Monthly Archives: March 2015

Do angels really watch us?

DO ANGELS REALLY WATCH US?

by Shawn Brasseaux

Yes, the Bible confirms that angelic beings watch us Christians as we carry out our day-to-day activities. We will look at these verses in this study.

The Apostle Paul and Sosthenes wrote to the Corinthian church: “For I think that God hath set forth us the apostles last, as it were appointed to death: for we are made a spectacle unto the world, and to angels, and to men” (1 Corinthians 4:9). Angels watched Paul and his companions conduct their ministries. The idea of “spectacle” is one of an arena or a theater: we are center-stage and the angels are sitting in the stands! Angels observe our activities—they see our sufferings for the Gospel’s sake, they hear our voices when we read God’s Word aloud, they see our sinful acts, they see us do the work of the ministry, and so on. We cannot see them but they can see us. By watching us and listening to us, the angels better understand God’s Word, especially how this the Dispensation of Grace operates (or, if our lives are inconsistent with grace living, they become confused). They are watching me write this and they are watching you read this!

When Paul gave Timothy a strict command in his first epistle to the young man, he wrote: “I charge thee before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, and the elect angels, that thou observe these things without preferring one before another, doing nothing by partiality” (1 Timothy 5:21). The angels watched as Paul wrote this epistle to Timothy. They witnessed him giving Timothy instruction.

Concerning one of the many problems in Corinth (this problem being women usurping places of authority in the local church), Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 11:10: “For this cause ought the woman to have power on her head because of the angels.” Female Christians are to behave with the doctrine of headship in mind. They should not be behaving like men with respect to church leadership. Why? The angels are watching and they need to see God’s order of the sexes being followed instead of ignored. (For more information, you can see our study linked at the end of this article, “Must Christian women wear head coverings?”)

We read in 1 Timothy 3:16: “And without controversy great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifest in the flesh, justified in the Spirit, seen of angels, preached unto the Gentiles, believed on in the world, received up into glory.” While it is common to view this verse as referring to Jesus Christ, Jesus Christ being God was no “mystery” (for example, see Isaiah 9:6-7). The “mystery of godliness,” or secret of godliness, is that God would manifest Himself in human form with respect to the Church the Body of Christ. The Church the Body of Christ is the visible manifestation of Jesus Christ, the one true God. By means of Christians (the members, body-parts), the thoughts of the Head (Jesus Christ) are carried out. This doctrine was unheard of prior to Paul’s apostleship and epistles. We will discuss this more fully in a few moments.

Finally, Ephesians 3:8-10: “[8] Unto me, who am less than the least of all saints, is this grace given, that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ; [9] And to make all men see what is the fellowship of the mystery, which from the beginning of the world hath been hid in God, who created all things by Jesus Christ: [10] To the intent that now unto the principalities and powers in heavenly places might be known by the church the manifold wisdom of God.” This passage will take some explaining.

In the Old Testament, the Four Gospels, and the first eight chapters of Acts, God spoke of His purpose and plan for the earth. That prophetic program focused on the nation Israel and an earthly kingdom (Matthew 25:34) “which God hath spoken by the mouth of all his holy prophets since the world began (Acts 3:21). But, during that time, God kept a secret, “the mystery,” “the hidden wisdom” (1 Corinthians 2:6-8). When the ascended Lord Jesus Christ saved Saul of Tarsus and made him Paul the Apostle in Acts chapter 9, the Lord revealed that information to Paul: “the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery, which was kept secret since the world began, but now is made manifest…” (Romans 16:25,26a). Paul’s epistles alone reveal this mystery (secret) program (Ephesians 3:1-9; Colossians 1:24-27). Paul’s epistles of Romans through Philemon speak of God’s purpose and program for the heaven, which encompasses our present-day Dispensation of Grace, a heavenly kingdom, and the Church the Body of Christ (Ephesians 2:6-7).

According to Ephesians 3:9, we members of the Body of Christ share the goal of the Apostle Paul: “to make all men see what is the fellowship of the mystery….” Our goal is not only to proclaim to people this now-revealed information in Paul’s epistles, but also to make it known to the angels, “the principalities and powers in heavenly places.” We do so not only by preaching and teaching the Holy Bible rightly divided, but by letting Jesus Christ live His life in and through us. The angels and people will thus see that grace doctrine on display in our lives.

