We who preach the gospel must not think of ourselves as public relations agents sent to establish good will between Christ and the world. We must not imagine ourselves commissioned to make Christ acceptable to big business, the press, the world of sports or modern education. We are not diplomats but prophets, and our message is not a compromise but an ultimatum. A.W. Tozer

Saturday, May 30, 2009

The Melchizedek Priesthood

One of the claims of the Mormon church is that they have the Melchizedek priesthood. But do they really have such a priesthood? Who was Melchizedek and what was his priesthood?

Melchizedek was King of Salem, which means "King of Peace." His name means "King of Righteousness." He was the first priest mentioned in the Bible, and he is first mentioned in Gen. 14 after Abram rescued Lot and his people from King Kedorlaomer.

Abram just returns from the victory when vv.18-20 tell us, "Then Melchizedek king of Salem brought out bread and wine. He was priest of God Most High, and he blessed Abram, saying, 'Blessed be Abram by God Most High, Creator of heaven and earth. And blessed be God Most High, who delivered your enemies into your hand.' Then Abram gave him a tenth of everything."

The interesting thing here is that the victory laurels were Abram's and he could have taken the spoils. God sent Melchizedek to Abram to remind him of his place - that it was God who delivered the enemy to him. (Was the bread and wine brought for ceremonial purposes, followed by the blessing?) It was after the blessing that Abram tithed him, then Abram refused the spoils, partially quoting Melchizedek, "God Most High, Creator of heaven and earth." In Gen. 15:1 God tells Abram that He is his reward.

The question is, how did Abram recognize him as a priest in a pagan Canaanite land? Melchizedek obviously recognized the true God by calling Him "God Most High, Creator of heaven and earth." We don't hear of Melchizedek again until Ps. 110, where we are told that the Messiah is a "priest forever, according to the order of Melchizedek." It's not until the letter to the Hebrews where we again hear of him.

Hebrew tradition says he was Shem. The name Melchizedek would be a title, the eternal order being the line of the promised seed; from Adam through Shem through Judah through Jesus. This is the assumption I take for the remainder of this article (much of the following information was gleaned from Bridges for Peace, Israel Teaching Letter, #99-9)

In Hebrew "malchi" means "My King" and "tzedek" means "is righteousness". Jewish sages say that he was the king over Tzedek, a nickname frequently given to Jerusalem because it was known for its righteousness in the pagan Canaanite lands that would one day be inhabited by Israel.

In Gen. 22:14 Abram calls the place where he was to sacrifice Isaac, Yireh, "The Lord Will Provide", and tradition says this is the same place where the temple was built centuries later. Yireh and Salem became Yerusalem. Just a side note I thought was interesting.

"The Jewish sages and commentaries are unanimous in their identification of Melchizedek as Shem...son of Noah.... Shem is also not a name, but a title.... Shem, in Hebrew, means ‘name’. In Hebrew word usage, a name is synonymous with character. In other words, we don't know Shem's real name. But, we do know that his title, Shem, shows he was chosen by God to be the ‘name carrier’ who was taught by God about the character and nature of God and also about everything that occurred before the flood all the way back to Adam. So, Shem (name carrier) was chosen by God to bring all this knowledge through the flood."

This also squares with the tradition that Moses merely edited Genesis from records passed down from Adam through Lamech, Noah, Shem, Terah, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, to the "sons of Israel."

Since Shem lived 600, years, he lived 35 years after Abraham died. "God not only made him the king and high priest of the Most High God in Jerusalem, but he was also chosen to be the spiritual instructor of the patriarchs, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob right up to the Twelve Tribes of Israel. [He] taught the patriarchs about the knowledge of God Most High and how to have direct communication with God. He also tutored them about the things that occurred from before the flood."

Okay, so now that we see who Melchizedek was, what do we find about the Melchizedek priesthood - what is the “order of Melchizedek’?

"It is a perpetual priestly order that is higher than the order of the Levitical priesthood ...[It] brings the knowledge of God directly from God to man and allows man to directly communicate with God. This... order can only be filled by the promised Messiah, who then makes its benefits available to us."

"Melchizedek (Shem), who existed both before and after the Flood, was appointed by God as the high priest and king of Jerusalem.... At no time in Israel's history was the king and high priest of Israel of the same office...." Yet that is exactly the office Jesus now holds.

