Thursday, 11 December 2014

The Truth About Jesus' Birthday

When Was Jesus Born?

Was Jesus born on December 25? Can we even know when He was born? And most importantly, does it even really matter when Jesus was born?

God makes it very clear that He doesn’t like pagan worship practices being used to honor Him.

Source: PhotoDisc
When was Jesus Christ of Nazareth born? We hear Christmas carols about the baby Jesus in the manger and the winter wonderland associated with His birth. If we look at our calendars, chances are they label Dec. 25 "Christmas Day." The birth of Jesus Christ is said to be the reason behind the season. But was He actually born on that day? It's not as clear and simple as our calendars would suggest.
Dec. 25 wasn't always considered Jesus' birth date. In a U.S. News and World Reportarticle titled "In Search of Christmas," Joseph Sheler wrote: "Lacking any scriptural pointers to Jesus' birthday, early Christian teachers suggested dates all over the calendar. Clement . . . picked November 18. Hippolytus . . . figured Christ must have been born on a Wednesday . . . An anonymous document believed to have been written in North Africa around A.D. 243, placed Jesus's birth on March 28" (Dec. 23, 1996, p. 58).
Although it's difficult to determine the first time anyone celebrated Dec. 25 as Christmas Day, historians are in general agreement that it was sometime during the fourth century. This is an amazingly late date! Think about it—this means that Christmas, which most consider Jesus' birthday, wasn't observed by the Roman church until about 300 years after Christ's lifetime on earth!
Christmas can't be traced back to either the teachings or the practices of the earliest Christians. That sounds almost impossible, doesn't it? But it's true.
So why did the Roman church adopt Dec. 25 as the time to celebrate Jesus' birth? The reason His birthday is celebrated at that time of year is that religious leaders in that era wanted to give a pagan festival held on Dec. 25 a name change to make it easier for pagans to convert to Christianity!
The Encyclopedia Americana makes this clear: "In the fifth century, the Western Church ordered it [Christ's birth] to be observed forever on the day of the old Roman feast of the birth of Sol [the sun god], as no certain knowledge of the day of Christ's birth existed" (1944 edition, "Christmas").
The reason for this confusion is not surprising. The Bible doesn't actually spell out the exact date of Jesus' birth. What's more, we find zero mentions of any celebrations being held honoring Christ's birthday by the early Church.

Jesus wasn't born in December

So what about Dec. 25? A careful Bible study shows that the middle of winter was clearlynot the time Jesus was born. There are two big reasons why this can't be the time of Christ's birth.
First, we know that shepherds were in the fields watching their flocks at the time of Jesus' birth: "And she brought forth her firstborn Son, and wrapped Him in swaddling cloths, and laid Him in a manger . . . Now there were in the same country shepherds living out in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night" (Luke:2:7-8).
Shepherds would not have been "living out in the fields" during December, the weather being cold and miserable. According to Celebrations: The Complete Book of American Holidays , Luke's account "suggests that Jesus may have been born in summer or early fall. Since December is cold and rainy in Judea, it is likely the shepherds would have sought shelter for their flocks at night" (p. 309).
Similarly, The Interpreter's One-Volume Commentary says this passage argues "against the birth [of Christ] occurring on Dec. 25 since the weather would not have permitted" shepherds watching over their flocks in the fields at night. Though some dispute this, other reputable sources, such as The Companion Bible and Clarke's Commentary, make the same points about the shepherds not being outside in the open at night in late December.
So the first reason we know He wasn't born in December was that there were shepherds in the fields tending their flocks, something that wouldn't have been happening in the cold Judean winter.
Another reason we can conclude that Jesus wasn't born in December is that His parents traveled to Bethlehem to register in a Roman census (Luke:2:1-4). No Roman ruler would've had a census taken in winter when temperatures often dropped below freezing and roads were in poor condition.
Taking a census under such conditions would have been self-defeating, since it would have been too difficult for Judean residents to travel to be counted. Travel back then wasn't as easy as it is today. We live in an age of heated vehicles and snowplowed roads, but back then the vast majority of people walked wherever they needed to go.
Based on these two facts alone we see that it's highly unlikely that the biblical account of Jesus' birth happened in the winter, let alone on the specific date of Dec. 25. More than being a simple incorrect guess, the Dec. 25 date was an attempt to synthesize pagan practices into Christian worship.

