Here is how popular funeral traditions deprive mourners from the truth of God’s Supreme Plan for humanity.
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Meet Marie. She fights back tears as she attends the funeral service of her beloved Aunt Grace, whose pearls of wisdom had guided her niece through life’s hardships. Now that Grace is dead, Marie wonders, Is this all there is—birth, a few decades of existence, then death? Is there anything else?
Marie is not of any particular Christian religion. Other than believing that God (or some “higher power”) exists, she holds to few religious beliefs. Marie occasionally attends worship services at her neighborhood nondenominational church, mostly on Christmas or Easter, and sometimes when she feels lonely, or hopes to understand why she exists and how she fits into God’s Plan.
At the funeral, Marie sits among other mourners in a small church building used for Sunday worship services, and observes her surroundings. Her eyes rest on the stained-glass windows and the biblical scenarios they portray. She then notices the pulpit at the front of the main hall and the three chairs lined against the wall, occupied by ministers (two of whom are women). At stage-left, an “amen chorus” of singers repeat pithy comments—“yes,” “that’s right,” and “amen”—while family and friends take turns at the lectern and extol the deceased.
One man, a pillar and longtime member in the local congregation, says, “I’ve known Grace most of my life. So I know she would agree when I say, ‘Read the Good Book and do what it says.’ That’s the best advice I can give.”
Yet he says this while surrounded by images of crosses and the popular long-haired, effeminate-looking, sallow-complexioned “Jesus,” and with two female pastors sitting behind him. Does “the Good Book”—the Bible—teach anything about all of these things?
One of the female ministers begins the traditional altar call to “give your heart to the Lord.” She tries to soothe grieving listeners with words meant to comfort: “Grace is at peace now; she’s gone to heaven.” She warns that “man was born to die” and “hell is real,” adding, “You never know when your time is up—are you ready to meet your Maker?”
Marie thinks about all she has seen and heard. She tries to find meaning in them, yet this does not ease her pain and sense of loss—these fail to bring purpose to the bigger issues of life. Despite her desire to find answers to life’s greatest questions, all she finds here are empty platitudes dressed with sincere intent.
The manmade traditions of professing “Christianity” deprived Marie—and countless others who have attended the funeral services of men’s world—of learning the truth of God’s Supreme Plan for humanity. Life, death, life after death—these are so plainly taught in the Word of God. Yet instead of letting the Bible interpret itself, religionists rely upon human inventions of false teaching masquerading as doctrines from God.
When a leader of “churchianity” advises listeners to “live according to the Bible,” his words only have authority if he actually practices what he preaches. Scripture warns of false teachers who go about “deceiving,” even as they themselves are “deceived” (II Tim. 3:13). Such leaders often appear to be earnest servants of God. Perhaps some may have good intentions—which they unwittingly use to pave the path toward destruction for those unaware of the true teachings and commands of the Bible.
The world of traditional Christianity has struggled to fill the void of fewer and fewer men becoming priests and ministers. Time brings change, particularly in standards of behavior and tradition. Two thousand years ago, the apostle Paul wrote, “Let your women keep silence in the churches: for it is not permitted unto them to speak,” that is, to not preach or perform other ministerial duties. Professing Christianity long understood this, yet today religious leaders treat Paul’s words as chauvinistic, outdated, of his personal opinion, or similar charges.
How can one advise, “Just do what the Bible says,” yet treat God’s Word as a spiritual buffet in which people can pick and choose what to follow and what to reject?
Let’s examine nine common funeral lies used to deceive and prey upon the biblically ignorant.
Think. Would the God who became flesh, was beaten beyond human recognition, then nailed to a cross and left to die in excruciating pain want to be continuously reminded of His instrument of death? Would that make sense? Yet millions of self-professed “Christians” see nothing wrong with displaying crosses—the weapon used to murder Jesus Christ—in virtually any manner and every occasion.
The worship of crosses, beads or any other image violates the Second Commandment (Ex. 20:4-6).
Now consider. The Bible speaks of two beings called “Jesus.” The real Jesus Christ is the least understood Personage of all time. The false christ—called “another Jesus” (II Cor. 11:4)—comes by the power of “another spirit” and preaches “another gospel,” which is actually a false one.
