Newsletter 76 June 2004


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Garden Tomb and Skull Hill | Music: Our Weakest Link? | The Law Reflects God’s Character

| Lost Tribes of Israel Study Maps | Dealing With Sodomy | A Nation of Dependents? |  Does God Curse Successive Generations for Sins of Their Fathers? | The Awesome Banana | Reconciling Difficult “Heaven” Scriptures | Gibson’s “Passion” Masterful Ecumenism | Do You Have a Wedding Garment? | New Testament Bible Story for Children | Biblical Music | Christ the Firstfruits | Have You Been Matthew 18’d? | Replacement Theology



Garden Tomb and Skull Hill


If you visit Jerusalem, don’t miss the Garden Tomb, a quiet place of worship and reflection. Guides ex­plain the site.  There are no en­trance fees.  The garden and its ministry are supported by the volun­tary gifts of its visitors and supporters.  The site is preserved by the Garden Tomb Association, PO Box 19462, Jeru­salem, 91193 ISRAEL, a British charitable trust.

Jesus Christ was crucified outside the walls of Jerusalem, Hebrews 13:12, at Skull Hill, known as Golgotha (Hebrew) or Calvary (Latin), near a rock quarry.  See John 19:17-18.  In 1842, Otto Thenius proposed that this was Calvary (Golgotha) — the place of the skull — the site of the crucifixion of Jesus. This proposal was given prominence by the British General Charles Gordon in 1883 in combination with the nearby Garden Tomb that had been discovered in 1867.  (Catholics disagree, claiming that their Church of the Holy Sepulchre was the actual tomb of Jesus.)

Most evangelical Christians believe that Skull Hill is the place where Jesus was crucified, and the Garden Tomb is the place He was buried. The hill is part of Mount Moriah and overlooks the ancient main road that led to Jericho and Damascus in New Testament times.  Romans traditionally perform­ed executions in places where as many people as possible would pass by close enough to see their suffering victims and read the charges against them, yet far enough away so the stench would not over­power the city. The location and physical features of Skull Hill correspond exactly to the Biblical description.  Additionally, it is less than a hundred meters from the Garden Tomb.  Are these the bona fide sites?  Quite possibly.

Jesus’ body was placed in a nearby tomb of a rich man in a garden.  Not all archaeologists agree about the Garden Tomb’s date, but many have described it as a Jewish tomb of the First Century A.D.  In later years, it was probably used for Christian worship.  The vineyard’s owner was a wealthy man, as his tomb was cut out of the solid rock, with a large weeping chamber, and a channel for a rolling stone.

Jesus’ uncle, Joseph of Arimathaea took the body, wrapped it in a linen cloth, and placed it in his own new tomb that he had cut out of the rock, rolling a big stone in front of the entrance, Matthew 27:59-60. John’s account adds, “Now in the place where He was crucified there was a garden; and in the garden a new sepulcher, wherein was never man yet laid. There laid they Jesus therefore because of the Jews’ preparation day; for the sepulcher was nigh at hand,” John 19:40-42.

The Garden Tomb and Skull Hill are reminders that the tomb is empty; we serve a risen Savior.  The Son of God died for our sins, and was dead in the grave for three days and three nights, rose to eternal life, ascended to Heaven, where He is our Advocate and High Priest, and soon to return to rule the earth as King of kings and Lord of lords.


Music: Our Weakest Link?


Music is a great spiritual tool, along with Bible Study, prayer, fasting, and meditation.  Yet all too many in the Churches of God do not avail themselves of spiritual music.

USA Today reports that in recent years, Americans have drastically reduced their time spent listening to recorded music.  Personal observation indicates that learn­ing how to play a musical instrument is a declining skill.  It is often difficult to obtain a pianist to play hymns for Sabbath Services.

The lead article in this issue, “Biblical Music,” lists some of the many scriptures on the topic of music.  The Bible is full of music, yet we sometimes sing hymns without emotion or joy.  The purpose of music is not to entertain ourselves, but to praise and worship the Almighty.

Someone said, “to sing is to pray twice.”  The point is, music is more powerful than prayer!  Let us not neglect godly music, which is a wonderful tool to worship and praise our Creator.

Should music and art have restraints?  Should they follow structure and rules, or be “free” to uninhibited human expres­sion?  The history of the arts shows a conflict between the Apollonian and Dionysian elements.  A 15-page article by Wilber Berg, “Should Artistic Creativity Have Restraints?” shows that true artistic freedom can only exist within the confines of God’s laws.  To read this article, see, or send us $3 for a printed copy.