Jesus was born in the autumn of the year

This all begs the question: Just when was Jesus born?
We find important clues about the real time of His birth in what the Bible tells us about His cousin, John the Baptist.
Maybe you've read the Gospel of Luke and thought it was strange that the book begins not with the story of the conception of Jesus, but with the story of the conception of John the Baptist. There's a very good reason Luke was sure to tell us in very specific detail when John was conceived and born.
Luke tells us that John's mother Elizabeth was six months pregnant when Jesus was conceived: "In the sixth month of Elizabeth's pregnancy, God sent the angel Gabriel to . . . a virgin pledged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David. The virgin's name was Mary . . ." (Luke:1:24-36).
Elizabeth, the mother of John the Baptist, and Mary, the mother of Jesus, were cousins. From this passage we know that John was six months older than Jesus. So we can discover the approximate time of year Jesus was born if we know when John was born.
Let's look at what the Bible says about the time of John's birth.
John's father Zacharias was a priest serving in the temple at Jerusalem in "the division of Abijah" (Luke:1:5). At this time, the temple priests in Jerusalem were divided into different "divisions" or "courses"—groups of priests that would take turns performing temple service during the year. This formed a yearly schedule for those serving at the temple.
Historians calculate that the course of Abijah, during which Zacharias served, was on duty around early to mid-June (see The Companion Bible, 1974, Appendix 179, p. 200). 
During Zechariah's temple service, the angel Gabriel appeared to him and announced that he and his wife Elizabeth would have a child (Luke:1:8-13). After he completed his service and traveled home, Elizabeth conceived the cousin of Jesus—the child who would later become known as John the Baptist (Luke:1:23-24).
Considering that John's conception likely took place later in June, when Zechariah returned home after completing his service in the division of Abijah, adding nine months brings us to around late March as the most likely time for John's birth.
Adding another six months—the difference in ages between John and Jesus (Luke:1:35-36)—brings us to about late September as the likely time of Jesus' birth.

Does Christmas really honor Christ?

So if it can be shown from the Bible and some historical research that Jesus was born in the autumn of the year instead of December, does that mean we should keep Christmas in September instead of December?
No, it doesn't! Nowhere in the Bible do we find any instruction or command to celebrate Christ's birth. The fact that so many specific dates are given in the Bible about other important and less important events, while this exact date remains vague, is significant!
God didn't call for an annual celebration of Jesus' birth. God does give us other specific days to observe that honor Jesus Christ and the Father. For those who love God and His Son it's only natural to desire to worship Them. But it's far better to do this on the days and times God has set rather than to invent our own days and times!
As for the celebration of Christmas in December, remember what we read earlier about the Roman church adopting pagan practices into the Christian faith to create Christmas. Jesus wouldn't want us to celebrate pagan days to honor His birth.
How do we know what Jesus would or would not want us to do in this regard? God makes it very clear that He doesn't like pagan worship practices being used to honor Him. He told the ancient Israelites:
"When the Lord your God cuts off from before you the nations which you go to dispossess, and you displace them and dwell in their land, take heed to yourself that you are not ensnared to follow them, after they are destroyed from before you, and that you do not inquire after their gods, saying, 'How did these nations serve their gods? I also will do likewise.' You shall not worship the Lord your God in that way . . . Whatever I command you, be careful to observe it; you shall not add to it nor take away from it"(Deuteronomy:12:29-32, emphasis added).

Jesus' coming brought us many things

We should of course be grateful that Jesus Christ was born—it's a joyous event that brought us many things.
He showed us how to have a relationship with God the Father. We see His example of a perfect life, perfect sacrifice, and His resurrection back to spirit life. He showed us the way for man to have the opportunity to share His glory and live forever in the family of God. He came to form a new relationship with man that, through His blood, extends to all nations. He came to become our High Priest and intercede before God's throne for us.
Through Him we can have an authentic and fulfilling relationship with God based on truth and love. And if we truly love Him, we will show Him love the way He wants to be loved. To love God we should do what He asks: "But whoever keeps His word, truly the love of God is perfected in him. By this we know that we are in Him" (1 John:2:5; compareJohn:14:15John:14:21John:15:10).
By not obeying God we are missing out on a closer relationship with Him. Christmas traditions, nearly all of which can be traced back to pre-Christian false religions (as nearly any good encyclopedia or a quick Internet search will verify) obscure these wonderful truths and keep us from a stronger relationship with God.
Christ was not born on Dec. 25, in the dead of winter. Celebrating this date as His birthday doesn't change the fact. And God never gave us instruction to observe Christ's birth annually in any fashion.
Instead of holding to a wrong day and a wrong idea, isn't it time you focus on why He was born? And shouldn't you be observing and discovering the meaning of the days He Himself instituted and observed? Build a better relationship with God starting today!

