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By Andrew V. Ste. Marie

What does studying rotten fish have to do with paleontology? Surprising as it may seem, results of a recent study on the decay of fish carcasses may shed much light on some evolutionary claims. Three scientists from the University of Leicester in the United Kingdom published their research recently in the scientific journal Nature. They were investigating how decay might affect identification in the cases of some supposedly primitive fish-like fossils, such as Cathaymyrus, Metaspriggina, Pikaia, and the Canadian and Chinese yunnanozoans. It has been generally assumed by evolutionists that the decay that may have affected the fossilized animals was random – that is, there was no particular pattern of decay that would have affected identification. Allegedly primitive and advanced characters, or those that are “informative” or “uninformative” for identification would rot away pretty much randomly and not affect identification. Is this a valid assumption? The three University of Leicester scientists put it to the test. The scientists watched the decay of representatives of two types of fish-like creatures, both of which were supposedly advanced or “crown” members of their groups. They collected samples of juvenile lampreys (Lampetra fluviatilis), which are vertebrates of the petromyzontid group, from the River Ure in North Yorkshire, United Kingdom. They also used specimens of Branchiostoma, a fish-like chordate, a group supposedly closely related to vertebrates. These specimens were collected from the coastal waters of Argelès-sur-Mer, France. All of the specimens were killed by a poison overdose, using a chemical which would not adversely affect the decay bacteria. The dead fish were then placed in clear containers filled with water – artificial sea water for Branchiostoma, and filtered, deionised water for the lampreys. The containers were sealed shut and the decay was monitored. The researchers “destructively sampled three individuals of each species at intervals that were varied to capture rapid early decay and later, slower stages” (reference #1). The results of this research were fascinating. The researchers found that as the supposedly “crown” chordate and “crown” vertebrates decayed, they lost their so-called advanced features first, and the “uninformative” features, which these animals supposedly evolved first, were very decay-resistant. This made the carcasses look more and more primitive as they decayed, and the “crown” vertebrate and “crown” chordate decayed until they both looked like “stem chordates.” This means that if the greatly decayed lamprey was fossilized and later discovered, it would be identified by evolutionists as a primitive chordate, when in reality it was what was left after a “crown” petromyzontid (juvenile) had rotted. An article in the same issue of the journal Nature, discussing the results of the study, summarized it well: “Decomposition and the loss of morphological features have the effect of making a fossil seem less evolved than the organism was in life, and therefore closer to an ancestral (stem) position on an evolutionary tree” (#2 in our reference list). The authors of the original study show that the rotten fish they studied really did look similar to some of the supposedly primitive fossil fish-like animals: “The fossil Cathaymyrus…[is thought to be] a stem chordate. However, when viewed in light of the decay bias we have identified, Cathaymyrus is comparable to Branchiostoma at an advanced state of decay…” (emphasis added, from #1 on our reference list). The implications of this are important. The supposed primitive ancestors of vertebrates, including taxa such as Cathaymyrus, Metaspriggina, Pikaia, and the Canadian and Chinese yunnanozoans, may simply be the decayed remnants of more “advanced” looking creatures. Because of this possibility, these fossils cannot be identified confidently, and no evolutionary claims can be made from them. In the meantime, we can have full confidence about the true origin of the first vertebrates, among which were sea dragons, fish, and birds: “And God said, Let the waters bring forth abundantly the moving creature that hath life, and fowl that may fly above the earth in the open firmament of heaven. And God created great whales, and every living creature that moveth, which the waters brought forth abundantly, after their kind, and every winged fowl after his kind: and God saw that it was good” (Genesis 1:20-21).

Thanks to paleontologist Joe Taylor for bringing this research to my attention.

Sources

1. “Non-random decay of chordate characters causes bias in fossil interpretation,” by Robert S. Sansom, Sarah E. Gabbot, & Mark A. Purnell, Nature 463:797-800

2. “Decay distorts ancestry,” by Derek E. G. Briggs, Nature 463:741-743

3. “Rotten Paleontology,” by Ian Juby, Creation/Evolution News, February 25, 2010, www.ianjuby.org/feb25_2010.html (Accessed February 24, 2010)

4. “Novel studies of decomposition shed new light on our earliest fossil ancestry (w/ Video),” www.physorg.com/news184141780.html (Accessed February 24, 2010)

 

Originally published in The Witness March 2010.