The religions of men popularly depict the “another Jesus” as a long-haired, effeminate-looking, soft-bodied weakling. It is this “Jesus” that mourners at funerals routinely hear about. It is the followers of this “Jesus” who ignorantly deny the bereaved from hearing words of the true gospel—the good news of the coming kingdom of God.
Our comprehensive book The True Jesus Christ – Unknown to Christianity addresses the popular false images of Christ:
“For hundreds of years, artists have used their vivid imaginations to illustrate what Jesus looked like as a man. But in doing so, they err in two ways. Some little space will be taken to clarify this.
“Second, artistic renditions of Christ’s image depict Him as deathly thin, with long hair, soft, effeminate features, and a sentimental, sanctimonious look in His eyes. This is the common portrayal of Jesus found in paintings across the world, which started appearing on the scene hundreds of years after Jesus’ death.
“While common as daylight, this depiction is simply not historically accurate on a number of fronts. It should be noted that the New Testament does not explicitly describe what Jesus looked like, and no eyewitness drawings of Him have ever been found. That said, Jesus Christ was Jewish, and as such would have looked like any other Jewish man of His time.
“In a 2004 Reuters article, ‘physical anthropologist Joe Zias, who has studied hundreds of skeletons found in archaeological digs in Jerusalem’ stated, ‘Jesus didn’t have long hair…Jewish men back in antiquity did not have long hair.’
“If Jesus did have long hair, contrary to the accepted style of the time, He would have stood out in a crowd like a sore thumb. Yet on multiple occasions, Jesus managed to slip away amongst the masses and hide from His enemies, who wholeheartedly sought to kill Him (Luke 4:30; John 8:59; 10:39). This would have been most difficult to do if He had been the only man with long hair. Jesus was able to flee because He was an ordinary-looking Jewish man, not a long-haired ‘exception to the rule.’
“Consider the account of Judas’ betrayal of Jesus in the book of Mark: ‘And he [Judas] that betrayed Him had given them a token [sign], saying, Whomsoever I shall kiss, that same is He; take Him, and lead Him away safely [securely]. And as soon as he was come, he went straightway to Him, and said, Master, Master; and kissed Him. And they laid their hands on Him, and took Him’ (Mark 14:44-46).
“If Jesus had long hair, would it have been necessary for Judas to use a special sign—a kiss—to betray Jesus to His enemies? Of course not. The scribes, chief priests, and legionnaires would have easily spotted a singular long-haired person—a kiss would not have been required.
“Though not in an obvious way, a particularly strong indication of Jesus’ hair length is given in the Bible, in I Corinthians 11:14. The apostle Paul states, ‘Does not even nature itself teach you, that, if a man have long hair, it is a shame unto him?’ The Greek word for ‘shame’ means disgrace, dishonor, reproach, vile. These are strong words! No doubt, Paul and some of the people to whom he was writing would have seen Jesus face-to-face, or at least heard descriptions of His appearance, including His hair length.
“We might ask: Would an individual (Paul) who proclaimed to be an apostle of Jesus Christ make such a statement about hair length if Jesus had long hair? This would seem most foolish for Paul to do. It would have been a blatant contradiction, and would have probably incited anger or at least bewilderment from those in the Corinth congregation.
“Further confirming that Jesus did not have long hair is a wall painting that was erected after Jerusalem was captured in AD 70 to celebrate Rome’s victory. It pictures Jewish men with short hair being taken into captivity.
“An article in the December 2002 issue of Popular Mechanics, titled ‘Real Face of Jesus,’ also challenged the commonly held view of Jesus’ appearance. The article opens: ‘From the first time Christian children settle into Sunday school classrooms, an image of Jesus Christ is etched into their minds. In North America he is most often depicted as being taller than his disciples, lean, with long, flowing, light brown hair, fair skin and light-colored eyes. Familiar though this image may be, it is inherently flawed. A person with these features and physical bearing would have looked very different from everyone else in the region where Jesus lived and ministered.’
“The article continues: ‘Using methods similar to those police have developed to solve crimes, British scientists, assisted by Israeli archeologists, have re-created what they believe is the most accurate image…of the most famous face in human history.’
