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The Law of God and the Law of Moses

There has been much confusion regarding references to the law in the Bible, especially in Paul’s writings.  One of the reasons for the confusion is that, oftentimes, no distinction is recognized between references to the Law of God and the Law of Moses.

In seeking to better understand especially Paul’s writings, the following points should be noted:

The Law of God

Firstly, the Law of God is specifically the Ten Commandments.  These are sometimes referred to, simply, as the law or as the commandments, and embody moral principles –

“he that loveth another hath fulfilled the law. For this, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not kill, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness, Thou shalt not covet” (Rom. 13:8, 9); “Thou knowest the commandments, Do not commit adultery, Do not kill, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Honour thy father and thy mother.” (Luke 18:20); “For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all. For he that said, Do not commit adultery, said also, Do not kill. Now if thou commit no adultery, yet if thou kill, thou art become a transgressor of the law. So speak ye, and so do, as they that shall be judged by the law of liberty.” (James 2:10-12).

The Law of Moses

Secondly, the Law of Moses is specifically the traditions of the Jews.  These included penalties for breaking the Law of God, rules regarding ceremonies and observances, health laws and civil laws –

“But the children of the murderers he slew not: according unto that which is written in the book of the law of Moses, wherein the Lord commanded, saying, The fathers shall not be put to death for the children, nor the children be put to death for the fathers; but every man shall be put to death for his own sin.” (2 Kings 14:6); “And it came to pass a long time after that the Lord had given rest unto Israel from all their enemies round about, that Joshua waxed old and stricken in age. And Joshua called for all Israel, and for their elders, and for their heads, and for their judges, and for their officers, and said unto them, I am old and stricken in age: And ye have seen all that the Lord your God hath done unto all these nations because of you; for the Lord your God is he that hath fought for you. . . Be ye therefore very courageous to keep and to do all that is written in the book of the law of Moses, that ye turn not aside therefrom to the right hand or to the left” (Joshua 23:1-6).

Issue in the early church

Thirdly, there was an issue in the early church as to whether or not Christians should be required to observe the Law of Moses –

“But there rose up certain of the sect of the Pharisees which believed, saying, That it was needful to circumcise them, and to command them to keep the law of Moses.” (Acts 15:5); “And certain men which came down from Judaea taught the brethren, and said, Except ye be circumcised after the manner of Moses, ye cannot be saved. When therefore Paul and Barnabas had no small dissension and disputation with them, they determined that Paul and Barnabas, and certain other of them, should go up to Jerusalem unto the apostles and elders about this question.” (Acts 15:1, 2).

Paul’s teaching

Fourthly, Paul’s teaching was that the Law of Moses was not required for Christian believers but adherence to the Law of God is required –

“Circumcision is nothing, and uncircumcision is nothing, but the keeping of the commandments of God.” (1 Cor. 7:19); “For I delight in the law of God after the inward man:” (Rom. 7:22); “I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord. So then with the mind I myself serve the law of God” (Rom. 7:25); “Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be” (Rom. 8:27); “Thou therefore which teachest another, teachest thou not thyself? thou that preachest a man should not steal, dost thou steal? Thou that sayest a man should not commit adultery, dost thou commit adultery? thou that abhorrest idols, dost thou commit sacrilege? Thou that makest thy boast of the law, through breaking the law dishonourest thou God? For the name of God is blasphemed among the Gentiles through you, as it is written. For circumcision verily profiteth, if thou keep the law: but if thou be a breaker of the law, thy circumcision is made uncircumcision.” (Rom. 2:21-25).

Relating to Paul’s writings

How then should we relate to Paul’s writings regarding the law?  Some people think that Paul’s writings are confusing because in some instances, it appears that he supports keeping the law, for example, he said: “Do we then make void the law through faith? God forbid: yea, we establish the law.” (Rom. 3:31); but in another instance he seems to be saying that the law is done away, for example, he said: “Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith. But after that faith is come, we are no longer under a schoolmaster.” (Gal.3:24, 25).  But Paul was not confused.  The key to understanding his writings regarding the law, is to appreciate the issue that had arisen in the church that he sought to address and then establish whether he was referring to the Law of God or the Law of Moses.  The Law of Moses was for the Jews, but the Law of God is for all humanity and stands forever.

