October, 2016

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The Commandments of God and the Faith of Jesus

The Third Angel’s Message of Revelation 14 sounds a warning to the world against receiving the Mark of the Beast and describes the mission and character of God’s people in the last days, saying: “Here is the patience of the saints: here are they that keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus.” Rev. 14:12.  Emphasis has been given, quite rightly, on the keeping of the commandments of God as a safeguard against being deceived into receiving the Mark of the Beast.  But what of the “faith of Jesus”?  This is the aspect of that final warning to the world that links the message of the third angel to the message of righteousness by faith in Jesus.

The Commandments of God

There is no question as to what are the “commandments of God”.  There is only one set of commandments that God himself gave, the Ten Commandments.  He spoke them audibly from Mount Sinai in the hearing of a multitude.  He wrote them with His own fingers on two tables of stone.  Some people try to get away from keeping the Ten Commandments because they find the fourth commandment, which requires us to keep the seventh day Sabbath, inconvenient.  The fourth commandment says: “Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy”, and it indicates clearly that “the seventh day is the sabbath of the Lord thy God” (Ex.20:8-11).

Some will claim that in the New Testament dispensation it is the commandments of Jesus that matter and that Jesus did not specifically say that we should keep the seventh day Sabbath.  This is clearly spurious as Jesus kept the Sabbath (Luke 4:16) and even anticipated that His followers should be keeping the Sabbath long after His resurrection and ascension, by warning them:  “pray ye that your flight be not in the winter, neither on the sabbath day” (Matt. 24:20), in prophesying of the destruction of Jerusalem, which would take place in the year 70 AD.  Others say that the doing away of the glorious ministration of ancient Israel that was centred on the two tables of stone means that the commandments themselves are done away with.  This is also false as the new covenant involves writing the commandments of God in our hearts whereas the old covenant had them written on tables of stone (Heb. 8:7-10).

The final conflict will be between the keeping of the commandments of men on the one side and the keeping of the commandments of God on the other side.  Jesus warned: “But in vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men.” (Matt. 15:9).

The world has come to a place where any form of worship is considered legitimate, once it is called worship.  But Jesus specifically indicated that it is the “true worshippers” who “worship the Father in spirit and in truth” that the Father seeks to worship Him (John 4:23).  Even in Christian worship today, it is as if the Father does not exist.  It is as if Jesus is the only one to be worshipped, as though Jesus is not the mediator to create a bridge to the Father.  Make no mistake, Jesus is the Son of God and is to be worshipped.  The Father commands us and angels to worship Him (John 5:22, 23; Heb. 1:6).  But the Father is Jesus’ God who anointed Him, as the Father said of Jesus: “Thou hast loved righteousness, and hated iniquity; therefore God, even thy God, hath anointed thee” (Heb. 1:9).  The example set in heaven, as described throughout the Book of Revelation, is that the angels worship the Father who sits on the throne and Jesus Christ the Lamb: “Blessing, and honour, and glory, and power, be unto him that sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb for ever and ever.” (Rev. 5:13).

The Third Angel warns: “If any man worship the beast and his image, and receive his mark in his forehead, or in his hand, The same shall drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out without mixture into the cup of his indignation; and he shall be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels, and in the presence of the Lamb” (Rev. 14:9, 10)The commandments of men are not very different from the commandments of God as it relates to not killing, stealing or doing other such vices.  The one distinct sign, however, that distinguishes the commandments of God from the commandments of men is the keeping of the seventh day Sabbath.  This is God’s sign and will identify those who are worshipping God, the Creator, as opposed to those who are worshipping someone else.  God says: “And hallow my sabbaths; and they shall be a sign between me and you, that ye may know that I am the Lord your God.” (Eze. 20:20).

Many people are worshipping ignorantly, but the mission of God’s people in the last days is to call them to the worship of the true and living God who created heaven and earth.  It was as a reminder that God created the world in six days and rested on the seventh day, as stated in the fourth commandment, that the seventh day Sabbath was given by God (Ex. 20:8-11).

And just in case someone should think that one reference is not enough to establish the keeping of God’s commandments as a mark of God’s people in the last days, the same thought as given in the Third Angel’s Message is given in the description of the remnant in the following words: “And the dragon was wroth with the woman, and went to make war with the remnant of her seed, which keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus Christ.” (Rev. 12:17).  Jesus said that, “in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established.” (Matt. 18:16).

The Faith of Jesus

Along with the keeping of the commandments of God, God’s people in the last days are characterized by their keeping “the faith of Jesus” (Rev. 14:12), which is also referred to as their having the “testimony of Jesus Christ.” (Rev. 12:17).  But have we, unwittingly put ourselves in a position where we are unable to fully contemplate the faith of Jesus – the faith that Jesus had?  If we consider Christ, in His position on earth as being “all-knowing”, then He could not exercise faith.  As we are told: “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” Heb. 11:1.   So faith is predicated on hope and holding on to things that we cannot see.  Further, “For we are saved by hope: but hope that is seen is not hope: for what a man seeth, why doth he yet hope for?” Rom. 8:24.

 The Bible is clear that Jesus did not know everything when He was on earth.  Jesus Himself declared, speaking of His second coming, that “of that day and that hour knoweth no man, no , not the angels which are in heaven, neither the Son, but the Father.” (Mark 13:32).  Those who say that the Father and the Son are co-equal need to think again.  Further, we are told that, as a child, “Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favour with God and man.” (Luke 2:52).  Jesus had to exercise faith – faith in His Father.

The one thing that is required of us in order for us to be saved is faith: “For by grace are ye saved through faith” (Eph. 2:8).  Further, we are told, “Abraham believed God and it was counted unto him for righteousness.” Rom. 4:3 (also Gal. 3:6).  If Jesus knew everything when He was here, He could not exercise faith and therefore could not be our example in the one thing, above all else, that is required of us, namely exercising faith in God.  But Jesus did exercise faith.  He did it most particularly in yielding up His life on Calvary.  He believed in God – His Father.  He trusted the love of God.  He believed that His Father would raise Him from the dead and his Father did.  We are told that it was “God the Father, who raised him from the dead” (Gal. 1:1).

Jesus came to earth to reveal the truth about His Father – that God is love.   He said: “To this end was I born, and for this cause came I into the world, that I should bear witness unto the truth.” John 18:37.  He sealed His testimony with His blood.  He died not knowing what was beyond the grave.  That is the faith that we are called upon to have.  And Jesus is the greatest exemplar of that faith.  Of the saints it is said that, they will be severely tested, tried and persecuted by Satan but “they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony; and they loved not their lives unto the death.” Rev. 12:11.

Our faith, today, is best reflected in our hope of the second coming of Christ.  The blessed hope of the soon return of our Saviour, Jesus Christ, sums up our faith that, in keeping the commandments of God, even to the point of death, we will not be disappointed.  The promise is that, if we are faithful, we will either be resurrected to eternal life or we will be changed in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye and be caught up to meet the Lord in the air (1 Thess. 4:14-17; 1 Cor. 15:51, 52), when Jesus Christ returns.  Jesus trusted His Father to raise Him from the dead.  We must trust that Jesus will do the same for us.  God’s counsel to us is confirmed by two immutable things: His promise and His oath, as we are told:

“Wherein God, willing more abundantly to shew unto the heirs of promise the immutability of his counsel, confirmed it by an oath: That by two immutable things, in which it was impossible for God to lie, we might have a strong consolation, who have fled for refuge to lay hold upon the hope set before us: Which hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast, and which entereth into that within the veil; Whither the forerunner is for us entered, even Jesus” (Heb. 6:17-20).

The Loud Cry – Outpouring of the Spirit

A mighty outpouring of the Spirit of God is prophesied (Revelation 18:1 and Joel 2:23, 28-32) to take place in the last days to accompany the final warning to the world.  This outpouring is not intended to minimize the message of the Third Angel’s Movement.  Rather, it is intended to support and enhance the Third Angel’s Message and give focus to the mission of God’s remnant people in the last days.  It is the Third Angel’s Message that swells to a loud cry when the Angel of Revelation 18 lightens the earth with his glory.  We are told:

The work of this angel comes in at the right time to join in the last great work of the third angels message as it swells to a loud cry. (E. G. White, The Story of Redemption, p. 399).

“Here is the patience of the saints: here are they that keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus.” Rev. 14:12.

 

For further information:

E-mail: commandmentsofgodandfaithofjesus@yahoo.com

 

The Paris Agreement and the Mark of the Beast

Warning to the World!

The time is upon us! The final events for which we have long waited are unfolding before us! We cannot afford to fall asleep now!

The Paris agreement calls for countries to cut carbon emissions; in other words, reduce industrial activity that releases carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. Carbon emissions, it is generally held, causes global warming. Global warming is believed to be the reason for natural disasters and other events that destroy the environment. Pope Francis’s recent encylical,  Laudato si´, links Sunday rest with protection of the environment. So the question is this: When countries commit to cut carbon emissions, are they expected to achieve the implied reduction in industrial activity by mandating Sunday rest?

For more than 170 years, there have been efforts to call the world’s attention to the Third Angel’s Message of Revelation 14 which is understood as a warning to the world that an alliance between the Papacy and the United States of America would bring about worldwide enforcement of Sunday observance and that such enforcement would constitute the Mark of the Beast.

One of the things that has not been prominently highlighted, however, is the fact that the prophet, Ellen G. White, predicted that such enforcement would be propelled by an appeal to environmental concerns. Here it is:

Satan works through the elements also to garner his harvest of unprepared souls. He has studied the laboratories of nature, and he uses all his power to control the elements as far as God allows . . . . . In accidents and calamities by sea and by land, in great conflagrations, in fierce tornadoes and terrific hailstorms, in tempests, floods, cyclones, tidal waves, and earthquakes, in every place and in a thousand forms, Satan is exercising his power. He sweeps away the ripening harvest, and famine and distress follow. He imparts to the air a deadly taint, and thousands perish by the pestilence. These visitations are to become more and more frequent and disastrous. Destruction will be upon both man and beast. . . . And then the great deceiver will persuade men that those who serve God are causing these evils. The class that have provoked the displeasure of Heaven will charge all their troubles upon those whose obedience to God’s commandments is a perpetual reproof to transgressors.  It will be declared that men are offending God by the violation of the Sunday sabbath; that this sin has brought calamities which will not cease until Sunday observance shall be strictly enforced; and that those who present the claims of the fourth commandment, thus destroying reverence for Sunday, are troublers of the people, preventing their restoration to divine favour and temporal prosperity.” (Ellen G. White, The Great Controversy, 589, 590.)

The Third Angel’s Message of Revelation 14 sounds a warning to the world against receiving the Mark of the Beast and describes the mission and character of God’s people in the last days, saying: “Here is the patience of the saints: here are they that keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus.” (Rev. 14:12).

The Commandments of God

There is no question as to what are the “commandments of God”.  There is only one set of commandments that God himself gave, the Ten Commandments.  He spoke them audibly from Mount Sinai in the hearing of a multitude.  He wrote them with His own fingers on two tables of stone.  Some people try to get away from keeping the Ten Commandments because they find the fourth commandment, which requires us to keep the seventh day Sabbath, inconvenient.  The fourth commandment says: “Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy”, and it indicates clearly that “the seventh day is the sabbath of the Lord thy God” (Ex.20:8-11).

