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Bible

Understanding

Made Easy

Manassah

Manasseh is a very interesting Bible character.  He is interesting, because he did many terrible things, but near the end of his life he changed for the better.  However, his actions permanently affected the children of Israel in massive ways in which they never fully recovered.  In other words, his leadership into idolatry for the people was a major contributing factor for them being severely punished by God later on in Bible history.

The Bible says Manasseh was 12 years old when he became the king of Judah.  He was the king for a long time.  In fact, the Bible says he reigned for 55 years.  However, his deeds were evil in the sight of God.  This was because he started worshipping idols.  In fact, regarding the high places that his father, Hezekiah, had destroyed, he rebuilt them for the worship of these false gods.  He even worshipped Baal and made an Asherah pole.  He worshipped every false god one could imagine.  He even put altars to worship these idol gods in the Jewish Temple.  Even more, he burned his own son in the fire as an offering to Baal.   He even practiced witchcraft and consulted mediums and all types of evil spiritual workers for advice.  He angered God with all of these evil things he was doing (2 Kings 21:1-6; 2 Chronicles 33:1-9).

What was wrong with worshipping Baal?  First idol worship is a sin in God’s eyes (1 Corinthians 6:9-10).  Second, Baal worship was extremely evil.  The people believed that Baal was the god of the sun and all storms.  Thus, if weather destroyed the peoples’ crops, they would offer a human sacrifice to appease him.  This was usually the first-born child of a Baal worshipper.  That child was normally burned alive to appease Baal (Newell, 1991).

What was wrong with worshipping Asherah?  Again, idol worship is a sin.  Also, worshipping Asherah shows that people do not have faith in the One True God that gives all things life (Deuteronomy 32:39).  People worshipped Asherah for fertility reasons.  She was believed to be the mother of Baal by some Bible scholars (Newell, 1991a).  This means that if a woman was having trouble with having children, she would go to Asherah for help.  Of course, Asherah was just a wooden pole shaped like a woman that had no power to do anything.  The power to cause life is in God’s hands only.  So, He would naturally be offended when mankind gives the credit for fertility to some dumb piece of wood.

Returning to Manasseh’s story, the Bible tells us of God’s anger with the children of Israel.  Unfortunately, Manasseh effectively led his people into idol worship.  Remember, God gave the land of Israel to the children of Israel because the Canaanites in their land before them were so evil.  So, hundreds of years before Manasseh was born, God used the children of Israel to destroy these Canaanite people and take over the land.  However, in the time of Manasseh, God is saying that the children of Israel were more wicked than the Canaanites were (2 Kings 21:7-9)!  God must have been really angry with the children of Israel to think this way!

God continued to lay out His charges against Manasseh.  Not only was God angry with Manasseh for his idolatry and leading the children of Israel into this detestable practice, he also murdered many innocent people during his reign as king (2 Kings 21:16-17).

Although Manasseh did a lot of evil things, he also did some good things.  Because of all of his own personal idolatry and leading the children of Israel to do the same, God punished Manasseh before he died.  The Lord’s Word says Manasseh was defeated by the Assyrians.  The Assyrians took him away from Jerusalem as a prisoner in the land of the Assyrians.  During his punishment from God, Manasseh came to his senses and prayed to God for deliverance.  He repented of his sins, which means he had a change of heart and stopped the idol worship he was doing.  So God’s kindness allowed Manasseh to be freed from Assyrian captivity and returned to Jerusalem.  When Manasseh returned home, he started to undo the bad things he did before his imprisonment.  He cleaned the Temple of the idols he had put there.  He cleaned out all the altars to the idols in the high places that were built within Jerusalem   (2 Chronicles 33:10-15).  This shows us that we must clean up what we mess up to please God. For example, we must apologize to those we mistreat in this life to be pleasing to God.  Otherwise, God will stop listening to our prayers and accepting our worship (Matthew 5:23-24).  So, when we make mistakes, we must put in all the effort we can to correct them. 