Thursday, 23 October 2014


Saturday, 22 March 2014

Do Prophecies About Jesus Prove He Was the Messiah ? Article by Noel Hornor

Do Prophecies About Jesus Prove He Was the Messiah?

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The birth, life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ fulfilled hundreds of prophecies. Every one came to pass with incredible accuracy. Such fulfilled prophecy serves as proof that the Bible is true - and that God's plan for your future will come to pass.

Old coins representing 30 pieces of silver.
"...So I took the thirty pieces of silver and threw them into the house of the Lord for the potter" (Zechariah 11:13).

Source: James Work/licensed by GoodSalt
Just over 2,000 years ago a male infant was born to a young woman named Mary in the small town of Bethlehem in Judea, a province of the Roman Empire. It was not understood then, but this child was destined to change the entire sweep of history. His parents, Joseph and Mary, named the newborn baby Jesus according to God's will.
It's not possible to adequately describe what the coming of Jesus would mean to the world. We can scarcely begin to comprehend the many works He did. One of the biblical accounts of His life and works states: "And there are also many other things that Jesus did, which if they were written one by one, I suppose that even the world itself could not contain the books that would be written" (John:21:25).
Many have attempted to describe Jesus and His works. According to one noted historian, more than 100,000 books have been published about Jesus in the English language alone. The coming of Jesus Christ, His teaching and His death and resurrection, revolutionized history and gave birth to the world's largest religion.
So was Jesus just another misguided teacher who, because His followers believed Him to be the Messiah, led them to establish a new religion in His name that happened by chance to endure and have today nearly 2 billion adherents? Or is what the Bible teaches about Him actually true—that He was the Messiah or Christ, the Son of God, and that His life and work were foretold long before His birth?

Was Jesus truly unique?

Other men came forth in that era claiming they were some type of messiah who would deliver the people from the Roman yoke. "It is the grim fact that in Palestine between the years 67 and 37 BC no fewer than 100,000 men perished in abortive rebellions" (William Barclay, The Mind of Jesus, 1963, p. 45).
All of these movements came to nothing, while the work of Jesus survived and eventually flourished. This is just one of the marvelous aspects about Jesus of Nazareth. Other marks stamp on Him a uniqueness not found in any other person in all history.
One is the many prophecies about Him. The nature of His birth and many aspects of His life and works were foretold in the Old Testament. It is this facet of Jesus' life that we focus on in this article.
One source calculates that we find in the Old Testament "three hundred and thirty-two distinct predictions which were literally fulfilled in Christ" (Floyd Hamilton, The Basis of Christian Faith, 1946, pp. 156-157). The probability of this occurring by chance defies our ability to measure statistics.
When we look at the Bible today, nearly two millennia after its completion, we have what are commonly called the Old Testament and New Testament. We view these as one book. Some may not realize, however, that the Old Testament was fixed in form some 400 years before the coming of Jesus Christ.
The prophecies about Him were there waiting for someone to fulfill them and add validation to the Bible as God's Word. The prophecies about Him had been long written. If a man had come from the womb and fulfilled only a few of God's prophecies, we might attribute that to happenstance. But to fulfill more than 300 prophecies defies any possibility of chance!
"Mohammedanism [Islam] cannot point to any prophecies of the coming of Mohammed uttered hundreds of years before his birth. Neither can the founders of any cult ... rightly identify any ancient text specifically foretelling their appearance" (Wilbur Smith, The Incomparable Book, 1961, p. 10). The Bible is unique in this way!
Let's look at just a few of the specific prophetic fulfillments in this article.

Prophecy 1: Jesus would be born in Bethlehem

"But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of you shall come forth to Me the One to be Ruler in Israel, whose goings forth are from of old, from everlasting" (Micah:5:2).
Anyone who knows even the bare details surrounding the birth of Christ knows that His parents didn't live in Bethlehem. They lived in Nazareth several days' journey to the north. Around the time that Jesus was about to be born, something was required to have Joseph and Mary go from their home to the village of Bethlehem.
That something was a Roman census. Emperor Augustus issued a decree that all of the inhabitants of the empire should be registered. People were required to register in their birthplaces, so Joseph took Mary, his betrothed wife, to Bethlehem. And while they were there, Jesus was born (Luke:2:1-7).
Did God motivate Augustus to declare that all inhabitants of his reign should be counted at that very time? The answer is yes! This would be the first of many instances of divine intervention accomplishing what was foretold.