By Michael McDaniel

Strange title, right? Let me explain. I have a vinyl siding business, and recently purchased a forklift to unload and position 12’ long pallets of siding. Having never operated a forklift before, I learned quickly that the controls were opposite of what I felt was logical. For example, I pushed the lever forward to lift the pallet, since to me that appeared to be “up.” Wrong. It lowered the pallet down instead! Conversely, to lower the pallet, I instinctively pulled back on the lever, which—to me—logically meant “down.” Wrong again. It lifted the pallet up! The first few times driving the new machine, I found myself falling right back into my predictable pattern of dropping the pallet down when I meant to raise it up, and vice versa. I thought about painting the little arrow indentations on the knob with colors that would dictate the proper action. Then the Lord brought back to my remembrance an old saying that could help me with my dilemma—“The way up is down!” That seemed to fit this situation perfectly. Now when I want to lift a pallet, I know that I must pull back on the lever—pull it down! It is totally counterintuitive to me, but, hey, it works! And isn’t that just how it is in God’s economy? The only way “up” is to first get “low” by humbling ourselves. This kind of thinking is foreign to the world’s mindset. In fact, it is downright ludicrous! Everyone knows that if you want to climb up the social ladder, you must promote yourself above others. Then, others will honor you and hold you in high esteem. But that is totally opposite from how God thinks! We learn in Isaiah 55:8-9: “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.” Let’s look at some passages that reveal God’s higher thoughts to us: Mt 23:12 And whosoever shall exalt himself shall be abased; and he that shall humble himself shall be exalted. Mt 18:4 Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, the same is greatest in the kingdom of heaven. Lu 18:13-14 And the publican, standing afar off, would not lift up so much as his eyes unto heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying, God be merciful to me a sinner. I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other: for every one that exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted. Now that is forklift theology! Oh, we know these and many other scriptures that teach us that the way up—to be highly esteemed by God—is to be lowly and contrite of spirit. But how often do we find ourselves instinctively pushing the lever forward (to go up), when we should be pulling it back (down) instead? Sometimes we have to drop a few pallets in life before we learn this lesson. And, sadly, many never do learn this lesson. Our crafty foe has led us to be filled with pride and self, and we are driven to be puffed up, up, up! And that is precisely and predictably when we fall down, down, down! Not once, but over and over again. It is kind of like me instinctively pushing the lever up when I should have been pulling it down. Our Lord said that if I “exalt myself” then I shall be abased. On the other hand, Jesus said that if I humble myself … I will be exalted. Not in the eyes of men, but in God’s eyes; and those are the eyes that matter, amen? Humble yourselves Now we come to the application—just how do I humble myself before God and man, so that God will lift me up? Some believe that you cannot rightly “humble” yourself, but that you must be humble inwardly by the new nature in Christ. While I agree with that sentiment to a degree, Scripture clearly says in James 4:10: “Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he shall lift you up.” Again, Peter said: “Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time.” (1 Pe 5:6) Therefore, we are to actively humble ourselves before God, and employ that forklift theology that says “the way up is down.” How do we accomplish this “descent”? It all begins in our mind Paul said in Romans 12:3, “For I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith.” Although there are many aspects of humility, we want to focus in on the idea that humility is having the proper perspective about God, ourselves, and others. The Puritan writer, William Law, said: Humility does not consist in having a worse opinion of ourselves than we deserve, or in abasing ourselves lower than we really are; but as all virtue is founded in truth, so humility is founded in a true and just sense of our weakness, misery, and sin. He that rightly feels and lives in this sense of his condition, lives in humility.[1] True humility does not mean that we denigrate or demean ourselves, or constantly put ourselves down. That is false humility and contrived. Some equate self-abasement with some sort of self-flagellation, beating themselves up. No, a true sense of humility must come after we see ourselves as the sinners that we are, and our need for the Saviour. As we walk in this constant awareness of our nothingness and His all-ness, we walk in true humility. Matthew Henry also expressed this idea: Humility is an estimate of ourselves as we are. It is a willingness to be known, and talked of, and treated just according to truth. It is a view of ourselves as lost, poor, and wandering creatures.[2] How do you see yourself? When we begin to see ourselves for who we really are, it can be very humbling. The more we see God for who He is, and realize what Jesus did for us, the smaller we become in our own minds. God becomes incomprehensibly large, and we shrink in comparison. Suddenly, our “good” does not seem so good anymore, and we realize the limitations of our own goodness. Our self-righteousness diminishes as God’s righteousness grows infinitely bigger. Our selfishness is exposed and God’s self-lessness is magnified. Finally, we realize that our love for others is pitiful compared to God’s love for man. Our perspective begins to change, and we become very small in our own eyes, as God becomes preeminent. Our hearts become a funnel, willingly receiving greater love, joy and peace. (Ga 5:22) As Matthew Henry observed, “humility is founded in a true and just sense of our weakness, misery, and sin. He that rightly feels and lives in this sense of his condition, lives in humility.” Destroy the self life Let’s back up another step. Before we can truly see God for how great He is, we must destroy the power of the self life that feeds our pride. As long as we are on the throne of our hearts, God cannot be. As long as we are large in our own eyes, God will not commune with us. So many Scriptures tell of God’s intolerance of pride and self-centeredness: Pr 8:13 The fear of the LORD is to hate evil: pride, and arrogancy, and the evil way, and the froward mouth, do I hate. Ps 138:6 Though the LORD be high, yet hath he respect unto the lowly: but the proud he knoweth afar off. Pr 29:23 A man’s pride shall bring him low: but honour shall uphold the humble in spirit. Ja 4:6 But he giveth more grace. Wherefore he saith, God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble. God’s wounds that heal How are we dethroned, so that Christ may reign? There are many ways that this can be accomplished. God may use discipline or trials and tribulations to break down the strongholds of pride and self in our lives. As He does this through His Holy Spirit, self diminishes and God increases. Why? Because any events in our lives that undermine and destroy self, also exalt God and promote humility. J. Gregory Mantle, in his book The Way of the Cross, stated: “True self-discovery wounds our pride and spoils the good opinions we form and cherish of ourselves.”[3] As this happens, the Spirit plants the seeds of humility in a prepared and plowed heart. Humility through serving others As we see God for how great He is, another wonderful thing happens—we begin to become increasingly aware of the needs and interests of others around us. Philippians 2:3-4 says: “Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves. Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others.” As we affix our gaze upon the Holy One, we will begin to also see His children and their needs. This is a sign that the immature selfish believer is becoming a mature selfless believer. He humbles himself and takes up the basin and the towel, as did Christ when He washed the disciples’ feet. The Master-Servant has shown us how to humble ourselves and serve our brethren. Matthew 20:28 tells us: “Even as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many.” Roy Hession, in his classic book The Calvary Road, stated: The low position we take toward the Lord Jesus is judged by Him by the low position we take in our relationship with our fellows. An unwillingness to serve others in costly, humbling ways, He takes to be an unwillingness to serve Him, and we thus put ourselves out of fellowship with Him.[4] Another wonderful quotation regarding Christian service is by F.B. Meyer: I used to think that God’s gifts were on shelves one above the other and that the taller we grew in Christian character, the more easily we should reach them. I find now that God’s gifts are on shelves one beneath the other and that it is not a question of growing taller, but of stooping lower and that we have to go down, always down, to get His best ones. In Christian service, the branches that bear the most fruit hang the lowest.[5] Is the way down too hard? Forklift theology is an unpopular theology, and one that is rejected by the world. Even the religious world promotes self-esteem, prosperity, and easy-believism … all easy roads, and well traveled. Many are traveling these “upward” roads today, and few are on the downward path. How is it with you, today? Is what I have promoted too hard, and too unrealistic? Consider the question posed by Roy Hession, in The Calvary Road: Does it seem hard and forbidding, this way down? Be assured, it is the only way up. It was the way by which the Lord Jesus reached the throne, and it is the way by which we too reach the place of spiritual power, authority, and fruitfulness.[6] I am still new to my forklift, and when I want to lift the load, I still instinctively want to push the lever up instead of down. But now that little phrase keeps coming back to me before I push it … the way up is down. True with forklifts … true with life!

[1] William Law, as cited in AGES Digital Library (Rio, WI: AGES Software, Inc, 2000) [2] Matthew Henry; Matthew Henry Commentary as cited in AGES Digital Library (Rio, WI: AGES Software, Inc, 2000) [3] Gregory J. Mantle, The Way of the Cross (Rod and Staff Publishers, Inc.; Crockett, KY; 1993); p.19 [4] Roy Hession, The Calvary Road (CLC Publications; Fort Washington, PA, 2002) [5] F.B. Meyer, Topical Encyclopedia of Living Quotations (Bethany House, Minneapolis, MN: 1982) p. 102 [6] Hession, Ibid

Originally published in The Heartbeat of the Remnant (January/February 2010), 400 W. Main Street Ste. 1, Ephrata, PA 17522.