Additional music resources from G&S: Handel’s Messiah, Israel in Egypt/ Chandos Anthem No. 10, There is a Redeemer by Sharon See, Our Everything, Every Knew Shall Bow by Robin Todd, and more.  To order, see our website at

Instead of being our “weakest link,” music can be a powerful spiritual tool to connect with the Almighty.  Let every thing that hath breath praise the Lord!  The Lord is my strength and my song; He has become my salvation!

The Law Reflects God’s Character


When we look at how scripture depicts the character of God’s Law, we see that the same attributes are applied to God Himself.


God’s Law

God Himself

The Law is Good, Deuteronomy 12:28; Psalm 119:68; Romans 7:12, 16.

God is Good, Mark 10:18; Psalm 143:10.

The Law is Holy, Numbers 15:40; Romans 7:12.

God is Holy, Isaiah 6:3; Revelation 15:4.

The Law is Perfect, Psalm 19:7; James 1:25.

God is Perfect, II Samuel 22:31; Psalm 18:30; Matthew 5:48.

The Law is Spiritual, Romans 7:14.

God is Spiritual, John 4:24.

The Law is Righteous, Deuteronomy 4:8; Psalm 119:172; Romans 2:26, 8:4.

God is Righteous, Deuteronomy 32:4; Ezra 9:15; Psalm 116:5.

The Law is Just, Proverbs 28:4, 5; Zechariah 7:9-12; Romans 7:12.

God is Just, Deuteronomy 32:4; Psalm 25:8, 10; Isaiah 45:21.



Lost Tribes of Israel Study Maps


Daniel R. Walsh has produced an excellent series entitled, “Lost Tribes of Israel Study Maps.”  Each section covers a different aspect of Lost Ten Tribes history.   It is a summary of historical evidence, 35,000 words, with maps and illustrations.  Volume I covers the pre-exodus flights of Israel from Egypt; Volume II describes the Deportations by Assyria; Volume III details Jeremiah’s Journey to the British Isles; and Volume IV the Christian Connection, which includes Joseph and Paul’s journeys throughout Europe and Britain.  Send $8.50 postpaid (or, $10 international) to Celtica, PO Box 2584, Orange Park, FL 32067-2584.


Dealing With Sodomy


Today, the hottest social topic is the growing trend toward legitimizing homosexual “marriage.”  The media does not report what homosexuals actually do, and how it harms them and society.  The United States male lifespan is 75 for married men, 57 for divorced men, and 39-42 for homosexual men (with and without AIDS).  Why is this so?  If you are ready for the facts, read “Medical Consequences of What Homosexuals Do,” by Dr. Paul Cameron, published by Family Research Institute, PO Box 62640, Colorado Springs, CO 80962-2640, 303-681-3113.  They also publish several other pamphlets on homosexuality.

Request the free audio cassette, “Dealing With Sodomy,” C113, by Richard C. Nickels.


A Nation of Dependents?


At about the time our original 13 states adopted their new constitution in 1787, a Scottish history professor by the name of Alexander Tyler had this to say about “The Fall of the Athenian Republic” over 2,000 years previous to that date:

“A democracy cannot exist as a permanent form of government. It can only exist until the voters discover that they can vote themselves largesse [generous gifts] from the public treasury.  From that moment on, the majority always votes for the candidates promising the most benefits from the public treasury, with the result that a democracy always collapses over loose fiscal policy, [which is] always followed by a dictatorship.” Further, “The average age of the world’s greatest civilizations has been two hundred years. These nations have progressed through this sequence. From bondage to spiritual faith; from spiritual faith to great courage; from courage to liberty; from liberty to abundance, from abundance to complacency; from complacency to apathy, from apathy to dependence, from dependence back into bondage.”

Professor Joseph Olson of Hamline University School of Law, St. Paul, Minnesota, wrote that “The map of the territory Bush won was (mostly) the land owned by the people of this great country, not the citizens living in cities in tenements owned by the government and living off the government.”

Professor Olson thinks the US is now between the apathy and complacency phase of democracy, although he believes that 40 percent of the nation’s population has already reached the dependency phase.