CONCLUSION

Angels observe us Christians in order to gain God’s wisdom. They understand what God is doing today by listening to us teach and preach God’s Word rightly divided. While most church members care not to listen to the rightly divided King James Bible, and the denominationalists dislike us for exposing their church tradition, at least the angels are watching us and they are listening to us. This knowledge will certainly cause us to think differently about committing sin—not only God and people, but angels, are watching us too! 🙂

Also see:
» What is “the Dispensation of Grace?”
» What is “the fellowship of the mystery?”
» Must Christian women wear head coverings?

Why does the Bible give two conflicting accounts of Judas’s death?

WHY DOES THE BIBLE GIVE TWO CONFLICTING ACCOUNTS OF JUDAS’S DEATH?

by Shawn Brasseaux

No, the Bible does not give two differing accounts of Judas’s death. What is commonly called a “mistake” is nothing than a misunderstanding. While this topic is morose and this study is somewhat graphic to some, it is worth addressing and the matter is worth settling.

The Bible critics say the following: “The Bible has mistakes. For instance, one passage says that Judas hanged himself, and another passage says that he fell and his guts burst out!” Bless their hearts, there is nothing illogical about the narrative those passages put forth. Is it not strange that Bible scoffers can speak the truth and, blinded by Satan (2 Corinthians 4:3-4), still miss it entirely? What they think is an error is actually truth in plain sight! For sake of argument, we will examine the verses to learn exactly what happened to Judas during his last moments alive on Earth.

First, Matthew chapter 27, verses 1-10: “[1] When the morning was come, all the chief priests and elders of the people took counsel against Jesus to put him to death: [2] And when they had bound him, they led him away, and delivered him to Pontius Pilate the governor. [3] Then Judas, which had betrayed him, when he saw that he was condemned, repented himself, and brought again the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and elders, [4] Saying, I have sinned in that I have betrayed the innocent blood. And they said, What is that to us? see thou to that. [5] And he cast down the pieces of silver in the temple, and departed, and went and hanged himself. [6] And the chief priests took the silver pieces, and said, It is not lawful for to put them into the treasury, because it is the price of blood. [7] And they took counsel, and bought with them the potter’s field, to bury strangers in. [8] Wherefore that field was called, The field of blood, unto this day. [9] Then was fulfilled that which was spoken by Jeremy the prophet, saying, And they took the thirty pieces of silver, the price of him that was valued, whom they of the children of Israel did value; [10] And gave them for the potter’s field, as the Lord appointed me.”

According to Matthew, after Jesus’ arrest and condemnation, Judas changed his mind. He returned to the Temple, to the chief priests and elders, to give them the 30 pieces of silver for which he had betrayed Jesus. They refused to take the money, deeming it “blood money.” Judas threw the coins on the ground, and the Bible says he went out and “hanged himself.”

About six weeks later, the Apostle Peter commented in Acts chapter 1: “[16] Men and brethren, this scripture must needs have been fulfilled, which the Holy Ghost by the mouth of David spake before concerning Judas, which was guide to them that took Jesus. [17] For he was numbered with us, and had obtained part of this ministry. [18] Now this man purchased a field with the reward of iniquity; and falling headlong, he burst asunder in the midst, and all his bowels gushed out. [19] And it was known unto all the dwellers at Jerusalem; insomuch as that field is called in their proper tongue, Aceldama, that is to say, The field of blood.”

Peter describes Judas, “falling headlong, he burst asunder in the midst, and all his bowels gushed out.” If we simply conflate Matthew’s account and Peter’s account, it makes perfect sense. Judas hanged himself and then died. Later, the noose broke and his body violently fell headfirst, spilling all of his guts on the ground. Surely, it was a most unpleasant sight. News of it spread quickly in Jerusalem. One of Jesus’ closest friends (and His most trusted apostle) had committed suicide.

But, why did the noose break? This requires some study (scoffing is easier). Remember, not many hours after Judas hung himself outside Jerusalem, Jesus Christ died on Calvary’s cross outside Jerusalem. They died in the same general area. Matthew 27:50-51 explains: “[50] Jesus, when he had cried again with a loud voice, yielded up the ghost. [51] And, behold, the veil of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom; and the earth did quake, and the rocks rent;” This earthquake at Christ’s death is unique to Matthew’s gospel record. A seismic event rocked Jerusalem and the surrounding area, and the intense shaking likely caused Judas’ body to fall from its hanging position. Perhaps his body was so high up, or maybe the earthquake was so intense, something threw his body to the ground with such great force that all of his insides gushed out. Horrible!