Some will claim that in the New Testament dispensation it is the commandments of Jesus that matter and that Jesus did not specifically say that we should keep the seventh day Sabbath.  This is clearly spurious as Jesus kept the Sabbath (Luke 4:16) and even anticipated that His followers should be keeping the Sabbath long after His resurrection and ascension, by warning them:  “pray ye that your flight be not in the winter, neither on the sabbath day” (Matt. 24:20), in prophesying of the destruction of Jerusalem, which would take place in the year 70 AD.  Others say that the doing away of the glorious ministration of ancient Israel that was centred on the two tables of stone means that the commandments themselves are done away with.  This is also false as the new covenant involves writing the commandments of God in our hearts whereas the old covenant had them written on tables of stone (Heb. 8:7-10).

The final conflict will be between the keeping of the commandments of men on the one side and the keeping of the commandments of God on the other side.  Jesus warned: “But in vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men.” (Matt. 15:9).

The Third Angel warns: “If any man worship the beast and his image, and receive his mark in his forehead, or in his hand, The same shall drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out without mixture into the cup of his indignation; and he shall be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels, and in the presence of the Lamb” (Rev. 14:9, 10)The commandments of men are not very different from the commandments of God as it relates to not killing, stealing or doing other such vices.  The one distinct sign, however, that distinguishes the commandments of God from the commandments of men is the keeping of the seventh day Sabbath.  This is God’s sign and will identify those who are worshipping God, the Creator, as opposed to those who are worshipping someone else.  God says: “And hallow my sabbaths; and they shall be a sign between me and you, that ye may know that I am the Lord your God.” (Eze. 20:20).

Many people are worshipping ignorantly, but the mission of God’s people in the last days is to call them to the worship of the true and living God who created heaven and earth.  It was as a reminder that God created the world in six days and rested on the seventh day, as stated in the fourth commandment, that the seventh day Sabbath was given by God (Ex. 20:8-11).

The Faith of Jesus

Along with the keeping of the commandments of God, God’s people in the last days are characterized by their keeping “the faith of Jesus” (Rev. 14:12).  But have we, unwittingly put ourselves in a position where we are unable to fully contemplate the faith of Jesus – the faith that Jesus had?  If we consider Christ, in His position on earth as being “all-knowing”, then He could not exercise faith.  As we are told: “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” Heb. 11:1.   So faith is predicated on hope and holding on to things that we cannot see.  Further, “For we are saved by hope: but hope that is seen is not hope: for what a man seeth, why doth he yet hope for?” (Rom. 8:24).

 The Bible is clear that Jesus did not know everything when He was on earth.  Jesus Himself declared, speaking of His second coming, that “of that day and that hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels which are in heaven, neither the Son, but the Father.” (Mark 13:32).  Those who say that the Father and the Son are co-equal need to think again.  Further, we are told that, as a child, “Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favour with God and man.” (Luke 2:52).  Jesus had to exercise faith – faith in His Father.

The one thing that is required of us in order for us to be saved is faith: “For by grace are ye saved through faith” (Eph. 2:8).  Further, we are told, “Abraham believed God and it was counted unto him for righteousness.” Rom. 4:3 (also Gal. 3:6).  If Jesus knew everything when He was here, He could not exercise faith and therefore could not be our example in the one thing, above all else, that is required of us, namely exercising faith in God.  But Jesus did exercise faith.  He did it most particularly in yielding up His life on Calvary.  He believed in God – His Father.  He trusted the love of God.  He believed that His Father would raise Him from the dead and his Father did.  We are told that it was “God the Father, who raised him from the dead” (Gal. 1:1).

Jesus came to earth to reveal the truth about His Father – that God is love.   He said: “To this end was I born, and for this cause came I into the world, that I should bear witness unto the truth.” (John 18:37).  He sealed His testimony with His blood.  He died not knowing what was beyond the grave.  That is the faith that we are called upon to have.  And Jesus is the greatest exemplar of that faith.  Of the saints it is said that, they will be severely tested, tried and persecuted by Satan but “they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony; and they loved not their lives unto the death.” (Rev. 12:11).

Our faith, today, is best reflected in our hope of the Second Coming of Christ.  The blessed hope of the soon return of our Saviour, Jesus Christ, sums up our faith that, in keeping the commandments of God, even to the point of death, we will not be disappointed.  The promise is that, if we are faithful, we will either be resurrected to eternal life or we will be changed in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye and be caught up to meet the Lord in the air (1 Thess. 4:14-17; 1 Cor. 15:51, 52), when Jesus Christ returns.  Jesus trusted His Father to raise Him from the dead.  We must trust that Jesus will do the same for us.  God’s counsel to us is confirmed by two immutable things: His promise and His oath, as we are told:

“Wherein God, willing more abundantly to shew unto the heirs of promise the immutability of his counsel, confirmed it by an oath: That by two immutable things, in which it was impossible for God to lie, we might have a strong consolation, who have fled for refuge to lay hold upon the hope set before us: Which hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast, and which entereth into that within the veil; Whither the forerunner is for us entered, even Jesus” (Heb. 6:17-20).

Laudato si´ and Sunday Rest

On June 18, 2015, the Vatican officially released an encyclical letter from Pope Francis, addressing climate change, titled Laudato si´.  In a book version of the encyclical, published by Our Sunday Visitor, the publishers noted that, “In his second encyclical, Laudato si´: On Care For Our Common Home, Pope Francis draws all Christians into a dialogue with every person on the planet about our common home”.  They further stated that: “We as human beings are united by the concern for our planet and every living thing that dwells on it, especially the poorest and most vulnerable. Pope Francis’ letter joins the body of the Church’s social and moral teaching and draws on the best scientific research, providing the foundation for “the ethical and spiritual itinerary that follows.” ”. (Our Sunday Visitor, Inc., Huntington, IN 46750).  On the face of it, this sounds very good.

But who would have thought that the pope would have been sending out an encyclical letter (Laudato si´) to the entire world linking Sunday rest with protection of the environment at a time when almost the entire world has climate change, caused by destruction of the environment, as a major concern? And who would have thought that the President of the United States, Barack Obama would have used the opportunity of the pope’s encyclical to express “hope that all world leaders — and all God’s children — will reflect on Pope Francis’s call to come together to care for our common home”, referring to the pope as “His Holiness”, and speaking of the “full moral authority of his position”?

Things are happening! Watch for the ‘fine print’! The Devil’s end-time tool is deception (which, by nature, is not obvious to many) and we have been warned that the final events will “break upon the world as an overwhelming surprise” (Ellen G. White, Testimonies for the Church, Vol. 8, p. 28; Last Day Events, p. 41).

“But ye, brethren, are not in darkness, that that day should overtake you as a thief” (1 Thess. 5:4).

On July 21, 2015, a little over a month after the release of Pope Francis’s encyclical letter Laudato si´, the pope invited the mayors of more than sixty (60) of the world’s major cities to meet with him, and he told them that he had “a lot of hope” major climate talks later that year in Paris, France, would result in a bold deal to reduce global warming. On the face of it, this does not seem unreasonable or alarming.  But notice the wording of the common declaration that the pope signed with the mayors.  Specific mention is made of the encyclical letter Laudato si´, and the significance of that, is that tucked away within the broader discussion of climate change issues, Laudato si´ advocates for Sunday observance and enforcement.  Part of the declaration reads:

“On the basis of the encyclical Laudato si´, we have considered the overwhelming scientific evidence regarding human induced climate change, the loss of biodiversity, and the vulnerability of the poor to economic, social and environmental disasters. In the face of the emergencies attributable to human induced climate change, social exclusion, and extreme poverty, we join together to declare the following: Human-induced climate change is a scientific reality, and its effective control is a moral imperative for humanity.  In this core moral space, cities play a very vital role.  All of our cultural traditions uphold the inherent dignity and social responsibility of every individual and the related common good of all humanity.”

“The world should take note that the climate summit in Paris later this year (COP21) may be the last effective opportunity to negotiate arrangements that will keep human-induced warming below 2oC, and aim to stay well below 2oC for safety, yet the current trajectory may well reach a devastating 4oC or higher.  Political leaders of all UN member states have a special responsibility to agree at COP21 to a bold climate agreement that confines global warming to a limit safe for humanity, while protecting the poor and the vulnerable from ongoing climate change that gravely endanger lives.”

“We want our cities and urban settlements to become ever more socially inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable (cf. UN Sustainable Development Goals, n. 11).  All sectors and stakeholders must do their part, a pledge that we fully commit ourselves to in our capacities as mayors and individuals.” (Joint Declaration signed at the Pontifical Academies of Sciences and Social Sciences, July 21, 2015).

The 2015 United Nations Climate Change Conference COP21 or CMP11 was held in Paris from November 30 to December 11, 2015.  It was the 21st yearly session of the Conference of the Parties to the 1992 UN Framework Convention of Climate Change (UNFCCC) and the 11th session of the meeting of the Parties to the 1997 Kyoto Protocol.  According to the Organizing Committee, the objective was to achieve for the first time in over 20 years of UN Negotiations, a binding and universal agreement on climate, from all the nations of the world.

Laudato si´ was clearly intended to influence the Conference.  The overarching goal was to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and to limit global temperature increase to 2oC above pre-industrial levels – BUT watch the ‘fine print’ – Sunday was a part of the ‘fine print’ of Laudato si´.  Among the challenges issued in Laudato si´ were the following:

  •  “206. A change in lifestyle could bring healthy pressure to bear on those who wield political, economic and social power. This is what consumer movements accomplish by boycotting certain products.”
  • 237. … Sunday, like the Jewish Sabbath, is meant to be a day which heals our relationships with God, with ourselves, with others and with the world. Sunday is the day of the Resurrection, the “first day” of the new creation…” (Pope Francis, Laudato si´: On Care For Our Common Home)

God’s Warning

 Revelation 16 speaks of unclean spirits like frogs that will be gathering the whole world to the final battle (Rev. 16:13, 14).  This final battle will see the world on one side and Christ and His people on the other side (Rev. 19:19, 20).

The final message to the world, as presented in Rev. 18, is a call out of Babylon – that confederation of the Beast, the Dragon and the False Prophet, particularly on account of their being taken over by spiritualism.  Rev. 18 tells us that Babylon is fallen and has become “the habitation of devils, and the hold of every foul spirit, and a cage of every unclean and hateful bird” (Rev. 18:2).  The message is to “come out of her” (Rev. 18:4).

After the first three angels’ messages of Revelation 14, each of which represented a movement at a specific time in the history of our world, this Fourth Angel comes on the scene representing another movement.  This Fourth Angel’s Movement is not opposed to the Third Angel’s movement but rather, unites its voice with the voice of the Third Angel as the Third Angel’s message swells to a loud cry.  The Third Angel’s movement has for over 170 years, since 1844, been warning people against receiving the Mark of the Beast.  The prophet, Ellen G. White says of this Fourth Angel:

“The work of this angel comes in at the right time to join in the last great work of the third angel’s message as it swells to a loud cry.” (The Story of Redemption, 399).

The wine with which Babylon drunks and deceives the nations is specifically the doctrines of Sunday sacredness and the immortality of the soul.  We are told:

The wine of Babylon is the exalting of the false and spurious sabbath above the Sabbath which the Lord Jehovah hath blessed and sanctified for the use of man, also [it is] the immortality of the soul.  These kindred heresies, and the rejection of the truth, convert the church into Babylon.” (Ellen G. White, 2 Selected Messages p. 68).

These doctrines are strongly repudiated by the Third Angel’s movement.  So, the Third Angel’s movement is not Babylon.

We are told that:

“The sins of the world will have reached unto heaven when the law of God is made void; when the Sabbath of the Lord is trampled in the dust, and men are compelled to accept in its stead an institution of the papacy through the strong hand of the law of the land.  In exalting an institution of man above the institution ordained of God, they show contempt for the great Lawgiver, and refuse His sign or seal” (Ellen G. White, Review and Herald, Nov. 5, 1889).

