Images in the Church

“Triumph of Orthodoxy” over iconoclasm under the Byzantine Empress Theodora and her son Michael III. Late 14th – early 15th-century icon.

The question of when the corruption of the church began has many answers. There is no one great corruption from which the church changed from being the virgin bride to being the whore of Babylon we see today.

One of the earliest fights was between the iconoclast i.e. those that destroy icons and those who cherished or venerate the icons, called the iconolaters by the iconoclasts.

Council of Hieria (754)

Held by Byzantine Emperor, Constantine V (741–775)

The synod – which proclaimed itself as the “Seventh Ecumenical Council.” The council condemned the teachings of Patriarch Germanus I and John the Damascene and condemned icon worship.

“Supported by the Holy Scriptures and the Fathers, we declare unanimously, in the name of the Holy Trinity, that there shall be rejected and removed and cursed one of the Christian Church every likeness which is made out of any material and color whatever by the evil art of painters”.

The bishops declared, “the unlawful art of painting living creatures blasphemed the fundamental doctrine of our salvation–namely, the Incarnation of Christ, and contradicted the six holy synods. . . If anyone shall endeavor to represent the forms of the Saints in lifeless pictures with material colors which are of no value (for this notion is vain and introduced by the devil), and does not rather represent their virtues as living images in himself, etc … let him be anathema.”‘

Similar pronouncements on the issue of religious images had been made in Synod of Elvira (c. 305) which stated, “Pictures are not to be placed in churches, so that they do not become objects of worship and adoration.”

However, in just 33 years the tables were turned and the images were encouraged.

Seventh General Council or The Second Council of Nicaea (787AD)

This council restored the use and veneration of icons, which had been suppressed by imperial edict inside the Byzantine Empire during the reign of Leo III (717–741) The son of Constantine V.

The Fifth Session (October 4, 787) — Claimed that the iconoclast heresy came originally from Jews, Saracens, and Manicheans.

The reasoning behind this is found in The Seven Ecumenical Councils by Philip Schaff . The argument goes that St. Gregory Nyssen could not pass by a painting of Abram sacrificing Isaac without crying, so if the ignorant and the simple were to have icons they too might also be moved to tears.

Extracts from the Acts. Session IV.

Extracts from the Acts. Session VI.

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Receiving the Kingdom

16  But Jesus called them to him, saying, “Let the children come to me, and do not hinder them; for to such belongs the kingdom of God. 17 Truly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it.” Luke 18:16 

The Dispensational Futurist have a great deal of trouble explaining these verses. They become very obscure as they puzzle about what appears to them to be an enigmatic statement. This is because their Kingdom is future and literal. Yet neither John the Baptists of Messiah presented the Kingdom as anything but present or in their words “at hand.”

The Kingdom is a spiritual one, with a spiritual temple. We were given just two spiritual sacred sacraments of spiritual communion and a spiritual baptism.

This is why the Kingdom is hidden, lost, full of weeds or full of bad fish. Only those who seek can find it. Only those who listen can hear it.

The Kingdom is present and spiritual but only if one has eyes to see and ears to hear.

Little children have no trouble with the concept that God is here and there,  everywhere in time and space. It is only when one becomes an adult with preconceived notions and grand expectations does the truth become clouded and mysterious.

We need to sit down open our hearts and receive the Kingdom as it is, and not what we want or expect.

Announcement

For those of you who follow this blog, you may have noticed a real slow down in the posting of new papers in the past year. This is because we are working on the finishing editing of commentaries on Daniel and The Revelation. 

The Messianic/Hebrew Roots community has too long been prey to the Dispensationalist Futurist teachings that we have supposedly come out of. So we have produced two works intended to bring the Messianic/Hebrew Roots community back to the teachings of the Reformers so that we might continue their great work of reforming and correcting the errors within the greater Christian Church.

The Dispensationalist teach that the whole world will become corrupt when Antichrist comes. But the Text says that many antichrists have already come, they came from the church, and they were already present in the first century.

18 Children, it is the last hour; and as you have heard that antichrist is coming, so now many antichrists have come; therefore we know that it is the last hour.  19 They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would have continued with us; but they went out, that it might be plain that they all are not of us. 1John 2:18-19

Most of us have for the most part been indoctrinated with dispensationalism. Most have never been exposed to a different way of looking at prophecy. The simple rule that the Reformers used, was to go through the Old Testament and read the prophecies that are known to be fulfilled and look at the history they predicted. Then look at the unfulfilled prophecy for similar language that one should then expect to be fulfilled in a similar fashion.