By Andrew V. Ste. Marie

 

            I ask that you forgive me for my bold title.  I know there is a natural temptation for some to laugh over such a bold title, and for others to take offense.  But it is neither with levity nor with a desire to offend that I write this article.  With a great burden for those who are partaking in the sin of telling their children lies about Santa Claus, I write this as a bold warning, yet in a spirit of love.

            Santa Claus is a lie.  No parent can deny this fact.  It does not need demonstration, elaboration, or discussion.  It is a plain fact.  Santa Claus does not exist.  He is a lie.

            What does the Bible say about liars?

 

 

“These six things doth the LORD hate: yea, seven are an abomination unto him: A proud look, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood, An heart that deviseth wicked imaginations, feet that be swift in running to mischief, A false witness that speaketh lies, and he that soweth discord among brethren” (Proverbs 6:16-19).  (Notice that lying is put in the same category with murder!)

 

“He that speaketh truth sheweth forth righteousness: but a false witness deceit.  The lip of truth shall be established for ever: but a lying tongue is but for a moment.  Deceit is in the heart of them that imagine evil: but to the counsellers of peace is joy” (Proverbs 12:17, 19-20).

 

“Lying lips are abomination to the LORD: but they that deal truly are his delight” (Proverbs 12:22).

 

“A true witness delivereth souls: but a deceitful witness speaketh lies” (Proverbs 14:25).

 

“A wholesome tongue is a tree of life: but perverseness therein is a breach in the spirit” (Proverbs 15:4).

 

“Excellent speech becometh not a fool: much less do lying lips a prince” (Proverbs 17:7).  (Has not Christ made us “kings and priests unto God and his Father” [Revelation 1:6]?  If lying lips are not becoming to a prince, how much less a king and priest?)

 

“A false witness shall not be unpunished, and he that speaketh lies shall not escape” (Proverbs 19:5).

 

“A false witness shall not be unpunished, and he that speaketh lies shall perish” (Proverbs 19:9).

 

“The desire of a man is his kindness: and a poor man is better than a liar” (Proverbs 19:22).  (Would you like to be dirt-poor?  According to Solomon, it would be better for you to be dirt-poor than to tell your children lies about Santa!  Why?  Because “he that speaketh lies shall perish” [Proverbs 19:9]!)

 

“Whoso keepeth his mouth and his tongue keepeth his soul from troubles” (Proverbs 21:23).

 

“A lying tongue hateth those that are afflicted by it; and a flattering mouth worketh ruin” (Proverbs 26:28).

 

“They that observe lying vanities forsake their own mercy” (Jonah 2:8).

 

“Provide things honest in the sight of all men” (Romans 12:17b).

 

“[Charity]…rejoiceth in the truth” (I Corinthians 13:6b).

 

“Now I pray to God that ye do no evil; not that we should appear approved, but that ye should do that which is honest, though we be as reprobates” (II Corinthians 13:7).

 

“And be renewed in the spirit of your mind; And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness.  Wherefore putting away lying, speak every man truth with his neighbour: for we are members one of another” (Ephesians 4:23-25).

 

“For ye were sometimes darkness, but now are ye light in the Lord: walk as children of light: (For the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness and righteousness and truth; ) Proving what is acceptable unto the Lord” (Ephesians 5:8-10).

 

“For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables” (II Timothy 4:3-4).

 

“I have not written unto you because ye know not the truth, but because ye know it, and that no lie is of the truth” (IJohn 2:21).

 

“But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death” (Revelation 21:8).

 

“And there shall in no wise enter into it [the heavenly Jerusalem] any thing that defileth, neither whatsoever worketh abomination, or maketh a lie: but they which are written in the Lamb’s book of life” (Revelation 21:27).

 

“For without [the city] are dogs, and sorcerers, and whoremongers, and murderers, and idolaters, and whosoever loveth and maketh a lie” (Revelation 22:15).

 

Please do not think I am yelling.  I want to make very clear the word of God in this matter.  Telling your children about some jolly man who slides down the chimney and leaves presents for them may seem like innocent fun to you, but what does God think about it?  The Bible says “no lie is of the truth” (IJohn 2:21)!

 

            What should the people of God tell their children about Santa Claus?  Tell them the truth: Jesus Christ is real – Santa Claus is not!

 

“For we have not followed cunningly devised fables, when we made known unto you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of his majesty” (II Peter 1:16).

 

Originally published in The Witness December 2010.

(Taken from Martyrs Mirror, p. 560)

In the summer of 1556 there was in the city of Nimeguen, a faithful brother, named Gerrit Hasepoot, a tailor by trade. Having fled from the city, on account of severe persecution, he secretly returned, since his wife and children were still living there. He was seen by the bailiff’s guard, who reported it to their master. The bailiff, a very blood-thirsty man, immediately went after him, and took him with him. Thus this friend of Christ had to separate from his wife and children, and go into prison, tribulation and misery, for the name of Jesus. When very severely examined by the lords of this world, he freely confessed his faith, and was not ashamed of the truth. Rom. 1:16. He was therefore sentenced to death by them, that is, to be burnt at the stake, which sentence he received very bravely. This having taken place, his wife came to him, into the city hall, to speak with him once more, and to take leave and bid her dear husband farewell. She had in her arm an infant, which she could scarcely hold, because of her great grief. When wine was poured out to him, as is customary to do to those sentenced to death (Prov. 31:6), he said to his wife: “I have no desire for this wine; but I hope to drink the new wine, which will be given to me above in the kingdom of my Father.” Thus the two separated with great grief, and bade each other adieu in this world; for the woman could hardly stand on her feet any longer, but seemed to fall into a swoon through grief. When he was led to death, and having been brought from the wagon upon the scaffold, he lifted up his voice, and sang the hymn:

“Father in heaven, I call: Oh, strengthen now my faith.”

Thereupon he fell upon his knees, and fervently prayed to God. Having been placed at the stake, he kicked his slippers from his feet, saying: “It were a pity to burn them for they can be of service still to some poor person.” The rope with which he was to be strangled, becoming a little loose, having not been twisted well by the executioner, he again lifted up his voice, and sang the end of said hymn:

“Brethren, sisters, all, good-bye! We now must separate, Till we meet beyond the sky, With Christ our only Head: For this yourselves prepare, And I’ll await you there.”