 It is at that time while the Angel of Rev. 18 gives the final message that the call is made: “Come out of her, my people, that ye be not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues. For her sins have reached unto heaven, and God hath remembered her iniquities.” (Rev. 18:4, 5).

At this time in particular, as the Third Angel’s message is about to swell to a loud cry, God’s people must be aware of the subtle inroads of spiritualism so that they can effectively call people away from its alluring influence.  The reality is that, if one is taken over by spirits of devils, acceptance of the Mark of the Beast will inevitably follow.

How many of us took note of the words of invocation to Lucifer that was said in the papal mass to induct Pope John Paul II and Pope John XXIII into sainthood on April 27, 2014 in St. Peter’s Square at the Vatican in Rome? In case you missed it, here it is:

“Flammas eius Lucifer matutinus inveniat: ille, inquam, Lucifer, qui nescit occasum”, which is translated “Flaming Lucifer finds mankind, I say: Oh Lucifer who will never be defeated”.

No interpretation will be placed on it, lest one be accused of misrepresenting the intended meaning. But we should at least know of it and consider it especially in light of the warning of Revelation 18 telling God’s children to come out of Babylon because she has become the “habitation of devils, and the hold of every foul spirit”.

Beloved, it is high time that we awake out of sleep and sound the alarm before it is too late!

Jesus’s Sequencing of Last-day Events

In Matthew 24, Jesus gives a sequence of events that would lead up to the second coming of Christ.  He tells us that there would be wars and rumours of wars, but we should not be troubled when we see those things, because the end is not yet (Matt. 24:6).  He went on to say that nation would rise against nation and kingdom against kingdom, that there would be famines, pestilences and earthquakes and that such would be the “beginning of sorrows” (Matt. 24:7, 8).  Note what comes next: “Then shall they deliver you up to be afflicted, and shall kill you: and ye shall be hated of all nations for my name’s sake.” (Matt. 24:9). That is the sequence of events.  The last part has not taken place yet.

We have seen increasing pestilences and earthquakes, so do we think that the part to follow, wherein we will be hated by all nations and will be persecuted and killed will not happen, or that it is far away?  Think again!  It is within that context, that Jesus continues by saying that the gospel will be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations and then shall the end come (Matt. 24:14).  That is the Loud Cry of the angel of Rev. 18 being described there.  You’ll get the sequence quite easily if you read in order, verses 4 to 14 of Matthew 24.

The Paris Agreement and Sunday Enforcement

If you think that the world is not in the process of gathering around a common cause, with Sunday enforcement woven into it, you need to spend some time reflecting on the most recent drive to protect the planet, being led by the United Nations and inspired by Pope Francis’s encyclical Laudato si´.  Copies of this book are being sent to persons of influence, far and wide.  In the last chapter, specific reference is made to Sunday rest as being meant to heal relationships with God, with ourselves, with others and with the world (paragraph 237); taking the Eucharist and worshipping the Trinity are also mentioned specifically as being necessary (paragraphs 236 and 238-240); and that healthy pressure can be brought to bear on those who wield political, economic and social power by boycotting certain products (paragraph 206).  The Bible says that we will not be able to buy or sell and later on will be killed for not supporting a cause that honours the beast power and promotes false worship, around which the world will be gathered (Rev. 13: 8, 15-17).

 The Paris Agreement calls for countries to cut carbon emissions – which is associated with industrial activity.  The more industrialized a country is, the more carbon they release into the atmosphere.  Countries are not committing themselves to reduce industrial activity, necessarily, because it is industrial activity that give their people modern amenities and many comforts of life.  It is industrial activity that set industrialized countries as being wealthier than poorer countries.  And poorer countries strive to become more industrialized.  Yet over 191 countries have already signed the Paris Agreement, committing themselves to cut carbon emissions.  How do they plan to do it?  Is there something that we are not being told?  Or, have we been told but we are not paying attention?

The pope says, in Laudato si´, that Sunday rest helps to heal the environment.  Is this a signal that countries should mandate Sunday rest?  Is this the unspoken method that countries will adopt to cut their carbon emissions without curtailing their industrial development?  The Creator, from the creation week, had set aside the seventh day Sabbath as a weekly rest (Gen. 2:1-3; Ex. 20:8-11).  So, is it that humanity has finally caught up with a manifestation of Divine wisdom, except that they want to take the credit for themselves and deny the Creator, by establishing their own rest day?

The requirements for the Paris Agreement to take effect are that at least 55 countries must ratify the Agreement and that at least 55% of global emissions must be covered by the countries ratifying the Agreement.  As at October 5, 2016, the double threshold was met.  That means the Paris Agreement will, unless something unforeseen happens, come into effect on November 4, 2016.  This Agreement, according to the Organizing Committee of the 2015 United Nations Climate Change Conference, COP21, is intended to be a binding and universal agreement on climate, from all the nations of the world.  Let us see how it will all pan out.  But, be warned!  Things are happening! We must be awake!  We cannot afford to fall asleep now!

May we be counted among the “saints”, when Jesus Christ returns, that “keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus.” (Rev. 14:12).

For further information:

E-mail: commandmentsofgodandfaithofjesus@yahoo.com

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Science and Religion an Interesting Mix

It is often queried how Christians who are practicing scientists balance the seeming conflict between faith and science.  The apparent conflict seems to centre primarily on the question of origins.  The Christian view, as articulated in the Bible, is that God created the earth and placed human beings in it after furnishing it with plants and a variety of animal species.  The view that is attributed to modern science, through Charles Darwin is that all species have evolved from common ancestors through a random process of natural selection based on survival of the fittest.

What is often overlooked, however, is that the view of origins that is being represented as the scientific position does not reflect or accord with the views of some of the most notable scientists of all time and pioneers of modern science, including Sir Isaac Newton and Albert Einstein, both physicists.  Newton, Einstein and others saw such order in the universe that they could not attribute to random chance.

According to Newton, who wrote more on religion than he did on natural science, the world was created by God along rational and universal principles and these principles were available for all people to discover (Principia, Book III; cited in Newton’s Philosophy of Nature: Selections from his writings, p. 42, ed. H. S. Thayer, Hafner Library of Classics, N. Y. 1953).  It is reported that an atheist colleague of Newton saw a model solar system on Newton’s desk and asked who made it.  Newton said nobody did.  After smiling at what he thought was a joke, the colleague repeated his question, obviously unable to accept that nobody made the model.  Newton simply pointed out the absurdity of his being unable to accept that the model was made by nobody while accepting that the real thing of which the model was only a crude representation came about by chance.

albert einstein photoAlbert Einstein in his book “The Evolution of Physics: from early concepts to relativity and quanta” written jointly with his collaborator, Leopold Infeld dismisses the idea that events in nature are purely attributable to chance.  In the foreword, written by Walter Isaacson, Einstein is quoted as saying “Some physicists, among them myself, cannot believe that we must accept the view that events in nature are analogous to a game of chance”.  Einstein continues, “Well, a priori, one should expect a chaotic world which cannot be grasped by the mind in any way.”  In his words, “There lies the weakness of positivists and professional atheists”.

The matter of basic origins cannot be determined at the level of biology except by extrapolating backwards into the realm of physics and mathematics.  Biology is built on chemistry as the understanding of the complex molecular building blocks of life such as carbohydrates, proteins, lipids and DNA is based on the fundamental understanding of atoms and molecules in general which is the realm of chemistry.  Chemistry is built on physics as the understanding of atoms and molecules is based on the fundamental understanding of the nature and characteristics of the forces and sub-atomic wave/particles elucidated by quantum mechanics which is the realm of physics.  Physics is built on mathematics as the understanding of the physical world is based on the use of physical quantities which give to the forces, matter, wave/particles and energy that make up the physical world numeric descriptions, which is the realm of mathematics.

At such levels that are closer to the root of the tree of origins, the most authoritative pioneers of modern scientific thought saw a level of order that they could not rationally attribute to chance.  Einstein considered that a reality exists that is independent of our ability to observe it.  As Einstein said “physics is an attempt conceptually to grasp reality as it is, thought independently of its being observed”.

While there is evidence that some new species have developed through an evolutionary process, it seems contrary to reason, contrary to foundational physical laws and mathematically improbable that such evolutionary processes could be extrapolated indefinitely backwards in time to account for all living species.  For some Christians who are practicing scientists, there is no conflict between faith and science as faith tells them why God works while science helps them to understand how God works.  In the words of Sir Isaac Newton, “Gravity explains the motions of the planets, but it cannot explain who sets the planets in motion.  God governs all things and knows all that is or can be done”.

Good God! Bad World! Why?

Where was God when the twin towers were struck, killing so many innocent people? Where was He when that tsunami killed so many and left so many to suffer? Where is He now when so many are having to flee their homes because of warfare, poverty and other distresses to find refuge in foreign countries where they are often not welcomed? Where is He when I am in distress and seem unable to find help? These are some of the questions that people frequently ask! These are all a part of the bigger question of how could there be a God who is considered to be Good and yet tolerate the existence of evil in the world when He has the power to stop it, being Almighty. It is the purpose of this presentation to present a Biblical framework that answers this age-old question.

The first thing to note is that the Almighty God, who is altogether good, is not the One who is presently running this territory called earth! Amazing? Perhaps, indeed, but this is what the Bible teaches! The Bible speaks of someone else who is called the “god of this world” in the following words:

“In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them.” (2 Cor. 4:4).

There is someone else running the affairs of this world who is blinding people so that they might not know the gospel or good news of Christ who is the image of God. It is important to note that Christ is the image of God. He looks like God. So, if you want to know what the Almighty God is like, you only need to look at Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ himself said that he came into the world for the specific purpose of revealing to the people of this world the truth. He said:

“I came forth from the Father, and am come into the world” (John 16:28).

Again, He said:

“To this end was I born, and for this cause came I into the world, that I should bear witness unto the truth.” (John 18:37).

To confirm that someone else who is operating contrary to God’s style of rulership claims to be in charge here, one needs only to consider the following circumstances surrounding Jesus Christ’s coming into this world:

  1. An attempt was made to kill Him the moment He entered this space.

The Bible says:

“And when they were departed, behold, the angel of the Lord appeareth to Joseph in a dream, saying, Arise, and take the young child and his mother, and flee into Egypt, and be thou there until I bring thee word: for Herod will seek the young child to destroy him.” (Matt. 2:13).

The events going on behind the scenes are described as follows:

“and the dragon stood before the woman which was ready to be delivered, for to devour her child as soon as it was born.” (Rev. 12:4).

Note that the dragon, who sought to destroy Jesus Christ at His birth was previously in heaven.

7 And there was war in heaven: Michael and his angels fought against the dragon; and the dragon fought and his angels, 8 And prevailed not; neither was their place found any more in heaven. 9 And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him.” (Rev. 12:7-9)

It is clear that the one who tried to kill Jesus Christ at His birth, who is here deceiving the world, is none other than the angel called Satan who, prior to coming to earth, was in heaven and had to be cast out because of his rebellion against God. He came to earth with his deception and realising that God was sending His Son, Jesus Christ, into the world, to dis-abuse people’s minds from the lies that he was using to keep people in bondage, Satan tried to kill Jesus Christ the moment he came to this earth.

  1. Satan offered Jesus Christ all the kingdoms of this world in exchange for Jesus Christ worshipping him.

“the devil taketh him up into an exceeding high mountain, and sheweth him all the kingdoms of the world, and the glory of them; 9 And saith unto him, All these things will I give thee, if thou wilt fall down and worship me.” (Matt. 4:8, 9)

The Bible explains how Satan came to be in control. God made the world and gave the first man, Adam, control over it. But Adam allowed Satan to take over because Adam voluntarily submitted his control to Satan.

