- There is a real, but invisible world – another dimension – existing along with our own, but completely undiscernible to our five senses. It is the spirit world of God and angels. God is a spirit (John 4:24). Spirit is invisible (John 3:8; Colossians 1:15).
- Angels are invisible, immortal, individually created spirit beings with superior power and knowledge (Colossians 1:15-17). They cannot marry nor reproduce (also see: Matthew 22:30; Luke 20:34-36). Angels were created to be God’s servants, messengers, and representatives in God’s universe-ruling government. They are called “sons of God” because God created each of them, and in that sense, they are God’s “sons.” In Hebrews 12:9 we find that God is referred to as “the Father of spirits…”
- Angels were created before God created the universe – the earth, stars, and galaxies. In the book of Job, we find “the morning stars sang together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy” at the creation of the earth. They were joyful because the earth was to be their home or dwelling place. In this verse the “morning stars” and “sons of God” refer to angels. The Bible often refers to angels as stars. For instance, Revelation 1:20 states, “The mystery of the seven stars which you saw in My right hand, and the seven golden lampstands: The seven stars are the angels of the seven churches, and the seven lampstands which you saw are the seven churches.” Revelation 12:4-9 speaks of the angels who followed Satan in his rebellion against God as the “stars of heaven.” In Isaiah 14:12 we learn that Lucifer, before he sinned, was called “son of the morning” or “day star” as some Bible margins render it.
- The Bible speaks of angels who sinned by following Lucifer (now Satan) in his rebellion against the government of God (Isaiah 14:12-14; Ezekiel 28:13-15). In II Peter 2:4 we read, “…God did not spare the angels who sinned but cast them down to hell [Greek word – “tartarus”] and delivered them into chains of darkness, to be reserved for judgment.” Jude refers to these fallen angels in Jude 6. The Scriptures indicate that one third of the angels followed Satan in his rebellion. “His [the great dragon, that serpent of old, called the Devil and Satan – see verse 9] tail drew a third of the stars of heaven and threw them to the earth…” (Revelation 12:4). Lucifer’s name was changed to Satan [meaning “the adversary”]. God renamed the fallen angels “devils” or “demons” (Matthew 12:26-27; Revelation 12:9). They are also called “evil spirits,” “dumb spirits,” and “familiar spirits.” Satan is the prince of demons (Matthew 12:24-26). God tells us to “Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places” (Ephesians 6:11-12). Two-thirds of the angels have remained loyal to God. These countless millions of angels are God’s servants, helping to carry out His plan for mankind (Revelation 5:11).
- The Bible describes various types of angels whose appearance and function differ. There are cherubim (Psalm 99:1). The best description of cherubim is found in the book of Ezekiel (Ezekiel chapters 1, 8, and 10). In these verses, we read of cherubim transporting God’s throne. They are large, powerful, four-faced dragon-like creatures with four wings. Cherubim are associated with God’s throne – either transporting it about or carrying out directives from that throne, such as guarding the tree of life after Adam and Eve sinned (Genesis 3:24). Lucifer was referred to as “the anointed cherub who covers in Ezekiel 28:14. He was given authority to administer God’s government over the earth and millions of angels. There are also seraphim (Isaiah 6:1-7). The seraphim seem to resemble humans but have six wings. Seraphim are said to be before and above the throne, whereas the cherubim are beneath it, supporting and transporting it (Revelation 4). In addition to these there are also “beasts” and “elders” surrounding the throne of God (Revelation 4:2-11). The “four beasts” or, better translated, “living creatures” appear to have the combined features of cherubim and seraphim. No description of the 24 elders is given in the Bible except that they are dressed in white clothing, each having a golden crown on his head. God also has angels who continually walk through the earth to observe and report to him (Revelation 5:6; Zechariah 4:10; II Chronicles 16:9). Other untold millions of angels serve God at the throne in heaven from which God rules the universe (Daniel 7:9-10).
- The Bible mentions by name three angels of high rank: First is Michael – called one of the chief princes (Daniel 10:13) and whom Jude identifies as an archangel (Jude 9). He is also the chief guardian of the descendants of ancient Israel (Daniel 12:1). Second is Gabriel – apparently of archangel rank. Gabriel was sent to give Daniel understanding of visions, and to do spiritual battle with fallen angels, or “princes,” of the devil – in order that God’s will be carried out in the governments of men (Daniel 8:15-16; Daniel 9:21-22; Daniel 10:10-14, 20-21). Gabriel also appeared to Zacharias, the father of John the Baptist (Luke 1:19) and later to Mary, the mother of Jesus (Luke 1:26-27). Third was Lucifer – (Isaiah 14:12) now Satan the devil (Revelation 12:9).
- The apostle Paul was inspired to write about the difference between man and angels. He wrote that “the world to come” will not be ruled by angels (Hebrews 2:5). Although man has been made a little lower than the angels now, he will, in the future, be placed over all of God’s creation including the angels (Hebrews 2:6-8; I Corinthians 6:2-3). Although man is now lower than the angels, he has a destiny far greater. Man was created with the potential to be born into the Family of God. Angels are not begotten, nor are they destined to become part of God’s Family. Angels are commissioned to minister to Spirit-begotten Christians who are heirs to the Kingdom of God (Romans 8:15-17; Galatians 3:26-29). In Hebrews 1:14 we read, “Are they not all ministering spirits sent forth to minister for those who will inherit salvation.” (See also Matthew 10:18; Acts 12:15).
- Angels are powerful (Isaiah 6:4; II Peter 2:11)! Angels are assigned to protect God’s people, to save them from premature death and accidents, and to fight their battles and protect them from the Devil and his demons (Psalm 34:7; Psalm 35; Psalm 91). God commissioned a special angel to watch over the children of Israel and bring them into the promised land (Exodus 23:20-23). God has had angels specifically assigned to supervise and protect His Church throughout all its history (Revelation 1:4, 16, 20; Revelation 2:1, 8, 12, 18, Revelation 3:1, 7, 14). Twelve of God’s angels will be gatekeepers in the new city of Jerusalem (Revelation 21:12), one for each tribe of Israel. God even has angel armies (II Kings 6:15-17)!
- Angels are also messengers. They appeared to Abraham, Lot, Hagar, Moses, Gideon, Elijah and many of the prophets and apostles. When God’s angels manifest themselves to human beings they normally do so in the form of ordinary men. They sometimes travel incognito when on God’s business. That’s why we read in Hebrews 13:2 “Do not forget to entertain strangers, for by so doing some have unwittingly entertained angels.
Baptism in commanded by God for salvation (Matthew 28:19-20; Acts 2:36-42).
The apostle Peter commanded the crowd gathered in Jerusalem, on the day of Pentecost, in A.D. 31 – “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins…” (Acts 2:38).
The word “baptize” is a Greek word – literally in the Greek the word is baptizo – it means to immerse – “to plunge into” or “put into.” It does not mean to “sprinkle” or “to pour.” The Greek word for “sprinkle” is rantizo and “to pour” is Therefore, sprinkling and pouring are not forms of baptism. Immersion – being placed completely under water is.
John the Baptist was baptizing in the river Aenon “because there was much water there” (John 3:23). When Philip baptized the Ethiopian eunuch they went down into the water, and he baptized him” (Acts 8:38). These, and other examples, show that total immersion in water was the method practiced by the Church Jesus founded.
Even though Jesus had no sins to repent of, He was baptized by John, setting an example for us to follow (Matthew 3:13-16; I Peter 2:21).
Baptism is purely symbolic. It is an outward sign of inward repentance. It demonstrates to God one’s willingness and desire to permanently one’s old life of sin and begin living a new life of obedience to God. Baptism demonstrates our total surrender to God.
Baptism is symbolic of one’s death, burial and resurrection from the grave (Romans 6:2-6; Colossians 2:12-13). Going down into the water clearly pictures the death of Christ and our old self. Coming up out of the water pictures Christ’s resurrection, and our coming up out of the water to walk “in newness of life” – to live a life of obedience to God, free from the guilt of past sins and the death penalty those sins have incurred (Romans 6:23). We now reckon ourselves as dead, so far as sin is concerned, but alive through God and His Son Jesus Christ (Romans 6:11).
Baptism should be done as the result genuine repentance toward God and complete faith in the blood of Jesus Christ. Only a mature mind can truly “count the cost” (Luke 14:26-30). One must be mature enough to understand the commitment they are making and be able to truly repent and believe. Generally speaking – only mature adults should be baptized. There is no record of Jesus ever having commanded baptism for children, nor is there any biblical record of the early New Testament Church having performed such baptisms.
Baptism is an outward acknowledgment that our selfish, vain, and sinful old self must die so that me might rise to live a new life of obedience to God’s commandments as made possible through His Holy Spirit.
The Holy Spirit is not given immediately at or by water baptism – yet Acts 2:38 shows that baptism does precede the giving of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is given to a person through prayer and the laying on of hands of one of God’s true ministers. The sequence of events is: 1) first repentance, 2) then water baptism, 3) next the laying on of hands, 4) then the receipt of the Holy Spirit as a result of the laying on of hands
There is a vast difference between spirit, and flesh and blood. Although man was created in the very shape and likeness of God, he was not created out of spirit as God is (John 4:24). Man was made from the dust of the ground, subject to death and decay (Genesis 3:19). However, God’s purpose is to one day make mortal man a spirit being in His Family (I Corinthians 15:42-54). That is why mankind was created in the “image” and “likeness” of God (Genesis 1:26-27). Not only did God make man like Himself – in the same form and shape – but He also made man in His “image.” Image refers to mind and character. God wants those He calls to develop His holy, righteous character during this mortal life – before they can be “born again.”
Jesus revealed this profound truth to Nicodemus, a high-ranking Pharisee: “Unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God” (John 3:3). Nicodemus understood what it meant to be born. But he did not understand how anyone could be “born again.” He thought Jesus was referring to a second human birth. Christ was actually describing two different kinds of birth – one physical and the other spiritual. He was comparing physical birth to spiritual birth – the physical being a type of the spiritual. Jesus said, “That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit” (John 3:4-8).
A human mind can be compared to an egg or ovum, and the Holy Spirit to an impregnating seed or germ of eternal life. Receiving God’s Spirit is the begettal of the spiritual life of God within one’s mind. And as a newly begotten physical embryo begins to grow in its mother’s womb, so must a true Christian begin to grow in God’s spiritual character after they are begotten by His Holy Spirit (I Peter 2:1-2; II Peter 3:18; Ephesians 4:11-16). Spiritual growth comes from prayer, fasting, and Bible study and by living a life in obedience to God as the individual is empowered by the Holy Spirit within them. All Spirit-begotten Christians are the unborn children of God the Father in the same sense that an unborn human embryo or fetus is the child of its parents.
God’s purpose is to create, from mortal mankind, individuals composed of spirit possessing perfect spiritual character (Isaiah 64:8; Job 14:14-15). We are His workmanship (Ephesians 2:10).
At present there are only two members in the God Family – God the Father and His Son Jesus Christ (John 1:1-3, 14; I Corinthians 8:6). But God is planning to expand His Family by bringing many spiritual children into it (II Corinthians 6:18; Hebrews 2:9-11; Revelation 21:7).
Jesus is actually the “firstborn among many brethren” (Romans 8:29). We are to be conformed to the image of Christ, which means to become like Him – to be glorified as He is now glorified. Our awesome potential is to become God’s literal, Spirit-born children – members of God’s own divine Family!
True Christians are already, in this mortal life, God’s spirit-begotten children (I John 3:1-2; Romans 8:14-16). Although they are now the children of God, Christians are only heirs of God’s Kingdom (Romans 8:17). They shall, in the future, become inheritors of it.
Flesh and blood cannot inherit the Kingdom of God (I Corinthians 15:50). We must be born of the Spirit to become a member of the God Family (I Corinthians 15:51-54).
Those who are born of the Spirit of God – are spirit (John 3:6), and like wind, are invisible to mortal men. Any human who claims to “born again” is in error, for he or she is still flesh and blood.
Jesus Christ is the only one who has ever been “born again” (Hebrews 1:1-6).
When the glorified Jesus Christ returns to earth, the Spirit begotten children of God who have died through the ages will be resurrected to spirit life, and those still alive will be changed instantly into spirit (I Thessalonians 4:13-17). At that moment they will be “born again,” this time as glorified immortal members of the God Family (I John 3:2; Daniel 12:3).
In Hebrews 12:2, the Apostle Paul lists “eternal judgment” as one of the doctrines of Christ.
The Hebrew word translated “eternal” is olam, ad and the Greek word is translated aionios. The human mind can consider eternity, but it cannot comprehend it. We can think of a line with no beginning and no end. We can think of the unending vastness of time that occurred before our birth and that will go on after our death. However, nothing in physical creation even approximates eternity. Nothing physical is eternal. The physical, by very definition, is subject to change and decay (II Corinthians 4:18). Eternity by its very nature transcends all that is physical. Eternity goes beyond the physical and is what God offers us (Romans 6:23)!
For many the word judgment evokes a negative reaction. However, in the Scripture “judgment” is a decision that our Creator makes for our benefit. “The judgment” is when God decides or informs each person of His decision – of what, where, and how they will be spending eternity. For the vast majority this will be the greatest moment in their entire lives! There are many areas of responsibility in the future that need to be filled by those who are human in this age (John 14:2). We will be rewarded then according to our works in this life (Matthew 16:27). The universe is a big place, and eternity is a long time! It is God’s plan for us to inherit all things (Revelation 21:7), and of the increase of His government there shall be no end (Isaiah 9:7).
Many think of judgment as only a time when a sentence is passed – rewarding the righteous and condemning the guilty. Although God will render a decision for each person he ever created as to whether they will inherit eternity, it is not the only explanation of what judgment entails. Judgment is a process. Character is developed over the course of our lifetime. I Peter 4:17 tells us the “For the time has come for judgment to begin at the house of God…” Those God has called and chosen are being judged now (Hebrews 2:3; Hebrews 6:4-6; Hebrews 10:26-29). God holds every Christian accountable for his or her actions. He is now judging every believer according to His Word. Judgment, and the development of Godly character in the people of God (the firstfruits) must take place today, during this age, in order for God to develop a group capable of assisting him in ruling, encouraging, and developing the vast multitudes of people God will call following the return of Jesus Christ – both during the Millennium (Revelation 20:6) and the Great White Throne Judgment period (Revelation 20:11-13).
The Father judges no one but has committed all judgment to the Son (John 4:21-22). Christ is the Chief Judge (Daniel 7:9-10). All are judged according to their works (Romans 2:6-11; Ecclesiastes 12:13-14; II Corinthians 5:10).