The executioner again twisting the rope, this witness of Jesus fell asleep in the Lord and was burnt, voluntarily surrendering for the truth, his perishable body, which he had received from God, and thus fought the fight, finished his course, and kept the faith, and there is now laid up for him the crown of eternal glory.

By Andrew V. Ste. Marie

 

            There is something wrong with that word “nonresistance.”  Perhaps it is more a problem with the English language, which simply has no single word to adequately express the doctrine of nonresistance.

            The early Anabaptists used the German term Wehrlosigkeit, meaning “defenselessness.”  This term, although it does a good job of capturing the spirit of Jesus’ words to be “harmless as doves” (Matthew 10:16), does not capture very much of the doctrine of nonresistance.

            The problem with the words “nonresistance” and “defenselessness” is that they capture only one side of the doctrine.  “I refuse to defend myself and to resist evil, because Jesus said not to.”  This is only one side of the doctrine.  Jesus said to “love your enemies.”  From this we conclude that we cannot shoot and kill our enemies, for “Love worketh no ill to his neighbour” (Romans 13:10).  We need to take better notice of the rest of what Jesus said, however:

 

“Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you” (from Matthew 5:44).

 

Notice the positive side of nonresistance.  Nonresistance does not only have a negative side, i.e., what I will not do, but also a positive side – what I will do.  Read again the underlined words – love, bless, do good, pray for.  This is the positive side.  Not only will I love my enemy enough to not kill him, I will love him enough to do something positive to him, do good to him, and pray a blessing for him from the Lord Jesus.  When someone does something to me which offends me, I will not just ignore him, I will tell him, “May the Lord Jesus bless you.”  If my enemy who did something to me is needy, I will tell him, “Come over to my house for a good meal.”  If my nation is warring against another nation, not only will I not go to participate in the war, if possible and as the Lord leads, I will participate in relief efforts for the suffering people – my “enemies” – of the other nation.

            Unfortunately, discussions of nonresistance sometimes become so full of defending the negative, “what I won’t do” side of the doctrine – which, please understand me, does need to be done – that the beautiful positive side gets very little attention.  In closing here, let us look at a few examples of people who practiced both sides of nonresistance.

 

            The Apostle James.  Acts 12:2 records that Herod “killed James the brother of John with the sword.”  Martyrs Mirror gives more details on his martyrdom.  Not only did he not resist being led out to death, but he forgave his persecutors.  The executioner, seeing James’s trial, was so touched that on the way to the place of execution, he repented of his sins, became a Christian, and asked James’s forgiveness.  James forgave the man and gave him a Christian kiss.  Another man then executed both of them.

            Dirk Willems.  When being pursued by hostile authorities wanting to burn him at the stake, Dirk not only did not hurt them, but turned back at the risk of his life to pull his pursuer from a frozen river he had fallen into.  He was then arrested and burned for his Biblical faith in the Lord Jesus.

            CO’s of WWI.  During World War I, the conscientious objectors from Mennonite, Amish, Brethren, etc. backgrounds suffered immensely for their convictions.  Stories of hangings, beatings, imprisonments, etc. by members of theU.S. military are legion.  Many of them continued steadfast under trial, not giving in to becoming soldiers and treating their persecutors with nonresistant love.  They did not stop at this, however – after the war, many young people from these churches went toEurope to participate in relief work.

            Joseph.  Joseph was a beautiful example of nonresistance who lived, as people say, centuries before his time.  Not only did Joseph refrain from harming his brothers, when he had opportunity, he heaped blessing and good upon them – giving their money back, giving them gifts and a place to live inEgypt, etc.  He did test them, to be sure, but his overall record was one of love and good toward them.

            The Lord Jesus.  Jesus is the ultimate example of all sides of nonresistance.  He not only refrained from harming or wishing evil on his persecutors, but from the cross He prayed for them – “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.”

 

            May the Holy Spirit help us to believe and practice both sides of nonresistance, that we may be “blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom [we] shine as lights in the world” (Philippians 2:15).

By Andrew V. Ste. Marie

What were mammoth hunters like? Most people have the idea that mammoth hunters were hunched-over, brutish creatures, lugging stone clubs around, communicating with grunts, and wearing next to nothing. Much scientific research has shown that this view is quite inaccurate. Most recently, research on the Clute Mammoth has come to light which seriously challenges the view of mammoth hunters as ignorant, half-ape creatures. In May of 2003, the remains of a Columbian Mammoth (nicknamed “Asiel,” meaning “created by God”) were discovered in a commercial sandpit in Clute, Texas. The creature was excavated by Texas A&M University, and creationist paleontologist Joe Taylor was involved in the research as well. Bones of various other Ice Age animals – such as deer, sloth, turtle, whale, etc. – were also found in the pit. Three objects found with the mammoth were much more important than the mammoth itself. On the last day of the dig (February 22, 2004) a wooden bowl was discovered! Amazing! Did mammoth hunters make wooden bowls? This discovery implies they did! Unfortunately, the bowl was not found in situ – the excavator disturbed the context and found the bowl later. Evolutionary scientists believe the bowl came from the same sand layer the mammoth was found in, but about five feet higher than the mammoth. They think the bowl is about 61,000 years younger than the mammoth. The facts surrounding the site strongly suggest this could not be true. In 2006, the bones and some bags of soil from the site were sent to the fossil laboratories of the Mt. Blanco Fossil Museum, where Joe Taylor works. He re-identified many of the bones and also looked through the bags of soil. What he discovered in the sand bags (which apparently had not been thoroughly searched for bones and artifacts) was even more shocking than the wooden bowl! In one bag, he found what appeared to him to be a shard of pottery! Mammoth hunters making pottery? This certainly does not fit our image of cave men! Upon closer inspection, the pottery had a cross-weaved pattern and appeared to have been fired; Taylor thought it looked like a woven grass bowl which had layers of clay added to it and was then fired on both sides. A Texas Tech scientist thin-sectioned the piece and found that Taylor was exactly right – it was a piece of low-fired pottery with plant inclusions. He even found a head of grain in it. Another amazing discovery was yet to be made. Searching through a bag of black rocks from the site, Joe Taylor found a piece which was not a rock but looked like pottery! But who ever heard of black pottery? Taylor later found out that there was black clay in Mexico which was used for pottery production. The piece from Texas looked like it had been used as a tool – it was worked on every surface. Up until now, very little has been published on this important site. Now, much of the research has been summarized from a creationist perspective in a new book edited by Joe Taylor. Titled The Prehistoric Wooden Bowl and the Mammoth Found With It, the well-illustrated, 17-page book briefly summarizes the facts about and the controversy surrounding the site. Were the bowl and the mammoth buried at the same time? Did mammoth hunters make pottery and wooden bowls? All this and more are discussed in the book and also in the latest issue of Joe Taylor’s magazine, Mt. Blanco Fossil News. Joe Taylor summarizes the site’s importance as follows: “The Clute mammoth site is important because it gives evidence of lowered sea levels right after the Flood, allowing this mammoth, bowl and pottery to be buried 15 feet below sea level. The bowl is unique in North America. [Evolutionary paleontologist] Dr. Waters says it was washed in later at a higher level, but this layer was destroyed before anyone saw it, therefore it being at the same level cannot be ruled out. Even at that, there are lenses in the strata where within four feet, the level can vary as much as 8 inches. The pottery was at the same level as the mammoth bones. So, they show the same thing as the bowl.  All the remains there were typical ‘Ice Age’ animals.  A&M University got a date of 66,000 years old with thermoluminescence of the sand around the mammoth. We C-14 dated the bones and tusks and got dates of 5,900 and 5,400.” The Bible clearly tells us of the technological sophistication of early men. Before the Flood, they built cities (Genesis 4:17), made metal tools (Genesis 4:22), and played musical instruments (Genesis 4:21). To a creationist, it is not surprising to find a wooden bowl and two pieces of pottery in a post-Flood, Ice Age context, but some evolutionists may have a hard time accepting this level of sophistication in “primitive” Ice Age man.