CONCLUSION

There is no contradiction concerning Judas’ death. Judas died once, and then, after death, his corpse was mangled. Judas died by hanging and then his lifeless body fell from the noose (probably because of an earthquake). Yes, friends, a little extrapolation, a little common sense, goes a long way. May we believe the simple claims of the Bible instead of complicating them!

Also see:
» Does Matthew 19:27-28 prove Judas is in heaven?
» Was Judas forgiven?
» Who was Judas’ replacement—Matthias or Paul?

Should Christians participate in yoga?

SHOULD CHRISTIANS ENGAGE IN YOGA EXERCISES?

by Shawn Brasseaux

“Can believers willingly participate in yoga (exercise) and gain ONLY the physical benefits, and remain ‘neutral’ from the general tie-in to Eastern mysticism?” What an interesting question! Thank you for asking. Let us first define “yoga” and then we can see if the Scriptures have any advice on the subject.

Firstly, according to Dictionary.com, the term “yoga” has three senses:

  1. a school of Hindu philosophy advocating and prescribing a course of physical and mental disciplines for attaining liberation from the material world and union of the self with the Supreme Being or ultimate principle.
  2. any of the methods or disciplines prescribed, especially a series of postures and breathing exercises practiced to achieve control of the body and mind, tranquillity, etc.
  3. union of the self with the Supreme Being or ultimate principle.

I assume your question is about definition number 2? 🙂 For those unfamiliar with this topic, note that it has a pagan (or, non-Christian) origin. Specifically, yoga is used in Hinduism, Buddhism, and Jainism (Eastern religions) as means of physical and spiritual “exercise.” Not many Westerners who practice yoga know it, but it was originally a method to gain physical and spiritual health. If we participate in yoga, we must guard against its “spiritual” aspect. Let us explain this a bit further.

The Oxford American Dictionary says of “yoga:” “A Hindu spiritual and ascetic discipline, a part of which, including breath control, simple meditation, and the adoption of specific bodily postures, is widely practiced for health and relaxation. The yoga widely known in the West is based on hatha yoga, which forms one aspect of the ancient Hindu system of religious and ascetic observance and meditation, the highest form of which is raja yoga and the ultimate aim of which is spiritual purification and self-understanding leading to samadhi or union with the divine.”

Before coming here to the Western Hemisphere, yoga was used to gain some “higher consciousness,” contact with “the Divine,” an “enlightenment.” Yoga is a form of “mysticism” whereby you contemplate enough and self-surrender enough, enabling you to leave this material world and unite with some “higher power” to obtain “higher knowledge.” All the religious jargon aside, yoga was and still is an attempt to replace the Holy Bible and Jesus Christ. The experience, not the Bible, becomes the authority. The experience, not the Bible, is seen as the way to connecting with a “higher power.” The experience, not the Bible, is the manner whereby wisdom and intellect are gained. The experience, not Jesus Christ, is believed to be the way to “spiritual purification.” The experience, not Jesus Christ, is believed to be the path to God. The experience, not Jesus Christ, controls the minds of those who use yoga for spiritual purposes. Unfortunately, once we get in contact with the “spiritual world,” it is not necessarily a connection with the God of Creation, the God of the Bible—Satan works in the spirit world too and we dare not associate with him!

If you as a Christian are interested in merely the physical benefits of yoga, there is nothing sinful about it. Still, and this is most important of all, in light of the information presented above, just remember that your participation in yoga may cause other Christians to stumble. They may consider it “sin” and you would then have to go about it in a different manner. If you do choose to engage in yoga exercises, you also need to “exercise” charity, putting the wellbeing of others ahead of your own.

For example, a fellow Christian may approach you about yoga, saying, “Hey, is not yoga something sinful, something of heathen origin? Why do you do it? Christians should not get involved with that!” At that point, you would need to address his or her concern, lest the Adversary get the advantage. In your mind, you are not sinning. You are not repeating the prayers and chants and engaging in its other pagan practices; you are exercising simply for health reasons. If ever in such a situation, explain it to them clearly and firmly, but gently and lovingly: “I do not agree with the spiritual aspect of yoga, its false theology, and I do not utter the pagan chants or prayers while doing it. I am merely interested in the physical benefits of yoga.”

