You Could Ever Hear!
Your daily news is filled with terrible tragedies; massive earthquakes, violent storms, scandals, murders, terrible traffic accidents, crime and violence, wars or the threat of war—most of the news we hear is BAD news! Yet, nearly 2,000 years ago, a Traveler from intergalactic space came to this earth and delivered a message of bright hope for the future; a message of love, joy, peace and harmony—a message of WORLD PEACE at last! He called His message "The GOOD NEWS!" Millions have heard a story ABOUT this Messenger, but have NEVER HEARD HIS MESSAGE! His message is the BEST NEWS You Could Ever Hear! Here, at last, is that message.
by Garner Ted Armstrong [printer-friendly] [pdf format]
millions believe there is life in outer space. Millions are enthusiastic about
"UFO'S," about "close encounters" with beings from other planets. Dozens of
books festoon bookshelves in major bookstores dealing with such alleged
sightings and experiences.
The American taxpayer is assessed BILLIONS of dollars to finance NASA probes of Mars and other planets as evolutionists seek to determine whether LIFE may exist, or may have once existed, on the Red Planet. Scientists, driven by the evolutionary mind-set, speculate about whether life began on Mars, rather than earth. They utterly reject the Biblical account of creation, continually speaking and writing about "evolution," which seeks to explain creation without a Creator; life without a Life-giver; design without a Designer; laws without a Lawgiver—an empty theory which utterly denies the existence of God.
Few know they possess a book which details a visit to this earth by a great, superhuman Being from outer space. Few know that an intergalactic Traveler, who lives in a completely DIFFERENT DIMENSION from our three-dimensional, physical world, visited this earth on many occasions; that He left His dimension of spirit, became human, and walked among us. His name, in the English language, is "Jesus Christ." Hundreds of millions have heard His name. Yet, those same people know little about Him, and even less about the MESSAGE He brought from His Father. That message He called "The GOOD NEWS." In contrast to the news we hear nearly every day, it is the BEST news we could EVER HEAR!
Before we learn the startling truth about this great intergalactic Traveler and the great, glorious GOOD NEWS He delivered to mankind, think about the many things most people DO NOT KNOW about Christ.
(1) Millions know nothing about His pre-human state. They do not know that He was the CREATING AGENT; the divine member of the awesome family of "GOD" called ELOHIM who said, "Let US make man in OUR image" (Genesis 1:26).
(2) Millions do not know when He was born. They suppose He was born on December 25th, and celebrate "Christmas" (the Catholic-invented "Mass of Christ"), believing that Christ was born in the middle of winter in Bethlehem.
(3) Millions do not know WHY He came to this earth. There are SEVEN MAJOR REASONS why Christ came among the human race; most can speak of only one: "Christ died to save sinners."
(4) Millions do not know the MESSAGE He brought. While they worship the Messenger, they know nothing about the MESSAGE; the gospel of the Kingdom of God.
(5) Millions do not know what Christ looked like. They suppose He appeared as the classic portraits available in Bible book stores depict Him; or like pictures in many pictorial Bibles; the usual long hair, beard and mustache, sad, wistful expression, long robe, shepherd's crook, with a lamb in His arms, and a halo around His head.
(6) Millions do not know to which race Christ belonged. Many African Americans believe Christ was a black man. Anti-Semites refuse to believe He was a Jew. Many racists harbor biased racial views about Jesus' genealogy. Yet, the Bible clearly declares He was from the tribe of Judah, and was a Jew.
(7) Millions do not know HOW HE DIED! Many suppose He died of a "broken heart." Some have proposed that He was STONED to death! Others suppose He died of exhaustion. Many who "profess Christ" refuse to believe that He shed His life's blood for the sins of the world.
(8) Millions do not know IF HE WAS REALLY DEAD! Their theologians tell them that during the time He was in the tomb, He went to "hell" to witness against tortured souls!
(9) Millions do not know the SPECIFIC LENGTH OF TIME HE WAS IN THE TOMB, yet it was the ONLY SIGN He said He would leave the generations to come of proof of His Messiahship; that he would be EXACTLY three days and three nights in the tomb, (Matthew 12:40).
(10) Millions DENY HIS RESURRECTION, believing He was only in a "swoon," or that His death, burial and resurrection was faked, or that His disciples stole away His body.
(11) Millions who believe He was resurrected DO NOT KNOW what He has been doing ever since, or what He is doing today!
(12) Millions DO NOT BELIEVE His prophecies; His predictions about the conditions on this earth in OUR TIME, now. They DO NOT BELIEVE He is coming again!
A Lot "Not To Know"
The above twelve points represent "a lot NOT TO KNOW"
about someone. Suppose your father was a soldier during World War II. Suppose he
told you, from the time of your childhood, about a close buddy of his, "little
old Joe McGillicuddy," who had been badly wounded on Guadalcanal. Your dad said
Joe had lost his left eye, his right leg, and two fingers on his right hand when
he had taken a blast from a Japanese hand grenade. Joe had smothered the grenade
with his body to save his friends, including your dad. Your father described how
Joe had stood only 5'5" tall, had a balding head, and a high-pitched, scratchy
voice. But your dad had loved Joe, and told many, many stories about his sense
of humor; his stoic manner of dealing with his injuries.
Then, one day, long after your father had died, your telephone rang, and someone called "Joe McGillicuddy" was on the line. He wanted to come over to see his former buddy's family. Excited, you waited for the moment of the little old wounded veteran's arrival. At length, the doorbell rang, and you opened the door.
There, standing on the porch, was a big man of 6'3", with a shock of thick white hair, a powerful build, and a deep, booming voice. "Hi there!" He said, putting out a large hand and giving you a firm handshake, "I'm Joe McGillicuddy!" What would you think? Had your father lied? Had he been mistaken? Was he passing on stories he had heard from others? No doubt, you would be utterly shocked!
Such would be the SHOCK to millions of professing Christians if Jesus Christ of Nazareth were to appear to them today JUST AS HE APPEARED IN THE FIRST CENTURY!
When you DO NOT KNOW anything about how a person looked, when he was born (and therefore how old he is), what he believed, taught, and stood for; when you do not know to which race he belonged, that's a "lot not to know" about someone.
The Intergalactic Traveler
The REAL BEGINNING of the Bible is found in
the first chapter of the gospel of John. This chapter is utterly rejected by
MOST of the professing Christian churches; utterly ignored by others. The
consequences of BELIEVING John's first chapter are too overwhelming for most
John wrote, "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God" (John 1:1). The English term "Word" comes from the Greek Logos. We use the term in many ways, such as a "logo" for a document, or a television program. The Greek word means "Spokesman." As we read in Genesis the first chapter, Elohim said, "Let there be light," or "Let the dry land appear." The One who gave these commands was the divine "Spokesman" or the Logos. He was the creating Agent! It was He who said, "Let US [more than one!] make man in OUR image, and after OUR likeness" (Genesis 1:26).
Because the mainstream churches REJECT this awesome knowledge, they do not know who or what Jesus Christ really was prior to His human birth! They do not know that the One we know as "Jesus Christ of Nazareth" was the "Jehovah" (JHVH—there are no vowels in the ancient Hebrew), who dealt with the patriarchs, called Abraham, appeared unto Moses in the burning bush, wrote the Ten Commandments with His own finger, parted the Red Sea before Israel, and dealt personally with all the great men and women of the Old Testament! If they would admit the simple, yet profound truth of only a few verses of the gospel of John, they would NEVER believe that Jesus Christ came to DO AWAY with God's law! Instead, they would know HE IS the divine LAWGIVER of the Old Testament!
The first verse of John could read, paraphrased, "In the beginning was the divine Spokesman, and the Spokesman was with Theos [Elohim; the Hebrew equivalent, which means MORE than one!], and the Spokesman WAS Theos [Elohim]."
Notice how many times John reaffirms this vital and awesome truth!
"The same was in the beginning with God.
"All things were made by Him; and without Him was not any thing made that was made.
"In Him was life; and the life was the light of men.
"And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not" (John 1:1-5). Almost NO ONE in the professing "Christian" world truly BELIEVES that "all things were MADE" by Jesus Christ! All assume it was the Father to whom Christ prayed who was the Creator. They assume it was God the FATHER who wrote the Ten Commandments, and who dealt with the patriarchs and prophets of the Old Testament. Nothing could be further from the truth!
Notice further, "He was in the world, and the world was made by Him, and the world knew Him not.
"He came unto His own [the Jews], and His own received Him not.
"But as many as received Him, to them gave He power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on His name:
"Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.
"And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt [the Greek word is "tabernacled"] among us, (and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth" (John 1:10-14).
Jesus Christ came to this earth far more times than most believe. It was the One who became Christ in the flesh who was the inter-galactic Visitor from space! It was He who knelt by a stream in Palestine and fashioned the first man, Adam (which means "red mud, or clay") with His own hands; breathed the breath of life into his lungs, then performed the fabulous miracle of fashioning Eve from one of Adam's ribs. But long prior to the great creating Family called Elohim decided to have the "Spokesman" come to this earth from outer space, they had PREPARED the world for man's habitation.
Imagine, if you will, this earth in its preadamic state. For perhaps countless millions of years, a great archangel called "Lucifer," which means "Light bringer," or "Shining star of the dawn," had reigned over a beautiful, jewel-like world, teeming with life. Lucifer was magnetic, beautiful; a "whispering enchanter" to all the angels subordinate to him. He was a charming, wonderful conversationalist.
Following the original creation of our earth, perhaps four to five billion years ago, Lucifer was placed in charge of the whole world. With him were one-third of the angels. Notice how God's word describes the earth during that distant time, "Thus saith the Lord GOD; Thou sealest up the sum, full of wisdom, and perfect in beauty.
"Thou hast been in Eden the garden of God; every precious stone was thy covering, the sardius, topaz, and the diamond, the beryl, the onyx, and the jasper, the sapphire, the emerald, and the carbuncle, and gold: the workmanship of thy tabrets and of thy pipes was prepared in thee in the day that thou wast created [Lucifer, like all the angels, is a CREATED being who dwells in the spirit world].
