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July 3, 2008

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Q/A Topics:
Atmospheres?

READER QUESTION:
I have a question I have been impressed in my spirit to study on atmospheres do you have any suggestion on books or articles on this matter?

[vw: after request for clarification of terms :]
Spiritual Atmosphere created by or through fellowship with the Father.

VW ANSWER:
Is this not at the very core of what it means to be a Christian? That is, in terms of fellowship between Believers, and of that "sweet smelling aroma" before the world? (Eph5:2)

There are two studies from that passage in Ephesians: Put off the Old and Put on the new man Is this also not at the root of Jesus' teaching about "salt and light" [link]

This "atmosphere" you speak of is readily understood by the world, also. They use terms like "vibes". A person gives off "good vibes" or "bad vibes". I suppose vibe is short for "vibrations", like the Beach Boys used to sing about "Good vibrations", and the hippy generation of the 60s and 70s, from their eastern meditative yoga, drugs, and such was allegedly connected to the universe's "vibrations"....in their own foggy imaginations. (Yeah man! Far out man!)

When people get along well, they are said to have good vibes. Others, more deeply into the spiritual world speak of "aura". Aura in the dictionary speaks of "invisible breath, emanation, or radiation" And in Scripture, "breath" is often used interchagably with "spirit". In the OT the same Hebrew word is often used for both. When Jesus appeared to the disciples after the resurrection it says, "He breathed on them, and said to them, Receive the Holy Spirit" (Jn20:22)

It is something which is not (directly physically) visible, but nevertheless is known (in the spirit). Paul says,

    "The Spirit Himself bears witness with us that we are children of God" (Rom8:16)
And this same "witness" from the Spirit is there between and amongst fellow-believers. By the same token, a Believer can be next to an unbeliever and have a "witness" that they are -NOT- a Believer. And in the reverse of that, I have experienced from people's reactions to me, especially when they are of a particularly demonic world, -they- also "witness" that I am -NOT- one of them. And yes, even in casual meetings with somebody from -a- 'church', if they are from the -unregenerate- 'church' of Babylon, and we first meet, and the terms "christian" are mentioned, I often sense the "witness" from them: their realization that I am not of/with them; as I will often have already witnessed, before actually meeting them, but seeing them walk towards me that, "U oh! Here comes another one of 'them'." When a particularly demonic person might come into the door of my business, sometimes they are about ready to -immediately- turn around and walk out as soon as they had just walked in, and in conversation they will -refuse- to look at me....they seem 'unable' to do so, being terribly uncomfortable in front of me (even though we are total strangers) and spend their time looking around at the walls, ceiling, corners, etc, until they have left.

Practitioners of the occult are typically not comfortable around True Believers. When I've been ambling past the little 'tents' where fortune tellers ply their trade, in the context of holidays at the public park (where there are lots of people milling around, and also temporary concession stands for food, trinkets, etc...the fortune-tellers join in the mix), if I focus my attention on them and their tent, as I go by, as I am looking to see 'what' they are, they will get this uncomfortable nervousness and quickly turn their gaze away and not look at me. These sorts of things have now happened so many times, I know it's not my imagination, an accident or some one-time fluke. It's very real, and repeatably predictable.

So... this 'atmosphere' goes both ways, between God's holy realm, and satan's.

It is a -spiritual- thing. The True Believer is born of the Holy Spirit. (Jn3:6,8) Everyone else is of satan. (1Jn5:19)

It is one of the definitions of a Christian. Yes, to become a Christian the sinner must repent before God and receive Jesus as Savior. That's the Father and Son. And at the moment of salvation the Holy Spirit takes up residence. Jesus promised to send the Holy Spirit. (Jn16:13, 14:17, 15:26) And Paul says of that, in reverse: if a person is minus the Holy Spirit, he is -NOT- the Lord's. (Rom8:9) Salvation is a work of ALL THREE entities of the Godhead. Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Thus also, immersion in water, the physical symbol of salvation (Rom6:3-4) Jesus commanded to be done in the "name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit" (Mt28:19)