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

For further information, please visit Patience of the Saints at http://thecommandmentsofgodandthefaithofjesus.com/

Questions and comments may be sent by e-mail to: commandmentsofgodandfaithofjesus@yahoo.com

Follow on Twitter @JaZerubbabel

 

Bahamians were not sinners above others

As we mourn the loss of life in the Bahamas, one cannot avoid the usual question, “Where was God?”  Some have asserted that it was God’s judgement on the Bahamians and that they were warned.  Insurance companies and others classify such disasters as “Acts of God”.  But Jesus’s response to a report that was made to Him about a disaster should be instructive.  Jesus asked, “think ye that they were sinners above all . . .?”.  He continues, “I tell you. Nay: but, except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish.” (Luke 13:4, 5).

While expressing sympathy for our Bahamian neighbours, I take the opportunity to make four points:

Presence of sin

Firstly, disasters of this kind are caused by the presence of sin in the world; not by acts of God – “For we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now.” (Rom. 8:22).  Since sin entered the world, there has been death and destruction on the whole creation, affecting both good and bad.

Secondly, the Bahamians and others who suffer in disasters of this kind are no more sinners than all others – “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.” (Rom. 3:23).

God hears

Thirdly, when we repent and cry unto God for help, He hears and answers – “Let the priests, the ministers of the Lord, weep between the porch and the altar, and let them say, Spare thy people, O Lord, and give not thine heritage to reproach, that the heathen should rule over them: wherefore should they say among the people, Where is their God? Then will the Lord be jealous for his land, and pity his people.” (Joel 2:17, 18).

Fourthly, it is prophesied in the Bible that disasters and pestilence will get worse till Jesus Christ returns – “For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in divers places. All these are the beginning of sorrows. 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. . . 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. 24:7-9, 14).  Even scientists are predicting that disasters will get worse, as evidenced by climate change phenomena.

What then should we do?  We should seek God as a refuge, in addition to whatever practical measures we can take to mitigate disaster.  Love our neighbours and do not be judgemental nor seek to impose our beliefs on them but rather persuade them to seek God as a refuge because we are all in this together.

 

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

For further information, please visit Patience of the Saints at http://thecommandmentsofgodandthefaithofjesus.com/

Questions and comments may be sent by e-mail to: commandmentsofgodandfaithofjesus@yahoo.com

Follow on Twitter @JaZerubbabel

 

Keeping Your Straying Spouse at Home

Many of the ills of society are linked to a breakdown in the family structure.  Crime, social maladjustment, lack of self-confidence, giving in to peer pressure and children emulating the wrong icons are some of the results.  Single parents who struggle against the odds and raise children who become good and successful citizens are to be commended.  But having the help and support of a loving spouse is the ideal.

One of the reasons for the breakdown in the family is infidelity or lack of faithfulness on the part of spouses.  The Bible warns us to avoid fornication and commands us to not commit adultery.  This area of lack of faithfulness is well known and is popularly condemned by church and secular society alike.

The ills that can potentially result from fornication and adultery are well known.  Among these are: children being disowned or not being supported by fathers who are not married to the children’s mother; jealous rages and conflicts among parties in love triangles; among others, each with their attendant negative consequences.

Another area of unfaithfulness, however, that is almost invariably overlooked is that spoken of by the apostle Paul – that of defrauding one’s spouse or withholding from them their just due: “Defraud ye not one another” (1 Cor. 7:5).  Read the entire chapter, 1 Cor. 7:1-40.  There are two sides to the matter of fornication.  The Bible speaks of both.  Popular practice, both in the church and in the world belabours one and ignores the other.

Fornication should be avoided, and faithfulness should be maintained – faithfulness in rendering to your spouse their just due, whether financial and material support or emotional and physical support of intimacy.  By giving your spouse physical support of intimacy, you help to protect them from fornication and the Devil’s power of temptation (1 Cor. 7:5). Herein lies an area for repentance and reformation, which, if heeded, can make a major difference for good to the church and the world.

The story of Ruth and Boaz is very instructive (Ruth 3).  Ruth needed rest.  It is not explicitly stated what Ruth did to Boaz that night when she laid down at the spot where Boaz was sleeping, uncovered his feet and asked him to spread his skirt over her, but he was so drawn to her that he acknowledged her kindness and determined to do for her all that she would require (Ruth 3:9-11).  When Ruth told Naomi, her mother-in-law, Naomi told her that the man would not rest until he made the necessary arrangements to finish the matter that very day (Ruth 3:18).