Although Manasseh made many reforms to get rid of the idolatry he started, the permanent damage was done.  The children of Israel would continue worshipping idols for generations after Manasseh’s death.  Unfortunately, for the children of Israel, God would severely punish them for their sins.  He would bring the Babylonians later on in history to serve as the army who would punish the children of Israel for their sins.  Many of them would die brutal deaths, starve during the siege, and be taken as slaves into Babylon (2 Kings 21:10-15).  This was because they would not repent, which means change, and start living right in God’s sight.  The same holds true today.  God loves us and is forgiving as long as we are willing to repent of our sins, confess our faults to Him, and ask for His forgiveness (Acts 8:22; 1 John 1:7-10).  The children of Israel would do none of these things and thus, the anger of the Lord was never taken from them and He caused them to be punished for their sins many generations after Manasseh’s death.

In conclusion, all though Manasseh did a lot of wicked things, we can take one positive thing from his life.  We must understand that we must clean up what we messed up.  When we do something wrong, first, we must make our peace with God.  After that, we must also help those we have harmed with our sinful behavior.  May God bless and keep you.  The message is yours!

 

         

God’s Plan of Salvation

 

          There is so much confusion in the world today regarding what some people preach as God’s plan of salvation.  Some will have one say a prayer similar to the following, “Dear Jesus.  I realize that I am a sinner.  I accept you as my personal Lord and Savior.  Please forgive me now and save me.”  This is commonly called “A Sinner’s Prayer.”  There is only one portion of this type of prayer that is right.  One must accept Jesus Christ as his/her Lord and Savior, but a prayer for salvation is not in the Bible.  One cannot pray and receive salvation.

Others preach that one can just believe and he/she is automatically a child of God.  Unfortunately, this method is not mentioned in the Bible as God's way of salvation either.

Even others preach that if an infant is baptized, he/she is saved at that moment.  Well, friend, again, this is a method made up by man and not in the Bible.

Literally studying the Bible, itself, is the only way to get a true and righteous answer to the question, "What must I do to be saved?"  This is where it is wise to allow the Word of God to explain itself as much as possible.  Please come with an open mind to this study as it is not meant nor worded to offend.  It is only designed to spread the truth of what God literally says one must do to be saved. 

First, we must study the first element of God's plan of salvation, which is to hear His Word as taught in the Bible, itself.  1 Corinthians 1:21 reads, “For after that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe.”  To those disinterested in the things of God, preaching salvation through Jesus Christ is foolishness to them.  It is nonsense.  On the other hand, for those truly seeking God, it is God’s wisdom displayed unto him/her.  Salvation comes through hearing the Word of God.  It does not come through feelings, flashes of great light, an audible Word from Jesus, Himself, a literal appearance from Him, or any other methods people claim to have experienced today.  Instead, God has said salvation comes from preaching.  In fact, Romans 10:17 says, “So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God” (New King James Version).  This means one must hear the Word of God to be saved.  Again, this is done through preaching!  

Second, in order to be saved, Jesus says, “15…Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. 16 "He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned” (Mark 16:15-16 New King James Version). This verse is showing us one must believe the Gospel of salvation in Jesus Christ. What is that Gospel (i.e. the good news)? Acts 2:22-39 explains it to us and reads:

22 "Men of Israel, hear these words: Jesus of Nazareth, a Man attested by God to you by miracles, wonders, and signs which God did through Him in your midst, as you yourselves also know-- 23 "Him, being delivered by the determined purpose and foreknowledge of God, you have taken by lawless hands, have crucified, and put to death; 24 "whom God raised up, having loosed the pains of death, because it was not possible that He should be held by it. 25 "For David says concerning Him: 'I foresaw the LORD always before my face, For He is at my right hand, that I may not be shaken. 26 Therefore my heart rejoiced, and my tongue was glad; Moreover my flesh also will rest in hope. 27 For You will not leave my soul in Hades, Nor will You allow Your Holy One to see corruption. 28 You have made known to me the ways of life; You will make me full of joy in Your presence.' 29 "Men and brethren, let me speak freely to you of the patriarch David, that he is both dead and buried, and his tomb is with us to this day. 30 "Therefore, being a prophet, and knowing that God had sworn with an oath to him that of the fruit of his body, according to the flesh, He would raise up the Christ to sit on his throne, 31 "he, foreseeing this, spoke concerning the resurrection of the Christ, that His soul was not left in Hades, nor did His flesh see corruption. 32 "This Jesus God has raised up, of which we are all witnesses. 33 "Therefore being exalted to the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, He poured out this which you now see and hear. 34 "For David did not ascend into the heavens, but he says himself: 'The LORD said to my Lord, "Sit at My right hand, 35 Till I make Your enemies Your footstool." 36 "Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly that God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ." 37 Now when they heard this, they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, "Men and brethren, what shall we do?" 38 Then Peter said to them, "Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39 "For the promise is to you and to your children, and to all who are afar off, as many as the Lord our God will call (New King James Version).