A Christian who does not yet fully understand that Father God has given us liberty in Christ, may still have problems reconciling your actions in his or her mind, so then it would then be best not to do yoga in public (or at least, not in his or her presence). Maybe consider doing yoga exercises in the privacy of your home (like with DVDs or CDs), whereby no Christians would stumble? That may be the best alternative to running the risk of causing others to stumble, or tainting your testimony. You should choose how to go about doing it, in light of the following information.

Any weaker Christians should definitely not engage in yoga at all (until they resolve in their minds that they can keep themselves spiritually pure, they will damage their spiritual health). A general rule of thumb for all life decisions, not just yoga, is the following: If there is doubt about doing it, then do not do it. “For whatsoever is not of faith is sin” (Romans 14:23b). If you think you can keep yourself spiritually pure while exercising in yoga, it is not a sin. Just walk in charity, keeping others in mind. If you regard yoga as something to be avoided entirely, then it is your prerogative to avoid it.

If you want to engage in yoga exercises merely for physical purposes, you are highly encouraged to read Romans 14:1-23, 1 Corinthians 8:1-13, and 1 Corinthians 10:23-33—these passages are reminders of how we are to “exercise” our liberty in Christ without harming other Christians. A common conundrum among the Gentile believers of Paul’s day was, “Is it okay to eat meat (or, food in general) that was once sacrificed to pagan idols? Will that diet of heathen offerings give me a bad standing before God? Can that idol (false religious system) defile me by means of that food?”

The Bible says in Romans chapter 14: “[7] For none of us liveth to himself, and no man dieth to himself. [8] For whether we live, we live unto the Lord; and whether we die, we die unto the Lord: whether we live therefore, or die, we are the Lord’s. [9] For to this end Christ both died, and rose, and revived, that he might be Lord both of the dead and living. [13] Let us not therefore judge one another any more: but judge this rather, that no man put a stumblingblock or an occasion to fall in his brother’s way. [14] I know, and am persuaded by the Lord Jesus, that there is nothing unclean of itself: but to him that esteemeth any thing to be unclean, to him it is unclean. [15] But if thy brother be grieved with thy meat, now walkest thou not charitably. Destroy not him with thy meat, for whom Christ died. [16] Let not then your good be evil spoken of: [17] For the kingdom of God is not meat and drink; but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost. [18] For he that in these things serveth Christ is acceptable to God, and approved of men. [19] Let us therefore follow after the things which make for peace, and things wherewith one may edify another. [20] For meat destroy not the work of God. All things indeed are pure; but it is evil for that man who eateth with offence. [21] It is good neither to eat flesh, nor to drink wine, nor any thing whereby thy brother stumbleth, or is offended, or is made weak. [22] Hast thou faith? have it to thyself before God. Happy is he that condemneth not himself in that thing which he alloweth. [23] And he that doubteth is damned if he eat, because he eateth not of faith: for whatsoever is not of faith is sin.”

Notice that the Christians stronger in the faith (more mature in the Word of God)—such as the Apostle Paul—knew there was nothing wrong with that food that had been offered to idols. The idol was dead (unable to defile the food), the food was hence still good, and Paul had no problem eating it. He had a strong conscience about it. That was his liberty in Jesus Christ. Still, Paul would also walk “charitably,” seeking the good of those around him. If a weaker Christian (a Christian with a weak conscience, someone who was less mature in the Word of God) had a problem with Paul’s action, if the weaker Christian voiced concern that eating meat offered to idols was sinful, then Paul said he refrained from doing it for the brother or sister’s sake. The Apostle knew that it was better to do without something, than to have it and then use it to spiritually harm another believer. He did not want to do Satan’s work. He refused to be a stumblingblock to others when it came to this or any other action. Friends, grace living seeks the benefit of others; grace living is not selfish living but selfless living!