As we lament the unfortunate state of affairs in which many persons are lured away from their homes or seek rest elsewhere, the solution might be closer to us than we might imagine.  It might verily lie in addressing the matter of faithfulness or lack thereof in rendering to our spouse due benevolence or kindness.  Boaz was impressed with Ruth’s kindness to such an extent that he would give her all that she required.  Are we kind to our spouses?  Or do we leave a void with an open invitation for someone else to fill?  It is well-known that nature abhors a vacuum.  We can make a difference and help to keep our straying spouse at home.

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

For further information, please visit Patience of the Saints at http://thecommandmentsofgodandthefaithofjesus.com/

Questions and comments may be sent by e-mail to: commandmentsofgodandfaithofjesus@yahoo.com

Follow on Twitter @JaZerubbabel

 

When God withholds forgiveness

One of the most foundational bases for Christian faith is the fact that God forgives.  If there was no forgiveness, all hope would be lost because we are all sinners – “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God” (Rom. 3:23).

We have been given the assurance that God will forgive the vilest sinner and will cast his sins to the bottom of the sea and will remember them no more – “He will turn again, he will have compassion upon us; he will subdue our iniquities; and thou wilt cast all their sins into the depths of the sea.” (Micah 7:19).  The parable of the prodigal son aptly illustrates God’s eagerness to forgive us even after we have messed up – “But when he was yet a great way off, his father saw him, and had compassion, and ran, and fell on his neck, and kissed him.” (Luke 15:20).  Jesus’s treatment of the woman caught in adultery challenged the accusers.  He told them, “He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her” (John 8:7), while He tells the woman, “Neither do I condemn thee: go, and sin no more.” (John 8:11).

Turned away

But strangely enough, the Bible also speaks of instances where persons will be turned away by God.  An examination of a few such cases should help us to determine what might be the reasons and help to put us in a better position to avoid being turned away.

1. Jesus speaks of some who would have ardently professed to be His followers who will be turned away at the last day.  Why?  Because, they failed to do His Father’s will – “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. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.” (Matt. 7:21-23).  So, if we want to be accepted by Christ, we can’t be doing our own thing.  We must seek to do the will of God.

2. There are others who seek forgiveness from God, but they do not forgive their fellowmen.  They too will not be forgiven – For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you: But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.” (Matt. 6:14, 15).  This is further illustrated in the parable of the unforgiving servant who refused to forgive his fellow servant after his master had forgiven him.  His master withdrew his forgiveness and demanded that he pay all his debts.  Jesus said that this is how it will be for those who refuse to forgive others – “So likewise shall my heavenly Father do also unto you, if ye from your hearts forgive not every one his brother their trespasses” (Matt. 18:35).  So, if we want God to forgive us, we must forgive others.

3. Then there are the selfish ones who live only for themselves and fail to help others in distress.  They will be numbered among the goats who will be told to depart from Christ when He separates the sheep from the goats – “Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels: For I was an hungred, and ye gave me no meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me no drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me not in: naked, and ye clothed me not: sick, and in prison, and ye visited me not. Then shall they also answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, or athirst, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not minister unto thee? Then shall he answer them, saying, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye did it not to one of the least of these, ye did it not to me. And these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal.” (Matt. 25:41-45). So, if we want to remain in favour with God, we must be kind to others.

Presumptuous sin

4. Those who sin presumptuously will not be forgiven either – “But the soul that doeth ought presumptuously, whether he be born in the land, or a stranger, the same reproacheth the Lord; and that soul shall be cut off from among his people. Because he hath despised the word of the Lord, and hath broken his commandment, that soul shall utterly be cut off; his iniquity shall be upon him.” (Num. 15:30, 31).  But wait a minute.  Isn’t that only an Old Testament concept?  Not quite.  It is a New Testament concept too – “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.” (1 John 5:16)

What is the sin unto death that you should not pray for?  Notice, first, that it is not the sinner who is praying here.  This is speaking about praying on behalf of someone else.  Let us be clear, God always hears and answers the prayer of the repentant sinner.  But the presumptuous person does not even see the need to repent.  No amount of prayer on his behalf can save him if he does not repent “because he hath despised the word of the Lord, and hath broken his commandment”.  At the root of presumptuous sin is despising the word of the Lord.  So, if we want to be forgiven, we must repent and not despise the word of the Lord.

God’s word and rebellion

Presumption comes in various forms.  Like Cain, one may decide that, although God asks for a lamb, fruits should be just as good, and may decide to offer fruits instead of a lamb; the result being that we are rejected, as was Cain – “And the Lord had respect unto Abel and to his offering: But unto Cain and to his offering he had not respect.” (Gen. 4:4, 5).  God may ask for the seventh and one decides that the first is just as good or even better.  God may say two and we decide that it should be three.  Let us beware, lest we find ourselves in rebellion against God!