No one has seen the Father. (Jn6:46, 1:18), but Jesus was the physical manifestation of the Father's essence. (Heb1:3, Jn14:8-11) But while Jesus is presently "preparing a place for us" He has 'gone away' for a time. (Jn14:3, 28) God's presence with us is the Holy Spirit. (Jn16:7) And it is through the Holy Spirit that "Christ [is] -in- you, the hope of glory" (Col1:27) Get it? The connection? The "hope" of glory.... that which the Holy Spirit "seals" as the "promise" (Eph1:13)

In Eph5:1-7 the contradistinction is made between the "sweet-smelling aroma" and the perversities of the world. And a lot of people, claiming to be good christians, will carry around their 'lists'. Don't do this, don't do that. And certainly, the "lusts of the flesh" (Ga5:16, Eph2:3,etc) are things the Spirit-indwelt Believer shuns. But when Paul speaks of the "aroma", the world also knows the difference in aroma between the "lists" and the Holy Spirit. For any of you who watch the Simpsons, they've got the list makers pegged with the character of Ned Flanders and his children. I haven't yet seen them charicature True Believers, however.

Perhaps that's because,

    "The kingdom of God does not come with observation; nor will they say, See here; or, See there; for behold, the kingdom of God is in your midst." (Lk17:20-21) ??
Perhaps there's so "few" (Mt7:14) that they don't recognize it, just like they didn't recognize Jesus when He was here? Thus, how could they charicature what they don't recognize or understand, and see so little of?

Certainly, a True Believer -will- observe the things on the (Scriptural) lists. But Faith in Christ is soooo much more than the keeping of 'dead' lists. (Rom7:5, 1Co15:56) It is a "living" hope (1Pt1:3) through the Holy Spirit. (2Co3:6, 1Pt3:18)

Now, Paul speaks of "sweet-smelling aroma". (Eph5:2) The context: the offering and sacrifice. Paul, a Jew, a Pharisee, knowing the OT Law and traditions, is making the connection between the OT and NT. With the OT sacrifices, they also had certain specially-mixed incense, and for some offerings they would make the sacrifice "smoke". (Lev1) I've never attended a re-enactment (like some do), but there was a particular aroma. Just like: you all know when a neighbor is having a BBQ. The smoke, in combination with the sauces, wafts through the neighborhood. If the cook knows what he is doing, it smells 'good'. But I must say, I often also smell what to my nose is just utterly awful!

Paul carries this further. He speaks of how we as Believers carry the knowledge of Christ to the world:

    2Co2:14 Now thanks be to God who always leads us in triumph in Christ, and through us manifests the AROMA OF HIS KNOWLEDGE in every place.
    15 For we are to God the fragrance of Christ among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing.
    16 To the one we are the AROMA OF DEATH leading to death, and to the other the AROMA OF LIFE leading to life. And who is sufficient for these things?
    17 For we are not, as so many, peddling the Word of God; but as of sincerity, but as from God, we speak in Christ, in the sight of God.
Those who forage into the realms of spirits and ghosts often report a particular physical 'odor' just before the ghost appears. Similar odors are apparently evident by those investigating UFO sites. (One of the supports for UFOs being of other-dimensional spiritual demonic origins)

When the world is about to come upon a True Believer do they, contrarywise, notice a whiff of anything? I don't know. I've never heard of anybody speak in such terms. And the Believer isn't necessarily going to be aware that he is putting out a physical aroma, just as Moses, initially, was not aware that his face was glowing, after having been with God in the mountain.

But -spiritually- there -is- an odor. Is it a "sweet-smelling aroma"? Or is the cook really botching it up at the BBQ grill? Is it a Lysol -Natural- "country" scent, or is it something that claims to cover up odors, but itself is so perfumily putrid it makes one gag? (like walking past the cosmetics section of a department store! or being in the presence of a busily made-up woman!) (OK, ladies.... don't go bonkers on me.... you know it's true!)

