Monday, November 26, 2012

Facts About Christmas

Facts About Christmas
(Kent E. Heaton Sr.)

Some years ago, a Catholic Priest preached a sermon that Santa Clause was
dead. What a commotion was caused and parents came out of church crying.
Imagine messing with a tradition as strong as that and not getting into a
lot of trouble about it all. It reminds me of the fellow who said he knew
that Santa Clause was real because the Easter bunny had told him so.

Christmas is here again and it looks like it will be here for a very long
time. The longer one tells an untruth, the more it becomes truth - so it is
with Christmas. The sad part is there are children of God who still do not
understand that Christmas is a Catholic mass. To celebrate Christmas as the
birth of Christ is to embrace Catholicism.

As the Catholic church is the mother of all apostasy, her children called
Protestants have followed in her same way. The World Book Encyclopedia
explains that Christmas is of Catholic origin meaning, "Christes Masse".
Bishop Liberius of Rome adopted December 25 as the birth day of Jesus in the
year 354. They chose this date because the feast of the sun, or winter
solstice, was a familiar Roman feast celebrating the victory of light over

The disciples of the New Testament never celebrated the birth of Jesus.
They remembered His death, burial and resurrection once a week but never His
birth. In fact, they lived during the same time of Jesus and could very
well have known what day Jesus was born. They were his age and even older
and Mary His mother was with the disciples in Acts 1. Why was the day of
His birth never given in scripture? It is not important to God!

The Christian should recognize that to take part in any facet of Christmas
as the birth of Christ (mangers, angels, stars, shepherds, wise men, etc.)
is to practice something that God never gave authority for. It makes a
difference to God!

No one knows what day He was born. December 25 could not be the birth day
of Jesus because the shepherds would not be in the field with their sheep
during this time of the year.
The Bible never said to celebrate His birth - the Catholic church did.
Myriad's of secular writers and religious writers affirm that no one knows
the birth date of Jesus.

The wise men never saw Jesus in the manger. Matthew 2:11 says they found
him in a "house." If Herod's order to kill the children from two years old
and under is a help in determining the age of Jesus, a rough guess could be
that Jesus (as a "child" - Matthew 2:11) was at least a year old and maybe a
little older. The reasoning I offer for this is if Jesus is six months old,
why kill two-year-old children? Herod wanted to make certain the baby Jesus
was killed. (I suggest this only as an idea - not really worth a plug
nickel but food for thought) The fact is though - Jesus was a child when
the Wise men saw him.

No one knows how many wise men there were. There could have been three,
four, five, twenty-five or ten. No one knows. To suggest there were three
because three gifts were given is to suggest that if you received three
gifts for your birthday that three people gave them to you.

The church in Trenton will not celebrate today or next week in any fashion
that points to the birth of Jesus. Is this because we do not accept or
believe in His birth? On the contrary, the greatest birth ever blessed upon
this world was that holy night of redemption. We will celebrate his death,
burial and resurrection as we do each first day of the week.

It is important to us that we follow the Bible and the Bible alone.
"Christmas" is not found in God's holy writ. That matters to us and we pray
it will matter to you. It is a nice thought to celebrate the birth of Jesus
but God said that we could not add to His revelation - even if an angel said
so. (Galatians 1:9,10) Christmas did not come from the mind of God and God
minds what we say comes from Him. We are seeking the paths of God's will
and we ask you to join with us in that journey.

Kent E. Heaton Sr.
P. O. Box 265
Trenton, Florida 32693

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Has Anyone Seen God?

Has Anyone Seen God?

The Argument:

Has anyone seen God? John 1:18 No man hath seen God at any time. (Ex 33:20; Tim. 6:16; John 6:46; I John 4:12) Gen. 32:30 For I have seen god face to face. (Ex. 33:11, 23; Is. 6:1; Job 42:5)

How do you harmonize these passages?

The Answer:

Seeing  God "face to face" is the highest imaginable experience.  A person gets so close to "face to face" that they cannot imagine getting any closer.  So, when a person says he came "face to face" with death, they mean that they cannot imagine getting any closer to the actual experience.

Still, it is a figure of speech.  Mortals cannot literally look into the face of God and live. This body is not suitable for such an event.  Thus, God has revealed Himself in veiled ways and some have come closer to the experience than others in meeting God in as personable way as can be allowed.  The experience was far more intimate and personal than before, and so, in comparison to prior experiences, a person might be known to say that, as far as he was concerned, he had seen God "face to face".  If we allow for figures of speech (which we must), then we cannot consider these face-to-face statements to be any more of a contradiction than the example of the biography that said both "he went to church"( meaning "usually" in one context) and in a later part of the biography we find "he did not go to church" (meaning with reference to a specific day when he was sick).  There is a way for both statements to be true in their various contexts.