“What is man, that thou art mindful of him? or the son of man that thou visitest him? 7 Thou madest him a little lower than the angels; thou crownedst him with glory and honour, and didst set him over the works of thy hands: 8 Thou hast put all things in subjection under his feet. For in that he put all in subjection under him, he left nothing that is not put under him. But now we see not yet all things put under him. (Heb. 2:6-8)

“And the man said, The woman whom thou gavest to be with me, she gave me of the tree, and I did eat. 13 And the Lord God said unto the woman, What is this that thou hast done? And the woman said, The serpent beguiled me, and I did eat.” (Gen. 3:12, 13)

“And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived was in the transgression.” (1 Tim. 2:14)

Remember, as we read earlier, it is Satan the fallen angel who is called the serpent. He tricked Eve and used Eve to get Adam to join him in disobeying God. Remember also, that Adam, being a man, was made lower than the angels. So, once Adam joined Satan in disobedience to God, Adam and his dominion fell under the control of Satan’s superior intelligence.

That is how, Satan became the “god of this world” (2 Cor. 4:4), and was now able to offer the kingdoms of this world to Jesus Christ to try and bribe Jesus Christ, the Son of God, to join him in rebellion against God (the Father), as he got Adam and his decendants to do. First he tried to kill Jesus Christ, in infancy, and failing to do that he then tried to bribe Jesus Christ to join him in rebellion against God. But Jesus Christ was true to His mission. His Father had sent Him into the world to reveal the truth in order to win back the hearts and minds of human beings. That was the promise that God made as the means by which He would rescue humanity from Satan, the serpent. God said:

“And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel.” (Gen. 3:15)

Salvation is all about belief. It is whether we will believe Christ and what He says about God or whether we will believe the lies that have been perpetrated by Satan. Belief in the truth will put us at enmity with Satan and bring about reconciliation with God, through Christ, the Mediator between us and God. Christ explained it in the parable of the sower, as follows:

“Now the parable is this: The seed is the word of God. 12 Those by the way side are they that hear; then cometh the devil, and taketh away the word out of their hearts, lest they should believe and be saved.” (Luke 8:11, 12)

Again, we are told:

“For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus” (1 Tim. 2:5)

So, Satan is running the show down here. That’s the reason injustice prevails, suffering and death is a part of the norm and even Jesus Christ, the Son of God, suffered and died at the hands of wicked people who were being deceived by Satan. We are told that God gave up His Son and through His foreknowledge, He knew what the rulers of this world would do to Him. They would kill Him. But this was all a part of God’s way of showing up Satan and his system of running things so that we can reject them totally. It is all a part of what it takes, the sacrifice that God and Christ had to make in order that we might see the truth and be converted from Satan and his system of managing the affairs of this world and be reconciled to God and His way. The Bible explains:

“Him, being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, ye have taken, and by wicked hands have crucified and slain” (Acts 2:23).

“And having spoiled principalities and powers, he made a shew of them openly, triumphing over them in it.” (Col. 2:15).

Now we can understand why the death of Christ is identified in scripture as the basis of Satan’s demise. Having killed the innocent Son of God, Satan has exposed himself to the universe in a way that makes it impossible for him to redeem himself to be able to win anyone in the universe to his side who understands the truth and is willing to accept it. The Bible says:

“Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself likewise took part of the same; that through death he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil” (Heb. 2:14).

For those who think that Satan does not exist, it is impossible for them to reconcile the existence of evil in the world with the idea that there is an Almighty God who is good. Those who believe that God required the death of His Son in order that He might forgive us, have also unwittingly missed the point of Christ’s death. As we have seen, it was Satan and wicked people who killed Christ, thereby providing the basis for us to turn away from Satan or in other words be cleansed from sin, which is, rebellion against God. How will it end? The Bible tells us:

“But the judgment shall sit, and they shall take away his dominion, to consume and to destroy it unto the end. 27 And the kingdom and dominion, and the greatness of the kingdom under the whole heaven, shall be given to the people of the saints of the most High, whose kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and all dominions shall serve and obey him.” (Dan. 7:26, 27).

Christ will return for His faithful. God is love, as Jesus Christ has shown. He will put an end to sin, suffering and death forever. We should love Him.

For further information:

E-mail: commandmentsofgodandfaithofjesus@yahoo.com

What is so Important About a Day?

It is sometimes queried of Sabbath-keepers: “Is the day you worship so important? Isn’t it a clean and holy life that really matters? Don’t you believe that it is those who have clean hands and a pure heart who will see God, whether they worship on Sunday or Saturday?” These are questions which many people ask and which deserve answers. Accordingly, this presentation seeks to address these questions. It is hoped that sincere persons will look carefully into the answers that are now given and will find them beneficial in their quest for truth.

Keeping A Day Holy

The first thing, it is not an issue of the day you worship. Christians ought to worship God every day, whether by themselves or in company. It is a question of which day you keep holy. Man cannot make a day holy, only God can make a day holy; and a day cannot be kept holy if that day is not already made holy by God. God commands us, “Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy…. the seventh day is the Sabbath of the LORD thy God” (Exodus 20:8-11). Thus, God tells us to keep one day holy and tells us which day He wants us to keep holy.

Keeping the day holy involves not only worshipping God, but abstaining from doing our own work (Exodus 20:8-11) and finding our own pleasure (Isa. 58:13) on that day. It involves devoting the day to communing with God. In order to minimize distractions which might interrupt our communion with God during this special time that God has set apart for this purpose, God has designated the sixth day (the day before the Sabbath) as the preparation day (Ex. 16:22-30; Luke 23:54; Mark 15:42).

For All time

Spending this special time with God was not just an Old Testament thing or a Jewish thing, it was intended for all time. This is clearly indicated by the command that Jesus gave to His followers concerning the destruction of Jerusalem that He was prophesying would take place. He told them that when they saw a certain sign they were to flee into the mountains in order to escape the destruction (Matt. 24:15-18). How-ever, he went on to say: “But pray ye that your flight be not in the winter, neither on the Sabbath day” (Matt. 24:20). The destruction took place in AD 70, almost 40 years after the death, burial, resurrection and ascension of Christ, and yet the followers of Christ were to pray that they would not need to flee on the Sabbath. Clearly, Jesus could not have given such instructions if the Sabbath was not supposed to be still important at that time.

While the LORD expects us to worship Him every day. He does not expect us to keep every day holy. He has given us six days for legitimate toil and labour and has re-quested one day only to be set apart for holy use (Ex. 20:9,10). It is not any day that we choose that God will accept. This is clearly seen in the experience of the children of Israel when God fed them with manna in the wilderness (Exodus 16:22-30).

God provided manna from heaven for them six days every week for forty years. On the sixth day a double portion was provided, some of which was to be kept over until the following day which was the Sab-bath, since none was provided on the seventh day Sabbath. Hence, on the seventh day Sabbath, a specific day every week, a day that God Himself had determined independent of their thoughts or wishes, no manna fell from heaven. Some persons decided to do their own thing, ignoring the specific day that God had chosen and went out looking for manna on that day. God was very displeased with them and asked, “How long refuse ye to keep my commandments and my laws?” (Ex. 16:27, 28).

A Clean and Holy Life

The question is asked; “Isn’t it a clean and holy life that really matters?” The answer is yes. But what is a clean and holy life? Is refusing to keep God’s commandments and His laws a manifestation of a holy life? The Word of God says no. Jesus tells us what is righteousness: “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. On these two commandments hang (hinge) all the law and the prophets.” (Matt. 22:37-40). Also, Jesus tells us how we may know whether or not we truly love God: “If ye love me, keep my commandments.” (John 14:15), and “He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me” (John 14:21).

Let us not, like some of the children of Israel in the wilderness, seek to do our own thing. If we set aside the specific day that God has set apart to be kept holy and in its place set up our own, God will be just as dis-pleased with us as He was with them. We can be sure which day God has set apart to be kept holy because God has preserved the Jewish people with the tradition of Sabbath-keeping from the days in the wilderness, when God Himself showed them which day was the Sabbath, until the present day, so that nobody should be in doubt as to the matter of which day.

Reason for the Sabbath

Perhaps we might have a better appreciation for the Sabbath if we understand the reason for it and how it came about. Exodus 31:17 gives us an idea. It says: “for in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, and on the seventh day he rested, and was refreshed.” You may ask, how can God rest and be refreshed when He neither slumbers nor sleeps? To understand this, one has to go back in thought to the creation week. Man was created on the sixth day. The seventh day was the very first day after man was brought into existence and Jesus tells us that “The Sabbath was made for man” (Mark 2:27). On this very first day of man’s life God ended His work and spent the day in fellowship with Adam and Eve, this lovely pair, just created, beautiful and pleasant to interact with. This was the refreshing experience that God had on that very first Sabbath.

On account of this wonderful experience that God had, He blessed the day and sanctified it (Gen. 2:3). To sanctify means to set apart and make holy. This shows that God wants to repeat this experience with His children every week. Notice that this day is special because of the special experience that God had on that first Sabbath day, on account of which He highly esteems that day. But the setting apart of the day be-comes meaningful for us, only if we make ourselves available for that special interaction with God. It is a great disappointment to God and a great loss to ourselves when God makes Himself available for special interaction with us and we are too busy tending to all manner of other interests at that particular time.

It is perhaps similar to a case where a man (God) is greatly in love with a woman (us) and makes a special date with her to spend pleasant and quality time with her only to find, when he arrives, that she did not consider it important, did not get herself ready but instead made herself busy with other things and just tells him that she has no time for him now. Perhaps he would not be wrong to conclude that she doesn’t really love him. One might say that God is not like that, He is available all the time. Yes, He is available all the time, but He makes Himself available in a special way on the Sabbath, which is not the case on other days. An example of God turning his attention to His children in a special way at a particular time is seen in the experience of Adam and Eve.

Special Interaction

After Adam and Eve ate the forbid-den fruit, the biblical account says: “And they heard the voice of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day: and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God amongst the trees of the garden. And the LORD God called unto Adam, and said unto him, Where art thou?” (Gen. 3:8,9). From this it is seen that although God is every-where in Spirit and knows every-thing without having to ask, yet He came in a special way to meet with Adam and Eve. Why should we think that God does not come to meet with us in a special way also, even although He tells us to use the sixth day specifically for the purpose of preparation?

One might ask whether it is not clean hands and a pure heart that is required of us rather than giving attention to a special day. The real question is this: How are we going to develop clean hands and a pure heart without close fellowship and communion with God? And how do we expect to have close fellowship and communion with God if we do not avail ourselves of the opportunity at the particular time that God sets apart for special fellowship and communion with Him? This is not to say that we cannot interact with God at other times, but He has sanctified the Sabbath, which means that this time is set apart for special interaction with Him, just like He had it with our first parents on that first Sabbath day.

This is the reason the Bible says: “Hallow (reverence; keep holy) my Sabbaths; and they shall be a sign between me and you, that ye may know that I am the LORD your God” (Ezekiel 20:20). It says as well, “Moreover also I gave them my Sabbaths, to be a sign between me and them, that they might know that I am the LORD that sanctify them.” (Ezekiel 20:12). To sanctify means to make holy. Hence, keeping the Sabbath holy has an integral function in the process by which holiness is accomplished in one’s life.

Dear reader, I hope you will consider prayerfully all that has been said here and will be drawn into a meaningful fellowship with God in spirit and in truth. May God richly bless you to this end.

