did not keep what the LORD commanded.

Now that the old Mosaic covenant has been abolished, and the middle wall of partition between Jews and Gentiles has been broken down by the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, are racial discriminations in marriage still necessary for God’s people? What we need to remember is that, the knowledge of the true God was limited to only one race (the Jews) in time past, hence it was necessary for God to restrict marriages of his people to their fellow tribesmen, to avoid contamination of the race and the knowledge of God they were carrying. But now that God’s people can be found in every race and tongue and tribe on earth, marital restrictions based on race are no longer valid for God’s people. What matters more now is compatibility of faith, and no longer that of race or tribe. There is a new race of God’s people now, but it’s based on the commonality of faith in Christ Jesus. Believers in Christ, from every colour and tongue and tribe, belong to a new brotherhood—a heavenly race, a holy nation and a royal priesthood. In Christ Jesus, we’re one in spirit now, irrespective of our various ethnic backgrounds.

Ephesians 2:1-22
And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience— among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ— by grace you have been saved— and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them. Therefore remember that at one time you Gentiles in the flesh, called the uncircumcision by what is called the circumcision, which is made in the flesh by hands— remember that you were at that time separated from Christ, alienated from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. For he himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility by abolishing the law of commandments and ordinances, that he might create in himself one new man in place of the two, so making peace, and might reconcile us both to God in one body through the cross, thereby killing the hostility. And he came and preached peace to you who were far off and peace to those who were near. For through him we both have access in one Spirit to the Father. So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone, in whom the whole structure, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord. In him you also are being built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit.

As stated above, the initial restriction of marriages within the race of God’s people was to prevent spiritual contamination of the chosen race, through union with heathens. The Jewish race then was the only holy race. It alone had the knowledge of the true God and of his laws. So, the initial prohibition of interracial marriages was for spiritual reasons, rather than just the prevention of the mixing of bloodlines. Now that the holy race encompasses all Christians of all ethnic backgrounds, Christians are only forbidden to marry outside of the Christian brotherhood, for the same reasons that the Israelites were forbidden from marrying non-Israelites. Christians are admonished to refrain from being unequally yoked together with unbelievers, especially in marriage, for light and darkness have really no common ground for fellowship, as the marriage of a Christian to a non-Christian is likened to light being joined to darkness. That’s what the Bible says!

1 Peter 2:9-10
But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.

2 Corinthians 6:14-18
Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers. For what partnership has righteousness with lawlessness? Or what fellowship has light with darkness? What accord has Christ with Belial? Or what portion does a believer share with an unbeliever? What agreement has the temple of God with idols? For we are the temple of the living God; as God said, I will make my dwelling among them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. Therefore go out from their midst, and be separate from them, says the Lord, and touch no unclean thing; then I will welcome you, and I will be a father to you, and you shall be sons and daughters to me, says the Lord Almighty.

1 Corinthians 7:39 A wife is bound to her husband as long as he lives. But if her husband dies, she is free to be married to whom she wishes, only in the Lord.

Despite all Christians being one in Christ and heirs together with him of the promise of God, some in the Christian fold still discriminate with respect to earthly tribes and ethnicity, and will not marry a fellow Christian from another race. I’ve come across some Christian denominations that forbid interracial marriages among Christians, claiming God is against racial admixture. What this group of misguided believers don’t understand is that, all men and women came from one blood, from one man—Adam. They also are ignorant of the fact that God’s original purpose of segregating between Jews and Gentiles was to preserve the purity of the oracles of God committed to the Jews. Furthermore, Gentiles who abandoned their idolatry and embraced the one true God of Israel were allowed to mingle freely with the Jews, even in marriage. That’s how Ruth, the Moabite woman who renounced her people and her god to accept the God of Israel, got married to a prince from the tribe of Judah, and ended up being a progenitor of the Lord Jesus Christ, for she was the great grand-mother of King David, from whom Christ descended. These racist Christians also forget the scripture that teaches that in Christ, there’s no segregation between Greeks and Jews anymore, and therefore racial discrimination should never be entertained in the church. Christians can marry fellow Christians from other earthly races. What matters now, and even back then under the law, is marrying someone of your own spiritual breed, as spiritual compatibility overrides all other carnal considerations in marriage. So, to forbid a Christian from marrying another Christian, because they belong to different earthly races, is unbiblical and a denigration of the blood of Jesus Christ that has equalized all men and women of all tribes and races who believe in him. Discriminating against other Christians from other races is the highest form of racism, and a shame for men who have been recreated in the complete image of God. Racial discrimination among people who have been sanctified by the blood of Jesus Christ, and have been filled by his Spirit, is the most satanic form of racism, for who else should appreciate the equality of all people before God better than a Christian? For a Christian to join the world of ungodly and spiritually unenlightened men to hold unto the racial enmity that has been abolished by Christ is allowing our light to be extinguished by darkness, and our salt to lose its savour. Christians in such a state are no longer good for anything other than to be trampled underfoot by men! Such people are simply enemies of the cross of Christ! That’s what the Bible says!

The Acts 17:24-28
The God who made the world and everything in it, being Lord of heaven and earth, does not live in temples made by man, nor is he served by human hands, as though he needed anything, since he himself gives to all mankind life and breath and everything. And he made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their dwelling place, that they should seek God, in the hope that they might feel their way toward him and find him. Yet he is actually not far from each one of us, for In him we live and move and have our being; as even some of your own poets have said, For we are indeed his offspring.

Ruth 1:16-22
But Ruth said, Do not urge me to leave you or to return from following you. For where you go I will go, and where you lodge I will lodge. Your people shall be my people, and your God my God. Where you die I will die, and there will I be buried. May the LORD do so to me and more also if anything but death parts me from you. And when Naomi saw that she was determined to go with her, she said no more. So the two of them went on until they came to Bethlehem. And when they came to Bethlehem, the whole town was stirred because of them. And the women said, Is this Naomi? She said to them, Do not call me Naomi; call me Mara, for the Almighty has dealt very bitterly with me. I went away full, and the LORD has brought me back empty. Why call me Naomi, when the LORD has testified against me and the Almighty has brought calamity upon me? So Naomi returned, and Ruth the Moabite her daughter-in-law with her, who returned from the country of Moab. And they came to Bethlehem at the beginning of barley harvest.

Ruth 4:13-22
So Boaz took Ruth, and she became his wife. And he went in to her, and the LORD gave her conception, and she bore a son. Then the women said to Naomi, Blessed be the LORD, who has not left you this day without a redeemer, and may his name be renowned in Israel! He shall be to you a restorer of life and a nourisher of your old age, for your daughter-in-law who loves you, who is more to you than seven sons, has given birth to him. Then Naomi took the child and laid him on her lap and became his nurse. And the women of the neighborhood gave him a name, saying, A son has been born to Naomi. They named him Obed. He was the father of Jesse, the father of David. Now these are the generations of Perez: Perez fathered Hezron, Hezron fathered Ram, Ram fathered Amminadab, Amminadab fathered Nahshon, Nahshon fathered Salmon, Salmon fathered Boaz, Boaz fathered Obed, Obed fathered Jesse, and Jesse fathered David.

Isaiah 56:3-7
Let not the foreigner who has joined himself to the LORD say, The LORD will surely separate me from his people; and let not the eunuch say, Behold, I am a dry tree. For thus says the LORD: To the eunuchs who keep my Sabbaths, who choose the things that please me and hold fast my covenant, I will give in my house and within my walls a monument and a name better than sons and daughters; I will give them an everlasting name that shall not be cut off. And the foreigners who join themselves to the LORD, to minister to him, to love the name of the LORD, and to be his servants, everyone who keeps the Sabbath and does not profane it, and holds fast my covenant— these I will bring to my holy mountain, and make them joyful in my house of prayer; their burnt offerings and their sacrifices will be accepted on my altar; for my house shall be called a house of prayer for all peoples.

Galatians 3:26-29
for in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith. For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. 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. And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to promise.

Romans 10:11-13
For the Scripture says, Everyone who believes in him will not be put to shame. For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; the same Lord is Lord of all, bestowing his riches on all who call on him. For everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.

Matthew 5:13-16
You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled under people’s feet. You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.

In conclusion, the initial segregation between Jews and Gentiles, including the forbidding of marriages between them, was essentially spiritual in purpose, and was designed to preserve the purity of the faith and of the knowledge of God committed to the Jews. Marriages with heathens would contaminate Israel spiritually and lure them into idolatry. To protect them against that, God forbade them from marrying non-Jews. However, Jews could and did marry Gentiles who converted to the Jewish religion and abandoned their gods to serve Yahweh, the only true God, who was Israel’s God. That’s how Ruth, a Moabite, converted to Judaism, got married to Boaz, and ended up as Christ’s ancestor. In the New Testament, God’s people have expanded to include both Jews and Gentiles who are born again, so there’s no more racial discrimination in Christ, for all are one in him, irrespective of tribe, gender or social standing. The holy race now is the entire body of Christ (believers of all colours, ethnicity and tribes), and Christians are now restricted to marry from the faith only, to avoid being derailed spiritually. Yet, some Christians still would not marry other Christians from different races. This racism in the church is the most satanic version of racial discrimination, as it undermines the work of Christ on Calvary in breaking down the middle wall of partition among all classes and races of men, uniting them by the Spirit of God. Christians are a heavenly race of people and should never discriminate against other Christians from other racial backgrounds in marriage, for that is ungodly and satanic. A Christian can marry from any tribe and race, as long as the person is a fellow Christian, for that’s what matters now!

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Can Christians Lawfully Own And Use Firearms And Other Weapons For Self-defence?

(Unless otherwise stated, all Bible quotations are from the English Standard Version).

In the Old Testament, killing in self-defence was expressly permitted under the Law. Most Israelites owned weapons of war, and such weapons were used to protect their lives and those of others outside the battlefield. The Mosaic doctrine of eye-for-eye and tooth-for-tooth legitimized retaliation and self-defence among the Jews. Thus, under the Law, it was lawful for God’s people to own and use weapons of war for self-defence, in addition to their use during battle. However, with the abolition of the Law and the Mosaic Covenant, Christians are at a loss with regards to the issue of owning and using firearms and other weapons for self-defence. Now that the Mosaic doctrine of eye-for-eye and tooth-for-tooth has been repudiated, can Christians lawfully possess and use firearms and other weapons for self-defence? This article seeks to answer this question through a careful examination of the New Testament.

In the Gospels, Jesus emphatically abolished the Mosaic doctrine of retaliation, teaching his disciples instead the principles of forgiveness and love for enemy. This was a radical departure from Judaism, which preached love only for neighbors and hatred for one’s enemies. No longer are we to curse those that curse or hurt us; instead, we’re to bless our enemies and pray for those that despitefully use and abuse us. That’s the fundamental difference between Judaism and Christianity. Christianity demonstrates God’s extravagant love that reaches down even to his enemies. That’s the love that brought down Christ from heaven to die in our place in order to reconcile us to God, and that’s the same type of love God expects those he has so redeemed to show unto others who are yet to be saved.

Matthew 5:38-48
You have heard that it was said, An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth. But I say to you, Do not resist the one who is evil. But if anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. And if anyone would sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well. And if anyone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles. Give to the one who begs from you, and do not refuse the one who would borrow from you. You have heard that it was said, You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy. But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.

One thorny issue that sticks out particularly, when talking about self-defence for Christians, is the matter of turning the other cheek when struck. The Lord Jesus Christ told his disciples to turn the other cheek when slapped on one cheek, and to go twice a mile if compelled by an adversary to go one mile. Also, we’re not to resist the one who wants to forcefully take our outer garment, but are to also let him have our inner garment as well. Some interpret this to mean Christians are not to resist anyone attacking them or anyone using force to compel them to do anything contrary to their wish. Such people believe this command automatically forbids Christians from defending themselves when attacked, and therefore precludes ownership and use of firearms by Christians. Is that really what the Lord meant in that passage of the Bible? Let’s analyse the passage in context, to extract the true meaning of Jesus’ warning to his disciples in that portion of Scripture.

A careful analysis of the passage above reveals that the Lord was instructing his disciples on how to behave when confronted with an armed adversary (Israel was under Roman subjugation at this time, and it was common to see armed Roman soldiers oppressing the Jews). For a man without any form of defence, the wise thing to do, when under attack by an armed foe, or when faced with an abusive law-enforcement agent, is to try to be calm and cooperate as much as possible. To resist an armed enemy (when we do not have any weapon of our own, or the training to do so) is an unwise decision that could lead to our untimely death. If slapped by such an adversary, we should not resist or fight back. If the other cheek is required, we should readily offer it. If the attacker demands our outer garment, we should be ready to part even with our inner one. The goal here should be to avoid provoking an armed attacker (when we’re not armed ourselves), for that could induce them to unleash maximum violence on us, which could be lethal. Obeying and cooperating as much as possible is likely to incur less wrath from the attacker, and may save our lives. And that’s really sensible advice!