In Hebrews 7:3, "the term, 'without father, without mother,' ...is a description of his spiritual station whereby [Melchizedek] was chosen of God to start a new thing and represent God in a new way in 'the order of Melchizedek.'... When we accept God's salvation and are born into God's kingdom and family, our earthly genealogy is no longer relevant.... (1 Tim. 1:4). We are of a new family of faith in God, a new spiritual family, 'without father and without mother,' because our new identity is in God, our Father. As far as Melchizedek being 'without descent,' this is not saying Shem did not have children. Again, this is in reference to his spiritual office, which was not passed on to his earthly offspring by right of descent. It was only available to the promised Messiah...Who truly has no beginning of days nor end of life, but is the Son of God who remains a priest for us perpetually."

The law of Moses and the priesthood went together. All the people without exception were sinners, subject to the law's condemnation, and were thus in need of a priestly system to mediate between them and God. The Aaronic/Levitical priesthood was imperfect, but the Melchizedek priesthood was perfect (as implied in Hebrews 7). The announcement of the coming one who would be a priest forever (Ps.110:4) was written midway in the history of the Levitical priesthood, which could only mean that the existing system was to give way to something better. Jesus came from the non-priestly tribe of Judah, but became a priest forever in the Melchizedek order. There is no indication in the scripture that any other person held this high priesthood.

Jesus "fulfilled the Levitical priesthood in that He became the ultimate sacrifice for us as the Lamb of God, Who takes away the sin of the world.... His shed blood not only covered sin, but did more in that it erased the sin from our lives. This is what is meant in Hebrews 7:12 when it says, 'For when the priesthood is changed (from Levitical to the order of Melchizedek in Jesus), there takes place a change of the law also.' No more would the Levitical priests have to make offerings for the people, as it was done once and for all in Jesus."

The Melchizedek priesthood was a priesthood of ONE. It existed before the law was given (Gen.14:18) and after the law ended (Heb.7:11-17). Jesus became that one high priest that presented the final sacrifice, negating the need for further temple priests.

So the only conclusion that can be drawn from this study is that the Mormons do NOT have any Melchizedek priesthood no matter how much they want to claim otherwise.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Presbyterian Church (USA) - Another Apostate Denomination.

In the 5/13/09 issue of the Cedar Rapids, IA Gazette is the following report:

DAVENPORT — Members of the East Iowa Presbytery voted last night in favor of changing the constitution of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) to allow the possibility of gay and lesbian ministers. Pastors and ruling elders of the East Iowa Presbytery voted 74-21 in support of an amendment that would change wording in the church constitution that currently requires ministers to adhere to sexual chastity unless they are married. Marriage is legal for same-sex couples in only a handful of states. The amendment would not guarantee that gays and lesbians could become ministers but it would open the possibility, said the Rev. Kristin Hutson, Coe College chaplain and a member of the East Iowa Presbytery. Although the amendment has already failed in the denomination nationwide, Hutson said the vote Tuesday was an important show of the East Iowa Presbytery’s ongoing support of furthering the possibility of ordaining gay and lesbian people into the office of minister of the word and sacrament.

The Presbyterian Church (USA) is one of those liberal churches which long ago left any semblance of following Christ, diving headlong into apostasy. I have kept a file of news items on the PCUSA for quite a while, and here are some gleanings from this file. Notice that homosexuality has been a major issue in that church, deciding whether it is right or wrong. (In the following reports, “CRG” is the Cedar Rapids, IA Gazette.)

My earliest article is not about homosexuality, however; it is about abortion. I have a citation from a report adopted by the 195th General Assembly of PCUSA in 1983. The report is titled: “Covenant and Creation: Theological Reflections on Contraception and Abortion.” Here is an amazing citation: “The decision to terminate a pregnancy may be an affirmation of one’s covenant responsibility to accept the limits of human resources…. Abortion can therefore be considered a responsible choice within a Christian ethical framework when serious genetic problems arise or when the resources are not adequate to care for a child appropriately.” SO, if you don’t think you have enough money to care for the child you’ve conceived, kill it and that’s okay. The report continues: “Elective abortion, when responsibly used, is intervention in the process of pregnancy precisely because of the seriousness with which one regards the covenantal responsibility of parenting.” How does one murder their child “responsibly”? What about the responsibility not to have sex if you don’t want a child? This next statement leaves my jaw hanging: “Even in the face of the most difficult decisions, of which abortion is surely one, the gospel assures us that we can trust in God’s Spirit to guide us in our decision.” I’d say the Spirit has already guided us - the Word of God says we are not to murder.