"Thou art the anointed cherub that covereth [two cherubs, or cherubim, decorated the mercy seat over the ark of the covenant, symbolizing the cherubim around God's throne]; and I have set thee so: thou wast upon the holy mountain of God; thou hast walked up and down in the midst of the stones of fire.
"Thou wast perfect in thy ways from the day that thou wast created, till iniquity [lawlessness; sin!] was found in thee.
"By the multitude of thy merchandise they have filled the midst of thee with violence, and thou hast sinned: therefore I will cast thee as profane out of the mountain of God: and I will destroy thee, O covering cherub, from the midst of the stones of fire.
"Thine heart was lifted up because of thy beauty, thou hast corrupted thy wisdom by reason of thy brightness: I will cast thee to the ground, I will lay thee before kings, that they may behold thee" (Ezekiel 28:12-18). Here, the King of Tyre is used as a "type" of Lucifer, who became Satan. The descriptions concerning a fabulous preadamic world; the "garden of God" (Eden), and the fact that the one being described is a created being, not a natural-born human, can only mean Lucifer.
Notice Isaiah's account: "How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning ["Shining star of the dawn," or "light bringer," his original name]! how art thou cut down to the ground, which didst weaken the nations!
"For thou hast said in thine heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north:
"I will ascend above the heights of the clouds [the earth's atmosphere; proving water was present]; I will be like the most High.
"Yet thou shalt be brought down to hell [Sheol, the grave— blending back into the anti-type, the King of Babylon], to the sides of the pit" (Isaiah 14:12-15).
The obscure phrase, "by the multitude of thy merchandise" in the King James version is not as clear as it could be. It means, "by the abundance of your going about as a salesman; as a `trafficker' in calumny and propaganda." For countless years, Lucifer argued his case among the angels in his realm. Finally, he convinced them to follow him in a rebellion against God!
In the original "Star Wars," Lucifer attempted to mount up above the clouds of this earth with his angels, and THROW GOD OFF HIS THRONE! Instead, God cast him back down to this earth! Christ said, "...I beheld Satan as lightning fall from heaven" (Luke 10:18). The great Creator, who was the Logos; Jesus Christ in the flesh, was THERE when Satan rebelled. He was intimately involved! When the divine sovereign Family ELOHIM threw Satan out of heaven, he plummeted back toward earth like a hurtling meteor—flashing like a streaking bolt of flame and light! Christ said HE SAW IT HAPPEN!
Originally, this world was created in spectacular beauty. It was a perfect environment. Life teemed; billions of creatures swarmed, swam, flew and walked about on earth. Speaking of this PREadamic creation, God said, "For thus saith the LORD that created the heavens; God himself that formed the earth and made it; He hath established it, He created it not in vain [Hebrew: tohu, meaning chaotic, empty, void, waste], He formed it to be inhabited: I am the LORD; and there is none else" (Isaiah 45:18).
Yet, when God cast Satan and his demons back out of heaven, a massive, gargantuan upheaval occurred. The earth was destroyed! Meteors smashed into its surface; the continents split apart; were submerged beneath raging, turgid seas that rushed back and forth. Billions of creatures were suddenly buried beneath massive layers of mud and silt. The tectonic plates slid back and forth, crushing, folding, grinding together as the mountains were built. Massive "geosynclines" heaved into being as the continents groaned. Huge upthrusts of granite soared into the sky, while great volcanoes spewed billions of cubic yards of molten magma into the skies to come back in pyroclastic showers of rock upon the land, or to shoulder up from cracks in the tectonic plates beneath the seas, to form vast island chains like the Hawaiian Islands.
For perhaps billions of years, Satan and his demons were forced to remain in the earth's atmosphere, seeing only the vast, black, tossing seas; seeing the results of their attempt to overthrow God from His throne. Their great space war had wrecked the solar system! Planets were destroyed. Venus became enshrouded in a thick, impenetrable mantle of gas. Clouds of space debris formed huge rings around the lifeless face of Saturn. Stars exploded. Fiery gases were hurled through trillions of miles of space. Countless billions of meteors and astroids were flung in all directions to begin their aeons-long journeys through the blackness of empty space. Ugly, misshapen moons, like captured astroids, began to circle the many planets. The lifeless, wrecked, empty hulks of planets began to circle the sun, held fast by its gravitational field. The moon, orbiting around the earth, was smashed time and time again by huge astroids; some up to 100 miles in diameter. Billions of years passed as each planet orbited about its neighboring star, held fast by the gravitational field of the larger body. Isostatic pressures, combined with the rotational patterns and orbits of planets and their moons, gradually caused them to assume a spherical shape from the smashed, jagged ruggedness of their violent birth. As the billions of years passed, the earth heaved above the seas time and time again, then subsided beneath the waves once more.
Finally, the One we know of as Jesus Christ; the divine "Spokesman" for the great, sovereign Family of God called Elohim came down to the earth. A great Visitor from outer space had arrived upon the scene of Satan's destruction! Our world looked like Venus from afar; covered with a thick blanket of impenetrable clouds which reflected the sun's rays, but failed to pierce through to the surface. There was only stygian blackness beneath. The earth lay tohu and bohu, wasted, destroyed, lifeless, chaotic, empty. Daily tides swept back and forth over shallow land masses submerged beneath the waters. There was no physical life.
At this point, God began to keep a record through His first humans. Adam himself may have been the writer of some of the "Creation hymn" of the first chapters of Genesis.
We are told, "In the beginning God [Elohim, meaning more than one. We know, from John 1, that the One who did the creating was the One who became the Savior of His own creation!] created the heaven and the earth.
"And the earth was [Hebrew: "became"] without form, and void [Hebrew: tohu and bohu, but it was not originally created that way, as we saw in Isaiah 45:18]; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters [The earth was submerged beneath the seas. There were no continents protruding].
"And God said, Let there be light: and there was light [This was not the original creation of the sun, but the parting of the clouds to allow sunlight to reach earth's surface once again].
"And God saw the light, that it was good" (Genesis 1:1-4).
Study the first chapter of Genesis with the TRUTH about the RE-creation of the earth in your mind. Contrary to the belief of some, this earth could easily be 4 billion years old, or 10 billion, or 20 billion years old. There was a vast, indeterminate period of time between an earlier, perfect creation and the RE-creation of the earth just prior to the creation of Adam. During this time, God allowed Satan's wrathful violence to prepare the earth for man's use. Trillions of tons of coal was formed by the burial of huge rain forests. Massive, floating logjams, many hundreds of feet thick, were deposited atop drying mud, then covered with layers of heavy mud from the huge tidal bores which flooded the earth as the continents heaved. The bodies of billions of creatures were buried deep beneath thousands of feet of sediment, there to decay, and form crude oil. "Fossil" fuel is what drives all modern "developed" nations today. The symbol of one major oil company is that of a dinosaur, because much of its oil is pumped from the "Permian" basin (one of the so-called "geologic ages" of evolutionary thought) in Texas. Few realize that the thousands of products from petrochemicals utilized by average people today are formed from the buried life that once thrived in the preadamic world when Lucifer and his angels ruled the earth.
The One who created Adam was the SAME personage of the divine sovereign Elohim (called "God" in English) who became flesh, and tabernacled among us. He was the One we know as "Jesus Christ."
Notice verse 26, "And God [Elohim: MORE than one; the One who became Christ] said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness [The two members of the divine Family called Elohim discussed creation together!]: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth.
"So God [Elohim] created man in His own image, in the image of God created He him; male and female created He them.
"And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth" (Genesis 1:26-28). God's word describes the appearance of God without minute detail. The Bible speaks of His eyes, His arms, His hands and His ears. Jesus said, "If you have seen me, you have seen the Father," yet also said, "no man hath seen God [the Father] at any time" (John 5:37). Moses was allowed to see the back parts of the One who became Christ (Exodus 33:11-23). Jesus Christ is called the "express image of His [the Father's] person" (Hebrews 1:3). Christ is described in detail in His glorified state as John saw Him in vision: "And in the midst of the seven candlesticks one like unto the Son of man, clothed with a garment down to the foot, and girt about the paps with a golden girdle.
"His head and His hairs were white like wool, as white as snow; and His eyes were as a flame of fire;
"And His feet like unto fine brass, as if they burned in a furnace; and His voice as the sound of many waters.
"And He had in His right hand seven stars: and out of His mouth went a sharp twoedged sword: and His countenance was as the sun shineth in his strength" (Revelation 1:13-16).
The divine Elohim designed and created man in the exact image of Elohim, or God. The One who did the actual creating was the one we know of as "Jesus Christ!"
Thus began the great PLAN of God! Our heavenly Father is begetting CHILDREN! He is re-creating in HIS OWN IMAGE!
Millions know nothing of God's great PLAN. They remain IGNORANT of the very purpose for the creation of mankind; ignorant of the awesome HUMAN POTENTIAL! It is the knowledge about God's great PLAN, and the great, GOOD news about how you and I can participate in it which is the BEST NEWS you could ever hear!
The PLAN Of God
Millions suppose this world to be like a "soul
factory." Through pagan superstitions, they suppose that each human being is
imbued with an "immortal soul" which is somehow brought into being at each human
Catholics, Methodists, Episcopalians, Presbyterians, Lutherans, Baptists; dozens and dozens of denominations, sects and church organizations believe in the "immortality of the soul." To them, death means the "soul" departs the body, to live CONSCIOUSLY either in an ever-burning "hell fire," or in heaven, with God. Each day, thousands upon thousands of human babies are born. Each day, thousands upon thousands of humans die. The traditional concept is that, unless those "souls" are "saved," they are "lost." If "lost," they are consigned to burn for ever and ever in "hell."
Millions of sermons have been preached over centuries, depicting the agonies of the traditional idea of "hell." Preachers have described how your hair catches fire; how your eyebrows burn off; how your fingers and toes are blistered—described, in detail, how a HUMAN BODY burns!
If some curious member of their congregation should ask, "Yes, but do souls have nerve endings?" or, "Do souls have hair?" or, "Do souls look like male and female?"
The minister, no doubt a bit unsettled by such logic, might tell the curious one not to worry; that it is not "physical" fire but "spiritual" fire, burning "spiritual hair," or affecting "spiritual nerves."