We read of this matter further in 1 Corinthians chapter 8: “[1] Now as touching things offered unto idols, we know that we all have knowledge. Knowledge puffeth up, but charity edifieth. [2] And if any man think that he knoweth any thing, he knoweth nothing yet as he ought to know. [3] But if any man love God, the same is known of him. [4] As concerning therefore the eating of those things that are offered in sacrifice unto idols, we know that an idol is nothing in the world, and that there is none other God but one. [5] For though there be that are called gods, whether in heaven or in earth, (as there be gods many, and lords many,) [6] But to us there is but one God, the Father, of whom are all things, and we in him; and one Lord Jesus Christ, by whom are all things, and we by him. [7] Howbeit there is not in every man that knowledge: for some with conscience of the idol unto this hour eat it as a thing offered unto an idol; and their conscience being weak is defiled. [8] But meat commendeth us not to God: for neither, if we eat, are we the better; neither, if we eat not, are we the worse. [9] But take heed lest by any means this liberty of yours become a stumblingblock to them that are weak. [10] For if any man see thee which hast knowledge sit at meat in the idol’s temple, shall not the conscience of him which is weak be emboldened to eat those things which are offered to idols; [11] And through thy knowledge shall the weak brother perish, for whom Christ died? [12] But when ye sin so against the brethren, and wound their weak conscience, ye sin against Christ. [13] Wherefore, if meat make my brother to offend, I will eat no flesh while the world standeth, lest I make my brother to offend.”

The Apostle continued in 1 Corinthians chapter 10: “[23] All things are lawful for me, but all things are not expedient: all things are lawful for me, but all things edify not. [24] Let no man seek his own, but every man another’s wealth. [25] Whatsoever is sold in the shambles [marketplace], that eat, asking no question for conscience sake: [26] For the earth is the Lord’s, and the fulness thereof. [27] If any of them that believe not bid you to a feast, and ye be disposed to go; whatsoever is set before you, eat, asking no question for conscience sake. [28] But if any man say unto you, this is offered in sacrifice unto idols, eat not for his sake that shewed it, and for conscience sake: for the earth is the Lord’s, and the fulness thereof: [29] Conscience, I say, not thine own, but of the other: for why is my liberty judged of another man’s conscience? [30] For if I by grace be a partaker, why am I evil spoken of for that for which I give thanks? [31] Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God. [32] Give none offence, neither to the Jews, nor to the Gentiles, nor to the church of God: [33] Even as I please all men in all things, not seeking mine own profit, but the profit of many, that they may be saved.”

In Greek culture such as in Corinth, animals were offered as sacrifices in pagan temples and then the meat was sold in the marketplace. Some Christians just refused to eat any meat, fearing they would pollute themselves with that which came from a heathen temple. Other Christians, the more mature ones, knew the idols were nothing and the idols did not harm the food, so these Christians considered the meat clean to eat. Regardless of which type of Christian they were, Paul urged all Christians: “Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God.” We should ultimately seek God’s praise and glory in all that we do, paying close attention that we build up other Christians with our actions instead of tearing them down.

CONCLUSION

You can follow the yoga exercise techniques without agreeing with the false theology behind it and without uttering the religious nonsense chanted—just be sure not to let Satan use yoga as a gateway to influence your thinking! (It would be for that reason that weaker Christians not engage in yoga at all.)

There is a lot of “religious mumbo-jumbo” associated with yoga, so you have to “exercise” great caution when getting into it. I do not see anything sinful about a Christian participating in yoga, so long as he or she strictly follows the exercise movements (and does not repeat the phrases, “mantras,” thinking the vain prayers, which may or may not be in English, and which may contain a variety of false religious ideologies, including praise and allegiance to Eastern deities). Instead of uttering chants about false religion, think about Bible verses and meditate on them. Pray in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ when exercising. This will keep your mind from wandering from sound Bible doctrine.

Using the above applications of grace living (excerpts from Romans and 1 Corinthians), we can better understand what we should do in regards to yoga. It is a personal decision. While eating meat offered to idols is not so much an issue today, the principles of charity remain the same. If we use our liberty in Christ and offend other Christians with our actions, it is best not to engage in those activities again in their presence. If you think it would be in your best interest and the best interest of others to engage in only the physical activities of yoga, then you are free to do so. Just keep in mind that some activities are not profitable to others or ourselves. Certain activities are not sins but weaker Christians may see them as sins, and we have to keep these precious people in mind.

Because of its origin in Eastern religions, some are completely opposed to yoga, fearing the promotion of Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism, et cetera. It would be those who hold this view, that we not cause to stumble. Saint, if you do not believe you should participate in yoga, do not do it. “For whatsoever is not of faith is sin” (Romans 14:23b). Saint, if you want to participate only in the physical activities of yoga, you are free to do so, just use your liberty in Christ with caution, “exercising” attentiveness to any Christians who may be offended, and “exercising” in grace accordingly! 🙂

Also see:
» Should Christians consume alcoholic beverages? (COMING SOON!)
» Should Christians smoke cigarettes? (COMING SOON!)
» Should Christians play the lottery and/or gamble? (COMING SOON)