Christ will be our advocate if we are willing to accept God’s word and keep His commandments – “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: And he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world. And hereby we do know that we know him, if we keep his commandments.” (1 John 2:1-3); Jesus said: “If ye love me, keep my commandments.” (John 14:15).

Sin is ultimately a condition of the heart – rebellion against God.  That is how it started in heaven with Lucifer who became Satan (Isa. 14:12-15).  There is no cure for genuine rebellion.  That is Satan’s condition.  We might be deceived or, like Jesus’s disciples, “the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.” (Matt. 26:41).  If that is the case for us, there is a remedy.  When we are made aware of our mistakes, if we are sorry, we have a mediator who will present our case and God will forgive us, because we are not genuinely seeking to rebel against Him or seeking to do our own thing.  Our repentance and willingness to obey Him serve as proof that we are not with Satan.

Salvation and the Son of God

The plan of salvation was made in the heavenly council between God, the Father, and Jesus Christ, the Son of God; – “the counsel of peace shall be between them both” (Zech. 6:13).  God sent His only begotten Son into the world that we might live through Him (1 John 4:9).  He is our mediator and the only one through whom we have access to God – “For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus” (1 Tim. 2:5).  The Son of God came to earth to reveal to us how much God loves us and to represent us before God.  He receives from God, His Father, and gives to us.  He told us to ask the Father for whatever help we need.  We should ask in His name, and the Father will give it to us – “And in that day ye shall ask me nothing. Verily, verily, I say unto you, Whatsoever ye shall ask the Father in my name, he will give it you.” (John 16:23).  The Father will give us the Holy Spirit if we ask Him – not that we should ask the Holy Spirit to come to us or fill us, but rather that we ask the Father to give us the Holy Spirit – “If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children: how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask him?” (Luke 11:13). We should not run the risk of despising the word of God by deciding that our requests should be directed to the Holy Spirit rather than to God himself through Jesus Christ.

Let us, by God’s grace, accept God’s word and not add to it nor subtract from it, lest we are found to be liars – “Add thou not unto his words, lest he reprove thee, and thou be found a liar.” (Prov. 30:6).  Being found a liar, we run the risk of hearing from His lips, the fateful words, “I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.” (Matt. 7:23).  If we seek peace and forgiveness, we should cooperate with Him and avoid following human devising.

Forgiveness

So, we have seen that God forgives.  But God’s forgiveness is not given without consideration of our attitude and behaviour.  Certain attitudes and behaviours on our part can result in us not being forgiven and ultimately result in us being turned away by God.  But hold a moment.  Is it not the case that the death of Christ has provided unconditional forgiveness for all humanity and all we need to do is simply accept that we are already forgiven?  Not quite.  Christ came in place of Adam and bore the penalty for the sin of Adam; whose sin had condemned all humanity – “For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive.” (1 Cor. 15:22).  Having borne the penalty for Adam’s sin, forgiveness has been unconditionally provided for all humanity for that sin – “But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him. For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life.” (Rom. 5:8-10).

We are “now justified” by the blood of Christ that has been shed for us, even “while we were yet sinners”.  When “we were enemies, we were reconciled to God” from the condemnation caused by Adam’s sin. But we are not yet saved because, apart from Adam’s sin, we have sins of our own. Even though we are not condemned for Adam’s sin, we could not be saved if we choose to remain enemies, committing sins of our own. We “shall be saved from wrath through him”.  How? By repenting of our own sins and accepting God’s power to stop committing them – “Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out” (Acts 3:19).

No one will ever be called upon to bear any penalty for Adam’s sin; we only suffer consequences of the degradation around us and in us caused by it.  But in order to be forgiven for our own sins, we must repent of them.  Nobody can do that for us. And we cannot get forgiveness in advance, before committing a sin. If we sin and are sorry, we repent, and we are granted forgiveness.  Let us, by God’s grace, repent of our sins and ask God, through His Son Jesus Christ, for the Holy Spirit, so that we may both will and do His good pleasure (Phil. 2:13).

