Friday, May 8, 2015
Marking Another Year
My Daughter Kristin and I
The above picture of my daughter Kristin and I was taken yesterday, May 7th, as we marked my 54th birthday. Birthdays tend to be a time of reflection and assessment for me where I consider the previous year, considering what progress I am making toward conformity to the image and likeness of Christ. I have not yet had a birthday when I did not consider some areas of my life that needed further correction, and I do not anticipate that I shall as long as I dwell in this flesh. This present life in this world is a race where we are ever pressing forward towards the finish line. The peril for all of God's people is that they should fall into complacency and cease striving toward "the upward call of God in Christ Yahshua" (Philippians 3:14). As Paul, I do not claim to have arrived, but one thing I do, I keep pressing forward to what lies ahead. After declaring these things, the apostle stated:
So let those [of us] who are spiritually mature and full-grown have this mind and hold these convictions; and if in any respect you have a different attitude of mind, God will make that clear to you also. Only let us hold true to what we have already attained and walk and order our lives by that.
One thing I fear is regression. I do not want to go backwards. I want to ever be making progress toward conformity to Christ. The witness of the Spirit I am receiving is that it is a time to renew our commitment, and to increase our focus and efforts toward attaining to the fulness of the stature that belongs to Christ. The hour is very late. Darkness is increasing in this world. We must be separating ourselves to a greater degree from all works of darkness lest we be swallowed up by this present evil hour. We need to radiate more of the light of Yahshua that we might not stumble in the darkness.
Please pray for me that I might continue to make observable progress toward conformity to the life of Christ. The apostle Paul admonished Timothy with the following words:
I Timothy 4:15-16
Take pains with these things; be absorbed in them, so that your progress may be evident to all. Pay close attention to yourself and to your teaching; persevere in these things; for as you do this you will insure salvation both for yourself and for those who hear you.
These are excellent words. They are words I need to pay close attention to. It is not only for my sake that I need to lay aside every weight and the sin which so easily entangles. It is for the sake of others with whom I have contact. Our message will be clear, powerful, and effectual only when we are walking in the light of truth and eschewing evil.
I am blessed at this season to have a steadily growing opportunity to present the light of the gospel of Christ to men in bondage. Those whom Yahweh is giving me contact with are not only in bondage to sin, many of them are in bondage as they are serving out prison sentences. The number of men in prison requesting the Parables Bookshelf newsletters has been increasing weekly. I am also receiving more personal correspondence from men in prison who are asking very searching questions. They need to receive a clear witness and testimony. Consequently, I do not want my light to be diminished, but rather to increase. I want the Spirit of Christ to shine forth through me the light of truth to those who dwell in darkness.
Today I find myself beginning my 55th year of life corresponding with men dwelling in the dark spiritual environment of the nation's prison system. For your edification and encouragement, I am sharing the following correspondence.
Hello Mr. Herrin,
How are you? Today I received your packet on Black Hebrew Israelites. I wanna say I am a Nazareth Hebrew Israelite. I am about to do a very slow and strong study of the apcket you sent. I wanna say this also, I know that every religion has been tampered with and has a lot of paganism going on with it, and there is a lot of false teaching going around.
So let me ask you this, "Christianity is the only right religion?" Yet it has been corrupted by a lot of false teachings and paganism. So what would your recommend for a religion? I know I seek the right one with help, but I just feel like no religion is always pure, so I just been looking in all places.
In the first 5 books of the Bible it seems pretty right to me. I mean, aint nobody perfect, so if I do the correct teachings of the Hebrews am I still wrong? These are just some things I would like to know. I just don't believe the whole Hebrew religion is wrong. Also correct me if I am wrong.
Thank you for helping me with my studies. I would love to hear your reply to these things... I just wanna be righteous, that's all, so I'm coming along one step and day at a time. Hope to hear from you soon. Take care and peace be with you,
Thank you for writing again. You have asked some excellent questions about the Hebrew religion, and how to know what religion is the right one. I am encouraged to read of your commitment to do what is right in the eyes of God, and to discover what that is. In your letter you stated that all religions have things wrong in them, including Christianity, and it is hard to know what is right. This state of confusion is due to the activity of Satan who seeks to deceive the entire world. The Bible states:
I John 5:19
The whole world lies in the power of the evil one.
