Copyright 1994 - 2018 Bill's Bible Basics
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Published On :
April 4, 1998
Last Updated :
May 10, 2013
Carnally-Minded Followers And Man Worship, Paul Is Viewed As A God, Keep Your Eyes On Jesus And Not On Any Man, Jesus Came Two Thousand Years Ago To Become The Lamb Of God And Savior, Kingdom Of God, Firstfruits Of The Resurrection, Resurrected And Glorified Bodies, King Herod Accepts The Praise Of Men And Is Afflicted With Worms And Dies, Evil Simon The Sorcerer Attempts To Purchase The Holy Ghost, The Greatest Among You Shall Be Servant Of All, Mark John Allen's Claim Of Being The Endtime Elijah, God Sends Strong Delusion When We Reject His Truth And Rebel Against Him, Free Will And Personal Choice, Stewing In Our Own Juice, God May Turn Away From Our Prayers, Father Knows Best, Rebellious King Saul Forfeits The Kingdom, Israelites Demanded A King Contrary To God's Will, For Good Or For Evil God Gives People The Leader Which They Deserve, God Influences The Political Affairs In The Kingdoms Of Men
In all fairness, it should be recognized that in certain cases, man worship isn't always the leader's fault; although it will become his fault if he does not do anything to stop it once he realizes that it is happening. Sometimes leader worship, or personality cult worship, can be the result of the carnally-minded followers who feel the need to uplift and idolize the servant of the Lord. Such people foolishly take their eyes off of God -- who is the true Power behind the man -- and they place their eyes upon the person himself instead. They look at the anointed, instead of at the anointing. It is simply a weak human tendency which many people seem to have. Many years ago, when I was still a very young man, I did the same thing, but the Lord woke me up, and I eventually came out from under that delusion.
Not only that, but this problem with man worship has existed for thousands of years. Even the First Century Apostles had to deal with this very same problem. Consider the following verses where we discover that certain Disciples had begun to coalesce around different leaders of the Church at that time, and that they even sought the favor of some of them, for the sake of personal advantage:
"For it hath been declared unto me of you, my brethren, by them which are of the house of Chloe, that there are contentions among you. Now this I say, that every one of you saith, I am of Paul; and I of Apollos; and I of Cephas; and I of Christ. Is Christ divided? was Paul crucified for you? or were ye baptized in the name of Paul?"
1 Corinthians 1:11-13, KJV
"For ye are yet carnal: for whereas there is among you envying, and strife, and divisions, are ye not carnal, and walk as men? For while one saith, I am of Paul; and another, I am of Apollos; are ye not carnal? Who then is Paul, and who is Apollos, but ministers by whom ye believed, even as the Lord gave to every man? I have planted, Apollos watered; but God gave the increase. So then neither is he that planteth any thing, neither he that watereth; but God that giveth the increase."
1 Corinthians 3:3-7, KJV
"These are murmurers, complainers, walking after their own lusts; and their mouth speaketh great swelling words, having men's persons in admiration because of advantage."
Jude 1:16, KJV
In the Book of Acts, we find several examples where people proclaimed the Apostle Paul to be a god. For example, on his way to Rome, after their boat had been shipwrecked on the island of Melita -- which today is assumed to be the island of Malta -- Paul was bitten by a poisonous viper. Notice how the people reacted when, contrary to their expectations, Paul did not fall down dead after a few minutes:
"Howbeit they looked when he should have swollen, or fallen down dead suddenly: but after they had looked a great while, and saw no harm come to him, they changed their minds, and said that he was a god."
Acts 28:6, KJV
In another incident which we find in Acts chapter fourteen, Paul and Barnabas went to the town of Lystra in the region of Lycaonia, which today is a part of central Turkey. After Paul had healed a certain man who had been crippled in his feet from birth, notice again how the local inhabitants reacted to this healing miracle of the Lord:
"And when the people saw what Paul had done, they lifted up their voices, saying in the speech of Lycaonia, The gods are come down to us in the likeness of men. And they called Barnabas, Jupiter; and Paul, Mercurius, because he was the chief speaker."
