Pastors Report - 28 June 2019
In The Image Of God

In The Image of God...

"So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them." (Genesis 1:27)

As Sons of God:

In some of the concluding statements of the entire Bible – right at the end of the book of Revelation – we find the following amazing declaration from the eternal God:

  • And he that sat upon the throne said, Behold, I make all things new. And he said unto me, Write: for these words are true and faithful.
  • And he said unto me, It is done. I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end. I will give unto him that is athirst of the fountain of the water of life freely.
  • He that overcometh shall inherit all things and I will be his God, and he shall be my son . (Revelation 21:5-7)

This is the transcendental future being offered to the whole of mankind – the very gospel (good news) of the Kingdom, or Family, of God – to become a literal born son of God. For those with the eyes to see, it's a theme that runs throughout the scriptures – from the opening chapters of Genesis right through to the closing chapters of Revelation. And even for the vast majority of mankind who cannot yet grasp the true spiritual intent, the degree of acceptance and respect previously shown towards such words of scripture in Israelite lands profoundly influenced society at the time – something that we see progressively lacking today.

The Implications

What is happening in society at the moment is equally astounding in a negative way – yet the vast majority of mankind seems to be completely oblivious. At its core is the loss of this concept – that we as humans have been fashioned in the image of God – and instead are being regarded simply as higher animals. The result of this approach has been a steady degrading of thought regarding man's role in the world – from something which should be quite noble in its outlook – into a degenerate and debased decline across the board.

God foresaw this absurdity and recorded it thousands of years ago in the following poetic language:

  • Hath a nation changed their gods, which are yet no gods? but my people have changed their glory for that which doth not profit.
  • Be astonished, O ye heavens, at this, and be horribly afraid, be ye very desolate, saith the LORD.
  • For my people have committed two evils they have forsaken me the fountain of living waters, and hewed them out cisterns, broken cisterns, that can hold no water. (Jeremiah 2:11-13)

Some of these "gods" can often be no more than subtle changes in perception – yet perceptions that produce radically different actions by large swathes of the populace. And the thing that we in God's church must keep constantly in mind is just where these subtle changes in outlook are in fact coming from and how they impact on us. Satan would like nothing better than for God's people to begin thinking in the same way, which is the reason for this Pastor's Report – that we are no longer ignorant of his devices in this area. (2 Corinthians 2:11)

Evolution

If there is one "god" that shows this "sea change", this transformation in thought within the western world, it is the current unquestioning acceptance of the theory of evolution – blatantly masquerading as fact. When we look at the reasons behind this revision, we find a pseudo-science that begins with the premise that the only admissible evidence must point to something that is materialistic in nature. The moment anything contrary is presented the cry of "Foul!" goes up, as being inadmissible – even if that evidence is absolutely overwhelming, with crushing statistical facts. In this way the true Creator God is conveniently rejected. They deliberately hold back – i.e. suppress, censor, conceal, muzzle, quash, silence, smother, squelch, strangle, and submerge the truth in unrighteousness, as Paul says in Romans 1:18, and he then expands on the problem further:

  • For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold [back] the truth in unrighteousness
  • Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them for God hath shewed it unto them.
  • For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead so that they are without excuse:
  • Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened.
  • Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools,
  • And changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and fourfooted beasts, and creeping things. (Romans 1:18-23)

Note carefully the wording in verse 23 above. The "glory of the uncorruptible God", (with man created in His image) has been sidelined and replaced with the broken cistern of Darwin's "Tree of life", with man as nothing more than the current top animal. But what Paul then goes on to explain is the effect this change in perspective has had on our society. It is what lies behind the current LGBT mania (verses 24,26,27). And having kicked God out of the higher educational system (verse 28) a cascade of evil from what becomes a reprobate mind (margin: "a mind void of judgement") will inevitably follow (verses 29-32).