However, the vast majority of mankind does not understand or believe the truth of God. They have been deceived by the devil (Revelation 12:9). It is God’s responsibility to someday see that these deceived billions become undeceived and are given their chance for salvation – for He is not willing that any perish (I Peter 3:9; I Timothy 2:4).
I John 5:29 Jesus said, “Do not marvel at this; for the hour is coming in which all who are in the graves will hear His voice and come forth – those who have done good, to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil, to the resurrection of condemnation.” Nearly all modern translations correctly render this last word as “judgment” rather than “condemnation.” When Christ said some would come forth in a resurrection to “judgment” he meant they would be raised up from their graves to a time when they would learn the truth and have their opportunity to walk in it. At the end of their period of judgment, God will render a decision – a verdict – for each, based on how well they lived according to His law (Revelation 20:12). When these billions are resurrected, they will be given their first real chance to repent, accept Christ as their Savior, and receive His precious Holy Spirit. Their names will then be written in the book of life (see also Revelation 20:12).
Faith is a foundational and fundamental biblical doctrine (Hebrews 6:1). “Faith toward God” is absolutely required for salvation. None may obtain eternal life without it. Without faith it is impossible to please God (Hebrews 11:6).
Faith is defined as – “Now faith is the substance [assurance] of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen” (Hebrews 11:1). Faith is trust in God. It is the assurance that what God has promised He will perform (Romans 4:21).
One does not need faith for something they already possess. Faith revolves around something “not seen,” one does not yet have (Romans 8:24-25). “We walk by faith, not by sight” (II Corinthians 5:7).
Faith, or belief, to be effectual, must be solidly based. It must have a sure foundation if it is to stand. Sincerity alone is not enough. We must place our trust in God (Mark 11:22), not men (Jeremiah 17:5; Psalm 146:3). God is the only sure foundation or belief! Even when men are well intentioned, one can never really know whether they will be able to keep their promises. But God will never break His Word and is totally faithful (Hebrews 6:18-19; I Corinthians 1:9-9; I Corinthians 10:13; I Peter 4:19). Once God makes a promise, He will stand by it (Hebrews 10:23).
Faith must be accompanied by works (James 2:17-18), as faith without works is dead (James 2:26). Faith, along with good works, is a living faith, the kind of faith we all need. We are saved by the life of Christ (Romans 5:10) – not by our works – and are given salvation as a free gift from God. But we are rewarded, or given our particular responsibility, in God’s Kingdom according to our works (Revelation 22:12).
It is possible to deny Christ by our works (Titus 1:16). Titus reveals the nature of these evil works (Titus 1:10-15). The faithful Christian should be “zealous of good works” (Titus 2:14). James gives three examples of these “good works” – a Christian who sees one of his brethren without proper food or clothing (James 2:15-16), Abraham when he offered Isaac (James 2:21-23), and the third example relates to Rahab and her receiving and protecting the Israelite spies (James 2:25).
Real, living faith must be based on God’s will as revealed in the Bible (I John 5:14-15). True Christians must rightly divide “the word of truth” to know exactly what God’s will really is and thus be able to have faith in that solid foundation (II Timothy 2:15; Ephesians 5:17). When we fail to petition God according to His will, we can expect no answers to our prayers – as we do not have the proper faith God requires for answered prayer (James 1:6-7; James 4:3).
There are three conditions to healing: faith (Hebrews 11:6), obedience (I John 3:22), and patience (James 1:2-4; Hebrews 6:12; Hebrews 10:36; Hebrews 11:13).
When we make a request to God we are to “ask in faith, with no doubting” (James 1:6-8). Doubt is a faith-killer.
Faith is one of the fruits of God’s Holy Spirit (Galatians 5:22; I Corinthians 12:9).
Hearing and studying God’s Word will increase our faith (Romans 10:17).
Faith is an important part of our Christian armor (Ephesians 6:16; I Thessalonians 5:8). Our faith can be overthrown if we are not alert and vigilant (II Timothy 2:18).
Abraham, the father of the faithful had faith that he would become “a father of many nations” even though he was childless and 99 years old, and his wife Sarah was well past the child-bearing age (Romans 4:17-21). The fact that God had promised was all the evidence Abraham needed. He knew God would not lie – that His Word was good.
Paul had faith toward God because he believed God. He had an unquestioning conviction that God would indeed do what He had promised (Acts 27:22-25). In summarizing his ministry for the Ephesian elders, Paul explained how he had testified “to the Jews, and also to the Greeks, repentance toward God and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ” (Acts 20:21).
The Patriarch Noah was also an enduring example of “faith toward God.” Paul summarized Noah’s faith in Hebrews 11:7 – “By faith Noah, being divinely warned of things not yet seen, moved with godly fear, prepared an ark for the saving of his household, by which he condemned the world and became heir of the righteousness which is according to faith.”
Hebrews 11 is known as “the faith chapter” because it is filled with examples of faith demonstrated in the lives of God’s prophets, kings, judges, common people, and even one repentant harlot.
To even start the process of salvation, one must have faith in Christ’s blood, His atoning sacrifice for our sins (John 3:16; Romans 3:25). Belief in Christ’s blood – faith in His sacrifice for past sins – involves believing what Christ said. One cannot really believe in Jesus’ sacrifice without believing His message – the gospel of the Kingdom of God (Mark 1:15).
Once a person has heard the true gospel of the Kingdom of God and has acted upon it by repenting, being baptized, and receiving God’s Holy Spirit as a gift (Acts 2:38; Ephesians 2:8), God imparts to that individual the very “faith of Jesus Christ.” A person cannot work up this saving faith toward God. It is His gift upon real conversion.
- After being justified, the apostle Paul says Christians are to be glorified (Romans 8:30).
- In Genesis 1:26 we read, “Then God said, ‘Let Us make man in Our image. According to Our likeness, let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” Mankind was created to exercise rule, or government, over all things which God has created. But as the apostle explains in the book of Hebrews: “For He has not put the world to come, of which we speak, in subjection to angels. But one testified in a certain place, saying: ‘What is man that You are mindful of him, or the son of man that You take care of him? You made him a little lower than the angels; You crowned him with glory and honor and set him over the works of Your hands. You have put all things in subjection under his feet.’ For in that He put all in subjection under him, He left nothing that is not put under him. But now we do not yet see all things put under him.” (Hebrews 2:5-8) Eventually, those who overcome will inherit and govern the entire universe! (Revelation 21:7) “But we see Jesus who was made a little lower than the angels, for the suffering of death crowned with glory and honor, that he, by the grace of God, might taste death for everyone.” (Verse 9) Here we see that God’s own Son was made “lower than the angels” – yet is now glorified! “For it was fitting for Him, for whom are all things and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons to glory, to make the author of their salvation perfect through sufferings.” (Verse 10) Jesus Christ after suffering through many trials and tests, was glorified. “Though He was a Son, yet He learned obedience by the things which He suffered. And having been perfected, He became the author of eternal salvation to all who obey Him” (Hebrews 5:8-9). Now, He is bringing many other sons to “glory” also. God has made mankind in His image and likeness ultimately to be born of Him as members of the God Family. Romans 8:29 tells us that Christ is “the firstborn among many brethren.”
- After repentance and baptism, God gives true Christians His Holy Spirit (Acts 2:38). His Spirit is His very nature, a bit of the divine character (II Peter 1:4). The true Christian is to “grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.” (II Peter 3:18) We are to become more and more like God through the power of His Spirit which imparts God’s character. God is shaping and molding those He has called through tests and trials and preparing them to become members of the God Family. The apostle Peter described the process of glorification this way: “But may the God of all grace, who called us to His eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after you have suffered a while, perfect, establish, strengthen, and settle you” (I Peter 5:10). After we have suffered through many tests of our total willingness to surrender to our Marker, He “will transform our lowly body that it may be conformed to His glorious body…” (Philippians 3:21) Revelation 1:14-16 describes the appearance of the glorified Jesus Christ now. “His head and His hair were white like wool, as white as snow, and His eyes like a flame of fire; His feet were like fine brass, as if refined in a furnace, and His voice as the sound of many waters; he had in His right hand seven stars, out of His mouth went a sharp two-edged sword, and His countenance was like the sun shining in its strength.” We will share that kind of glory with our Creator! Christ is “the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in all things He may have the preeminence.” (Colossians 1:18)
- For those who are called, chosen, and faithful (Revelation 17:14) this glorification will take place at Christ’s Second Coming (I Thessalonians 4:16-17). As the apostle Paul was inspired to write, “Behold, I tell 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 trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. So, when this corruptible has put on incorruption, and this mortal has put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written: “Death is swallowed up in victory.” (I Corinthians 15:51-54) For those not called now, the opportunity to become a glorified member of God’s Family will come later during the Millennium (Isaiah 11:9; Joel 2:28) or during the Great White Throne Judgment Period to follow (Revelation 20:11-12).
- It is God’s wonderful purpose in creating man to perfect individuals through the power of His Holy Spirit, and then to give them immortality and glory like Christ (Romans 7:18; I John 3:2). Ultimately, we are to be born again into the very family of God! The Father and the Son desire to share their plans and opportunities on the God-plane of existence with billions of others! God is reproducing after His kind.
- In His prayer before He was taken to be tried and crucified, Jesus asked the Father, “glorify Me together with Yourself, with the glory which I had with You before the world was.” (John 17:5) There is no greater glory than to have that which he had shared with God from eternity. To be glorified members of the God Family is our incredible human potential!
In Ecclesiastes 12:13 we read, “Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter. Fear God and keep His commandments, for this is the whole duty of man.”
All ten of God’s commandments are listed for us in – Exodus 20:1-17 and Deuteronomy 5:6-21.
Both Abraham (Genesis 26:5) and David (Psalm 119:97-100, 105) were commandment keepers. They had great respect for God’s law. That is one important reason they will hold very important positions of responsibility in the future government of God on earth.
Jesus Christ also obeyed the Ten Commandments (John 15:10) and taught others to obey them (Matthew 19:17-19). These verses in Matthew 19 plainly show that Jesus specifically referred to the Ten Commandments.
The Scriptures show that the Church Jesus built would be teaching obedience to, and endeavoring to keep, the Ten Commandments and other teachings of Christ (Revelation 12:17; Revelation 14:12). Peace of mind comes from keeping the commandments (Psalm 119:165).
The law of God is holy, just, and good (Romans 7:12). The law is one of the greatest gifts God gave mankind! It was designed to make one happy and bring him peace. If kept, God’s law results in a full and abundant life, and leads to eternal life! God summed up the law of God in Matthew 22:35-40. As the essence of God’s spiritual character is love, the Ten Commandments are expressions of the very character of God (I John 4:16). Jesus showed that the Ten Commandments are a guide to teach us how to love. The first four commandments show us how to love God, while the last six of the Ten Commandments show us how to love our neighbor – all fellow human beings.
Christ came to magnify the law and make it more honorable (Isaiah 42:21; Matthew 5:21-22, 27-28; I John 3:15). Jesus did not come to do away with the Ten Commandments. Rather, He came to teach mankind how to live by the spiritual intent of God’s law. He explained how hatred against another human being is the spirit of murder, and sexual lust is the spirit of adultery. Christ showed how God’s Commandments apply to our innermost thoughts and attitudes.
In Old Testament times, God required only a physical, mechanical, and visible obedience from His people. In other words, obedience only in the letter of the law. This was because the Old Testament Church of God – the nation of Israel – was not given the Holy Spirit to help them obey the spiritual intent of the law as well as the letter of it. However, in New Testament times, God has made his Holy Spirit available to those whom He calls. He desires that His Spirit-begotten children follow Him in the spirit, in the fullness, of His law.
If we possess and exercise God’s Spirit, the love of God that God’s Spirit imparts will enable us to fulfill – to obey – God’s law (Romans 5:5; Romans 13:8-10).
The Apostle John placed a great deal of emphasis upon love. But never did he or any other inspired writer of Scripture say that love nullifies the need to keep God’s law, or that it superseded or did away with the law of God (I John 5:2-3; John 14:15; John 15:9-10; II John 5-6). John, who was a close friend, disciple, and apostle of Jesus Christ made it plain that one who truly has the love of God will be obeying the Commandments of God. “Now by this we know that we know Him if we keep His commandments. He who says, ‘I know Him,’ and does not keep His commandments, is a lair, and the truth is not in him” (I John 2:3-4).
We cannot earn our salvation by keeping either the Ten Commandments or any other law of God. Eternal life is clearly a gift from God, and a gift is not something one can earn (Romans 6:23). But neither can one enter into eternal life as a lawbreaker (Matthew 7:21; Matthew 19:17-19). No rebel will ever be permitted to enter that divine Kingdom.
Jesus Christ plainly stated that as Christians we are to strive to keep the Ten Commandments with our whole beings and with His help through the Holy Spirit, trusting Him to apply His sacrifice on our behalf, when we fall short and as we repent (I John 1:7-10).
The time is coming soon when the whole world will come to understand and know what a great blessing the law of God really is (Isaiah 2:2-3)!
- What is God’s purpose for creating man? What is the purpose of life? What is God’s destiny for mankind? Without the knowledge of why he exists, man has no real meaning or purpose in life. If man has no goal or destiny, life becomes futile and meaningless. Thankfully, God has clearly revealed man’s purpose in the Bible for those who will read and believe.
- Few realize that God is literally reproducing Himself through man. He created mankind with the potential to become Gods themselves – members of His own Family – the God Family! This plain truth is hinted at from the very first verse in the Bible. “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” (Genesis 1:1) The Hebrew word translated “God” is Elohim – which is a noun or name, plural in form, but singular in grammatical usage. It is like the words “family,” “group,” or “church.” – one family consisting of two or more members – one church composed of many members. Genesis 1:26 builds upon this truth and quotes God as saying, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness…” Genesis 1:1 and Genesis 1:26 are referring precisely to the same two spirit Beings as found in John 1:1-2, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God.” At the present time the God Family consists of these two beings who are different yet are both God. The Scriptures reveal that it is God’s Plan and desire to add members to His divine Family. If the Holy Spirit of God dwells in an individual God has called, and that person is being led by it, they are now a begotten son of God. (Romans 8:14) If that person remains faithful and endures to the end at the Second Coming of Jesus Christ, they shall become born again as a member of His Family. (I Thessalonians 4:15-17; John 3:3-8)
- There are numerous verses that conclusively prove that God the Father and His Son Jesus Christ are indeed related – they are Family. (Matthew 3:17; John 10:29-39) The Jews in Christs’ day knew that when Jesus referred to God as His Father that He meant it literally. They wanted to kill Him for it.