Acts 14:11-12, KJV
Such was the superstitious nature of many people of that period, and for many centuries after that as well. Anything which could not be easily understood or explained was simply attributed to the gods, or else to the demons, depending on one's perspective. In fact, even in our modern times, there are still many cultures which embrace unfounded -- and to be candid -- silly, superstitious beliefs. However, unlike the people who proclaimed Paul and Barnabas to be gods who had come down from the sky, the Scriptures very clearly inform us on whom we are supposed to keep our eyes. For example, in his Epistle to the Hebrews, Paul tells us that we certainly should not place our eyes upon any man or human leader, no matter what title they may appoint themselves, and no matter what position they may hold. Rather, we should all keep our eyes firmly placed on Jesus Christ, who alone is the Author and the Finisher of our faith:
"Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God."
Hebrews 12:2, KJV
As you may know, Jesus was likewise confronted with this same problem regarding man worship on at least one occasion. After the Lord had multiplied the fishes and the loaves on the mountainside along the shores of the Galilee, notice how the people reacted to this wonderful display of God's Power:
"Then those men, when they had seen the miracle that Jesus did, said, This is of a truth that prophet that should come into the world. When Jesus therefore perceived that they would come and take him by force, to make him a king, he departed again into a mountain himself alone."
John 6:14-15, KJV
Although Jesus truly was and is the King of Kings and Lord of Lords, He realized that it was not His Father's plan for Him to take control of the Earth at that particular time. He came two thousand years ago, not to take upon Himself the mantle as our King and indisputable ruler of the Earth, but rather to become the slain Lamb of God and our Savior. Until Jesus offered up His life on the Cross for the sins of the world, there could be no Kingdom of God on Earth, because there would be no one to populate that Kingdom. Thus, as I more amply explain in a number of other articles, through His own Death and Resurrection, Jesus became the Firstfruits of the Resurrection; and the father -- or progenitor -- of a whole new nation of people -- that is, the born-again sons and daughters of God -- who each in their own time, will also follow in His footsteps, and thus receive a new, glorified, spiritual body. Consider the following verses which confirm these points:
"For we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now. And not only they, but ourselves also, which have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body . . . For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren."
Romans 8:22-23, 29, KJV
"If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable. But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the firstfruits of them that slept. For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive. But every man in his own order: Christ the firstfruits; afterward they that are Christ's at his coming."
1 Corinthians 15:19-23, KJV
"Giving thanks unto the Father, which hath made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light: Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son: In whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins: Who is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature . . . And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence."
Colossians 1:12-15, 18, KJV
"To the general assembly and church of the firstborn, which are written in heaven, and to God the Judge of all, and to the spirits of just men made perfect,"
Hebrews 12:23, KJV
"Of his own will begat he us with the word of truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures."
James 1:18, KJV
"And from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, and the first begotten of the dead, and the prince of the kings of the earth. Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood,"
Revelation 1:5, KJV
"These are they which were not defiled with women; for they are virgins. These are they which follow the Lamb whithersoever he goeth. These were redeemed from among men, being the firstfruits unto God and to the Lamb."
Revelation 14:4, KJV
"Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection:"
Romans 6:4-5, KJV
"For we know that if our earthly house of this tabernacle were dissolved, we have a building of God, an house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. For in this we groan, earnestly desiring to be clothed upon with our house which is from heaven: If so be that being clothed we shall not be found naked. For we that are in this tabernacle do groan, being burdened: not for that we would be unclothed, but clothed upon, that mortality might be swallowed up of life."
2 Corinthians 5:1-4, KJV
"Who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body, according to the working whereby he is able even to subdue all things unto himself."
Philippians 3:21, KJV
"Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is."
1 John 3:2, KJV
"There are also celestial bodies, and bodies terrestrial: but the glory of the celestial is one, and the glory of the terrestrial is another. There is one glory of the sun, and another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars: for one star differeth from another star in glory. So also is the resurrection of the dead. It is sown in corruption; it is raised in incorruption: It is sown in dishonour; it is raised in glory: it is sown in weakness; it is raised in power: It is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body. There is a natural body, and there is a spiritual body. And so it is written, The first man Adam was made a living soul; the last Adam was made a quickening spirit. Howbeit that was not first which is spiritual, but that which is natural; and afterward that which is spiritual. The first man is of the earth, earthy: the second man is the Lord from heaven. As is the earthy, such are they also that are earthy: and as is the heavenly, such are they also that are heavenly. And as we have borne the image of the earthy, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly. Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; neither doth corruption inherit incorruption. Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed."
1 Corinthians 15:40-52, KJV
"For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord. Wherefore comfort one another with these words."