For further information:

E-mail: commandmentsofgodandfaithofjesus@yahoo.com

The Three Powers of Heaven

The Truth our Safeguard Against Spiritualism

Rev. 16 speaks of unclean spirits like frogs that will be gathering the whole world to the final battle (Rev. 16:13, 14). This final battle will see the world on one side and Christ and His people on the other side (Rev. 19:19, 20). The main agency of deception will be evil spirits. This domain of religious deception is called spiritualism, which capitalizes on two things : 1. The false notion that people can communicate with the dead -who are, in reality, evil spirits and; 2. Confusion in people’s minds as to who or what is the Holy Spirit and the nature of God’s presence. The Bible gives the final warning against this deception as follows:

“And after these things I saw another angel come down from heaven, having great power; and the earth was lightened with his glory. And he cried mightily with a strong voice, saying, Babylon the great is fallen, is fallen, and is become the habitation of devils, and the hold of every foul spirit, and a cage of every unclean and hateful bird.” – Rev. 18:1, 2

 “And I heard another voice from heaven, saying, Come out of her, my people, that ye be not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues. For her sins have reached unto heaven, and God hath remembered her iniquities.” Rev. 18:4, 5.

Our only safeguard is to know the truth from the scriptures about this very important matter. Regarding the first deception, the Seventh-day Adventists have, for years, been teaching the truth from the scriptures that the dead are asleep and are unable to communicate with the living. Since there is an abundance of literature from that source on that particular point, it will not be the focus of this presentation. However, literature on the second deception is woefully lacking and so, the focus of this tract is to establish the truth about God – who God is, who is Jesus Christ and who or what is the Holy Spirit.

A simple text summarizes quite eloquently the consistent perspective that is given throughout the scriptures, as follows:

“And of the angels he saith, who maketh his angels spirits, and his ministers a flame of fire. But unto the Son he saith, Thy throne, O God, is forever and ever: a scepter of righteousness is the scepter of thy kingdom. Thou hast loved righteousness and hated iniquity; therefore God, even thy God, hath anointed thee with the oil of gladness above thy fellows.” – Heb. 1:7-9.

The perspective is simply that the Supreme God (the Father) anoints His Son (Jesus Christ) who is God by nature and above the angels (spirits). Thus is presented the three powers of heaven – God, Christ and angels.

There is a difference between the ministering spirits of God and the spirit of Godboth are referred to as “Holy Spirit” and “Holy Ghost”. This presentation will establish the difference.

A simple question can help in showing the difference: With what was Jesus anointed? We are told:

How God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Ghost and with power: who went about doing good, and healing all that were oppressed of the devil; for God was with him.” – Acts 10:38.

“Holy Ghost” here is that with which Jesus was anointed.

This is clearly different from the following reference where the Apostle John is conveying grace and peace from God, Christ and the Spirits. He says:

“John to the seven churches which are in Asia: Grace be unto you, and peace, from Him which is, and which was, and which is to come; and from the seven Spirits which are before His throne; And from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, and the first begot-ten of the dead.”– Rev. 1: 4, 5.

The Three Powers of Heaven are identified – God, Christ and the Spirits. “Spirits” here are ministering spirits. Some people represent the “seven Spirits” here as the “seven-fold Spirit”, giving the impression that it is not seven but really one. This is easily clarified by comparing this verse with another verse that is very similar, in which there are four Spirits mentioned and each goes to a different place. Here it is.

 “And the angel answered and said unto me, These are the four spirits of the heavens, which go forth from standing before the Lord of all the earth.” – Zech. 6:5

These spirits are of course ministering spirits or angels. Some go into the north country and others go into the south country (Zech. 6:6).

Bible Testimony

The next few verses again speak of the three powers of heaven:

1.“I charge thee before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, and the elect angels, that thou observe these things.”- 1. Tim. 5:21. There we see the three powers – God, Christ and angels.

2.“Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Ghost.”-Matt. 28:19.

[The word Pneuma translated Ghost, is also properly translated Spirit or Spirits. It is the same word translated “spirits” in reference to the ministering spirits – Heb. 1:7, 14]. So, the reference is to the three powers again – God, Christ and angels. Note also that the whole family in heaven and earth is named after the Father (Eph. 3:14, 15).

3.“For whosoever shall be ashamed of me and of my words, of him shall the Son of Man be ashamed, when he shall come in his own glory, and in his Father’s, and of the holy angels.” – St. Luke 9: 26. There we have the three powers again – God, Christ and angels.

4.“But of that day and that hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels which are in heaven, neither the Son, but the Father.” – Mark 13: 32. It is evident here that the three powers are not co-equal.

The Bible is clear that we should not worship angels. It says:

“Let no man beguile you of your reward in a voluntary humility and worshiping of angels.” Col. 2: 18.

“And I fell at his feet to worship him. And he said unto me, See thou do it not: I am thy fellowservant, and of thy brethren that have the testimony of Jesus: worship God: for the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.” Rev. 19:10.

5.“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 the firstbegotten into the world, he saith, and let all the an-gels of God worship Him”- Heb. 1: 5, 6. Here again the three powers are identified showing the order of precedence: God first, Christ next and then the angels.

6.“The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave unto him, to shew unto his servants things which must shortly come to pass; and he sent and signified it by his angel unto his servant John” Rev. 1:1. Once again the three powers are indicated showing the order of precedence – God gave to Christ and Christ gave to the angel to dispense to John.

Some persons say that the Holy Spirit is a third divine being to be worshipped. If that were the case, these verses that have been highlighted would have presented the equivalent of a big elephant in a room being missed.

Ellen G. White Testimony

The pioneers of the Seventh-day Adventist Movement fully understood the truth as presented here from the scriptures. A sample of the perspective that was commonly understood among them is reflected in the following unambiguous statements from Ellen G. white:

“Read and study the fourth chapter of Zechariah… The golden oil rep-resents the Holy Spirit.” (Ellen G. white, Testimonies to Ministers and Gospel Workers, p. 188).

 “From the two olive trees the golden oil was emptied through the golden pipes into the bowl of the candlestick, and thence into the golden lamps that gave light to the sanctuary. So from the holy ones that stand in God’s presence His Spirit is imparted to the human instrumentalities who are consecrated to His service. The mission of the two anointed ones is to communicate to God’s people that heavenly grace which alone can make His word a lamp to the feet and a light to the path. “Not by might, nor by power, but by My Spirit, saith the Lord of hosts.” Zechariah 4:6. (Ellen G. white, Christ’s Object Lessons, p. 408).

The same thought is expressed at another place, the only difference being that the golden oil that was said to be God’s Spirit, is now said to be divine light, love and power. It says:

“In this vision the two olive trees which stand before God are represented as emptying the golden oil out of themselves through golden tubes into the bowl of the candlestick. From this the lamps of the sanctuary are fed, that they may give a bright, continuous light. So from the anointed ones that stand in God’s presence the fullness of divine light and love and power is imparted to His people, that they may impart to others light and joy and refreshing. Those who are thus enriched are to enrich others with the treasure of God’s love. (Ellen G. white, Prophets and Kings, p. 594).

“And when these angels empty from themselves the golden oil of truth into the heart of him who is teaching the word, then the application of the truth will be a solemn, serious matter.” (Ellen G. white, Testimonies to Ministers and Gospel Workers, p. 337).

“The anointed ones standing by the Lord of the whole earth have the position once given to Satan as covering cherub. By the holy beings surrounding His throne, the Lord keeps up a constant communication with the inhabitants o`f the earth.” (Ellen G. white, The Truth about Angels, p. 150; The Review and Herald, July 20, 1897).

Conclusion

In summary, the ministering spirits (angels) of God bring to us God’s spirit, the golden anointing oil (Divine light, love and power). The Holy Spirit is not someone to be worshipped. Neither is the Holy Spirit someone who takes up residence inside of us.

Let us therefore hold fast to the truth and not be drawn into spiritualism or into modern Babylon.

Our worship should be given to God and Christ, as it will be in the new earth, as the scriptures say: “And I saw no temple therein: for the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are the temple of it.” Rev. 21:22.

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The Great Controversy An Information War

The Contenders

Most people are aware that there is a controversy between good and evil in the world. But who are the contending parties? What are the issues? And how will it end?

It is generally accepted that God is good and that the enemy who is behind evil is Satan. The Bible describes a part of the conflict in the following words:

“And there was war in heaven: Michael and his angels fought against the dragon; and the dragon fought and his angels, And prevailed not; neither was their place found any more in heaven. And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him.” (Rev. 12:7-9)

At the outset, it must be established that there is no issue of Satan matching power with God. God is the Creator. “By the word of the Lord were the heavens made; and all the host of them by the breath of his mouth.” (Ps. 33:6).  He who created the angels and brought the heavens and the earth into existence can just as easily remove them and take them out of existence. Devils tremble at the very thought of God because they are aware of His awesome power –“Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble.” (James 2:19).

So, there is no contest between God and Satan on terms having to do with the exercise of power. People speak broadly about a conflict between good and evil. But what is good and what is evil? How are these defined? To those, like Satan, who feel that they have a cause to pursue, they may well think that it is their side that is good and the other side evil. In fact, the serpent’s accusation against God, to Adam and Eve, would represent God as being the evil one and he, Satan (the serpent), as being the one that is good and sought good for Adam and Eve.

The Issues of the Conflict

The real issue of the controversy is about the character of God. And the controversy is not between God and Satan per se; it is between Christ and Satan over the character of God. “Michael and his angels fought against the dragon; and the dragon fought and his angels” (Rev. 12:7). Further, the weapons of our warfare are not physical weapons. As we are told:

“For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh: (For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds;) Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ” (2 Cor. 10:3-6). The knowledge of the truth about God will lead us to love Him and submit to Him. Lucifer, who was an exalted angel in heaven, by taking his eyes off God and focussing on himself, developed an overblown concept of himself and a diminished or warped perception of God. The result was that he rebelled against God and became Satan and was cast out of heaven. The prophet Isaiah described the fall of Lucifer as follows: “How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! 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; I will be like the most High. Yet thou shalt be brought down to hell, to the sides of the pit. (Isa. 14:12-15). His wisdom was corrupted because of his focus on and concept of himself.

“Behold, the fear of the Lord, that is wisdom; and to depart from evil is understanding.” (Job 28:28).

If we have a wrong concept of God and end up, like Lucifer, rebelling against God, it is us who are the losers, not God. Through Christ, God seeks to save us by extending His grace to us in the form of a revelation of Himself to us, through Christ, who looks like Him and behaves like Him. It is an information war. It is all about what we choose to believe about God. The conflict between Christ and Satan is a battle for the hearts and minds of intelligent beings. Those who believe Christ, believe the truth and will be saved, while those who believe otherwise, as promulgated by Satan, believe a lie and will end up as losers. Satan cannot give life. So there is no future in buying into his deceptions and false representations of God.

Satan is described as the “god of this world” and his purpose to deceive is described as follows: “In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them.” (2 Cor. 4:4). Sifting

Truth from Error

Establishing the truth is like fitting up a jig-saw puzzle where many extraneous pieces are mixed up on the table with the genuine pieces. These pieces that do not belong, are deliberately placed there to throw us off so as to prevent us from being able to fit the puzzle together. Such is the nature of the many erroneous ideas that Satan places before us. We have to sift out the truth from the error, diligently. That is what will determine the outcome for us – whether belief in the truth that aligns us with God so that we can receive eternal life from Him or belief in a lie that places us with Satan, with the result that we will die like him and with him. The choice is ours. The appeal is to choose life by seeking and believing the truth and joining the fight as an ambassador for the truth, preaching the gospel of truth whereby souls can be saved.

How do we sift out the puzzle pieces that do not belong to the picture and retain those pieces that belong? By having an idea of what the overall picture looks like. If, for example, you are fitting up a puzzle that forms a picture of green trees and the blue sky in the background, then you can remove from the table the red and purple pieces that clearly do not belong. Of course, the closer the erroneous pieces look like the correct pieces, the more effort and diligence has to be applied to differentiate. Jesus said that deception will be so strong in the last days that “if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect.” (Matt. 24:24).