“Using modern technology, this team recreated a face that appears nothing like traditional artist renderings.
“Until about the age of 30, Jesus was a carpenter. The building trade of that time involved strenuous, back-breaking labor. Those who worked in this field were required to move and lift heavy stone (carpenters were also stonemasons at that time) and lumber without power tools or mechanical digging equipment of any kind. Week after week, Jesus cut down trees, hauled lumber and giant rocks, and constructed buildings.
“Due to working in such an environment, Jesus would have been a rugged, physically fit, masculine-looking man. And He would have worn durable, practical clothing, which would have helped Him to blend in with the crowd, indistinguishable from the common ‘blue-collar’ fishermen with whom He associated. This was another reason He needed to be identified with a kiss when arrested. Also, since Jesus spent most of His time under the Mediterranean sun, His skin would have been tanned—not pale and even chalky as Christendom portrays.
“The above article also stated, ‘From an analysis of skeletal remains, archeologists had firmly established that the average build of a Semite male at the time of Jesus was 5 ft. 1 in., with an average weight of about 110 pounds. Since Jesus worked outdoors as a carpenter until he was about 30 years old, it is reasonable to assume he was more muscular and physically fit than westernized portraits suggest.’
“Ultimately, if we think about Christ’s appearance at all, we ought to think, in general terms, about how He looks today. Inspired by God, the apostle John in Revelation described Jesus’ present appearance: ‘His head and His hairs were white like wool, as white as snow; and His eyes were as a flame of fire’ (Rev. 1:14).”
Most of the world’s professing Christians observe Sunday as the “Lord’s Sabbath,” believing that God somehow changed His seventh-day Sabbath from Saturday to Sunday. In their thinking, “Saturday worship is for the Jews.”
Yet the seventh-day Sabbath is a special sign between the Creator God and those whom He indentifies as His people. Observing the seventh day reminded the Jews (the tribe of Judah, along with Benjamin and Levi) of their historical background. Yet failing to “remember the Sabbath, to keep it holy” resulted in the northern house of Israel forgetting its ancient roots; they virtually disappeared in history, and are known today as the “lost ten tribes.”
What irony! The modern nations descended from the ancient Israelites—who have inherited the national, material blessings of becoming the greatest single “nation and a company of nations” in history (Gen. 35:11)—are ignorant of their biblical identity and their role in end-time prophecy.
We recommend reading the book Saturday or Sunday – Which Is the Sabbath?, written by David C. Pack, publisher/editor-in-chief of The Real Truth magazine.
In the Old Testament, the prophet Elijah challenged 450 prophets of Baal to a showdown (I Kgs. 18:17-20) to determine before the tribes of the house of Israel which deity was the most powerful. He charged the people, “How long halt you between two opinions? If the Lord be God, follow Him: but if Baal, then follow him” (vs. 21).
Their response? “And the people answered him not a word” (same verse). They wanted to appear as the people of God, but lacked the wholehearted desire to live according to His Way.
In the New Testament, Jesus—who was also the God of the Old Testament (I Cor. 10:1-4)—forbade “vain repetitions” in prayer and other forms of worship (Matt. 6:7). Yet this does not prevent people from mindlessly repeating the same prayer or uttering “amen” and “praise the Lord.”
God said of Israel’s end-time descendants, “And they come unto you [the final servant God works through to warn nations] as the people come, and they sit before you as My people, and they hear your words, but they will not do them: for with their mouth they show much love, but their heart goes after their covetousness. And, lo, you are unto them as a very lovely song of one that has a pleasant voice, and can play well on an instrument: for they hear your words, but they do them not” (Ezek. 33:31-32).
Megachurches attract massive crowds of hand-waving, “Praise the Lord!”-shrieking, emotionally charged followers. They seek after a deity who requires nothing in return—no obedience to law, no adherence to standards defining character—just “show love.” In other words, love as defined by men. Yet the true love of God has standards (I Cor. 13:4-7). It requires action! And it has everything to do with keeping God’s Law (Rom. 13:8-10).