Sources

1. Holy Bible, Authorized Version 2. The Prehistoric Wooden Bowl and the Mammoth Found With It, edited by Joe Taylor 3. Mt. Blanco Fossil News, issue 4

All illustrations used with this article used by permission of Joe Taylor.

To order a copy of the book on the Clute Mammoth, send a check in the amount of $12 to Mt. Blanco Fossil Museum, P.O. Box 550, Crosbyton, TX 79322.

Originally published in The Witness June 2011.

By Andrew V. Ste. Marie

 

            Evolutionists have hyped for many years the so-called fishapods – animals that are basically lobe-finned sarcopterygian fish (like coelacanths) but which have heads similar to some amphibian tetrapods (four-legged animals).  These fishapods (formally known as elpistostegids) have been claimed to be transitional forms between fish and tetrapods – sometimes, as in the case with Tiktaalik, with incredible fanfare.

            The case that these fish are transitional forms is not very convincing on its own.  However, newly published research on tetrapod trackways fromPolandmakes this scenario even less believable.

            Evolutionists believe that the elpistostegids lived 386-380 million years ago (mya).  Supposedly, the oldest known tetrapods lived around 375 mya.  New tetrapod trackways, however, have been found in Poland– in rocks believed by the evolutionists to have been made 395 mya.  The scientific paper in the journal Nature which discussed the findings said that these trackways were “well-preserved and securely dated tetrapod tracks…approximately 18 million years older than the earliest tetrapod body fossils and 10 million years earlier than the oldest elpistostegids.”  This shows that the elpistostegids could not have been the ancestors of the tetrapods, since tetrapods already existed by the evolutionist’s own reckoning!

            It is not surprising that these tracks, which undermine the much-heralded transitional status of the elpistostegids (especially Tiktaalik) have aroused a bit of concern among evolutionists.  ScienceNOW has reported that “Other paleontologists are taken aback by the discovery of the tracks. ‘We thought we’d pinned down the origin of limbed tetrapods,’ says Jennifer Clack of the University of Cambridge in the United Kingdom.  ‘We have to rethink the whole thing.’”  It is true – they do need to rethink their story, for these tracks are a real thorn in their side when it comes to telling the story of tetrapod evolution.  This is a good time to reflect on the truth of Genesis 1:25.  “And God made the beast of the earth after his kind, and cattle after their kind, and every thing that creepeth upon the earth after his kind: and God saw that it was good.”  This is the truth about the origin of limbed tetrapods!

            Interestingly, ScienceNOW reports that “the surface around the tracks is amazingly well preserved, with visible cracks from drying mud and the impressions of raindrops.”  Could these raindrops have been from Noah’s Flood?  “And, behold, I, even I, do bring a flood of waters upon the earth, to destroy all flesh, wherein is the breath of life, from under heaven…For yet seven days, and I will cause it to rain upon the earth forty days and forty nights…all the fountains of the great deep broken up, and the windows of heaven were opened.  And the rain was upon the earth forty days and forty nights” (Genesis 6:17, 7:4, 11-12).

 

 Sources

 

1. “Tetrapod trackways from the early Middle Devonian period of Poland,” by Grzegorz Niedźwiedzki, Piotr Szrek, Katarzyna Narkiewicz, Marek Narkiewicz & Per Ahlberg, Nature 463:43-48

 

2. “Ancient Four-Legged Beasts Leave Their Mark,” by Andrew Curry, ScienceNOW, www.sciencenow.sciencemag.org/cgi/content/full/2010/106/2 (Accessed January 12, 2010)

 

3. News to Note, January 9, 2010, by Answers in Genesis, www.answersingenesis.org/articles/2010/01/09/news-to-note-01092010 (Accessed January 12, 2010)

 

4. Creation/Evolution Newsletter, January 15, 2010, by Ian Juby, www.ianjuby.org/jan15_2010.html (Accessed January 19, 2010)

 

Originally published in The Witness February 2010.

By Andrew V. Ste. Marie

“The Kingdom of God means Heaven,” most people would answer the question in the title. This answer is partially correct – the Kingdom of God includes Heaven. However, that is not all it is.

  Have you ever heard the Gospel? “Yes,” most people would think. “Of course!” How about another question: have you ever heard the Gospel of the Kingdom, the Gospel which John the Baptist, Jesus, Peter, and Paul preached?

  If not, I encourage you to thoughtfully read this article, then go to your Bible and search out the truth about the Kingdom of God and the Gospel.

The Kingdom Foretold

The Kingdom of God did not simply spring onto the scene in the New Testament. Through the prophets, God foretold what would happen when His Kingdom was given to men.