1 Thessalonians 4:16-18, KJV
Returning to our previous topic of discussion, contrary to the previous examples of the Prophets and Apostles who all demonstrated godly humility, consider now what happens when mere men do decide to accept the praise and worship of their followers. In the Book of Acts, when King Herod Agrippa let the praise of men go to head, it angered the Lord so much, that we are told that Herod was smitten with worms and died. In fact, it is believed by some Bible commentators that his earlier predecessor -- Herod the Great -- may have died as a result of the very same kind of affliction:
"And upon a set day Herod, arrayed in royal apparel, sat upon his throne, and made an oration unto them. And the people gave a shout, saying, It is the voice of a god, and not of a man. And immediately the angel of the Lord smote him, because he gave not God the glory: and he was eaten of worms, and gave up the ghost."
Acts 12:21-23, KJV
In Book XIX Chapter 8 Section 2 of his "Antiquities of the Jews", Jewish historian Flavius Josephus -- who survived the destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple compound in 70 AD -- offers a more descriptive -- although probably embellished -- account of this same incident. According to Josephus, the Idumaean -- or Edomite -- king died five days later, as we see here:
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"Herod, having reigned three years over all Judea, (he had reigned over the tetrarchy of his brother Philip four years before this,) went down to Caesarea, and there exhibited shows and games in honour of Claudius, and made vows for his health. On the second day of these shows, he put on a garment made wholly of silver, and of a contexture most truly wonderful, and came into the theatre early in the morning; at which time the silver of his garment, being illuminated by the first reflection of the sun's rays, shone out after a surprising manner, and was so resplendent as to spread a horror over those who looked intently upon him; and presently his flatterers cried out, one from one place, and another from another, 'He is a god:' and they added, 'Be thou merciful to us, for although we have hitherto reverenced thee only as a man, yet shall we henceforth own thee as superior to mortal nature.' Nor did the king rebuke them, nor reject their impious flattery. But, looking up, he saw an owl on a certain rope over his head, and immediately conceived that this bird was to him a messenger of ill tidings; and he fell into the deepest sorrow; a severe pain also arose in his bowels, and he died after five days' severe illness."
----- End Quote -----
In Acts chapter eight, we also find the story of Simon the Sorcerer. A warlock from Samaria, Simon foolishly thought that he could purchase the Power of God for a price from the Apostles. Aside from the fact that this Power is obviously not for sale, the problem is that evil Simon did not really want the Holy Ghost so that he could glorify the Lord and win new souls to Christ. H e wanted it for the purposes of self-aggrandizement, and so that he could boast even more of his spiritual powers, and thus maintain even greater control over the people of Samaria, who were already involved in a lot of dark practices, which they had inherited from their pagan conquerors, the Assyrians. This issue is discussed in more detail in such articles as "The Fruits of Disobedience":
"But there was a certain man, called Simon, which beforetime in the same city used sorcery, and bewitched the people of Samaria, giving out that himself was some great one: To whom they all gave heed, from the least to the greatest, saying, This man is the great power of God. And to him they had regard, because that of long time he had bewitched them with sorceries . . . And when Simon saw that through laying on of the apostles' hands the Holy Ghost was given, he offered them money, Saying, Give me also this power, that on whomsoever I lay hands, he may receive the Holy Ghost. But Peter said unto him, Thy money perish with thee, because thou hast thought that the gift of God may be purchased with money. Thou hast neither part nor lot in this matter: for thy heart is not right in the sight of God. Repent therefore of this thy wickedness, and pray God, if perhaps the thought of thine heart may be forgiven thee. For I perceive that thou art in the gall of bitterness, and in the bond of iniquity. Then answered Simon, and said, Pray ye to the Lord for me, that none of these things which ye have spoken come upon me."
Acts 8:9-11, 18-24, KJV
These worldly men were not the only ones who had a problem with yielding to their pride. We all share the same sinful nature. Thus, it should not come as a surprise to us that even some of Jesus' own Disciples apparently squabbled at times regarding who was the greatest among them. In fact, it seems that some of them -- including the young Disciple John -- yielded themselves to this same spirit of exclusivity. They erroneously assumed that they were the only ones, and a part of some kind of privileged inner circle or special club. However, please notice how the Lord was quick to put them in their proper place in the following incident, which we find in the Gospel of Luke:
"Then there arose a reasoning among them, which of them should be greatest. And Jesus, perceiving the thought of their heart, took a child, and set him by him, And said unto them, Whosoever shall receive this child in my name receiveth me: and whosoever shall receive me receiveth him that sent me: for he that is least among you all, the same shall be great. And John answered and said, Master, we saw one casting out devils in thy name; and we forbad him, because he followeth not with us. And Jesus said unto him, Forbid him not: for he that is not against us is for us."