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

For further information, please visit Patience of the Saints at http://thecommandmentsofgodandthefaithofjesus.com/

Questions and comments may be sent by e-mail to: commandmentsofgodandfaithofjesus@yahoo.com

Follow on Twitter @JaZerubbabel

Latter-rain angel sheds light on Holy Spirit mystery

The latter-rain angel lightens the entire earth with his glory – “And after these things I saw another angel come down from heaven, having great power; and the earth was lightened with his glory.” (Rev. 18:1).  When one recognizes that this is a description of an event like what happened on the Day of Pentecost to Jesus’s disciples, except more extensive, it sheds light on the mystery concerning who or what the Holy Spirit is.  Let us see what we know about the latter rain and then see if it can help us clear away some of the confusion that exists concerning what happened at Pentecost.  But first, let us establish that Pentecost, the early or former rain, was only a moderate version of what is to come in the latter rain.

Jesus told His disciples that He was about to return to heaven, but He would come back – “Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.” (John 14:1-3).  He further told them that while He was away, He would not leave them comfortless.  He would ask His Father to send them another Comforter.

 

The Comforter and the former rain

Jesus said, “And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever; Even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him: but ye know him; for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you.  I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you.” (John 14:16-18).  But His disciples did not understand what He meant and one of them asked: “Lord, how is it that thou wilt manifest thyself unto us, and not unto the world?” (John 14:22).  He then explained: “But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.” (John 14:26).  It became clear to them that He was going to send someone else to minister to them on His behalf until He returns.

Jesus told His disciples to tarry in Jerusalem until the promise He made concerning that which He would send them from the Father was fulfilled – “And, behold, I send the promise of my Father upon you: but tarry ye in the city of Jerusalem, until ye be endued with power from on high.” (Luke 24:49).  The promise was fulfilled on the Day of Pentecost, with Peter declaring to the multitude that the outpouring of God’s spirit on that occasion was also a fulfilment of a prophecy that was made by Joel – “But this is that which was spoken by the prophet Joel; And it shall come to pass in the last days, saith God, I will pour out of my Spirit upon all flesh: and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams” (Acts 2:16, 17).

Using the imagery of the early rains that germinated the seeds and gave the wheat crop a good start and the latter rains that came towards the end of the season to ripen the grains, Joel had made it clear that there would have been an early or former rain of the Holy Spirit outpouring that would be only moderate, and there would also be a latter rain that would cause the harvest floors to be full – “Be glad then, ye children of Zion, and rejoice in the Lord your God: for he hath given you the former rain moderately, and he will cause to come down for you the rain, the former rain, and the latter rain in the first month. And the floors shall be full of wheat, and the fats shall overflow with wine and oil.” (Joel 2:23, 24); “And it shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour out my spirit upon all flesh; and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions: And also upon the servants and upon the handmaids in those days will I pour out my spirit.” (Joel 2:28, 29).

The time-line given by Joel for this outpouring of God’s spirit and some of the signs in the heavens that would be associated with it, points clearly to an end-time occurrence – “And I will shew wonders in the heavens and in the earth, blood, and fire, and pillars of smoke. The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the great and terrible day of the Lord come.” (Joel 2:30, 31).

The outpouring of God’s spirit at Pentecost was therefore only a partial fulfilment of Joel’s prophecy since there was no record of the sun turning into darkness nor the moon turning into blood, neither was it the great and terrible day of the Lord.  It was the “former rain” that was given only “moderately”, as Joel said.  Indeed, the initial outpouring was only on those who were gathered in the upper room, about a hundred and twenty persons (Acts 1:15), with a few others receiving it by the laying of hands on them by the disciples.  This moderate outpouring was brought about by the Comforter whom Christ sent from His Father.

 

Another angel and the latter rain

The latter rain is a massive outpouring of the Holy Spirit in the last days – “And after these things I saw another angel come down from heaven, having great power; and the earth was lightened with his glory.” (Rev. 18:1).  The event happens at a time when it is said that Babylon had “become the habitation of devils, and the hold of every foul spirit” (Rev. 18:2).  At that time the sins of Babylon, a system of false worship, would “have reached unto heaven, and God hath remembered her iniquities.” (Rev. 18:5).  It is in this context that “another angel” that has “great power” comes from heaven and lightens “the earth with his glory”.

To get a sense of the glory that can attend angels, we can consider that it is mentioned alongside the glory of God Himself and Christ at the second coming of Christ – “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.” (Luke 9:26).  Three powers of heaven are here brought to view, God, Christ and the holy angels.

The final outpouring will be more comprehensive and will take place in the last days, accompanied by signs in the sun, the moon, the heavens and the earth.  According to Revelation 18, the earth will be “lightened with his glory” (Rev. 18:1).  This is the glory of “another angel” who comes to earth with “great power” (Rev. 18:1).