The concept of the "immortal soul" is found nowhere in the Bible. For decades, I have offered a "$10,000 certified cashier's check" to anyone who can find the words "immortal soul," or "immortality of the soul" in the Bible. No such phrase is in God's word.
Instead, God's word speaks of the human SPIRIT. "There IS A SPIRIT in man," Job declared (Job 32:8). David prayed, "Into thine hand I commit MY SPIRIT" (Psalms 31:5). Solomon wrote, "The spirit of man is the candle of the LORD, searching all the inward parts of the belly" (Proverbs 20:27).
The Hebrew word translated "soul" in the English language is nephesh. It is used in many, many ways, but never to connote anything "immortal" or eternal. It is used several times in the first chapter of Genesis of lower life forms, such as "creatures" before it is ever used of man. Bullinger's Companion Bible contains many notes on this subject, as well as a thorough study of the Hebrew word in one of its appendices. The word nephesh is also translated as "body." Notice one outstanding example among dozens, "He that toucheth the dead body [Hebrew: nephesh] of any man shall be unclean seven days" (Numbers 19:11). Nephesh can be rendered "that thing, that one, he, it, life, body, being, creature," and in many other ways. It does NOT ever connote anything eternal or immortal. God's word uses the word "immortal" only ONCE. This is found in 1 Timothy 1:17, and says, "Now unto the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only wise God, be honour and glory for ever and ever. Amen." This is speaking of Jesus Christ, and not of any man.
The Bible uses the word "immortality" only five times. Here are some outstanding examples: "Who [God, not any man!] only hath immortality, dwelling in the light which no man can approach unto; whom no man hath seen, nor can see: to whom be honour and power everlasting. Amen" (1 Timothy 6:16).
Paul wrote, "For this corruptible [we humans, in our physical, temporal state] must put on incorruption, and this mortal [physical, susceptible to DEATH] must put on immortality [we do not have it now].
"So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory" (1 Corinthians 15:53,54).
Paul did not write about any so-called "immortal soul," but wrote, instead, of the human spirit, showing how the Spirit of God unites with SPIRIT, not with flesh. He said, "For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God.
"For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father.
"The Spirit itself [God's Holy Spirit, emanating from God] beareth witness with our spirit [our human spirit; our innermost psyche, volition, will power, personality], that we are the children of God" (Romans 8:14-16).
It takes flesh uniting with flesh to create a new human being. You and I came into being at the instant our father's sperm fertilized our mother's egg. At that instant, two lives; two intricate PATTERNS of life in the DNA, which is like a "code" containing instructions for cellular growth, formed one NEW life! Though we were tinier than the period at the end of this sentence, we WERE IN EXISTENCE. Neither you nor I have ever been here before. We are a first time, once only, never-to-be-again human being, produced by two parents. We are human. We are members of a FAMILY. We carry the genes; the patterns of both parents. We are LIKE them, for they MADE us.
Human reproduction is a fabulous MIRACLE that man takes for granted. Life is, itself, a fabulous miracle. When God (the "Word" who became flesh) said, "Let us make man in OUR IMAGE," He knew He was creating a man out of "red clay." The name "Adam" is not truly so much a name as it is a designation of what the man Ish (Hebrew) truly WAS. He was made of the mud of this earth. "And the LORD God formed man of the dust [dirt] of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul" (Genesis 2:7). This is what man BECAME. Man IS a "living soul" or "living nephesh," which means "living being; creature; person; one; thing"; but DOES NOT mean man "has" a soul! Man IS a soul, he does not "possess" a "soul." Notice another vitally important scripture where nephesh is translated "soul," but where God clearly tells us that "souls" (meaning physical beings) can DIE: "...the soul that sinneth, it shall die" (Ezekiel 18:4). This is repeated again in verse 20. Obviously then, the Bible term "soul" does NOT mean anything "immortal" at all, but is merely speaking of a human being; a person! Not so many years ago, it was commonplace to read of a shipwreck or airplane accident in which so many "souls" perished! This is correct usage of the term! "Souls" merely meant "individuals," and had nothing to do with "immortality."
You and I are made as physical prototypes of what we are to become. Just as man was made as a human, physical "type" of God, so God is creating within us a NEW CREATURE, not molded and formed by DNA according to the pattern of our parents, but molded and formed by the Holy Spirit of God, and the mind of Jesus Christ, to be CONFORMED TO THE IMAGE OF CHRIST!
Creation was not completed in the Garden of Eden. It was only BEGUN!
The BEST NEWS you could EVER HEAR is found in the gospel message of Jesus Christ! It is a message about repentance of sin; about being reconciled to God; about how sin brings death, which is the penalty for breaking God's laws, and about how Christ's shed blood atones for our sins when we repent. More, it is the truth about why we were born; who and what we are; why we are here; where we are going! It is the breathtaking truth about our incredible human potential—our eternal destiny!
"REPENT YE, and believe the GOOD NEWS" were the first words out of Jesus' mouth as He began preaching (Mark 1:15). Notice, "From that time Jesus began to preach, and to say, Repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand (Matthew 4:17). It is the Kingdom OF heaven, not the Kingdom "in" heaven! Mark, Luke and John all refer to it as "The Kingdom of God," while Matthew uses the term "Kingdom of Heaven." But both terms mean the same thing. It is the coming kingdom of God which will rule ON THIS EARTH (Revelation 2:26; Revelation 20:4).
The very first step toward becoming a member of God's governing, ruling Family is repentance!
What Is Repentance? Repent of WHAT?
"Repent" means contrition. It means remorse; sorrow
over having committed sin. Millions do not know WHAT SIN IS! Their pastors have
convinced them sin is "something displeasing to God," or that sin is "dancing,
drinking, card-playing and gambling," or that sin is "cursing, swearing, smoking
and tobacco-chewing!" Tens of thousands of sermons have been preached by
hoarse-voiced, shouting, perspiring "evangelists" who rail against "sin."
But for all these thousands of sermons, virtually NONE of them ever get around to informing their listeners where the Bible definition of sin can be found!
Notice what your Bible says sin IS: "Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the law: for sin is the transgression of the law" (1 John 3:4). That is what sin IS. It is the breaking of God's LAW!
The law of God is summed up in the Ten Commandments, written with the finger of the One we know of as Jesus Christ. Now, WHICH of the ten is the one which is SO REPUGNANT to millions of church-going, professing "Christians" that they virtually HATE THE LAW?
How many sermons have you heard, railing against the commandment which says, "Thou shalt have no other Gods before me?" None. How many have you heard in which the pastor condemns the laws against murder, or theft, or adultery, or striking one's own parents? None. How many have you heard in which the pastor condemns the law against coveting? None. Not a single one.
But how many have you heard; how much have you read, trying to justify SUNDAY-observance when the fourth commandment plainly enjoins upon us the SABBATH?
Listen to the words of the one who became Christ, speaking through Isaiah: "Blessed is the man that doeth this, and the son of man that layeth hold on it; that keepeth the sabbath from polluting it, and keepeth his hand from doing any evil.
"Neither let the son of the stranger [Gentile; foreigner], that hath joined himself to the LORD [Always, in the KJV the word "LORD," when appearing in capital letters, comes from the Hebrew YHVH, sometimes pronounced "Jehovah." This is the Logos who did the creating; the one of the divine Elohim who became Christ!], speak, saying, The LORD hath utterly separated me from His people: neither let the eunuch say, Behold, I am a dry tree.
"For thus saith the LORD unto the eunuchs that keep my sabbaths, and choose the things that please me, and take hold of my covenant;
"Even unto them will I give in mine house and within my walls a place and a name better than of sons and of daughters: I will give them an everlasting name, that shall not be cut off.
"Also the sons of the stranger, that join themselves to the LORD, to serve Him, and to love the name of the LORD, to be His servants, every one that keepeth the sabbath from polluting it, and taketh hold of my covenant;
"Even them will I bring to my holy mountain [a type of God's Kingdom in the millennial reign of Christ], and make them joyful in my house of prayer..." (Isaiah 56:2-7).
"Stranger" merely meant "foreigners," or gentiles. God called His people ISRAEL to be a nation of kings and priests. But Israel rebelled, and went after pagan gods, like those of the nations around them. Israel's greatest national sins were always idolatry and SABBATH-breaking! Time and time again, Israel was attacked by powerful nations; her cities and villages pillaged; her citizens taken captive. Always, when the King returned to God, it was the restoration of the SABBATH days, including the ANNUAL Sabbaths of God, that resulted in God's gracious forgiveness, and restoration of peace.
Study the great restoration under Josiah as one example! Read carefully the 34th and 35th chapters of 2 Chronicles for all the wonderful details. The priests had discovered the Book of the Law (the "Torah," or the first five books of the Bible) in the rubble of the temple. Josiah was only a boy of eight when he ascended to the throne. At age sixteen, he began to do "...that which was right in the sight of the LORD, and walked in the ways of David his father, and declined neither to the right hand, nor to the left."
For two years, this young king cleansed the land of the filthy idolatry that had caused such destruction. "For in the eighth year of his reign, while he was yet young, he began to seek after the God of David his father: and in the twelfth year he began to purge Judah and Jerusalem from the high places, and the groves, and the carved images, and the molten images.
"And they brake down the altars of Baalim in his presence; and the images, that were on high above them, he cut down; and the groves, and the carved images, and the molten images, he brake in pieces, and made dust of them, and strowed it upon the graves of them that had sacrificed unto them [Josiah ordered the idolatrous priests to be put to death!].
"And he burnt the bones of the priests upon their altars, and cleansed Judah and Jerusalem.
"And so did he in the cities of Manasseh, and Ephraim, and Simeon, even unto Naphtali, with their mattocks round about.
"And when he had broken down the altars and the groves, and had beaten the graven images into powder, and cut down all the idols throughout all the land of Israel, he returned to Jerusalem" (2 Chronicles 34:3-7).
It was another SIX YEARS that Josiah spent in purging idolatry from among the people before Josiah felt the time was right to restore the temple to its former magnificence. When he was 26, he ordered that all the offerings that had been collected by the Levites be used to rebuild the temple (2 Chronicles 34:8-15).