In another place, Jesus taught his disciples to flee when they’re under persecution in any area. That is to say, when a Christian comes under attack and there’s a safe means of escape, we should not hesitate to use it! Thus, there’s a time to stay put and offer the other cheek in submission (when there’s no safe means of escape), and there’s also a time to flee when a safe means of escape is available. The whole idea is to try to stay alive for as long as possible. Our lives are valuable to God, and we should try to preserve them for as long as possible, in order to fulfill our God-given ministries. We shouldn’t throw our lives away through reckless heroism, but should be wise and calculated when under attack by an armed enemy.

Matthew 10:16-23
Behold, I am sending you out as sheep in the midst of wolves, so be wise as serpents and innocent as doves. Beware of men, for they will deliver you over to courts and flog you in their synagogues, and you will be dragged before governors and kings for my sake, to bear witness before them and the Gentiles. When they deliver you over, do not be anxious how you are to speak or what you are to say, for what you are to say will be given to you in that hour. For it is not you who speak, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you. Brother will deliver brother over to death, and the father his child, and children will rise against parents and have them put to death, and you will be hated by all for my name’s sake. But the one who endures to the end will be saved. When they persecute you in one town, flee to the next, for truly, I say to you, you will not have gone through all the towns of Israel before the Son of Man comes.

Now comes the issue of self-defence. If a Christian is attacked and he has the means to defend himself, is it right for him to do so? Can a Christian own and lawfully use weapons to defend himself against an attacker? To answer these questions, let’s look at another instance where Jesus gave directives to his disciples concerning the owning of swords. At one point in his ministry, the Lord instructed the apostles to sell their possessions and buy swords for themselves. The question is, what were the swords to be used for? They were obviously for self-defence and self-protection! This is so because we see Peter unsheathing his sword in time of distress, and using it to cut off the ear of one of the armed men who came to arrest Jesus (I’m sure the man’s ear wasn’t Peter’s real target; the scoundrel probably was just lucky he lost an ear instead of his head!). Someone will be quick to say Jesus rebuked Peter for using his sword at that time. That’s true. However, Jesus’ rebuke of Peter was not for using his sword in self-defence, but for using it at that particular instance, and against soldiers sent by a lawful authority. Peter was trying to resist the arrest of Jesus by a lawful authority, and that was contrary to what Jesus taught them about submitting to authority. The apostle was also trying to prevent Scripture from being fulfilled (the arrest and crucifixion of Jesus were according to Scripture, and was the mean reason for his incarnation), for which Jesus had chided him several times in the past. To show that Jesus was against Peter’s use of his sword for just that instance, the Lord told his overzealous disciple to put his sword back into its scabbard, not to discard it, for a time might come when it may be useful and can be used lawfully. So, while we may lawfully use our arms against criminals in self-defence, to use them against agents of the state is forbidden.

Luke 22:35-38
And he said to them, When I sent you out with no moneybag or knapsack or sandals, did you lack anything? They said, Nothing. He said to them, But now let the one who has a moneybag take it, and likewise a knapsack. And let the one who has no sword sell his cloak and buy one. For I tell you that this Scripture must be fulfilled in me: And he was numbered with the transgressors. For what is written about me has its fulfillment. And they said, Look, Lord, here are two swords. And he said to them, It is enough.

Matthew 26:48-54
Now the betrayer had given them a sign, saying, The one I will kiss is the man; seize him. And he came up to Jesus at once and said, Greetings, Rabbi! And he kissed him. Jesus said to him, Friend, do what you came to do. Then they came up and laid hands on Jesus and seized him. And behold, one of those who were with Jesus stretched out his hand and drew his sword and struck the servant of the high priest and cut off his ear. Then Jesus said to him, Put your sword back into its place. For all who take the sword will perish by the sword. Do you think that I cannot appeal to my Father, and he will at once send me more than twelve legions of angels? But how then should the Scriptures be fulfilled, that it must be so?

Furthermore, there’s actually an instance in the New Testament where servants of God used deadly weapons, with divine approval, for their protection and defence against a hostile, murderous mob. God’s two witnesses in the book of Revelation released fire from their mouths (a miracle from God) to consume those trying to destroy them. This they did continually until their ministry was over, after which God allowed them to be killed. The releasing of fire from their mouths to destroy those trying to destroy them was definitely a heaven-approved and authorized act of self-defence! If these servants of God were permitted to use fire to kill enemies who were trying to kill them, then Christians can justifiably use firearms to fight off criminals who try to attack and kill them. Someone may say that Jesus rebuked the sons of Zebedee for asking permission to call down fire from heaven to consume the Samaritans who didn’t want Jesus to pass through their land. But, the two scenarios are not the same. The Samaritans weren’t trying to attack Jesus and his disciples; they just didn’t want them to pass through their land. There was therefore no justification for James and John to seek to destroy the Samaritans, unlike the two witnesses in Revelation chapter 11, who are justified in acting the way they did, in defending themselves against those trying to kill them before their ministry was over.

Revelation 11:1-12
Then I was given a measuring rod like a staff, and I was told, Rise and measure the temple of God and the altar and those who worship there, but do not measure the court outside the temple; leave that out, for it is given over to the nations, and they will trample the holy city for forty-two months. And I will grant authority to my two witnesses, and they will prophesy for 1,260 days, clothed in sackcloth. These are the two olive trees and the two lampstands that stand before the Lord of the earth. And if anyone would harm them, fire pours from their mouth and consumes their foes. If anyone would harm them, this is how he is doomed to be killed. They have the power to shut the sky, that no rain may fall during the days of their prophesying, and they have power over the waters to turn them into blood and to strike the earth with every kind of plague, as often as they desire. And when they have finished their testimony, the beast that rises from the bottomless pit will make war on them and conquer them and kill them, and their dead bodies will lie in the street of the great city that symbolically is called Sodom and Egypt, where their Lord was crucified. For three and a half days some from the peoples and tribes and languages and nations will gaze at their dead bodies and refuse to let them be placed in a tomb, and those who dwell on the earth will rejoice over them and make merry and exchange presents, because these two prophets had been a torment to those who dwell on the earth. But after the three and a half days a breath of life from God entered them, and they stood up on their feet, and great fear fell on those who saw them. Then they heard a loud voice from heaven saying to them, Come up here! And they went up to heaven in a cloud, and their enemies watched them.

Luke 9:51-56
And it came to pass, when the time was come that he should be received up, he steadfastly set his face to go to Jerusalem, And sent messengers before his face: and they went, and entered into a village of the Samaritans, to make ready for him. And they did not receive him, because his face was as though he would go to Jerusalem. And when his disciples James and John saw this, they said, Lord, will you that we command fire to come down from heaven, and consume them, even as Elias did? But he turned, and rebuked them, and said, You know not what manner of spirit you are of. For the Son of man is not come to destroy men’s lives, but to save them. And they went to another village (AKJV).

Finally, for those who say Jesus did not fight back or retaliate when he suffered unjustly in the hands of those who assaulted and finally crucified him, let it be said here that Jesus was maltreated by agents of the government, not by lawless criminals. Peter’s admonition to Christians to follow Christ’s footsteps in not fighting back was in relation to submitting to those in authority, not to criminals seeking to terminate our lives unlawfully. We should never resist arrest by those in authority, no matter the circumstances of our arrest (just or unjust). In a democracy, we can go to court to challenge such unlawful arrests, but we shouldn’t resist at the time of arrest, for that could lead to other legal charges, and could cost us our lives. But we can, and should, defend ourselves, if we have the means and training, and if it’s safe to do so, when attacked by criminal elements that are not agents of the state. Therefore, for a Christian, owning and using firearms and other weapons to defend ourselves against criminals is lawful, and it’s supported by the New Testament.

1 Peter 2:13-23
Be subject for the Lord’s sake to every human institution, whether it be to the emperor as supreme, or to governors as sent by him to punish those who do evil and to praise those who do good. For this is the will of God, that by doing good you should put to silence the ignorance of foolish people. Live as people who are free, not using your freedom as a cover-up for evil, but living as servants of God. Honor everyone. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the emperor. Servants, be subject to your masters with all respect, not only to the good and gentle but also to the unjust. For this is a gracious thing, when, mindful of God, one endures sorrows while suffering unjustly. For what credit is it if, when you sin and are beaten for it, you endure? But if when you do good and suffer for it you endure, this is a gracious thing in the sight of God. For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in his steps. He committed no sin, neither was deceit found in his mouth. When he was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten, but continued entrusting himself to him who judges justly.

In conclusion, though the Mosaic doctrine of retaliation has been abolished by Jesus Christ, and though we’re to love our enemies, the New Testament does not forbid Christians from owning and using firearms and other weapons for self-defence. As Christians, we’re not to resist those in authority, even when they’re arresting us unlawfully (but we can and should seek redress in court), like Jesus did, but that does not preclude us from resisting attempts by criminals to terminate our lives, if we have the means and the training to do so. Jesus authorized his apostles to own swords for self-defence, and we find God’s witnesses in the book of Revelation releasing fire from their mouths to kill off satanic mobs trying to kill them before their ministry was over. As Christians, our lives are precious to God, and we should take care to protect and preserve them for as long as possible, using all legitimate means, to ensure the enemy does not terminate us and our ministries prematurely.

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The Doctrine Of Reincarnation Examined In The Light Of The Bible

(Unless otherwise stated, all Bible quotations are from the English Standard Version).

The Oxford Advanced Learner’s English Dictionary defines reincarnation as the rebirth of a soul in another body. Adherents of the doctrine of reincarnation postulate that when human beings die, their souls can come back to earth again in another body, and that the death of an individual does not mark the end of his existence on earth, as the person has the opportunity to come back to the earth, again and again, though in different bodies. What is the biblical view on reincarnation? Does Scripture teach that the souls of people can come back to earth again, to be born in a different body, after death?

The first thing we need to make clear here is that the soul of man does not die at death, and that what dies at the expiration of life on earth is the body of man, not his soul. Next, we need to be clear about what the Bible says happens to the soul of each individual after its separation from the body at death. For those who are united with Christ in a faith relationship (those who are born again), the Bible teaches that at physical death, their soul separates from their body and goes to be with Jesus in paradise. The righteous souls will remain in paradise until the first resurrection, when their physical bodies in the dust of the earth will rise again, and their souls in paradise will reenter their resurrected bodies, and they will return back to heaven (paradise) in their resurrected bodies (the rapture). The resurrected saints will remain in paradise until the end of the reign of the antichrist, when they will come back to earth with Jesus, during his second coming, to destroy the antichrist and establish the millennial reign of Christ on earth.

Matthew 10:28 And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell.

St. Luke 16:19-31
“Now there was a certain rich man, and he was clothed in purple and fine linen, living in luxury every day. A certain beggar, named Lazarus, was placed at his gate, full of sores, and desiring to be fed with the crumbs that fell from the rich man’s table. Yes, even the dogs came and licked his sores. It happened that the beggar died, and that he was carried away by the angels to Abraham’s bosom. The rich man also died, and was buried. In hell, he lifted up his eyes, being in torment, and saw Abraham far off, and Lazarus at his bosom. He called out and said, ‘Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus, that he may dip the tip of his finger in water, and cool my tongue! For I am in anguish in this flame.’ “But Abraham said, ‘Son, remember that you, in your lifetime, received your good things, and Lazarus, in like manner, bad things. But now here he is comforted and you are in anguish. Besides all this, between us and you there is a great gulf fixed, that those who want to pass from here to you are not able, and that none may cross over from there to us.’ “He said, ‘I ask you therefore, father, that you would send him to my father’s house; for I have five brothers, that he may testify to them, so they won’t also come into this place of torment.’ “But Abraham said to him, ‘They have Moses and the Prophets. Let them listen to them.’ “He said, ‘No, father Abraham, but if one goes to them from the dead, they will repent.’ “He said to him, ‘If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, neither will they be persuaded if one rises from the dead.'” (NHEB).

1 Thessalonians 4:13-18
But we do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about those who are asleep, that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope. For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, through Jesus, God will bring with him those who have fallen asleep. For this we declare to you by a word from the Lord, that we who are alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will not precede those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord. Therefore encourage one another with these words.

For unbelievers who die without having a saving/ faith relationship with Jesus Christ (those who were not born again and were therefore not saved), their souls depart to hell, after separation from their dead bodies. The souls of unrepentant unbelievers remain in hell until the second resurrection, when their dead bodies will arise to be united with their souls, so that they can stand in judgement before God, for their works while on earth, and for their unremitted sins. After the final judgement, those whose names are not found in God’s book of life (those who do not possess eternal life by virtue of not being in union with Christ) will be cast into the lake of fire, which is the second death. There, they will burn eternally, along with Satan and his fallen angels, as God finally obliterates all the causes and effects of sin in his universe.

Revelation 20:11-15
I saw a great white throne, and him who sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away. There was found no place for them. I saw the dead, the great and the small, standing before the throne, and they opened books. Another book was opened, which is the book of life. The dead were judged out of the things which were written in the books, according to their works. The sea gave up the dead who were in it. Death and hell gave up the dead who were in them. They were judged, each one according to his works. Death and hell were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire. If anyone was not found written in the book of life, he was cast into the lake of fire (NHEB).