The Overall Picture

The overall picture is provided by information about the fall of Lucifer from heaven; his enticing Adam and Eve to sin against God; God’s Son coming to earth to win back the hearts and minds of human beings by revealing the truth about God to us; Satan being exposed by his stirring up the multitude to kill the innocent Son of God; Christ being raised from the dead and representing before God and the angels, by virtue of our repentance, the fact that some of us were only deceived and not genuinely rebellious; and Christ returning to earth to reclaim this territory from Satan and resurrecting those who died in a state of acceptance of the truth, while translating those who are alive and faithful. This is the framework that allows us to sift out the erroneous ideas that Satan throws in our way to deceive us.

As with Adam and Eve who got one simple instruction from God that, if followed, would have protected them from Satan, we today have one simple instruction: “Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy.” (Ex. 20:8). This is God’s sign that, if we embrace it, will signal to the universe that we have aligned ourselves on God’s side- “And hallow my sabbaths; and they shall be a sign between me and you, that ye may know that I am the Lord your God.” (Eze. 20:20). Further, the Sabbath provides us with special time with God that He uses to sanctify us and make us holy –“Moreover also I gave them my sabbaths, to be a sign between me and them, that they might know that I am the Lord that sanctify them.” (Eze. 20:12).

The final conflict is between the commandments of God and the commandments of men. The commandments of men represent Satan’s formula for governing people’s behaviour. The commandments of men are an imitation of the commandments of God, except in two points. Whereas the commandments of God forbid making images to represent God and commands that we rest from our labours on the seventh day Sabbath as a sign that we believe in and give allegiance to the Creator, the commandments, as represented by men, does not forbid the making of images and they regard Sunday in place of the seventh day Sabbath.

These two points of difference will identify those who Christ will claim as His, as opposed to those who Satan will claim as his. Jesus said: “Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven.” (Matt. 7:21). Further, He says: “But in vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men.” (Matt. 15:9). And again: “If ye love me keep my commandments.” (Matt. 14:15).

Today, many professed Christians are saying that all we need to do is just accept Jesus. You don’t have to consider anything else. To them, keeping the commandments of God is legalism. But that is contrary to what Jesus said. Its all a part of Satan’s efforts to create confusion. Remember, its an information war. May the Lord help us to align ourselves under His banner so that when Christ returns, we will be among those who would have accepted Christ and His revelation of the truth about God, and be faithfully keeping His commandments.

For further information:

E-mail: commandmentsofgodandfaithofjesus@yahoo.com

Inspiration and Infallibility – Is there a Difference?

All my life, I have been driven by my sincere belief in the inspiration of the Bible.  It has been and continues to be my primary source of authority in spiritual matters and life in general.  “All scripture is given by inspiration of God” (2 Tim. 3:16) and “Holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost” (2 Pet. 1:21) are among the familiar verses that speak of the scriptures as being of divine origin.

Some years ago, however, I had an experience that forced me to clarify in my mind the issues raised in the question at caption.  A claim was being made on Jamaican radio that there were contradictions in the Bible.  One of the cases cited was the account of David numbering the people of Israel.  2 Sam. 24:1 says that the LORD was angry with Israel and moved David to number them, while 1 Chron. 21:1 says that Satan stood up against Israel and provoked David to number the people.

In my efforts to gain clarity in my own mind, I found the following statements from the prophetess Ellen G. White, quite useful:

“It is not the words of the Bible that are inspired, but the men that were inspired.  Inspiration acts not on the man’s words or his expressions but on the man himself, who, under the influence of the Holy Ghost is imbued with thoughts.  But the words receive the impress of the individual mind.” (Ellen G. White, Selected Messages, Book 1, p. 21).

 “The Bible is not given to us in grand superhuman language.  Jesus, in order to reach man where he is, took humanity.  The Bible must be given in the language of men.  Everything that is human is imperfect.  Different meanings are expressed by the same word; there is not one word for each distinct idea.” (Ellen G. White, Selected Messages, Book 1, p. 20).

“God had especially guarded the Bible; yet when copies of it were few, learned men had in some instances changed the words, thinking that they were making it more plain, when in reality they were mystifying that which was plain, causing it to lean to their established views, which were governed by tradition” (Ellen G. White, Early Writings, p. 220).

 “The truths of the Bible are as pearls hidden.  They must be searched, dug out by painstaking effort.  Those who take only a surface view of the scriptures will, with their superficial knowledge, which they think is very deep, talk about contradictions of the Bible, and question the authority of the scriptures.  But those whose hearts are in harmony with truth and duty will search with a heart prepared to receive divine impressions.  The illuminated soul sees a spiritual unity, one grand golden thread running through the whole, but it requires patience, thought, and prayer to trace out the precious golden thread.  Sharp contentions over the Bible have led to investigation and revealed the precious jewels of truth.  Many tears have been shed, many prayers offered, that the Lord would open the understanding to His Word.”  (Ellen G. White, Selected Messages, Book 1, p. 20).

 My conclusion is that the Word of God is not the Bible, or Ellen G. White’s writings but the Word of God is found in them.  Truth was revealed by God to fallible human beings, who wrote in the best way they could.  We ignore such revelations from God to our own peril.  But we must employ normal intelligence and seek understanding from God in order to decipher exactly what the truth is.  To consider the example above, David numbered the people, but who motivated him to do it is someone’s opinion.  There is no need to stumble over that.

In contrast, Daniel had a vision and he related the explanation that the angel Gabriel gave him.  That was not Daniel’s opinion.  That was coming straight from God.  Is there no difference between the level of weight and certainty that one would place on such revelation as opposed to say the statement as to who motivated David to number Israel?

Can prophets make mistakes in their own understanding of some matters on which they might not have gotten specific revelations?  This question is no less a question than that of whether a human being is as infallible as God Himself.  In times gone by, prophets inquired of the Lord regarding matters on which they were uncertain.  Obviously, they did not know everything.  And if a matter was not an issue at the time, they would have had no need to inquire.

If a prophet makes an error of judgement on a matter, or misunderstands something, does God automatically cease communicating with the person and regard them as a false prophet?  There is no such indication in the Bible.  Moses struck the rock when God had told him to speak to the rock.  He erred, but did God abandon him?  No, He did not.  An old prophet misled a man of God, telling the man of God that God had told him, the prophet, that it was okay for the man of God to stop and eat at the prophet’s house, even although God had distinctly told the man of God not to stop and eat.  Yet God still gave the old prophet a message, after that, as the Bible says: “as they sat at the table, the word of the Lord came unto the prophet” (1 Kings 13:20).

There are many other questions that could be asked and answered.  But it is not necessary to try to exhaust them here.  The broad framework should be sufficient to allow us to answer some of the questions ourselves.  But there is an important matter of present query among many people that is worth citing here.  The Advent movement of today has widely embraced belief in the Trinity – a concept that was once labelled as pagan and unscriptural by the founders of the movement, citing statements by Ellen G. White concerning a three-person Godhead as a primary basis for making the change.

The question is being asked: by what authority has a view of God that was backed up by vision given more than once been changed to this new concept?  It is clear, from the report of the “Great Controversy” vision, as given by Ellen G. White that there was a hierarchy in heaven in which God, the Father was supreme and regarded as the Sovereign, His Son, Jesus Christ was next and then Lucifer was third (E. G. White, Spiritual Gifts, Vol. 1, pp. 17, 18).  The prophet, in describing what was revealed to her, even went as far as to say that Christ was “the only being that could enter into all the counsels and purposes of God.”  (E. G. White, Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 34). 

 When the prophet spoke about a three-person godhead, was there a vision that revealed a different picture of God, Christ and heavenly beings, or was the prophet simply using expressions that were in common use at the time, while discussing other issues, without trying to teach a new doctrine?  I leave this question for us to ponder.

“He that hath ears to hear, let him hear” (Matt. 11:15).

 

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Two Types of Sin and How Salvation Relates

“If any man see his brother sin a sin which is not unto death, he shall ask, and he shall give him life for them that sin not unto death.  There is a sin unto death: I do not say that he shall pray for it. All unrighteousness is sin: and there is a sin not unto death.” (1 John 5:16, 17).

 It is generally known that the gospel is about salvation from sin.  A critical element to understanding exactly what this means is the largely ignored fact that all sin is not of the same nature and that broadly speaking there are two categories of sin, both of which are treated differently in the plan of salvation. In speaking about the gospel, salvation and sin, some of these expressions have become so generalized and clichéd that people do not understand exactly what is involved.  The result is that their thoughts on these matters are unclear and superficial and do not lend themselves to any kind of conviction that they would be willing to lay down their lives for.  In this presentation, the objective is to seek to bring clarity so as to strengthen conviction.

The last-days prophet Ellen G. White explains that the two types of sin are exemplified by the sins of Lucifer and Adam respectively.  She says:

“But even as a sinner, man was in a different position from that of Satan.  Lucifer in heaven had sinned in the light of God’s glory.  To him as to no other created being was given a revelation of God’s love.  Understanding the character of God, knowing His goodness, Satan chose to follow his own selfish, independent will.  The choice was final.  There was no more that God could do to save him.  But man was deceived; his mind was darkened by Satan’s sophistry.  The height and depth of the love of God he did not know.  For him there was hope in a knowledge of God’s love.  By beholding His character he might be drawn back to God.”  (Ellen G. White, The Desire of Ages, pp. 761, 762.)

She explains also:

“There was nothing poisonous in the fruit itself, and the sin was not merely in yielding to appetite.  It was distrust of God’s goodness, disbelief of His word, and rejection of His authority, that made our first parents transgressors and brought into the world a knowledge of evil . . . . By the mingling of evil with good, his mind had become confused, his mental and spiritual powers benumbed.  No longer could he appreciate the good that God had so freely bestowed.” (Ellen G. White, Education, p. 25.)

So, there you have it.  There is the sin of rebellion which is final and there is the sin of ignorance or naiveté for which redemption rests in the knowledge that will straighten the mind out of its confusion.

Jesus came to reveal the truth

 Jesus Christ, the Son of God came to earth for the very purpose of bringing light into this dark world of confusion so that our minds may be transformed.  The Bible says:

“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 1:4, 5).

Again, it says:

“And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.” (John3:19).

At another place, it says:

“My people are destroyed for a lack of knowledge: because thou hast rejected knowledge, I will also reject thee”. (Hosea 4:6).

 It is by the renewing of our minds that we are transformed.  We are told:

“be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind”. (Rom. 12:2.

Some people dismiss the importance of knowledge lightly, saying: “Knowlege? What’s that? That can’t save you. That’s only words or information.”  But the Bible says otherwise.  It says:

“the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life.” (John 6:63).

 Further:

“And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom thou hast sent.” (John 17:3).

Jesus came to the world for the specific purpose of bearing witness of the truth.  He said:

“To this end was I born, and for this cause came I into the world, that I should bear witness unto the truth.” (John 18:37).

The truth that He came to bear witness of is the truth about the character of God – His Father; further, to reveal the true character of Satan and the real reason for Satan’s rebellion. As was pointed out earlier:

 “But man was deceived; his mind was darkened by Satan’s sophistry.  The height and depth of the love of God he did not know.  For him there was hope in a knowledge of God’s love.  By beholding His character he might be drawn back to God.”  (Ellen G. White, The Desire of Ages, p. 762.)

Truth revealed in life and in death

Jesus came as the “express image” of God’s person (Heb. 1:3) and it is by “beholding” Him we see the true character of God and “are changed” (2 Cor. 3:18) from our attitude of suspicion towards God and alienation from Him.  We are told that in our unconverted state, we were like the Gentiles who were described as:

“Having the understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God through the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart” (Eph. 4:18).