Prophecy 2: A herald would proclaim Jesus

More than four centuries before Jesus' birth, God raised up a prophet who stated that Jesus' ministry would be preceded by another prophet who would foretell His coming: "Behold, I will send My messenger, and he will prepare the way before Me" (Malachi:3:1).
The herald was John the Baptist, and the record of his proclaiming the ministry of Jesus Christ is as follows: "The word of God came unto John the son of Zacharias in the wilderness. And he came into all the country about Jordan, preaching the baptism of repentance for the remission of sins, as it is written in the book of the words of Isaiah the prophet, saying: 'The voice of one crying in the wilderness, prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight'" (Luke:3:2-4).
As we add up the predictions of the coming of the Lord, the odds increase against the phenomena happening by chance. Throughout human history, a number of men have been born in Bethlehem. Babies are being born there now. But how many have been born in Bethlehem who also had a heraldic crier proclaiming in advance that he was coming to preach God's Word?
Jesus' birth was foretold in the Old Testament, and then His coming was proclaimed in advance by John the Baptist. Both these prophecies were fulfilled.

Prophecy 3: Jesus would enter Jerusalem riding a donkey

The prophet Zechariah recorded a prophecy pertaining to an event that would occur during the last week of Jesus' life: "Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion! Shout, O daughter of Jerusalem! Behold your King is coming to you; He is just and having salvation, lowly and riding on a donkey, a colt, the foal of a donkey" (Zechariah:9:9).
During the last week of His earthly life, Jesus entered Jerusalem riding on a donkey, effectively proclaiming Himself God's Messiah (Matthew:21:7-11). How many men in the history of the world have entered Jerusalem as a ruler while riding a donkey? This prophecy alone is something for which we have no recorded historical precedent.
As we add prophecy to prophecy we further eliminate the likelihood of these events being matters of chance. How many men entered Jerusalem riding on donkeys, who were also born in Bethlehem, and whose coming was preceded by someone announcing it beforehand?

Prophecy 4: He would be like a shepherd who is struck down

"'Awake, O sword, against My Shepherd, against the Man who is My Companion,' says the Lord of hosts. 'Strike the Shepherd, and the sheep will be scattered'" (Zechariah:13:7).
This was fulfilled on the night when Jesus was arrested and the disciples forsook Him and fled (Matthew:26:31, 56). Then Roman soldiers repeatedly struck Jesus, who had declared Himself to be the good Shepherd (John:10:14). They beat Him and struck Him with the palms of their hands (Matthew:26:67). The next day He was killed—the Shepherd was indeed struck, and His close followers were dispersed.
For each utterance that Old Testament prophets made regarding Jesus, we see its fulfillment historically recorded in the New Testament. This confirms that these events were under the overall direction of God and that the Bible is infallible. It's virtually impossible to explain unless there was a divine hand guiding these events.

Prophecy 5: He would be betrayed for 30 pieces of silver

"And the Lord said to me, 'Throw it to the potter'—that princely price they set on me. So I took the thirty pieces of silver and threw them into the house of the Lord for the potter" (Zechariah:11:13).
This was fulfilled when Judas betrayed Jesus to the chief priests for the price of 30 pieces of silver (Matthew:26:15-16). Later Judas, suffering from remorse, tried to return the money to the priests. They refused to accept it, and Judas flung the money on the temple floor. The priests later took the money and used it to buy the potter's field for burying strangers who died (Matthew:27:3-10).
This prophecy is very specific. Let us ponder this question: How many men who have accepted blood money to betray a friend have tried to return it and had it rejected? Even further, what are the chances the money was used to purchase a plot for burying vagabonds as foretold centuries earlier?

Prophecy 6: He offered no defense at His trial

"He was oppressed and He was afflicted, yet He opened not His mouth; He was led as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before its shearers is silent, so He opened not His mouth" (Isaiah:53:7).
When Jesus was before the Roman procurator Pontius Pilate, the chief priests and elders leveled many accusations at Him, to which Jesus made no reply. Pilate "marveled greatly" that an innocent man who had so much hatred and false charges directed toward Him would not speak up in His own defense (Matthew:27:12-14).
How many men in history have, when on trial for their life, reacted as Jesus did? How could a man have the strength to restrain himself and not try to save his life when he is totally innocent? The answer is that Jesus was the Son of God. He had come to the earth to fulfill all prophecies recorded about Him. He knew that He, an innocent man, would die for our sins.
Only the Messiah could endure without complaint under such torturous circumstances. He withstood it all without sinning. "Nor was any deceit in His mouth" (Isaiah:53:9). In so doing, He set an example for all Christians who are accused concerning their faith (1 Peter:2:21-23).