The Scripture teaches unequivocally that all men are given just one shot at life, and after this, all die, and their souls go to their respective resting places to await God’s final judgement. The souls of all dead people either go to paradise or to hell, to await the final judgement, which will take place at the end of the millennial reign of Christ, following his second advent. Thus, according to the Bible, no dead person’s soul comes back to live again on the earth in a different body. No soul of any deceased person gets to be reborn in a new body. Simply put, no soul undergoes reincarnation, according to the Bible.

Hebrews 9:27-28
And just as it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment, so Christ, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time, not to deal with sin but to save those who are eagerly waiting for him.

There’s another fact we need to make clear and to distinguish from the doctrine of reincarnation —the doctrine of resurrection. The Bible teaches about the resurrection of all dead people eventually, both of the righteous and of the wicked dead. The bodies of all dead people will rise up some day to be reunited with their souls (which are either in paradise or in hell). By the resurrection, the Bible means the disintegrated bodies of dead people will arise from the dust of the earth, being called up by God, and their souls will enter those bodies so that the person will live again in their renewed spiritual bodies. Resurrection differs from reincarnation in that in resurrection, the soul gets back into the body it was living in before death, that body having been raised up again to life in an imperishable form; reincarnation, on the other hand, teaches that a departed soul gets back to the earth in a new body, a different body from the one it inhabited while previously on earth, usually as a newborn in a rebirth. Those who believe in reincarnation teach that the soul of a dead person can either enter a new embryo and be born as a baby, or it can enter the body of another adult, and come back as an adult (transmigration of the soul). There’s no biblical support for either type of reincarnation. The souls of dead people will come back to earth someday (at the end of the ages), but it will be in the form of a resurrection and not a reincarnation.

John 5:19-29
So Jesus said to them, Truly, truly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of his own accord, but only what he sees the Father doing. For whatever the Father does, that the Son does likewise. For the Father loves the Son and shows him all that he himself is doing. And greater works than these will he show him, so that you may marvel. For as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, so also the Son gives life to whom he will. The Father judges no one, but has given all judgment to the Son, that all may honor the Son, just as they honor the Father. Whoever does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent him. Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life. He does not come into judgment, but has passed from death to life. Truly, truly, I say to you, an hour is coming, and is now here, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God, and those who hear will live. For as the Father has life in himself, so he has granted the Son also to have life in himself. And he has given him authority to execute judgment, because he is the Son of Man. Do not marvel at this, for an hour is coming when all who are in the tombs will hear his voice and come out, those who have done good to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil to the resurrection of judgment.

1 Corinthians 15:1-26
Now I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand, and by which you are being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you— unless you believed in vain. For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. Then he appeared to more than five hundred brothers at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have fallen asleep. Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles. Last of all, as to one untimely born, he appeared also to me. For I am the least of the apostles, unworthy to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace toward me was not in vain. On the contrary, I worked harder than any of them, though it was not I, but the grace of God that is with me. Whether then it was I or they, so we preach and so you believed. Now if Christ is proclaimed as raised from the dead, how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? But if there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain. We are even found to be misrepresenting God, because we testified about God that he raised Christ, whom he did not raise if it is true that the dead are not raised. For if the dead are not raised, not even Christ has been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins. Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. If in this life only we have hoped in Christ, we are of all people most to be pitied. But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. For as by a man came death, by a man has come also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive. But each in his own order: Christ the firstfruits, then at his coming those who belong to Christ. Then comes the end, when he delivers the kingdom to God the Father after destroying every rule and every authority and power. For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. The last enemy to be destroyed is death.

To be clear, some dead people in the Scripture were brought back to life through God’s miraculous powers. Their departed souls were brought back into their dead bodies that had not yet disintegrated. That’s a type of the resurrection, a preview of it. The souls came back into the same bodies as before death, and not into a new body. The difference between this raising of the dead in the Scripture and the final resurrection is that, those who were raised to life in the Bible eventually died again, and their bodies finally disintegrated into their elemental components, because they were raised up in their corruptible, natural bodies. But in the final resurrection, people will be raised in incorruptible bodies—same outline of bodies that they had while on earth, but an incorruptible version of it that cannot die again (spiritual bodies). And that’s the state both saints and sinners will remain eternally, in paradise and the lake of fire respectively.

1 Corinthians 15:35-57
But someone will ask, How are the dead raised? With what kind of body do they come? You foolish person! What you sow does not come to life unless it dies. And what you sow is not the body that is to be, but a bare kernel, perhaps of wheat or of some other grain. But God gives it a body as he has chosen, and to each kind of seed its own body. For not all flesh is the same, but there is one kind for humans, another for animals, another for birds, and another for fish. There are heavenly bodies and earthly bodies, but the glory of the heavenly is of one kind, and the glory of the earthly is of another. There is one glory of the sun, and another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars; for star differs from star in glory. So is it with the resurrection of the dead. What is sown is perishable; what is raised is imperishable. It is sown in dishonor; it is raised in glory. It is sown in weakness; it is raised in power. It is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body. If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual body. Thus it is written, The first man Adam became a living being; the last Adam became a life-giving spirit. But it is not the spiritual that is first but the natural, and then the spiritual. The first man was from the earth, a man of dust; the second man is from heaven. As was the man of dust, so also are those who are of the dust, and as is the man of heaven, so also are those who are of heaven. Just as we have borne the image of the man of dust, we shall also bear the image of the man of heaven. I tell you this, brothers: flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable. Behold! I tell you a mystery. We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed. For this perishable body must put on the imperishable, and this mortal body must put on immortality. When the perishable puts on the imperishable, and the mortal puts on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written: Death is swallowed up in victory. O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting? The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

There’s another scenario we need to recognize from Scripture which needs to be distinguished from reincarnation. That’s the case of some people in Scripture who once lived on this earth, but have died or were taken away to heaven, and have come back to the earth (though briefly) but not in a resurrected body. Three people like that stand out in Scripture —Moses, Samuel and Elijah. Moses died and his body was buried by angels, but he was seen hundreds of years later appearing alongside Elijah with Jesus on the mount of transfiguration. Elijah too had been translated bodily to heaven hundreds of years before that appearance with Moses and Jesus. Now, this wasn’t a resurrection, because Jesus had not yet risen from the dead, as the first-fruit of the resurrection, and he had not yet ascended to heaven. As for Elijah, because he didn’t experience physical death, but was taken to heaven in a transformed natural body, he just appeared in that body in which he was taken to heaven. In the case of Moses who died and was buried and his body had decomposed and had not resurrected, it was his soul that appeared from paradise on the mount of transfiguration. So, the appearance of Moses and Elijah on earth again, several centuries after the end of their lives on earth, was not a resurrection, nor was it a reincarnation. God simply permitted their souls to come out of paradise, to appear to men on earth briefly, and to go back to paradise again, awaiting the final resurrection of their bodies. That was the same thing that happened to Samuel— he was permitted to come out of his rest in paradise to rebuke Saul for having wandered away from God. The souls of dead people are alive in paradise or hell, and can be sent by God to appear briefly to men on earth, and then go back again to their respective abodes.

1 Samuel 28:3-19
Now Samuel had died, and all Israel had mourned for him and buried him in Ramah, his own city. And Saul had put the mediums and the necromancers out of the land. The Philistines assembled and came and encamped at Shunem. And Saul gathered all Israel, and they encamped at Gilboa. When Saul saw the army of the Philistines, he was afraid, and his heart trembled greatly. And when Saul inquired of the LORD, the LORD did not answer him, either by dreams, or by Urim, or by prophets. Then Saul said to his servants, Seek out for me a woman who is a medium, that I may go to her and inquire of her. And his servants said to him, Behold, there is a medium at En-dor. So Saul disguised himself and put on other garments and went, he and two men with him. And they came to the woman by night. And he said, Divine for me by a spirit and bring up for me whomever I shall name to you. The woman said to him, Surely you know what Saul has done, how he has cut off the mediums and the necromancers from the land. Why then are you laying a trap for my life to bring about my death? But Saul swore to her by the LORD, As the LORD lives, no punishment shall come upon you for this thing. Then the woman said, Whom shall I bring up for you? He said, Bring up Samuel for me. When the woman saw Samuel, she cried out with a loud voice. And the woman said to Saul, Why have you deceived me? You are Saul. The king said to her, Do not be afraid. What do you see? And the woman said to Saul, I see a god coming up out of the earth. He said to her, What is his appearance? And she said, An old man is coming up, and he is wrapped in a robe. And Saul knew that it was Samuel, and he bowed with his face to the ground and paid homage. Then Samuel said to Saul, Why have you disturbed me by bringing me up? Saul answered, I am in great distress, for the Philistines are warring against me, and God has turned away from me and answers me no more, either by prophets or by dreams. Therefore I have summoned you to tell me what I shall do. And Samuel said, Why then do you ask me, since the LORD has turned from you and become your enemy? The LORD has done to you as he spoke by me, for the LORD has torn the kingdom out of your hand and given it to your neighbor, David. Because you did not obey the voice of the LORD and did not carry out his fierce wrath against Amalek, therefore the LORD has done this thing to you this day. Moreover, the LORD will give Israel also with you into the hand of the Philistines, and tomorrow you and your sons shall be with me. The LORD will give the army of Israel also into the hand of the Philistines.

Matthew 17:1-8
And after six days Jesus took with him Peter and James, and John his brother, and led them up a high mountain by themselves. And he was transfigured before them, and his face shone like the sun, and his clothes became white as light. And behold, there appeared to them Moses and Elijah, talking with him. And Peter said to Jesus, Lord, it is good that we are here. If you wish, I will make three tents here, one for you and one for Moses and one for Elijah. He was still speaking when, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them, and a voice from the cloud said, This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased; listen to him. When the disciples heard this, they fell on their faces and were terrified. But Jesus came and touched them, saying, Rise, and have no fear. And when they lifted up their eyes, they saw no one but Jesus only.

Furthermore, let’s look at the issue of transmigration of the soul, a postulated form of reincarnation in which the soul of a dead person enters another adult person (or animal), to live within them. By this theory, the soul of a dead person continues to live in a new adult body, and recalls the experiences of his previous life in the new body the soul is in. As we’ve seen from Scripture in the preceding paragraphs, that’s impossible, as the soul of every dead person goes straight to paradise or hell at death, and can’t reenter any other body, while it awaits the final resurrection, when it will finally be reunited with its spiritual body that will be raised up incorruptible. If a departed soul cannot possess or reenter another living adult body (transmigration of the soul), how can we explain the phenomenon whereby a few persons have been known to have intimate, personal recollections of a deceased person’s life, almost as though they lived through the experience themselves, especially for people who did not know the deceased nor had close personal contact with them? Well, even though human souls can’t move from one body to another, demons or evil spirits can. Demons are dismembered evil spirits that can possess human beings and animals, and can speak through them and use them to achieve diabolical ends. These vile spirits are intimately aware of people’s lives (especially those they possess), and they can transfer such knowledge to a new body they possess, making some people think that the soul of such a person has entered another person. It’s not transmigration of souls, but simply demon-possession at work!

Luke 8:27-39
When Jesus had stepped out on land, there met him a man from the city who had demons. For a long time he had worn no clothes, and he had not lived in a house but among the tombs. When he saw Jesus, he cried out and fell down before him and said with a loud voice, What have you to do with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I beg you, do not torment me. For he had commanded the unclean spirit to come out of the man. (For many a time it had seized him. He was kept under guard and bound with chains and shackles, but he would break the bonds and be driven by the demon into the desert.) Jesus then asked him, What is your name? And he said, Legion, for many demons had entered him. And they begged him not to command them to depart into the abyss. Now a large herd of pigs was feeding there on the hillside, and they begged him to let them enter these. So he gave them permission. Then the demons came out of the man and entered the pigs, and the herd rushed down the steep bank into the lake and were drowned. When the herdsmen saw what had happened, they fled and told it in the city and in the country. Then people went out to see what had happened, and they came to Jesus and found the man from whom the demons had gone, sitting at the feet of Jesus, clothed and in his right mind, and they were afraid. And those who had seen it told them how the demon-possessed man had been healed. Then all the people of the surrounding country of the Gerasenes asked him to depart from them, for they were seized with great fear. So he got into the boat and returned. The man from whom the demons had gone begged that he might be with him, but Jesus sent him away, saying, Return to your home, and declare how much God has done for you. And he went away, proclaiming throughout the whole city how much Jesus had done for him.

The Acts 19:11-16
And God was doing extraordinary miracles by the hands of Paul, so that even handkerchiefs or aprons that had touched his skin were carried away to the sick, and their diseases left them and the evil spirits came out of them. Then some of the itinerant Jewish exorcists undertook to invoke the name of the Lord Jesus over those who had evil spirits, saying, I adjure you by the Jesus, whom Paul proclaims. Seven sons of a Jewish high priest named Sceva were doing this. But the evil spirit answered them, Jesus I know, and Paul I recognize, but who are you? And the man in whom was the evil spirit leaped on them, mastered all of them and overpowered them, so that they fled out of that house naked and wounded.