- What’s incredible is that it is God’s Plan for humans to be added as members to His very own God Family. There are numerous Scriptures which prove this point. The following are just a few: “But as many as received Him [Jesus Christ], to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name.” (John 1:12) Romans 8:15-17 states, “For you did not receive the spirit of bondage again to fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption by whom we cry out, ‘Abba, Father.’ The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs – heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him, that we may also be glorified together.” Galatians 4:5-7 plainly says that God sent forth His Son, “to redeem those who were under the law, that we might receive the adoption as sons. And because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into your hearts, crying out, ‘Abba. Father!’ Therefore, you are no longer a slave but a son, and if a son, then an heir of God through Christ.” If one is truly converted Christ says, “He is not ashamed to call them brethren [brothers]…” (Hebrew 2:11) In Romans 8:29 we find the Jesus Christ is “the firstborn among many brethren.” Philippians 3:21 says that at His coming Jesus Christ “…will transform our lowly body that it may be conformed to His glorious body…” I John 3:2 confirms this by saying, “Beloved, now we are children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is.” “We shall be like Him” – literally God’s ourselves!
- Why did God make us human? Why didn’t He just create spirit beings and add them to His family? The answer is that God created us as physical human beings so that we may build Holy, righteous character. God wants mankind to choose to obey Him, and to want to be a part of His family. (Deuteronomy 30:19; Matthew 7:13-14) He did not create robots. Since we are human and subject to death (spirit beings are not), unrepentant sinners can be extinguished from the universe by the final lake of fire. (Revelation 20:14-15; Revelation 21:8)
- It is God’s Plan for man to inherit the universe! Hebrews 2:5-9 reveals, “For He has not put the world to come, of which we speak, in subjection to angels. But one testified in a certain place, saying: ‘What is man that You are mindful of him, or the son of man that You take care of him? You made him a little lower than the angels; You crowned him with glory and honor and set him over the works of Your hands. You have put all things in subjection under His feet.’ For in that He put all in subjection under him, He left nothing that is not put under him. But now we do not yet see all things put under him.” Revelation 21:7 reveals, “He who overcomes shall inherit all things [the entire universe], and I will be his God and he shall be My son.” Finally, Isaiah the prophet was inspired to write: “For unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given; and the government will be upon His shoulder, and His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of His government and peace there will be no end, upon the throne of David and over His kingdom, to order it and establish it with judgment and justice from that time forward, even forever. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will perform this.” (Isaiah 9:6-7) God’s Family and His government will increase forever! We can inherit it all! This is God’s purpose for creating man.
- The Gospel is the good news Jesus Christ brought from His Father, announcing the coming Kingdom of God. For those that God is calling now, that message includes the knowledge of how we may enter that promised Kingdom. This is not what is being taught by most churches today. The religions of the world have lost, changed, twisted, and perverted the true Gospel. A different message – a false message – is being taught than the one brought by Jesus Christ. Usually, they preach a message about Christ rather than the message Christ taught. The churches of this world have erred in thinking that God is trying to save the whole world now and have for this and other reasons fallen into the teaching of a false gospel and are in ignorance regarding the coming Kingdom of God. Although it has been forgotten by this world, the true message is simple and easy to explain.
- The word “gospel” is translated from a Greek word meaning “a good message,” or “good news.” In Mark 1:14, we find a clear description of what the Gospel is – “Now after John was put in prison, Jesus came to Galilee, preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God.” The Gospel is the good news of the coming Kingdom of God. Jesus went everywhere preaching the good news of the Kingdom of God. He taught in parables about the Kingdom of God. He sent out seventy men preaching and commanded them to preach the Kingdom of God. (Luke 10:9) He sent the apostles, on whom the Church of God was founded, to preach the Kingdom of God. (Luke 9:1-2) The apostle Paul preached the Kingdom of God. (Acts 19:8; Acts 20:25; Acts 28:23, 31) The true Gospel message is so important that God Almighty, through Paul, pronounced a double curse on any man or angel that would dare preach any other gospel! (Galatians 1:8-9)
- The Kingdom of God is spoken of in both the Old and New Testaments. Isaiah spoke of this Kingdom: “For unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given; and the government will be upon His shoulder. And His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of His government and peace there will be no end, upon the throne of David and over His kingdom, to order it and establish it with judgment and justice from that time forward, even forever. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will perform this.” Daniel spoke of this Kingdom: “And in the days of these of these kings (by connecting this prophecy with Daniel 7, and Revelation 13 and 17, this is referring to the United States of Europe that is now forming, out of the European Common Market – it is the final resurrection of the Holy Roman Empire) the God of heaven will set up a kingdom which shall never be destroyed; and the kingdom shall not be left to other people; it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand forever.” (Daniel 2:44) In our time, shortly after the days of these ten kings, God will establish His Kingdom on the earth! Many more Scriptures could be cited. The prophets all clearly spoke of a literal kingdom – with laws, rulers, territory, and subjects – not merely a spiritual or ethereal kingdom set up in “the hearts of men.” The Kingdom of God is a literal kingdom to be set up here on earth during the Millennium after the Second Coming of Jesus Christ. It will break in pieces the kingdoms of this world and Jesus Christ will rule as its’ head. It will be a time of peace and prosperity where all of God’s perfect laws and ways will be administered. (Isaiah 11; Isaiah 35) The New Testament Scriptures show that those who are part of the first resurrection will rule with Jesus Christ over all nations as kings and priests with eternal life as spirit beings in the Kingdom of God. (Revelation 3:21; Revelation 5:10; Revelation 20:6) These spirit beings will be members of God’s own Family. (Romans 8:16-18; I Corinthians 15:35-57; I John 3:1-3) As the apostle Paul was inspired to write, “Now this I say brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; nor does corruption inherit incorruption.” (I Corinthians 15:30) This is the same good news – Gospel – that Jesus brought.
- Jesus’ coming and His role as the announcer of the Gospel were prophesied by Malachi. “Behold, I send My messenger, and he will prepare the way before Me (this role was fulfilled by John the Baptist prior to Christ’s coming nearly 2000 years ago). And the Lord, whom you seek, will suddenly come to His temple, even the Messenger of the covenant, in whom you delight. Behold, He is coming,” says the LORD of hosts.” Jesus was the Messenger of the covenant who announced the good news of the coming Kingdom of God. The first century apostles were eyewitnesses to the fulfillment of this prophecy, and others, regarding Jesus Christ and used the unanswerable reality of the resurrection to prove it! No wonder He is called “the Word” (John 1:1-3, 14) for He is the communicator of God’s great plan to humanity. The Gospel was a message Christ brought from the Father. (John 12:49-50; John 14:24)
- God’s Church has not forgotten the true Gospel and are preaching it as a witness to the world as Jesus commanded. (Matthew 24:14)
Generally the word grace in the Bible means “favor,” and usually refers to God’s favor toward those who love and obey Him. In the New Testament it is used specifically to refer to God’s greatest act of favor – God’s calling of a sinner to repentance and the extension of God’s forgiveness, which leads to eternal life. Our very salvation depends upon God’s grace (Romans 4:14-17; Ephesians 2:8-9).
We read in John 1:17 that “grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.” Christians know that through Christ we received forgiveness and reconciliation to God (I Peter 1:18-20). In Romans 5:21, Titus 2:11, and Titus 3:7 we are told that the end result of God’s grace is eternal life. That is indeed a wonderful gift; an unmerited and unearned act of favor from God to man!
The Scriptures do indeed teach that we are justified by grace. Ephesians 2:8 states, “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God” [KJV]. Romans 3:24 declares we are “justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.” Romans 4:16 and Titus 3:7 corroborate this. What does it mean to be justified by grace? These verses speak of at least four different, but related, areas – faith, justification, works and grace. A brief definition of each is as follows: Justification – The process and result of having your sins forgiven. To justify means to “prove or pronounce one blameless of some wrong act” (Romans 5:9). Works – Things we do (such as charitable deeds or righteous acts) in obedience to God’s law (Matthew 16:27; Revelation 22:12). Faith – Belief in God and His promises (Hebrews 11:6) backed by actions. Therefore, to be justified by grace (Ephesians 2:8) means to be forgiven by God; not because of our goodness, but because of God’s favor (grace) if we believe Him (faith). When God says we are justified by Grace, He means we are justified because of the unmerited and unearned favor God shows us; not because of anything we have done. No one earns their calling (Galatians 1:15), forgiveness, or eternal life. These are all gifts – examples of God’s unmerited favor, His grace.
The Jews of Paul’s day took great pride in being the descendants of Abraham, but were clearly told their ancestry had nothing to do with their justification. Paul had to explain to them that one is justified by grace (Romans 4:16-18).
Further, the Scriptures reveal that one is justified by grace and not works. In Romans 11:6 we read, “And if by grace, then it is no longer of works; otherwise, grace is no longer grace…” In this context, “works” are anything a person may do to please God and gain salvation because of it. But such things do not earn us forgiveness nor eternal life. Salvation is a gift given because of God’s grace (Galatians 2:16-21; Galatians 5:4). Good works are wonderful and so is God’s law. It is just that we are not justified by them, nor do we earn salvation by doing them.
Some believe that God will extend grace without repentance and/or without obedience to the law which they invariably view as “done away.” This is a false belief. Few professing Christians would subscribe to the false belief that we can earn salvation by works or by keeping the law. However, many believe that since God is indeed a loving God, full of forgiveness due to grace, that we therefore no longer need to keep the law. They often quote scriptures such as Romans 6:14 to support their belief, which says, “…for you are not under law but under grace.” They take this out of context and fail to read the next verse which states, “What then? Shall we sin because we are not under law [the penalty of the law] but under grace? Certainly not!” Sin is the transgression of the law – or lawlessness (I John 3:4). When Paul says we should not sin, he is saying we must not transgress the law! Notice what he said earlier in Romans 6:1-2, “…Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound? Certainly not! How shall we who died to sin live any longer in it?” Clearly, being under grace does not mean the law is done away, or that we do not need to keep it. It merely means we are forgiven because of God’s favor, and we cannot earn salvation by keeping the law. The Bible plainly states that grace requires us to go on and obey the law. In writing to Timothy, the apostle Paul wrote, “But you, O man of God, flee these things and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, gentleness. Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, to which you were also called…” (I Timothy 6:11-12). In Romans 3:8, Paul soundly condemned the false teaching that grace means you can sin at will.
Grace is unmerited but it is not unconditional. There are two conditions: Repentance (Acts 2:38) and faith. Of course, God does demand our living faith in Him since we are saved by grace through faith (Ephesians 2:8). God’s grace is free and unmerited, but if we refuse to change our lives – to obey God – He is under no obligation to bestow His grace upon us. God will not allow Christ’s sacrifice and His grace to be taken lightly.
God’s Spirit gives us the power we need to develop character. We must work at it (I Corinthians 15:10). To grow in grace (II Peter 3:18) is to overcome sin with the help of God’s Spirit. Without God’s help, overcoming sin would be impossible. Paul said, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:13).
When asked by a rich young ruler, “Good Teacher, what good thing shall I do that I may have eternal life?” Christ replied, “…If you want to enter into life, keep the commandments” (Matthew 19:16-17). Jude labeled those “who turn the grace of God into licentiousness and deny the only Lord God and our Lord Jesus Christ” as “ungodly men” marked out for “condemnation” (Jude 4).
Jesus Christ paid the penalty of sin, which is death, in our stead. Christ’s sacrifice is the supreme expression of divine grace. It is totally unmerited (Romans 5:6-8). Christ’s sacrifice frees us from the penalty of breaking God’s law. However, it does not do away with the law. Would God now allow the violation of laws that necessitated the death of His own Son? Of course not. Grace does not nullify God’s law. Rather, grace is necessary because God’s law is eternally binding. “May the God of all grace, who called us to his eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after you have suffered a while, perfect, establish, strengthen, and settle you. To Him be the glory and the dominion forever and ever, Amen (I Peter 5:10-11).
God’s annual Holy Days and Festivals reveal a step-by-step outline of His Master Plan for the salvation of all mankind. These are God’s feasts, and they are holy convocations – commanded religious assemblies (Leviticus 23:2).
- Being justified means to be made righteous. It means “to be acquitted, to be pronounced and treated as righteous.” To justify is “to prove or pronounce one blameless of some wrong act.” In the Bible, justification is not what a person says about him or herself, but what God Himself does for the person. To be justified, in Bible usage, means to be pronounced not guilty – not because one has not done wrong, but because one has been forgiven by God for the wrong done. Romans 3:21-31 shows that justification involves the forgiveness of sin. Romans 5:9 shows that justification is made possible by the shed blood of Christ. After our total spiritual cleansing by God, God views us as being righteous. As Romans 3:21-22 shows, this righteousness is not something we earn. Rather, it is imputed to us when we are justified by faith. In Romans 4:1-8, God credited Abraham with righteousness because of his faith, which resulted in God’s justification of Abraham. Abraham had not earned such favor by his works, though God credited him with righteousness after forgiving his sins because Abraham had faith. Romans 3:20 says, “…by the deeds of the law no flesh will be justified in His sight…” Verse 28 says, “a man is justified by faith apart form the deeds of the law.” Galatians 3:11 and Galatians 2:16 also confirm, “…no one is justified by the law in the sight of God…”
- In the Greek language, the New Testament the word “just” is dikaion. Its verb is “justify” (G. dikaioo). Related to these Greek words is the word “righteousness” (G. dikaiosune). A just man is one who is right or upright. To rectify something is to make it right. To dignify something is to give it dignity. In the same way, to justify is to make just or righteous. This is the usage of the New Testament term.
- The forgiveness of sin coupled with a pronouncement of righteousness has conditions. For example, people cannot justify themselves or pronounce themselves righteous as they have sinned. Romans 3:23 states “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” The Pharisee, in the parable of the publican and the Pharisee (Luke 18:9-14), tried this approach. He listed all the good things he had done in the hope that God would see his righteousness. However, Christ said that the publican, not the Pharisee, went down to his house justified. The publican truly repented of his sins, and God imputed His own righteousness to Him.