Notice that when the LAW of God was discovered in the rubble of the ruined, neglected temple of God, Josiah asked that Shaphan read it to him "And Shaphan read it before the king.
"And it came to pass, when the king had heard the words of the law, that he rent his clothes" [a sign of great humility and repentance]...[he then said]..."Go, inquire of the LORD [the one who became Christ!] for me, and for them that are left in Israel and in Judah, concerning the words of the book that is found: for great is the wrath of the LORD that is poured out upon us, because our fathers have not kept the word of the LORD, to do after all that is written in this book" (2 Chronicles 34:18-21).
Josiah then declared national repentance, and immediately began to celebrate the PASSOVER and the Days of Unleavened Bread, which were upon them. "And the children of Israel that were present kept the passover at that time, and the feast of unleavened bread seven days [Read Leviticus 23].
"And there was no passover like to that kept in Israel from the days of Samuel the prophet; neither did all the kings of Israel keep such a passover as Josiah kept, and the priests, and the Levites, and all Judah and Israel that were present, and the inhabitants of Jerusalem.
"In the eighteenth year of the reign of Josiah was this passover kept" (2 Chronicles 35:16-18).
Always, when a righteous leader turned away from idolatry and Sabbath-breaking, the most outstanding example of national repentance was a return to God's holy days and His Sabbaths; a return to the LAW of God.
Repentance means to be deeply sorry for one's sins, and to return to the LAW of God! Sin is the breaking of the LAW. To repent of sin means to be deeply sorry one has broken God's holy LAW! To turn away from sin is to turn TOWARD God's law!
Thousands of sermons have been preached AGAINST God's law! Thousands of sermons have been preached which deceive people into believing one is attempting to EARN salvation; obtain salvation by WORKS if one OBEYS GOD! Nonsense! Sheer foolishness! You and I did not EARN our citizenship. If you live in a free country, such as the United States, you automatically, by right of birth, enjoy many, many freedoms. You have the right to assemble; to practice your religion, to speak your mind, to write to anyone, expressing your beliefs. You have the right to disagree with government. But if you BREAK THE LAW, such as going out and robbing a bank, you can LOSE your freedom!
Supposing a bank robber was caught, went to trial, and, because of extenuating circumstances, the judge put the robber on probation. Perhaps it wasn't a real gun. Perhaps his children were starving. What does the judge say to the repentant would-be robber? Does he say "You are free to go—free to go out and rob any number of banks you wish"? Because someone has BROKEN THE LAW, and repents of having done so, does the LAW go away? No, the judge sternly warns the man to never attempt to rob another bank!
By living a life free from bank-robbing, does the repentant thief EARN the freedom the judge allowed him to maintain? Of course not!
In the same fashion, when we repent of BREAKING GOD'S LAWS, we do not EARN God's loving forgiveness; His freely-given, gracious pardon which leads us to salvation in Christ. Salvation is the GIFT of God! Never, in one thousand lifetimes of 100 years each, living perfectly within God's laws, could we EARN salvation! But by BREAKING His laws we EARN something! We earn "wages." And the "payoff" we earn is DEATH!
Paul wrote, "For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord" (Romans 6:23).
You and I are carnal, flesh and blood human creatures. Of and by ourselves, we are imbued with a physical, fleshly CARNAL mind. God says, "For to be carnally minded [the normal, unconverted human mind with all the physical, fleshly appetites and desires] is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace.
"Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be" (Romans 8:6,7). By our very natures, we tend toward antagonism against authority. Human nature wants to SIN; live a life of least resistance; indulge every whim, notion, fancy, thought, appetite--but not have to suffer the consequences. When we were children, we learned that fire burns; that sharp things cut; that rocks, door jams, coffee tables, car doors and dull objects bruise; that such things cause pain. We don't like pain, so, hopefully, after some minor burns, we learn to quit touching a stove, or an oven; after a number of cuts, we try to be more careful around knives and sharp objects; after a number of bruises, we try to avoid colliding with things.
Yet, spiritually and morally, there are many, many things in life which cut, bruise, and burn the conscience, or the innermost heart of man. The Bible speaks of habitual liars, whose "conscience is seared with a hot iron," who, as is said, "would lie when the truth would do better." Habitual lying can eventually sear the conscience, until the liar feels no remorse whatsoever. Lying becomes like a game; like a way of life. A few decades ago, some comedian first came up with the expression, "Would you believe...?" in answer to a question. In other words, it makes no difference what the TRUTH of the matter is—what is the person willing to believe is the truth? The expression has become commonplace today.
Without realizing it, millions of church-going, professing "Christian" people are antagonistic against God and His laws.
They want to "love" the Lord. They want to "praise His name," and to express all kinds of "Christian" forms of worship. But they don't want to OBEY Him! They want Him as their "Savior," and their "best Friend," and their "Lord." But they don't want Him as their BOSS!
There was a quaint "country western" song not so long ago which contained the words, "I'll love you forever if I want to!" The idea is expressed that the one singing the song has been rejected by a former lover. Nevertheless; even though the rejected one has been told to get lost, he or she says, spitefully, "I'll love you forever if I want to" (Pronounced, "Ah'll luv yew ferever if ah wont to!").
This sums up the ATTITUDE of many a professing "Christian." THEY will decide. THEY will determine if, where, when, how and why. They will "love" God when they get good and ready, and in the manner in which they wish. Many a tobacco-chewing, cursing, Sabbath-breaking man will speak of the "good Lord" almost casually, as if he had some relationship with Christ. Many are self-deceived into believing that they will settle all accounts on their deathbed, or when they are taken to the hospital with emphyzema or cancer. Then, they reason, they will talk to the "GOOD Lord" about everything.
No. It doesn't work that way. Jesus commanded all men "Repent ye, and believe the Gospel!" He didn't say "Just believe, and live life any old way you wish."
These ones do not understand that God has not left it up to us to decide HOW we will worship Him, but only WHETHER!
God is the One who is the RULER! He is our CREATOR, who gives us every breath of life we breathe!
Repentance from SIN means to be deeply sorrowful that we have broken God's Ten Commandments. James wrote, "For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all.
"For he that said, Do not commit adultery, said also, Do not kill. Now if thou commit no adultery, yet if thou kill, thou art become a transgressor of the law.
"So speak ye, and so do, as they that shall be judged by the law of liberty" (James 2:10-12). This applies to EVERY ONE of the Ten Commandments! Your Bible says that anyone who breaks, for instance, the FOURTH commandment is also guilty of the crime of murder, or of robbery! In other words, no one of the ten takes precedence over another. God does not allow us to "select" which ones of His laws we "like," or which ones we agree with. God does not give us the choice of HOW we worship Him—only whether! Notice that God's law is the standard of judgment of human conduct, and that it is called the "law of LIBERTY!" Millions view God's law as restrictive; as a burdensome, unwanted yoke of bondage.
As we already saw, the very first words out of Jesus Christ's mouth as He began delivering the BEST NEWS YOU COULD EVER HEAR were "Repent ye, and believe the GOODNEWS!"
The Kingdom Parables
But "good news" ABOUT WHAT?
Jesus called His message the "good news of the KINGDOM OF GOD."
If I were to write about the "Kingdom of Great Britain," or the "Kingdom of Norway," or the "Kingdom of Thailand," you would know, immediately, that I am speaking of a literal kingdom on this earth; a land where a royal person sits on a throne as a ruler. But when most read of the "Kingdom of God" in the Bible they immediately "spiritualize it away!" Centuries ago, men believed that the "Holy Roman Empire" was the "Kingdom of God" on earth! Many Catholic writers claimed that the "stone which smote the image on his feet" (Daniel 2:44) was the rise of the HOLY ROMAN EMPIRE! Some began to teach, during the heyday of the British Empire, that IT was the "kingdom of God" on this earth!
But this is nonsense. Christ spoke of HIS coming kingdom which will rule this world with a rod of iron for 1,000 years. Read Revelation 20:4; Revelation 2:26 and 3:21. Study the second half of the 19th chapter of Revelation, which describes the second coming of Christ, the annihilation of the beast and false prophet and their armies! These scriptures are not spiritual fantasies, or "pie in the sky" promises, but real predictions of what WILL take place on this earth in YOUR LIFETIME!
Jesus Christ continually spoke of His coming Kingdom. He spoke of its inestimable VALUE; of its EXTENT; of its REWARDS, and HOW one must enter into it.
Notice a few of His famous "Kingdom parables."
"Hear ye therefore the parable of the sower.
"When any one heareth the word of the Kingdom [the GOOD NEWS about Christ's coming Kingdom], and understandeth it not, then cometh the wicked one, and catcheth away that which was sown in his heart. This is he which received seed by the way side.
"But he that received the seed into stony places, the same is he that heareth the word, and anon with joy receiveth it;
"Yet hath he not root in himself, but dureth for a while: for when tribulation or persecution ariseth because of the word [perhaps because family and friends believe he has taken up with some "weird" religion!] , by and by he is offended.
"He also that received seed among the thorns is he that heareth the word; and the care of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, choke the word, and he becometh unfruitful ["Success" today is measured by the size of one's bank account!] .
"But he that received seed into the good ground is he that heareth the word, and understandeth it; which also beareth fruit, and bringeth forth, some an hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty" (Matthew 13:18-23).
Notice how true to human nature! For many decades, my father before me and I have preached the gospel of the Kingdom of God to MILLIONS of people around the world! During the late 1950's, all through the 1960's and into the mid `70's, I was heard by perhaps 30 million Americans each week! We BLANKETED the nations of Canada, Australia, the Philippines and the United States with RADIO! For decades, we were on HUNDREDS of radio stations; by 1978, 360 of them in the U.S. alone, as well as 165 television stations!
MILLIONS heard! But MOST of them "received seed by the wayside." They "enjoyed" the broadcasts. They listened. Hundreds of thousands of truck drivers would listen up to four or five times in the same night as they drove across country! But only a precious FEW received "seed into the good ground." Only a FEW let it take root, grow, and flower into real understanding, so that they ACTED on it.