Now, let’s deal with a tricky portion of Scripture which some people have used to justify the doctrine of reincarnation. It involves Elijah and John the Baptist. Some people believed John the Baptist was the reincarnation of Elijah because of Jesus’ comment concerning the ministry of John the Baptist and the Elijah that God promised to send back to the earth again. Malachi prophesied that God would send Elijah back to the earth again, to prepare his people for his coming. Because of this prophecy, the Jews were awaiting the coming of Elijah to herald the coming of the Messiah. They thus believed that the Messiah would not come until Elijah had returned to the earth. At the mount of transfiguration when Moses and Elijah appeared with Jesus, and the apostles got a supernatural confirmation of Jesus’ divine sonship and messiahship, they were forced to question the rabbinical theory that Elijah must come first before the Messiah would come. Jesus confirmed that Elijah would truly come first before the advent of the Messiah, and went ahead to tell them that Elijah had already come and had been rejected by the people, referring to John the Baptist’s ministry as the coming of Elijah. So, according to Jesus, was John the Baptist a reincarnation of Elijah? Let’s examine the relevant Scripture closely to answer this question.

Malachi 4:1-6
For behold, the day is coming, burning like an oven, when all the arrogant and all evildoers will be stubble. The day that is coming shall set them ablaze, says the LORD of hosts, so that it will leave them neither root nor branch. But for you who fear my name, the sun of righteousness shall rise with healing in its wings. You shall go out leaping like calves from the stall. And you shall tread down the wicked, for they will be ashes under the soles of your feet, on the day when I act, says the LORD of hosts. Remember the law of my servant Moses, the statutes and rules that I commanded him at Horeb for all Israel. Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the great and awesome day of the LORD comes. And he will turn the hearts of fathers to their children and the hearts of children to their fathers, lest I come and strike the land with a decree of utter destruction.

Matthew 17:1-13
And after six days Jesus took with him Peter and James, and John his brother, and led them up a high mountain by themselves. And he was transfigured before them, and his face shone like the sun, and his clothes became white as light. And behold, there appeared to them Moses and Elijah, talking with him. And Peter said to Jesus, Lord, it is good that we are here. If you wish, I will make three tents here, one for you and one for Moses and one for Elijah. He was still speaking when, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them, and a voice from the cloud said, This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased; listen to him. When the disciples heard this, they fell on their faces and were terrified. But Jesus came and touched them, saying, Rise, and have no fear. And when they lifted up their eyes, they saw no one but Jesus only. And as they were coming down the mountain, Jesus commanded them, Tell no one the vision, until the Son of Man is raised from the dead. And the disciples asked him, Then why do the scribes say that first Elijah must come? He answered, Elijah does come, and he will restore all things. But I tell you that Elijah has already come, and they did not recognize him, but did to him whatever they pleased. So also the Son of Man will certainly suffer at their hands. Then the disciples understood that he was speaking to them of John the Baptist.

We must understand that there are two advents of Christ, the first to bring salvation to mankind, and the second to bring judgement and take over rulership of the world. Each advent is to have a forerunner. Elijah is to descend bodily from heaven to herald the second advent, not as a newborn baby with the soul of Elijah (reincarnation), but as the adult Elijah who ascended bodily to heaven. Just like he descended on the mount of transfiguration with Moses, he will come in like manner to herald the second advent of Christ. That’s the ministry prophesied by Malachi, which will find fulfilment as one of the two witnesses of Revelation chapter 11. The ability to call down fire from heaven to consume his enemies, among other things, points out one of the two witnesses of Revelation 11 as Elijah of old, coupled with the fact that the two witnesses have been in heaven in the presence of God for centuries (already in heaven at the time of Zechariah), before they’ll descend to the earth during the great tribulation. Only Enoch and Elijah have such credentials to qualify as the two olive trees before the throne of God, which Zechariah saw even before the coming of Christ, for only Enoch and Elijah went to heaven before the coming of Christ.

Revelation 11:1-12
Then I was given a measuring rod like a staff, and I was told, Rise and measure the temple of God and the altar and those who worship there, but do not measure the court outside the temple; leave that out, for it is given over to the nations, and they will trample the holy city for forty-two months. And I will grant authority to my two witnesses, and they will prophesy for 1,260 days, clothed in sackcloth. These are the two olive trees and the two lampstands that stand before the Lord of the earth. And if anyone would harm them, fire pours from their mouth and consumes their foes. If anyone would harm them, this is how he is doomed to be killed. They have the power to shut the sky, that no rain may fall during the days of their prophesying, and they have power over the waters to turn them into blood and to strike the earth with every kind of plague, as often as they desire. And when they have finished their testimony, the beast that rises from the bottomless pit will make war on them and conquer them and kill them, and their dead bodies will lie in the street of the great city that symbolically is called Sodom and Egypt, where their Lord was crucified. For three and a half days some from the peoples and tribes and languages and nations will gaze at their dead bodies and refuse to let them be placed in a tomb, and those who dwell on the earth will rejoice over them and make merry and exchange presents, because these two prophets had been a torment to those who dwell on the earth. But after the three and a half days a breath of life from God entered them, and they stood up on their feet, and great fear fell on those who saw them. Then they heard a loud voice from heaven saying to them, Come up here! And they went up to heaven in a cloud, and their enemies watched them.

Zechariah 4:1-14
And the angel who talked with me came again and woke me, like a man who is awakened out of his sleep. And he said to me, What do you see? I said, I see, and behold, a lampstand all of gold, with a bowl on the top of it, and seven lamps on it, with seven lips on each of the lamps that are on the top of it. And there are two olive trees by it, one on the right of the bowl and the other on its left. And I said to the angel who talked with me, What are these, my lord? Then the angel who talked with me answered and said to me, Do you not know what these are? I said, No, my lord. Then he said to me, This is the word of the LORD to Zerubbabel: Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit, says the LORD of hosts. Who are you, O great mountain? Before Zerubbabel you shall become a plain. And he shall bring forward the top stone amid shouts of Grace, grace to it! Then the word of the LORD came to me, saying, The hands of Zerubbabel have laid the foundation of this house; his hands shall also complete it. Then you will know that the LORD of hosts has sent me to you. For whoever has despised the day of small things shall rejoice, and shall see the plumb line in the hand of Zerubbabel. These seven are the eyes of the LORD, which range through the whole earth. Then I said to him, What are these two olive trees on the right and the left of the lampstand? And a second time I answered and said to him, What are these two branches of the olive trees, which are beside the two golden pipes from which the golden oil is poured out? He said to me, Do you not know what these are? I said, No, my lord. Then he said, These are the two anointed ones who stand by the Lord of the whole earth.

The first advent too had a forerunner, who was well known—John the Baptist. It was prophesied that John would come in the spirit and power of Elijah to carry out his work of heralding the Messiah’s first coming. Now, it didn’t say he was going to have the soul of Elijah, for that would mean the reincarnation of Elijah. Rather, John was to have the same spirit and power that Elijah manifested during his earthly ministry. Just like Elisha had a double portion of Elijah’s spirit and the spirit of Elijah was said to rest upon him as a result, the same prophetic spirit that was on Elijah came upon John the Baptist, to carry out the ministry of heralding the coming of the Messiah. The spirit of Elijah resting upon Elisha did not mean a transmutation of the soul of Elijah into Elisha (reincarnation), but simply an anointing of Elisha with a similar anointing that had been upon Elijah. That’s the Scriptural way of interpreting John the Baptist coming in the spirit and power of Elijah —it means John the Baptist simply manifested the same anointing that Elijah of old (who was in heaven at the time of John’s ministry) had.

Malachi 3:1 Behold, I send my messenger and he will prepare the way before me. And the Lord whom you seek will suddenly come to his temple; and the messenger of the covenant in whom you delight, behold, he is coming, says the LORD of hosts.

Isaiah 40:1-5
Comfort, comfort my people, says your God. Speak tenderly to Jerusalem, and cry to her that her warfare is ended, that her iniquity is pardoned, that she has received from the LORD’s hand double for all her sins. A voice cries: In the wilderness prepare the way of the LORD; make straight in the desert a highway for our God. Every valley shall be lifted up, and every mountain and hill be made low; the uneven ground shall become level, and the rough places a plain. And the glory of the LORD shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together, for the mouth of the LORD has spoken.

Mark 1:1-8
The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. As it is written in Isaiah the prophet, Behold, I send my messenger before your face, who will prepare your way, the voice of one crying in the wilderness: Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight, John appeared, baptizing in the wilderness and proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. And all the country of Judea and all Jerusalem were going out to him and were being baptized by him in the river Jordan, confessing their sins. Now John was clothed with camel’s hair and wore a leather belt around his waist and ate locusts and wild honey. And he preached, saying, After me comes he who is mightier than I, the strap of whose sandals I am not worthy to stoop down and untie. I have baptized you with water, but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.

Luke 1:5-17
In the days of Herod, king of Judea, there was a priest named Zechariah, of the division of Abijah. And he had a wife from the daughters of Aaron, and her name was Elizabeth. And they were both righteous before God, walking blamelessly in all the commandments and statutes of the Lord. But they had no child, because Elizabeth was barren, and both were advanced in years. Now while he was serving as priest before God when his division was on duty, according to the custom of the priesthood, he was chosen by lot to enter the temple of the Lord and burn incense. And the whole multitude of the people were praying outside at the hour of incense. And there appeared to him an angel of the Lord standing on the right side of the altar of incense. And Zechariah was troubled when he saw him, and fear fell upon him. But the angel said to him, Do not be afraid, Zechariah, for your prayer has been heard, and your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you shall call his name John. And you will have joy and gladness, and many will rejoice at his birth, for he will be great before the Lord. And he must not drink wine or strong drink, and he will be filled with the Holy Spirit, even from his mother’s womb. And he will turn many of the children of Israel to the Lord their God, and he will go before him in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just, to make ready for the Lord a people prepared.

Luke 1:67-79
And his father Zechariah was filled with the Holy Spirit and prophesied, saying, Blessed be the Lord God of Israel, for he has visited and redeemed his people and has raised up a horn of salvation for us in the house of his servant David, as he spoke by the mouth of his holy prophets from of old, that we should be saved from our enemies and from the hand of all who hate us; to show the mercy promised to our fathers and to remember his holy covenant, the oath that he swore to our father Abraham, to grant us that we, being delivered from the hand of our enemies, might serve him without fear, in holiness and righteousness before him all our days. And you, child, will be called the prophet of the Most High; for you will go before the Lord to prepare his ways, to give knowledge of salvation to his people in the forgiveness of their sins, because of the tender mercy of our God, whereby the sunrise shall visit us from on high to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace.

2 Kings 2:9-15
When they had crossed, Elijah said to Elisha, Ask what I shall do for you, before I am taken from you. And Elisha said, Please let there be a double portion of your spirit on me. And he said, You have asked a hard thing; yet, if you see me as I am being taken from you, it shall be so for you, but if you do not see me, it shall not be so. And as they still went on and talked, behold, chariots of fire and horses of fire separated the two of them. And Elijah went up by a whirlwind into heaven. And Elisha saw it and he cried, My father, my father! The chariots of Israel and its horsemen! And he saw him no more. Then he took hold of his own clothes and tore them in two pieces. And he took up the cloak of Elijah that had fallen from him and went back and stood on the bank of the Jordan. Then he took the cloak of Elijah that had fallen from him and struck the water, saying, Where is the LORD, the God of Elijah? And when he had struck the water, the water was parted to the one side and to the other, and Elisha went over. Now when the sons of the prophets who were at Jericho saw him opposite them, they said, The spirit of Elijah rests on Elisha. And they came to meet him and bowed to the ground before him.

In conclusion, reincarnation, or the rebirth of a soul in another body, is a myth that’s not substantiated or supported by the Bible. The Scripture teaches that every individual is given just one shot at life, and after death, the soul goes to its deserved resting place to await judgement. Before the final judgement, there will be a resurrection of the dead, first of the righteous into everlasting life, and then a second resurrection of the wicked into everlasting shame and contempt. Though some righteous dead who have departed this earth were permitted by God to come back briefly for some special assignments, they came back as departed souls, and were not reborn in new bodies; their stay on earth was brief, and they went back to paradise as soon as they had completed their assignments. Some servants of God may have the same spirit and anointing that were upon some other servants who had gone before them (like Elisha and John the Baptist having the spirit and power that was on Elijah), but that does not mean that they were reincarnations of the souls of their predecessors. It was simply what it was—an enduement of the same anointing from the same God upon different servants at different times. Demon-possession however does exist, and may impart intimate knowledge of the lives of previously possessed people to those newly possessed, which some people wrongly attribute to reincarnation.

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Is Eating Food In The Dream Bad?