Here is a brief rundown of the rules of interpretation which are called Hermeneutics.

Which Bible Translation?

We are asked all the time “which translation is best?” Frankly all of them have problems. There is just no way to translate something as large as the Bible without letting ones preconceived notions sneak in, or outright prejudices get put in.

Aside from learning Greek and Hebrew, the best one can do, is know who did the translation that they are using, and what were their preconceived notion and prejudices. For instance the King James Version was translated by men who were making the point that James the King of Scotland was rightfully the king of England as well. Once you know it you will see the doctrine of the “Divine Right of Kings” stressed over and over.

FYI: Biblical Hebrew has about 1000 words. It is a simple language to learn.

We alway use the Revised Standard Version of the Bible in all three of our blogs. Many people have asked us over the years why we use the RSV of the Bible. Many feel that it is inferior to the King James Version, or the American Standard Version. Honestly, all of them are inferior to looking at the original languages of Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek. Because of this we do try to put in a many references to the original languages as we feel can be inserted.

The RSV was translated by liberal scholars, the same scholars that wrote the International Critical Commentary on the Bible. For this one reason alone, students can look up the rationale for any deviant translation. It should be noted that none of these scholarly men believed in the authenticity, or for that matter the authority of the Bible. They were proponents of the “Documentary Hypothesis” a rather dubious belief that the Pentateuch or Torah was not written by Moses, but rather several men over an extended period of time. Yes, the RSV, was translated by these Liberal scholars, giving it the rather humorous altered meaning to its abbreviation, RSV, as the Reviled Stamped on Version! However because of the International Critical Commentary, the RSV is quite simply the only English translation that gives us the reason why a particular translation was made from the original Hebrew, Aramaic or Greek. This allows the reader to study their justification. There is no other English translation that has such a reference. We can only guess at why there are Unicorns in the King James Version.

The International Critical Commentary on the Bible is out of copy-write and anyone can now use it as the title of their book.  The real International Critical Commentary on the Bible is a multi volume encyclopedia size collection, only some of which are available free on the internet.

FYI: We don’t actually recommend that anyone use these commentaries without prior reading of the first 13 chapters in Gleason Archer Jr’s. A Survey of the Old Testament Introduction. Archer carefully explains how invalid their preconceived notions are. The use of these books is a little like studying evolution in order to study biology. It is the same with theology, you must understand what these men have done in order to understand much of what has been written in the last century or so. So, although these books are absolutely wrong in their preconceived notions, they are linguistically valuable.

Recommended reading

Archer Jr., GLEASON  A Survey of the Old Testament Introduction. The best place to start is the first 13 chapters where he provides a complete overview to this late dating nonsense.

Oswald, T.  Allis – The Old Testament Its Claims and Its Critics

Unequally Yoked

What accord has Christ with Belial?

11   Our mouth is open to you, Corinthians; our heart is wide.  12 You are not restricted by us, but you are restricted in your own affections.  13 In return — I speak as to children — widen your hearts also. 

14   Do not be mismated with unbelievers. For what partnership have righteousness and iniquity? Or what fellowship has light with darkness?  15 What accord has Christ with Belial? Or what has a believer in common with an unbeliever?  16 What agreement has the temple of God with idols? For we are the temple of the living God; as God said, “I will live in them and move among them, and I will be their God, and they shall be my people.  17 Therefore come out from them, and be separate from them, says the Lord, and touch nothing unclean; then I will welcome you,  18 and I will be a father to you, and you shall be my sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty.” 

7:1   Since we have these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from every defilement of body and spirit, and make holiness perfect in the fear of God. 2Cor. 6:11-7:1

The RSV here uses “mismated” instead of the old English “unequally yoked.” The one verse is usually used to warn young people not to marry outside the faith. However the text is not addressing marriage. For the most part, marriages were arranged in the first century Roman Empire. It is addressing paganism within the congregation. The Greek word hererozugeo has more the idea of do not attempt to work together with unbelievers or do not become partners with unbelievers. They have not part in the work of the congregation, they cannot and should not try to make disciples.

There is great danger in working with those who interests and designs are the opposite of sound Bible teachings.