As Christians, we must realize that this decadent society can rub off on us.  Let’s get rid of our dependency on authoritarian church leaders, but don’t go to the opposite extreme of spiritual anarchy and bondage to the self.  It takes courage to live by God’s Word, which is the only source of true liberty.

                                                                                                     — adapted from the Internet


Does God Curse Successive Generations for Sins of Their Fathers?


There is a popular teaching of generational curses. The main thesis of this teaching is that Christians need to be released from the consequences of their ancestors’ sins, that is, the curses to which they have been exposed by the sins of their ancestors. Supporting scriptures are said to be Exodus 20:4-6, and the examples of Rebekah (Genesis 27:12-13, 46) and Rachel (Genesis 31:32, 35:16-20).

I am of the opinion that upon repentance, baptism, and receipt of the Holy Spirit, one is free from the curses of the law since Jesus’ righteousness is imputed on us.  And so we are entitled to the blessings of the law, or blessings of Abraham (Galatians 3:13-14). However, the timing may be the motivating factor here since we know of the historical fulfillment of Leviticus 26 and Deuteronomy 28 after thousands of years; and Christians in God’s Church throughout history too have suffered illness, poverty, defeat, humiliation, etc., and ultimately died (Hebrews 11:13). Yet, simultaneously, if we refuse to repent of our sins, blessings will be replaced with curses as numerous scriptures testify (Deuteronomy 7:26; Malachi 3:9). Further, Leviticus 26 and Deuteronomy 28 although national in outlook can be individualized too.

I am interested to know your view.                                                                   J.V., Australia

Answer: What you said makes perfect sense.


The Awesome Banana


After reading THIS, you’ll NEVER look at the banana in the same way again!!

If you want a quick fix for flagging energy levels there’s no better snack than a banana. Containing three natural sugars — sucrose, fructose and glucose — combined with fiber a banana gives an instant, sustained, and substantial boost of energy. Research has proven that just two bananas provide enough energy for a strenuous 90 minute workout.

No wonder the banana is the number one fruit with the world’s leading athletes. But energy isn’t the only way a banana can help us keep fit. It can also help overcome or prevent a substantial number of illnesses and conditions, making it a must to add to our daily diet.

Depression: According to a recent survey undertaken among people suffering from depression, many felt much better after eating a banana. This is because bananas contain tryptophan, a type of protein that the body converts into serotonin, known to make you relax, improve your mood, and generally make you feel happier.

PMS: Forget the pills — eat a banana. The vitamin B6 it contains regulates blood glucose levels, which can affect your mood.

Anemia: High in iron, bananas can stimulate the production of hemoglobin in the blood and so helps in cases of anemia.

Blood Pressure: This unique tropical fruit is extremely high in potassium yet low in salt making it the perfect thing to beat blood pressure. So much so, the US Food and Drug Administration has just allowed the banana industry to make official claims for the fruit’s ability to reduce the risk of blood pressure and stroke.

Brain Power: 200 students at a Twickenham (Middlesex) school were helped through their exams this year by eating bananas at breakfast, break and lunch in a bid to boost their brain power. Research has shown that the potassium packed fruit can assist learning by making pupils more alert.

Constipation: High in fiber, including bananas in the diet can help restore normal bowel action, helping to overcome the problem without resorting to laxatives.

Hangovers: One of the quickest ways of curing a hangover is to make a banana milk shake, sweetened with honey. The banana calms the stomach and, with the help of the honey, builds up depleted blood sugar levels, while the milk soothes and rehydrates your system.

Heart burn: Bananas have a natural antacid effect in the body so if you suffer from heartburn, try eating a banana for soothing relief.

Morning Sickness: Snacking on bananas between meals helps to keep blood sugar levels up and avoid morning sickness.

Mosquito bites: Before reaching for the insect bite cream, try rubbing the affected area with the inside of a banana skin. Many people find it amazingly successful at reducing swelling and irritation.

Nerves: Bananas are high in B vitamins that help calm the nervous system.

Overweight and at work? Studies at the Institute of Psychology in Austria found pressure at work leads to gorging on comfort food like chocolate and crisps. Looking at 5,000 hospital patients, researchers found the most obese were more likely to be in high-pressure jobs. The report concluded that to avoid panic-induced food cravings, we need to control our blood sugar levels by snacking on high carbohydrate foods every two hours to keep levels steady.

Ulcers: The banana is used as the dietary food against intestinal disorders because of its soft texture and smoothness. It is the only raw fruit that can be eaten without distress in over chronicler cases. It also neutralizes over acidity and reduces irritation by coating the lining of the stomach.

