David C. Grabbe: Beginning with the Feast of Pentecost in AD 31, God opened salvation to those of any human language He chose to call. The miracle of languages seen in the apostles demonstrates ...
David C. Grabbe: As we saw in Part One, language is not only a collection of words, but also a reflection of the culture it describes. When a people begin speaking a pure language ...
John Ritenbaugh, reminding us that remaining or abiding in Christ's word separates us from everybody else, exhorts us to treasure and appreciate the truth we have. Ezekiel prophetically warns Israelites today of imminent cultural collapse because of godly leadership. America, sadly, has never been a Christian nation; the hearts of the people have never been converted to God's truth, as a casual observance of a daily tabloid would attest. The fledgling Radio Church of God in the 1950's had a positive package of beliefs we referred to as "the truth"; members referred to the church itself and our calling as "the truth" or "coming into the truth." Regretfully, we had a skewed concept of grace in those formative years and still do for the most part because of the Protestant 'cheap grace' concept denigrating any kind of good works as earning salvation. God's grace begins everybody's history; there is nothing we have that did not come from Him, including our spiritual gifts, enabling us to carry out His divine purpose in us. Grace is an Old Testament concept just as much as a New Testament one (ordained before the foundation of the world), with the apostle Paul greatly augmenting the concept by splicing the Greek word charis (gifts) to the Old Testament Hebrew word chesed (connoting kindness, steadfast love, mercy, and devotion), greatly amplifying the meaning of the secular Hebrew and Greek words for grace. The precision of the Greek language gave the term grace a wider spectrum, as is indicated in the wide panorama of gifts indicated in James 1:16-18. The entire physical creation, including the elements, minerals, plants and animals are God's gift to man, and, as such, are part of His grace. Further, even the patterns of the sciences and the arts serve as a demonstration that God is the Giver of all gifts.
David Grabbe, focusing on the prospect of a new pure language found in Zephaniah 3:8-9, takes issue with the naïve assumption that the blemishes of a language derive from syntactic, morphological, or phonetic considerations, but instead from the depths of the heart. The lips are defiled if the heart or mind is defiled. Charges emanating from sundry groups affiliating with Hebrew roots or sacred orientation mistakenly feel the purity of a language is innately embedded in pronunciation patterns, which are still a matter of speculation and guesswork from reconstructed dead languages. It is impossible to know the pronunciation of the early languages. The Bible was written in Aramaic, Hebrew, and Greek, with none of the tongues holding exclusivity for purity or sacredness. Culture has defiled Aramaic, Greek, Hebrew, English, and every other language on earth. A pure language is a function of vocabulary emanating from a pure and undefiled. Any language on the face of the earth would be an acceptable candidate for a pure language if this criterion were met.
Kim Myers, focusing on Jude 3-4, which cautions us to contend for the faith once delivered to the saints, warns that there are many false teachers who would attempt to turn the grace of God into lasciviousness. Most of us in this fellowship were brought in under the tutelage of Herbert W. Armstrong, instructed in the proper keeping of the Holy Days, clean and unclean meats, divorce and remarriage, and dating outside the faith. After the breakup of our previous fellowship, some of the splinter groups have experimented with sacred names, new moons, and interactive studies rather than sermons, and adopting a very casual form of dress, not even appropriate for a swap meet. The Sabbath is a holy convocation called by God; we are to respond to God's invitation with respect rather than sloppiness. We are to cease from our worldly concerns on the Sabbath and devote extra time to study, prayer, and getting to know our Heavenly Father, calling the Sabbath a delight. Compromising with little things leads to compromising with big things and could take us right out of the Way. God has given us all the tools we need. He gave us His Son, His Holy Spirit, and our calling. We need to reciprocate by keeping the faith once delivered from the Saints.
Richard Ritenbaugh, reflecting on his experiences growing peaches, observes that fruit maturation takes time, from 90 to 150 days. Waiting for the peaches is just part of the story; while we wait, we must also work, including thinning and pruning. In our fellowship, we see people maturing at various stages. We must be tolerant with one another, realizing God works with us all individually and particularly. "As Leviticus 23 indicates, agricultural symbolism is replete in the sacrifices and ceremonies involving the Wave Sheaf offering and the Feast of Weeks."] Christ represented the wave sheaf while we represent the loaves, ground down, baked—picturing our corruption with the leaven symbolizing sin. The two loaves picture God's called-out ones. Pentecost culminates a period of spiritual harvest, depicting the maturation of the Church, from the time of Christ's death, resurrection, and second coming. God is focusing during this time on the maturation of His called-out people. God stresses during this period what His people are commanded to do for the fruit we produce. No one can do it for us. Pentecost emphasizes the Christian's work under God's supervision. Traditionally, God gave us the Law on Pentecost (or Shavuot). Later in history God gave His Holy Spirit (His mind and power) on the same day, enabling us to keep the Law. We have Jesus Christ in us at all times. God works in us to will and to do. Ruth, symbolizing the Church, worked diligently in the fields of Boaz (who symbolizes Jesus Christ), producing fruit, leading to the eventual birth of Christ. The growth took many years and much work. Thankfully, Jesus Christ gives us ample time to bear fruit; however, infertility—not bearing fruit—is never an option. As Jesus is patient with us, we should be forbearing with others in the Family of God, helping them to overcome," using our spiritual gifts to patiently bear one another's burdens, helping them cross the finish line.