Don’t forget, it was man who went and hid from God after he sinned in the Garden of Eden.  Satan speaking through the serpent told Eve that nothing was wrong with the fruit (which was correct) but led Adam and Eve to be afraid of what they were made to believe that God would do to them.  The fear of death that was sowed in man’s mind then has since kept humanity in bondage to the Devil.  We are told that Jesus came to “deliver them who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage.” (Heb. 2:15).  But Jesus came to show us that there is no need to be afraid of God because “God is love” (1 John 4:8), and nothing such as the Devil portrayed Him.  He showed that God’s instructions are for our protection and not requirements of God for His sake.  Jesus showed that “There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear” (1 John 4:18).  So much does the Son have the character of the Father that Jesus told Philip: “he that hath seen me hath seen the Father” (John 14:9).

So, in His life on earth Jesus revealed by living demonstration the truth about God’s character.  And then, by allowing Himself to fall into the hands of Satan, He allowed the entire universe to see the truth about Satan’s true motives and character as a murderer, a liar and the real cause of death, suffering and misery.

As is explained in another presentation on this site, Who Killed Jesus and what is the Significance of His Death?”, it was Satan and his evil host that murdered the innocent Son of God and by so doing, exposed the true character of Satan so that the last link of sympathy for Satan among the loyal angels of heaven was forever broken.  It is supposed to have the same effect on the human mind, if we understand what really happened and what it was all about.

The death of Christ was specifically the basis on which the Devil’s destruction is assured, as we are told:

“For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil.” (1 John 3:8).

And

“Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself took part of the same; that through death he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil” (Heb. 2:14).   

 It is all about the truth

 It is by believing the truth that we are saved!  We are told:

“He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned” (Mark 16:16).

Hence, the real objective of the Devil is to deceive people or cause them to stop their ears – anything that might lead them to not receive the truth, which, in believing it they would be saved from joining him in rebellion.  In the parable of the sower, we are told:

“Those by the way side are they that hear; then cometh the devil, and taketh away the word out of their hearts, lest they should believe and be saved.” (Luke 8:12).

 Further, the Devil will work

“with signs and lying wonders, And with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved.” (2 Thess. 2:10).

Those who make miracles their benchmark for determining authenticity will be sent

“strong delusion, that they should believe a lie: That they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness.” (2 Thess. 2:11, 12).

 It is by our repentance when the truth comes to us that we provide the basis whereby Christ can plead our case, before the heavenly tribunal and the entire universe presided over by the Father.  We are told that we should not sin, but if we miss the mark, we have an advocate with the Father:

“My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous” (1 John 2:1).

People wonder what Christ’s advocacy on our behalf could be all about, in relation to us having sinned and being in need of forgiveness.  But a clear illustration of it is given when Jesus was on the cross.  He prayed to His Father, saying:

“Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do.” (Luke 23:34).

 Mercy because we are ignorant and naive

 Throughout the Bible, the fact that we are ignorant and naive has always been referred to as the basis on which we are not classified with Satan.  Here are a few cases:

Speaking of the death of Christ, Peter said:

 And now, brethren, I wot that through ignorance ye did it, as did also your rulers.” (Acts 3:17.   

  1. We mentioned already the Gentiles, being alienated because of ignorance, but it is worth noting again:

“Having the understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God through the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart” (Eph. 4:18).

  1. The former lusts in which people walked were due to ignorance:

“As obedient children, not fashioning yourselves according to the former lusts in your ignorance(1 Pet. 1:14).

  1. The people of Nineveh, to whom Jonah was sent, were described as not knowing their right hand from their left hand. That’s ignorance.

“And should not I spare Nineveh, that great city, wherein are more than sixscore thousand persons that cannot discern between their right hand and their left hand; and also much cattle?” (Jonah 4:11).

  1. The priests that ministered in the earthly sanctuary were chosen such that they could have compassion on the ignorant, in order to be able to minister for them.

“For every high priest taken from among men is ordained for men in things pertaining to God, that he may offer both gifts and sacrifices for sins: Who can have compassion on the ignorant, and on them that are out of the way; for that he himself also is compassed with infirmity.” (Heb. 5:1, 2).

  1. Jesus told the Pharisees that their sins remained if indeed they were not blind but saw clearly.

“Jesus said unto them, If ye were blind, ye should have no sin: but now ye say, We see; therefore your sin remaineth.” (John 9:41).

  1. Again, He told them that they might have had an excuse if He had not come and spoken to them.

“If I had not come and spoken unto them, they had not had sin: but now they have no cloak for their sin.” (John 15:22).

The Apostle Paul said that all his previous actions in persecuting God’s people were due to ignorance, and for that reason God had mercy on him; and further, that the ignorance was due to his unbelief at the time.

“And I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who hath enabled me, for that he counted me faithful, putting me into the ministry; Who was before a blasphemer, and a persecutor, and injurious: but I obtained mercy, because I did it ignorantly in unbelief.” (1 Tim. 1:12, 13).

  1. People in the last days who are willingly ignorant in denying the creation and the flood are warned that destruction is coming upon the earth and they need to repent before it is too late.

“Knowing this first, that there shall come in the last days scoffers, walking after their own lusts, And saying, Where is the promise of his coming? for since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation. For this they willingly are ignorant of, that by the word of God the heavens were of old, and the earth standing out of the water and in the water: Whereby the world that then was, being overflowed with water, perished: But the heavens and the earth, which are now, by the same word are kept in store, reserved unto fire against the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men.  But, beloved, be not ignorant of this one thing, that one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.” (2 Pet. 3:3-9).

Truth in the sanctuary and the final conflict

 The fact that Christ pleads for us on the basis of our ignorance and naiveté is clearly taught in the sanctuary services that were given to ancient Israel.  It was only sins of ignorance that were ministered for in the sanctuary on earth (Lev. 4:2, 3, 13, 22, 27; Num.15:25-29) and all those confessed sins are eventually laid on Satan, represented by the scapegoat – Azazel, on the Day of Atonement (Lev. 16:9, 15, 16, 20, 21, 22), as the one who is truly responsible for them through the darkness and confusion that he has unleashed on the whole earth, that has caused us, the ignorant and naive descendants of Adam, to repeatedly stumble and miss the mark.  Sins that were considered presumptuous were not atoned for (Num. 15:30, 31).

The fact that we are ignorant and naive and not rebellious, as Satan is, and we have not genuinely rejected God, provides the basis for our redemption.  But if we reject the truth that is to straighten us out and lighten our dark understanding, we have no basis on which our sins might be laid on Satan as the real culprit.  We must bear the responsibility for them ourselves and perish with them.

Those who remain in ignorance will be destroyed for lack of knowledge.

“My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge: because thou hast rejected knowledge, I will also reject thee(Hosea 4:6).

Because the truth is the only basis on which we can be straightened out of our confusion and be redeemed to God in an unswerving relationship, the truth is the focus of the Christian warfare.  Satan seeks to distort the truth, whereas the followers of Christ are called upon to cast down every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God.

“For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh: (For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds;) Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ; And having in a readiness to revenge all disobedience, when your obedience is fulfilled.” (2 Cor. 10:3-6).

It is for this reason that the finishing up of God’s mission on this earth is tied to the gospel being preached in the entire world, because people cannot believe if they do not know.

“And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come.” (Matt. 24:14).

Further,

For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved. How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher?” (Rom. 10:13, 14).

It is the truth that sanctifies us.  It is not some strange miracle that causes us to be seen as righteous when we are not in reality, as propounded by the new theology that I wrote about in a previous presentation.  Accordingly, Jesus prayed:

“Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth.” (John 17:17).

The final conflict will be fought by persons who are sealed – people who will not turn away from the truth or their allegiance to God, even when faced with weariness, hunger, delay and the prospect of losing not only their reputation but their very lives.  The last-days prophet, Ellen G. White tells what the sealing is.  We are told:

“Just as soon as the people of God are sealed in their foreheads – it is not a seal or mark that can be seen, but a settling into the truth, both intellectually and spiritually, so they cannot be moved – just as soon as God’s people are sealed and prepared for the shaking, it will come.” (Ellen G. White, Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, Vol. 4, p. 1161)

“He that hath ears to hear, let him hear” (Matt. 11:15).

For further information:

E-mail: commandmentsofgodandfaithofjesus@yahoo.com

Who Killed Jesus and What is the Significance of His Death?

Jesus Christ, the Son of God came to earth and died a cruel death, being crucified on a cross, a most torturous method of execution reserved for the vilest of criminals.  At the heart of the Christian faith is the belief that through His death, salvation is brought to humanity.  Unless we understand, however, the issues behind His death and who did it, we may end up seeing God as being no better than the pagans who sacrifice their most loved children in order to achieve what is perceived to be some good.

A songwriter captured some of the questions that may naturally arise, in the following words:

Who killed Jesus? I would like to know.
Who is guilty of a crime so low?
Why did He have to die?
What is the reason why?

Who killed Jesus? I would like to know.
Was it Roman Soldiers, with their tools of war?
Pounding nails through hands that did no wrong.
Mocking and abusing, crowning Him with thorns,

All the evidence is very clear.
Was it Pontius Pilate, he was Governor,
Trying to decide the case that day?
Finding that the Savior had no fault His own,
Was he guilty when he turned away?

Was it Hebrew children, proud of who they were?
Shouting “Crucify Him” to their King.
Rejecting their Messiah for a common thief
Turning down the Kingdom He could bring.

The songwriter eventually concluded that he was the guilty one, in the following words: “It’s for me the Sacrifice was made. . . . . I am guilty, now it’s plain to see, that it was really me!”

The conclusion, takes us from the literal realm into a spiritualized realm because in a literal sense, it could not have been the songwriter who did it, since he was not yet born.  True, he, like all repentant sinners, benefitted.  But that is a different matter.  We are talking about who did it!  Was it God?  Did God motivate or collude with wicked people to do this, in order to satisfy His own requirement?  It is not a rude question.  To many, it might appear so, because they have unwittingly bought into the Devil’s misrepresentation that has clouded the issues in order to keep us in darkness and deceive us.

Let there be no mistake, Jesus was killed by wicked people.  The Bible says: Him, being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, ye have taken, and by wicked hands have crucified and slain: Whom God hath raised up, having loosed the pains of death” (Acts 2:23, 24).

Condemnation is on those who crucified Him, not blessing and reward!  We are told: “The Son of man goeth as it is written of him: but woe unto that man by whom the Son of man is betrayed! it had been good for that man if he had not been born.” (Matt. 26:24).

In order to understand the plan of salvation we have to go back to the beginning and work our way forward.

The issues behind the plan of salvation

First, let us be reminded of that most pivotal revelation of the Great Controversy that was given to Ellen G. White that she published in 1858.  She said:

“The Lord has shown me that Satan was an honored angel in heaven, next to JESUS CHRIST.  His countenance was mild, expressive of happiness like the other angels. His forehead was high and broad, and showed great intelligence.  His form was perfect.  He had a noble, majestic bearing.  And I saw that when God said to his SON, Let us make man in our image, Satan was jealous of JESUS.  He wished to be consulted concerning the formation of man.  He was filled with envy, jealousy and hatred.  He wished to be the highest in heaven, next to GOD, and receive the highest honors.” (E. G. White, Spiritual Gifts, Vol. 1, pp. 17).

