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December 3, 2002

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Q/A Topics:
Two Gospels in the Bible?


READER QUESTION:
These people in the Paltalk Christian Bible study rooms are getting me 
so confused, they're saying that Paul was given one gospel and Peter and 
James were given another, that Paul was given the gospel of grace ("the 
gospel for the uncircumcised") and Peter and James the gospel of the 
kingdom ("the gospel for the circumcised").  But the more I hear about 
this, the more it sounds like they're perverting Scripture, to whatever 
end I have no idea.  Which in desperation I must ask -- were there 
really two different gospels being preached in the Bible or just one?  
If Paul's comment to the Galatians, "But even if we, or an angel from 
heaven, preach any other gospel to you than what we have preached to 
you, let him be accursed," is meant to mean what it's supposed to mean, 
then according to the understanding of the Bible study group moderators 
in these Paltalk rooms, it means that Paul is calling Peter and James 
accursed for preaching "any other gospel to you than what you have 
received".  This teaching is really so messed up and confusing.
 

VW ANSWER:
Let's look at Peter and Paul first, and then close with Jacob.

Their Commissions:
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
When S/Paul was first saved, he learned directly from the Lord, and then 
after this period he goes to see Peter for 15 days to verify what he has 
learned. (Gal1:18) And also spends time with Jacob (vs19)  And at a 
later occasion takes along Titus (along with Barnabas) and makes the 
claim that the 'same' One who was commissioning Peter to the Jews, was 
commissioning him to the Gentiles. (Gal2:1,7-8) And at that time Paul 
receives fellowship and approval from Jacob, Peter and John. (2:9)

And Peter verifies Paul's gospel in 2Pet3:15, and says that those who 
distort what Paul said, do so to their own destruction. (vs16)  

In other words, Peter was in agreement with what Paul preached: Peter 
having been on the scene first, having been with Jesus on earth; and 
Paul, having come along later. Peter and Jacob did not come along 
'later' for their gospels to be in either agreement or conflict with 
what Paul proclaimed (Gal1:8-9)... Paul came along later, and as he 
learned directly from God, he verifies what he has learned with Peter 
and Jacob. What Paul proclaimed was in agreement with Peter and Jacob; 
not the other way around. (Remember that there was a period of time when 
Saul was persecuting the Church, over which Peter and Jacob were 
leaders. THEN, Saul gets saved in Acts9 and His name changes to Paul. He 
learns from the Lord, and THEN goes into ministry.)

The Gospel they each proclaimed...

Jesus' death, burial, resurrection:
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Peter: Acts2:36, 4:10, 1Pet1:19
Paul: 1Cor15:1-4, Rom6:1-5, etc

Grace/Mercy:
~~~~~~~~~~~~
Peter: 1Pet1:3, 2:10 ("mercy" is the same as "grace")
Paul: Eph2:8, Rom9:16,18,etc

Repentance:
~~~~~~~~~~~
Peter: Acts2:38, 2Pet3:9
Paul:  Acts17:30, 20:21, 2Tim2:25
 
Faith:
~~~~~~
Peter: Acts3:16, 1Pet1:5,9 2Pet1:1
Paul: Acts16:31, Rom3:22,25,etc

Kingdom?
~~~~~~~~
Peter: This heaven and earth as we know it is going to be burned up, and 
       God will create a new world. (2Pet3:10)
Paul: Our citizenship is in Heaven (Php3:20)

Therefore...