Prophecy 7: He would die by crucifixion

"The congregation of the wicked has enclosed Me. They pierced My hands and My feet" (Psalm:22:16). Pilate scourged Jesus and "delivered Him to be crucified" (Matthew:27:26). For this prophecy to be fulfilled required an unlikely and extraordinary chain of events.
The Jewish leaders desired to rid themselves of Jesus, whom they regarded as a competitor. However, the Romans did not allow the Jews to impose capital punishment. If they had killed Jesus, it probably would have been by stoning (Acts:7:58), since the Jews did not practice crucifixion.
The Romans utilized crucifixion for despised criminals and especially for people who were thought to represent a threat to the Roman peace. Pilate knew that Jesus was no such threat. He knew that "they had handed Him over because of envy" (Matthew:27:18).
The Jews brought Jesus before Pilate, making the accusation that He essentially represented a threat to Rome (Luke:23:2). Again, Pilate knew that they had trumped up these charges, so he refused to sentence Jesus to be crucified. Then they coerced Pilate into sentencing Jesus through implying that Pilate was being disloyal to Caesar (John:19:12). Pilate feared being reported to Rome, as it could threaten his office as procurator.
Thus, for the one prophecy regarding how Jesus would die to be fulfilled required a chain of circumstances that were indeed unusual. The fulfillment of this prophecy regarding the life and death of Jesus Christ adds to the world of evidence that this Man, whose life was prophesied and remarkably determined beforehand by God, was the Messiah. The fulfillment here adds to the infallible proof that the Bible is God's Word. No ordinary book could have such divine fingerprints upon it.

Prophecy 8: He would die with criminals yet be buried with the rich

"He poured out His soul unto death, and He was numbered with the transgressors" (Isaiah:53:12). Although perfectly innocent, Jesus was crucified between two malefactors, flagrant violators of the law (Mark:15:27-28Luke:23:33).
Isaiah 53 also says, "And they made His grave with the wicked—but with the rich at His death" (Isaiah:53:9). This can sound like a contradiction, but the first part denotes the initial assignment of a mass grave with criminals and the latter part shows what actually happened—that He was buried in the tomb of the rich man Joseph of Arimathea, who made a special request of Pilate for his body (Matthew:27:57Matthew:27:60). Again, only God could have foretold all this in advance and ensured its fulfillment, recording it centuries in advance.

More to come—assured by God's Word

Thankfully, Jesus did not remain dead and in the grave. He was prophesied to do many more great things—and that could only happen through Him living again. And indeed we know that Jesus was resurrected from the dead and, after appearances to many people, went to heaven to sit at His Father's right hand. He'll be there until the time that He is to come again—this time as "King of Kings and Lord of Lords" (Revelation:19:16).
We should stand in awe at the way Jesus fulfilled prophecy with such exactitude. We should read the inspired Word of God—the Bible—with wonder because it not only tells us of prophecies that have been fulfilled, but it also tells us what's going to happen in the future.
It tells us that Jesus will return to establish God's Kingdom on earth and that He will reign forever (Revelation:11:15). You can be there and be a part of that Kingdom if you act on God's Word and surrender your life to Him now!
Other books have been written that purport to be holy books. How can we distinguish the Bible from all of them? One of the chief ways is fulfilled prophecy.
Speaking through Isaiah, God says: "I have declared the former things from the beginning; they went forth from My mouth, and I caused them to hear it. Suddenly I did them, and they came to pass ... Even from the beginning I have declared it to you; before it came to pass I proclaimed it to you, lest you should say, 'My idol has done them, and my carved image and my molded image have commanded them'" (Isaiah:48:3Isaiah:48:5).
Read your Bible! Study it diligently. It is God's Word! In it you can read about God's plan—His will for you. That which He desires for all people is far greater than our minds can fully grasp.
However, we can gain an inkling of it by reading the Bible. As He tells us in 1 Corinthians:2:9-10: "As it is written: 'Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor have entered into the heart of man the things which God has prepared for those who love Him.' But God has revealed them to us through His Spirit. For the Spirit searches all things, yes, the deep things of God"!