Amazingly, religionists who profess to follow a personal “calling” into the ministry (based on one’s feelings) ignore clear biblical instructions about whom God calls to be a minister of Jesus Christ.
The example of Simon Magus (Acts 8:9-23) shows that no one can take the office of the ministry to himself. Only by one’s fruits can this be determined. The person himself cannot do this—only properly trained and experienced ministers of God can.
Inspired by God, Paul gave clear instructions to Timothy and Titus—two men he himself had trained—about the qualifications of the ministry. Notice that in both Titus 1:6 and I Timothy 3:2 Paul instructs that a ministerial candidate must be “the husband of one wife.” (This does not mean that only married men can be candidates for the ministry; rather, such men cannot be polygamists!) Paul wrote, “husband.” Despite today’s movement to redefine marriage so that adults can legally marry their own gender, obviously this is referring to men. Only MEN can qualify for Christ’s ministry.
Regarding women, the same apostle—selected and personally trained by Jesus Christ Himself—wrote this: “For God is not the author of confusion, but of peace, as in all churches of the saints. Let your women keep silence in the churches: for it is not permitted unto them to speak; but they are commanded to be under obedience, as also says the law. And if they will learn anything, let them ask their husbands at home: for it is a shame for women to speak in the church” (I Cor. 14:33-35).
Now notice I Timothy 2:11-12: “Let the woman learn in silence with all subjection. But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence.”
How can female pastors ignore plain Scripture as they preach from the Bible every Sunday?
Also, note that Jesus selected men to be His apostles. Of course, women served in other areas of the Church, such as older women “teach[ing] the young women to be sober, to love their husbands, to love their children, to be discreet, chaste, keepers at home, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God be not blasphemed” (Titus 2:4-5). But God only chooses qualified men whom He calls to the ministry to publicly preach and teach.
God does NOT favor one gender over another. In His ultimate plan of salvation, all human beings—male and female alike—will receive opportunity to be born into His Family.
To learn more, we recommend reading our article “Who Should Become God’s Ministers?”
Contrary to popular teaching, God is NOT trying to save every man, woman and child at this time. The Creator has a Plan.
Hebrews 9:27 states, “And as it is appointed unto men to die once, but after this the judgment.” That judgment “must begin at the House of God” (I Pet. 4:17)—that is, upon the true Church, whose members have been begotten with the Holy Spirit. For those few whom God is calling now into His Church, before the Second Coming, it is in this lifetime that they must qualify for eternal life in the kingdom of God.
As for the vast majority of mankind, every human being in history who has lived without ever learning God’s Way will be resurrected to physical life to receive their first (and only) opportunity for salvation. The overwhelming majority will be given this chance after the Millennium; those who live according to the laws and ways of God will be given eternal life (Rev. 20:5). However, any who choose to reject His way of life will be destroyed (vs. 14-15).
Read our booklet Just What Is Salvation? to learn what mainstream Christianity will not teach.
No one can come to God of his own volition. God calls people to come out of the ways of this world, to live according to His ways. Jesus said, “No man can come to Me, except the Father which has sent Me draw him” (John 6:44).
Notice an excerpt from our article “Am I Being Called?”:
“Actually, people of all ages and backgrounds puzzle over just what a ‘calling’ is. Many reduce it to little more than a particular feeling that comes over them, which they attribute to God. Millions in the world feel ‘called’—in some cases to the ‘church,’ in other cases to the ‘ministry,’ or ‘missionary work,’ in still other cases to work with children, and in yet others to serve in the medical profession or even in the military. Ignorant of what God says, so many people are left to rely on mere feelings, assuming that their lives—and the paths they choose—are divinely inspired. They attribute this ‘inspiration’ to being called of God. Sadly, most never learn that these ‘callings’ have nothing to do with following the true God of the Bible.
“A true calling from God is far more than a kind of abstract feeling that human reasoning concludes is from God!”
What nonsense! If man was born to die, why would God bother to warn Adam and Eve not to eat the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil? “For in the day that you eat thereof you shall surely die” (Gen. 2:17).
If man was born to die, why did God give the Israelites His Law, defining how to live, and then warn, “I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing: therefore choose life, that both you and your seed [descendants] may live” (Deut. 30:19)?
