The Awesome Mystery of the Cross

cross

Now about that time Herod the king stretched forth his hands to vex certain of the church. And he killed James the brother of John with the sword. And because he saw it pleased the Jews, he proceeded further to take Peter also. (Then were the days of unleavened bread). And when he had apprehended him, he put him in prison, and delivered him to four quaternions soldiers to keep him; intending after Easter to bring him forth to the people.  Acts 12:1-4 KJV

Let me point out, that unless you read this scripture in the King James, you will miss this point completely, for the King James is the ONLY translation that uses the word Easter, all other translations use Passover. (King James is translated by the Textus Receptus, or in Latin, ‘the received text.’ In the 19th century, it came under mainstream criticism; men not being content with the word of God, when the word began to be translated using the Majority, or Alexandrian text; out of Egypt. Note: The name majority, Satan is slick…gives it a name that makes one believe it is good, because it is majority. Yet, when has the word of God ever been a majority vote? NOT GOOD! Remember Egypt in the word represents sin, bondage…God brought his people OUT of Egypt, they were not to turn back…they were to stay out of Egypt. (Deut. 6:12, Jer. 44:13, etc.) Why should it be any different for us? So, when God says he will preserve his word (Psalm 6:12-7), he did, and he did so through the Textus Receptus.)

Focusing back on the scripture above, many will argue that the translation of Easter was mistranslated. (Again, those are the men who subscribe to the Majority text.) That it is really speaking of Passover. Yet, without having to interpret, (again, another thing we should never do), we have just read in parentheses that ‘these were the days of unleavened bread.’  Herod had James, John’s brother killed during Passover, the days of unleavened bread. When that happened and Herod saw the reaction from the Jews, how it pleased them, THEN, he decided to kill John.

Herod, was a Politician, and like many politicians today, he was corrupt, and did things to please those in high places, to further his career. He was not a Jew; this is also a subject that many people get confused on. His family history shows that he was an Edomite, not a Jew. Somewhere in his family history, a member(s) converted to Judaism. This is how he finally came into his position. You see, like most politicians, he could ‘talk’ the talk and ‘walk’ the walk for he heard the truth, but Herod himself was not a true believer, or convert. For if Herod was a devout believer of the Jewish faith, he would not celebrate Easter, a pagan holiday that was celebrated long before Christ was crucified on the cross. If he was a true believer of the Jewish faith, he never would have carried out the execution of James during the Passover, just as the scripture says he did. Remember the rush to execute Jesus and get him in the grave BEFORE the Passover began? Yet, Herod has James killed during Passover. And, as we read, Herod’s plan was to wait until AFTER Easter to kill John. Why wait? Because Easter was a Holy day for Herod; he celebrated Easter.

So, this brings into question, why do many people today, who confess to be followers of Christ celebrate Easter? Many are ignorant, they either do not read the scriptures as we are told to do.

Study to shew thyself approves unto God, a workman that needeth not be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. (2 Timothy 2:15 KJV)

Or they study, but are not using the true word of God. Or, sadly, many DO know that Easter is a pagan holiday, but they don’t want to be different, they don’t want to go against the masses, for life then would be a bit harder. Some even go as far as to justify the use of pagan symbols, like the Bunny and egg, saying they can change the meaning to represent Christ. When did God ever allow that? When did God ever tell His people to become one with pagans? To adopt pagan holidays, and rituals, only change the meaning so that it represents His word? HE DOES NOT, and HE NEVER WILL. Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever! (Hebrews 13:8). In fact, God tells us to not be conformed to the world!

And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God. (Romans 12:2 KJV)

1 John 2:15-17 tells us not to love the world or the things of the world. And there are many more versus that speak of us not conforming to the ways of the world, but rather to put our minds on the heavenly.

If we are following Christ, we are supposed to be different! We are supposed to stand out, be the light in this dark world. Does it make life a bit more difficult? YES! It sure does. Our family rarely goes to church on Resurrection Sunday, for we have found it difficult over the years to find a church that refuses to celebrate Easter, instead of the resurrection. We don’t participate in egg hunts, may poles or the other pagan rituals, so we are often turning down invites. (And sadly, many churches endorse these activities in their children’s ministries, which is another reason we will opt out.) However, on the rare occasion we do find a church that celebrates Resurrection Sunday, what a blessing! Those churches, while few, are out there, a beacon of light! You are blessed if you have that!