Our Conduct:
~~~~~~~~~~~~
Peter: "...holy behavior.." (2Pet3:11)  Live/be holy (1Pet1:13-17)
Paul: lay aside the flesh, pursue Godliness (Rom12:1-2, Php2, Col3, etc)
Jacob: "faith without works is dead" (Jac2:14-26)

Jacob's epistle isn't about "how to be saved", but "how Christians 
should live". It's not really about the "Gospel", but about how one 
lives, once they are saved. And in that, all three agree with each 
other.

So, while these references are given in the form of a "nutshell", the 
question you should now ask the people in those talk-rooms is...

Considering this evidence: In what way are their gospels 'different'? 
They look the 'same' to me. Yes?

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Advent Candles?

READER QUESTION:
I just got the monthly flyer from our SBC church and was disturbed to see that they suggested lighting Advent candles with ones' children. They suggest different colored candles for Peace, Hope, etc., along with appropriate Bible verses. This feels like pagan ritual to me and makes me very uneasy! My question is: What is Advent and where did the candle-lighting ritual come from?

VW ANSWER:
The actual word "advent" comes from the Latin (adventus), meaning, "coming". It is a word that has been attached to Jesus' 'coming', both first and second. When He was born as flesh and blood, that was His "first advent". When He comes again, that will be His "second advent". Technically, the terms "second advent" and "second coming" mean the same thing.

However, as an annual "observance"....

According to Encyclopaedia Britannica CD (2002), it is not exactly certain "when" its observance began, however quoting: "Bishop Perpetuus of Tours (461-490) established a fast before Christmas that began on November 11 (St. Martin's Day), and the Council of Tours (567) mentioned an Advent season". And in this same 'catholic' context, it speaks of it being a "penitential season", and that some national traditions include the lighting of candles.

According to the Grolier Encyclopaedia, it is called a "Christian liturgical season"; and begins the "church year". Neither of these terms, of course, are found in Scripture.

Britannica CD (1997) suggests that the lighting of candles was to signify the coming of the "Light of the world". But it also speaks of how the "west" picked up on "eastern" traditions around the 400s AD. And all discussions connect it with the 'church' of Rome. But since it speaks of the "east" in that way, I am reminded of God's judgment against Israel, also, "..they have been consecrated from the east, and are fortunetellers like the Philistines, and they clap hands in worship with the children of foreigners" (Is2:6)

They might 'manufacture' the "Light of the world" concept; but they also do that with the pagan tree and other things. The "green" of the evergreen tree, supposedly representing "eternal life", and all the other "christian" labels they have attached to pagan traditions.

I don't know everything about candles, but every application I see or hear about has a pagan flavor to it. It is all connected, in some fashion, to "spirituality", the offering of prayers, the spirits of the dead, etc. The "votive" candles for offering prayers and making wishes; the candles around halloween having to do with the spirits of the dead. The way many feel that their dead relatives are "still with them", such candles represent the 'spirits' of the dearly-departed, who is -still- 'present' with them (they think). Nothing more-nor-less than a form of -eastern- "ancestor worship".

Perhaps the seven lamps in God's temple (O.T.) may have been symbolic of His "seven spirits" of God "who are before His throne"? (Rev1:4,3:1,5:6) And paganism has taken from God's Truth, and distorted/perverted it into demon worship and the occult. Next to the catholic 'church', who is more into candles than people of the New Age movement? ..of which, I'm not real familiar with what that is all about. The 'spirit' associated with it has always been enough to tell me it was not for the Christian.

I suspect along these lines, for as many different people as one might talk to about this, one will likely find as many different understandings and applications. It seems to be a matter of everyone doing "what is right in their own eyes", as they worship deities of their own devisings, as everybody tolerates everybody else and their own individual variations in worship (as long as it doesn't include the true Jesus Christ!), and in that way they celebrate "unity in diversity".

While officially, the SBC (Southern Baptist Convention) publishes a doctrinal statement that contains the Gospel, it can hardly be called "Christian", when one considers that the likes of Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton have had connections to it; and I don't recall hearing of the denomination ever having issued statements of disassociation with these men. What's the saying? "Birds of a feather..." However, most of my past associations have been with fundamental groups other than SBC, and they always lit candles in their services, too. And, come to think of it, I used to never even give it a second thought back then.

See how paganism has crept into the 'church', and so much of it we don't even recognize as being pagan!

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