Back in February 1991, the church’s Special Committee on Human Sexuality issued a report “challenging thousands of years of teachings that sex should be reserved for marriage.” This report actually recommended that the “denomination approve premarital sex, homosexuality and bisexuality.” They claimed that “re-marriage is a near impossibility” because of a “shortage of partners.” Their solution was to have “Sexual relations outside of marriage, same-sex intimacy…” (Aurora, IL Beacon-News, 6/22/91, p.1B). Although the General Assembly soundly rejected this, the fact that it was even brought for consideration should say something about the leadership.

Some items from 1996: The Associated Press reported that the governing body of the PCUSA okayed the ordination of celibate gays. (CRG 7/6/96, p.5B) Does this conform to the requirements for elders as cited by 1 Timothy and Titus? World Magazine 8/17/96, p.24, reported that PCUSA continues to accept practicing homosexuals as members in good standing and welcome at the Lord’s Table; the G.A. elected John Buchanan, who favors ordination of homosexuals, as moderator; the G.A. adopted a resolution calling for the “equal civil liberties…with all the civil rights of married couples” for same-sex relationships; the refusal of the G.A. to condemn partial-birth abortion; and the setting aside the teachings of 1 Tim. 2:12 to allow women in church leadership. From the CRG, 11/2/96, and Newsweek magazine, 11/4/96, we learn
PCUSA minister, Eric Swenson became Erin Swenson after having his body surgically mutilated to resemble a woman. They voted to allow him to retain his ordination. This guy not only did sundry church duties as pastor, but he was also a chaplain at a psychiatric center, an instructor and supervisor at a seminary and even had a private marital counseling practice. (Would you want a marital counselor who was that deceived and muddle-headed?).

Reading from the 2/16/97 CRG, p.15A, I see where the East Iowa Presbytery of the PCUSA voted down an amendment “that would deny ordination to practicing homosexuals and promiscuous heterosexuals.” Their executive presbyter was interviewed and stated, “The ordination of gay and lesbian persons is a complicated issue. My reading of this is that God isn’t finished with us yet.” Um, how complicated can it be to decide that what the Bible says about homosexuality would prohibit ordination of these people? Well, a later report in the CRG, 3/22/97, said that the amendment was voted for nationally, and unmarried church officials were required to be celibate. However, 3 months later, on 6/21/97, CRG published an AP report saying, “Presbyterian Church (USA) leaders agreed Friday to amend their constitution to support ‘fidelity…in all relationships of life,’ in an attempt to temper a rule that bars homosexuals from the pulpit.”

In 1997 the church elected as their leader Pat Brown. “She is unashamedly pro-abortion and will not discuss her views on same-sex marriage or the ordination of homosexuals.” (American Family Association Journal, 9/97, p.11)

I’m not going to check the web to see if the National Network of Presbyterian College Women still exists or still has a web site, but the September 1998 issue of the American Family Association Journal reported that this group worked on college campuses in support of lesbianism. “The NNPCW web site had links to pro-homosexual, pornographic and New Age web sites.” This group was receiving thousands of dollars from the PCUSA for “evangelism.” When the General Assembly decided to end funding of this group, a protest was staged by homosexual activists and the next day the G.A. decided to continue the funding.

Family News From Dr. James Dobson, 9/99, cited a Washington Times article from 2/18/99, which reported on the Hudson River Presbytery in New York. It seems this presbytery voted to affirm “the freedom of any [congregation] to allow its ministers to perform ceremonies of holy union between persons of the same gender.”

In 2002 the General Assembly passed a resolution supporting evolutionism, calling it “reliable scientific knowledge” that needed to be taught in public schools. The resolution said there was no contradiction between the theory of evolution and the doctrine of God as creator. (Answers In Genesis “Update” newsletter, 9/02, p.6)

An article from “O Timothy,” the newsletter of Way of Life ministries, in August 2003 reported that “The 500 high school students at the Presbyterian Church (USA) Youth Connection in Louisville earlier this month voted to ‘affirm the call of homosexuals, bisexuals and transgendered persons to all areas of ministry.’” (O Timothy, Vol.20/No.10, p.17).

From Agape Press, 12/29/2003, there is a report about the Presbytery of Western North Carolina seeking to strip Pastor Parker T. Williamson for writing in The Presbyterian Layman that Presbyterians should “withhold undesignated gifts to the denomination because of its support for partial-birth abortion, homosexuality and other practices that violate Scripture.” On 2/10/04 Agape Press reported that this was a done deal - that Williamson was disavowed.