You may wonder why Yahweh (God) has allowed Satan to corrupt the truth, and to bring such great error into Christianity itself, and the understanding of the Bible. Part of the reason is, that by making the truth difficult to find, Yahweh is able to prove which people truly love the truth. There are numerous Bible passages that speak about the need to search diligently for the truth. People who have only a half-hearted love for the truth will rarely find it. If they do find it, their lack of love for the truth will lead to them neglecting it, or treating it as a common thing. Wise king Solomon wrote:
My son, if you will receive my sayings, and treasure my commandments within you, make your ear attentive to wisdom, incline your heart to understanding; For if you cry for discernment, lift your voice for understanding; If you seek her as silver, and search for her as for hidden treasures; Then you will discern the fear of Yahweh, and discover the knowledge of God.
Notice the condition set in this passage for discovering the knowledge of God. A man must treasure the words of God. He must esteem them as of great value. The man must cry out to God to open his eyes and show him the truth. The man must open his mouth to plead with God to give him a discerning heart. The man must seek truth and understanding of God as if it was silver, or hidden treasure. When a man does so, then God will reveal Himself to that man.
Knowing that Yahweh wants men to demonstrate their love of the truth, and to seek after it with great passion and determination, you may be able to see that Satan bringing so much confusion and deception into the world only serves to prove which men are committed to getting past all the error to arrive at the truth. God wants to know if you are such a person.
But from there you will seek Yahweh your God, and you will find Him if you search for Him with all your heart and all your soul.
Notice again the condition in this statement. Yahweh promises men that they will find Him IF they search for Him with all their heart and soul. The prophet Jeremiah spoke the same truth to the Israelites.
“Then you will call upon Me and come and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart. And I will be found by you,” declares Yahweh.
You asked in your letter what would be wrong with embracing the Hebrew religion, and making the first five books of the Bible your focus. You mentioned that these books of the Bible seem to be “pretty right.” This is an excellent question. You are quite right that the first five books of the Bible are right. They are Spirit breathed and contain the wisdom and revelation of God. The problem is that these books, which contain the Law of Moses, do not present the full revelation of God. They are only a partial and immature revealing of the righteousness of God and of His plan of redemption for man. We find a key in the following Scriptures.
But the path of the righteous is like the light of dawn, that shines brighter and brighter until the full day.
Yahweh has given us many parables in His creation to help us to understand spiritual truth. One of these parables is found in the very first chapter of the Bible. During the days of creation we are told that the day as defined by God always begins in the darkness of evening, and then progresses into the light of day. Repeatedly we read “and the evening and the morning were the first day..., the second day..., the third day, etc..” Why did God determine that man’s days should begin in the evening and then lead into the morning light?
The answer is that God wanted to show mankind that his journey begins in spiritual darkness, and that as the centuries passed God would bring man greater and greater spiritual light. The greatest light of God was displayed to this dark world during the years of Christ’s ministry. The Son of God was often compared to the light. In John’s gospel, we read the following words:
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being by Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being. In Him was life, and the life was the light of men. And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it.
There came a man, sent from God, whose name was John. He came for a witness, that he might bear witness of the light, that all might believe through him. He was not the light, but came that he might bear witness of the light. There was the true light which, coming into the world, enlightens every man.
The Son of God is described here as “the Word.” He is the revelation of the Father. Even as our words describe the thoughts in our minds, Christ came to reveal God the Father to humanity. Whereas men had lain in spiritual darkness for the previous 4,000 years, receiving only a shadowy revelation of God the Father, through Christ they were presented a clear image of God.
For while the Law was given through Moses, grace (unearned, undeserved favor and spiritual blessing) and truth came through Jesus Christ. No man has ever seen God at any time..., the only begotten God, Who is in the bosom [in the intimate presence] of the Father, He has declared Him [He has revealed Him and brought Him out where He can be seen; He has interpreted Him and He has made Him known].
The Old Testament and the Law of Moses did not contain the full light of the revelation of God. They contained only “shadows” of what was later to be revealed. Consider for a moment what a shadow is. A shadow is not the full revelation of an object. It is only a dim outline. So too we are told that what was recorded in the Old Testament of the Bible was merely shadows. The full revelation of God would not come to mankind until Yahweh’s Son walked among mankind.
Therefore let no one act as your judge in regard to food or drink or in respect to a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath day - things which are a shadow of what is to come; but the substance belongs to Christ.
For the Law, since it has only a shadow of the good things to come and not the very form of things, can never by the same sacrifices year by year, which they offer continually, make perfect those who draw near.
Why the Law then? It was added because of transgressions, having been ordained through angels by the agency of a mediator, until the seed should come to whom the promise had been made.