- How can we be justified? How can we find forgiveness and have God’s righteousness imputed to us? How can God make sinners righteous? First, one must realize that it happens by God’s grace. Romans 3:24 says we are “justified freely by His grace…” Grace is simply unmerited favor. Justification is a gift God gives us; not something we earn. It is given because of God’s goodness. Second, justification is through faith. God is the justifier of the “one who has faith in Jesus” (Romans 3:26; Acts 13:39; Galatians 3:8, 24). In Hebrews 11:6 we find, “But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.” When God calls a person and grants the person the gift of repentance (Romans 2:4), He extends forgiveness to the person when he or she turns from sin and begins to obey God. Ephesians 2:8 shows, “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God.” It is because of God’s favor and not our own goodness, though faith is a necessary condition. Even this faith is not something the person alone supplies. True faith is a gift from God. It is one of the fruits of God’s Holy Spirit (Galatians 5:22), yet it requires a person’s cooperation.
- When God calls a person, and that person responds to God’s call, the first action is repentance, or the act of ceasing to sin and changing one’s whole life to obedience to God’s law. The next step is baptism, which follows belief and repentance (Acts 2:38). It is only at baptism that one’s sins are finally washed away. Only then we are justified, and our sins are covered by Christ’s shed blood (Romans 5:9). As a result of baptism and the laying on of hands by one of God’s ministers, we receive God’s Spirit and are given true faith. The very faith of Jesus Christ is placed within us by God. The reason that God justifies only those with faith – belief that causes them to act – is that one who truly believes God will strive to obey Him totally. “Faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead” (James 2:14-17).
- All of us sin. If we acknowledge our sins, repent of them, and with God’s help constantly strive to obey Him, then we will be extended mercy and come under God’s grace. God will then continue to justify us and impute righteousness to us. We may not actually be righteous in the sense we have done all the things that a righteous person should do as demanded by the law, but because we have had a change of heart which comes from repentance and express that change of heart through living faith and belief in God, that faith is attributed to us righteousness.
- Many believe that once a person has been justified, that they no longer need to keep God’s law. This is not true. Even though one is not justified by the law, they must still strive to keep it. Romans 2:14 shows, “For not the hearers of the law are just in the sight of God, but the doers of the law will be justified.” Romans 3:31 adds, “Do we then make void the law through faith? Certainly not! On the contrary, we establish the law.” Although one will not be saved because their obedience to God’s law earns it, one can be disqualified by their disobedience.
The first step in God’s plan for eventually bringing billions into His divine Family is the death of Christ. The New Testament Passover is the annual memorial of the suffering and death of Jesus Christ. The Passover pictures our being reconciled to the Father through our Savior Jesus Christ who rescued us from the penalty of our past sins.
The historical record of the first Passover that the Israelites kept in Egypt is found in – Exodus 12.
The lambs they selected were without blemish (without deformities, diseases, or imperfections), a male of the first year (Exodus 12:5). They were prophetic of Christ, our Savior “The Lamb of God” who was sinless; without spiritual blemish or spot (I Peter 1:19).
As soon as the lambs were killed, the Israelites took some of the blood, and put it on the two doorposts and on the lintel of the houses where they lived (Exodus 12:7, Exodus 12:22). The Israelites were protected from the plague of death by the blood of the lambs that had been applied. It was a sign showing that the household was to be spared from death (Exodus 12:13). Today we can be protected from the penalty of eternal death our sins have earned through the shed blood of Christ, our Passover Lamb, who was sacrificed for us (I Corinthians 5:7).
From its first institution in Egypt, the Passover became a yearly reminder of the Eternal’s “passing over” Israel and sparing their firstborn from death. However, the Passover also looked forward to the future when Jesus Christ would come to shed His blood, paying the penalty of human sin in full by His sacrifice, making possible the remission of our sins upon repentance and baptism.
When Jesus was a child, He went to Jerusalem with His parents, who observed the Passover every year (Luke 2:40-42). During Christ’s ministry He continued to keep the Passover (John 2:13; John 2:23). He, as the LORD of the Old Testament, is the one who revealed these festivals to ancient Israel and kept them Himself during His life on earth as a human.
Before His crucifixion, Jesus instructed His disciples how the New Testament Passover should be observed by true Christians in remembrance of His suffering and death (Matthew 26:17-21; Luke 22:13-15).
Jesus instituted the New Testament Passover symbols on the evening of the very day the Passover lambs had always been slain – the 14th of Abib. During supper, on the evening before Jesus’ crucifixion, He instituted the washing of feet as a part of the new way of observing the Passover (John 13:1-17). He commanded His disciples to follow His example and to wash one another’s feet (John 13:14-15). They were commanded to teach others to do likewise (Matthew 28:19-20). He also introduced the symbols of the bread and the wine. Unleavened bread – was to symbolically represent Christ’s body which was brutally beaten (Matthew 26:26-29; Luke 22:19-20). Eating the broken bread symbolizes our faith in the body of Christ, broken for our physical healing. It is through Christ’s stripes that we may be healed (Psalm 103:2-3; Isaiah 53:5-8; I Peter 2:24). Wine – was to symbolically represent His blood, which was to be shed for the forgiveness of past sins (Matthew 26:27-29; Luke 22:20).
If the original Passover lambs had not been slain, the Israelite’s firstborn would have been killed in Egypt. Unless Christ was killed, we would not have a Savior (Exodus 12:6-7; I Corinthians 5:7). As these lambs were types of Christ, and died by bloodshed, so it was necessary for Jesus to die by shedding of His blood for the forgiveness of our sins – our transgression of God’s law (Hebrews 9:22).
After Jesus instituted the New Testament Passover symbols, He gave His disciples some final instructions and warnings, as well as encouragement (John 13 – John 17). Throughout these passages Jesus used this opportunity, not to do away with God’s law, but to emphasize it.
Knowing how excruciatingly painful His death would be Jesus prayed with great fervency to escape the extreme pain and suffering that was to come (Luke 22:41-44; Matthew 26:39-44).
Christ was then betrayed by one His disciples and arrested like a criminal (Matthew 26:47-56).
He was brought informally before the Sanhedrin by night, beaten and spit upon (Matthew 26:67). He was then sent to Pilate and Herod and mocked by their soldiers (Luke 23:11; John 19:2-3).
Before delivering Christ to be crucified, Pilate had Him scourged (Matthew 27:26; Isaiah 52:13-14). After He was crucified, one of the soldiers pierced His side with a spear, which ended His life (Fenton, as well as Moffatt, includes the following sentence as the first part of Matthew 27:50 “But another taking a spear pierced His side, when blood and water came out.” This is supported by the ancient Greek manuscripts; also see John 19:34).
God’s Church kept the Passover more than 10 years after Christ’s crucifixion (Acts 12:4).
The Apostle Paul taught New Testament Christians to keep the Passover as Jesus had done and commanded (I Corinthians 11:23-26).
Christ taught, by example, that the New Testament Passover should be taken only once a year on the 14th of Abib, in the evening, after the 13th has ended. The Passover is a memorial we are to keep in remembrance of Christ’s suffering and death. Memorials are observed annually, on the anniversary of the event they commemorate.
In ancient Israel males had to be circumcised in order to partake of the Passover (Exodus 12:48). In New Testament circumcision is of the heart (Romans 2:29). Those who repent, are baptized, and have received God’s Spirit (through the laying on of hands) have become spiritually circumcised. Therefore, the Passover, unlike any of God’s other annual festivals, is limited to baptized members of God’s Church.
Jesus commanded His disciples to keep the Passover in memory of Him until He returns (I Corinthians 11:26). The apostles kept it, and God’s Church is still keeping it today, exactly as Jesus commanded. It will also be kept by Christ and born-again Christians when He establishes the Kingdom of God on earth (Matthew 26:29).
- The popular belief that God has already determined who is saved and who is lost is simply a false teaching. One’s ultimate fate is not decided for them in advance.
- The word “predestinate” is found in two passages of the Bible – Romans 8:29-30 and Ephesians 1:5, 11. Each time the Greek word used is proorizo – meaning to “ordain” or “decide upon beforehand.” Each context in which the word occurs in both Romans 8 and Ephesians 1 contains a powerful and inspiring discourse on the incredible human potential. It is God’s purpose and plan that those who he calls and justifies become glorified members of the Family of God! In a single passage, the apostle Paul sums up the entire Christian experience from predestination to glorification (Romans 8:30). In this verse, Paul mentions four basic steps in a Christian’s spiritual development: predestination, calling, justification, and glorification. Romans 8:29-30 states, “For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren. Moreover, whom He predestined, these he also called; whom He called, these He also justified; and whom He justified, these He also glorified.” Earlier in the chapter Paul wrote, “For the earnest expectation of the creation eagerly waits for the revealing of the sons of God” (Romans 8:19). This is God’s great plan. It has not changed. It has not been altered. The basic outcome was decided long ago. Although God’s basic plan is fixed, the part of the individual has not been determined. God said to ancient Israel, “I call heaven and earth as witnesses today against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing; therefore close life, that both you and your descendants may live.” (Deuteronomy 30:19). God has given mankind the ability to choose.
- Even though God will eventually give all people an opportunity for salvation (John 5:25; Joel 2:28), the Scriptures make it clear that God is not drawing (syn. calling) everyone at this time (I Corinthians 1:24-29). God takes the first initiative. “No one can come to Me,” Jesus said, “unless the Father who sent Me draws him…” (John 6:44). Once God calls a person, He gives that individual His Holy Spirit upon repentance and baptism. At every turn in one’s Christian life, the individual must make decisions. Those God calls have the help of the Holy Spirit, but they also have the power to reject that help. They even have the power to give up God’s calling and salvation altogether. Those whom God calls have an incredible reward in store for them. It is by the power of God’s Spirit that they can live a Christian life pleasing to Him (I John 3:22-24). Our salvation is ultimately due to His grace, not our own works (Ephesians 2:8-9). Those God calls must put forth the effort to use the power God gives to overcome sin (Revelation 3:21) and bear spiritual fruit (Galatians 5:22-23). It is possible for a Christian, even after responding to God’s calling, to fall away and lose out on salvation (I Corinthians 9:27; Hebrews 6:4-8; Hebrews 10:26-36). God does not know which path each of us will choose. God chose Abraham, yet He tested him to know Abraham’s true character (Genesis 22:12). We see examples of others who went along for a time, but eventually made the decision to reject God’s grace. Saul is a sad example of how a good start does not guarantee a strong finish. In each individual case, God does not know what a person will do because we are free mortal agents. We are not robots. Free choice rules out specific foreknowledge of how one will choose. Free choice means one can choose wrongly. There is no eternal life without the risk of eternal death.
- God calls whom He wills according to His plan because he already intended to call a certain number before the world began. Those that He calls He foreknew. Meaning, it was His plan to call and choose firstfruits (James 1:18) now even though it is not implied that specific knowledge of specific persons was involved. God’s purpose in calling some now is so they can be trained to rule with and under Christ in His soon-coming Kingdom. The Greek word used for “foreknew” is – proginosko – which can refer to general expectations, even of human beings (as in Acts 26:5). It does not mean that God caused specific spermatozoa to impregnate specific ova to produce specific individuals all down through history.
- The first chapter of the book of Ephesians also discusses the topic of predestination: “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ, just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love, having predestined us to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will.” (Verses 3-5) “In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace… (Verse 7), “…in whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestined according to the purpose of Him who works all things according to the counsel of His will, that we who first trusted in Christ should be to the praise of His glory.” (Verses 11-12)
- The entirety of the Bible is a gradual unfolding of God’s great prearranged Master Plan. Jesus Christ was the “…Lamb slain from the foundation of the world” (Revelation 13:8). The apostle Peter in his first epistle to the “elect, according to the foreknowledge of God the Father,” said, “…you were not redeemed with corruptible things, like silver and gold, from your aimless conduct received by tradition from your fathers, but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without spot. He indeed was foreordained before the foundation of the world but was manifest in these last times for you who through Him believe in God, who raised Him from the dead and gave Him glory, so that your faith and hope are in God” (I Peter 1:18-21). Also see II Timothy 1:9.
- Predestination involves God’s basic plan to call certain individuals throughout the ages – primarily since the time of the founding of the New Testament Church (Acts 2). That by no means removes free choice or the power of the individual to act within the limits of God’s Plan. No one is predestined to be saved or lost even though most humans will not be called until later. When one does have his/her opportunity for salvation, it is not automatic. The one who is called has all the help they need, yet they do not have to use it. God is always willing to work with those He calls if they are willing to work with Him. “Beloved, now we are children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is.” (I John 3:2) What a blessing it is to be among those predestined to be called now!
To keep us in the knowledge of the second step in God’s Plan, God instituted the second annual festival, the Feast of Unleavened Bread. The observance of this festival impresses on us that we must do our part to keep the sins Jesus covered with His shed blood out of our lives.
The Feast of Unleavened Bread pictures the keeping of God’s commandments.
Immediately after the Passover, God commanded the Israelites to keep the Feast of Unleavened Bread (Exodus 12:15-20; Leviticus 23:6-8). The first and the seventh days were set apart as “holy” days on which the people were to assemble.
The Israelites were to put all leaven and leavened food out of their homes and off their property during the seven Days of Unleavened Bread (Exodus 13:7; Deuteronomy 16:4). A leavening agent is any substance used to puff up – to produce fermentation, causing dough to rise. Yeast, baking soda, and baking powder are leavening agents.
Leaven is often referred to in the Bible as a symbol for sin (Matthew 16:6; Matthew 16:11-12; Luke 12:1; I Corinthians 5:8). Leaven puffs up, and so does sin. Unleavened bread is a flat bread that contains no leavening agent, and therefore typifies the absence of sin.
God specifically commands His people to eat unleavened bread each day during this festival (Exodus 12:15; Exodus 12:19-20; Leviticus 23:6). The act of eating unleavened bread during these days symbolizes the keeping of the commandments -active obedience to God.
God wants Christians to forsake this world’s ways of sin (Revelation 18:4). We are to continually “strive” – to expend energy and effort – to put sin out of our lives (Hebrews 12:1-4).
As a child, Jesus went up with His parents keeping the Passover and Feast of Unleavened Bread (Luke 2:41-43).
In the year Jesus was crucified, His enemies were expecting Him to keep the Feast of Unleavened Bread (Mark 14:1).
More than 20 years after Jesus had been crucified and resurrected, Paul and his companions had observed the Feast of Unleavened Bread at Philippi (Acts 20:6). This festival was still being kept by God’s Church – it was not abolished at Christ’s death.
The Apostle Paul, inspired by God, told New Testament Christians that they should keep the Feast of Unleavened Bread (I Corinthians 5:7-8). Paul was telling the members of the Corinthian Church to put out spiritual leaven, just as they had already put out all physical leaven in preparation for this festival. They were to keep the Feast not only with unleavened bread, but also with the spiritually unleavened attitude of righteousness, sincerity, and truth.