PETA:

We can see this graphically illustrated in the animal rights movement. Once you have Darwin's Tree of Life replacing the concept of the Creator God, a whole host of misguided approaches and concepts follow. By no means least of these being organisations like PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, claiming 6.5 million members). They appear to place the welfare of animals above that of human beings. Such "a mind void of judgement" – (Romans 1:28) – can be seen,for example, within the following two articles:

USA – People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) asked Maine officials on Wednesday for permission to build a large grave to mark the site of a truck crash that resulted in thousands of lobsters spilling out onto a highway. PETA hopes to memorialize the “countless sensitive crustaceans” who were killed during the August 22 crash in Brunswick, the animal rights group said. Police said 7,000 pounds of live lobsters were destroyed and it’s suspected it was more than 4,500 lobsters that died, according to the Portland Press Herald. The grave would “remind everyone that the best way to prevent such tragedies is to go vegan,” the animal rights group said. ( foxnews.com - 31/08/2018)

WASHINGTON – Norfolk-based group People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals wants the flyswatter-in-chief to try taking a more humane attitude the next time he's bedeviled by a fly in the White House. PETA is sending President Barack Obama a Katcha Bug Humane Bug Catcher, A DEVICE THAT ALLOWS USERS TO TRAP A HOUSE FLY AND THEN RELEASE IT OUTSIDE. ( nbcnews.com - 18/06/2009)

Although these two illustrations are certainly extreme and somewhat humorous in nature they are clearly coming from a mindset that no longer recognises that mankind was made in the image of God, but rather is merely just another species of animal.

Obviously we would never go to such extremes but how do we regard the animals in our lives? Do we treat them as human personalities? How much has our thinking been influenced by Disney movies, for example? We certainly should not be cruel or unkind in any way (Proverbs 12:10), but an animal was not made in the image of God and should not be treated as if it was... there should be a clear distinction. I remember my wife being amazed at an aisle in an American supermarket, which was devoted to clothing for pets and not – as initially thought – the dolls clothes that she was looking for, for the granddaughters. Such thinking borders on the concepts that give rise to organisations such as PETA, and we need to be aware of this.

Vegetarianism/Veganism

At its heart PETA does not merely promote a vegetarian lifestyle but very much a vegan one. With its slogan "Animals are not ours to eat, wear, experiment on, use for entertainment, or abuse in any other way", the vegan mindset is very evident. I don't think many of us would disagree re. the experimental and abuse side of things, but to vehemently discourage the use of wool for clothing or leather for footwear goes to an ever heightened extreme. Adherents use phrases like "not eating anything that has a face" – putting the human kingdom within the animal kingdom, rather than (as it should be) a preparation for the God kingdom.

A dedicated vegan will refuse to eat or use anything that has come from an animal – even if that animal has not been killed. Hence refusing milk, butter, cheese, eggs and even honey! There is one specific website that even attempts to use scripture to support veganism, using the following quote below a photo of slaughtered pig: "Truly, I tell you whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me." (Matthew 25:40)

In an interview on a vegan website, singer and song-writer Paul McCartney is quoted as saying "We can't go on cramming creatures into battery cages, broiler sheds, turkey sheds and so on. Where's the compassion? It's a real chicken with a face and a heart... When I see bacon, I see a pig, I see a little friend, and that's why I can't eat it. Simple as that."

It's also come to my attention that some in the wider church of God feel that all humanity will be vegetarians in the coming Millennium. We need to be aware that this directly clashes with scriptures such as this millennial setting described in Ezekiel:

  • Then said he unto me, These waters issue out toward the east country, and go down into the desert, and go into the sea: which being brought forth into the sea, the waters shall be healed.
  • And it shall come to pass, that every thing that liveth, which moveth, whithersoever the rivers shall come, shall live: and there shall be a very great multitude of fish, because these waters shall come thither: for they shall be healed and every thing shall live whither the river cometh.
  • And it shall come to pass, that the fishers shall stand upon it from Engedi even unto Eneglaim they shall be a place to spread forth nets their fish shall be according to their kinds, as the fish of the great sea, exceeding many. (Ezekiel 47:8-10)

And another in Isaiah, which records sacrifices in an end-time setting:

  • In that day shall there be an altar to the LORD in the midst of the land of Egypt, and a pillar at the border thereof to the LORD...
  • ... And the LORD shall be known to Egypt, and the Egyptians shall know the LORD in that day, and shall do sacrifice and oblation yea, they shall vow a vow unto the LORD, and perform it.
  • And the LORD shall smite Egypt: he shall smite and heal it: and they shall return even to the LORD, and he shall be intreated of them, and shall heal them (Isaiah 19:19-22)
Christ's Example:

What example do we see Christ setting for us? Twice it is recorded He fed multiple thousands with fish, as well as loaves (Matthew 14 and Mark 8). If He'd espoused the vegetarian lifestyle, He could have said "forget the fish and let's share out the bread". And as it appears to have been His custom, He partook of the Passover lamb the night He was betrayed (Luke 22), and He also prepared a meal of cooked fish for His disciples after His resurrection (John 21).

So where are these ideas coming from? As it's mentioned in Isaiah: "Therefore thou hast forsaken thy people the house of Jacob, because they be replenished from the east, and are soothsayers like the Philistines, and they please themselves in the children of strangers". (Isaiah 2:6)

Our ideas based on evolution and exalting the animal – and in some cases even the insect kingdom – run parallel with the Hindu doctrine of reincarnation. This gives rise to the following eastern way of thinking – very much negating the fact that man is created in the image of God. Note this ruling made in India this month:

A single judge bench of India’s Punjab and Haryana High Court held on Friday that the “entire animal kingdom including avian and aquatic” species has a “distinct legal persona with corresponding rights, duties, and liabilities of a living person.”...

...“All animals have honor and dignity. Every species has an inherent right to live and is required to be protected by law. The privacy and the rights of animals are to be respected and protected from unlawful attacks,” ( www.jurist.org - 03/06/2019)

Marriage and family

If mankind was not made after the God kind, in His image or shadow, but is to be regarded instead as merely on a par with the rest of the animal kingdom, then the divine sanctity of marriage and the family has no place in the resultant society whatsoever! The human family would have no more importance than a hen with her chickens, or a cow with its calf, a sow with her piglets.

But as brought out in Ephesians, the married state and the human family goes far, far beyond this physical existence, as important as that is:

  • For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh.
  • This is a great mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and the church. (Ephesians 5:31,32)

The family is not just a quirk of nature, evolving somehow over millennia to stabilise society. It's been in the mind of God from the very beginning and will continue on into the mists of eternity: "For this cause I bow my knees unto the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, Of whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named," (Ephesians 3:14,15)

What we see today though is a direct attack on the concept of a family unit consisting of a father, mother and their children. We have impressionable youngsters taught in kindergarten that families can consist of "two daddies" or "two mummies". And also children's stories about a dog that identifies with a dinosaur - insidiously introducing the concept of gender choice. So not only is there an assault on the concept of being made in the image of God, but even more foundational than that, that He made mankind male and female, for the purpose of marriage and procreation ... reproducing more family members who will also be made in His image.

The apostle Paul specifically warns us that at the end time mankind will be listening to seducing spirits and doctrines of demons. The two doctrines particularly highlighted are vegetarianism and forbidding to marry. We need to keep in mind that the word translated as "forbidding" in this passage about end time marriage, has a much broader meaning, including "hindering, withstand, prevent, keep from" – very much what we see today – particularly within the LGBT drive, and gender fluidity – as a direct result of no longer recognising man as having been deliberately created in the likeness of God.

  • Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils
  • Speaking lies in hypocrisy having their conscience seared with a hot iron
  • Forbidding to marry, and commanding to abstain from meats, which God hath created to be received with thanksgiving of them which believe and know the truth. (I Timothy 4:1-3)
Degradation of Life:

Being just a higher animal opens the floodgates to a plethora of evils – as brought out in Romans chapter one. Yet living within this society we so often fail to recognise this basis behind the various issues that crop up daily. Failing to believe in the revelation that we were made "after the God kind", in the similitude of that eternal Being – does not merely mean we believe in nothing, but we end up believing in anything ... even the degradation of life itself.