Why does this matter? One, if we look and act just like the world, we will not stand out. No wonder many unbelievers look at the church today, as a whole, and see nothing but a bunch of Hypocrites! Yes, none of us are perfect, and we will continue to sin until we receive our new bodies. However, we should attempt to live our lives as best as we can according to the scriptures, even if we don’t agree with what the word says. Who are we to question God? Romans (9:19-23)

Two…all of us will stand before God someday. 2 Timothy 2:15 is a commandment…we are told to study the word. Sadly, many Christian’s don’t do this. They hear a sermon or read something and believe what they hear. They don’t go home and get into the scripture themselves. It is amazing the discernment God gives, when you are in His word. Just how many false teachings are out there. Often, when I am listening to someone preach, or listening to a program on the radio or TV, the number of false teachings I have come across. If I were not really well read, and I mean the entire Bible, not just the New Testament, how easily I would be led astray! While I am still learning, and not perfect in my knowledge, when I stand someday before God, I do not want to be found ashamed, only because I did not study the word myself as I was commanded to do. Think about all the people who will stand before God ashamed…ashamed because they choose not to study the word, which for most of us today is so easily accessible. Ashamed because they did not want to stand out, to be different, so they choose to follow the world and not the Word.

Third, Is Jesus not enough? Why do men see the need to add candy, bunnies and eggs to the amazing Resurrection of Jesus? How confusing the mixing of pagan and Holy is to our children. How sad, that as a whole, the Christian church has diminished the power of the cross! What a gift we have in Jesus, and we take it for granted. We read in the scriptures that Jesus came to save the lost sheep of Israel. (Matthew 15:22-28). Contrary to what many believe today, Jesus was NOT sent to us. Study the old testament, and you will discover the same…a messiah was foretold, a messiah for the Jewish people. However, there is a mystery that Paul speaks of often in his writings. An amazing mystery!

That your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God. Howbeit we speak wisdom among them that are perfect: yet not the wisdom of this world, nor of the princes of this world, that come to nought: But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, even the hidden wisdom, which God ordained before the world unto our glory: which none of the princes of this world knew: for had they known it, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. (1 Corinthians 2:5-8 KJV)

That at the time ye were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world: But now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ. For he is our peace, who hath made both one, and hath broken down the middle wall of partition between us; (Ephesians 2:12-14, though I encourage you to read through to 20.)

You see, no man knew what God had planned. The prophesies and scriptures all pointed to the fact that God was sending a savior for HIS people. When Paul wrote that we were alienated, strangers, having no hope…that is exactly where we stood before Jesus died on the cross. We, as gentiles, had no access to God, no hope…we were doomed. But…God, so loved the world, (John 3:16), that He had a secret plan, a mystery, that according to the scriptures had God revealed His plan, Jesus would not have been crucified.

Just think about this, let it sink in for a moment…this is the amazing gift of salvation we have through Jesus Christ! We were cut off from God, without hope, but because of Christs crucifixion on the cross we now have direct access to God! We are NO LONGER WITHOUT HOPE! Isn’t that enough? Our reason for celebrating Christ resurrection without diluting it with pagan rituals? Think how God feels when he looks down at earth, his creation, mixing false Gods with the sacrifice His only begotten son Jesus made on the cross. Are we really stupid enough to believe that when we stand before God someday, we will not be held accountable for this, and all our actions? That God will overlook our sin? Yes, our sins are forgiven…but by choosing to disobey God, we are telling God we don’t want Him, we don’t need Him…that is a scary thought.

Where do you stand today?

“And if it seem evil unto you to serve the LORD, choose this day whom ye will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the flood, of the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell: but as for me and my house, we will serve the  LORD.”  (Joshua 24:15)

Are you willing and ready to forsake all to follow Christ? It may not be the popular or cool thing to do, but in the end, you will not regret it. This life if but a vapor…eternity is just that, eternal. And Christ IS COMING SOON! Are you looking forward to his return, or clinging to the things of this world?

 

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