Monday, 1 May 2017

Doctrine - 7th heaven

Good heavens!

OAC member #1 wrote: “...Everything that the Old Apostolics believe can be quoted from bible scriptures...”

OAC member #2 wrote: “...Ons kan als bewys waarin ons glo deur die skrifte...”
For those of you who don’t understand Afrikaans, this member is saying “...We can prove everything we believe in through the scriptures...”

The OAC Confession of Faith states: “...WE BELIEVE in the Holy Scriptures, the Old and the New Testament...”

OAC's seven heavens

OAC member #3 wrote: “...Die sewe hemele van die Ou Apostoliese Kerk is
i) Suster
ii) Broer
iii)Onder Diaken
iv) Priester
v) Oudste
vi Viervoud amp ( Opsiener ( herder en leraar ), profeet en evangelis )

Ons gaan in hemele soos die rangorde hierbo wys...”
For those of you who don’t understand Afrikaans, this member is saying “…The seven heavens of the Old Apostolic Church are
i) Sister
ii) Brother
iii)Under Deacon
iv) Priest
v) Elder
vi Fourfold office ( Overseer ( pastor and teacher ), prophet and evangelist )

We go into heavens according to the rankings shown above…”

OAC member #4 wrote: “...Die Hemele volgens ons Geloof is die hemele waarin elke lid hom/haar bevind.

Hierdie hemele is as volg

Oudste/Geneesheer van Israel

Hierdie is die 7 hemele wat Jesus deur beweeg het en toe in die hoogste hemel gaan sit het aan die regte hand van God...”
For those of you who don’t understand Afrikaans, this member is saying “…The Heavens according to our Faith are the heavens in which each member finds himself/herself.

Elder/Physician of Israel

This is the 7 heavens that Jesus moved through and then sat in the highest heaven at the right hand of God…”

An ex-OAC “elder” wrote: “…there are 7 Heavens. One for sisters; one for Brothers; one for Underdeacons; one for Priests; one for Elders; one for the fourfold ministry; and the Apostles and children share the same Heaven...”

As for me personally, when I was in the OAC I was taught the seven heavens as follows:
1) Child (this included someone new to the OAC irrespective of age)
2) Sister/Brother
3) Underdeacon and his sister
4) Priest and his sister
5) Elder and his sister
6) Evangelist/Prophet/Overseer and his sister
7) Apostle and his sister

Looking at the various statements it is clear that there isn’t much unity/agreement regarding where and how children and women fit into this hierarchy. When asked for direct references in scripture, OAC members will typically change the subject (by asking other questions/accusations/insults) and avoid giving direct answers defending their statements regarding the seven heavens and their composition. Unfortunately this is typical of my experience so far, even though many OAC members believe and even boast that everything they believe in can be proven in the Bible.

Even the OAC’s catechism is very vague regarding Heaven.

Catechism of the Old Apostolic Church of Africa…Part 2; Question 17 (page 56):
“What is Heaven?”
“Ans. : It is a condition of rest unto the soul, blessedness and peace that we will taste if we submit ourselves in the house of the Father and become small as little children. Such a child is an angel in heaven and beholds the face of the Father which is in heaven every day. (Refer Matt. 18 v. 10.)”

The verse quoted in the OAC catechism in defence of this statement is as follows:
Matthew 18:10 Take heed that ye despise not one of these little ones; for I say unto you, That in heaven their angels do always behold the face of my Father which is in heaven.

Notice that the verse is talking about the angels of the little ones and not the little ones as angels. There’s also no mention of what Heaven is.

The concept of seven heavens is nothing new and seems to originate from one of two ancient religions, Hinduism and the ancient Babylonian cult.

In Hinduism the earth is believed to be the lowest of the seven “higher worlds”. The other six “higher worlds” above earth are believed to be places of increasing wonder and delight where people with good “karma” go after they die.

The seven heavens as taught by the ancient Babylonians were not meant for people. Their seven heavens were believed to be seven levels of space between the earth’s atmosphere and the spirit of the heavens. Each of these levels was associated with a particular god and a celestial body. The celestial bodies associated with each of these levels were believed to be the sun, Mercury, Venus, the moon, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn.

The concept of seven heavens is not unique to the OAC, but the composition is. As with Hinduism and the ancient Babylonian cult, there is no scriptural basis for seven heavens or the composition thereof.

So what does the Bible say? What does heaven mean? How many heavens are there?

According to Strong’s, the word “heaven(s)” in the Old Testament is translated from the Hebrew word shâmayim and is defined as:
to be lofty; the sky (as aloft; the visible arch in which the clouds move, as well as to the higher ether where the celestial bodies revolve): - air, heaven (-s).