  In Isaiah 9:6-7, we read:

“For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counseller, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice from henceforth even for ever. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will perform this.”

This prophecy foretells the birth of Jesus. It reveals that He would be a governor and ruler. It also reveals how the throne of David was a forerunner or foreshadowing of the Kingdom of God ruled by Jesus Christ.

  Another prophecy about the Kingdom was given by the prophet Daniel. King Nebuchadnezzar had a dream of an image with a golden head, silver chest and arms, brass belly and thighs, iron legs, and mixed iron and clay feet. The image was then destroyed by a great stone. Daniel told the king that he was the head of gold, and that his kingdom would be followed by other, progressively inferior, empires. Finally,

“in the days of these kings shall the God of heaven set up a kingdom, which shall never be destroyed: and the kingdom shall not be left to other people, but it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand for ever. Forasmuch as thou sawest that the stone was cut out of the mountain without hands, and that it brake in pieces the iron, the brass, the clay, the silver, and the gold; the great God hath made known to the king what shall come to pass hereafter” (Daniel 2:44-45a).

In this prophecy, we notice, among other things, the following about the Kingdom of God:

1. It will be set up “in the days of these kings” – not at the end of the world. 2. It shall never be destroyed. 3. There is a basic enmity between the worldly kingdoms and empires and the Kingdom of God.

In Daniel 7, we have another prophecy related to the Kingdom of God. In the vision, Daniel sees several beasts representing different earthly kingdoms. Then,

“I beheld till the thrones were cast down, and the Ancient of days did sit, whose garment was white as snow, and the hair of his head like the pure wool: his throne was like the fiery flame, and his wheels as burning fire…I saw in the night visions, and, behold, one like the Son of man came with the clouds of heaven, and came to the Ancient of days, and they brought him near before him. And there was given him dominion, and glory, and a kingdom, that all people, nations, and languages, should serve him: his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom that which shall not be destroyed” (Daniel 7:9, 13-14).

This prophecy shows that the Kingdom of God will be ruled by Jesus Christ. Notice that it is the same indestructible, everlasting kingdom mentioned in Daniel 2. Notice the extent of Jesus’ Kingdom: all people, nations, and languages would serve Him – not just worship Him, but serve Him.

The Kingdom Announced

About the year 5 B.C., the little town of Bethlehem had been stirred by the birth of a young boy in a stable – the son of a virgin, announced by angels, visited by shepherds. About 30 years later, a relative of the boy born at Bethlehem suddenly appeared, preaching in the wilderness and drawing huge crowds. What was his message?

“Repent ye: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand” (Matthew 3:2).

The Kingdom of Heaven is at hand! This fact motivated the people to repentance and receiving the baptism of John. Their repentance was not simply a sorrow for their sins – it was a turning from the old life. John preached a Gospel of repentance to prepare for the coming Kingdom. He told the Pharisees,

“Bring forth therefore fruits meet [suitable] for repentance: And think not to say within yourselves, We have Abraham to our father: for I say unto you, that God is able of these stones to raise up children unto Abraham” (Matthew 3:8-9).

John revealed the nature of the repentance necessary for readiness for the Kingdom of Heaven – fruits suitable for repentance must be brought forth. (In case you have been told that this emphasis on repentance was absent from the Gospel which Paul preached, see Acts 26:20.) Furthermore, mere genetic relationship to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob would not be sufficient grounds for an easy entrance into the Kingdom. God is no respecter of persons (Acts 10:34), and the requirements for entrance would be the same for Jew and Gentile.

The Kingdom Defined

Jesus began His public ministry after being baptized by John the Baptist. The King of the new Kingdom had finally arrived! What kind of a Kingdom was it? What would His message be? What did Jesus first preach?

“Repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand” (Matthew 4:17b).

It puzzled me for years why Jesus did not give a long, detailed, exhaustive theological explanation of salvation by grace, the relationship of faith and works to salvation, the atonement…Jesus discusses none of that. He simply announces the Kingdom and commands repentance, just as John had!

  What else did Jesus preach? Well, soon after His first recorded “sermon” in Matthew 4, He gave the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 5-7. If you read through the whole Sermon (which I would highly encourage all my readers to do), you will notice that the entire sermon is about the Kingdom of God! In fact, the first sentence of the sermon is “Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” Amazing!

  At this point I want to point out that the different terms “kingdom of heaven,” “kingdom of God,” and “kingdom of Christ” used in the New Testament are interchangeable terms. Matthew is the only Gospel writer to use the phrase “kingdom of heaven,” whereas the other Gospel writers use “kingdom of God” – sometimes in parallel passages. For instance, in Matthew 13:31-32 (parable of the mustard seed), the “kingdom of heaven” is the phrase used, whereas in the parallel passages in Mark 4:30-32 and Luke 13:18-19, the “kingdom of God” is used. They are clearly interchangeable. The “kingdom of Christ,” used for example in Ephesians 5:5, is also the same because Christ is the ruler of the Kingdom as shown in Daniel 7.

  To return to our examination of the Sermon on the Mount, we notice that Jesus defines the “class distinctions” (if we can use that phrase) in the Kingdom.

“Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 5:19).

In this verse, Jesus tells His followers how Kingdom citizens evaluate the “greatness” or “least-ness” of other people. Whereas the world looks at wealth, authority, military prowess, beauty, strength, or some other criterion, Jesus gives the criterion whereby He wanted His followers to think of people: the great are those who obey Jesus’ commandments and teach others to obey them. The “least” are those who disobey and teach other men to disobey.

  Most of the rest of the Sermon on the Mount is composed of laws for Kingdom life. Near the conclusion, Jesus said,

“Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven” (Matthew 7:21).

Would anyone think of becoming an American citizen just by waving a flag and saying “God bless America”? Of course not. It takes a bigger commitment than that. The prospective citizen needs to promise to obey the laws of America and submit to the military draft. In the same way, Jesus does not accept as citizens anyone who says “I love Jesus” and goes on in his old ways of sin. That is not the way the Kingdom of God works! It takes a much bigger commitment than a simple “I love Jesus.” One must do the will of God the Father.

  In Matthew 13 (and paralleled in Mark and Luke), we have the Kingdom Parables of Jesus. These parables reveal the nature of the Kingdom of God. Most of them have the same basic message: the Kingdom would start small, grow over all the earth, and some false disciples would be present in it until the Judgment Day where they would be cast into Hell.

  Do you remember what Jesus said not long before His transfiguration?