Saturday, 14 December 2013

Should Christian women wear head coverings?

Should Christian women wear head coverings?

Question: "Should Christian women wear head coverings?"

1 Corinthians 11:3-16addresses the issue of women and head coverings. The context of the entire passage of1 Corinthians 11:3-16is submission to the God-given order and "chain of command." A "covering" on a woman's head is used as an illustration of the order, headship, and the authority of God. The key verse of this passage is1 Corinthians 11:3"But I want you to know that the head of every man is Christ, the head of woman is man, and the head of Christ is God." The implications of this verse are found in the rest of the passage. The order is: God the Father, God the Son, the man or husband, and the woman or wife. The veil or covering on the head of a believing Corinthian wife showed that she was under the authority of her husband, and therefore under submission to God.

Within this passage is also verse 10: "For this reason the woman ought to have a symbol of authority on her head, because of the angels." Why is that important to angels? The relationship of God with men is something that angels watch and learn from (1 Peter 1:12). Therefore, a woman's submission to God's delegated authority over her is an example to angels. The holy angels, who are in perfect and total submission to God, expect that we, as followers of Christ, be the same.

This covering not only means a cloth but also can refer to a woman's hair length. How can we say that? We must take this verse in the context or the setting in which it is presented. "Does not even nature itself teach you that if a man has long hair, it is a dishonor to him? But if a woman has long hair, it is a glory to her; for her hair is given to her for a covering" (1 Corinthians 11:14-15). Therefore, in the context of this passage, a woman who is wearing her hair longer marks herself out distinctively as a woman and not a man. The Apostle Paul is saying here that in the Corinthian culture, when a wife's hair was longer than her husband's, it showed her submission to his headship. The roles of the male and female are designed by God to portray a profound spiritual lesson, that is of submission to the will and the order of God.

But why is hair an issue in this passage? The Apostle Paul is addressing something in the Corinthian culture that was being allowed to disrupt the church. Women in service in the pagan temples had their heads shaved. It marked them as pagan temple prostitutes. Paul says in this passage that a woman who is shorn or shaved should be covered (1 Corinthians 11:6), for a woman shorn or shaved of her hair had lost her "glory," and she was not under the protection of a husband. A shorn head without a covering was equivalent to saying, "I refuse to submit to God's order." Therefore, the Apostle Paul is teaching the Corinthians that hair length or the wearing of a "covering" by the woman was an outward indication of a heart attitude of submission to God and to His established authority. This was important because the Corinthian church was to be separate from the corrupt pagan culture of Corinth (2 Corinthians 6:17).

God's order is that the husband is the head of the wife as God is the head of Christ, but there is no inequality or inferiority implied. God and Christ are equal and united, just as the husband and the wife are one. This is not a passage that teaches the woman is inferior to man or that she should be submissive to every man. It is teaching God's order and spiritual headship in the marriage relationship. In the Corinthian culture, a woman who covered her head during worship or when she was in public displayed her submission to authority.

In today's culture, we no longer view a woman's wearing of a head covering as a sign of submission. In most modern societies, scarves and hats are fashion accessories. A woman has the choice to wear a head covering if she views it as a sign of her submission to the authority of her husband. However, it is a personal choice and not something that should be used to judge spirituality. The real issue here is the heart attitude of obedience to God's authority and submission to His established order “as to the LORD” (Ephesians 5:22). God is far more concerned with an attitude of submission than an outward display of submission via a head covering.First Timothy 2:9-10, "I also want women to dress modestly, with decency and propriety, not with braided hair or gold or pearls or expensive clothes, but with good deeds, appropriate for women who profess to worship God."

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Friday, 13 December 2013

What Do You Believe and Why?

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How do you know if what you believe is really true? Is it possible you have been influenced to believe things that are wrong? How can you replace faulty notions with true knowledge?

Elizabeth Kenny
Elizabeth Kenny served as a nurse in the remote Australian outback.

Source: Wikimedia
Although people do not realize it, they may embrace beliefs that are simply not true. How is that possible? It's because their views have been formed as a result of tradition, hearsay or information not based in fact or properly researched.
Furthermore, people will often adopt the beliefs of their family, group or religion with little or no question. If or when those positions are challenged, people will defend them even if their position doesn't match the facts. An example of this reaction is described in the following true story.