You’ve probably heard some Christians talk about the spiritual danger of eating food in the dream. Such people will readily tell you feeding in the dream is a means of getting initiated into the kingdom of darkness. Anyone who eats in the dream is thus considered a candidate for special deliverance prayers, to exorcise evil spirits that must have possessed them while they were busy devouring exotic cuisine in the dead of the night. Is it really a bad thing to eat food while dreaming? Can a Christian be initiated into witchcraft just by accepting meals offered in the dream? Let’s examine the Scriptures to answer these questions.

Dreams are largely imaginary events that take place in the subconscious mind when one is asleep. When one is dreaming, while the body is asleep, the subconscious mind is actively roaming, regurgitating things and playing them out like a fantasy film. Most times, dreams are the troubled mind’s means of achieving catharsis and relieving tensions. At other times, unfulfilled wishes in reality find unrestrained outlet in dreamland. Thus, not only do people dream of stuffs that bother them, they also dream of things they long for and can’t have in reality! In dreamland, you can be anything or have anything you’ve been fantasising about! Fantasies happen freely in dreamland. That’s what the Scriptures teach!

Ecclesiastes 5:3 The saying is true: Bad dreams come from too much worrying,
and too many words come from foolish people (NCV).

Isaiah 29:7 Then all the nations that fight against Jerusalem
will be like a dream;
all the nations that attack her
will be like a vision in the night.

Isaiah 29:8 They will be like a hungry man who dreams he is eating,
but when he awakens, he is still hungry.
They will be like a thirsty man who dreams he is drinking,
but when he awakens, he is still weak and thirsty.
It will be the same way with all the nations
who fight against Mount Zion (NCV).

Psalms 73:20 They are like a dream when one awakes; when you arise, Lord, you will despise them as fantasies (NIV).

Apart from being an outlet for the projection of subconscious and suppressed agitations and anxieties, as well as a place for actualising fantasies, dreams can also be a means of divine revelation. God can speak to his people through dreams, as part of the manifestations of the prophetic gift. In the endtime, the outpouring of the Holy Spirit is to bring with it a lot of prophetic dreams as a means of divine communication. However, prophetic dreams require prophetic interpretation for the messages contained therein to be properly understood. That said, dreams are an inferior means of prophetic revelation, with open visions and audible voices being more superior, as majority of dreams are not of any prophetic significance, as pointed out earlier. Ultimately, dreams and visions and even audible voices must be judged by the written word, to determine their authenticity and divine/prophetic origin. Any dream or vision that contradicts the written word should be jettisoned, as it cannot be from God, since God cannot contradict himself. The written word is the judge of all things and the urim and thummim (final arbiter) for determining spiritual truth and the divine origin of extra-biblical revelations.

Numbers 12:6 He said, “Listen to my words:
When prophets are among you,
I, the Lord, will show myself to them in visions;
I will speak to them in dreams.

Numbers 12:7 But this is not true with my servant Moses.
I trust him to lead all my people.

Numbers 12:8 I speak face to face with him—
clearly, not with hidden meanings.
He has even seen the form of the Lord.
You should be afraid
to speak against my servant Moses.”(NCV).

Job 33:14 God does speak—sometimes one way and sometimes another—
even though people may not understand it.

Job 33:15 He speaks in a dream or a vision of the night
when people are in a deep sleep,
lying on their beds.

Job 33:16 He speaks in their ears
and frightens them with warnings

Job 33:17 to turn them away from doing wrong
and to keep them from being proud.

Job 33:18 God does this to save people from death,
to keep them from dying (NCV).

The Acts 2:17 ‘God says: In the last days
I will pour out my Spirit on all kinds of people.
Your sons and daughters will prophesy.
Your young men will see visions,
and your old men will dream dreams (NCV).

Deuteronomy 13:1 Prophets or those who tell the future with dreams might come to you and say they will show you a miracle or a sign.

Deuteronomy 13:2 The miracle or sign might even happen, and then they might say, “Let’s serve other gods” (gods you have not known) “and let’s worship them.”

Deuteronomy 13:3 But you must not listen to those prophets or dreamers. The Lord your God is testing you, to find out if you love him with your whole being.

Deuteronomy 13:4 Serve only the Lord your God. Respect him, keep his commands, and obey him. Serve him and be loyal to him.

Deuteronomy 13:5 The prophets or dreamers must be killed, because they said you should turn against the Lord your God, who brought you out of Egypt and saved you from the land where you were slaves. They tried to turn you from doing what the Lord your God commanded you to do. You must get rid of the evil among you (NCV).

Now, let’s get back to the issue of eating food in the dream. How bad really is it to eat in the dream? Can a Christian be initiated into Satan’s kingdom and become a wizard or a witch just by having a meal in the dream? Can evil spirits be transmitted to a child of God just by the act of sampling mouth-watering dishes in the dream, as some deliverance ministers would have us believe? Well, it would mean one would have to stop fantasising about delicacies and exotic meals during the day, because if you keep doing that, you’re most likely going to dream about them at night, and you’re most likely going to eat them in your dream! Remember what we said about dreams being an outlet for fantasies? That’s right! But don’t worry about what you eat in the dream, because it’s just fantasy! Nothing of what you eat in the dream enters your body or your spirit! That’s why you wake up still hungry, despite having had a sumptuous buffet in the dream! Nothing you do in the dream is real. You cannot commit sin in the dream because sin is not an involuntary or unconscious act. Sin is willful disobedience to a divine injunction. Since the will is not active while one is asleep, and the person dreaming is actually subconscious, he or she cannot do anything willfully while sleeping. You’re not responsible for any of your actions while asleep. That’s why people who commit crimes while genuinely sleep-walking are not held accountable for their actions! By the way, Pharaoh’s butler saw himself serving Pharaoh wine in the dream and Joseph told him it wasn’t a bad thing. It meant he was going to go back to doing the same thing in real life. It didn’t mean he was trying to initiate Pharaoh into the occult! Even God offered Peter food in the dream (yes, a trance is like day-time dreaming), and although Peter turned down the offer of a free exotic meal (he was afraid of being defiled, like a lot of us who are scared shit of eating in the dream), God told him to stop resisting and eat up! Whatever you do legitimately in the real world, you can also lawfully do in the dream! Stop feeling bad if you eat in the dream because there’s nothing to it! Remember what Jesus said about no food being able to defile us spiritually? That applies to what we eat in dreamland too! By the way, if receiving money in the dream or dreaming of winning the jackpot doesn’t make you rich in real life, why are you bothered about eating your favourite meal in the dream? After all, you’ve been dreaming about it all day!

Psalms 73:20 They are like a dream when one awakes; when you arise, Lord, you will despise them as fantasies (NIV).

Ecclesiastes 5:3 A dream comes when there are many cares, and many words mark the speech of a fool (NIV).

Ecclesiastes 5:7 Much dreaming and many words are meaningless. Therefore fear God (NIV).

Isaiah 29:7 The horde of nations fighting against Ariel,
and all who make war on her and her fortress and besiege her,
will be like a dream, a vision of the night.

Isaiah 29:8 It will be like when a hungry person dreams of eating
but wakes up and the mouth is empty.
Or when a thirsty person dreams of drinking
but wakes up and has a dry throat.
So will it be for all the horde of nations
who fight against Mount Zion (CEB).

Genesis 40:9 The chief wine steward described his dream to Joseph: “In my dream there was a vine right in front of me,

Genesis 40:10 and on the vine were three branches. When it budded, its blossoms appeared, and its clusters ripened into grapes.

Genesis 40:11 Pharaoh’s cup was in my hand, so I took the grapes, crushed them into Pharaoh’s cup, and put the cup in Pharaoh’s hand.”

Genesis 40:12 Joseph said to him, “This is the dream’s interpretation: The three branches are three days.

Genesis 40:13 After three days, Pharaoh will give you an audience and return you to your position. You will put Pharaoh’s cup in his hand, just the way things were before when you were his wine steward (CEB).

The Acts 10:9 About noon the following day as they were on their journey and approaching the city, Peter went up on the roof to pray.

The Acts 10:10 He became hungry and wanted something to eat, and while the meal was being prepared, he fell into a trance.

The Acts 10:11 He saw heaven opened and something like a large sheet being let down to earth by its four corners.

The Acts 10:12 It contained all kinds of four-footed animals, as well as reptiles and birds.

The Acts 10:13 Then a voice told him, “Get up, Peter. Kill and eat.”

The Acts 10:14 “Surely not, Lord!” Peter replied. “I have never eaten anything impure or unclean.”

The Acts 10:15 The voice spoke to him a second time, “Do not call anything impure that God has made clean.”

The Acts 10:16 This happened three times, and immediately the sheet was taken back to heaven (NIV).

St. Mark 7:14 Again Jesus called the crowd to him and said, “Listen to me, everyone, and understand this.

St. Mark 7:15 Nothing outside a person can defile them by going into them. Rather, it is what comes out of a person that defiles them.”

St. Mark 7:17 After he had left the crowd and entered the house, his disciples asked him about this parable.

St. Mark 7:18 “Are you so dull?” he asked. “Don’t you see that nothing that enters a person from the outside can defile them?

St. Mark 7:19 For it doesn’t go into their heart but into their stomach, and then out of the body.” (In saying this, Jesus declared all foods clean.)

St. Mark 7:20 He went on: “What comes out of a person is what defiles them.

St. Mark 7:21 For it is from within, out of a person’s heart, that evil thoughts come —sexual immorality, theft, murder,

St. Mark 7:22 adultery, greed, malice, deceit, lewdness, envy, slander, arrogance and folly.

St. Mark 7:23 All these evils come from inside and defile a person.” (NIV).

Remember this: as a child of God, Satan and his agents can’t possess or take you over when you’re sleeping! Even though you’re subconscious and defenceless while asleep, the God watching over you neither sleeps nor slumbers! The angels of God encamp around those who fear God, even when they’re asleep and dreaming. Satan and his agents have a standing order concerning God’s children: “touch not my anointed ones and do my prophets no harm!”. So, agents of darkness can’t break God’s hedge around his children to get to initiate them into the occult while they’re sleeping and dreaming (whether they eat in the dream or not). No weapon fashioned against a child of God shall prosper (in reality or in the dream). Finally, the Lord gave us the assurance that even if we eat any deadly thing accidentally or unconsciously (including eating them in the dream), we shall not come to any harm. Therefore, no child of God should be afraid of eating any food in the dream, because no harm can come to them thereby.

Psalms 121:2 My help comes from the LORD, the Maker of heaven and earth.

Psalms 121:3 He will not let your foot slip — he who watches over you will not slumber;

Psalms 121:4 indeed, he who watches over Israel will neither slumber nor sleep.

Psalms 121:5 The LORD watches over you — the LORD is your shade at your right hand;

Psalms 121:6 the sun will not harm you by day, nor the moon by night.

Psalms 121:7 The LORD will keep you from all harm — he will watch over your life;

Psalms 121:8 the LORD will watch over your coming and going both now and forevermore (NIV).

Psalms 34:7 The angel of the LORD encamps around those who fear him, and he delivers them (NIV).

Psalms 105:14 He permitted no one to do them wrong;
Yes, He rebuked kings for their sakes,

Psalms 105:15 Saying, “Do not touch My anointed ones,
And do My prophets no harm.” (NKJV).

Job 1:8 Then the LORD said to Satan, “Have you considered my servant Job? There is no one on earth like him; he is blameless and upright, a man who fears God and shuns evil.”

Job 1:9 “Does Job fear God for nothing?” Satan replied.

Job 1:10 “Have you not put a hedge around him and his household and everything he has? You have blessed the work of his hands, so that his flocks and herds are spread throughout the land (NIV).

Isaiah 54:17 No weapon formed against you shall prosper,
And every tongue which rises against you in judgment
You shall condemn.
This is the heritage of the servants of the Lord,
And their righteousness is from Me,”
Says the Lord (NKJV).

Mark 16:15 And He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature.

Mark 16:16 He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned.

Mark 16:17 And these signs will follow those who believe: In My name they will cast out demons; they will speak with new tongues;

Mark 16:18 they will take up serpents; and if they drink anything deadly, it will by no means hurt them; they will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover.” (NKJV).

In conclusion, dreams are mostly fantasies that play out our subconscious and unaccomplished wishes and desires, with only a few being means of divine communication. Thus, most of the things we do in the dream are not real. Because dreams occur in our subconscious mind, we’re not responsible for what we do in the dream, and cannot therefore be held accountable for them. Also, anything we can do legitimately in real life can also be done legitimately in the dream, for most dreams come from what we think and do while awake. Thus, to dream of eating food is not bad or sinful, because eating food in real life is neither bad nor sinful. We cannot commit sin subconsciously or unconsciously, because sin is wilful disobedience to a divine injunction. Also, any fear of agents of darkness initiating a believer into witchcraft, through meals offered in the dream, is unfounded and unscriptural, as nothing taken into the body can defile us, since no food enters into our hearts to defile or contaminate us spiritually, including foods eaten in the dream. Most importantly, God watches over his children when they sleep, and Satan and his agents have a standing order to not touch God’s anointed and to do his prophets no harm, even in our sleep. Thus, worrying about any harm coming to a child of God through eating in the dream is baseless and groundless, because he that’s in us is greater than he that’s in the world! We have the promise of God that even if we drink or eat any deadly thing unknowingly or subconsciously, it will not harm us! So, let’s stop fretting unnecessarily about what we do in the dream and rather pay more attention to what we do while awake and conscious, for that’s when we can sin and offend God!