“Verily I say unto you, That there be some of them that stand here, which shall not taste of death, till they have seen the kingdom of God come with power” (Mark 9:1).

Because most churches view the kingdom of God as a future reality only, they have traditionally explained these words of Jesus as referring to His transfiguration. Perhaps this has an element of truth to it because in Matthew 16, Mark 9, and Luke 9, these words are put immediately before the account of the transfiguration. However, what about the transfiguration could truthfully be called the “kingdom of God” coming “with power”? A kingdom is not the glorification of one man – it is an entire system, complete with rulers, citizens, laws, and structure. Perhaps this verse needs to be reconsidered. In John 3:3, 5, Jesus gave the entrance requirements for the Kingdom of God:

“Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God…Verily verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.”

The New Birth is a radical change of the heart, accomplished only by the Spirit of God, imparting to a person a new mind, new desires, and a new heart, and is marked by a passing away of the old ways and desires. The man now despises and hates sin and with the Holy Spirit’s help fights it until it is vanquished in him. It is accompanied by baptism and followed by a new life of victory over sin and following Christ in His Kingdom.

  In Matthew 18:3-4, Jesus points out another condition of entering the Kingdom of God:

“Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven. Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, the same is greatest in the kingdom of heaven.”

This sounds quite different from Martin Luther’s “gospel” of faith alone…

  Not only did Jesus Himself preach the Kingdom, He also instructed others to do so.

“Jesus said unto him, Let the dead bury their dead: but go thou and preach the kingdom of God” (Mark 9:60).

The Kingdom was what Jesus wanted to be preached!

  Jesus also explicitly said that the Kingdom of God was a present reality in His day.

“But if I with the finger of God cast out devils, no doubt the kingdom of God is come upon you” (Luke 11:20).

There is no hint here that the Kingdom was simply an offer to Israel for an earthly kingdom or something strictly in the future.

  The Pharisees apparently did not miss Jesus’ emphasis on the Kingdom of God. On one occasion, they asked Him a question about the Kingdom which gave Jesus the opportunity to give us one of the clearest statements on the nature of the Kingdom in the New Testament.

“And when he was demanded of the Pharisees, when the kingdom of God should come, he answered them and said, The kingdom of God cometh not with observation: Neither shall they say, Lo here! or, lo there! for, behold, the kingdom of God is within you” (Luke 17:20-21).

These verses ought to forever lay to rest the idea that the Kingdom which Jesus preached was simply an offer to the Jews of a restored Jewish kingdom on Earth, which when they rejected, God ushered in a “Church Age” as a backup plan until such time as the Jews would be ready for Jesus to rule them as a nation. No – the Kingdom which Jesus preached was much different. It was a kingdom unlike any other kingdom. The Kingdom of God is not limited to any earthly territory, although it has citizens throughout the globe. It is a kingdom which is “within you,” within the hearts of its subjects.

  Just a couple chapters after this had occurred, Jesus told another parable “because they thought that the kingdom of God should immediately appear” (Luke 19:11b). Jesus was not offering any immediate physical kingdom to the Jews. The kingdom of God was much different than what they had imagined, and the earthly ruling of Jesus was going to occur much later.

  Jesus also told us what the nature of authority would be in His Kingdom.

“And there was also a strife among them, which of them should be accounted the greatest. And he said unto them, The kings of the Gentiles exercise lordship over them; and they that exercise authority upon them are called benefactors. But ye shall not be so: but he that is greatest among you, let him be as the younger; and he that is chief, as he that doth serve. For whether is greater, he that sitteth at meat, or he that serveth? is not he that sitteth at meat? but I am among you as he that serveth. Ye are they which have continued with me in my temptations. And I appoint unto you a kingdom, as my Father hath appointed unto me; That ye may eat and drink at my table in my kingdom, and sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel” (Luke 22:24-30).

In Jesus’ Kingdom, all would be in direct submission to Jesus Christ. There would not be people exercising hierarchical, religious authority over others. This does not mean there would be no human authority in the church, but rather that those who have authority would use it as servants. In John 18:36-37, we learn more about the Kingdom:

“Jesus answered, My kingdom is not of this world: if my kingdom were of this world, then would my servants fight, that I should not be delivered to the Jews: but now is my kingdom not from hence. Pilate therefore said unto him, Art thou a king then? Jesus answered, Thou sayest that I am a king. To this end was I born, and for this cause came I into the world, that I should bear witness unto the truth. Every one that is of the truth heareth my voice.”

Jesus reveals that His Kingdom is not an earthly one. It was not His intent to set up an earthly Jewish Kingdom, but an other-worldly kingdom come down from Heaven. This Kingdom does not operate the way the world’s kingdoms operate – for instance, regarding the sword. Jesus points out that if His Kingdom were like the kingdoms of the world, His servants would have fought for Him, just the same way any earthly kingdom works. Caesar’s servants fought for Caesar; Alexander the Great’s servants fought for him; Nebuchadnezzar’s servants fought for him, etc. But Jesus’ servants do not take up the earthly sword to fight for Him. This is a kingdom different from any other kingdom which has ever existed. Jesus’ servants do fight, but not with a physical sword. They fight spiritual wickedness with a spiritual sword.

“For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh: (For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds;) Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ” (II Corinthians 10:3-5).

The Kingdom Preached

Did Jesus’ Apostles continue to preach the Kingdom of God after His ascension to Heaven? The answer is yes.

  Philip preached the Kingdom of God.

“But when they believed Philip preaching the things concerning the kingdom of God, and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women” (Acts 8:12).

Paul also preached the Kingdom of God. This should end the myth that Jesus and Peter preached the Gospel of the Kingdom while Paul preached a different Gospel, the Gospel of Grace.

“And he went into the synagogue, and spake boldly for the space of three months, disputing and persuading the things concerning the kingdom of God” (Acts 19:8).

“And now, behold, I know that ye all, among whom I have gone preaching the kingdom of God, shall see my face no more” (Acts 20:25).

“And when they had appointed him a day, there came many to him into his lodging; to whom he expounded and testified the kingdom of God, persuading them concerning Jesus, both out of the law of Moses, and out of the prophets, from morning till evening…Preaching the kingdom of God, and teaching those things which concern the Lord Jesus Christ, with all confidence, no man forbidding him” (Acts 28:23, 31).

Paul clearly preached the Kingdom of God in the places he went. The Gospel did not change between Peter and Paul.

  But is the Kingdom of God found in Paul’s epistles? Yes it is!

