Promises and Secrets

Promises and SecretsPromises and Secrets

A website for those not afraid to examine their beliefs, compare them to the real world, and make sure they fit.



Foundations

VIEWPOINT



According to the number of churches out there today, there seems to be no single way to establish good foundations for beliefs that match the Bible. It seems to depend on the beliefs of the person who convinces a new believer that God is real.

FACT



Many churches are different in their beliefs and practices.


BLUE VIEWPOINT



When someone comes to God, the rest of his or her believing life will usually be influenced heavily by the details given to them by the one who introduced them to Him.

The problem is that this usually includes, in addition to some solid foundations, many personal traditions and/or beliefs that are either untrue from the start or based on opinions that strayed from the original truth. I wonder how many are even told about 2 Peter 1:16-18
16 For we did not follow cleverly devised stories when we told you about the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ in power, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty. 17 He received honor and glory from God the Father when the voice came to him from the Majestic Glory, saying, "This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased." 18 We ourselves heard this voice that came from heaven when we were with him on the sacred mountain.

in such a way as to encourage them to learn the true story of Christ.

Think about this for a minute. When one discovers God for the first time, their lives will change depending on the depth of the revelation and its impact on their faith. Now, if the one introducing God is Jewish and does not believe in Jesus Christ, what will this cause the one being converted to infer? What if that persuasive person is Muslim, or Catholic, or Baptist? Each of these faiths brings a unique perspective to the mix of facts and faith. Of course, there are some basics that are common to all these faiths and beliefs - the Old Testament is the foundation for all of them. Beyond that, tradition causes things to get hazy and hard facts become difficult to even find, much less teach to avid new students of faith. This seems to be true regardless of the presence of the facts in the Bible. The problem is getting people to read these facts for themselves and apply them to what they have been taught.

A solid foundation

There is a foundation that all can follow, but the new worldview of many has been so distorted by well-meaning people around them that they no longer feel the need to confirm what they have learned. The best foundation is in the words of the Bible itself, but few have the interest or the fortitude to slow down long enough to compare the facts from the Bible to what they have been taught. That thought is the seed for the purpose of this website - compare your beliefs to the real world and making sure they fit by asking "Are You Sure?". Don't take my word for it. Look at some concepts for your self.

If a traditional Jewish person persuades someone that God is real, no information about Jesus is likely to be passed on to the new believer. Now, without judging whether this is right or wrong, think about how that will compare to the faiths who are founded in Jesus? How will the Buddhists of the world feel about the God of the Jews? It has become painfully obvious that not everyone believes the way the orthodox Jews believe.

Hard to believe, but true

Now, what happens if the successful evangelist is a Muslim? The result will be similar to that involving the Jews, but with the addition of the views of a new "prophet". Again, if Christ is mentioned at all, He will likely be listed as a follower of Muhammad, one who will supposedly recant His own divinity when He returns. Totally overlooked is the fact that there is no reason for Christ to return if He denounces His Own divinity.

In the same way, think about the Catholics, Baptists, Unitarian Universalists, or Seventh-Day Adventists. Each sect will present its own views, some with reasonable arguments and others with no presentation of proof at all. How does one evaluate all this new information that will have a profound impact on their lives?

Not everyone reads it the same way

Well, the obvious answer is the Bible, but you can get ten people to read the same Bible and get ten different "truths" expressed by them. Of course, each person thinks they are correct and have the facts, but if that is the case, how can each one be so different from another on exactly the same issue? And if they are contradictory to each other, how can they all be true?

What is your foundation?

Foundations should be clearly established by authorities, not by the majority of human opinion. Take the day of worship for example. What day does a majority of the churches claim to be the Holy Day that was set aside by God for them? Sunday, right? Now, not to put too fine a point on this issue, but can you find that day named in the Bible? Not by that name! Who established this as "the day of worship" and when did it happen? The day referred to by these churches is "the first day of the week". This day does not even have the stature to deserve a name - just a number. Is there a day that was important enough to God that He gave it a name? The Sabbath! I know, I know. However, look at it this way. What are the facts about calling a day important in the Bible (the source of important foundations)?

Get the facts for the foundation

Everyone (well, most everyone) knows that the Sabbath is the seventh day of the week, and was established by God as a special day during which the Israelites, the only people to whom God was speaking at the time, should do no regular work. Now, many times the phrase "the first day of the week" in the Bible (Matt 28:1
After the Sabbath, at dawn on the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to look at the tomb.