For those who have been called to Christ by the Father, putting all leaven and leavened products out of their dwellings and off their property for the seven days of this festival pictures their putting sin out of their lives. And since seven is the number God uses to denote completeness and perfection, the seven days of the Feast remind us that God wants His people to work at putting sin completely out of their lives.
This feast was called the “Feast of Weeks” (Deuteronomy 16:9-10; Deuteronomy 16:16). In the Old Testament this feast also went by the name “Feast of Firstfruits” – since it came at the end of the first, or spring, harvest in the Northern Hemisphere (Exodus 23:11; Exodus 34:22; Numbers 28:26). And, since it was the fiftieth day of the spring harvest season, Greek speaking Jews and Christians called it pentekoste which means “fiftieth.” It is called Pentecost in the New Testament.
In the Old Testament, the spring harvest began in the following manner: On the morning of the first day of the week (Sunday) during the Days of Unleavened Bread, a sheaf of newly sickled barley was brought to the priest to be accepted by God. This was called the “wavesheaf offering” and represented the first of the firstfruits harvest. After Christ was resurrected from the dead, He ascended to His Father in heaven (John 20:17). On that same day after returning from heaven, His disciples could touch Him (Matthew 28:9; John 20:19-20; John 20:27-28). This was the first day of the week (Sunday) during the Days of Unleavened Bread. It was on the very same day that the wavesheaf was offered that Jesus was accepted by His Father as the spiritual “wavesheaf” offering in heaven. Christ therefore fulfilled the symbolism of the Old Testament wavesheaf offering. He was the first resurrected Son of God (I Corinthians 15:20; Colossians 1:18). He became the firstborn Son of God – the first human to complete the process of salvation and be “born again” into the Family of God.
It was on the day of Pentecost that God first sent His Spirit to begin His Church – to beget and strengthen the firstfruits He was beginning to call into His Church symbolically represented by the two “wave loaves” (Leviticus 23:17-20). Fifty days after Christ’s sacrifice was accepted in heaven, the Holy Spirit came to the disciples just as He had promised (Acts 2:1-6). Pentecost is now a memorial that commemorates the founding of the New Testament Church of God, for it was on the day of Pentecost in A.D. 31 that the firstfruits of God’s spiritual harvest began to be prepared for reaping into His Family.
Most people remain cut off from access to God’s Spirit, a policy that began in the Garden of Eden. After God created Adam and Eve He gave them basic instructions in the right way to live, and offered them an opportunity to receive His Spirit (Genesis 2:8-9; Genesis 2:16-17). Adam and Eve had mortal life. The tree of life represented eternal life, which can come only from God’s Spirit. If they had eaten of that tree, they would have received God’s Spirit and been begotten of God. Adam and Eve, conditionally, would have received the earnest or down payment of eternal life. God’s Spirit would have enabled them to overcome temptation and grow in righteous character. They, however, did not eat of the tree of life, but rather ate of the forbidden fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil (Genesis 3:1-6). As a result Adam lost his opportunity to conquer Satan and replace him as ruler of this world, and Adam and Eve were denied further access to the tree of life and therefore were cut off from access to God’s Spirit (Genesis 3:16-24). All humanity has been cut off from access to His Spirit and from salvation ever since. Until a son of Adam – the Son of Man – could qualify where Adam failed, could conquer Satan, pay the penalty of human sin, and ransom the world from its kidnapper, no one could restore the government of God on earth, and no one could be given salvation. The Messiah, and He alone, could do all of this. Of necessity, then, God’s Plan required that mankind in general be not yet judged. God has therefore not permitted them to have access to His Spirit, nor access to salvation. They will have their opportunity for salvation in a special resurrection to judgement, which will be after God’s government has been restored on earth. That is why Jesus spoke in parables – to hide His meaning from the general public (Matthew 13:10-15; Mark 4:11-12). God is simply not calling everyone now.
Those now called into God’s Church are a part of God’s spiritual firstfruits – the first group to be offered salvation. God’s Church, is the means by which God is now preparing this world for Christ’s return. It is through His Church that He is preparing the future rulers and teachers of His Kingdom (Revelation 3:21; Revelation 5:10).
God knows that to successfully put sin out of our lives and keep it out, our own human willpower and abilities are not enough. We need the spiritual strength of God’s Holy Spirit to help us obey God’s spiritual law.
Shortly before His trial and crucifixion Jesus told His disciples that He would send the “Comforter” – the Holy Spirit (John 14:15-18; John 14:26). Christ would continue to teach and support His disciples, but not in person, but by means of the Holy Spirit (Luke 24:49; Acts 1:4-5; Acts 1:8). His Spirit had been with the disciples, but Jesus promised to send it to be within them, as it had been within Him (John 14:17).
The disciples miraculously received the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost A.D. 31 (Acts 2:1-13). This marked the beginning of God’s Spirit-begotten New Testament Church. Ecclesia – the Greek word for “church,” means an assembly of “called-out ones.”
In this age before Christ begins to rule over the whole earth, each person is specially chosen (John 6:44; John 6:65). Like the prophets before them, these firstfruits are called for a special mission preparatory to the establishment of God’s Kingdom on earth and the salvation of the majority. The world as a whole must remain cut off from access to salvation until Christ returns. This is why God’s Church does not try to convert anyone. Only God can do that.
Out of the thousands who had heard Jesus Christ, about 120 believed Him (Acts 1:15) and were given God’s Spirit, thus making them the first members of God’s Church (Acts 2:1-4). The 3000 who were begotten of God later that day (Acts 2:41) were from various parts of the world (Acts 2:5, Acts 2:8-11; Acts 2:41).
When Christ returns, He will return to His spiritual Temple (I Corinthians 3:16-17; I Corinthians 6:19; II Corinthians 6:16; Ephesians 2:19-21). God’s Church, composed of those who have God’s Spirit within them, is the spiritual Temple to which Christ will come.
Paul understood that the people of Israel were spiritually blinded (Romans 10:26; Romans 10:18; Romans 10:21). God purposely allowed their blindness (Romans 11:8; Romans 11:25; Romans 11:32). However, Paul also knew that the Israelites would have a future opportunity to receive salvation (Romans 11:26; Romans 11:31; Isaiah 59:20).
When Christ returns, the nations will go to Jerusalem to be taught His way (Micah 4:2). The earth will become full of the knowledge of the Lord (Isaiah 11:9), and He will pour out His Spirit upon all flesh (Joel 2:28).
In addition to being rulers (Revelation 3:21; Revelation 5:10), the Spirit-born children of God will also be priests (Revelation 1:6; Revelation 20:6; Malachi 2:7; Ezekiel 44:23). Just as ancient Israel’s priests were assigned to teach God’s laws, Spirit-born members of God’s Family will be teachers of God’s way of life, helping bring the knowledge of the way to salvation to everyone.
God has given His people a job to do, and He has given them the power to be able to do it. God’s Church could not preach the Gospel to the world without God’s Spirit. Nor could God’s people prepare for their future leadership roles without this divine power. Jesus said that even He could of His own human strength do nothing (John 5:30; John 8:28; John 14:10).
The Father “dwelt” in Jesus through the Holy Spirit. Christ promised the same spiritual help to His disciples (John 14:16). Christ through His Spirit lives in His followers today (Romans 8:9-10; Colossians 1:27; I John 3:24).
It is necessary to obey God to receive the gift of the Holy Spirit (Acts 5:32). Christians must not only have God’s Spirit, but also be yielded to it, letting it transform them so that they become more like Jesus Christ and His Father (Romans 6:13; Romans 8:14; Philippians 2:5). The indwelling of God’s Spirit allows His followers to obey Him, overcome sin, and endure to the end.
Christ’s disciples know they should keep the day of Pentecost (Acts 2:1; Acts 20:6; I Corinthians 16:8). His Church keeps it yet today.
The Feast of Trumpets is another one of God’s annual Holy Days (Leviticus 23:23-25; Numbers 29:1; Psalm 81:1-4).
In addition to the silver trumpets that were blown on the Feast of Trumpets. A ram’s horn [“shophar” – in Hebrew] was also blown annually on this Feast Day. The Feast of Trumpets is a day of gladness and great rejoicing, but it also has a contrasting note of solemnity to it. That is because of the earthshaking events that will occur just before Christ’s return. It was the blast of the ram’s horn that gave great solemnity to the Feast of Trumpets as it was used as an alarm of war (Jeremiah 4:19-21).
God’s faithful servants through the ages have been responsible for warning the world of impending war (Amos 3:6-7; Ezekiel 33:2-9). Old Testament prophets, such as Isaiah, Jeremiah and Ezekiel, have used their voices like trumpets to blast warnings to God’s people. And God’s servants today are doing the same thing.
World War III is coming! War is coming because of sin (Isaiah 58:1; Hosea 4:6; Hosea 8:1-4).
The Feast of Trumpets not only pictures the terrible time of misery and war to befall this generation, but also the intervention of Jesus Christ to save the living from annihilation (Matthew 24:21-22) and to set up the government of God on earth and to rule as King of kings (Revelation 11:15-18; Revelation 19:16).
As the disciples saw Christ ascend to heaven in A.D. 31, two angels told them that He would come again (Acts 1:11). Jesus also told His disciples that He would come again (John 14:3).
The sign that will announce the return of Jesus Christ is the sound of a loud trumpet (Matthew 24:30-31). The trumpet of war will sound, and the seventh trumpet announcing the victory of the King of kings will be blown before this generation passes away.
The time-setting for the blowing of the seven trumpets, found in the book of Revelation, is the time of God’s wrath against rebellious mankind (Revelation 6:16-17).
The First resurrection also occurs at the Second Coming of Jesus Christ. When Christ returns to earth with the shout of an archangel and the trumpet of God, the resurrection of the “firstfruits” will occur (I Corinthians 15:52; I Thessalonians 4:16-17).
True Christians who have yielded their lives to God in obedience to His law and who have received His Holy Spirit will be changed from physical human flesh to immortal spirit life (I Corinthians 15:50-54; Revelation 20:6). These are the elect who will be raised from the dead and given immortal life in the first resurrection, as well as those elect who are still alive at Christ’s Second Coming.
Jesus Christ will reward the saints – give them crowns and offices of rulership – at His coming (Revelation 11:18; Isaiah 40:10; II Timothy 4:8; I Peter 5:4).
Members of God’s Church today rejoice on the Feast of Trumpets because they look forward to the return of Jesus Christ when they will be made immortal, and will reign with Him on the earth. But this utopian world tomorrow will not happen immediately. Satan must first be put away. The binding of Satan and the demons is pictured by the Day of Atonement, the next step in God’s Master Plan of salvation.
For nearly 6,000 years Satan has invisibly swayed the nations, governments, and leaders. He has inspired world wars and helped cause the misery, hate, violence, and suffering that have plagued mankind throughout history. Satan has been this world’s ruler ever since God gave him that office. However, his days in that office are numbered. Jesus Christ has qualified to replace Satan, and He will replace Him when He returns (Revelation 5:12; Revelation 19:11-16).
This fifth annual Sabbath, the Day of Atonement, pictures the time when Jesus Christ returns to earth as King of kings and Lord of lords to take over the government of this world and depose Satan the devil. Only then, will the world have peace at last!
Satan will be bound for a thousand years, no longer able to deceive the nations or influence mankind to sin (Revelation 20:1-3).
The Day of Atonement is perhaps the most unusual Holy Day, for it is the one day on which God has commanded His people to fast – to abstain from food and drink from sunset to sunset (Leviticus 23:32; Isaiah 58:3). Afflict is translated from the Hebrew word anah, which means “to be afflicted, to humble oneself, to oppress, to depress, to fast.” The purpose of afflicting our souls on the Day of Atonement is to humble ourselves before God (Psalm 35:13). Fasting on the Day of Atonement is a vivid reminder of the state of mind necessary for salvation – of humility, godly sorrow, earnestly seeking God and His way.
The world today is puffed up with pride and does not realize it is cut off from God because of sin (Isaiah 59:2).
The Day of Atonement follows nine days after the Feast of Trumpets (Leviticus 23:27-32; Numbers 29:7).
Leviticus chapter 16 details what God commanded the Levitical high priests to do on the Day of Atonement. These rituals, which are no longer performed, pictured the binding of Satan and the restoration of God’s government on the earth. The purpose of the rituals God gave His Levitical priests was to remind the Israelites of their sins, that the penalty for sin was death, and that they would need a Savior to pay the penalty for them. The symbolism of the sacrificial laws was fulfilled by Christ’s death in A.D. 31. Therefore the sacrifices need not be offered today, nor can they be, because there is no functioning Levitical priesthood, nor is anyone else authorized to perform these physical duties.
On the Day of Atonement, the high priest took two young goats from the congregation of Israel (Leviticus 16:5-7). The two goats, in physical appearance, were similar. But they were to portray two vastly different symbolic roles. The LORD’S Goat – was sacrificed by the high priest as a sin offering for all Israel. Its’ blood, symbolic of Christ’s shed blood, was then sprinkled on the mercy seat. The killing of the LORD’S Goat and sprinkling its blood on the mercy seat pictured the method by which humans can be reconciled to God – through the sacrifice of an innocent victim. Christ was that victim. He voluntarily took our guilt with Him on His cross, paying the penalty in full. Our guilt is atoned for, and it ceases to exist if we accept Christ as our Savior and quit sinning. The sins of the people were borne by the goat even as Christ bore our sins on His cross (Hebrews 9:28). The Azazel Goat – represented Satan. Originally it meant “escape goat” – the goat that was allowed to escape. Today the word scapegoat signifies “one who bears blame or guilt for others.” This is not the meaning that God inspired. Azazel, Satan, bears his own guilt in deceiving mankind and will be punished for it. It was, on the head of this goat, that the sins of Israel were placed. Azazel was then led into the wilderness, symbolically carrying the people’s sins with him. Satan is a spirit being and therefore immortal (Luke 20:35-36), so to signify that, the goat was permitted to live. When Jesus returns, Satan’s part of the blame for mankind’s sins will be placed on him, and he will then be removed from the presence of man (Revelation 20:1-3). Justice will be done.