Iniquity

The average English Bible reader never asks what iniquity means. They just have a vague understanding that it has something to do with sin. The English word iniquity is the translation of the Greek word animos, means to be lawless. The post-modern church has when these lawless verse come up, taught that they are generally about civil law. The civil law at the time was Roman law, and other than paying taxes, Roman law held in distain.  The early church encouraged their people to break Roman law any time it conflicted with God’s law.  This leads us to the only conclusion that animos is one who breaks Torah or a Torah Breaker.

Torah roots from yara which means to throw or shoot. It is the instructions as to how to hit the mark we are supposed to me aiming for. You have heard that sin is missing the mark. Iniquity is saying there is no mark, or the mark in no longer valid, or here this is a way around the mark.

Belial

Belial seems to pop up out of nowhere in the English translations. In English Bibles it appears only this one time. However belial is a Hebrew word that is used of worthless people of the worse sort.

12 “If you hear in one of your cities, which the LORD your God gives you to dwell there, 13 that certain base fellows have gone out among you and have drawn away the inhabitants of the city, saying, ‘Let us go and serve other gods,’ which you have not known, 14 then you shall inquire and make search and ask diligently; and behold, if it be true and certain that such an abominable thing has been done among you, 15 you shall surely put the inhabitants of that city to the sword, destroying it utterly, all who are in it and its cattle, with the edge of the sword. Deut. 13:12-15

Take heed lest there be a base thought in your heart, and you say, ‘The seventh year, the year of release is near,’ and your eye be hostile to your poor brother, and you give him nothing, and he cry to the LORD against you, and it be sin in you. Deut. 15:9

As they were making their hearts merry, behold, the men of the city, base fellows, beset the house round about, beating on the door; and they said to the old man, the master of the house, “Bring out the man who came into your house, that we may know him.” Judg. 19:22

Now therefore give up the men, the base fellows in Gibe-ah, that we may put them to death, and put away evil from Israel.” But the Benjaminites would not listen to the voice of their brethren, the people of Israel. Judg. 20:13

Do not regard your maidservant as a base woman, for all along I have been speaking out of my great anxiety and vexation.” 1Sam. 1:16

Now the sons of Eli were worthless men; they had no regard for the LORD. 1Sam. 2:12; c.f. Psa. 41:8; Psa. 101:3; Prov. 6:12

These are the false believers that lead others astray.

Temple

The Bible clearly states that, “we are the temple of the living God.” There is no need for one of bricks and stone. The word here for temple is naos not hieron. The Greek word heiron is the brick and stone building and its surroundings. Naos is the room at the back or where the Holy of Holies was. The word heiron is only used in the Gospels and Acts except one verse 1Cor. 9:13. The rest of the epistles and The Revelation speak only of the naos. We are not the whole temple, just the naos. The room at the back were one meets God. We are the ark of the covenant. We are the seat of God. That is why the physical temple is not needed and the ark will never be found.

And when you have multiplied and increased in the land, in those days, says the LORD, they shall no more say, “The ark of the covenant of the LORD.” It shall not come to mind, or be remembered, or missed; it shall not be made again. Jer. 3:16

Idols

The church has a long history of idolatry. They have rewritten the second commandment from “Thou shalt not make any graven images” except the Roman church can make all they want and at Christmas even the Protestants can have them.

Unclean

Touch nothing unclean, does not mean to causally touch something, hapto means to hold onto, seize in the hand, or light a fire.

And Jesus, perceiving in himself that power had gone forth from him, immediately turned about in the crowd, and said, “Who touched my garments?” Mark 5:30

Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house. Matt. 5:15

The Greek work akatharton can mean ritually unacceptable or evil supernatural spirit.

When Jesus saw that the people came running together, he rebuked the foul spirit, saying unto him, Thou dumb and deaf spirit, I charge thee, come out of him, and enter no more into him. Mark 9:25

In other words we are not to bring into our naos the fire of evil spirits. These are to be removed from our lives. The holiday spirit is not the Holy Spirit.

There is so much belial in the post-modern church that few know what the truth really is. Few read their Bibles. Fewer still pay attention to the cultural, historical, grammatical context. In our Bibliography is a list of books necessary for sound Biblical studies. Most of these book are in the public domain and free to download.

The Adoption of Sons?

As an adopted person this particular passage has always intrigued me. But recently I have been even more reflective.