, Mark 16:2
Very early on the first day of the week, just after sunrise, they were on their way to the tomb

, Mark 16:9
When Jesus rose early on the first day of the week, he appeared first to Mary Magdalene, out of whom he had driven seven demons.

, Luke 24:1,
On the first day of the week, very early in the morning, the women took the spices they had prepared and went to the tomb.

John 20:1
Early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene went to the tomb and saw that the stone had been removed from the entrance.

, John 20:19
On the evening of that first day of the week, when the disciples were together, with the doors locked for fear of the Jewish leaders, Jesus came and stood among them and said, "Peace be with you!"

, Acts 20:7
On the first day of the week we came together to break bread. Paul spoke to the people and, because he intended to leave the next day, kept on talking until midnight.

, 1 Cor 16:2
I show two versions here because the NIV is the "common", but incorrect translation of the verse. The Berean Literal Bible is closer to the Greek Interlinear, which shows that the original texts never mention "money":

New International Version
On the first day of every week, each one of you should set aside a sum of money in keeping with your income, saving it up, so that when I come no collections will have to be made.

Berean Literal Bible
Every first of the week, let each of you put something aside, treasuring up whatever he may be prospered in, so that when I might come, then there should be no collections.

) is interpreted as "Sunday" and is used by "Christian" churches as the reason they ignore the Sabbath. However, there are those nasty "facts" you have to deal with.

Take the old staple the people use to "prove" that Sunday is the new day of worship - Acts 20:7
On the first day of the week we came together to break bread. Paul spoke to the people and, because he intended to leave the next day, kept on talking until midnight.

. This is used as the foundation for Sunday Christianity, and that interpretation is not based on any truth. Most Christians have been told that, since the text says that the disciples had gathered to break bread, it must mean that they were establishing a new practice for the day and time of worship. Right? And all of this without finding a single statement from Jesus or any of His disciples to do so.

Make an effort

Without making the slightest effort to find out what was actually happening, some assume that God let people change His law with no sign, no command to do so, and (they hope) no consequences. But, the disciples were only doing what they had been doing all along. The Jews have a practice for the purpose of ending the Sabbath with a blessing ceremony called the Havdalah, which is performed at the end of the Sabbath when or as the sun is going down and the new week is beginning. One of the sites that describe this ceremony is Jewish Virtual Library:

Havdalah is a ceremony recited at the termination of Shabbat and holidays. Its blessings emphasize the distinction between the sacred and the ordinary, particularly in regard to the holy day that is departing and the ordinary weekday that is coming.

Often, a meal accompanies the ceremony (After Havdalah - Melavah Malkah):

The Shabbat afterglow does not end with the havdalah service. It is therefore customary to continue wearing Shabbat finery on Saturday night, and many have the custom of lighting candles on the table after the havdalah.

Sometime on Saturday night it is customary to partake of a meal, called a Melaveh Malka, "Accompanying the [Shabbat] Queen," meal. Ideally, one should wash and eat bread or challah at this meal.

They gather to eat at this time (Acts 20:7
On the first day of the week we came together to break bread. Paul spoke to the people and, because he intended to leave the next day, kept on talking until midnight.

), which is exactly what the scripture says if you read the Greek


(or the direct translation in an Interlinear Bible) and not some paraphrase in most of the "modern" Bibles. So, this "staple" quote used by many as a proof for keeping only Sunday as a worship day is not saying that at all. In fact, further investigation makes the situation seem even more curious.

The phrase "first day of the week" is actually a poor translation of the phrase "on the one of the Sabbaths", or "the first of the Sabbaths", or even could be translated as "the first of the weeks", even though the Greeks did not have a word for "week" (If you need more on this, see page at Jesus' Words Only for a more detailed explanation).

Then go deeper

The best explanation of the misused phrase is a little deeper into the Jewish culture, but still holds the accurate facts about what the phrase actually means in context. The better translation for our modern understanding is "the first day of the weeks", or "the first of the one of the sabbaths". There is a period starting on the first "Sunday" after Passover and running for 7 weeks plus one day to bring us to Pentecost (the "fiftieth" day). The common reference to this period in Paul's day is "the weeks". The day that Jesus rose was on the first day of that first week of the seven weeks. The only way to say this in a factual way in the Greek is "the one of the Sabbaths". This is exactly what the Bible really says in Greek that was translated incorrectly to say "on the first day of the week".