Both the high priest and the goat represented Christ. It was not possible for the high priest to die every year to picture Christ’s death. That had to be symbolized by the goat. Nor could the goat, after it was killed, represent the risen Christ, our eternal High Priest. The human high priest represented the living, resurrected Christ. Christ, after His sacrifice and resurrection entered behind the veil to the throne of God in heaven (Hebrews 6:19-20). It was His own blood that he presented as an offering for sin (Hebrews 9:11-12). The high priest, symbolically taking the atoning blood to God’s throne, represented and symbolically did the work of the risen Christ. Christ is now our High Priest (Hebrews 7:25; Hebrews 4:14-16; I John 1:9). and is seated at the right hand of God (I Peter 3:22; Hebrews 9:24; Hebrews 8:1). Christ is our living Savior.
The Levitical rituals, even though they clearly picture the meaning of the Day of Atonement, are no longer performed (Hebrews 9:8-14; Hebrews 10:1-4; Hebrews 10:10-14). However, God’s Church does fast on this annual Holy Day. The reason the sacrifices are obsolete, and fasting is not, is because the rituals were commanded to be performed by the priests as a type of the sacrifice of the death of Christ but fasting was commanded for the entire congregation. Fasting for spiritual reasons, according to the Scriptures, means going without food and water (Exodus 34:28; Deuteronomy 9:18; Esther 4:16; Acts 9:8-9). True Christians are spiritual Israelites, and they obey the commands God gave to all His people. All God’s people refrain from work on His Sabbaths, and they gather for worship and fellowship on His holy convocations.
The New Testament Church kept the Day of Atonement (Acts 27:9). All biblical scholars know that the fast refers to the Day of Atonement. The evangelist Luke wrote this more than thirty years after Christ’s crucifixion.
The Day of Atonement pictures freedom as well. The Jubilee Year was given to the Israelites so their poor might be released from debts they were unable to pay. Every fiftieth year all debts were pardoned, and those who had sold themselves into slavery were freed. Land lost through poverty was restored to the family originally owning it (Leviticus 25:9-10). This was done on the Day of Atonement, thus connecting this Holy Day with a release from bondage. This is typical of man’s future release form spiritual bondage – release from all spiritual debts and sins – freedom from the temptations and deceptions of Satan and his demons.
The word atonement means “to make at one with.” This day symbolized God and man being set at one – literally the Day of At-one-ment!
The New Testament Church taught the meaning and the observance of God’s annual festivals and Holy Days throughout the Roman Empire including the doctrine of the Millennium – the thousand-year rule of Christ and the Spirit-born saints (Revelation 20:1-6).
The truth about the Millennium continued to be taught long after the death of the apostles. However, within a few hundred years it was rejected by false Christianity.
The Feast of Tabernacles begins five days after the Day of Atonement (Leviticus 23:33-34; Deuteronomy 16:13-15). The feast begins with a Holy Day in which all ordinary work is forbidden, and on which people were to assemble before God (Leviticus 23:35). The Feast lasts for seven days (Leviticus 23:34; Deuteronomy 16:15).
The Feast of Tabernacles is also known as the “Feast of Booths.” This is because during the seven days of the Feast, the ancient Israelites were to live in booths (Leviticus 23:40-42). A booth or tabernacle is “a temporary dwelling.” God commanded the ancient Israelites to live in temporary shelters made of tree branches while observing the Feast of Tabernacles. Today, God’s people who attend the Feast stay in temporary dwellings such as tents, campers, motels or hotels, and the like. By staying in temporary dwellings during the Feast of Tabernacles, God’s people are reminded that this physical life is only temporary, and that they are merely strangers and pilgrims in this present life, waiting to inherit the Kingdom of God.
For ancient Israel, living in booths during the Feast was to be a continual reminder of Israel’s forty-year sojourn in the wilderness (Leviticus 23:42-43). A sojourn is “a temporary stay.” During their forty years in the wilderness the Israelites had no permanent dwellings. Israel’s forefathers Abraham, Isaac and Jacob also lived in temporary dwellings as heirs, but not yet inheritors (Hebrews 11:9-13). True Christians today are “strangers and pilgrims” in this physical temporary life (I Peter 2:11; John 17:11, 14). They are separate from the world (Revelation 18:4). They, too, are heirs, not yet inheritors, of their permanent dwelling place, the promised Kingdom of God! What is permanent is eternal life.
The Feast of Tabernacles, besides being called the Feast of Booths, is sometimes called the “Feast of Ingathering” (Exodus 23:16; Exodus 34:22; Leviticus 23:39). This harvest festival was to be a time of great rejoicing and thanksgiving for God’s abundant blessings. It pictures the future ingathering of the great spiritual harvest of Spirit-begotten human beings into God’s Family during the Millennium.
The spring grain harvest is small compared to the great fall harvest. The first harvest is represented by a single day – the festival of Pentecost. It pictures the spiritual firstfruits, the relatively small number of people whom God has called into His Church before Christ’s return, when they will be born into God’s Family. The Feast of Tabernacles lasts seven days and pictures a large harvest. People will be born physically, called of God, and, after growing in godly character, born spiritually into His Family all during the thousand years!
God, working through His chosen servants, chooses the place (or places – Exodus 20:24) where the Feast is to be observed (Deuteronomy 16:16).
Jesus kept the Feast of Tabernacles even though the Jews sought to kill Him (John 7:1-14). With such dangerous circumstances, if ever there was an excuse not to attend one of God’s feasts, this would have been one. And yet Jesus not only attended, but by the middle of the Feast stood before the assembled crowd, teaching them about God’s Master Plan. He set an example for us. Jesus kept all of God’s Holy Days, and commandments too.
In the Millennium, all Israelite tribes, in addition to Judah, will keep the Feast of Tabernacles (Hosea 12:8-9). Gentile nations will also keep this feast (Zechariah 14:16).
Any nation that at first refuses to keep the Feast of Tabernacles during the Millennium will receive no rain (Zechariah 14:17). If they continue to refuse to obey, they will receive “the plague” (Zechariah 14:18-19).
The divinely set theme of the Feast of Tabernacles is “you shall surely rejoice” (Deuteronomy 16:14-15) which can also be translated “be altogether joyful.”
The Feast of Tabernacles is a Family affair (Deuteronomy 12:7, 12).
God states that good food and drink should be enjoyed during the Feast (Deuteronomy 14:26). For ancient Israel it was a time of rejoicing because the abundant harvest was reaped just before the feast. Today it is a foretaste of the prosperity, happiness, peace, and joy that will exist on the earth when Christ is the King.
God commands that His people save a tithe of their income throughout the year to be spent in traveling to, and attending, His feasts (Deuteronomy 14:22-26). This is an additional tithe, or second tithe.
When the Holy Spirit is poured out upon all flesh during the Millennium, the basic attitude or nature of humans will change (Ezekiel 36:26-27; Isaiah 11:9). Once God puts His Spirit within repentant mankind during the Millennium, people will begin to obey God and express outgoing love and concern for others. It will be a time of great rejoicing!
During the Millennium God will also change the nature of animals so that they all will be peaceful and harmless (Isaiah 11:6-8; Ezekiel 34:25; Hosea 2:18).
During this time God will be King of kings, and Lord of lords (Revelation 19:16). He will rule from Jerusalem on the earth (Jeremiah 3:17). The Spirit-born saints will rule with and under Him (Daniel 7:14, 18, 27; Revelation 1:6; Revelation 5:10; I Corinthians 6:2). These Spirit-born teachers in God’s Family will take a personal part in teaching God’s law and turning people to righteousness (Isaiah 30:20-21; Jeremiah 31:34; Habakkuk 2:14).
In the Millennium people will no longer have the influence of Satan to contend with (Revelation 20:1-3). This present evil society in which we live will also be gone!
There will be world peace (Hosea 2:18) and people will convert their weapons of war into farming tools (Isaiah 2:4).
The world will be free of sickness and disease (Isaiah 33:24; Jeremiah 30:17). The handicapped will be healed – both mentally and physically (Isaiah 35:3-6). Education about how to be healthy, and the miraculous healing of all sickness and disease, will mean good health for everyone in the world tomorrow. Neither will fear and worry exist in the wonderful world tomorrow (Jeremiah 33:10-11; Zechariah 8:4-5).
God will bless the inhabitants of the Millennium with rain in due season (Ezekiel 34:26; Isaiah 30:23-24; Amos 9:13; Jeremiah 31:12). Beautiful forests will abound, and the deserts will blossom as the rose (Isaiah 41:14-20; Isaiah 35:1-2; Isaiah 35:6-7).
God will give the whole world a pure language so all can serve Him with one accord (Zephaniah 3:9). People everywhere will speak, read, and write the same language.
God intends the Feast of Tabernacles to separate and free His people from the world and its evil influences. This great festival gives them a special time and setting, in which they are free from the routine cares of this world, to think more about God’s purpose for life and how to attain their human potential.
Billions have died without ever having had an opportunity to understand the purpose of life and to be saved. Satan has deceived the whole world (Revelation 12:9). However, these billions are not, through no fault of their own, “lost forever” or condemned to the “lake of fire.” The answer to what happens to them is revealed in the final step of God’s Master Plan of Salvation for mankind – pictured by the seventh and final Holy Day. After the Millennium, they will be resurrected to mortal life and given their opportunity to understand God’s truth, to be begotten by God’s Spirit, to grow in His character, and to become Spirit-composed members of His ruling Family.
The Bible shows that God does not intend for everyone to understand His truth at this time. If He wanted everyone to understand at this time, everyone would understand. God has allowed the vast majority of mankind to be blinded by Satan to His truth (Romans 10:18-21; Romans 11:8-26). It is God’s purpose and plan that, until Christ returns, only those He specially calls will understand (John 6:44; John 6:65).
Just as the week is not complete without the seventh-day Sabbath, God’s Master Plan is not complete without this seventh and final festival – the Last Great Day.
God commanded His people to observe an eighth day of worship immediately following the seven days of the Feast of Tabernacles (Leviticus 23:34-36). Because God commanded this festival to be kept immediately following the Feast of Tabernacles it was associated with the Feast and was called “the eighth day” (Leviticus 23:39-42). It came to be known among Christians as the Last Great Day. However, it is clearly a separate and distinct Holy Day.
Jesus kept the Last Great Day of the Feast (John 7:37-39). He spoke on the eve of the Last Great Day, after the traditional water-pouring ceremony, which occurred on the seventh day of the Feast of Tabernacles. Jesus was not talking about physical thirst but was revealing that if any man have spiritual thirst, and believes on Him, he can come to Him and drink in the Holy Spirit. But, as Jesus made clear in John 6:44, no man can could come to Him unless the Father draws or calls that person. For the vast majority, the fulfillment of Jesus’ words must wait until the spiritual fulfillment of the Last Great Day.
God will eventually call everyone and give them a full opportunity for salvation. He is not willing that any should perish (II Peter 3:9; I Timothy 2:4). However, everyone is not saved at the same time. There is an order of resurrections (I Corinthians 15:22-24).
It is not possible to be saved in any way except through Jesus Christ (John 3:16-17; John 10:9; Acts 4:12; I Timothy 2:5-6). “Even as in Adam all die, even so in Christ all shall be made alive” (I Corinthians 15:22). Everyone who has ever lived and died will be resurrected. Christ was the first to be resurrected. The next to be resurrected will be the saints who lived before Christ’s Second Coming. They will be resurrected at His return – at the first resurrection (I Thessalonians 4:13-17; I Corinthians 15:50-54).
The second resurrection occurs after the Millennium is over (Revelation 20:5).
Satan will be restrained, prevented from deceiving the nations during the Millennium (Revelation 20:1-3). He will also be restrained during the Great White Throne Judgment period (Revelation 20:10). In the lake of fire, Satan will be able to do nothing. God will have rendered him completely powerless – unable to deceive “the rest of the dead” who will then be resurrected to have their opportunity to understand God’s Plan of Salvation. Freed from Satan’s spiritual influences, they will be given their one and only opportunity for salvation through repentance, baptism, receiving God’s Spirit, and growing in Godly character during a second mortal life.
The dead who stand before God in the second resurrection – or Great White Throne Judgment (Revelation 20:11-12; Daniel 7:9-10) – do not include true Christians today, because they will appear before Christ and receive their rewards at the first resurrection, when Christ returns. Nor do they include those converted during the Millennium, because they too will have already inherited God’s Kingdom during the thousand years, after living a normal life span. The dead who stand before God in this resurrection are all those who died in spiritual ignorance in past ages. This will be a resurrection to mortal life.
Jesus spoke of a time of judgment when those ancient peoples would be given an opportunity to understand what He had been preaching to the people of Chorazin, Bethsaida and Capernaum (Matthew 11:21-24). Christ mentioned the people of Tyre and Sidon, Sodom, Nineveh in Jonah’s time and the Queen of the South (Matthew 12:41-42). All of these examples of people who lived in different generations are compared to those who lived in the cities and towns of Jesus’ day, the majority of whom did not understand or believe His message. He tells us that they will all be resurrected with the generation that lived in His day. Jesus gave enough examples of people living at widespread times to prove that most of humanity will be brought back to life at the same time on this earth. Even babies and children who die untimely deaths will be resurrected then. They will all rise in the second resurrection because they had not yet received their opportunity for salvation during their first lifetime. This group includes all people of all times except those who will have already been born of God, and those relatively few people who already had their opportunity to receive eternal life, but deliberately rejected it and sinned willfully. The incorrigibly wicked will be resurrected in the third and final resurrection and destroyed in the lake of fire (Revelation 20:13-15).
The prophet Ezekiel described a resurrection of dead Israelites back to mortal life (Ezekiel 37:1-14). This resurrection is clearly a resurrection to physical life – because the bodies have skin and bones and require air to breathe (Ezekiel 37:5-9). God will put His Spirit in these billions of people (Ezekiel 37:14). This is the second resurrection.
Israel is a type of all nations. Ezekiel’s prophecies describe a time when both Israelites and Gentiles (Ezekiel 16:55) who died in spiritual ignorance will be given an opportunity to receive salvation.
Jesus Christ will be the Chief Judge in the Last Great Judgment (Daniel 7:9-10; Psalm 9:7; John 5:21-22; Acts 10:42). The saints will judge with Him (I Corinthians 6:2). Christ will judge everyone in accordance with “what they do” after they are resurrected to mortal life. All are judged by the Word of God – the Bible (Ecclesiastes 12:13-14; Daniel 7:10; Romans 2:6-11; II Corinthians 5:10; Revelation 20:12). God judges His children by evaluating how well they live by His written Word. Their rewards in God’s Kingdom will depend on their character development during their mortal life. It is a process requiring time and opportunity for learning and growth.