If one text says "no man has seen God" (with, perhaps, an unveiled, fully revealed, presence in mind) and another passage shows where man "saw God" (but has in mind, a close encounter, but somewhat less than full disclosure of His actual glory), then the language does not represent an actual ontradiction. It would be that a figure of speech was used in the encounter much like "I came face to face with death".  To counter my argument, which admittedly was not a full treatment of the subject, one writer presented the case for a real, face-to-face encounter between Moses and God. The writer appeals to the

following passage:

Exodus 33:7 -Now Moses used to take the tent and pitch it outside the camp, far off from the camp; he called it the tent of meeting. And everyone who sought the LORD would go out to the tent of meeting, which was outside the camp. 8 Whenever Moses went out to the tent, all the people would rise and stand, each of them, at the entrance of their tents and watch Moses until he had gone into the tent.  9 When Moses entered the tent, the pillar of cloud would descend and stand at the entrance of the tent,   and the LORD would speak with Moses. 10 When all the people saw the pillar of cloud standing at the entrance of the tent, all the people would rise and bow down, all of them, at the entrance of their tent. 11 Thus the LORD used to speak to Moses face to face, as one speaks to a friend. Then he would return to the camp; but his young assistant, Joshua son of Nun, would not leave the tent.

Note: What gives away the fact that this is not a literal "face-to-face" (viewing each other personally) encounter?  Well, verse 9 has Moses inside the tent and verse 10 has the Lord in the "pillar of cloud"(which conceals full glory) and "at the entrance of the tent" (which is not actually inside and unconcealed where Moses was).  No doubt it was special, a very close encounter. But, this was still not unveiled face-to-face (personally looking in the literal face of God). Two Muslim women could talk face to face as one speaks to a friend and still have their veils on.  The expression "face-to-face" does not tell us how naked or covered their literal faces were.  It speaks of a more intimate encounter and conversation than God had with the other people.  In comparison to the others, it was face to face, that is, much more intimate than their own encounter.

It would be much like watching a robber on a monitor and seeing his disguised form move face to face with the store clerk.  Even if the robber were wearing a mask, it would still be a face-to-face encounter between the robber and the clerk, but it would not be face to face with those viewing only the monitor or seeing this happen from a distance.  But, to further demonstrate that Moses did not have an unveiled encounter with God, we see Moses admitting this just a few verses later.

18 Moses said, "Show me your glory, I pray."

19 And he said, "I will make all my goodness pass before you, and  will proclaim before you the name, 'The LORD'; and I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will show mercy on whom I will show mercy. 20 But," he said, "you cannot see my face; for no one shall see me and live."

Note: How could it be "face to face" without seeing His face?  By "face to face" meaning close, intimate, and personal encounter rather than having to do with what Moses actually SAW with his own eyes.  The expression "face to face" does not have to do with what we SEE. It is an expression of close, intimate encounter.  Thus, it is a figure of speech in this context.  To get around this, the Bible critic invents the idea that this part of the passage "contradicts" the other part, or they try to rationalize that two different  authors are involved in which the first writer is contradicted by the later writer.  No, there is no contradiction.  There is simply a misunderstanding (intentional or unintentional) as to what is meant by "face to face".

21 And the LORD continued, "See, there is a place by me where you shall stand on the rock; 22 and while my glory passes by I will put you in a cleft of the rock, and I will cover you with my hand until I have passed by; 23 then I will take away my hand, and you shall see my back; but my face shall not be seen."

Now, to counter my argument, Mr. Weida (or Vida) said:

It is quite obvious from the reading in exodus that god actually comes down and makes his presence,  possibly physical, known to Moses in direct contact, face to face, as one speaks to a friend. This doesn't indicate to me that the relationship god and Moses had was "face to face" figuratively, as one speaks to a friend. It indicates literally, as one would sit down and speak to a friend, literally face to face,

My Reply:

The Hebrew word has various shades of meaning. A common nuance is "presence to presence",  The word is most commonly rendered "before", which means in this case that each one was before the other (saying nothing about what was literally seen or how extensively revealed or covered each party was).  So, all we can gather from the context is that Moses met "face to face" with God, and that expression does not reflect what either party actually SAW.

It was a literal "presence to presence" confrontation, but the expression is also not a literal, precise declaration of what Moses SAW.  The store clerk came face to face with a robber, but that does not tell us anything about the literal face of the robber.  He could be wearing a mask and it is still a face to face experience. Our text tells us that Moses COULD NOT see the actual face of God and live.  So, there are various levels of interaction, and face to face was not, in this case, a SIGHT-OF-GOD'S-FACE matter, but a close, person-to-person presence with each other.