The fact that the latter rain will be brought to earth by an angel and will be more extensive than the outpouring of the former rain at Pentecost, sheds some light on the mystery of who the Comforter, the Holy Spirit who came at Pentecost, might be.

Only an agent or messenger can be sent.  The word in scripture for a Divine agent or messenger is “angel”, translated from the Hebrew “malak” in the Old Testament and the Greek “aggelos” in the New Testament.  The term “angel” does not even tell the status or nature of the agent or messenger, since even Christ is referred to as “angel” – the “angel of the Lord” (Ex. 3:2) and “archangel” – chief of angels (1 Thess. 4:16).  No other Agent or Messenger of God is identified in scripture as being divine or having a “God-nature” except Jesus Christ.

The agent or messenger that brought the outpouring of God’s spirit at Pentecost, called the Comforter or Spirit of Truth, and the Holy Ghost was not Christ Himself, but someone sent by Christ.  Similarly, the angel of Revelation 18 who will bring an even more extensive outpouring of God’s spirit in the last days is not Christ Himself or another God-being, but someone from heaven who will be sent to earth to empower the followers of Christ before Jesus Christ comes the second time.

It is important to know that the Comforter, like the Angel of Revelation 18, is an agent from heaven who is sent to empower Jesus’s disciples and not another God-being, as many people today are worshipping the Holy Spirit, whereas we have been warned against “worshipping of angels” (Col. 2:18).  The last-days message to the world is a call to worship the true God who made heaven and earth (Rev. 14:6, 7).  At such a time there is a call to come out of Babylon or false worship that is described as “the habitation of devils, and the hold of every foul spirit” (Rev. 18:2) – a clear reference to false worship that has a strong spirit emphasis.  We would do well to heed the words of the angel who admonished John the Revelator when John was about to worship the angel.  The angel said: “See thou do it not: for I am thy fellowservant . . . . . . worship God” (Rev. 22:9).

 

Deception and worship of other gods

Jesus warned that deception will be almost overpowering in the last days – “For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect.” (Matt. 24:24).  We should be aware that the underlying objective behind Satan’s deceptions is to cause people to worship him.  Lucifer was a glorious angel who rebelled against God and became Satan because he wanted to be like the Most High – “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).

Being angels, though fallen, Satan and the other angels with him have not lost their power to work miracles.  These will be the tools for carrying out their deceptions in the last days.  But God had warned, from the days of ancient Israel that we should not follow those who would lead us to worship other gods even though they might do signs and wonders successfully – “If there arise among you a prophet, or a dreamer of dreams, and giveth thee a sign or a wonder, And the sign or the wonder come to pass, whereof he spake unto thee, saying, Let us go after other gods, which thou hast not known, and let us serve them; Thou shalt not hearken unto the words of that prophet, or that dreamer of dreams: for the Lord your God proveth you, to know whether ye love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul.” (Deut. 13:1-3).

 

Call to worship the true God

The first and great commandment is to love God with all our hearts (Matt. 22:37, 38).  The sign that we love God is our willingness to obey Him – “If ye love me, keep my commandments.” (John 14:15).  Today, many people are earnestly seeking for power to work miracles and are calling on the Holy Spirit, praying to and worshipping the Spirit.  But Jesus and the holy angels tell us to worship God.  Apart from God Himself, we are commanded to worship Christ, the Son of God, and no one else –

“For the Father judgeth no man, but hath committed all judgment unto the Son: That all men should honour the Son, even as they honour the Father. He that honoureth not the Son honoureth not the Father which hath sent him.” (John 5:22, 23); – honouring the Son as we honour the Father would include worship.

“And again, when he bringeth in the firstbegotten into the world, he saith, And let all the angels of God worship him.” (Heb. 1:6) – angels are commanded to worship Christ and so should we.

“And I saw no temple therein: for the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are the temple of it.” (Rev. 21:22) – a temple is a place of worship; God and Christ are the temple – no one else.

We should ask ourselves: “If we worship and call upon someone else apart from God and Christ, and we get miraculous responses, who is it that is responding?  Is it God, Christ and the angels of God on the one hand or is it someone else such as Satan and fallen angels on the other hand?”  Jesus told us how to pray.  He told us to say: “Our Father which art in heaven” (Matt. 6:9).  He further told His disciples to pray to the Father in His name – “And in that day ye shall ask me nothing. Verily, verily, I say unto you, Whatsoever ye shall ask the Father in my name, he will give it you. Hitherto have ye asked nothing in my name: ask, and ye shall receive, that your joy may be full.” (John 16:23, 24).