Richard Ritenbaugh, referring to an email from someone who had stretched the meaning of the second commandment to condemn the use of all paintings, photographs, or sculpture, shows that Scripture is replete with examples of artistry in both the Tabernacle and the Temple, including cherubim, bells, flowers, and oxen. God is not against artistic representations of things unless they purport to picture God. Another email suggested that only Hebrew names for God can be used. God's name represents what God is. Whether the etymology comes from Greek or Hebrew makes no difference. No scripture claims that Hebrew names alone are allowed. 'God' is just as proper as Yahweh or Yeshua. The Bible has been translated into many tongues, and there are many names for God. In addition, names shift pronunciation over a period of time. Both these examples show that by taking a commandment to extremes, we create an idol of that commandment.
Richard T. Ritenbaugh: During my daily commute to and from the office, a trip of just under fifteen minutes, I usually have my radio tuned to WBT and its talk shows, but on occasion I have the pleasure of listening to a book on tape (in this case, on CD). ...
The name of God is important—so important that He included its proper use among His Ten Commandments. What is His name? Martin Collins shows how God's names reveal His character to us. Includes the inset, "A Sampling of the Names of God."
Many people think the third commandment deals only with euphemisms and swearing, but it actually goes much deeper than that! John Ritenbaugh explains that this commandment regulates the quality of our worship and involves glorifying God in every aspect of life.
John Reid uses the analogy of a minefield to illustrate Satan's diabolical obstacles to keep us from attaining our objective?the Kingdom of God. The Devil sets specific kinds of mines: a) the lusts of the world (greed, alcohol, drugs, sex, etc.), analogous to the Claymore mine, designed to kill individuals; b) doctrinal confusion, analogous to the Bouncing Betty mine, designed to take out, confuse, and destroy whole groups of people. He also suggests ways to help get out of the minefields, including calling out to God for help in tracing our route back to what led to our spiritual disorientation. To navigate safely through, we must ask for God's protection, maintaining humility, watchfulness, and diligence in our task of overcoming and walking in the footsteps of the Mine Detector (I Peter 2:21).
John Ritenbaugh teaches that God has given us a checkpoint against which we can check ourselves in times of despondency and despair, so whether we doubt, fear, or the self—whether the problems are moderate or deep—we can go back to see whether we are keeping God's commands and working on developing our fellowship with Him. God has created mankind with the need to face challenges—the need to overcome—or we quickly become subject to boredom or "ennui." Our major responsibility is to govern ourselves scrupulously and conscientiously within the framework of God's Laws, overcoming negative impulses by the knowledge and Spirit of God, seeking a total relationship with Him in thought, emotion, and deed, extending to our relations with our brethren. Fellowship with God is the only antidote to overwhelming feelings of despair, doubt, and self-condemnation.
It is revealed that Jesus was Emmanuel—that is, "God with us"—GOD in the human flesh. He was both God and man. He was divine, as well as human. Can God die? Was Jesus really dead, or did only His body die? Was Jesus the Divine One alive during the three days and three nights a body was in the tomb? Here is a brief, pointed answer.
John Ritenbaugh probes into the reasons the book of John had to be written and the major differences distinguishing the book of John from the other Gospels. John omits entirely certain topics which the other gospels go into detail. Where the other Gospels have short narratives, John goes into lengthy descriptive and quantitative detail, providing in-depth characterizations of the disciples. From the perspective of an eye-witness to the events, a Jew (from a well-to-do family) having been thoroughly acquainted with Hellenistic culture, John, a physical cousin of Jesus, is able to bridge the gap explaining the significance of these events to an emerging gentile population not acquainted with Hebrew culture or tradition, but familiar with Greek patterns of thought- including the Platonic (and Gnostic) dichotomy of real and corporeal. Building on this concept, John presents Jesus, not as a phantom emanation, but as the reality—transcending the shadows represented by the temporal physical life. John presents the miracles of Jesus (not so much as acts of mercy) but as signs of the reality of God- indicating the way God works and thinks.
Advocates of this belief claim is that the names of the Creator-Father, and of His Son the Savior, are "sacred" only in the Hebrew language. The truth is, the names of God or of Christ are as sacred in one language as another, and there is no scripture to the contrary!