Luke 9:46-50, KJV
Please notice how Jesus states "for he that is least among you all, the same shall be great." This goes hand-in-hand with a few other things that the Lord taught, such as the following:
"Neither be ye called masters: for one is your Master, even Christ. But he that is greatest among you shall be your servant. And whosoever shall exalt himself shall be abased; and he that shall humble himself shall be exalted."
Matthew 23:10-12, KJV
"And he came to Capernaum: and being in the house he asked them, What was it that ye disputed among yourselves by the way? But they held their peace: for by the way they had disputed among themselves, who should be the greatest. And he sat down, and called the twelve, and saith unto them, If any man desire to be first, the same shall be last of all, and servant of all. And he took a child, and set him in the midst of them: and when he had taken him in his arms, he said unto them, Whosoever shall receive one of such children in my name, receiveth me: and whosoever shall receive me, receiveth not me, but him that sent me. And John answered him, saying, Master, we saw one casting out devils in thy name, and he followeth not us: and we forbad him, because he followeth not us. But Jesus said, Forbid him not: for there is no man which shall do a miracle in my name, that can lightly speak evil of me. For he that is not against us is on our part."
Mark 9:33-40, KJV
"But so shall it not be among you: but whosoever will be great among you, shall be your minister: And whosoever of you will be the chiefest, shall be servant of all. For even the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many."
Mark 10:43-45, KJV
Keeping in mind all of the previous verses, let us return to our discussion regarding Mark John Allen and the Worldwide Church of God. The sad thing about that situation is that in the first set of excerpts which I shared with you from John's article, he clearly recognized that Herbert W. Armstrong's followers had idolized him. John pointedly said that this was wrong; yet he began doing the very same thing. He set himself up all by himself as God's Endtime Elijah, in the hope that other members of the Church Of God would recognize, honor and respect him as such. In fact, it appears that John claimed to be not only the Prophet Elijah for the Worldwide Church of God, but for all of America as well, and quite possibly even for the entire Westernized Christian world.
Again, all I can say is how tragic, and how sad. At the same time, I suppose I really should not be too surprised. I have told my readers many times before what happens when we choose to reject the truth of God's Word. In a word, the Scriptures clearly inform us that God Himself will send us delusion if we are so obstinate in our rebellion against Him. In case you have forgotten those Scriptures, allow me to share them with you again:
"I also will choose their delusions, and will bring their fears upon them; because when I called, none did answer; when I spake, they did not hear: but they did evil before mine eyes, and chose that in which I delighted not."
Isaiah 66:4, KJV
". . . because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved. And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie:"
2 Thessalonians 2:10b-11, KJV
If we reject God's truth and want to be deceived, then that is precisely what the Lord will allow to happen. What else can He do? As I clearly point out in articles such as "Free Will and Personal Choice", it seems that God has purposely limited Himself by giving us the freedom of personal choice. He will try to point us in the right direction; but if like a rebellious and stubborn sheep we don't want to follow Him, then we must be willing to face the consequences and suffer for our mistakes until we have learned our lesson. In fact, as I explain in "Beholding the Evil and the Good", there are times when it may seem like God has even abandoned us, and left us to stew in our own juice for a while, so that we can get a good taste of what it is like to be without His love, protection and blessings. In severe cases of rebellion, He may even turn His back on our prayers. If you doubt that this is possible, then consider the following verses and beware:
"But your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid his face from you, that he will not hear."
Isaiah 59:2, KJV
"Therefore pray not thou for this people, neither lift up cry nor prayer for them, neither make intercession to me: for I will not hear thee."
Jeremiah 7:16, KJV
"Therefore pray not thou for this people, neither lift up a cry or prayer for them: for I will not hear them in the time that they cry unto me for their trouble."
Jeremiah 11:14, KJV
"Thus saith the LORD unto this people, Thus have they loved to wander, they have not refrained their feet, therefore the LORD doth not accept them; he will now remember their iniquity, and visit their sins. Then said the LORD unto me, Pray not for this people for their good."