True Christians are being judged today (I Peter 4:17). We are being judged so that we might avoid condemnation (I Corinthians 11:32). Those resurrected after the Millennium will be judged the same way. They, like Spirit-begotten Christians today will be given enough time to prove they are willing to live God’s way through a life of overcoming and obedience to God.
In this period of judgment – the Great White Throne Judgement – not only will the Bible be opened so they can understand what is written in it, but the Book of Life will also be opened so their names can be written in it.
Isaiah describes this judgment period (Isaiah 65:20-25). He strongly indicates (verse 20) that those resurrected then will live for a hundred years. This verse further indicates that the child (of God) will, at the end of this period, be changed – the fleshly cells of the body will die as the person puts on immortality. This death of the physical cells of the body also occurs to Christians who are alive at Christ’s Second Coming. They, too, die but do not sleep the sleep of death; they are in the “twinkling of an eye” changed to immortality. The wicked sinner at the end of the hundred years will be under a curse and will die in the lake of fire.
The Last Great Day pictures the completion of God’s Master Plan – the Great White Throne Judgment period after the Millennium.
This doctrine shows that God works and deals with mankind through fallible, imperfect human beings He chooses and sets apart for His purpose.
From the books of Moses to the book of Revelation we find the laying on of hands ceremony used in a variety of circumstances. It was performed as an official ceremony, generally by an individual ordained or commissioned by God. The ceremony centered around God’s servant praying aloud as he placed his hands on the recipient of his petitions. It was a formal request to God, usually for a specific blessing, gift, or authority as in ordination. Things that are only God’s to give. Usually a simple, short ceremony, but filled with meaning.
God commands that the physical act of the laying on of hands be used by true Christians.
Laying on of Hands – For a Specific Blessing
In Genesis 48 is recorded a very moving example of the laying on of hands when Jacob blessed his two grandsons Ephraim and Manasseh (Genesis 48:14-19). Jacob (Israel) went on to bless the boys individually, handing down the blessings promised to Abraham. The laying on of hands way symbolic of this transferal by God’s authority.
Laying on of Hands – In Recognition of Authority or For Ordination
In Old Testament times instructed Aaron and his successors to lay their hands on certain of the sacrificial animals. This was done as a symbol of the figurative transfer of sin to the animal to be sacrificed (Exodus 29:10-20; Leviticus 8:14-23; Numbers 8:10-14). Of course, this all had symbolic meaning since only Christ’s blood really atoned for sin (Hebrews 10:4).
The laying on hands is used in ordaining His servants to positions of responsibility. Moses passed on his authority to Joshua by laying hands on him (Numbers 27:18-23). Notice that it was not Moses who put Joshua over all Israel. Moses merely laid hands on Joshua as a symbol of the fact that God had placed him in that office.
There are many New Testament examples of a person being ordained to an office through the laying on of hands. In Acts 6:5-6 seven deacons were set before the apostles, who prayed and laid hands on them putting them into the office of deacon. Acts 13:2-3 – records the ordinations of Barnabas and Paul. Again, God’s will was carried out by His ministers praying and laying hands on the ones He had chosen. This is another example of God’s issuing authority through His already ordained and chosen human servants.
Timothy was admonished by Paul, “Do not lay hands on anyone hastily…” (I Timothy 5:22). He was telling Timothy not to ordain anyone to an office on the spur of the moment, but to carefully and prayerfully consider the ordination first.
The laying on of hands is still used today in ordaining qualified men to be deacons and ministers, and qualified women to be deaconesses. God has ordained that His Church employ the laying on of hands as a physical symbol of the authority that God has placed in His Church and with His true ministers.
Laying on of Hands – For Receiving the Holy Spirit
The Holy Spirit is a gift from God (Acts 2:38).
Christ gave the ministers of His Church the authority to baptize those who have truly repented of their sins. Baptism is followed by the laying on of hands for the receipt of the Holy Spirit (Acts 19:5-6; Acts 8:15-17).
God’s Spirit is placed in an individual through the laying on of hands by a faithful minster of God (II Timothy 1:6-7). Even Simon the Sorcerer recognized that the apostles had genuine God-given authority – authority which he saw demonstrated through the laying on of hands. Simon learned that this power could not be purchased with money (Acts 8:18-24).
Laying on of Hands – For Healing
Christ set the example in healing (Luke 4:40; Mark 6:4-5).
Concerning His true ministers Christ stated: “…they will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover” (Mark 16:18). In Acts 28:8 we find that Paul laid his hands on Publius’ father to heal him.
James 5:14 is a command from God to those who are sick: “Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord.” No minister’s hands are special or holy. No olive oil has any mysterious power. It is God Himself who heals through His Holy Spirit; but He has prescribed a physical act to show our faith and trust in Him and to show our acceptance of the authority He has placed with His servants (James 5:15-16).
The Holy Spirit is the power and energy of the God Family, as well as the very nature, life, and mind of God. The Holy Spirit is not another spiritual entity, a divine person, or being. The doctrine of the “trinity” is simply found nowhere in the Bible.
God’s Spirit fills the entire universe, much like air is present everywhere on the earth (Psalm 139:7-12; Jeremiah 23:23-24).
When referring to the Holy Spirit the Scriptures use the Hebrew words ruach qodesh , and the Greek word pneuma – both meaning “air,” “breath” or “wind.” God uses various symbols (air, wind, water, and oil) to depict His Holy Spirit. Of these, the one He uses the most is wind, air, or breath – simply because this the best symbol available to physical human beings living in a physical universe. Air is life-giving, it is powerful, and it is everywhere and so is God’s Spirit.
The Spirit of God is the power by which God (the ultimate source of all power) created all things (Psalm 104:30; Jeremiah 32:17). Jesus Christ, the “Word” – [Greek – Logos] of the God Family (John 1:1-3, 14) “spoke and it was done” by God’s Spirit (Psalm 33:6, 8-9). It was also by the power of God’s Spirit that He renewed the surface of the earth (Psalm 104:30). God the Father created all things by Jesus Christ (Ephesians 3:9; Colossians 1:13-17).
God sustains and rules His vast creation by His great power (Nehemiah 9:6; Hebrews 1:2-3; Psalm 66:7).
Even as a human, Jesus Christ still had authority from the Father to give a word, or issue a command, and “it was done” by the power of God’s Spirit. He exercised that power by casting out a demon with a command (Matthew 8:16). He also used that power to heal a crippled man (Matthew 9:6), to open a deaf man’s ears so he could hear (Mark 7:34), and to calm the wind and the sea (Mark 4:39), as well as work many other mighty miracles!
God’s Holy Spirit is present in the Father and in the Son (John 4:24). It is also in all the holy angels (Hebrews 1:7), as well as being in God’s people (Romans 8:9).
God makes the Holy Spirit available through Jesus Christ (I Corinthians 15:22; John 1:4; John 10:10; John 7:37-39; I John 5:11-12).
The Holy Spirit is a gift from God (Acts 10:45; II Timothy 1:6).
God’s Spirit is given to a person by the laying on of hands and prayer by one of God’s true ministers following baptism (Acts 8:17-23; Acts 19:1-6; II Timothy 1:6-7).
Repentance and baptism are required steps to receiving the Holy Spirit (Mark 1:14-15; Acts 2:38). God gives His Spirit to those who obey (Acts 5:32).
Through God’s Spirit, we have the ability to obey God and thereby grow in the Holy and righteous character of God as we allow His Spirit to lead us along the path of righteousness (Romans 8:14). Those with God’s Spirit actually come to think and act the way God does (Ephesians 2:5).
A person who does not have God’s Holy Spirit does not belong to Christ and is not a true Christian (Romans 8:9).
God’s Spirit unites with “the spirit in man” (the human spirit) in order that one who is being called, by God (John 6:44), might understand spiritual things (I Corinthians 1:9-14; Romans 8:6-11).
Each individual is known by his or her “fruits,” or “works” (Matthew 7:20). God expects those He has called to bear much fruit (John 15:1-8). The fruits that are to be borne, are the fruits of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23).
God’s Holy Spirit inspires His people (I Peter 1:10-11, 21; Mark 12:36; Acts 1:16; Isaiah 28:25; Acts 13:1-2; Acts 13:3-4; Acts 8:26-29).
The horrible period of time, just before the end of this age, when Satan’s wrath reaches its peak, was described by Jesus Christ in – Matthew 24:21-22.
God will need to supernaturally intervene to prevent total annihilation.
Jesus will return in power and glory to reestablish God’s government on the earth and set up the Kingdom of God.
During this time of Great Tribulation Christ promises His Church a place of safety (Revelation 3:10). The Philadelphia church is to be protected during this time. This verse does not refer to any period of temptation the world went through during the time the original, small church at Philadelphia existed. It can only refer to the Great Tribulation.
The trial takes place for “an hour.” (The same “hour” the 10 kings receive power with the beast (Revelation 17:12′ Revelation 13:5).
God has revealed enough in the Bible to make it clear that He will provide for His Church to go to a place of protection at the right time, to the right place and in the right way.
The initial fulfillment of this occurred when the Church fled Jerusalem prior to its destruction in 70 A.D. The Greek word for flee used in (Luke 21:21) – means to escape or run away, to take flight (not flying in the air).
A second related event involves the same prophecy (what happened in 70 A.D.). However, there will be an end-time fulfillment of this text as well – it is an urgent, emergency escape (Matthew 24:16-21). This refers to the people of God in Judea. Those of God’s Church who happen to be in this geographical area when the abomination of desolation or surrounding of Jerusalem comes to pass must literally flee for their lives! The must flee, run away, escape (not fly in the sky by plane) to the mountains. Jerusalem is surrounded by mountains. These mountains may not be the final destination, but would have to be passed through to ultimate protection.
A third related event concerns God’s Church from about A.D. 325 to about 1585 (Revelation 12:6). This scripture describes the Church after Christ’s ascension to God’s throne (Revelation 12:5) and before the end-time war in heaven (Revelation 12:7). The period is mentioned is 1,260 days, which in this case prophetically refers to 1,260 years, according to the day for a year principle found in (Numbers 14:34; Ezekiel 4:5). During this time the Church fled into the wilderness, away from centers of influence and into the less populated areas to escape persecution from the Catholic Church.
The fourth related event concerns the very end time, just three and a half years before Christ returns.
After the war in heaven pitting Michael and his angels against the devil and his angels (Revelation 12:7), Satan is cast to the earth and starts a new, vigorous persecution against the Church (Revelation 12:13).
Revelation 12:14 – shows that the woman (the Church) is given two winds of a great eagle that she might “fly” to “her place.” Here the Greek word literally means “fly” as a bird or plane does, not flee or escape by other means. Here she is nourished (fed physically and spiritually) for three and a half years (“time, times, and half a time”). However, this is not the only possible explanation. A similar statement is found in Exodus 19:4 – here the Israelites walked out of Egypt.
The “woman” symbolizes the Church of God, that group of people who are individually begotten and led by the Holy Spirit and who are living in obedience to God (Romans 8:9; Acts 5:32).
The Bible indicates that there are certain others in the Church who do not make this flight (Revelation 12:17). They face not just persecution from Satan but war with him, and there is no promise of divine protection for them.
The place to which the Church flees is the wilderness (Revelation 12:14). This indicates a solitary, sparsely populated area.
The place of safety will be a place of protection but it will not yet be God’s Kingdom. Those who go will not yet have endured to the end. They will still be able to sin and fall away.
The Bible shows who will be counted worthy to escape (Luke 21:36; Luke 9:24; Matthew 24:42-51). If we do our part, God will protect us during the time of trouble to come!
Sin is defined in I John 3:4 as “lawlessness” or “the transgression of God’s law.” Every human being has sinned (Romans 3:23; Romans 5:12). The penalty, “or the wages of sin” is death (Romans 6:21, 23). Since all who have ever lived have sinned (except for Jesus Christ), all have therefore earned the penalty of sin. That penalty is eternal death – complete cessation of life forever.
However, God in His great love and mercy has provided a way by which we can avoid paying that ultimate penalty (John 3:16; Romans 5:8-10). We can have our sins blotted out by Jesus Christ’s shed blood, allowing us to be forgiven of our transgressions of God’s law, and be delivered from the penalty of eternal death (Acts 2:38; Acts 3:19). Acts 2:38 summarizes the initial steps of the salvation process. The first word in the passage is repent. Repentance is a pivotal step to salvation. Jesus said in Luke 13:3, 5, “Unless you repent you will all likewise perish.”
The Hebrew and Greek words from which repent, and repentance are translated mean “to turn” and “to change direction.” Real repentance is exactly that. It is a complete about-face from disobedience toward God to obedience and cooperation with Him. One must repent of sin. To repent of sin simply means to stop sinning and begin submitting to, and obeying, God’s law. God’s law shows the way to peace, happiness, and joy. It is one of God’s greatest gifts to humanity. The many evils the human race suffers from are not caused by the law of God, but by the breaking of it!
True repentance is something far more than a temporary emotional experience or a human feeling of remorse. Real repentance, which is the result of “godly sorrow” (II Corinthians 7:10) involves a permanent change in our thoughts and behavior. Repentance is not merely an outward show, where no real change occurs. It is a deep, heartfelt, moving experience (Joel 2:12-13).
No amount of human works can bring about the forgiveness of sin. Beads, indulgences, penance, fasting, or afflicting one’s flesh in some other way will not erase the guilt of sin. We cannot punish ourselves for sin, and therefore avoid God’s punishment. Only a repentant spirit will bring about God’s mercy. We must seek His mercy and forgiveness.
Sin is against God the Father. He is the lawgiver whose perfect law we have broken. To repent means to be so humbled and broken up at the thought of having rebelled against Him that we, with Godly sorrow, turn to Him for mercy and forgiveness and begin to live the way God wants instead of our own selfish way. It involves putting God before all else (Matthew 6:33; Matthew 10:37; Luke 14:26).
By studying God’s Word, we begin to understand that we fall far short and need God’s forgiveness and help. Our call to repentance comes from God, who puts within us the desire to come to Christ (John 6:44, 65). It is a gift from God. The Apostle Paul said, “…the goodness of God leads you to repentance” (Romans 2:4). It is God who grants repentance (Acts 11:18; II Timothy 2:25).
Repentance is positive. Not only does one escape the eternal death penalty of sin if they truly repent but God’s way of life also leads to abundant blessings. God wants us to give up only those things which are bad for us – those that hurt us physically and spiritually. Jesus said, “…I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly” (John 10:10).
The example of Kind David’s heartfelt repentance is a model to follow (Psalm 51:1-19). David did not try to justify his sin. He did not attempt to blame others. He confessed what he had done and asked God for mercy and forgiveness to cleanse him of his sins.