To say this in a brief manner, in order to be saved, one must believe that Jesus Christ suffered and died on the cross of Calvary, rose again to life on the third day, and has been chosen by God the Father to be mankind’s Lord and Christ (i.e. Savior).

 

How is He the Savior of all mankind who will believe and obey Him? The answer is all mankind, including you and me, have sinned. This means we have all done something worthy of spiritual, eternal death. We are worthy of eternal punishment through our evil deeds (Romans 3:23; 6:23). Jesus volunteered to give His life as a substitute offering so we could be freed from the sentence of eternal, spiritual death (1 John 2:2; Romans 5:9-10). In other words, Jesus’ death was a peacemaking offering, also known as an atonement, with God the Father (Romans 5:11).

If one can believe the death of Jesus was the substitute for the eternal, spiritual death we deserved, then God is able to save him/her. If not, he/she cannot be saved, because there is no other way one can be saved (Mark 16:15-16; Acts 4:12; Titus 1:4). There is no salvation to those who do not become Christians before they die (John 14:6). Believing that Jesus is Lord and Christ is also a conviction that Jesus is the literal Son of God (John 3:16). He was human, but Divine as well.

Third, in order to be saved, one must also repent of his/her sins.  Jesus made it quite clear in His preaching that one must repent in order to be pleasing to God the Father.  One example of this command from Jesus is in Mark 1:15, which reads as follows, according to the New King James Version, “…The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the gospel.”

What is repentance?  Orville J. Nave has a great definition of what this word means and is quoted as follows, “A complete reversal of one’s attitude and values, i.e. a turning toward God” (Unger & White, 1996).  This is just another way of saying when one desires to become a Christian, he/she has to make a commitment to live a morally upright life according to the Will of God in the New Testament.

Remember, when Jesus died, He brought in the New Testament (which is the New Covenant) and closed the Old Testament (i.e. the Old Covenant).  We are to obey the New Testament for salvation, but use the Old Testament for our learning of principles that have been carried over into the New Testament (Jeremiah 31:31-34, Hebrews 12:24, Romans 15:4).  Please also keep in mind, the Father God speaks to us in these last days through His Son-Jesus Christ (Hebrews 1:1-3).  His Words, which are the Words of the Father God, are captured in the New Testament of the Bible (Matthew 7:21-23).

What does repentance lead to according to the Bible?  Acts 2:38 shows us and reads as follows, according to the New International Version, “…Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.”  Remember, repentance is a change of lifestyle from the bad to the good.  Notice, repentance must come before God will forgive us of our sins.  Thus, if one will not commit to leaving a sinful lifestyle behind, then God cannot forgive the person.  Without forgiveness, there is no salvation. 

Fourth, one must confess Jesus Christ to be one’s Lord in order to be saved.  This is shown to us in Romans 10:9-10, according to the New International Version, “9 That if you confess with your mouth, "Jesus is Lord," and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved” (Italics Added).

The Bible gives an example of this confession in Acts 8:37.  Acts 8:36-38 reads as follows, according to the New American Standard 1995 Version:

36 As they went along the road they came to some water; and the eunuch said, ``Look! Water! What prevents me from being baptized?'' 37 And Philip said, ``If you believe with all your heart, you may.'' And he answered and said, ``I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.'' 38 And he ordered the chariot to stop; and they both went down into the water, Philip as well as the eunuch, and he baptized him.

Friend, as you can see, the saving confession, which acknowledges the fact one has accepted Jesus as his/her Lord, is “I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.”