 Because of his rebellion, Satan was cast out of heaven.  What many people do not know, is that Satan sought reinstatement, which was denied because he had not changed.  Here is the account of it:

Satan stood in amazement at his new condition.  His happiness was gone.  He looked upon the angels who, with him, were once so happy, but who had been expelled from heaven with him.  Before their fall not a shade of discontent had marred their perfect bliss.  Now all seemed changed.  Countenances which had reflected the image of their Maker were gloomy and despairing.  Strife, discord, and bitter recrimination were among them.  Previous to their rebellion these things had been unknown in heaven.  Satan now beheld the terrible results of his rebellion.  He shuddered, and feared to face the future and to contemplate the end of these things.” (E. G. White, The Story of Redemption, pp. 24, 25).

“Satan trembled as he viewed his work.  He was alone in meditation upon the past, the present, and his future plans.  His mighty frame shook as with a tempest.  An angel from heaven was passing.  He called him and entreated an interview with Christ.  This was granted him.  He then related to the Son of God that he repented of his rebellion and wished again the favour of God.  He was willing to take the place God had previously assigned him, and be under His wise command.  Christ wept at Satan’s woe but told him, as the mind of God, that he could never be received into heaven.  Heaven must not be placed in jeopardy.  All heaven would be marred should he be received back, for sin and rebellion originated with him.  The seeds of rebellion were still in him. . . .  He repented not of his rebellion because he saw the goodness of God which he had abused. . . . To be commander out of heaven was vastly different from being thus honoured in heaven.  The loss he had sustained of all the privileges of heaven seemed too much to be borne.  He wished to regain these.” (E. G. White, The Story of Redemption, pp. 26, 27).

It was this failure to gain reinstatement that led Satan to try another plan that involved getting Adam and Eve to sin.  Here is the plan:

“His followers were seeking him, and he aroused himself and, assuming a look of defiance, informed them of his plans to wrest from God the noble Adam and his companion Eve.  If he could in any way beguile them to disobedience, God would make some provision whereby they might be pardoned, and then himself and all the fallen angels would be in a fair way to share with them of God’s mercy.  If this should fail, they could unite with Adam and Eve, for when once they should transgress the law of God they would be subjects of God’s wrath, like themselves.  Their transgression would place them, also, in a state of rebellion, and they could unite with Adam and Eve, take possession of Eden, and hold it as their home.  And if they could gain access to the tree of life in the midst of the garden, their strength would, they thought, be equal to that of the holy angels, and even God Himself could not expel them.” (E. G. White, The Story of Redemption, pp. 27, 28).

 Salvation through the truth that puts enmity between us and Satan

When the first sin was committed by our fore-parents, Adam and Eve, God predicted exactly how salvation would come in Gen. 3:15 as follows:
“And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel.” Gen. 3:15.
Satan had hoped to have humanity fully on his side but God said He would break up the alliance by causing humanity to hate Satan and his ways.  He would achieve this by sending His Son as the woman’s seed to bruise Satan’s head but in the process Satan would bruise the heel of His Son.

This was fulfilled at Calvary where, through death, Christ bruised Satan’s head by exposing him to the universe as a murderer while Christ’s heel was bruised by Satan, in that Satan took Christ’s life.  But for Christ it was only a bruising of His heel since His Father would raise Him back from the dead (Gal. 1:1).

This is substantiated by many scriptures that show:

  1. That man was Satan’s captive – example, Heb. 2:14, 15.
  2. That Christ delivered man by converting man or changing man’s mind – that is, causing man to believe in Him rather than believing Satan.  It is by believing God that we are saved – example, Luke 8:12; John 3:15; Acts 16:31; Rom. 4:3; Rom. 12:2.
  3. That Satan’s destruction is assured by the death of Christ – example, 1 John 3:8; Heb. 2:14, 15; Col. 2:14, 15.
  4. That those who believe in Christ will be given power to become sons of God (John1:12) – that is, power to overcome the devil (first and foremost) – Titus  2:11, 12 – and in some cases to work miracles (only in some cases) – Paul says in 1 Corinthians 12:29:  “Are all apostles? are all prophets? are all teachers? are all workers of miracles?”  He says again in 1 Corinthians 12:10:  “To another the working of miracles; to another prophecy; to another discerning of spirits; to another divers kinds of tongues; to another the interpretation of tongues”.

Generally, spiritual gifts are given for the purpose of advancing the cause of truth and preparing people for God’s kingdom.  We are told:

“And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ: That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive;  But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ” Eph. 4:11-15.

  1. That eternal life will be given to those who believe in Christ, at the second coming of Christ (not before, except in special cases) – example, Mark 10:30; Rom. 2:6-8; 1 Cor. 15:22, 23 – even though God can speak of things that are not as though they were because of the certainty of such things (Rom. 4:17).Finally, it should be understood that through His foreknowledge, God knows and declares what will happen but it does not mean that He manipulates people’s minds to make them do evil things.   He will even act, based upon His foreknowledge, in order to achieve a desired end, knowing what people will do, but He is not necessarily the one responsible for it being done or the one doing it.  Such is the situation with the death of Christ. He yielded His Son. But it was the Devil and evil men who killed Him, thus playing right into God’s purpose of revealing the true nature of sin, which is enmity against God (Rom. 8:7) and a manifestation of a disposition to crucify the Son of God afresh each time it is committed (Heb. 6:6).

The popular ‘gospel’ makes death, which the Bible calls an enemy, a requirement of God before He can forgive.  Unlike the popular ‘gospel’ that says that the death of Christ has satisfied once and for all, everything that the Father required, the truth is that the death of Christ, far from being required by God, was brought about by Satan and provides the basis whereby Satan will be condemned and ultimately be held responsible for all the sins that he would have caused the penitent to commit. The Bible says that through death, Christ destroys “him that had the power of death, that is, the devil; And deliver them who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage.”  (Heb. 2:14, 15); and further, that by His death, Christ, “having spoiled principalities and powers, he made a shew of them openly, triumphing over them in it” (Col. 2:14, 15).

So, death remains an enemy, wholly a consequence of sin (1 Cor. 15:26; Rom. 6:23).  God is life and is not constrained to give life.  He quickeneth whomsoever He wills, whenever He wills, without needing death to take place as a precondition (John 5:21).

Satan, the murderer, unmasked

In closing, I’ll leave with you the following description of the death of Christ from the pen of Ellen G. White for your thoughtful meditation:

But God suffered with His Son. Angels beheld the Saviour’s agony. They saw their Lord enclosed by legions of satanic forces, His nature weighed down with a shuddering, mysterious dread. There was silence in heaven. No harp was touched.” (E. G. White, Desire of Ages, p. 693).

 “Not until the death of Christ was the character of Satan clearly revealed to the angels or to the unfallen worlds. The archapostate had so clothed himself with deception that even holy beings had not understood his principles. They had not clearly seen the nature of his rebellion”. (E. G. White, Desire of Ages, p. 758).

 “Heaven viewed with grief and amazement Christ hanging upon the cross, blood flowing from His wounded temples, and sweat tinged with blood standing upon His brow. From His hands and feet the blood fell, drop by drop, upon the rock drilled for the foot of the cross. The wounds made by the nails gaped as the weight of His body dragged upon His hands. His labored breath grew quick and deep, as His soul panted under the burden of the sins of the world. All heaven was filled with wonder when the prayer of Christ was offered in the midst of His terrible suffering,–“Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do.” Luke 23:34. Yet there stood men, formed in the image of God, joining to crush out the life of His only-begotten Son. What a sight for the heavenly universe! 

The principalities and powers of darkness were assembled around the cross, casting the hellish shadow of unbelief into the hearts of men. When the Lord created these beings to stand before His throne, they were beautiful and glorious. Their loveliness and holiness were in accordance with their exalted station. They were enriched with the wisdom of God, and girded with the panoply of heaven. They were Jehovah’s ministers. But who could recognize in the fallen angels the glorious seraphim that once ministered in the heavenly courts?

Satanic agencies confederated with evil men in leading the people to believe Christ the chief of sinners, and to make Him the object of detestation. Those who mocked Christ as He hung upon the cross were imbued with the spirit of the first great rebel. He filled them with vile and loathsome speeches. He inspired their taunts. But by all this he gained nothing.

Could one sin have been found in Christ, had He in one particular yielded to Satan to escape the terrible torture, the enemy of God and man would have triumphed. Christ bowed His head and died, but He held fast His faith and His submission to God. “And I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, Now is come salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of His Christ: for the accuser of our brethren is cast down, which accused them before our God day and night.” Rev. 12:10.      

Satan saw that his disguise was torn away. His administration was laid open before the unfallen angels and before the heavenly universe. He had revealed himself as a murderer. By shedding the blood of the Son of God, he had uprooted himself from the sympathies of the heavenly beings. Henceforth his work was restricted. Whatever attitude he might assume, he could no longer await the angels as they came from the heavenly courts, and before them accuse Christ’s brethren of being clothed with the garments of blackness and the defilement of sin. The last link of sympathy between Satan and the heavenly world was broken”.  (E. G. White, Desire of Ages, p. 759 -761).

Let us not spiritualize away the reality

In conclusion, it was Satan and his host of both evil men and evil angels who killed Christ.  In doing so, Satan’s true character was revealed, in contrast to the character of God and Christ.  It is this belief in the truth that transforms our minds and makes us single-hearted towards God.  Spiritualism seeks to spiritualize away the reality of who God is, who Christ is, who Satan is and who the angels are so as to cause people to be blinded to the issues of the controversy and the issues of salvation.

May the Lord help that we will be settled into the truth both intellectually and spiritually so that we cannot be moved, because the time is coming and is not far from now when all will be shaken and only those who cannot be shaken will remain.

“He that hath ears to hear, let him hear” (Matt. 11:15).

For further information:

E-mail: commandmentsofgodandfaithofjesus@yahoo.com

Why does God allow people to die?

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Why does God allow people to die, especially under certain distressing circumstances? Sometimes we wonder where God was when certain things were happening. In seeking to answer these questions we first need to try and view things from God’s perspective. We view things from the stand point of our brief probationary span, which, to us, is the real life. But God views life from the stand point of: firstly, His being the life-giver and secondly, the stand point of eternity.

Even a hundred years is infinitesimally small compared to a billion years, which is still not eternity. So, when our brief probationary lifespan expires, to us it’s a big thing, but to God it is nothing, because He can give life to us for eternity. Therefore our probationary lifespan is not so much about how long that probationary span is but rather it’s about what we have used our choice to do. You see, the probationary span has been given to us for the purpose of making a choice, whether to receive eternal life or not to receive eternal life. That is what is all-important.

It is not how long the probationary span is. If we consider someone such as the apostle Paul, when faced with death, he said, “I am now ready to be offered, and the time of my departure is at hand.  I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith:  Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing” (2 Tim. 4:6-8). He could have griped and said, “Imagine, after a life of service, this is how I am losing my life”. If he saw this life as the only thing of value, then, perhaps, he would have whined and grumbled and complained in that way. But he was not sorrowful. Instead, he was hopeful because he saw the bigger picture. This is why he said, “our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory.” (2 Cor. 4:17).  He was looking at the bigger picture which is really what is important.

Jesus said, “For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul, or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?” (Mark 8:36, 37).

So, in answering these questions as to where God was when certain things were happening or why did God allow certain things to happen, we need to get out of the framework of the here and now and get into the bigger framework of eternity. Then, we will get things into their proper perspective; as Paul said: “If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable” (1 Cor. 15:19).

Also he said, regarding us losing our loved ones:

13 But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope.

14 For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him.

15 For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep.

16 For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first:

17 Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.

18 Wherefore comfort one another with these words.”

(1 Thess. 4:13-18).

We should look at the loss in light of eternity.  And we should seek more than ever to encourage our loved ones to enlist under the banner of Christ so that they can be candidates for eternal life, which Christ promises to give at His second coming.

For further information:

E-mail: commandmentsofgodandfaithofjesus@yahoo.com