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The Differences Between The Old Testament Levitical Priesthood And The Fivefold Ministry Of The New Testament

The Levitical priests were the ordained ministers of God under the Mosaic covenant of the Law in the Old Testament, while members of the fivefold ministry (apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers) are the ordained ministers of God under the covenant of Grace in Christ in the New Testament. Though both categories of ministers have in common the fact that they were/are both ordained servants of God (ministers of the sanctuary), great differences exist in their ministries in terms of their calling, their relationship with the people they minister(ed) unto, and the terms and conditions of their service. We shall briefly highlight here some of the key differences between the Levitical priests and the fivefold ministers.

1. The Levitical priesthood was hereditary, with only Israelites from the tribe of Levi and from the lineage of Aaron qualified to be ordained as priests, while the fivefold ministry is not hereditary, and any believer can be called by God into the New Testament preaching ministry of apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers, whether or not their parents were ministers themselves (Exodus 40:12-15; Leviticus 18:1-2; Joshua 18:7; Ephesians 4:8-11; 1Timothy 3:1-7; Titus 1:5-9).

2. The Levitical priesthood was based on the old Mosaic covenant of the Law, while the fivefold ministry is founded upon the new covenant of Grace in Christ Jesus (Hebrews 7:11-28).

3. The Levitical priesthood offered animal sacrifices for the temporary covering of sins, while the fivefold ministry presents the blood of Jesus Christ for the actual remission of sins (Hebrews 9:1-28).

4. The Levitical priests were mediators between God and the people, while the fivefold ministers do not mediate between God and the people (Christ is the mediator between God and every man in the New Testament), but only guide people to a better understanding of God so that they can have a one-on-one relationship with God through Jesus Christ (Hebrews 5:1-4; 1 Timothy 2:5-7; Ephesians 4: 8-16).

5. Only the Levitical priests could enter into the tabernacle/temple for service in the Old Testament, while under the fivefold ministry in the New Testament, all believers can enter into the presence of God for service (Hebrews 9:1-10; Hebrews 4:14-16; Romans 5:1-2).

6. In the Levitical priesthood, the high priest was human, and only he could enter into the holy of holies, once a year, with the blood of animals, for atonement for his own sins and those of the people, while in the fivefold ministry, Jesus is the high priest, and he has entered into the true holy of holies (heaven), once and for all, to appear in the presence of God for us all, through his own blood (Hebrews 5:1-10; Hebrews 4:14-16; Hebrews 9:1-28).

7. The Levitical priests had sacred uniforms/ holy garments for service in the temple, while the fivefold ministers do not have such sacred uniforms, the righteousness of the saints being our holy garment now (Exodus 28:1-43; Revelation 19:7-8).

8. Under the Law, the Levitical priests were mandated to receive tithes, first-fruits offerings and other sacrifices from other Israelites, for their sustenance in ministry, but the fivefold ministry have no such mandate; ministers in the fivefold ministry instead depend on the free-will offerings and voluntary contributions of the saints for their support and sustenance in ministry (Numbers 18:1-32; Exodus 23:19; Hebrews 7:5; 1 Corinthians 9:1-15; Philippians 4:10-19; 2 Corinthians 8:1-24).

9. The Levitical priests (especially the high priest) were mandated to marry only virgins, while no such mandate exists for the fivefold ministers, spiritual purity (being a believer in Christ) being now considered more important than physical purity (Leviticus 21:1-16; 1 Corinthians 9:1-5; 2 Corinthians 6:14; 1 Corinthians 7:39).

10. Levitical priests were forbidden from touching dead bodies, which rendered them unclean, while fivefold ministers can touch dead bodies, and they do not become defiled thereby. In the New Testament, believers are not defiled by things from outside, but by what comes out of the heart (Leviticus 21:1-16; Matthew 15:1-20).

11. People with physical deformities could not become Levitical priests, but someone with a physical defect can become a member of the fivefold ministry. What matters in the qualifications of ministers in the New Testament is moral soundness, not physical soundness (Leviticus 21:17-24; 1 Timothy 3:1-7; Titus 1:5-9).

12. The Levitical priests were prohibited from doing any other work outside of serving God in the temple and teaching the Israelites the law and the precepts of God; members of the fivefold ministry in the New Testament can undertake other jobs outside their ministerial work, especially if the local church is not able to sustain them as full-time ministers (Leviticus 18:23-24; Acts 20:33-35; Acts 18:1-3).

13. Levitical priests ministered in a physical temple, while fivefold ministers are spiritual temples themselves who also minister to other spiritual temples—Christians (Hebrews 9:1-10; 1 Corinthians 3:16-17; 1 Corinthians 6:19; Ephesians 2:19-22) .

14. It was mandatory for Levitical priests to marry (for perpetuation of the hereditary priesthood), but it’s not mandatory for members of the fivefold ministry to do so, as some who have the grace to be celibate may choose not to marry as ministers in the New Testament. (Note however that celibacy is not mandatory for members of the fivefold ministry, as required by the Roman Catholic Church). (Leviticus 21:1-15; 1 Corinthians 7:1-7; 1 Timothy 4:1-3).

15. The Levitical priesthood operated from the time of the giving of the law at Mount Sinai, to the death of Christ at Calvary, and has now been abolished, as have the law and the covenant regulating it, while the fivefold ministry began after the resurrection of Christ, and will continue until the second coming of Christ to take over the government of this world (Hebrews 8:1-12; Hebrews 7:1-28; Ephesians 4:8-16).

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Conscience—The Internal Judge That Accuses And Excuses Based On Its Level Of Enlightenment.

(Unless otherwise stated, all Bible quotations are from the English Standard Version).

Everyone has a conscience, which is that part of our inner being that’s our moral compass, and is supposed to rein in untoward behaviour and keep us in line, morally speaking. Our conscience excuses and approves appropriate behaviour, or convicts and accuses us of inappropriate behavior. The feelings of guilt we experience, after doing something we consider bad, or the feeling of satisfaction we experience, after doing something we consider good, are all down to our conscience. It is what Scripture calls ‘the law of the mind’.

Romans 2:14-15
For when Gentiles, who do not have the law, by nature do what the law requires, they are a law to themselves, even though they do not have the law. They show that the work of the law is written on their hearts, while their conscience also bears witness, and their conflicting thoughts accuse or even excuse them

Conscience, however, works with the standard of morality it has been primed with. What our conscience considers ‘good’ or ‘bad’ depends on the education and sensitization it has been subjected to. The range of appropriate and inappropriate behaviour that each person’s conscience uses to regulate behavior is the product of socialization from birth to the present moment. The sensitization of the conscience occurs via natural and cultural observations, and via religious indoctrination. In the end, our internal moral compass is the sum total of all our exposures and what we’ve come to accept as normal or abnormal.

Romans 7:15-23
I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate. Now if I do what I do not want, I agree with the law, that it is good. So now it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me. For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out. For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me. So I find it to be a law that when I want to do right, evil lies close at hand. For I delight in the law of God, in my inner being, but I see in my members another law waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members.

Thus, the accuracy of conscience as a moral arbiter depends on the accuracy of the information it has been primed with. It depends on the programming that an individual’s conscience has been subjected to over the years. In other words, conscience is subject to cultural and environmental influence, and is not necessarily a true judge of objective truth. Thus, if one’s conscience has been programmed with falsehood as truth, it will judge with such falsehood as objective truth. It will consider such lies as truth and convict or excuse one accordingly, based on violation or adherence to those lies. In other words, depending on its priming, an individual’s conscience can make him feel guilty over an issue that objectively doesn’t merit guilt, as it can excuse him over an issue that truly warrants conviction.

That brings us to the issue of weak conscience. The scripture describes a believer’s conscience as weak if it’s not fully developed in line with the right knowledge of God, being still programmed by wrong suppositions. For instance, in matters like drinking of alcohol, eating of certain meats and observance of certain days as holier than others, the conscience of those who still see these observances as word of God (objective truth) still to be strictly obeyed is said to be weak, because it’s not based on right knowledge. Any conscience not based on right knowledge is said to be weak; such a conscience is not fully developed and has not been primed by the correct knowledge of the word of God.

1 Corinthians 8:1-13
Now concerning food offered to idols: we know that all of us possess knowledge. This knowledge puffs up, but love builds up. If anyone imagines that he knows something, he does not yet know as he ought to know. But if anyone loves God, he is known by God. Therefore, as to the eating of food offered to idols, we know that an idol has no real existence, and that there is no God but one. For although there may be so-called gods in heaven or on earth—as indeed there are many gods and many lords— yet for us there is one God, the Father, from whom are all things and for whom we exist, and one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom are all things and through whom we exist. However, not all possess this knowledge. But some, through former association with idols, eat food as really offered to an idol, and their conscience, being weak, is defiled. Food will not commend us to God. We are no worse off if we do not eat, and no better off if we do. But take care that this right of yours does not somehow become a stumbling block to the weak. For if anyone sees you who have knowledge eating in an idol’s temple, will he not be encouraged, if his conscience is weak, to eat food offered to idols? And so by your knowledge this weak person is destroyed, the brother for whom Christ died. Thus, sinning against your brothers and wounding their conscience when it is weak, you sin against Christ. Therefore, if food makes my brother stumble, I will never eat meat, lest I make my brother stumble.

Whatever the level of enlightenment of one’s conscience, to go against one’s convictions is to violate one’s conscience. It amounts to acting without faith if we go ahead to do what we’re not fully convinced is right, according to our conscience. To violate one’s conscience thus, by acting out of faith with our beliefs, is to sin, for whatever does not proceed from faith is sin. Therefore, someone may sin, by violating his conscience, even though his action does not really violate the word of God. Thus, going against an unenlightened or weak conscience, in doing what it erroneously prohibits, is considered a sin by the Scripture, as the act does not proceed from a conviction of faith. But, once the conscience is enlightened and becomes strong, doing the same thing that was considered sinful with a weak conscience would no longer be considered sinful, because the act is now rightly approved by the properly sensitized conscience, in line with the correct interpretation of God’s word. An example is the issue of drinking alcohol. The Bible condemns drunkenness as a sin, but the not the moderate consumption of alcohol. However, if a Christian wrongly believes that the taking of alcohol in any quantity is sinful (because of wrong indoctrination and wrong sensitization of conscience), taking alcohol even in small quantity becomes a sin for such a person, even though the word of God doesn’t really condemn it, because his weak conscience condemns it. To act contrary to one’s conscience at any time constitutes sin. However, if the same person is properly enlightened later and comes to believe that moderate consumption of alcohol is not a sin, doing so will cease to be a sin for him, because he would now be acting in line with his enlightened conscience.

Romans 14:1-23
As for the one who is weak in faith, welcome him, but not to quarrel over opinions. One person believes he may eat anything, while the weak person eats only vegetables. Let not the one who eats despise the one who abstains, and let not the one who abstains pass judgment on the one who eats, for God has welcomed him. Who are you to pass judgment on the servant of another? It is before his own master that he stands or falls. And he will be upheld, for the Lord is able to make him stand. One person esteems one day as better than another, while another esteems all days alike. Each one should be fully convinced in his own mind. The one who observes the day, observes it in honor of the Lord. The one who eats, eats in honor of the Lord, since he gives thanks to God, while the one who abstains, abstains in honor of the Lord and gives thanks to God. For none of us lives to himself, and none of us dies to himself. If we live, we live to the Lord, and if we die, we die to the Lord. So then, whether we live or whether we die, we are the Lord’s. For to this end Christ died and lived again, that he might be Lord both of the dead and of the living. Why do you pass judgment on your brother? Or you, why do you despise your brother? For we will all stand before the judgment seat of God; for it is written, As I live, says the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall confess to God. So then each of us will give an account of himself to God. Therefore let us not pass judgment on one another any longer, but rather decide never to put a stumbling block or hindrance in the way of a brother. I know and am persuaded in the Lord Jesus that nothing is unclean in itself, but it is unclean for anyone who thinks it unclean. For if your brother is grieved by what you eat, you are no longer walking in love. By what you eat, do not destroy the one for whom Christ died. So do not let what you regard as good be spoken of as evil. For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking but of righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. Whoever thus serves Christ is acceptable to God and approved by men. So then let us pursue what makes for peace and for mutual upbuilding. Do not, for the sake of food, destroy the work of God. Everything is indeed clean, but it is wrong for anyone to make another stumble by what he eats. It is good not to eat meat or drink wine or do anything that causes your brother to stumble. The faith that you have, keep between yourself and God. Blessed is the one who has no reason to pass judgment on himself for what he approves. But whoever has doubts is condemned if he eats, because the eating is not from faith. For whatever does not proceed from faith is sin.