One thing I have noticed about demonically inspired "christian" cults (like: No names church, Moonies, etc) and practitioners of yoga, certain spiritually-based massage therapy and the occult arts.... when walking into the homes of the "christian" cults (or when practitioners walk into my store, they also bring this 'odor' with them), the very first thing I noticed (each time) was this overwhelming sense of "sweetness". It was so thick in the air, it was almost as if a person could 'taste' it. But it was not a physical 'odor'; it was spiritual. And like in the one case, when I had finally figured out 'what' the people were about, and confronted the leader regarding their errors, what had been 'sweetness' suddenly, vehemently, violently turned into 'wrath'. So much so that, as my wife (at the time) and I were driving home from it, she was worried as to whether or not they might have also 'spiked' our tea that they had given us to drink. I reminded her of Lk10:19. (of course, at the time not yet persuaded that she was not a Believer; so if they had spiked the tea, would she have been protected?)

But this sense of 'sweetness' (and "LOVE") has deceived many, and drawn the unsuspecting into their clutches. It is how the Moonies would draw in (nominal) "christians", and then secretly whisk them away for indoctrination and brain-washing.

If you enter the presence of a group, and you sense this yucky "sweet love", it's -NOT- [C]hristian; it is satan's counterfeit! It is demonic! Note this well, and remember it; so you don't get sucked in!

Similarly, 'what' do unbelievers sense when coming into the presence of Believers? Since I've been saved since age 5, I don't know what it is, NOT to be a Christian. I don't know 'what' they sense. But, as mentioned above, judging from some reactions, the dedicated satan-followers often cannot wait to leave. And these experiences are totally minus even any -discussion- of spiritual matters. It is a matter of simply occupying the same generic space.

And this is not something the Christian -manufactures- with Ned Flanders-esque piously contrived expressions like "Hi diddly oh" and such things. Like we say so often, some are likely getting tired of it: Dogs bark, ducks quack, sparrows hop, but crows hobble...

And sinners are surrounded by an aura of wickedness, being "by nature children of wrath" (Eph2:3) Like a recent episode of "Celebrity Family Feud", when the Joan Rivers team won; she and her daughter were answering the questions to get their final winning "200 points": What is the first thing people think of in connection with the word "Holy"? Out of those "100 surveyed said", the word was "Bible". But out of the inherent wickedness of their evil hearts, both Joan and her daughter immediately (without even thinking or hesitating) blurted out with expletives.

    "For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks." (Mt12:34)
But Believers who are indwelt by the Holy Spirit are the embodiment of the aroma of Righteousness... the "righteousness of God in [Christ]" (2Co5:21)

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Church Setup?

READER QUESTION:
I checked your search que but I could not seem to find anything of the Biblical set-up of a physical church as we know of them today...do you have something you have already done that I did not find?

VW ANSWER:
I'm not quite sure what you mean by "set-up of a physical church". Do you mean stuff like: how chairs should be setup, what sorts of things should be on a platform, rituals and order of service?

Generically, if you click on "Search" and scroll down the 'left' box to "Church:-activities/ritual" [link] you may find some of the links helpful

However, for all the details for the OT sacrifices, the NT is suddenly devoid of any such instructions. Paul does instruct Timothy,

    1Ti 4:13 Till I come, give attention to reading, to exhortation, to doctrine.
And he also speaks of
    Eph 5:19 speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord,
    Col 3:16 Let the Word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.
The two main elements are singing and teaching/preaching. And prayer (1Ti2:8) is an "everywhere" activity. But unlike the OT, there is not a single piece of 'furniture' or 'object' listed in the NT for the Church meetings.

As for the 'leaders', those qualifications are given in [1Timothy], [2Timothy], and [Titus], and the relationship of women to the whole thing.