Temperature control: Many other cultures see bananas as a ‘cooling’ fruit that can lower both the physical and emotional temperature of expectant mothers. In Thailand, for example, pregnant women eat bananas to ensure their baby is born with a cool temperature.

Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD): Bananas can help SAD sufferers because they contain the natural mood enhancer, tryptophan.

Smoking: Bananas can also help people trying to give up smoking. The B6 and B12 they contain, as well as the potassium and magnesium found in them, help the body recover from the effects of nicotine withdrawal.

Stress: Potassium is a vital mineral, which helps normalize the heartbeat, sends oxygen to the brain, and regulates your body’s water balance. When we are stressed, our metabolic rate rises, thereby reducing our potassium levels. These can be rebalanced with the help of a high potassium banana snack.

Strokes: According to research in The New England Journal of Medicine, eating bananas as part of a regular diet can cut the risk of death by strokes by as much as 40%!

Warts: Those keen on natural alternatives swear that, if you want to kill off a wart, take a piece of banana skin and place it on the wart, with the yellow side out. Carefully hold the skin in place with a plaster or surgical tape!

So you see a banana really is a natural remedy for many ills. When you compare it to an apple, it has four times the protein, twice the carbohydrate, three times the phosphorus, five times the vitamin A and iron, and twice the other vitamins and minerals. It is also rich in potassium and is one of the best value foods around. So maybe its time to change that well-known phrase and instead say:  “A Banana a day keeps the doctor away!”                                      — submitted by Barbara Boss, a naturopathic physician, South Africa


Reconciling Difficult “Heaven” Scriptures


Question: How do you reconcile John 3:13 with Acts 17:28 and II Corinthians 12:2 (which even Paul claims not to know for sure what happened)?

Answer: John 3:13 says that no man has ascended to Heaven (where God’s throne is).

We certainly know that through a vision, the Apostle John did ascend to the third heaven, because he said so in Revelation.

Acts 17:28 says we are the offspring of God, which is certainly true.  Adam and Eve were created by God.  See also Luke 3:38, where Adam is called the son of God.  I do not see where Acts 17:28 relates to the subject of going to Heaven.  Verse 27 shows that God is not far from every one of us, which since God is omnipresent, through His seven eyes and all-powerful Spirit, is a great truth.  The problem is, we are often far from God because we disobey Him.

In II Corinthians 12:1-5, Paul is talking about himself.  The KJV should have translated it as “I know a man,” and “I know such a man,” rather than “knew.”  He was being humble, and relating that he himself had visions of the third heaven, and it seemed to him so vivid that it was like he was there in body, which, of course, John 3:13 shows was not the case.  Paul does not contradict John.  He was being humble here, by an indirect reference to himself.

I believe I have shown that these scriptures reconcile well.  God’s Word is true, and we go to it, rather than the fallible teachings of men.


Gibson’s “Passion” Masterful Ecumenism


Now that Mel Gibson’s film, The Passion of the Christ, has been widely viewed, many varied opinions have emerged.  Roman Catholic viewers were gratified to see many of their rituals reflected in the script. They saw the fourteen [fictitious] Stations of the Cross, the so-called Five Sorrowful Mysteries of the Rosary, the brown scapular, a strong role for the Virgin Mary (whom they think is the Mother of God), and many added details not found in scripture, but faithful to the visions of Roman Catholic mystics such as Anne Catherine Emmerich and Mary of Agreda.

Protestants not acquainted with these popish superstitions saw only the gruesome trial and execution and largely overlooked the departure from scripture.  A neighbor of ours, a zealous evangelical Protestant, said the movie was true to scripture.  My wife Shirley was looked down upon by some of her friends because she told them she did not plan to see the movie.

Most discerning were ex-Catholic believers. One wrote Chick Publications stating, “unless one has been initiated into the cult of Catholicism, or well read in its doctrines, that person probably won’t recognize all the symbolism and false doctrine cleverly hidden within The Passion of the Christ.”