However, the issue of a matter being sinful as a result of a weak conscience only applies to what is not really condemned by the word of God, but which an unenlightened conscience condemns. Whatever the level of enlightenment of one’s conscience, violating an extant word of God, even in ignorance, is a sin, for sin is truly the transgression of the law of God, whether or not we’re aware of such a law. Violating a law of God when our conscience is not aware that it’s a law of God makes it a sin of ignorance, as against a wilful sin, which is an infraction of God’s word despite knowing the exact position of Scripture on such a matter. For the sins of ignorance, God overlooks during our period of ignorance, but when we come to the knowledge of the word of God, we’re to repent and seek for forgiveness.

The Acts 17:23-31
For as I passed along and observed the objects of your worship, I found also an altar with this inscription, To the unknown god. What therefore you worship as unknown, this I proclaim to you. The God who made the world and everything in it, being Lord of heaven and earth, does not live in temples made by man, nor is he served by human hands, as though he needed anything, since he himself gives to all mankind life and breath and everything. And he made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their dwelling place, that they should seek God, in the hope that they might feel their way toward him and find him. Yet he is actually not far from each one of us, for In him we live and move and have our being; as even some of your own poets have said, For we are indeed his offspring. Being then God’s offspring, we ought not to think that the divine being is like gold or silver or stone, an image formed by the art and imagination of man. The times of ignorance God overlooked, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent, because he has fixed a day on which he will judge the world in righteousness by a man whom he has appointed; and of this he has given assurance to all by raising him from the dead.

1 Corinthians 13:9-12
For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when the perfect comes, the partial will pass away. When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways. For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known.

Finally, let’s address the issue of a dead or insensitive conscience. Every individual starts life with a sensitive conscience that develops along the lines of cultural and religious indoctrination. However, how alive and sensitive our conscience remains depends on how we obey it and respond to its judgement. If we repeatedly disobey or overidde our conscience to do things that are inappropriate, we gradually desensitize our conscience. If we continually silence the voice of conscience, it will gradually weaken until it dies. A dead conscience no longer offers us any moral guidance, nor does it regulate our behavior anymore. It ceases to convict or accuse us when we’re wrong. We cease to be conscience-stricken when we do something that’s morally wrong. We become callous and insensitive. We have no remorse any longer when we display inappropriate or immoral behavior. The Bible describes such an individual as having the conscience ‘seared with a hot iron’, the symbolism of a conscience that doesn’t feel anything anymore. These are the people that are said to be reprobate concerning the truth, for their conscience is dead, in relation to truth and morality. Unless the miracle of regeneration takes place in such people, they will continue to operate with gross callousness, insensitivity and immorality, without any qualms, as they no longer have anything within to rein in inhuman or immoral behavior.

Romans 1:18-32
For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Claiming to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and reptiles. Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves, because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen. For this reason God gave them up to dishonorable passions. For their women exchanged natural relations for those that are contrary to nature; and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in themselves the due penalty for their error. And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind to do what ought not to be done. They were filled with all manner of unrighteousness, evil, covetousness, malice. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, maliciousness. They are gossips, slanderers, haters of God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless. Though they know God’s decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them.

1 Timothy 4:1-3
Now the Spirit expressly says that in later times some will depart from the faith by devoting themselves to deceitful spirits and teachings of demons, through the insincerity of liars whose consciences are seared, who forbid marriage and require abstinence from foods that God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and know the truth.

In conclusion, conscience is an internal moral compass which is present in every one, and is designed to rein in our behavior and guide morality and conduct. Our conscience develops through cultural and religious indoctrination, which sets the acceptable standard for right and wrong behavior. The sensitivity of one’s conscience is a reflection of how thoroughly we’ve accepted the cultural and religious rules embraced by our conscience, and how submissive we’re to our conscience. A sensitive conscience easily feels guilt on violating our internal code of conduct, while a dead or insensitive conscience results from repeated silencing of the voice of conscience, and feels no guilt pangs when doing something illegal or immoral. With relation to Christians, conscience can be described as weak or strong, depending on how its moral standard approximates with those of the word of God. A weak conscience is based on sentiments and other idiosyncrasies, while a strong conscience is based on the correct interpretation of the word of God concerning an issue. We should be careful to follow our conscience always, and to aspire to keep a clear conscience before God and man in all matters, because to do anything contrary to one’s conscience is a sin.

The Acts 23:1 And looking intently at the council, Paul said, Brothers, I have lived my life before God in all good conscience up to this day.

The Acts 24:16 So I always take pains to have a clear conscience toward both God and man.

Romans 9:1 I am speaking the truth in Christ—I am not lying; my conscience bears me witness in the Holy Spirit—

Romans 13:3-6
For rulers are not a terror to good conduct, but to bad. Would you have no fear of the one who is in authority? Then do what is good, and you will receive his approval, for he is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword in vain. For he is the servant of God, an avenger who carries out God’s wrath on the wrongdoer. Therefore one must be in subjection, not only to avoid God’s wrath but also for the sake of conscience. For the same reason you also pay taxes, for the authorities are ministers of God, attending to this very thing.

2 Corinthians 1:12 For our boast is this: the testimony of our conscience that we behaved in the world with simplicity and godly sincerity, not by earthly wisdom but by the grace of God, and supremely so toward you.

Thanks for visiting the blog. If you’ve been blessed by the message, kindly like, drop a comment and share with your friends and loved ones on your social media platforms. You can also follow us to have new posts sent directly to your inbox. May the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you now and always! Amen! 

Sardis— The Dead Church With The Reputation Of Being Alive!

(Unless otherwise stated, all Bible quotations are from the English Standard Version).

The church in Sardis was one of the seven churches in Asia Minor that was personally addressed by the Lord Jesus Christ, in a letter, through the apostle John, while he was on exile in the island of Patmos. The Sardisian church had some unique features that merit close examination. We shall therefore examine the special characteristics of this church in the book of Revelation, with a view to learning from its unique features and experiences. We will start by reviewing Christ’s letter to the church in Sardis.

Revelation 3:1-6
And to the angel of the church in Sardis write: The words of him who has the seven spirits of God and the seven stars. I know your works. You have the reputation of being alive, but you are dead. Wake up, and strengthen what remains and is about to die, for I have not found your works complete in the sight of my God. Remember, then, what you received and heard. Keep it, and repent. If you will not wake up, I will come like a thief, and you will not know at what hour I will come against you. Yet you have still a few names in Sardis, people who have not soiled their garments, and they will walk with me in white, for they are worthy. The one who conquers will be clothed thus in white garments, and I will never blot his name out of the book of life. I will confess his name before my Father and before his angels. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.

Now, let’s briefly analyse Christ’s letter to the church in Sardis. After a brief introduction of himself, the Lord delved straight into the works of that church. The first thing the Lord brought up, in relation to their works, was that what they claimed they were, or were reputed to be, was way different from what they really were. They had the reputation of being a ‘living church’ (how many times have we heard that expression?) that was spiritually alive and well. However, though they claimed to be doing well spiritually, the Lord’s diagnosis was that they were dead! Spiritually dead! Here was a dead church claiming to be alive! What delusion! What deception! This church was totally out of sync with spiritual reality!

Now, how does a Christian die spiritually? How does a church that was once full of life become dead? Well, for a Christian to die spiritually, the person has to be disconnected from the source of spiritual life. A church dies when it’s severed from Christ, like a branch of a tree dies when it’s cut off from the trunk. That’s what Jesus taught us—that except we continually abide in him and let his word abide in us, we shall have no life in us, and we would be unfruitful and become like dead branches of a tree that men cut off and cast into the fire. That was the state of the Sardisian church—they were no longer abiding in Christ and no longer holding unto his word, and were now dead! Dead like the severed and disconnected branch of a tree!

John 15:1-10
I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser. Every branch of mine that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit. Already you are clean because of the word that I have spoken to you. Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. If anyone does not abide in me he is thrown away like a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned. If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples. As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love. If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love.

How do we know the church in Sardis was dead because they were no longer abiding in Christ, and his words were no longer abiding in them? The Lord himself said so, right there in verse 3—“Remember, then, what you received and heard. Keep it, and repent. If you will not wake up, I will come like a thief, and you will not know at what hour I will come against you”. The church had forgotten what they once heard and received (the word of God), and were no longer keeping it. They were no longer living and abiding by the word of God. They had fallen asleep spiritually. Like the writer of Hebrews warned against, they had drifted away from the message of salvation because they had ceased to pay attention to it; they had slumbered spiritually, had backslided and were now in danger of falling away. What a terrible state this church that was once apostolic had degenerated into, all because it had abandoned its source of life, the written and the living word. This is a reminder that our life is in the Son of God; he that has the Son of God has life, and he that departs from the Son is dead spiritually, and only the wrath of God abides upon such a person.

Hebrews 2:1-4
Therefore we must pay much closer attention to what we have heard, lest we drift away from it. For since the message declared by angels proved to be reliable and every transgression or disobedience received a just retribution, how shall we escape if we neglect such a great salvation? It was declared at first by the Lord, and it was attested to us by those who heard, while God also bore witness by signs and wonders and various miracles and by gifts of the Holy Spirit distributed according to his will.

1 John 5:11-12
And this is the testimony, that God gave us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life.

What’s the Lord’s remedy for Sardis’ comatose state? There’s only one way for a dead church or a dead individual (spiritually speaking) to be revived and to come back to life again—to embrace the source of spiritual life again! Get connected back to the vine—Christ. Repent and go back to keeping (observing) and living by the word of life again. The church in Sardis was admonished to retrace its steps and go back to abiding in Christ again, for that’s the only way to be revived and to be fruitful again. There’s no other way of revival for a dead or dying church than the word way! Remember, then, what you received and heard. Keep it, and repent.

In conclusion, the church in Sardis was a church that once was alive and well spiritually, but became disconnected from the source of spiritual life and died spiritually. Even though this church was spiritually comatose, it still thought it was alive, and was calling itself a ‘living church’, when there was no life in it! The church in Sardis could deceive itself and other carnal people, but not the Lord, who knew it to be a dead church! The church was in danger of being completely cut off from Christ, unless it repented and got back to living and abiding by the living word of God, for therein is the life of every believer. May we abide and remain in Christ always, that we may have life and have it in abundance. Amen.

John 10:10 The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.

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Is Tattooing Of The Body A Sin?

(All Bible quotations, unless otherwise stated, are from the English Standard Version).

Tattooing —the marking of the body with cuts, letters, words, signs or symbols—is a widespread practice among people of all ages and cultures. Whether it’s an indelible or removable type, it’s common, nowadays, to see people branding themselves with names or images of their loved ones and heroes, or symbols of things they believe in or admire. Some Christians are troubled by this fashion trend and would want to know the Biblical view on tattooing of the body. In this article, we shall examine the Bible to understand the Scriptural view on tattoos, in order to offer sound counselling to Christians who have tattooed themselves, are planning to, or just want to be better informed about the practice.

Marking the body with tattoos is a practice that was known even in Biblical times. The old testament warned against cutting the body, or making marks on it, for the dead (including cutting the corners of the beard for the same purpose), a widespread practice among pagans of the time who used to venerate the dead by making inscriptions of dead people on their bodies. God was against this heathen practice that was essentially a form of idolatry, for making images of anything (on the body or anywhere else) for the purpose of veneration is simply idolatrous!

Leviticus 19:28 You shall not make any cuts on your body for the dead or tattoo yourselves: I am the LORD.

Leviticus 21:1-5
And the LORD said to Moses, Speak to the priests, the sons of Aaron, and say to them: No one shall make himself unclean for the dead among his people, except for his closest relatives, his mother, his father, his son, his daughter, his brother, or his virgin sister (who is near to him because she has had no husband; for her he may make himself unclean). He shall not make himself unclean as a husband among his people and so profane himself. They shall not make bald patches on their heads, nor shave off the edges of their beards, nor make any cuts on their body.

Exodus 20:4-6
You shall not make for yourself a carved image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. You shall not bow down to them or serve them, for I the LORD your God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and the fourth generation of those who hate me, but showing steadfast love to thousands of those who love me and keep my commandments.

But we also see where tattooing was divinely allowed in the old testament. God enjoined his people to write parts of the Scripture and fix them on their bodies so that they would be read always and thus would never be forgotten. These portions of Scripture were not to be directly engraved on the body, but were to be written and attached on the body, like a removable tattoo. We also see instances in Scripture where God authorized for his people to be marked with his seal (using ink) on their foreheads, as evidence of their outcry against the evil practiced in the land, as well as a means of protecting them from divine judgment. God himself branded Cain on his body, to protect him from being killed. Surely, making a mark with ink or such dyes that are supposed to remain in place for a while is a form of tattooing? Thus, tattooing in itself may not be a sinful practice, but the purpose for which it is done—whether or not it glorifies God or serves a godly purpose—determines its sinfulness or otherwise.