Others began requesting literature; began studying their Bibles. Eventually, some were baptized, and began attending church. But, like those who "received seed among the thorns," they allowed pressures from family and friends, or disappointment in "church politics," or the "deceitfulness of riches" and the daily concerns of this life to "choke" the seed, and eventually drifted back into the world from whence they had come.
Christ then explained that we all DIFFER in degrees of education and ability; that some become truly fruitful—as He said "an hundredfold," while others only grow comparatively little, spiritually.
Christ likened the Kingdom of God to leaven; showing how the word of God spreads slowly, like leaven in dough prepared for cooking, until finally, massive numbers have heard: "Another parable spake he unto them; The kingdom of heaven is like unto leaven, which a woman took, and hid in three measures of meal, till the whole was leavened" (Mat. 13:33).
He spoke of a "mustard seed", one of the tiniest of seeds, representing the kingdom. He showed how it starts small, yet grows into a large plant—so large birds could rest in it! This was analogous to Christ's own ministry, and that of the early New Testament church. It is also analogous to God's work today! Christ said, "These things saith he that is holy, he that is true, he that hath the key of David, he that openeth, and no man shutteth; and shutteth, and no man openeth;
"I know thy works: behold, I have set before thee an open door, and no man can shut it [this is the "open door" of mass communication; of radio, television, the printed page, personal evangelism, the "Internet", over which Christ's GOOD NEWS can be delivered!]: for thou hast a little strength, and hast kept my word, and hast not denied my name" (Rev. 3:7,8).
Christ spoke plainly about His second coming; about how He would descend from heaven to establish His globe-girdling, world-ruling kingdom! It is only those who are wholly ignorant of His powerful prophecies and the GOOD NEWS He brought who could believe His kingdom is "here, now."
Christ said, "Immediately after the tribulation of those days [described in the preceding verses] shall the sun be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken [see Rev. 6 for another description of these "heavenly signs" which will precede the Day of the Lord, and Christ's return]:
"And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory.
"And he shall send his angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other" (Matthew 24:29-31).
The dead in Christ will rise (1 Corinthians 15:52; 1 Thessalonians 4:16) to meet the living saints in the air (1 Thessalonians 4:17), and to then descend to the Mount of Olives! "Then shall the LORD go forth, and fight against those nations, as when he fought in the day of battle [the "Battle of Armageddon"].
"And his feet shall stand in that day upon the mount of Olives, which is before Jerusalem on the east, and the mount of Olives shall cleave in the midst thereof toward the east and toward the west, and there shall be a very great valley; and half of the mountain shall remove toward the north, and half of it toward the south" (Zechariah 14:3,4).
Notice John's visionary description of Christ's return: "And I saw heaven opened, and behold a white horse; and He that sat upon him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness He doth judge and make war.
"His eyes were as a flame of fire, and on his head were many crowns; and He had a name written, that no man knew, but He himself.
"And He was clothed with a vesture dipped in blood: and his name is called the Word of God.
"And the armies which were in heaven followed him upon white horses, clothed in fine linen, white and clean.
"And out of his mouth goeth a sharp sword, that with it he should smite the nations [by divine COMMAND, Christ will cause the destruction of hundreds of thousands of those who will try to FIGHT Him at His second coming! Read Zechariah 14:12, which describes how their flesh will consume from their bones while they stand!]: and He shall rule them with a rod of iron: and He treadeth the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God.
"And He hath on his vesture and on His thigh a name written, KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS.
"...And I saw the beast, and the kings of the earth, and their armies, gathered together to make war against Him that sat on the horse, and against His army.
"And the beast was taken, and with him the false prophet that wrought miracles before him, with which he deceived them that had received the mark of the beast, and them that worshipped his image. These both were cast alive into a lake of fire burning with brimstone.
"And the remnant were slain with the sword of Him that sat upon the horse, which sword proceeded out of His mouth: and all the fowls were filled with their flesh" (Revelation 19:11-21).
Does this sound like something which has ALREADY OCCURRED? Yet, there are some who would "spiritualize away" the coming Kingdom of God, and deceive people into believing it is HERE, now!
Are YOU Experiencing The Joys Of God's Kingdom?
Today, many protestant evangelicals teach and write
that the "Kingdom of God is HERE, NOW," in the form of the CHURCH! They say all
one must do is "enter" it, meaning receive Christ as Savior, and become a member
of their church!
Such utter, ludicrous nonsense!
LOOK at this filthy, war-torn, disease-ridden, crime-filled world today! The vast majority of mankind lives in unbelievable poverty. Infant mortality, endemic disease, drought, famine, starvation, squalor, crime, pollution; a lack of the basic necessities of life is the daily way of life for countless millions in such nations as China, India, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Egypt, Sudan, Zimbabwe, Indonesia, the Philippines, Brazil, Honduras, Mexico, and HUNDREDS more! In the "developed" countries such as Britain and Europe, Canada and the United States, political corruption, pollution, organized crime, rape, arson, robbery, graft, "white collar crime," theft, murder, sickness and disease, the spread of AIDS, and horrible WEATHER are the daily fare! Because people have FORGOTTEN GOD, God has turned His back on them!
The CURSES God promised would come upon His people if they rejected Him are HERE WITH US NOW!
Listen to what God—the One who became Jesus Christ, said would be the reward of those who keep His laws—the very principles of life which would give us every blessing we could ever want: "Ye shall keep my sabbaths, and reverence my sanctuary: I am the LORD.
"If ye walk in my statutes, and keep my commandments, and do them;
"Then I will give you rain in due season, and the land shall yield her increase, and the trees of the field shall yield their fruit.
"And your threshing shall reach unto the vintage, and the vintage shall reach unto the sowing time: and ye shall eat your bread to the full, and dwell in your land safely.
"And I will give peace in the land, and ye shall lie down, and none shall make you afraid: and I will rid evil beasts out of the land, neither shall the sword go through your land.
"And ye shall chase your enemies, and they shall fall before you by the sword.
"And five of you shall chase an hundred, and an hundred of you shall put ten thousand to flight: and your enemies shall fall before you by the sword.
"For I will have respect unto you, and make you fruitful, and multiply you, and establish my covenant with you.
"And ye shall eat old store, and bring forth the old because of the new.
"And I will set my tabernacle among you: and my soul shall not abhor you.
"And I will walk among you, and will be your God, and ye shall be my people" (Leviticus 25:2-12).
Could any nation be any more richly BLESSED than to have such bountiful crops that the "plowman overtakes the reaper"? Think of it! No taxation, no military conscription, no sickness or disease, no WARS, and therefore no huge federal government taxing its citizens into poverty to support billions of dollars in military costs!
But Israel did NOT obey God, and did NOT receive such blessings except for some very brief periods of time under a rare king who followed God's laws. The modern descendants of those same people are not obeying God's laws today!
Now, notice a description of exactly what we see all around us—the very things we DO NOT WANT, and what many of us experience every day: "But if ye will not hearken unto me, and will not do all these commandments;
"And if ye shall despise my statutes, or if your soul abhor my judgments, so that ye will not do all my commandments, but that ye break my covenant:
"I also will do this unto you; I will even appoint over you terror, consumption, and the burning ague, that shall consume the eyes [colds and flues, pneumonia, and diseases like measles which can cause blindness] and cause sorrow of heart: and ye shall sow your seed in vain, for your enemies shall eat it.
"And I will set my face against you, and ye shall be slain before your enemies: they that hate you shall reign over you; and ye shall flee when none pursueth you.
"And if ye will not yet for all this hearken unto me, then I will punish you seven times more for your sins.
"And I will break the pride of your power; and I will make your heaven as iron, and your earth as brass [drought!]:
"And your strength shall be spent in vain: for your land shall not yield her increase, neither shall the trees of the land yield their fruits.
"And if ye walk contrary unto me, and will not hearken unto me; I will bring seven times more plagues upon you according to your sins.
"I will also send wild beasts among you, which shall rob you of your children, and destroy your cattle, and make you few in number; and your high ways shall be desolate.
"And if ye will not be reformed by me by these things, but will walk contrary unto me;
"Then will I also walk contrary unto you, and will punish you yet seven times for your sins.
"And I will bring a sword upon you, that shall avenge the quarrel of my covenant: and when ye are gathered together within your cities, I will send the pestilence among you; and ye shall be delivered into the hand of the enemy.
"And when I have broken the staff of your bread, ten women shall bake your bread in one oven, and they shall deliver you your bread again by weight: and ye shall eat, and not be satisfied.
"And if ye will not for all this hearken unto me, but walk contrary unto me;
"Then I will walk contrary unto you also in fury; and I, even I, will chastise you seven times for your sins.
"And ye shall eat the flesh of your sons, and the flesh of your daughters shall ye eat.
"And I will destroy your high places, and cut down your images, and cast your carcases upon the carcases of your idols, and my soul shall abhor you.
"And I will make your cities waste, and bring your sanctuaries unto desolation, and I will not smell the savour of your sweet odours.
"And I will bring the land into desolation: and your enemies which dwell therein shall be astonished at it" (Leviticus 26:14-37).
A parallel description is given in great detail in Deuteronomy 28. Notice only a few brief excerpts: "The LORD shall smite thee with a consumption, and with a fever, and with an inflammation, and with an extreme burning, and with the sword, and with blasting, and with mildew; and they shall pursue thee until thou perish.
"And thy heaven that is over thy head shall be brass, and the earth that is under thee shall be iron.
"The LORD shall make the rain of thy land powder and dust: from heaven shall it come down upon thee, until thou be destroyed" (Deuteronomy 28:22-24).
These ominous scriptures plainly tell us that when we OBEY GOD'S LAWS, we reap the AUTOMATIC blessings and benefits that come with our obedience! God's laws reach into every aspect of life; into business, agriculture, industry, education; marriage and the home. When we obey God's laws, we are blessed. When we break His laws, we are cursed.
The one we know of as "Jesus Christ" in the New Testament was the member of the divine Godhead, Elohim who pronounced all these things! He cried out, "I call heaven and earth to record this day against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing: therefore CHOOSE LIFE, that both thou and thy seed may live" (Deuteronomy 30:19).