Before faith came, we were kept in custody under the law, being shut up to the faith which was later to be revealed. Therefore the Law has become our tutor to lead us to Christ, that we may be justified by faith. But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a tutor.
These passages of Scripture reveal the error of men and women today clinging to the shadows of the Law as their guide and revelation for life. The Law of Moses was given as a temporal action by God for men and women who were dwelling in spiritual darkness. It was given because of sin, to act as a restraint upon man, but the Law itself could never deliver men from the sin it exposed. Christ came to not only reveal the fulness of the righteousness of God to mankind, He also came to impart to humanity His Spirit that man might be born of the Spirit and receive the divine life he lacked. Man’s absence of divine life prevented him from walking in a holy manner.
For we know that the Law is spiritual; but I am of flesh, sold into bondage to sin. For that which I am doing, I do not understand; for I am not practicing what I would like to do, but I am doing the very thing I hate. But if I do the very thing I do not wish to do, I agree with the Law, confessing that it is good. So now, no longer am I the one doing it, but sin which indwells me. For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh; for the wishing is present in me, but the doing of the good is not. For the good that I wish, I do not do; but I practice the very evil that I do not wish. But if I am doing the very thing I do not wish, I am no longer the one doing it, but sin which dwells in me. I find then the principle that evil is present in me, the one who wishes to do good. For I joyfully concur with the law of God in the inner man, but I see a different law in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind, and making me a prisoner of the law of sin which is in my members. Wretched man that I am! Who will set me free from the body of this death? Thanks be to God. He has, through Jesus Christ our Lord!
In these words above, Paul describes the struggle of a man who has received the Law, but who has not yet received the indwelling Spirit of Christ. If you make the Law your religion, but do not come to know Christ, and you do not receive His Spirit into your being, you will experience the same thing he described. You will find yourself wanting to please God and keep His commandments, while finding that you are continually walking in bondage to the sin which dwells in your flesh. Man might wish to walk free of sin, but before Christ came the sin which dwelt in his members, and the absence of the indwelling Spirit of God, prevented man from breaking free of the bondage of sin. Christ came to do what the Law never could do. He came to set the captives free.
And [Yahshua] opened the [scroll of Isaiah], and found the place where it was written, “The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, because He anointed Me to preach the gospel to the poor. He has sent Me to proclaim release to the captives, and recovery of sight to the blind, to set free those who are downtrodden, to proclaim the favorable year of the Lord.” And He closed the book, and gave it back to the attendant, and sat down; and the eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed upon Him. And He began to say to them, “Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.”
Demarco, there is nothing wrong with the five books of Moses. They were the appropriate revelation of God for their time. They were given to man UNTIL the Seed should come who was promised. That Seed was Christ. Now that Christ has come, He has declared in fulness that which the Law only presented as shadows. We have moved past the twilight of man’s spiritual experience into the light of a new day. The apostle Peter was raised in the obscure light of Judaism. Yet after having met Christ and having seen in Him the revelation of God the Father, Peter declared:
II Peter 1:19
And so we have the prophetic word made more sure, to which you do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star arises in your hearts.
Christ is that lamp shining in a dark place. The dark place is the hearts of men and women. Christ came to illuminate our darkness and to move us beyond the shadows of the Old Testament. This is why focusing on the Old Testament, and embracing a religious faction like the Nazareth Hebrew Israelites, is inadequate to lead you to the truth. Those who embrace the shadows of the Old Testament as their guide for living will be prevented from entering into the fulness of the light of Christ. I encourage you to make the New Testament, beginning with the four gospels, your study. In these books you will read of Christ leading men out of the shadows and into the full revelation of God the Father. Beginning in the book of Acts you will read of men and women who have for the first time become partakers of the indwelling Spirit of Christ and who are now able to arise above the selfishness and slavery to sin that formerly held them bound.
Make these things your study, and entreat Yahweh to reveal Himself to you through His Son. He has promised that He will not reject any who come to Him.
And Yahshua said to them, “I am the bread of life. He who comes to Me shall never hunger, and he who believes in Me shall never thirst. But I said to you that you have seen Me and yet do not believe. All that the Father gives Me will come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will by no means cast out.”
Ask, seek, and knock, and the way to life will be opened up before you.
May you be blessed with peace and understanding in these days,
Heart4God Website: http://www.heart4god.ws
Parables Blog: www.parablesblog.blogspot.com
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