Deuteronomy 11:18 You shall therefore lay up these words of mine in your heart and in your soul, and you shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes.

Deuteronomy 6:6-9
And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.

Genesis 4:13-15
Cain said to the LORD, My punishment is greater than I can bear. Behold, you have driven me today away from the ground, and from your face I shall be hidden. I shall be a fugitive and a wanderer on the earth, and whoever finds me will kill me. Then the LORD said to him, Not so! If anyone kills Cain, vengeance shall be taken on him sevenfold. And the LORD put a mark on Cain, lest any who found him should attack him.

Ezekiel 9:1-7
Then he cried in my ears with a loud voice, saying, Bring near the executioners of the city, each with his destroying weapon in his hand. And behold, six men came from the direction of the upper gate, which faces north, each with his weapon for slaughter in his hand, and with them was a man clothed in linen, with a writing case at his waist. And they went in and stood beside the bronze altar. Now the glory of the God of Israel had gone up from the cherub on which it rested to the threshold of the house. And he called to the man clothed in linen, who had the writing case at his waist. And the LORD said to him, Pass through the city, through Jerusalem, and put a mark on the foreheads of the men who sigh and groan over all the abominations that are committed in it. And to the others he said in my hearing, Pass through the city after him, and strike. Your eye shall not spare, and you shall show no pity. Kill old men outright, young men and maidens, little children and women, but touch no one on whom is the mark. And begin at my sanctuary. So they began with the elders who were before the house. Then he said to them, Defile the house, and fill the courts with the slain. Go out. So they went out and struck in the city.

Similarly, the apostle Paul talked about bearing on his body the marks of the Lord Jesus Christ. Now, what exactly the marks of Christ that Paul bore on his body were, we do not know. They could have been the scars of the several beatings he received in the course of preaching the gospel of Jesus Christ. However, bearing marks on his body that symbolized the cross of Christ could also be implied. Whatever the marks Paul proudly bore on his body, they were ones that glorified Christ and his gospel. Paul also considered circumcision a marking of the body, which was an identification sign and God’s seal for a male Jew under the Law, although it’s no longer required under the dispensation of grace. Like Paul advised, whatever Christians do in word or deed, we should always have the glory of God as our goal.

Galatians 6:17 From now on let no one cause me trouble, for I bear on my body the marks of Jesus.

1 Corinthians 7:18 Was anyone at the time of his call already circumcised? Let him not seek to remove the marks of circumcision. Was anyone at the time of his call uncircumcised? Let him not seek circumcision.

Colossians 3:17 And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

1 Corinthians 6:19-20
Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.

In the book of Revelation, we again see the redeemed of the Lord marked on their foreheads with the seal of God, for identification and protection, even as the deceived and lost are equally marked by the beast (antichrist) on their foreheads and/or their right hands, with his name/number. While the group tattooed by God with his seal on their foreheads are protected unto salvation, those tattooed with the mark of the beast are rendered irredeemable by that! We also see the Lord Jesus Christ described in John’s vision in Revelation as wearing a tattoo of his name on his thigh—his descriptive titles of King of kings and Lord of lords.

Revelation 7:2-3
Then I saw another angel ascending from the rising of the sun, with the seal of the living God, and he called with a loud voice to the four angels who had been given power to harm earth and sea, saying, Do not harm the earth or the sea or the trees, until we have sealed the servants of our God on their foreheads.

Revelation 9:2-4
He opened the shaft of the bottomless pit, and from the shaft rose smoke like the smoke of a great furnace, and the sun and the air were darkened with the smoke from the shaft. Then from the smoke came locusts on the earth, and they were given power like the power of scorpions of the earth. They were told not to harm the grass of the earth or any green plant or any tree, but only those people who do not have the seal of God on their foreheads.

Revelation 13:16-18
Also it causes all, both small and great, both rich and poor, both free and slave, to be marked on the right hand or the forehead, so that no one can buy or sell unless he has the mark, that is, the name of the beast or the number of its name. This calls for wisdom: let the one who has understanding calculate the number of the beast, for it is the number of a man, and his number is 666.

Revelation 14:9-11
And another angel, a third, followed them, saying with a loud voice, If anyone worships the beast and its image and receives a mark on his forehead or on his hand, he also will drink the wine of God’s wrath, poured full strength into the cup of his anger, and he will be tormented with fire and sulfur in the presence of the holy angels and in the presence of the Lamb. And the smoke of their torment goes up forever and ever, and they have no rest, day or night, these worshipers of the beast and its image, and whoever receives the mark of its name.

Revelation 19:11-16
Then I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse! The one sitting on it is called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he judges and makes war. His eyes are like a flame of fire, and on his head are many diadems, and he has a name written that no one knows but himself. He is clothed in a robe dipped in blood, and the name by which he is called is The Word of God. And the armies of heaven, arrayed in fine linen, white and pure, were following him on white horses. From his mouth comes a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations, and he will rule them with a rod of iron. He will tread the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God the Almighty. On his robe and on his thigh he has a name written, King of kings and Lord of lords.

Another factor to consider in such matters that are not expressly forbidden in the new testament is the issue of conscience. Though a practice may not be expressly forbidden in Scripture, one’s conscience must accept it as harmless if its practice will end up being considered sinless. Once someone’s conscience condemns a practice, it becomes sinful to indulge in it, even if there’s no clear-cut Scripture forbidding it, for anything that does not proceed from faith is sin. Also, it must be remembered that though something may be permissible, yet not all such things edify a Christian or others around him. Most importantly, even for practices that are permissible, we must be careful not to become enslaved by them.

Romans 14:23 But whoever has doubts is condemned if he eats, because the eating is not from faith. For whatever does not proceed from faith is sin.

1 Corinthians 10:23 All things are lawful, but not all things are helpful. All things are lawful, but not all things build up.

1 Corinthians 6:12 All things are lawful for me, but not all things are helpful. All things are lawful for me, but I will not be enslaved by anything.

A note of caution for those who desire to tattoo their bodies, for whatever reason: the permanency of some tattoos makes it such that if one changes his mind or views, or falls out of love with the object tattooed on one’s body, the person would be forced to live with a visible daily reminder of such mistakes for the rest of his/her life. Having one’s regrets or mistakes scream at one daily, from one’s skin, doesn’t sound like a very cheerful proposition, or does it? Therefore, think twice before branding yourself with that tattoo, for the sake of your mental health! God readily forgives us for putting up the wrong tattoos on our bodies, if we repent and ask for his forgiveness. However, such permanent tattoos will be a perpetual scar and a lifelong reminder of our past sins and errors.

In conclusion, tattooing of the body is an ancient practice that was well-known in biblical times. While pagans used markings on the body to venerate the dead (a practice forbidden by God), God’s people were enjoined to place inscriptions of Scripture on their bodies, as a perpetual reminder of the need to observe and keep God’s laws. Also, angelic beings have tattooed God’s seal on God’s people, to stand them out from divine judgment. Similarly, the beast (antichrist) will inscribe his marks on those who serve him during the great tribulation, to their eternal doom, even as God seals his people on their foreheads at this period too, for their own protection against his judgment. Even Jesus Christ is described in John’s vision as bearing a tattoo of his name on his thigh. Thus, tattooing in itself is not bad or sinful; rather, the purpose of a tattoo, and who it glorifies (God or Satan), will determine if the practice is sinful or not. Obviously, writing ‘Jesus Christ is Lord’ on one’s body isn’t to be condemned, but tattooing ‘Lucifer is lord’ obviously doesn’t glorify God, as it idolizes Satan. Christians are to glorify God in their bodies always, because we’ve been bought with a price—the blood of Jesus Christ, and we now wholly belong to the Lord. God readily forgives sinful tattoos done in ignorance, if we repent and ask for mercy, but we won’t be able to forget the permanent ones that are not easy to remove. Therefore, we need to really think beyond the excitement of the moment when we’re considering putting up tattoos on our bodies, especially the types that are difficult to remove, for today’s love may easily become tomorrow’s regret.

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Still Looking For A Christmas Present? God Has Given You The Greatest Christmas Present Ever—His Presence.

(Unless otherwise stated, all Bible quotations are from the English Standard Version).

Isaiah 7:14 Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign. Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.

Isaiah prophesied some seven hundred years before it happened, that God was going to come and dwell physically with men, in a literal body of flesh and blood. Mankind was going to experience Immanuel —God with us. The God who had been above us and had been relating with us through theophanic appearances in spiritual bodies was finally going to take on human flesh and dwell among us as one of us. Mankind would be able to see and handle God—touch him, feel him and behold his glory in a way that would not kill us! We would finally see God and not die! That’s what happened in the first Christmas—God took on flesh in the incarnation, and was born by the Virgin Mary and dwelt among men. That’s the gift of Christmas. The greatest Christmas present therefore is not any material gift that any person can give you, however beautiful and glorious that may be. Any such gifts would only last for a while and their glory would fade and they would perish. The eternal and enduring Christmas gift has already been given to humanity—not by any Father Christmas, but by the Father of Christ, the Father of lights, with whom there’s no variation or change of ways. He gave us his only begotten Son that we may have eternal life and never perish. Until we possess that gift of God’s Son, we have not experienced Christmas the way God intended it!

John 1:14 And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.

1 John 1:1-3
That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we looked upon and have touched with our hands, concerning the word of life— the life was made manifest, and we have seen it, and testify to it and proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and was made manifest to us— that which we have seen and heard we proclaim also to you, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ.

James 1:17 Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.

God’s reason for giving us his only begotten Son to dwell among us was so that he might pay the ransom for our sins and rescue us from the penalty of sin, which is eternal separation from God in the lake of fire, the second death. Jesus came to save his people from their sins. God gave us his Son so that whoever believes in him as Lord and Saviour would not experience the second death in the lake of fire, but would have everlasting life. That’s the purpose of Christmas —that we may have life and have it more abundantly! The Son of God did not just come to be with us, but to be in us. Jesus came, not just to dwell among us and die and return back to heaven, but he came to deliver us from our sins and to dwell inside of us by his Spirit, making us sons and daughters of God thereby. The greatest Christmas gift therefore is to have Jesus eternally present inside you —to be born again, to become a new creation, so that old things would pass away from your life and all things would become new with you. The greatest Christmas present is God making his abode in you. That’s the reason Jesus came to dwell among men in the incarnation. That’s the reason for Christmas!

Matthew 1:18-23
Now the birth of Jesus Christ took place in this way. When his mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit. And her husband Joseph, being a just man and unwilling to put her to shame, resolved to divorce her quietly. But as he considered these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary as your wife, for that which is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins. All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet: Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel (which means, God with us).

John 3:13-18
No one has ascended into heaven except he who descended from heaven, the Son of Man. And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in him may have eternal life. For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God.

John 14:23 Jesus answered him, If anyone loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him.

John 8:23-24
He said to them, You are from below; I am from above. You are of this world; I am not of this world. I told you that you would die in your sins, for unless you believe that I am he you will die in your sins.

John 5:24 Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life. He does not come into judgment, but has passed from death to life.

May you accept the greatest Christmas present God has offered you —his presence. Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ as your Lord and Saviour that you might experience the everlasting presence of God in salvation and be in him and he in you forevermore!

Romans 10:9-13
because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved. For the Scripture says, Everyone who believes in him will not be put to shame. For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; the same Lord is Lord of all, bestowing his riches on all who call on him. For everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.

The First Christmas Was A Lesson In Humility—Be Humble!

God chose a humble couple to bring forth the incarnation of his Son—Joseph, the carpenter, and Mary, his wife, were so poor they couldn’t afford the more expensive sacrifice for purification during the dedication of Jesus, and had to settle for turtle doves instead, which were meant for the poorest of the poor. (Luke 2:22-24; Leviticus 12:6-8). Be humble!

God chose the lowly town of Bethlehem to be the birth place of his only begotten Son! (Micah 5:2). Be humble!

The great Son of God was delivered in a manger, sharing cribs with donkeys, asses, goats and co. (Luke 2:4-7). Be humble!

God sent angels to notify lowly shepherds sleeping in the field with their flocks about the birth of his Son (Luke 2:8-14). Be humble!

God bypassed the ecclesiastical and political leaders in Israel to reveal the birth of his Son to heathen astrologers in Babylon (Matthew 2:1-2). Be humble!

God bypassed the high priest in the Temple to reveal the true identity of the Baby Jesus to a poor elderly widow and a simple old saint of low hierarchy (Luke2:25-38). Be humble!

God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble (1Peter 5:5). Be humble!

Be humble this Christmas season and always. Don’t be high-minded, but condescend to men of low estate! Remember the poor and needy even as you celebrate the birth of the meek and lowly Jesus! (Romans 12:16; Matthew 11:29; Matthew 25:31-46).

Let the humbling circumstances of the first Christmas humble you even as you allow the mind of Christ to be in you, as you submit to him as Lord and Saviour in humility. Be humble!

1 Corinthians 1:26-29
For consider your calling, brothers: not many of you were wise according to worldly standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth. But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, so that no human being might boast in the presence of God (ESV).

Merry Christmas!