God sets before us a CHOICE.
He then urges us to CHOOSE RIGHTLY—choose the way of blessings and benefits; the way of good health, bounteous crops, good weather, happy marriages, healthy, obedient children, and an absence of disease, heavy taxation and war!
By REFUSING TO CHOOSE GOD'S WAY of life, people AUTOMATICALLY make the wrong choice! God does not allow us to decide HOW we will worship Him—only WHETHER!
All of us make daily choices. But most make the wrong choices. What we see all around us is the result of mankind making the wrong choice at every turn. Carnal, God-rejecting, law-breaking human nature wants to live the way of least resistance; the way of sin, and then have God remove the penalty! Remember, it was the One who became Jesus Christ who delivered all the wonderful promises of blessings for obedience we read above. But it was also the SAME One who delivered the ominous curses for sin; the very things that make up our daily news!
Are YOU living "in the Kingdom of God" right now? What utter nonsense!
"You Must Be Born Again"
Now, it is time to understand the miraculous
process by which you and I can finally enter into the Kingdom of God! As we have
already seen proved, your Bible says the "dead in Christ" will be resurrected
from their graves to meet the returning Christ in the air. Those who are "alive
and remain" will be "caught up" together WITH the resurrected dead, to be
transported to meet Jesus Christ as He descends to the Mount of Olives.
But at that moment in time, none of these; not those who died long ago, and who are the "dead in Christ," nor those who died only a few years or a few weeks previously; not any who are the living, will be transported to meet Christ in their physical, human state!
No, they will have been CHANGED, instantly!
They will now have become SPIRIT BEINGS; inducted into the growing Family of "God" (Elohim), to become "co-heirs with Christ," and to RULE with Him in His kingdom!
Notice what Paul wrote, "Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; neither doth corruption inherit incorruption.
"Behold, I show you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed,
"In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.
"For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality" (1 Corinthians15:50-53). It is only by understanding this miraculous CHANGE from flesh and blood to spirit; from human to divine, that we can understand the words Christ spoke to Nicodemus.
Jesus said, "Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.
"Nicodemus saith unto him, How can a man be born when he is old? can he enter the second time into his mother's womb, and be born?
"Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.
"That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit" (John 3:3-6). Study this passage very carefully. It contains marvelous, yet simple truths which are not understood by millions of professing, church-going Christians.
Nicodemus did not remotely understand Christ to use any words or phrases which indicated Jesus was speaking of a "religious experience!" Yet, millions believe this passage says Christ wants us to "speak in tongues," or to "receive Christ" as Savior.
But Nicodemus heard no such thing. He heard Christ use the word which is commonly used for "birth," whether the birth of a human, or a dog, or a horse, or a camel! This is the ONLY explanation which satisfies Nicodemus' startled (and perhaps a bit crude) rejoinder. He wanted to know HOW could any man enter into the womb of his MOTHER, and be "born again," meaning Nicodemus knew Jesus was using the word for any kind of BIRTH, and not a word which means a "religious experience!"
The PROOF is contained in the entire passage. You and I are FLESH! We are living, physical, air-breathing, water-drinking, food-ingesting human beings. But we CANNOT enter into God's kingdom in our human, physical state. As Paul wrote, we must be CHANGED!
Jesus said, "That which is born of the flesh IS flesh [that is what you and I ARE], and that which is born of the Spirit IS SPIRIT! They are then COMPOSED of Spirit, and no longer composed of FLESH!
When Jesus had been resurrected from the dead, He was able to manifest Himself physically, yet He was now BORN OF GOD by the resurrection! Do you doubt this? Turn to and read it in your own Bible! "For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren" (Romans 8:29).
The stone which sealed Jesus' tomb was not rolled back to allow Christ to step out of the tomb—it was rolled back to LET THE WORLD LOOK IN! Christ had walked through solid stone many hours earlier! Notice how Christ could walk right though stone in His REBORN Spirit state:
John wrote of "doubting Thomas'" experience, when Christ in His Spirit state, walked right through a solid wall, then "materialized" right in front of His startled disciples: "And after eight days again his disciples were within, and Thomas with them: then came Jesus, the doors being shut, and stood in the midst, and said, Peace be unto you.
"Then saith he to Thomas, Reach hither thy finger, and behold my hands; and reach hither thy hand, and thrust it into my side: and be not faithless, but believing.
"And Thomas answered and said unto him, My Lord and my God.
"Jesus saith unto him, Thomas, because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed: blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed" (John 20:26-29).
Christ was the FIRSTBORN from the dead; the very FIRST human being to be miraculously changed from flesh and blood into Spirit!
Notice, "If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable.
"But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the firstfruits of them that slept [are dead].
"For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead.
"For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive [in the future; at the resurrection. They do not go immediately to heaven in a disembodied "soul" when they die!].
"But every man in his own order: Christ the firstfruits; AFTERWARD [and not one split second before!] they that are Christ's at his coming" (1 Corinthians 15:19-23). Read over once again the scriptures we saw from 1 Thessalonians and Zechariah 14.
Now, go back to John's 3rd chapter once again, and see how PLAIN Jesus Christ made everything to Nicodemus: "Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again.
"The wind bloweth where it listeth [wherever it will], and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth: so IS every one that is born of the Spirit [that is what they ARE—they BECOME SPIRIT!].
"Nicodemus answered and said unto him, How can these things be?
"Jesus answered and said unto him, Art thou a master of Israel, and knowest not these things?
"Verily, verily, I say unto thee, We speak that we do know, and testify that we have seen; and ye receive not our witness.
"If I have told you earthly things, and ye believe not, how shall ye believe, if I tell you of heavenly things?
"And no man hath ascended up to heaven, but He that came down from heaven, even the Son of man which is in heaven" (John 3:7-13).
Jesus explained to Nicodemus how a spirit being is like the wind; INVISIBLE—how one can hear the wind around the eaves of one's house, or sighing through the trees, but cannot see it. He said that is how one who is finally BORN OF THE SPIRIT shall become!
Notice, in passing, that Jesus said NO MAN had "ascended up to heaven." Go back, and review what you have read. Remember that flesh and blood cannot enter God's Kingdom. Christ said we must be "born of the Spirit," and Paul said we must be CHANGED in a moment, in the "twinkling of an eye" at the last trump.
Now, let's understand the miraculous PROCESS by which Almighty God, the Great Elohim; Father and Son, are enlarging their Spirit family!
The Human Family And The God Family
You and I are unique. There is no one else exactly
like you; no one else with your fingerprints, your exact shape, texture of skin,
texture and color of hair—especially, no one else with your own mind and
Where did you come from? How did you get here? Why, by being conceived by your father, and being born from your mother's womb, of course. When did you first exist? At the moment of conception! Moments BEFORE that event, there was only the POTENTIAL for your existence. There was equal potential for hundreds of thousands of others, who, while they would have been the child of your parents, they would not have been YOU!
When you and I were conceived, we were smaller than the period at the end of this sentence. Yet, because of our father's DNA in his sperm, and our mother's genetic code in her egg, all that you were to become; your general physiognomy, height, shape, texture of skin, color of eyes and hair—all was determined by the miraculous, microscopic "genetic code" from your two parents.
At the instant of conception, you were BEGOTTEN, but you would not be BORN for another nine months! The Greek word gennao means BOTH the process of birth and begettal. Notice that Jesus Christ was called the "first begotten": "For unto which of the angels said He at any time, Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee? And again, I will be to him a Father, and he shall be to me a Son?
"And again, when he bringeth in the firstbegotten into the world, he saith, And let all the angels of God worship him" (Hebrews 1:5,6).
Jesus Christ was very God, composed of SPIRIT. But He "emptied Himself," came down to this earth to become a human fetus in the womb of a lovely, righteous, virginal woman, Mary. God's word says, "Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus:
"Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God [He was the Logos; a part of Elohim, as we have seen]:
"But made Himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men" (Philippians 2:5-7). The Diaglott, translating literally from the Greek, says, "Himself emptied," and in the margin, "divesting Himself." Thus, the One who was to become the FIRST BEGOTTEN among all mankind from the Father, and the One who was to eventually become the FIRSTBORN among all mankind began life in human, physical form just as you and I did.
THINK of it! If these statements were written in a science fiction novel, people would be intrigued; fascinated! But the TRUTH really IS "stranger than fiction!" As I said at the beginning, many people are very excited about the possibility of LIFE in outer space; about "creatures" from other planets. There IS life in space—MILLIONS of angels; God the Father, Christ the Son, the twenty-four Elders, cherubim and seraphim, Gabriel and Michael, the two loyal, faithful archangels—all exist in what we refer to as SPACE. We have no concept whatsoever as to the location of the "third heaven" described by Paul (2 Corinthians 12:1-4). But in that "third heaven" dwell the RULERS of the WHOLE UNIVERSE! Jesus Christ now sits at the right hand of the Father on high, waiting until the moment when He will once again launch Himself toward this earth, this time at the head of MILLIONS OF ANGELS! This time, He is coming to CONQUER, and to RULE! May He come SOON, even as He instructed us to pray, "Thy Kingdom come!"
But nearly two thousand years ago, the great One who is called "I AM," and "JEHOVAH", and the Logos who was one of the two members of the Elohim LEFT heaven, came down to this earth, and "divested Himself" of His glory He had with the Father from ALL ETERNITY (something our limited human minds cannot begin to fathom!), became a tiny HUMAN LIFE; a developing fetus in the womb of a wonderful, sweet, meek, righteous virgin called Mary! He was BORN of God by the resurrection; changed once again to His SPIRIT form, but He was BEGOTTEN of God from the womb, having the Holy Spirit "without measure" from birth.
Notice further, "So also Christ glorified not Himself to be made an high priest; but He that said unto Him, Thou art my Son, to day have I begotten thee.
"As He saith also in another place, Thou art a Priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec.