Jeremiah 14:10-11, KJV
"We have transgressed and have rebelled: thou hast not pardoned. Thou hast covered with anger, and persecuted us: thou hast slain, thou hast not pitied. Thou hast covered thyself with a cloud, that our prayer should not pass through."
Lamentations 3:42-44, KJV
The key lesson that we need to learn here is that God always knows what is best for His children. I am reminded of an old black and white American family television program that we used to watch as young children. It was called "Father Knows Best". Can anyone doubt that our Heavenly Father truly knows what is best for us, even when we think that we know better? Pride and rebellion are terrible things. I have talked about this issue before, such as in the aforementioned series "The Fruits of Disobedience". In articles such as "The Children of God and Politics", I also mention how the Prophet Samuel had to rebuke rebellious King Saul after the king decided to do things his own way, instead of following the instructions which Samuel had given to him, which were in fact given to Samuel by the Lord. Consider the following verses:
"And Samuel said, Hath the LORD as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the LORD? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams. For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry. Because thou hast rejected the word of the LORD, he hath also rejected thee from being king."
1 Samuel 15:22-23, KJV
As you may know, as a result of Saul's disobedience, it was some time after this that both the king and his sons died in a battle against the Philistines, and David became the new king of Israel. It just isn't worth being disobedient to the Lord. One other important lesson which we can learn from the story of King Saul is that God gives people the leader which they deserve. As I explain in other articles, King Saul was very rebellious, but so were the Israelites. It was not God's Will for the Israelites to have a human king over them. They already had their one true King in Heaven, but they wanted to be just like the pagan nations around them. Thus, rebels that they were, they pressured the Prophet Samuel to anoint a king over them. The Lord told Samuel in so many words "Go ahead; do it. Let them learn their lesson the hard way"; and they most certainly did. Consider the following verses. For the sake of brevity, I have omitted the verses where the Prophet Samuel informs them what Saul will be like:
"Then all the elders of Israel gathered themselves together, and came to Samuel unto Ramah, And said unto him, Behold, thou art old, and thy sons walk not in thy ways: now make us a king to judge us like all the nations. But the thing displeased Samuel, when they said, Give us a king to judge us. And Samuel prayed unto the LORD. And the LORD said unto Samuel, Hearken unto the voice of the people in all that they say unto thee: for they have not rejected thee, but they have rejected me, that I should not reign over them. According to all the works which they have done since the day that I brought them up out of Egypt even unto this day, wherewith they have forsaken me, and served other gods, so do they also unto thee. Now therefore hearken unto their voice: howbeit yet protest solemnly unto them, and shew them the manner of the king that shall reign over them. And Samuel told all the words of the LORD unto the people that asked of him a king . . . Nevertheless the people refused to obey the voice of Samuel; and they said, Nay; but we will have a king over us; That we also may be like all the nations; and that our king may judge us, and go out before us, and fight our battles. And Samuel heard all the words of the people, and he rehearsed them in the ears of the LORD. And the LORD said to Samuel, Hearken unto their voice, and make them a king. And Samuel said unto the men of Israel, Go ye every man unto his city."
1 Samuel 8:4-10, 19-22, KJV
Quite frankly, I am convinced that this same concept still holds true today as well. Whether president, prime minister, king, queen or dictator, God gives people the leader that they deserve. A wicked, rebellious people receive a wicked, rebellious ruler. So what is your nation's leader like? If you doubt that God influences the political affairs in the kingdoms of men, then consider the following verses and be wise:
"Lift not up your horn on high: speak not with a stiff neck. For promotion cometh neither from the east, nor from the west, nor from the south. But God is the judge: he putteth down one, and setteth up another."
Psalms 75:5-7, KJV
"Daniel answered and said, Blessed be the name of God for ever and ever: for wisdom and might are his: And he changeth the times and the seasons: he removeth kings, and setteth up kings: he giveth wisdom unto the wise, and knowledge to them that know understanding:"
Daniel 2:20-21, KJV
"This matter is by the decree of the watchers, and the demand by the word of the holy ones: to the intent that the living may know that the most High ruleth in the kingdom of men, and giveth it to whomsoever he will, and setteth up over it the basest of men."
Daniel 4:17, KJV
"The king's heart is in the hand of the LORD, as the rivers of water: he turneth it whithersoever he will."
Proverbs 21:1, KJV
Please go to part four for the continuation of this series.
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