Be careful, even on my site, I may make a mistake

A site at Bible.ca tries to misrepresent this whole discussion by claiming that Sabbath-keepers say that Acts 20:7 actually means that the gathering was on the Sabbath. I haven't heard any Sabbath-keepers make this claim. On their own site, Bible.ca shows the correct interpretation of the phrase, but uses the term "weeks" instead of what the word actually says: "sabbaths". However, the term "sabbath" also means a week, or a period of seven days, as they had no word for "week". Since the word used is plural, it does not mean, as Sunday-keepers claim, the first day of every week, but only a particular set of weeks.

Think of it as a phrase sort of like "the twelve days of Christmas". No one suggests that we should celebrate Christmas every twelve days! I contacted them via email and suggested that if they would only investigate why this would be written in the plural (sabbaton (plural) = weeks), they would find out what Acts 20:7 actually says and means. They have responded and will be looking into my "blasphemous" suggestion. One fellow was concerned that I might actually have a point. It has been several months since I received their initial response, but have heard nothing back as yet.

Based on what?

Of course, here is where everyone says "But, that's only for the Jews. We don't have to follow any of the instructions to the Israelites!" The problem with this attitude is that after saying that, they take communion with the Lord, claim to follow the Ten Commandments, try to love God and their neighbor, and claim to spread the Good News. These are all commands given to the Israelites, but for some reason Christians have taken them, after denying that they even pertain to us, as serious actions we do to make our lives and the lives of others better. What about Paul's recommendation to the Corinthians (mostly Greeks, also called Gentiles) in 1 Cor 5:8 to "keep the Festival"?

Therefore, let us keep the Festival, not with the old yeast, the yeast of malice and wickedness, but with bread without yeast, the bread of sincerity and truth.

He was referring to the Passover, the beginning of the Feast of Unleavened Bread, a distinctly Jewish celebration with double meaning. That Festival is where our "communion" comes from, but we won't call it Passover because that would be "Jewish" (eewww!)

It's too easy to be misled

Now you see the real problem. This is how foundations get built on concepts that are not only untrue, but so misleading that millions are led astray with ease. Who cares enough about this information to look into it far enough to find out what is really going on? Worse than that, when you tell people this information, even giving references, they look at you like you are out of your mind. They just can't believe that their pastor, priest, or Bible study minister would lead them astray like that.

Remember, this is a problem because new believers are told what the speaker or teacher believes or was himself told, not because the new believer necessarily read it for himself. For some reason in modern culture, when someone is told something, there seems to be little need to verify that they have the facts before they pass it on. Maybe that's because "everyone's opinion matters" and "that may be true for you, but not for me". All I can say is, remember the Bereans
11 And the people of Berea were more open-minded than those in Thessalonica, and they listened eagerly to Paul's message. They searched the Scriptures day after day to see if Paul and Silas were teaching the truth. (Acts 17:11)

.

How do we fix it?

What do we do? My wife says just don't even try to explain it or you will come off like someone trying to be a know-it-all. That advice, as you can tell by my words on this page, goes against my grain and against the admonition of Christ for us to go and tell the truth (gospel). Jesus said to "go tell the world", not "go tell the world, but let them go on believing something that is not even close to the truth".

While this page is about foundations of faith and where they come from for new Christians, the special day discussion is just one of many where people think they know the facts but have no real idea because they are merely spouting something told them by someone else. Does it matter if that someone was a teacher or a pastor if it is not a fact and can be easily shown to be in error? Think about what you believe about Christmas and Easter, and try to determine where you got your ideas about what they mean. Neither of these distinctly so-called "Christian" holidays has a Christian basis, in fact are contrary to the instructions of God (Deuteronomy 12:4,30-31
You must not worship the LORD your God in their way. (Deut 12:4)

30 "and after they have been destroyed before you, be careful not to be ensnared by inquiring about their gods, saying, 'How do these nations serve their gods? We will do the same.' 31 You must not worship the Lord your God in their way, because in worshiping their gods, they do all kinds of detestable things the Lord hates. They even burn their sons and daughters in the fire as sacrifices to their gods." (Deut 12:30-31)

and Jeremiah 10:2
This is what the LORD says: "Do not learn the ways of the nations or be terrified by signs in the heavens, though the nations are terrified by them."

), yet everyone has some notion about how special to God they must be because everyone celebrates them. Right?

If you are curious about this "blasphemous" statement and why I would say such a thing, please take a look at the menu item on the left side of the main page for "Holidays". I will be interested in your point of view.


Disagree? Find an error? Contact us at glenjjr@gmail.com and give us your view.

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