"Who in the days of His flesh, when He had offered up prayers and supplications with strong crying and tears unto Him that was able to save Him from death, and was heard in that He feared;
"Though He were a Son, yet learned He obedience by the things which He suffered;
"And being made perfect, He became the Author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey Him" (Hebrews 5:5-10). Look at the rich truth in these precious and beautiful verses! They are a great PART of the BEST NEWS you could ever hear! Jesus Christ is in heaven. He is ALIVE. He promised His church, "I will NEVER leave you, nor forsake you!" He is our DAILY HIGH PRIEST, turning to His Father in intercession for us when we pray with broken hearts and humble spirits, asking forgiveness for our sins and faults. He KNOWS what it is to strive against the flesh, for He did so—PERFECTLY, with "strong crying and TEARS" during His sojourn here among His own creation.
Notice that He is the Author of salvation to those who OBEY Him, not just those who "believe on Him!"
Just as this great Visitor from space made we human beings in the very physical image of the divine Family called Elohim, so, through the process of repentance, forgiveness, baptism, and the begettal with the Holy Spirit of God, He is forming, recreating IN HIS SPIRITUAL image! He is RECREATING after HIS OWN KIND!
"A New Creature In Christ"
When you and I were conceived, we were a NEW CREATION!
We had never been here before. We were (and are) utterly unique. One of a kind.
The first time ever—never to be, in exactly the same shape and form; with the
exact same personality, again! For only seconds, just prior to our physical
conception, we were in competition with millions of potential brothers and
sisters. There was a momentary "window of opportunity" before us. WE WON! We are
HERE, while millions of potential members of our families LOST OUT. They did not
succeed in becoming conceived as a new, never-before, separate human being.
When God places His Holy Spirit with OUR HUMAN SPIRIT, we become, at the instant of spiritual conception, a NEW SPIRITUAL CREATURE!
Let the rich words of God sink down into your mind and heart, and BELIEVE the awesome, BEST NEWS you could ever hear! Paul likened the receiving of God's Holy Spirit as a "baptism" into the "body of Christ," which is the ever-growing FAMILY of God: "For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit [using the analogy of water for God's Spirit—common in scripture]" (1 Corinthians 12:13). Earlier, Paul had told the Corinthian brethren, "Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you?" (1 Corinthians 3:16). God's Holy Spirit is the power, life, mind, nature and character of God!
Peter spoke of this. He wrote, "According as His divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him that hath called us to glory and virtue:
"Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust" (2 Peter 1:3, 4). When you and I were conceived, we were given, in microscopic, invisible physical form, a part of the very NATURE of our two parents! We are LIKE them, for they created us and brought us into being.
God's word uses many physical analogies to help our human minds to comprehend spirit. His Holy Spirit is likened unto fire, as an example. Study Acts the 2nd chapter. Read how His Spirit appeared visibly like leaping tongues of flame, forming crowns, parting from the ceiling and slowly settling on the heads of each of the twelve disciples! Here were Christ's disciples, now begotten with the Holy Spirit, speaking with power and conviction about the resurrection of Christ and His coming Kingdom; their hair appearing to be on fire, and not a single one singed!
The Spirit of God is also analogous to water. It was said to have been "poured out." Notice, "And it shall come to pass in the last days, saith God, I will pour out of my Spirit upon all flesh: and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams:
"And on my servants and on my handmaidens I will pour out in those days of my Spirit; and they shall prophesy" (Acts 2:17,18). Notice carefully the language of this quotation by Peter from the prophet Joel. God says He will "pour out of HIS SPIRIT" upon human beings. Such language does not admit to the concept of the Holy Spirit of God being a "third person" of the Godhead! The word "trinity" is NOWHERE in the Bible. Instead, the Bible speaks of the "Spirit of the Father" and the "Spirit of the Son," either one of which is called "Holy," since the One who gives the Spirit is Holy.
Jesus, speaking in Solomon's porch on the "Last Great Day" of the Feast of Tabernacles, said, "If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink.
"He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water [that is, out of his innermost being; from the "heart" should flow "rivers" of the fruits of God's Holy Spirit].
"(But this spake He of the Spirit, which they that believe on Him should receive: for the Holy Ghost was not yet given; because that Jesus was not yet glorified)" (John 7:37-39).
There are many other references to the Spirit which are analogous to water. Water is the essence of life. It is pure. It cleanses, washes, scours, and makes clean. It is a solvent. Describing how God's Holy Spirit can cleanse us as we read and study His word, Paul wrote, "That He might sanctify and cleanse it [the church] with the washing of water by [through] the word" (Ephesians 5:26).
As we saw in the exchange between Christ and Nicodemus, the Spirit is also likened unto wind, or the air. Invisible, yet powerful! Again, we must have water to live. We live on a "watery planet," the only one known. We are about 98% water. We must breathe the air around us, extracting the life-giving oxygen from it. Without fire to warm us, to cook our food, to effect chemical change in the elements of the earth, we could not survive.
God's Holy Spirit does not come into our kneecap, or our elbow, or our thumb. Instead, He begets a NEW SPIRITUAL CREATURE by uniting His life-giving Spirit with OUR HUMAN SPIRIT!
Notice this profound truth: "For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God.
"For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption ["sonship," implying far more than mere adoption, but actual begettal], whereby we cry, `Abba,' Father.
"The Spirit itself [God's Holy Spirit] beareth witness with our spirit [our human spirit; the "spirit in man"], that we are the children of God:
"And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with Him, that we may be also glorified together" (Romans 8:14-17). In these four verses is contained some of the most profound truth of the ages! The truth is not only ASTONISHING, it is the BEST NEWS YOU COULD EVER HEAR!
Read each one of these precious words slowly, comprehending each one, digesting this fabulous truth, BELIEVING it!
It was when the life of your father united with the life of your mother that TWO living cells combined to form ONE NEW LIFE! When that moment occurred, your human father had GIVEN YOU YOUR LIFE! At the instant you were conceived; not a moment before, YOU came into being! It is our Creator who designed the human reproductive process. He is the CREATOR. How completely natural that the great miracle of human reproduction should portray to us the very plan of God. Notice that God says His Holy Spirit witnesses with OUR HUMAN spirit that WE ARE HIS CHILDREN! Thus life united with LIFE to produce NEW life!
When we repent of sins, are baptized, and have hands laid upon us, we are at that moment begotten! A NEW, never before spiritual creature is conceived in spirit form! A new spiritual creation has occurred.
Because of this, we call God our "FATHER!" This is not a mere theological title, or a name of respect. It is a FACT! He IS our real spiritual FATHER! When you said "daddy" or "dad," or "father" to your human parent, you were calling him what he IS; the one who begat you; who gave you your life! When we pray, as Jesus Christ commanded us to do, to our spiritual Father in Heaven, we are addressing Him by what He IS—our FATHER! We are His offspring! We are to finally be BORN into His family!
Read the rest of the passage above slowly and carefully: "...if children, then HEIRS; heirs of God..." And what does God own? What does He have? He says, "All the silver and gold is MINE." He has ALL POWER. He possesses ETERNAL LIFE. He is the RULER of the vast universe! If you were the sole heir to a multi-billionaire, what would you inherit? Why, everything he had!
What did Christ inherit? Eternal life! Glory! Many Crowns! A KINGDOM! RULERSHIP OVER THE WHOLE EARTH FOR ONE THOUSAND YEARS, and rulership of the whole universe on into eternity!
Now, notice, "...and JOINT-heirs WITH CHRIST!"
That means equal sharing!
Can you comprehend it? Will your mind permit you to accept it? Can you see what your God is telling you in His sacred word?
YOU were born to become a SPIRIT BEING! You were born merely as a temporary, human, physical prototype! You are to be begotten of God's Spirit; to grow in the grace and knowledge of Jesus Christ until you become more and more LIKE Him; to eventually be either CHANGED in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye at the last trump, or to be resurrected from the dead; to be caught up to meet the returning, conquering Christ in the air; to descend with Him on the Mount of Olives near Jerusalem, and to RULE the nations of this earth with a rod of iron for 1,000 years!
Notice now how Paul explains this marvelous, breathtaking truth: "Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new" (2 Corinthians 5:17). You and I were, at the instant of conception, NEW CREATURES. We were HERE, in tiny, microscopic form.
The instant God places His Holy Spirit with a repentant human spirit, a spiritual conception has taken place; a begettal! Just as we had to be nurtured in our mother's womb for nine months until we were ready to be born, draw our first breath, and begin living apart from our mother's umbilical, so we will not finally be ready to be BORN of God to begin life in a new and different form, until the resurrection, or the time of instantaneous change!
God Is A Family
The use of familial terms in the word of God is not
merely to sound "spiritual." Jesus Christ said, "My Father is GREATER than I,"
and continually referred to His Father in heaven. Why? Because Christ was
BEGOTTEN of the Father from the womb!
We have already read, in Hebrews 1:5, how Paul wrote, "For unto which of the angels said He at any time, Thou art MY SON, this day have I begotten Thee? And again, I will be to Him a Father, and He shall be to me a son?"
God (Elohim) reveals to us the presence of a FATHER and a SON. Jesus said "I and My Father are one," obviously meaning that the two of them are in perfect agreement; perfect harmony; perfect unanimity of Spirit. Yet, He also said, "My Father is greater than I," and said He had come to "reveal" the Father. Continually, He insisted the BEST NEWS YOU COULD EVER HEAR was about your personal destiny; about the coming world-ruling Kingdom of God on this earth which was delivered to Him by His Father! He said, "I speak that which I have seen with my Father..." (John 8:38). Read the entire 8th chapter of John, where Jesus continually referred to His Father. He said, "Ye judge after the flesh; I judge no man.
"And yet if I judge, my judgment is true: for I am not alone, but I and the Father that sent me.
"It is also written in your law, that the testimony of two men is true.
"I am one that bear witness of myself, and the Father that sent me beareth witness of me.
"Then said they unto him, Where is thy Father? Jesus answered, Ye neither know me, nor my Father: if ye had known me, ye should have known my Father also" (John 8:15-19).
It is utterly nonsensical to believe in the "Jesus only" doctrine as taught by some churches. One would have to rip out of the Bible many, many plain statements of Jesus Christ Himself, as well as many of the prophecies. Remember, as we read at the beginning, Elohim means more than one! "Elohim said, Let US make man in OUR image."