On May 7, 2004. Agape Press and Fundamental Baptist Information Service both report about the PCUSA court ruling that the church’s constitution doesn’t prohibit homosexual marriages, and therefore exonerated “Pastor” Stephen A. Van Kuiken, who was defending himself for performing same-sex marriages.

In June 2004 the G.A. elected Rick Ufford-Chase, “a peace activist who supports the inclusion of gays in the ministry,” as head of the church for the following two years (Cedar Rapids, IA Gazette, 6/28/04, p.5A).

In 2006 the G.A. stated that “Father, Son and Holy Ghost” have been used “to support the idea that God is male and that men are superior to women.” (Must have been something they taught in the PCUSA - I don’t know of any denomination that teaches men are superior to women.) They gave some acceptable alternatives for those wishing to use a different label for the Trinity: “Mother, Child, Womb” and “Rock, Redeemer, Friend” were a couple cited. (Kathleen Parker, Townhall.com, 6/30/06)

In 2008 the PCUSA’s highest court decided that a woman minister, Jane Spahr, did not violate denominational law when she officiated at two “weddings” of lesbian couples. The court decided that they weren’t really weddings (well, at least they were correct there) so Spahr didn’t violate anything. (OneNewsNow.com, 4/30/08 citing an AP release)

OneNewsNow.com reported on 6/28/08 that the PCUSA General Assembly voted to drop the ban on homosexual clergy. This news item also included the information that ministers can bless and perform same-sex unions as long as they don’t call them marriages, and the ceremony can’t “mimic marriage ceremonies.”

Not much later - 10/3/08 - the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reported that a Presbyterian court acquitted Rev. Janet Edwards of guilt in performing a lesbian marriage. The court said she did not violate their constitution or Scripture. (I wonder what “Scripture” they read?) They said since the church’s constitution doesn’t allow same-sex marriages, the ceremony could not have been a wedding ceremony.

Abortion, homosexuality, evolutionism, women leaders, defrocking those who stand for biblical truth - this is what the Presbyterian Church (USA) is all about. My question becomes, why do any true Christians remain in that denomination (if there are any)? From all the evidence, I’d have to say that Satan has had a hold on PCUSA for a long time.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

More Apostasy in the Episcopal Church

This little item was in my daily e-mail from The Berean Call on 5/11:

Abortion is a blessing and abortionists are doing holy work, says Anglican priest [Excerpts]

The new Dean of the Episcopal Divinity School in Cambridge, Massachusetts, has given a sermon describing abortions as a "blessing" for the women who undergo them. The Rev Katherine Hancock Ragsdale also thinks that the people who run abortion clinics are "heroes" and even "saints".

Ms Ragsdale, speaking in Birmingham, Alabama, said that "when a woman becomes pregnant within a loving, supportive, respectful relationship; has every option open to her; decides she does not wish to bear a child; and has access to a safe, affordable abortion - there is not a tragedy in sight - only blessing."

Do not, please, make the mistake of assuming that she is an unrepresentative extremist: liberal Anglicans in America are among the most fervent supporters of abortion in the world, outstripping even atheists in their enthusiasm for this gruesome procedure.

[Dean Ragsdale finished her sermon with the following exhortation]: “These are the two things I want you, please, to remember - abortion is a blessing and our work is not done. Let me hear you say it: abortion is a blessing and our work is not done. Abortion is a blessing and our work is not done. Abortion is a blessing and our work is not done.

“I want to thank all of you who protect this blessing - who do this work every day: the health care providers, doctors, nurses, technicians, receptionists, who put your lives on the line to care for others (you are heroes -- in my eyes, you are saints); the escorts and the activists; the lobbyists and the clinic defenders; all of you. You're engaged in holy work.”

The reference source was cited as thus: http://blogs.telegraph.co.uk/damian_thompson/blog/2009/04/02 /abortion_is_a_blessing_and_abortionists_are_doing_holy_work_says_anglican_priest (Damian Thompson, Telegraph.co.uk, Society/Religion, April 2, 2009).

I have previously posted articles about the heretical and apostate nature of the Episcopal Church, let alone the parent Anglican Church. This is just another example of apostate thinking of their leadership. So why would any true Christian want to remain associated with this apostate church?