This degradation, this debasement, leads to the most appalling evils! No longer content to murder children in the womb, society sanctions the exploitation of such a barbaric practice, reaping financial gain from the selling of the body parts of such innocents. Yet if we are no more than a cosmic accident, with no future beyond this threescore and ten, then it's a matter of eat, drink and be merry, and get rid of anything that gets in the way of that. With no concept of this minute bundle of cells being imprinted with the DNA of a God being, with the potential not only to grow into human being – but destined for an eternal existence – then it's no wonder millions of unborn children are sacrificed every year.

In China they have taken this brutality once step further – not only commercialising the murder of the unborn that get in their way but even political prisoners:

CHINA – China has long been credibly accused of allowing a black market in organ sales, the kidneys, livers, etc, coming from murdered political prisoners such as the Falun Gong. Several years ago, China promised it would eliminate this dark harvest, but according to the China Tribunal — an independent investigative tribunal into forced organ harvesting from prisoners of conscience — the tyranny continues to permit the murder and strip-mining of political prisoners to continue without interruption. ( evolutionnews.org - 27/06/2019)

And it is prophesied to get worse, as brought out in Revelation 18:13. Trading in the bodies and souls of men is lumped in with all the other goods and wares this end time power will be trafficking in. We can see this satanic mindset amply illustrated within the last war where the "undesirables" were treated as vermin – because of the way the authorities were thinking. They no longer regarded them as human beings made in the image of God, but placed them equal in status to a rat, mouse or cockroach, an approach which encouraged the murder of multiple millions.

The aged are no longer given respect as in years gone by, but when their usefulness has expired, in some countries they are in mortal danger of being euthanised, along with the terminally ill.

Within the Church

But how about you and me? Has this mindset rubbed off on us? Obviously we don't sanction veganism or vegetarianism or organ harvesting or abortion ... but how do we treat one another? Is it as Mr Armstrong brought out in the following Good News article?

It is a mind FILLED to overflowing with real LOVE for God and all fellowmen – even one’s enemies and that has sympathy, patience and kindness for others in their ideas and beliefs, their faults and mistakes, that speaks softly, gently, kindly, that seeks only to help and to serve. It is the mind that has DIED to SELF. ( True Spirituality - What is it? Do You Know?)

One vital key to us genuinely being able to do the above is to realise just who it is we are talking to and interacting with when we address a spouse, children, aged parents, fellow church members and neighbours – even those in the world – yes, and even those we would naturally regard as our enemies. All are merely a work of God in progress, to varying degrees – and all need to be regarded as made in the image of God, the God "..who will have ALL men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth." (I Timothy 2:4)

The purpose of life is that in us God is really recreating His own kind – reproducing Himself after His own kind – for we are, upon real conversion, actually begotten as sons (yet unborn) of God.Then through study of God’s revelation in His Word, living by His every Word, constant prayer, daily experience with trials and testings, we grow spiritually more and more like God, until, at the time of the resurrection we shall be instantaneously changed from mortal into immortal – composed of Spirit – we shall then be born of God – actually born into the God FAMILY!...

...Do you really grasp it? The purpose of your being alive is that finally you be born into the Kingdom of God, which is the divine FAMILY of God. When you fully grasp this tremendous, wonderful truth, your mind will be filled with transcendent joy and glory. It gives a new meaning to life so wonderful you’ll never comprehend the full heights of its splendor.

It means, of course, total renunciation, denial, of those injurious things and ways which have falsely seemed so bright and alluring to this world. But your eyes will be open at last to the great deception – the scales will fall from your blinded vision – you’ll see the meaning of life, its great purpose, as you never dreamed it could be. Giving up this world’s evils, temptations and pitfalls – its snares and delusions which have glittered and then ended only in sorrow and suffering – is but emerging from gross darkness into the splendor of true light, and of happiness and joy forever! ( Why Were You Born?)