Elizabeth Kenny and infantile paralysis

In the early 1900s Elizabeth Kenny served as a nurse in the remote Australian outback. She diagnosed and treated people who could not get to a doctor. For example, in 1911 she was called to a farm to help a young girl who was in severe pain and whose legs were seriously impaired.
In a telegram to Aeneas McDonnell, a physician at the Toowoomba, Queensland, hospital, Kenny described the symptoms and asked for a treatment method. Dr. McDonnell thought the symptoms indicated poliomyelitis, often called polio or infantile paralysis. Although there was no known cure, he advised Kenny to do what she could to deal with the symptoms.
She then treated the girl with applications of moist, warm towels so as to ease the pain and relax the muscle spasms in her legs. Kenny then gently stretched and massaged the muscles. However, the now-relaxed leg muscles would not function. Kenny then worked at retraining them so they could again operate normally.
Not only did the little girl recover completely, but Kenny administered her treatment to five other children in the vicinity who suffered from the same affliction. Each of them regained normal mobility.

Method in conflict with accepted practice

Kenny's innovative procedure conflicted with conventional medical practice, which was to immobilize affected limbs with casts and splints. She believed that the routine method of treating the disease actually generated its deformities and paralysis. Although Kenny's new technique was not a cure, it offered significant relief from pain and severe crippling.
Kenny's treatment brought her into sharp disagreement with many Australian medical authorities. They found it inconceivable that such a simple method, originating with a nurse and not a trained medical doctor, could produce such positive results.
Nevertheless, the resistance Kenny faced did not discourage her from working to help children in need. Although it took nearly three decades, her technique gained some recognition in Australia, where she set up treatment clinics in several cities.
In 1940 the government of New South Wales sent Kenny to the United States to introduce her treatment. Although many American physicians were opposed, the National Foundation for Infantile Paralysis found it credible.
In June 1940 she demonstrated her method at the University of Minnesota Medical School and Minneapolis General Hospital. The medical personnel at these institutions recognized Kenny's procedure as a new model in treating polio. During the 1940s many Kenny treatment centers opened across the United States.
Kenny retired to her home in Toowoomba in 1951. Two years after her death in 1952, a vaccine was developed that led to a rapid decline in the number of polio cases. Kenny's principles of muscle rehabilitation left an important mark in the medical world. Some have called her the founder of modern physical therapy.

Conventional wisdom often seems correct

Elizabeth Kenny's story is remarkable in terms of the thousands of children she helped. A larger point however, deals with the intense opposition she encountered for many years from the medical establishment. It is a prime example of what happens when people's beliefs are challenged by competing facts.
Such beliefs are often described as "conventional wisdom," which the dictionary defines as "the body of ideas or explanations generally accepted as true by the public or by experts in a field" (emphasis added throughout). People often feel comfortable with such beliefs because other people feel the same way, including perceived experts and authorities.
For example, through most of the 19th century epidemic illnesses such as cholera and the plague were commonly thought to be caused by poisonous mists in the night air. Also, until the early 20th century, a common way to treat disease was bloodletting. Even though these ideas were later proved wrong, generations of people believed they were valid.

Conventional wisdom is pervasive

Conventional wisdom can be a snare. People of all ages can be held in its grip. It can begin as early as childhood. If, for example, parents and relatives are members of a particular political party, union or religion, children simply assume the views of those organizations are correct.
Even though conventional wisdom is pervasive in both secular and religious society, it's often faulty. True knowledge comes only from the Creator God and is inherent in the laws He has set in motion to guide people's lives (Psalms 32:8). It's each person's responsibility to carefully examine what they accept as true (John 8:32).
Where does conventional wisdom come from? To understand, we must go far, far back in time.
One of God's angels, referred to in the Latin translation of Isaiah 14:12 as Lucifer, meaning "light bringer," was an honored cherub the Bible describes as "the seal of perfection, full of wisdom and perfect in beauty" (Ezekiel 28:12).
This archangel allowed his heart to be filled with pride. It corrupted his character and judgment. Afterwards he led a third of the angels in rebellion against God and attempted to take over God's heavenly throne. Being no match for Him, they were cast down to the earth (Luke 10:18Revelation 12:4).
In their rebellion these angels became evil spirits or demons. And Lucifer became Satan—meaning "adversary." He has ever since incited rebellion and strife in the lives of human beings (Revelation 12:91 John 5:19). He seeks to especially prevent people from understanding God's marvelous truth by insidiously promoting counterfeit knowledge and wisdom (2 Corinthians 4:3-4James 3:13-14).
The devil is skilled at corruptly influencing humanity because people do not naturally want "to retain God in their knowledge" (Romans 1:28Romans 8:7; see also Jeremiah 17:9). This leaves them easy prey for the devil's unrighteous influence.
The apostle Paul aptly described Satan-inspired, human wisdom as foolishness (1 Corinthians 3:19). He urged people to conduct themselves "not with fleshly wisdom but by the grace of God" (2 Corinthians 1:12). He cautioned them not to be held hostage to "the commandments and doctrines of men," which falsely offer "an appearance of wisdom" (Colossians 2:22-23).