If a teaching elder is given "double honor" (financial support) (1Ti5:17), as he "lives from the Gospel" (1Co9:14) there are no instructions as to 'how' the money is to be collected: i.e. take an "offering" (and have the organ play an offeratory)? Set up a container on a table for people to give? Are the ushers (Hmm...the term "usher" isn't in the Bible) then supposed to carry the offering plates forward as everybody stands to sing the "Doxology", as the pastor (one of the recipients of some of that money) intones a "blessing" over it? Regarding giving Jesus said that the left hand should not know "what the right hand does" (Mt6:3) Processional pomp and circumstance would not seem to fit the spirit of that exhortation. As I've seen things from Babylon of Rome over the years, such liturgy seems more 'catholic' (pagan) to me than anything. (even though, years ago, I've played umpteen b'zillion offeratories for services....when I didn't know any better)

I don't know if these are the sorts of things you're asking? If not, please be more specific.

However.....just because a congregation has a building and an organ, does not disqualify them...-IF- God's Word is being faithfully taught. If it should be the case that there actually is a congregation with -numbers- of Believers in attendance, there is nothing wrong with having ushers. After all, in Acts they appointed people to tend to the daily needs of the feeding of what was becoming a large group of people. When there is a larger group of people, it becomes necessary to have usher type people, etc, to 'manage' them. If there is a need, appoint people (Believers) to fulfill the need.

But... is the Word of God being taught? Is Sound Doctrine being proclaimed? As Paul says, "sound words" (1Tim6:3, 2Tim1:13) And is this in a climate of holiness where the world is kept out? Not being "unequally yoked together with unbelievers"? (2Co6:14)

READER FOLLOW-UP:
The one thing you didn't mention that I am trying to get settled on is this: How is a pastor/shepherd/teacher to be selected. As I remember from the Bible, they were chosen out of the congregation. Nowadays as you know, the majority of pastors come from another location; sometimes from afar. Also, are not the elders and pastor to work together in concert to see the affairs of the church are taken care of?

Our church has to select one who is licensed by the [Blah-Blah] Assoc. Then, he must meet the qualification as set forth as to do beliefs align with church doctrine and the Bible.

VW ANSWER:
Well, in Ac14:23 and Tit1:5 it indicates that elders were 'appointed'. In Acts it would have been the apostles doing the appointing. I'm not sure what Titus' qualifications were, other than, perhaps, that he was appointed by an apostle (Paul) to appoint others, as was Timothy? But Paul also speaks of a person (an individual) "-aspires- to the position of an overseer", that he "desires" a good work. (1Tim3:1) That fits more the OT pattern where prophets were called directly by God, not some other human overseer. Yes, the OT priests were appointed by birthright, but that was a different pre-crucifixion dispensation, to Israel. Elisha was appointed by Elijah. But otherwise, the prophets record their own individual callings directly from God.

Other than the 'missionaries' in Acts, I don't recall any record of a church (meeting in somebody's house, or whatever) whose pastor was called from some distant location. But does that necessarily mean it is wrong to do so? I don't know that the Bible addresses that, either way. I get the sense, between the lines, that each congregation was led by its own people. And yet Paul also chides Corinth, in a different context....

    "I say this to your shame. Is it so, that there is not a wise person -among- you, not even one, who will be able to judge between his brethren?" (1Co6:5)
A person who -judges- is someone esteemed to be a 'leader' or 'elder' positionally; someone who, when he renders a decision, is respected and the others follow.

Thus...a congregation might call somebody from outside, if there is no 'leader' within their own ranks. But shouldn't that be the 'exception', rather than the rule?

But also.... if that is the case, the person who is called should be in agreement doctrinally.

But if a denomination, sitting in some headquarters, must put their corporate stamp of approval on it....that sounds even more apostolic than the apostles were. The Jerusalem leaders, headed by Jacob, did not do that. Missionaries were appointed and/or approved, and they went out, preaching the Gospel, forming new converts into congregations, and appointing leaders from out of the group....and they certainly don't seem to have communicated back with Jerusalem on each appointment.

The Church today is -NOT- "apostolic". (by definition) The apostles died in the first century. But try to convince anybody with the label "baptist" (or certain others) of this!

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"christian" persecution?