Fifth, in order to be saved, one MUST be baptized in water.  Jesus, again said, “He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned” (Mark 16:16 New King James Version).

Notice, Jesus used the word “and” between the words “believes” and “is baptized.”  This means the two concepts are connected and inseparable.  In order to be saved, one must BOTH believe and be baptized according to the teachings of God!  Man may separate the two in his own false teachings, but it is only the Word of God that saves! Water baptism is absolutely necessary for salvation with no exceptions.  If the Bible teaches it, then it is true.  If man teaches otherwise, then he is a liar! 

Sixth and finally, the last thing one must do to be saved is to stay faithful to Jesus Christ until he or she dies. This author did not imagine this concept, it is literally written in the Scriptures. Jesus said the following to all Christians, “Do not fear what you are about to suffer. Behold, the devil is about to cast some of you into prison, so that you will be tested, and you will have tribulation for ten days. Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life” (Revelation 2:10 New American Standard 1995 Version).

This word “faithful” is accurately defined by the renowned Greek scholar, Joseph Thayer. He defines the original Greek Word “pistos” (Strong’s number 4103) as the following, “Trusty; faithful; of persons who show themselves faithful in the transaction of business, the execution of commands, or the discharge of official duties” (Thayer, 2003).

Thus, to remain faithful to Jesus until death means all Christians are bound to live a life according to what Jesus commanded. That is, we have to continue believing in Him as our Lord and Savior until our earthly deaths (Hebrews 10:39; Matthew 10:32-33).   In addition, we have to live a life morally in accordance to the things He taught us (Matthew 7:21-23; Hebrews 1:1-3; Luke 6:41-49; James 2:20).

In summary, God’s plan of salvation, according to the Bible, is as follows:

  1.  One must hear the Word of God being the offering of salvation through Jesus Christ (Romans 10:17).

  2. (2) He or she must then believe this Gospel story of salvation by accepting Jesus Christ as one’s Lord and Savior (Mark 16:15-16; Matthew 28:18-20; John 8:24).

  3.  He or she then must repent, which means to live a morally, clean Christian life by abandoning sinful ways (Acts 2:38; Mark 1:14-15).

  4. He or she must also confess Jesus Christ as his or her Lord, which means the Son of God (Romans 10:9-10; Acts 2:37).

  5. He or she must be submerged in the watery of grave of baptism for the forgiveness of one’s sins (Matthew 28:18-20; Mark 16:15-16; Acts 2:38; 22:16; 1 Peter 3:21).

  6. All Christians must remain faithful to Jesus Christ by continued belief in and obedience to Lord until death (Revelation 2:10; Matthew 7:21-23; Hebrews 1:1-3; James 2:20; Hebrews 10:39).

What Are You Going To Do Now?

Are you one who has read the Bible and has understood that you may have, unfortunately, been deceived into thinking you were saved, but were not due to being taught false doctrine? Please do not be ashamed. Satan has many false teachers and preachers in this world (2 Corinthians 11:13-15)!  Remember, one of the tools Satan uses to keep us enslaved to sin and headed to eternal punishment is our own pride (1 John 2:16)!  Please do not let pride stop you from becoming a true Christian.  If you are one who thought you were a Christian, but realized you were not taught the truth leading to salvation, then this author begs of you to find a local church of Christ congregation and tell the minister there your dilemma.  Then, allow yourself to be taught the truth (Acts 8:26-39). From there, give yourself to Christ in truth so there will be no doubt of your salvation when the judgment day comes!  Make sure you have yourself baptized at the local congregation to wash away your sins (Acts 22:16)!  Remember, false teachings send us to eternal punishment and not heaven (Matthew 15:13-14; Galatians 1:8-9).  Only the truth will set us free from sin and eternal death (John 8:32).  May God bless you and keep you! This author loves you, but God loves you more (1 John 4:8-11; John 15:13)!

REFERENCES

Newell, J. (1991). BAAL. Retrieved June 4, 2014 from http://classic.studylight.org/dic/hbd/view.cgi?number=T607.

Newell, J. (1991a). ASHERAH. Retrieved June 4, 2014 from http://classic.studylight.org/dic/hbd/view.cgi?number=T500.

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