Conventional Christian doctrines vs. the Bible

Perhaps you are a Christian and feel you understand the seriousness of what Paul said. You also need to be aware that the apostles and Jesus Christ Himself repeatedly warned about counterfeit Christianity. They also warned of ministers who, being unwittingly motivated by the devil, would promote seriously flawed doctrines (Matthew 7:152 Peter 2:12 Corinthians 11:15).
These wrong teachings are often filled with half-truths. That means they appearreputable to many people, but they don't accurately reflect what the Bible teaches (John 17:17Luke 4:4; 11:28).
Here are some conventional beliefs you need to look at, each followed by what the Bible actually teaches:
• Conventional doctrine: "Once saved, always saved," also known as "eternal security."Biblical truth: An individual can receive salvation from sins through Christ and still, through neglect, ultimately come to reject God, thereby losing salvation (2 Peter 2:21;Hebrews 2:1-3Hebrews 6:4-8Hebrews 10:26-38).
• Conventional doctrine: The reward for a good life is going to live as a disembodied consciousness in heaven at the time of death. Biblical truth: The dead are not conscious, and no one has ascended consciously to heaven following death except Jesus Christ—after He was resurrected from the dead (Ecclesiastes 9:5Ecclesiastes 9:10John 3:13Acts 2:29Acts 2:34).
• Conventional doctrine: You have an immortal soul. Biblical truth: You do not have an immortal soul. A soul can die, and again there is no consciousness in death. Death is compared in Scripture to a lifeless sleep from which people must be awakened in a resurrection (Ezekiel 18:4Ezekiel 18:20Ecclesiastes 9:5Ecclesiastes 9:10Daniel 12:2;1 Corinthians 15:18).
• Conventional doctrine: Sunday is the Sabbath. Biblical truth: The seventh day of the week, Friday sunset to Saturday sunset, is God's Sabbath (Genesis 1:31 - Genesis 2:1-3;Exodus 20:8-10Isaiah 58:13Mark 2:28).
• Conventional doctrine: Jesus was crucified on a Friday and resurrected on Sunday morning, being dead for parts of three days. Biblical truth: Jesus was in the grave for three days and three nights, which cannot fit between Friday afternoon and Sunday morning (Matthew 12:39-40).
These are just a few examples of many long-established, conventional Christian teachings contrasted with true biblical understanding. Do you see why it's so important for you to thoroughly challenge what you read, hear and accept as truth?

Jesus Christ resisted conventional religious ideas

Jesus Himself was the best example of challenging the status quo. His teachings and actions persuasively corrected accepted religious notions (Mark 1:22Matthew 5:21-44). Jesus told His followers to carefully scrutinize what they were taught and to avoid following the wide, easy way that would lead to their destruction (Matthew 7:13).
The apostle Paul also encouraged people to "not be conformed to this world" but to"prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God" (Romans 12:2). You also need to question your religious beliefs by honestly comparing them to scriptural truth (Acts 17:11).
True understanding comes from being willing to look outside traditional Christian teachings to what is actually written in the Bible (Isaiah 55:8-9Isaiah 66:21 Corinthians 1:19-21).
Of course it may be difficult to accept what you learn because you will have to unlearndeep-seated ways of thinking. Discovering that something you believe is wrong can, at first, make you feel uncomfortable. Admitting you have been wrong is one of the hardest things you will ever do. Nevertheless, if you sincerely desire to please your Creator and follow His way of life, you will strive to reject all error and love the truth (3 John 11; 1 Peter 1:22).

Living by every word of God

Elizabeth Kenny developed a revolutionary method to treat polio. Although many ridiculed her successful procedure, she never gave in to their criticisms. Kenny rejected conventional wisdom and lived by what she knew to be correct. You should also honestly compare traditional Christian doctrines with the Bible. Prove what's really true!