The text tells us specifically where Moses was (in the tent), where God was (in a cloud at the door of the tent) and specifically what Moses DID NOT SEE.  The text also tells exactly WHY Moses could not see the actual face of God. It was because "no man can see the face of God and live".  This is a much more intimate encounter that man is not suited to experience.  Therefore, SPEAKING face to face as one speaks to a friend, does not equate with SEEING the actual face of God.  "Face to face" is a manner of speech, confrontation, communication, but does not necessarily relate to what one SEES in the face to face experience.  I have shown that the context defines the nature of the face to face as close encounter and intimate communication. There are other passages that have this same connotation:

Strong's defines "paniym" (paw-neem'); plural (but always as singular) of an unused noun [paneh (paw-neh'); from OT:6437]; the face (as the part that turns); used in a great variety of applications (literally and figuratively); also (with prepositional prefix) as a preposition (before,etc.):


(Biblesoft's New Exhaustive Strong's Numbers and Concordance with Expanded Greek-Hebrew Dictionary. Copyright (c) 1994, Biblesoft and International Bible Translators, Inc.)

 Num 12:8

8 I speak with him face to face, Even plainly, and not in dark sayings; And he sees the form of the LORD.

Why then were you not afraid To speak against My servant Moses?" NKJV

This passage pertains to the closeness and more direct SPEAKING and HEARING experience and explains that face to face means "EVEN PLAINLY" and not in dark sayings, and he SEES THE FORM of the Lord (not His face).  Therefore, face to face does not have to do with what one SEES, necessarily, but in the proximity of two individuals in communication.

Num 14:13-15

13 And Moses said to the LORD: "Then the Egyptians will hear it, for by Your might You brought these people up from among them, 14 and they will tell it to the inhabitants of this land. They have heard that You, LORD, are among these people; that You, LORD, are seen face to face and that Your cloud stands above them; and You go before them in a pillar of cloud by day and in a pillar of fire by night.  NKJV

This passage claims that compared to other people, Israel saw God face to face in the presence they saw in the cloud and pillar of fire.  This was a face to face experience for the Israelites, though it does not make a claim about them seeing the actual face of God.

Deut 5:3-6

3 The LORD did not make this covenant with our fathers, but with us, those who are here today, all of us who are alive. 4 The LORD talked with you face to face on the mountain from the midst of the fire. 5 I stood between the LORD and you at that time, to declare to you the word of the LORD; for you were afraid because of the fire, and you did not go up the mountain. He said:

6'I am the LORD your God who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage.NKJV

Once again, this is a passage that denotes "presence to presence" as the nature of the "face to face" experience, but says nothing about them seeing God in all His unveiled, radiant glory, or seeing His face.

Deut 34:10-12

10 But since then there has not arisen in Israel a prophet like Moses, whom the LORD knew face to face, 11 in all the signs and wonders which the LORDsent  him to do in the land of Egypt, before Pharaoh, before all his servants, and in all his land, 12 and by all that mighty power and all the great terror which Moses performed in the sight of all Israel. NKJV

This passage shows that Moses knew the Lord face to face IN ALL THE SIGNS AND WONDERS. It is a claim to the intimate connection Moses had with God, but does not relate to Moses glaring in the unveiled face of God.

Ezek 20:34-37

 35 And I will bring you into the wilderness of the peoples, and there I will plead My case with you face to face. 36 Just as I pleaded My case with your fathers in the wilderness of the land of Egypt, so I will plead My case with you," says the Lord GOD. NKJV

This is long after the Babylonian Captivity.  The same idea of what face to face meant is continued.  God wanted to plead with them face to face. But, He wanted to do it in the same manner that He did it in the wilderness of the land of Egypt.  But, in the wilderness of the land of Egypt they did not look directly into the unveiled face of God, nor did He present Himself to them in that way. The evidence shows that face to face speaks of presence to presence communication, but does not always relate to what one sees, or even if one sees the actual face of God.  Therefore, I must conclude that Mr. Weida (Vida) is mistaken as to what the passages speak of in Exodus, Isaiah, and Job.  Each case was a close encounter of a personal nature, but in neither case does the text say that man saw the actual face of God.  They saw a form, or a cloud, or a mental dream-vision, or a pillar of fire, or a whirlwind, or some other veiled experience, but they did not see the unveiled, actual face of God and live to tell about it.  This cannot be done until we are clothed with that immortal body that is suited to the glorious experience.

Terry W. Benton

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Unconditional Love?

Unconditional Love?