Let us beware of the modern allurement of calling upon the Spirit.  This will be a feature of Babylon, false worship, in the last days.  We are called upon to worship God and Christ; no one else.  This is what the angels do in heaven and that is what we should do – “And every creature which is in heaven, and on the earth, and under the earth, and such as are in the sea, and all that are in them, heard I saying, 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).

 

Baptismal Vow

Someone queries, “Jesus told us to baptize people in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Ghost; doesn’t that clearly indicate that Father, Son and Holy Ghost are co-equal and that all three should be worshipped as God?”  The answer is no.  We should do as Jesus said and not go beyond His instructions.  Jesus commanded: “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. Amen.” (Matt. 28:19, 20).  We should therefore baptize people in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.  This does not make Father, Son and Holy Spirit co-equals or make them jointly the one God of Scripture.

This command is very similar to Paul’s charge to Timothy.  He said: “I charge thee before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, and the elect angels, that thou observe these things” (1 Tim. 5:21).  As with Jesus’s statement that He will come in His own glory, the Father’s glory and the glory of the angels, Paul has identified the three powers of heaven: God, Christ and the angels.  This gives no warrant to worship the angels or to see them as co-equals with God.  Let us, by God’s grace, do what God says and not add to nor diminish from His word.

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

 

For further information, please visit Patience of the Saints at http://thecommandmentsofgodandthefaithofjesus.com/

Questions and comments may be sent by e-mail to: commandmentsofgodandfaithofjesus@yahoo.com

Follow on Twitter @JaZerubbabel

 

What does it mean to blaspheme against the Holy Spirit?

One of the most troubling issues that has perplexed professing Christians is the question of whether one could blaspheme against the Holy Spirit and not know it. The reason for this concern is the fact that Jesus warned against it, stating emphatically that there is no forgiveness for that egregious act.  Jesus said:

“Wherefore I say unto you, All manner of sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven unto men: but the blasphemy against the Holy Ghost shall not be forgiven unto men.  And whosoever speaketh a word against the Son of man, it shall be forgiven him: but whosoever speaketh against the Holy Ghost, it shall not be forgiven him, neither in this world, neither in the world to come.” –  Matt. 12:31, 32.

Inevitably, one wonders who this mighty Holy Ghost might be, that you can speak against Christ himself, the “Son of man”, and be forgiven, but if you blaspheme against the Holy Ghost you cannot get forgiveness.  Is this Holy Ghost greater than Jesus Christ himself?  Or is it that we do not understand what blasphemy against the Holy Ghost is, in that sense?  It appears that the latter might be the case.  Let us examine what blasphemy against the Holy Ghost is.

First, let us consider two similar situations in which people were warned that if they should fall in breach, no excuse would be accepted.  This might shed some light as to whether greatness of the person offended is the issue.

Angel in the Wilderness

In the first case, God is speaking to Moses and tells him that He would send His Angel to lead them through the wilderness.  Here is the instruction:

“Behold, I send an Angel before thee, to keep thee in the way, and to bring thee into the place which I have prepared.  Beware of him, and obey his voice, provoke him not; for he will not pardon your transgressions: for my name is in him.  But if thou shalt indeed obey his voice, and do all that I speak; then I will be an enemy unto thine enemies, and an adversary unto thine adversaries. For mine Angel shall go before thee, and bring thee in unto the Amorites, and the Hittites, and the Perizzites, and the Canaanites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites: and I will cut them off.” – Ex. 23:20-23.

So, God is sending His Angel to guide them.  The Angel will be speaking to them on God’s behalf.  God says, “if thou shalt indeed obey his voice, and do all that I speak”.  The question is: when they hear this Angel’s voice, who is speaking?  It is God that is speaking.  But, is God speaking in person.  No!  He is speaking through this Angel that He has sent.  When you disobey the Angel, who are you disobeying? God!  But, is the Angel God himself? No!  The Angel is someone that God has sent.  Now, if you refuse to be guided by the one that God has sent to guide you, then how will you be guided?  You’ll be left without a guide.  And you’ll fall into the ditch.  So, the issue is not about the greatness or status of that person who is sent to guide you.  It is about the role that the person is appointed to serve for you, on God’s behalf.