As the Catholic family paper, Our Sunday Visitor, noted, “The film’s Marian [Mary worship] references, along with depictions of the Eucharist and redemptive suffering, will have an almost subliminal impact on Protestant audiences — and may soften theological differences.”  The purpose of Mel Gibson was to sell his Catholic beliefs to Protestants and non-believers.  Catholic screenwriter Barbara Nicolosi said that the film’s representation of Mary “has a chance to heal the wounds over Mary between Catholics and Protestants.”  Non-Catholics reject Mary worship, but in the film, Peter falls at Mary’s feet declaring, “I have denied him, Mother.”  Catholics see the symbolism of the pope’s subservience to the “Blessed Virgin,” but uninformed Protestants only see Mary as a deeply concerned and loving mother.  Revelation 13:3 shows that a deadly wound of the beast shall be temporarily healed.  This film is encouraging Protestants to continue their march to unite with Rome.  Catholics are being joined by Protestants in viewing Mary as co-redemptrix and co-mediator with Christ.

Why do Catholics continue to show Christ suffering on the cross?  Because Catholics teach that human suffering contributes to a “treasury of merit.”  They say Christ’s suffering is pooled with human suffering to provide payment for sin.  Yet, the Bible is clear that we have no part in payment for our sin.  Christ paid ALL the price for our sin.

— based on an article in the May/June 2004 issue of Battle Cry, adapted by Richard C. Nickels.  Subscribe to Battle Cry by writing Chick Publications, PO Box 3500, Ontario, CA 91761-1019.  An excellent study of Catholic doctrine is Tom Weaver’s “Inside the Catholic Catechism,” $3.50 postpaid from Bible Sabbath Association, 3316 Alberta Drive, Gillette, WY 82718.


Do You Have a Wedding Garment?


Question: What is the meaning of the parable in Matthew 22:11-12, where a wedding guest was cast out because he did not have a wedding garment?                                                              R.L., Texas

Answer:  The king [a type of God the father] came to see the guests [at the marriage supper for His Son, a type of Christ], and saw a man that did not have on a wedding garment.  He was tied up and taken away, cast into outer darkness [a type of the lake of fire, eternal death].

Now, even pagans have special garments for worship of their idols, II Kings 10:20-22.  Christians have spiritual “robes,” that they have washed in the blood of the Lamb (Christ), Revelation 7:14-15.  See also Isaiah 1:18.  This is referring to righteousness, see Isaiah 59:17; Ephesians 6:13-17.   As kings and priests of God, we must be clothed with righteousness, Psalm 132:9.  See also Isaiah 61:10.

Based on what the Bible says about garments of righteousness, the parable of the man who did not have a wedding garment at the marriage supper shows that we will not be at the marriage supper of Christ and the Church, unless we have garments of righteousness, given to us by Jesus Christ.  And, we will have washed our robes in His blood, repented, and overcome sin.

Remember the rest of the parable, Matthew 22:1-10, those who were supposed to come to the wedding refused and would not come.  So, an angel goes out and gathers in folks from the highway, “both bad and good,” verse 10.  The bad ones did not have wedding garments, and were rejected.

The lesson for us is that we need to prepare for the wedding supper.  If we do not have a robe of righteousness, washed in the blood of the Lamb, we will be rejected.

New Testament Bible Story for Children


Basil Wolverton (1909-1978) wrote the six-volume series, The Bible Story, which covered in narrative form for children, the Bible through the Old Testament. Now, Keith Hunt has continued this series with Volume VII, “The New Testament: The Life of Jesus Christ.”  You may download and print this 345-page new edition from our website at:  Or, we will send you a photo copy for $25 postpaid.  Your children will be enriched as you read this Bible Story series to them.


Special on “Early Writings”


We are offering a half-price sale on our book, Early Writings of Herbert W. Armstrong.  This 236-page book gives the most significant writings of the most noted Sabbatarian minister of the twentieth century.  Through December, 2004, you may order one copy for $4.50, two copies for $9.00, etc.  Please add 10% for USA postage (20% International).


Third Sabbath Telephone Services


For several years, Giving & Sharing has sponsored telephone services on the third Sabbath of every month.  Richard C. Nickels and other speakers give 60-90 minute messages, followed by questions and comments.  You are welcome to call in any time. 

At 9AM Pacific, 10 Mountain, 11 Central, noon Eastern time, dial 918-222-7158.  When the number connects, you will hear a recorded message.  Then, press the access ID of 0566#.  This will join you to the conference call.  When not speaking to others on the conference call, please mute your speaker phone.  If you do not have a speaker phone, you may self-mute by pressing *6, and un mute by pressing #6.  Muting prevents background noise from interfering with other listeners.

                                                                                                          — by Richard C. Nickels