If man was born to die, why does God’s Word call death man’s enemy, to be “swallowed up in victory” in the First Resurrection (I Cor. 15:54-57)?
Man was born to live!—to spend a lifetime of developing holy, righteous, godly character, and learning to conquer human nature, which the Bible defines as “enmity [hostile; an enemy] against God” and His Law (Rom. 8:7).
Scripture describes the carnal mindset as “deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked” (Jer. 17:9). How deceitful? “All the ways of a man are clean in his own eyes” (Prov. 16:2); “There is a way that seems right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death” (vs. 25).
False, manmade fables such as “man was born to die” are byproducts of carnal reasoning. To grasp the reason for human existence, read our booklet Why Do You Exist?
Would a merciful God punish people in eternal, unending torture of excruciating pain and turmoil? Of course not! The record of history shows that the teaching of never-ending punishing in hell is a human invention.
Consider an excerpt from the booklet The Truth About Hell, also written by David C. Pack: “The Valley of Hinnom—Gehenna—came to represent a place of final punishment—a place of ‘absolute ruin’—for all who go there. The reference to hell fire [in Mark 9] actually refers to the ‘lake of fire’ described in Revelation 20:13-15: ‘And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works. And death and hell [hades] were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.’
“All who enter this lake suffer permanent death. They suffer complete destruction—a final punishment that is everlasting—eternal—permanent! It is not punishing but is rather punishment that is everlasting. Christ understood this just as anyone that knew of the fires in the Valley of Hinnom recognized that the bodies of criminals and animals thrown there burned up. When I walked the valley, I did not see any of them still burning. I could not even find any evidence that there had ever been fires there. Two thousand years have completely changed its appearance.
“Jude 7 speaks of the ancient cities of Sodom and Gomorrah having received the ‘vengeance of eternal fire’ for their sins. Those cities are not burning today and have been so completely destroyed that archaeologists have never been able to prove with certainty their exact location. What happened to these cities does not reflect a permanent state of visible fire burning for all to see today. Their destruction was eternal. When those cities completely burned up, the fires went out. However, their punishment continues to this day!
“It should be clear why Paul recorded that the wages of sin is death, not eternal punishing and torment in an ever-burning hell. Most people have seen fires go unquenched. But they always burned out after they consumed whatever combustible material was available to them. Read Jeremiah 17:27 and 52:13. Over twenty-five hundred years ago, after God warned Jerusalem that He would burn her with an ‘unquenchable fire,’ if she did not repent, this happened. I have also seen Jerusalem. You, too, have probably seen it many times on television. It is not still burning today.”
The false teaching of heaven being the reward of the saved was taught long before the birth of the New Testament Church in 31 A.D.
Scripture is plain. Even the most faithful servants of God have died, and have not gone to heaven, for “no man has ascended up to heaven” (John 3:13). King David—whom God called “a man after My own heart, which shall fulfill all My will” (Acts 13:22)—“is both dead and buried” (Acts 2:29), and “is not ascended into the heavens” (vs. 34).
Our booklet Do the Saved Go to Heaven? thoroughly examines the truth of this topic. For example, it answers whether Enoch, Moses, Elijah, Paul, the thief on the cross or others were taken to heaven, and identifies the “souls under the altar” and the “four and twenty elders” of the book of Revelation.
Of course, the deceptions that traditional Christianity promotes are not limited to the nine addressed above. Far too many falsehoods exist than a single article could cover.
Understand that some of the teachers of these and other religious lies might appear sincere in their beliefs. However, whenever they discover something in the Bible that contradicts their traditional understanding of Scripture, they pass it off as a “mystery” that cannot be known. But Psalm 111 states, “A good understanding have all they that do His [God’s] commandments” (vs. 10). Obeying God brings understanding!
Still, these “leaders” unwittingly deceive the masses because they themselves are deceived! (See II Timothy 2:13). No matter their sincerity, they rob mourners of hearing the true purpose and plan God has for humanity.
Do not allow this to happen to you. To know more, read our article “ Seven Questions Your Minister Does NOT Want You to Ask.”