Anybody see the CBS "60 Minutes" segment last night (6/29/08) on
" 'christian' persecution" in Iraq? The promos, and some of the opening statements were something on the order of: The "christian" church has been in Iraq for 2000 years since Thomas went there and started it in 35AD. And now, since the US 'occupation', "christians" are being persecuted, kidnapped, killed; and "christians" are leaving Iraq in droves, moving to Syria and Jordan. That even under Saddam, "christians" had freedom. Why... even Saddam's right-hand-man was a "christian"

But did you notice what -kind- of "christians" they are? That which we address repeatedly, even in connection with other reports of persecution in other parts of the world. They showed what looked, for everything, to be the trappings and furnishings of Rome of Babylon. They had their processional where the staff with a gold cross was at the top, and as it processed, people along the aisles would reach out to 'touch' the cross. Is -that- what Thomas 'started'?

Certainly, they are suffering "for their faith". But -what- is that faith? Is their suffering -any- different than that which the Sunnis and Shiites perpetrate upon each other? Those "christians" worship the sun. The Sunnis and Shiah worship the moon. Of what use to them is -any- of "their faiths"?

For all the reports over the years of "persecuted christians" in China, there was something else I saw maybe a week ago (not enough details to be sure) that suggests it might be a similar situation there. That the "christians" there are the same kind as in last night's 60 Minutes report from Iraq. When TV news shows similar stuff out of Africa, ditto. Even when I was a kid, my dad took a little vacation trip one time down to Nagasaki and Hiroshima, took lots of pictures, and would show some of them during deputation meetings in this country, and would also give a little history of the "christian" missionaries that had opened the doors into Japan in the 1800s, but also suffered persecution. And of course, when he home-schooled me 3 of my first 5 years, and the Calvert history books would talk about the European explorers in the Americas, and it spoke of "the church" doing the work of "christianizing" the natives; he never clarified to me -which- "church" that was, from the aspect of how 'evil' Rome is; nor in those deputation meetings, that it is of Babylon. Even the "Israel My Glory" magazine, from which I share with you-all the "Zvi" and other articles from time to time; when they have articles about "persecuted christians" around the world, do not distinguish that they are Rome of Babylon...that they are not really [C]hristians.

NONE of these are [C]hristians in the Biblical sense. They are not "disciples" of Jesus Christ. (Ac11:26)

While they are certainly experiencing "persecution", it is not -Biblical- persecution in the sense that they are "suffering for the name of Jesus Christ". They are not. They are suffering "for -their- faith". But 'their' faith (yes, perhaps in ignorance in some cases) is based on the creation, not the Creator.

Not to seem callous, but: Their persecution is no different than the "killing fields" of Cambodia in the 70s, or Stalin's massacres, or Hitler's gas chambers. It is all the mass killing of segments of human population by those with the power and desire to do it. It is all wrong. But none of those deaths (except perhaps individuals here and there) is for the "cause of Christ". It's just... thugs killing lots of people. And in Hitler's case, doing the bidding of satan, trying to exterminate God's "inheritance" (Is19:25); as Ahmadinajad wants to do today.

Perhaps, in a way (just a thought here), these from Rome of Babylon, suffering as they are, is partial retribution for how Rome used to persecute True Believers (and Israel) over the past centuries??? Some of their historic cruelties coming back upon their own heads? (generationally...in the historical and global scheme of things?)

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VW's job: -to- do, and -not- to do

Also: (reminder)
There are things I am called to do; and conversely things I am not necessarily called to do. While I do VW, I also (theoretically) 'work' for a living...but things are slow. (Yes, the Lord also sends His "ravens" 1Ki17)

The Lord has called me to proclaim, "Thus says the Lord Jehovah" (Ezk2:4) But He has not called me to spend all my time investigating what "John" is doing (Jn21:21) It is my commission to "follow" Jesus Christ. (vs22)

Periodically somebody wants me to go look (generically) at X, Y or Z website and give them my "impressions" of it... or this or that. Or they will send large files; complete studies by A, B or C author, and want my "take" on that teacher. While we sometimes address some of the most famous of the false prophets, it is not my job to go looking under every cover and behind every bush, to make lists of the "approved" and the "rejects". That is not my job. The "Lord knows those who are His". I am not here to "judge another's servant" (Rom14:4) And actually, when we address the false prophets, we are not so much addressing the -person-, as we are their false teaching, and giving warnings. But then, too, they are known by their fruits, aren't they. But my commission from the Lord is -NOT- as a 'reviewer' of books, ministries and websites, but to "preach the Word". (2Ti4:2)