. . . to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons. Gal. 4:5

Last year just after my 59th birthday my biological family had the records open and made contact. I have three wonderful brothers who come with nieces and nephews not to mention cousins, it’s like being re-adopted. All this has made me think of what it means to be part of a family. There are some odd personal things; like I now have two brothers named David, my biological brothers and I all hate sweet potatoes and yellow squash, and my biological brothers and I can finish each others sentences, in spite of not having known each other.

Then there are traditions and customs that bind the family together. In my biological family I have little in common, no common history, no common stories. My guidelines, principles and rules come from the parents that raised me. Which brings me to my point, what does adoption of sons mean?

There is this teaching in theology called Justification. (See Also: Chapter 11 of our doctrinal statement on Justification) It is the explanation on how we have come to be adopted into God’s family and how one is given the grace to be considered justified before God.

And the free gift is not like the effect of that one man’s sin. For the judgment following one trespass brought condemnation, but the free gift following many trespasses brings justification. Rom. 5:16

The problem is in the dispensational teachings that that we are under grace and that the Law has passed away, which is now taught in this post modern church have gone too far, and has lead the people into believing that they have no responsibilities to God.

What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? Rom. 6:1

I do not nullify the grace of God; for if justification were through the law, then Christ died to no purpose. Gal. 2:21

You leave the commandment of God, and hold fast the tradition of men.” Mark 7:8

They misunderstand what it means to be adopted.

Israel’s Adoption

We don’t think about it much because the Old Testament does not use the word adoption but God chose Israel to be His son.

And you shall say to Pharaoh, ‘Thus says the LORD, Israel is my first-born son, Ex. 4:22

“For you are a people holy to the LORD your God; the LORD your God has chosen you to be a people for his own possession, out of all the peoples that are on the face of the earth. Deut. 7:6 (c.f. Hos. 11:1; Rom. 9:4)

It is an act of grace on God’s part that He sovereignly chooses His own. This adoption symbolizes our new relationship as a justified member of our new spiritual family. [John 17:23; Rom. 5:5-8; 2 Pet. 1:4; John 1:13]

We become children of the living God. [1 Pet. 1:14; 2 John 4; Rom. 8:15-21; Gal. 5:1; Heb. 2:15]

What makes Hebrew Roots or Messianic different is that we then ask, How then are we to live?

Adopter or adoptee?

The post modern church gives lip service to the teaching of Adoption but practices it in reverse as if believers are the adopter and not the adoptee. They insist that God must conform to their culture and traditions and refuse to adopt His culture and traditions, preferring to call His teaching “Jewish” instead of “Biblical.”

The regular churches have decided to take their old pagan traditions and change the names to Biblical ones. The Messianic Hebrew Roots movement sees this as a departure from the true teachings of the Bible. We have decided that if we are adopted sons of Abraham we should learn the traditions and customs of our new family. We no longer wish to be partners  with those old traditions handed down by our pagan ancestors. These ancient traditions came from the worship of demons. We no longer want to commune with demons through maintaining the customs and traditions of our former families.

No, I imply that what pagans sacrifice they offer to demons and not to God. I do not want you to be partners with demons. 21 You cannot drink the cup of the Lord and the cup of demons. You cannot partake of the table of the Lord and the table of demons.   1Cor. 10:20 -21

. . . but now that you have come to know God, or rather to be known by God, how can you turn back again to the weak and beggarly elemental spirits, whose slaves you want to be once more? Gal. 4:9

See to it that no one makes a prey of you by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the universe, and not according to Christ. Col. 2:8 

If with Christ you died to the elemental spirits of the universe, why do you live as if you still belonged to the world? Why do you submit to regulations, Col. 2:20 

Testing Spirits

Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are of God; for many false prophets have gone out into the world. 1John 4:1 

Human traditions can have spiritual deception in them. The Messianic /Hebrew Roots community seeks to identified and removed these deceptions or spirits from our lives.

The source of all things must be determined. If they source from the Word of God, one can be fairly certain that they are of God. If they source from the Babylonian Mystery Religions they are suspect.

“All things are lawful for me,” but not all things are helpful. “All things are lawful for me,” but I will not be enslaved by anything. 1Cor. 6:12 

If it is not helpful why indulge in it? We seek to walk with Messiah not some long forgotten pagan god renamed and mix into our dogma.

So you see that it is men of faith who are the sons of Abraham. Gal. 3:7