According to Strong’s, the word “heaven(s)” in the New Testament is translated from the Greek word ouranos and is defined as:
elevation; the sky; by extension heaven (as the abode of God); by implication happiness, power, eternity; specifically the Gospel (Christianity): - air, heaven, sky.

When we read the word “heaven(s)” in context throughout the Bible then we can identify three heavens.

One of the heavens we read of mentions atmospheric elements such as birds, fowls, clouds, rain, hail and snow (Genesis 1:20, Genesis 7:23, Genesis 8:2, Exodus 9:22-23, Exodus 16:4, Deuteronomy 11:11, Deuteronomy 11:17, Deuteronomy 28:12, Deuteronomy 28:23-24, Joshua 10:11, 2 Samuel 21:10, 1 Kings 8:35-36, 1 Kings 18:45, 2 Chronicles 6:26-27, 2 Chronicles 7:13, Job 35:11, Psalms 78:23-24, Psalms 79:2, Psalms 104:12, Psalms 147:8, Isaiah 55:10, Jeremiah 7:33, Jeremiah 15:3, Jeremiah 16:4, Jeremiah 19:7, Jeremiah 34:20, Ezekiel 29:5, Ezekiel 31:6, Ezekiel 31:13, Ezekiel 32:4, Ezekiel 38:20, Daniel 2:38, Daniel 4:12, Daniel 4:21, Daniel 4:33, Daniel 7:13, Hosea 4:3, Hosea 7:12, Zephaniah 1:3, Matthew 24:30, Matthew 26:64, Mark 14:62, Luke 17:29, Acts 14:17, James 5:18, Revelation 11:6, Revelation 11:12, Revelation 16:21, Revelation 19:17 etc.)

The other heaven we read of mentions celestial bodies beyond our atmosphere such as the sun, moon, stars and planets (Genesis 15:5, Genesis 22:17, Genesis 26:4, Exodus 32:13, Deuteronomy 1:10, Deuteronomy 4:19, Deuteronomy 10:22, Deuteronomy 17:3, Deuteronomy 28:62, Joshua 10:13, 2 Kings 23:5, Nehemiah 9:23, Isaiah 13:10, Jeremiah 8:2, Ezekiel 32:7, Daniel 8:10, Nahum 3:16, Matthew 24:29, Mark 13:25, Revelation 6:13, Revelation 8:10, Revelation 9:1, Revelation 12:1, Revelation 12:4 etc.)

The third heaven we read of is the dwelling place of God and mentions His throne, paradise and the tree of life which will allow us to live forever (Genesis 2:9, Genesis 3:22, Genesis 3:24, 1 Kings 8:30, 1 Kings 8:39, 1 Kings 8:43, 1 Kings 8:49, 1 Kings 22:19, 2 Chronicles 6:21, 2 Chronicles 6:30, 2 Chronicles 18:18, 2 Chronicles 30:27, Psalms 11:4, Proverbs 3:18, Proverbs 11:30, Proverbs 13:12, Proverbs 15:4, Isaiah 66:1, Matthew 5:34, Matthew 23:22, Luke 23:43, Acts 7:49, 2 Corinthians 12:2-4, Revelation 2:7, Revelation 4:2, Revelation 5:13, Revelation 16:17, Revelation 20:11, Revelation 22:2, Revelation 22:14 etc.) When the Bible says God lives in heaven, it doesn’t mean that God lives with the clouds or stars; it means that He is above us spiritually and not limited by time and space.

Paul describes a very different concept of heaven to what members of the OAC preach.

2 Corinthians 12:2-4 I knew a man in Christ above fourteen years ago, (whether in the body, I cannot tell; or whether out of the body, I cannot tell: God knoweth;) such an one caught up to the third heaven. And I knew such a man, (whether in the body, or out of the body, I cannot tell: God knoweth;) How that he was caught up into paradise, and heard unspeakable words, which it is not lawful for a man to utter.

1 Thessalonians 4:16-18 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.

Heaven is described as the New Jerusalem and the entrance to heaven is not automatic for people who have tried to be good or carry titles of some or other office.

Revelation 21:27 And there shall in no wise enter into it any thing that defileth, neither whatsoever worketh abomination, or maketh a lie: but they which are written in the Lamb's book of life.

Entry will be granted only to those whose names are written in the Lamb’s book of life. The REAL Jesus, our ONLY Messiah is preparing a place for those who believe in Him.

John 14:2-6 In my Father's house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also. And whither I go ye know, and the way ye know. Thomas saith unto him, Lord, we know not whither thou goest; and how can we know the way? Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.