Now, if a person has a question about the X, Y, Z -teaching- of A, B, C teacher, then please specify what that teaching of theirs is, that you are questioning, and provide me the URL to the specific file (you can paste the address from your browser's address bar), and indicate where (if it is a long file) the questionable statements are located, and depending on the nature of the matter, I might respond accordingly. That -IS- something I'm here for.

Also, let me review how I answer e-mails:

  1. Some communications are of such a private nature that it never leaves my computer.
  2. Some are answered privately, and also with more add-ons and tweaks, they might also be part of a Q/A mailing.
  3. Others are answered only publicly, when it seems like a broadly generic topic that -should- be answered generically.
  4. Some don't get answered. And this will be for a myriad of reasons.
    • Some way-out ones end up in my special "XXXXXX" folder, so that if they write something else whacky, I can look up their address and see if they wrote before.
    • I don't usually respond to "Amen"s or "Atta-boy"s, but do read them with appreciation; but my purpose is not to revel in the mutual-admiration society of the praise of men.
    • In some cases some people ask things that were -just- addressed in a mailing... didn't they -read- it?
    • In some cases, somebody wants to be led by the hand and spoon-fed with milk, when they should be going on to maturity.

      Like the young sparrows that have just flown the nest, and the pieces of bread are right there in front of them, but they follow mommy/daddy around...Hop, hop, hop. Put it into my beak! Cheep! Cheep! Put it into my beak! Hop, hop, hop. Cheep! Cheep! Parent flies away, and kid follows: Hey, give me some bread (in my beak)! when there is a whole area on the driveway where pieces of bread have been deposited.

With Scriptural answers, sometimes we need to get away from the 'teacher' and dig for answers on our own...especially when it's a topic that's been addressed fairly regularly. There is no learning quite like self-tutoring and research. What will so-n-so answer? vs What does the Holy Spirit say through God's Word?

It is not my calling to chase "trails of crumbs". What about this? Well then, what about this other? Well, so then, what about that other?

And... if -you- are "chasing crumbs", STOP IT! And get into God's Word. God's Word is the -BREAD-, not crumbs. You will not learn -nearly- so much about God's Truth from all the umpteen B'zillion websites and ministries, as you will by reading God's Word! For all that time that some of you are spending reading this, that and the other thing; chasing this chat room and that blog; you -could- have been spending in God's Word! Such activity is kinda like a hi-tech form of "busybody and gossip" (1Tim5:13)

On the other hand... Yes, there are some good teachers out there. And if you are reading their stuff, do it the same way you -should- be doing it with VW stuff...comparing next to the Scriptures. But if you are not sure some other teacher is right or wrong, how do you know that VW is right or wrong, that VW should tell you they are right or wrong?

    "...they searched the Scriptures daily to see whether these things are so" (Ac17:11)
Enough already? Good!

P.S. (at mailing time)
This morning the sparrows cracked me up. It's the season that the young have been growing up and out of the nests. Once they get used to the fact that bread 'pieces' are on the driveway, they will go eat, after the agressive adults have charged in. This morning, instead of breaking the bread into pieces, I threw an entire slice out there. Adults, when they are used to it, will charge in, pecking all around the edges. Some will even attempt to be really macho and pick up the whole thing, hoping to fly away with such a prized -big- piece. But this morning it was the young who gathered around...and they didn't know what to do with it! They would hop up towards it, but then skittishly dart away, as if 'afraid' of it. Looking it over very carefully as though: What is this?? Until I went out there (after having first laughed a lot at their 'predicament'), picked up the slice and broke it into pieces....they would not touch it!

So... based on the above we addressed so far, you make your own observation and application. All the young sparrows knew was the tiny pieces. They didn't know that 'pieces' come from entire slices... BREAD. Not 'crumbs'.

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