We must bear fruits of repentance (Matthew 3:8). God’s eyes are upon those who are of a meek and contrite spirit, and who tremble at His Word (Isaiah 66:2).
Real repentance requires a permanent change of direction. It represents a complete forsaking of the dead works of our former way of life (Hebrews 6:1). It is a total commitment to a course from which there is no turning back (Luke 9:62).
The fourth commandment is – “Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy” (Exodus 20:8-11; Deuteronomy 5:12-15).
The Sabbath is to be a holy convocation (a commanded assembly) (Leviticus 23:2).
The Sabbath was made for man (Mark 2:27).
Jesus Christ is Lord of the Sabbath because He made it (Mark 2:28). God the Father created all things through Him (Colossians 1:13-16).
God made the Sabbath on the seventh day of creation (Genesis 2:2).
God rested on the Sabbath (Genesis 2:3). Did God rest because He was tired? (Isaiah 40:28).
The observance of the Sabbath was to be a sign of identification between God and His people (Exodus 32:13-17). The Sabbath is special to God. It is a memorial of creation – a sign identifying God as Creator and those who keep it as His people.
Days begin and end at sunset according to God (Genesis 1:5, 8, 13, 19, 23, 31).
God commands us to celebrate His holy time from “evening to evening.” That is from sunset to sunset (Leviticus 23:32).
God gave us instruction on how He intended the Sabbath to be kept (Isaiah 58:13).
The Sabbath to be observed each week regardless of pressing duties, rush business, or ripe crops (Exodus 34:21).
God commands us to prepare for the Sabbath day (Exodus 16:23-25).
God will bless a faithful Sabbath keeper (Isaiah 58:14; Isaiah 56:2-7).
Christ intended the Sabbath to benefit mankind (Exodus 23:12) Notice the words “rest” and “refreshed.” The word “Sabbath” means “rest.” The Sabbath allows us to rest physically and mentally after a busy week. God knew humans would need a period of rest from work. The Sabbath allows us to think more about God, to pray and worship Him, and to study the Bible to understand more about God’s purpose for us.
Sabbath keeping is a test commandment (Exodus 16:4-5).
New Testament Christians admonished to “not forsake the assembling of ourselves together” (Hebrews 10:24-25).
Jesus Christ kept the Sabbath (Luke 4:16, 31).
It was the Apostle Paul’s custom to keep the Sabbath (Acts 17:1-2).
The New Testament Church of God observed the Sabbath (Acts 13:13-15, 42, 44; Acts 18:1, 4, 11).
The gift of speaking in tongues, as defined in the Word of God, is the God-given ability to speak in a human language, or languages, that one has not learned in any normal way. It is decidedly not the manifestation of emotional and indecipherable babbling that some charismatic circles today label “tongues.” The latter is a clever counterfeit.
The verses in Acts 2:1-21 form the crux of the Bible doctrine of tongues. Here recorded is the first outpouring of the Holy Spirit. After the death of Christ, believers were assembled on the day of Pentecost when a mighty wind filled the room, fire descended upon them, and they began to speak in tongues. The apostle Peter and other disciples then spoke in tongues to those who were gathered in Jerusalem – all marveled at the gift. This was not a “tarry meeting,” but a church service on Pentecost; a Holy Day the Bible commands true Christians to keep (Leviticus 23:15-21). Notice that Pentecost was a Hold Day – not an event. Those who advocate tarry meetings simply misunderstand Christ’s command for the apostles to wait in Jerusalem till the Spirit was given (Luke 24:49). The word “tarry” in this verse comes from the middle English tarien, meaning “wait.” Modern translations bear this out.
Further, Acts 2:2 shows a wind filled the whole house suddenly. It was not that their mouths gradually worked up a wind. Additionally, the tongues of fire were not the tongues in their mouths, but small, burning fires. Notice, also, that all were filled with the Spirit not just some.
Most importantly, the tongues Peter and others spoke in were known languages of the day that were clearly understood by those listening. The listeners marveled because to their ears the disciples seemed to speak in their native, local dialects, although they obviously hadn’t learned all these languages by going to school or through some other normal method of study. Those that were filled with the Holy Spirit were not speaking unintelligible gibberish. Nor do we see any descriptions of wildly gyrating bodies, waving hands, or rolling on the ground.
In Acts 10:44-49 we see another instance of speaking in tongues. Here we find the account of Peter’s baptizing Cornelius, the Roman centurion, and others of his household. We read that the Holy Spirit came upon them, and they spoke in “tongues” just as had happened in Acts 2 (Acts 11:15). This was on the occasion of the first outpouring of God’s Spirit to the Gentiles. As verse 46 clearly states, those listening heard those speaking in tongues “magnify God.” The only conclusion is that these tongues again were known languages of the day. Acts 19:1-6 relates a similar episode.
The book of I Corinthians has much to say about speaking in tongues. In each case the very same Greek word is still used – glossa. The attempt to make a difference between the tongues of Corinthians and those of Acts is wholly artificial. I Corinthians 12:1 and I Corinthians 12:10 mention the gift. In verse 28 Paul lists the governmental offices of the church. Then beginning in verse 29, Paul, through a series of rhetorical questions emphatically proves that not all have the gift of tongues – or any of several other gifts, for that matter. Clearly, having the gift of tongues cannot be the only proof one has God’s Holy Spirit. Nor is it proof of superior righteousness, for verse 31, and I Corinthians chapter 13, declare that LOVE is a greater gift of the Spirit than speaking in tongues. In I Corinthians 13:1 we see that even if one has the power to speak in the “tongues of angels,” he is spiritually worthless unless he has love. Incidentally, these verses do not imply that the Corinthians spoke in an angelic language. It is clear that Paul spoke of the tongues of angels as something beyond their human abilities.
I Corinthians Chapter 14 is devoted entirely to the topic of speaking in tongues. Much can be gleaned regarding tongues in this chapter. The same Greek word for “tongues” used in Acts is also used here, not some different word. The overwhelming conclusion is that Paul wrote these words to place the gift in its proper place of importance regarding God-given gifts. Speaking in tongues, although one of God’s gifts, is one of the lesser ones. It is not as important as speaking or preaching under inspiration – which can, but does not have to, refer to predicting the future. The verses in this chapter stress the purpose of speaking in tongues is to edify the audience, not the speaker. Verses 10-17 stress the need for the audience to understand the words being spoken. This passage nails down without question the identity of the tongues as foreign languages. In private prayer it doesn’t matter what language one uses because God understands, though public prayer in church services is for the edification of everyone. Therefore if someone prays in a language which most don’t understand, the congregation is not benefited. Verse 23 makes the same point in a different way. Paul warns against speaking in a language the audience doesn’t understand. These languages were real ones that could be learned! Verse 27 limits the number who may speak in tongues at any one time to two or three, who must take turns. It demands calm order in the service. Verse 28 requires the tongues to be translated for those who do not understand. If there is no translator, then no speaking in tongues is allowed – period. Verse 31 demands tongues be used one by one in turn, not at the same time in confusion. Verse 32 states that the one who speaks in tongues is to be in control of himself at all times. Finally, verse 34 shows that women are forbidden to preach in the church at all, let alone use tongues.
John the Baptist’s reference to the baptism of the Holy Spirit (Matthew 3:11) does not refer to tongues as some claim, but to the very act of receiving God’s Spirit after repentance, baptism, and the laying on of hands.
The gift of tongues was given for the same purpose as other spiritual gifts in the early Church – to call attention to the initial outpouring of God’s Holy Spirit and the founding of His New Testament Church. And also to attract attention to the Gospel message and spread the Gospel in a part of the world to people who spoke many different languages.
When God calls a person, He invites that person into His Church to help the Church perform its great commission of preaching the Gospel to the world (Matthew 24:14), and to prepare to rule with Jesus Christ and teach God’s way in the coming Kingdom of God (Daniel 7:27; Revelation 2:26-27; Revelation 3:21; Revelation 5:10). These are the main purposes for being called now. A person called at this time is also one of the relatively few to whom God is now offering salvation. God alone decides who shall be called, by opening a person’s mind to the truth. Jesus Christ said, “No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him…” (John 6:44, 65). God calls those He decides to call for His own reasons.
The apostle Peter, addressing true Christians – true members of God’s Church – wrote: “But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light; who once were not a people but are now the people of God, who had not obtained mercy but now have obtained mercy” (I Peter 2:9-10). Peter further admonished God’s people (His elect), “Therefore, brethren, be even more diligent to make your calling and election sure, for if you do these things you will never stumble; for so an entrance will be supplied to you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” (II Peter 1:10-11). In Ephesians 4:1 we are commanded “to have a walk worthy of the calling with which you were called…”
Quite plainly God’s calling is an invitation. When a person is “called” they are “invited” to be a member of God’s Church with all the responsibilities that entails. Notice the illustration in Matthew 24:1-14. In this parable Jesus said, “The kingdom of heaven is like a certain king who arranged a marriage for his son, and sent out his servants to call those who were invited to the wedding…” (verses 2-3).
The Greek word translated “church” in the New Testament is ecclesia, which literally means “called out ones.” When we are called, we become part of the Church. The common teaching that God is calling all now and that He is now trying to save the world is false! When asked by His disciples why He spoke in parables, Christ answered and said, “Because it has been given to you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been given” (Matthew 13:10-11). That is, the disciples had been called to know the truth, but others had not been so called. This is not to say that the others will never be called, just that they are not called yet in this lifetime. Those who are called now have been given their opportunity for salvation (I Peter 4:17). The apostle Paul states in Romans 9:14-16 “What shall we say then? Is there unrighteousness with God: Certainly not! For He says to Moses, ‘I will have mercy on whomever I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whomever I will have compassion.’ So then it [one’s calling] is not of him who wills [he who wants to be called], nor of him who runs [he who tries in his own way], but of God who shows mercy.” Paul is not saying those not called in this age will not be saved, only that their chance for salvation will be given sometime in the future.
In I Corinthians 1:26-29 we read, “For you see your calling, brethren, that not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called. But God has chosen the foolish things of the world to put to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to put to shame the things which are mighty; and the base things of the world and the things which are despised God has chosen, and the things which are not, to bring to nothing the things that are, that no flesh should glory in His presence.” God generally picks those who are foolish, weak, and despised – in the eyes of this world. He does this so that those who are saved don’t try to take the credit themselves but rather give the glory to God!
How does one know if they are being called by God? John 10:3-4 and John 10:14 give us the answer: “…the sheep hear his voice; and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. And when he brings out his own sheep, he goes before them; and the sheep follow him, for they know his voice” (verses 3-4), and “I am the good shepherd; and I know My sheep, and am known by My own” (verse 14). The point of the analogy is this: One whom God is calling will have his or her mind opened to understand when they hear God’s truth. One who is not being called may hear the words, but, like a foreign language, they do not understand because those words will not be mixed with understanding and belief.
God reveals Himself as Creator and Owner of everything (Psalm 24:1; Job 41:11; Exodus 19:5; Haggai 2:8). God created everything and owns it all! He has prior claim to ownership of all that is produced out of His earth. Yet God requires us to return to Him only 10 percent of what our efforts produce and earn. God, in turn, used the 10 percent He claims as His own for proclaiming the Gospel – the Good News of the coming Kingdom of God and the peace, joy, happiness and prosperity it will bring.
Tithing is also revealed as God’s system for financing His ministry (I Corinthians 9:7-14; Hebrews 7:5-17).
Abraham paid tithes (Genesis 14:17-20; Hebrews 7:1-4). Abraham paid tithes over 430 years before the Law was delivered through Moses. God blessed obedient (Genesis 26:5) Abraham (Genesis 13:2).
Jacob, son of Isaac and grandson of Abraham also paid tithes (Genesis 28:20-22). He was blessed for doing so (Genesis 30:43).
The first mention of tithing in its full details is found in Leviticus 27. (Leviticus 27:30). The word “tithe” means “tenth”. All the tenth is holy to the Lord. It belongs to God.
The commission of the New Testament ministry is to preach the Gospel (Matthew 28:19-20; Mark 16:15; Matthew 24:14). This is made possible through tithes and offerings.
Jesus taught people to tithe (Matthew 23:23).
Nations and individuals been stealing from God because they have failed to tithe (Malachi 3:8-12).
God wants us to have a cheerful attitude in paying tithes and offerings to God (II Corinthians 9:6-7).
There is more than one tithe mentioned in the Bible (Deuteronomy 12:1, 5-18). The only stipulation God puts on this “second tithe” or “additional tithe” or “tithe besides” or “second tithe” is the place and time where we use it.
The Septuagint [the Greek translation of the Hebrew Old Testament, rendered into English] sheds a great deal of light on Deuteronomy 12:17-18. The Septuagint reads as follows: “Thou shall not eat in thy cities the additional tithe of thy corn…but before the Lord thy God thou shall eat it, in the place which the Lord thy God shall choose…”
The Greek word rendered “tithe” use in Deuteronomy 12:17 is epidekaton which may mean “an additional tithe,” or “a tithe besides.” The Greek word dekaton which means “a tenth” is not used here.
The second tithe is for our use – so we might learn to properly stand in awe of, revere, respect and worship our Creator at His festivals (Deuteronomy 14:22-27).
These verses show us how to spend this tithe – for transportation (getting to and from these Feasts), lodging, food and drink, and for our entertainment and pleasure during these days.
In ancient Israel, God instructed His people to set aside a special tithe to assist those in need such as orphans, widows, strangers, and the Levites (Deuteronomy 26:12-13). The “third year” refers to the third year of a cycle of seven years.
The Jews who translated Deuteronomy 26:12 into Greek in the Septuagint, understood it. Notice this verse as translated in the Septuagint: “When thou hast completed tithing all the tithes of thine increase the third year, you shall bring the second additional tithe to the Levite, the stranger, the fatherless, and the widow, that they may eat in thy gates, and be merry.” The Greek wording here is to deuteron epidekaton – that is – “the second additional tithe.” There is not only one tithe (first tithe), but also an “additional tithe” (second tithe), then this “second additional tithe” (third tithe).
Since the laws of letting the land rest and releasing the poor debtors were based on a cycle of seven years, we are to save this special tithe in the third and sixth years out of every seven-year period.
This is not the only place this “second additional” or “third tithe” is mentioned (Deuteronomy 14:28-29).
This special “third tithe” – God’s insurance program – is for the stranger, the fatherless, the widow, and the handicapped Levite” – in other words, those having no means of support.
Additional Fundamental Doctrines Coming Soon. Check back often!