Though there are hints in the Psalms about Father and Son, and obvious reference to both in Daniel's visions, it remained for Jesus Christ, born of the virgin Mary, to REVEAL the presence of the FATHER of the divine Elohim.
Jesus commands us, that, when (not "if") we pray, we should say, "Our FATHER, which art in heaven..." The Bible uses many familial terms to demonstrate the spiritual relationship of each of us. We are the "children" of God. His "offspring." Christ is the "First-begotten" among all living humans. We are "brothers and sisters" in Christ. Christ referred to His disciples as His "brethren."
The pagan doctrine of the "trinity", accepted back in 325 AD at the Council of Nicaea as proposed by Anathasias, obfuscates the real truth about the divine sovereign FAMILY of persons called Elohim.
The nations of this earth are FAMILIES grown large. The word "nation" has to do with BIRTH. The prefix "nat" is found in "nativity," "natal," "pre-natal," "natural," and so-on. When God changed the name of Abram to Abraham (which meant "Father of many nations"), He said, "As for me, behold, my covenant is with thee, and thou shalt be a father of many nations.
"Neither shall thy name any more be called Abram, but thy name shall be Abraham; for a father of many nations have I made thee.
"And I will make thee exceeding fruitful, and I will make nations of thee, and kings shall come out of thee.
"And I will establish my covenant between me and thee and thy seed after thee in their generations [plural! This is not referring to `that One Seed,' which is Christ, but to multiple seed!] for an everlasting covenant, to be a God unto thee, and to thy seed after thee" (Genesis 17:3-7).
Abraham is the progenitor of all the modern nations of ten-tribed Israel, as well as many of the Arab nations! His nephew Lot is the progenitor of Moab and Ammon, probably some of the peoples of Iraq and Jordan. Esau, Jacob's brother, is the progenitor of the Turkish people.
A family became a clan. A clan became a tribe. A tribe became a "nation." Of course, there is a wide difference between a political entity, like a modern "state" and a "family of people" who might live within such a state. Few national borders recognize purely ethnic differences. For example, Belgium is made up of two main stocks: Flemish and Walloons, plus many French, Germans, Dutch, and others.
Jesus Christ showed that He is going to return to this earth to set up the KINGDOM OF GOD! But the Kingdom of God is much, much more than a ruling POLITICAL government. It is a RULING FAMILY into which YOU AND I MUST BE BORN!
By analogy, the monarchies of the world were FAMILIES, ruling over dozens of nations down through history. In Europe, England, Scotland, Wales; even in Germany and Russia, those families were often related. One was BORN to be a king or queen, not elected!
This same analogy is used in God's word! Notice, "But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should show forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvelous light:
"Which in time past were not a people, but are now the people [children!] of God: which had not obtained mercy, but now have obtained mercy" (1 Peter 2:9,10). Many times, the re-born children of God are described as KINGS AND PRIESTS in God's kingdom—having obtained their exalted station and their scepter of rulership by right of BIRTH: "And from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, and the first begotten of the dead, and the Prince of the kings of the earth. Unto Him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in His own blood,
"And hath made us kings and priests unto God and His Father; to him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen" (Revelation 1:6).
Notice another example: "And they sung a new song, saying, Thou art worthy to take the book, and to open the seals thereof: for thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation;
"And hast made us unto our God kings and priests: and we shall reign on the earth" (Revelation 5:9,10).
A throne is an official chair of state. It connotes RULERSHIP. Notice John's vision of Christ's coming Kingdom: "And I saw thrones, and they sat upon them, and judgment was given unto them: and I saw the souls of them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus, and for the word of God, and which had not worshipped the beast, neither his image, neither had received his mark upon their foreheads, or in their hands; and they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years" (Revelation 20:4).
The great FAMILY OF GOD will be a RULING FAMILY of Kings and Priests—sharing CO-REGENCY with Jesus Christ during the millennium: "Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection: on such the second death hath no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with Him a thousand years" (Revelation 20:6).
WHY is this not understood by so many millions of professing Christians? WHY do they IGNORE these grand, glorious promises? WHY would anyone deliberately turn their back on the BEST NEWS THEY COULD EVER HEAR?
"REPENT Ye, and BELIEVE The BEST NEWS
YOU COULD EVER HEAR!"
As we saw at the beginning, millions of professing,
church-going Christians have "received Christ" (or so they think). They "believe
on Him," even though they know next to nothing about Him! They adore the
MESSENGER, but they have TOTALLY IGNORED THE MESSAGE He brought from His Father!
How GLORIOUS is the truth of God compared to the dark, pagan superstitions of
the "immortality of the soul," and "going to heaven" when you die! There are no
nations needing rulership with a rod of iron up in heaven! Jesus Christ of
Nazareth promises CO-RULERSHIP with HIM over this entire earth!
That is the heart and core of the gospel! Christ came, proclaiming that He was the very Son of the Father; God (Elohim) in the flesh! He came to set us an example, that we should live as He lived. He came to qualify as the future King of kings and Lord of lords. He came to disqualify the present evil world ruler, Satan. He came to die for the sins of all mankind. He came to be resurrected to sit at the right hand of the Father until His enemies be made His footstool. He came to become our daily HIGH PRIEST, making intercession for us to the Father. And He is COMING BACK TO THIS EARTH AGAIN a LOT SOONER than most think!
Notice what Christ promises you and me! "And he that over-cometh, and keepeth my works unto the end, to him will I give power over the nations:
"And he shall rule them with a rod of iron; as the vessels of a potter shall they be broken to shivers: even as I received of my Father.
"And I will give him the morning star" (Revelation 2:26,27). Keeping the WORKS of Christ means believing all His wondrous miracles; believing in everything He taught; believing and obeying His EXAMPLE, and obeying His great COMMISSION to His church! It means "holding fast to the faith once delivered to the Saints," never wavering, never deviating, never turning away from God's truth! It means DOING THE WORK that Christ has set before us of preaching the BEST NEWS THIS WORLD COULD EVER HEAR as a witness, and, if people reject it, a warning about what is coming in the future!
This is no empty promise! It is LITERAL! Do you know of nations which need the divine RULERSHIP of Almighty God? How about Saddam Hussein, and Iraq? How about Libya, or Syria, or Bosnia, or Northern Ireland, or Korea, or China, or India? How about Zimbabwe, or Rwanda, or Angola, or Kenya? Yes, and HOW ABOUT THE UNITED STATES, CANADA, BRITAIN, AUSTRALIA, and every other nation on earth?
Think of it!
A time when GOD'S LAWS will be ENFORCED on all the peoples of this earth—and the offer to YOU, that YOU can have a part in abolishing war; doing away with all crime and violence—bringing PEACE to this war-torn, sin-sick world at last!
God promises, "And it shall come to pass in the last days, that the mountain of the Lord's house [a mountain is a symbol of government] shall be established in the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills; and all nations shall flow unto it.
"And many people shall go and say, Come ye, and let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, to the house of the God of Jacob; and He will teach us of His ways, and we will walk in His paths: for out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the LORD from Jerusalem.
"And He shall judge among the nations, and shall rebuke many people: and they shall beat their swords into plowshares [converting tanks into tractors] , and their spears into pruning hooks [converting rifles into rakes and hoes]: nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more" (Isaiah 2:2-4).
Can anything be BETTER news? No more poverty, squalor, sickness or disease! No more heavy taxation, or military conscription. No more CRIME or violence! No more cheating, lying, conniving politicians to exploit the people. No more WAR! Think of your children and grandchildren; of the world in which they must live today. Then, let your mind picture the glories of the reign of Jesus Christ and His re-born Saints, as a part of the governing, ruling FAMILY OF GOD, now grown great into the KINGDOM of God!
Micah was inspired to write almost identical words, "But in the last days it shall come to pass, that the mountain of the house of the LORD shall be established in the top of the mountains, and it shall be exalted above the hills; and people shall flow unto it.
"And many nations shall come, and say, Come, and let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, and to the house of the God of Jacob; and He will teach us of His ways, and we will walk in His paths: for the law shall go forth of Zion, and the word of the LORD from Jerusalem.
"And He shall judge among many people, and rebuke strong nations afar off; and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks: nation shall not lift up a sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more.
"But they shall sit every man under his vine and under his fig tree; and none shall make them afraid: for the mouth of the LORD of hosts hath spoken it" (Micah 4:1-4).
There are many beautiful scriptures which portray to us the glorious reign of Christ and the Family of God on earth. Perhaps none is quite so inspiring as Isaiah's 11th chapter, however. He wrote, "But with righteousness shall He judge the poor, and reprove with equity for the meek of the earth: and He shall smite the earth with the rod of His mouth, and with the breath of His lips shall He slay the wicked [justice will be JUST, and it will be SWIFT!].
"And righteousness shall be the girdle of His loins, and faithfulness the girdle of His reins.
"The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid; and the calf and the young lion and the fatling together; and a little child shall lead them.
"And the cow and the bear shall feed; their young ones shall lie down together: and the lion shall eat straw like the ox.
"And the sucking child shall play on the hole of the asp, and the weaned child shall put his hand on the cockatrice' den.
"They [neither wild animals, snakes, nor men] shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain: for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the LORD, as the waters cover the sea" (Isaiah 11:4-9).
WHY would any human being REJECT the stupendous, breath-taking, amazing, marvelous GOOD NEWS about Christ's coming kingdom? When I consider all of God's word that we have seen in this booklet, and then look into the faces of my precious grandchildren—when I think of all the suffering children of the world; of all the poverty, disease, starvation, floods, famines, fires, wars—when I think of all the heartache, misery, distress and pain among so many millions—it is then that I realize that God has given me the BEST NEWS I COULD EVER HEAR! Thank God our Savior, and praise to His great and holy name for giving us the bright, shining HOPE of the gospel!
This publication is intended to be used as a personal study tool. Please know it is not wise to take any man's word for anything, including ours, so prove all things for yourself from the pages of your own Bible.
The Garner Ted Armstrong Evangelistic Association
P.O. Box 747
Flint, TX 75762
Phone: (903) 561-7070 • Fax: (903) 561-4141
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