“For the kingdom of God is not meat and drink; but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost” (Romans 14:17).

“For the kingdom of God is not in word, but in power” (I Corinthians 4:20).

“Giving thanks unto the Father, which hath made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light: Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son” (Colossians 1:12-13).

Notice how Paul continues to teach the Kingdom of God as a present reality. The Kingdom is

1. Righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost 2. In power 3. We have already been translated into it.

If you have any lingering doubts that the Kingdom of God is a present reality, read Revelation 1:9:

“I John, who also am your brother, and companion in tribulation, and in the kingdom and patience of Jesus Christ, was in the isle that is called Patmos, for the word of God, and for the testimony of Jesus Christ” (Revelation 1:9).

Notice that John says he and the other believers were “in the kingdom” just as much as they were “in tribulation” and in “patience of Jesus Christ”.

The Kingdom Laws

There is no such thing as a kingdom without laws, and the Kingdom of God is no exception. Jesus and His Apostles gave the laws for the Kingdom of God, which are contained in the New Testament. Kingdom Christians take seriously these laws which Jesus and the Apostles gave. Search the New Testament and find the laws of the Kingdom, such as:

• “whosoever shall put away his wife, saving for the cause of fornication, causeth her to commit adultery: and whosoever shall marry her that is divorced committeth adultery” (Matthew 5:32). • “Swear not at all” (Matthew 5:34) • “Resist not evil” (Matthew 5:39) • “Love your enemies” (Matthew 5:44) • “Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth” (Matthew 6:19) • “ye also ought to wash one another’s feet” (John 13:14) • “Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers” (Romans 13:1) • “Salute one another with an holy kiss” (Romans 16:16) • “Let your women keep silence in the churches: for it is not permitted unto them to speak” (I Corinthians 14:34)

The Kingdom in Practice

The Kingdom of God is perhaps a radical new way for you to look at the Scriptures. I know that until it was pointed out to me, I had hardly noticed the many passages in the New Testament which speak of the Kingdom of God as a present reality. This reality does have an enormous impact on how we live. In this section, I want to outline only one such area – that of politics.

  I am an intensely political person. I am heavily involved in politics. I have and continue to campaign heavily and actually hold a political office.

  I do not have a party or a candidate; I have a Kingdom and a King: the Kingdom of God, ruled by the Lord Jesus Christ. My office in this Kingdom is that of ambassador to this present world. As such, I am not a citizen of this present world system (even though by my first birth I inherited a citizen status in the United States) but am a citizen of the Kingdom of God. I am only a tolerated stranger and alien here. This is not my home – I will leave someday and go to my real home. As such, I have no business meddling in the politics of this world: not of the United States nor of any other country.

“Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners [from God’s people], but fellowcitizens with the saints, and of the household of God” (Ephesians 2:19).

“Giving thanks unto the Father, which hath made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light: Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son” (Colossians 1:12-13).

“Thou therefore endure hardness, as a good soldier of Jesus Christ. No man that warreth entangleth himself with the affairs of this life; that he may please him who hath chosen him to be a soldier” (II Timothy 2:3-4).

“Dearly beloved, I beseech you as strangers and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts, which war against the soul” (I Peter 2:11).

“These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them, and embraced them, and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth. For they that say such things declare plainly that they seek a country. And truly, if they had been mindful of that country from whence they came out, they might have had opportunity to have returned. But now they desire a better country, that is, an heavenly: wherefore God is not ashamed to be called their God: for he hath prepared for them a city” (Hebrews 11:13-16).

Imagine for a moment an American citizen working temporarily in Germany. As an American citizen, he would have to pay American taxes and obey American laws regarding coming and going from the country, etc. As a guest in Germany, he would have to obey the German rules and pay the German taxes, drive the speed limits, do what they said in regard to working in their country, etc. But because he is not a German citizen, he would have no right nor reason to vote or get involved in any German politics whatsoever. He is only a guest, an alien, a “stranger and pilgrim” in Germany. However, he would have the right, as an American citizen, to vote in American elections even though he is not present in that country.

  The Kingdom of God works the same way as our parable. Because the citizens of God’s Kingdom are not citizens of this present world system, they have no right or reason to vote, get involved in politics, or to run for political office. As guests in this world, we hope to be treated respectfully as human beings and be allowed to carry out our work for the Kingdom in peace. We have the responsibility to obey the secular state, including paying taxes and acknowledging their power to wield the sword (Romans 13:1-7; I Peter 2:13-17). We also have the responsibility of praying for them and petitioning God that we may have peaceable conditions to be able to carry out His work.

“I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men; For kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty. For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour; Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth” (I Timothy 2:1-4).

Notice the bolded portion: can you honestly thank God for the President? If you are in God’s Kingdom and detached from the kingdoms of this world, it should not be too hard to do so.

  Although the citizens of God’s Kingdom keep from getting involved in the politics of this world, just as in our parable of the American in Germany, we have the right and duty to be as involved as possible in God’s Kingdom. Every Kingdom citizen alive is an ambassador for God’s Kingdom and should be recruiting new citizens. This is our duty – not fixing up the political entities of this world. As John Newton, author of the hymn “Amazing Grace” once said, getting involved in this world’s politics is like painting the captain’s cabin while the ship is sinking.

The Kingdom in Peace

Throughout this article, the present aspect of the Kingdom of God has been emphasized. This is not meant to detract from the fact that there are some aspects of the Kingdom which will only be realized in the future world. In the next life, the Kingdom of God will be completely realized, the battle will be won – all other kingdoms will be utterly vanquished. The Kingdom of God will be triumphant and the saints will reign with Christ. The Kingdom will be in peace.

Summary

I would encourage each and every reader of this article not to accept anything here just because I said it, but to search the Scriptures for yourself. Find out if what I have said is true. Study the Kingdom of God, especially in the New Testament, and see how many references to it show it as a present reality. Study, consider, and pray about the relationship of the Kingdom of God to the present kingdoms of this world, and how you should relate to the kingdoms of this world.

  If you are not a citizen of the Kingdom of God but would like to be, I would encourage you to join. Jesus clearly gave the entrance requirements for the Kingdom in John 3:5: “Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.” Experience the New Birth, allow the Spirit of God to recreate you into a completely new man “which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness” (Ephesians 4:24). Begin living in God’s Kingdom in fellowship with your fellow citizens, and be sure to write to me and let me know of your decision!

 

The LORD sitteth upon the flood;

yea,

the LORD sitteth

King for ever.

Psalm 29:10

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