That God’s love is “unconditional” means one thing to one person and a different thing to someone else. The Bible does not use the expression “unconditional love” but does imply it.  God “so loved” the world (John 3:16).  That would mean that love is what moved Him to give His Son for the sinful world.  Paul said that he loved us “while we were yet sinners” (Rom.5:8).  Thus, it was not a situation of God would love us IF…..  God loved us when we were at our worst. Thus, in that regard, it was an unconditional love.  But, what does that mean?  Some seem to think that because God loves us all unconditionally, that therefore He ACCEPTS us unconditionally.  Is this what the Bible really teaches?

False Concepts of God’s Love


One clearly false concept is that God only loves us IF we perfectly obey Him.  But, that is not the case because the Bible says He loved us at our worst, “while we were yet sinners”(Rom.5:8).  The Prodigal Son’s father loved him unconditionally, but certainly was not pleased with his son’s choices. To love is not to accept any and all behavior.  A parent can “so love” a child but not be pleased with the lifestyle of that child.  Still,  love is what causes the parent to keep hoping for a turn around and return of the lost child.  Love longs for a turning point in the thinking of the child, and love is unconditional.  But, love does not accept the child in rebellious behavior.  The prodigal son’s father never stopped loving his son, but there was broken fellowship and relationship.  The father was not glad about the son’s choices and behavior, and did not pretend that relationship remained the same as ever.  Perfect obedience was not the reason he loved his son.  He loved his son while he was yet a sinner in hope of his son’s coming to himself and returning in humility. Love is that way.  God is not a God who takes pleasure in wickedness (Psalm 5:4-6). A person determined to keep practicing sin is certainly not acceptable to the Lord (Prov.15:8-9).  Love means God longs for a sinner who is ruining his life and his potential, longing for the sinner to wake up and turn back to God. God’s love causes Him to also hate what the sinner represents and how that sinner influences others to ruin their lives as well (Rom.1:20ff).

A similar false concept is that “God Only Loves Us BECAUSE We Deserve His Love”.  God’s love is totally unconditional. The Character of God Is LOVE.  Relationship with God is in fact conditional. Love does not equate to relationship and acceptance.  As an illustration we might say that George loves everyone. Does everyone love George? And Does George automatically let everyone in his house?  Can we not love our enemies without trusting them with our house and our children?  Love does not equate with relationship and acceptance.

Things God’s Love Will NOT Do


Love will not automatically accept you “as you are” if that means “as you have been”. Love does not mean I accept my child as a murderer or adulterer or thief.  Love means I have “good will” for someone and will help them get right with God.  If one is “continuing in sin”, love means that I am sad for them and long for their salvation from sin and ruin.

Love does not automatically forgive you.  Forgiveness is conditioned on being “in Christ”(Eph.1:3,7; Gal.3:26-27). Love longs for our forgiveness and will provide a just way that it can happen if we want it. There are conditions for coming into Christ where forgiveness is enjoyed.   God’s love longs to forgive, but will not automatically accept you “as you are”, if that means you are going to decide to continue as you are.

Love will not force your love and service to Him. It will not force you to act against your will, but yearns to get you to change your will in His favor.  Therefore, love will not, by itself, prevent you from going to torment or hell. God loved even the rich man, but the rich man still went to torment (Luke 16:19f). It was not that God did not love him. It was that the rich man did not love God and therefore did not love his fellow man. 

Things God’s Love WILL Do


God’s love will provide a conditional way for you to be saved. (John 3:16; Mark 16:15-16). These conditions do not merit salvation on your end.  They are things that you MUST do (Acts 2:37-41), and yet they are not works of merit whereby God OWES us anything (Eph.2:8-9).  Belief and baptism in Jesus’ name are not meritorious works, nor are they works of perfect law-keeping.  They are both actions of mind, will, and appeal to God for His mercy.  God loves us and will forgive us if we believe, repent, and are baptized in Jesus’ name for remission of sins.  God’s love provides the remission of sins and the conditions.

These conditions are within your power to do. There is no excuse for not meeting these conditions.

God’s love will try to attract your better possibilities and potential and will provide the greatest incentives for you to repent (Rom.2:4-8). Heaven and Hell are incentives, but God’s amazing love and fellowship is a primary incentive.

God’s love is so great that He will do what is painful to Himself in order to be merciful and just in an effort to win your love and fellowship.  God IS Love. (1 John 3).

How do we define His Love?


We cannot define it as automatic acceptance.  It does not mean that none will be lost. What does it mean? It means that there is “good will”, mercy, and compassion already resident within His character. It is there driving Jesus to the cross for your possible salvation. It is your greatest opportunity in life to have reconciliation with God now so that He can bring you home to glory.

Don’t blow your opportunity to experience and enjoy His greatness of Being. There are conditions for being made acceptable (Rom.5:1f).  We see how 3,000 Jews came from lost and condemned to being acceptable, having remission of sins (Acts 2:36-41) all because of the love of God.  You have the same opportunity because of His love.  What will your response be?   -Terry W. Benton