An Angel

Before looking at the second case, a word should be said about the reference to “an Angel”.  The word translated “Angel” is the Hebrew word “malak”, which means messenger or agent.  The term Angel does not tell you the status of the messenger or agent.  Indeed, there are different categories of agents and messengers.  In fact, one such agent, identified himself as God, when speaking to Moses from the burning bush.  Here it is:

“And the angel of the Lord appeared unto him in a flame of fire out of the midst of a bush: and he looked, and, behold, the bush burned with fire, and the bush was not consumed. And Moses said, I will now turn aside, and see this great sight, why the bush is not burnt. And when the Lord saw that he turned aside to see, God called unto him out of the midst of the bush, and said, Moses, Moses. And he said, Here am I.” – Ex. 3:2-4.

Notice, it was “the angel of the Lord” that appeared unto Moses in a flame of fire out of the midst of the bush, but it was God who “called unto him out of the midst of the bush”.  This “angel of the Lord” further said, “I am the God of thy father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob” (Ex. 3:6).  It is believed that this “angel of the Lord” who could identify Himself as “God” could be none other than Jesus Christ himself.  So, the term “angel” by itself does not tell you the status of the person, except to indicate that this person is an agent or messenger.  This is further demonstrated by the fact that an “angel” who appeared to John the Revelator, told John not to worship him, whereas, Jesus Christ, as the “angel of the Lord” is worshipped as God.  The report of John’s encounter is as follows:

“And I John saw these things, and heard them. And when I had heard and seen, I fell down to worship before the feet of the angel which shewed me these things. Then saith he unto me, See thou do it not: for I am thy fellowservant, and of thy brethren the prophets, and of them which keep the sayings of this book: worship God.” – Rev. 22:8, 9.

This “angel” was obviously not Jesus Christ.  So, the point is that the term “angel” simply means agent or messenger and does not tell you the status of the person.  This is an important point to note, as we speak about the “Holy Ghost”, the “Comforter” that Jesus promised that He would send after He would have returned to heaven.  People just assume that this “Comforter” or “Holy Ghost” must be a being of worshipful status, even though the Bible does not say so.  They further assume this, because Jesus said that if you were to blaspheme against the Holy Ghost you will not be forgiven.  Therefore, to their minds, this must mean that the Holy Ghost must be God, not realizing that by viewing it in that way, they are making this Holy Ghost to be greater than Jesus and somehow suggesting that it is okay to speak against Jesus but not against this greater being – a position which is clearly untenable.

The Priest and the Judge

So, to the second case, that was mentioned earlier.  Moses was instructed that anyone who refused to hear the Priest or the Judge should be killed.  No excuses!  Here it is:

“And the man that will do presumptuously, and will not hearken unto the priest that standeth to minister there before the Lord thy God, or unto the judge, even that man shall die: and thou shalt put away the evil from Israel.  And all the people shall hear, and fear, and do no more presumptuously.” – Deut. 17:12, 13.

Was it that the Priest or the Judge was so great, in and of themselves, that one could not be forgiven for disobeying them, while later, you could be forgiven if you spoke against Jesus Christ, the Son of man?  Not really!  It had to do with the role that they were appointed to fulfil.  It was a way of managing the nation of Israel to ensure that the authority of the Priests and Judges was not flagrantly disregarded.

To Blaspheme against the Holy Ghost

So, back to our main question: what does it mean to blaspheme against the Holy Spirit?  It becomes evident if we look at the role that the Holy Ghost was appointed to fulfil.  Jesus said:

“Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come. He shall glorify me: for he shall receive of mine, and shall shew it unto you. All things that the Father hath are mine: therefore said I, that he shall take of mine, and shall shew it unto you.” – John 16:13-15.

Jesus was going back to heaven.  He would have access to all that the Father has.  He would not be here in person, but He would send the Comforter as His representative.  The Comforter would receive from Him and give to us so that we would be guided and comforted until He should return at His second coming.  Now, if we were to reject the Comforter, the Holy Ghost, the Spirit of truth, how would we be guided?  It goes without saying, that we are destined to destruction if we should do that.  So, the choice is ours.  We can choose to stop our ears and refuse to be guided by the truth and be damned or we can genuinely seek guidance from God through His word and through His appointed agents and we will be guided into all truth.  In short, to blaspheme against the Holy Ghost, the Spirit of Truth, is to persistently and finally reject the truth.

I pray that none of us will fall into the category of being a wilful rejector of truth, because this is the one thing that can truly exclude us from the kingdom of God.  Jesus said: “The seed is the word of God. 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. We are told: “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved” – Acts 16:31.  The Children of Israel entered not into the promised land because of unbelief; and we have been warned not to make their mistake: “Let us labour therefore to enter into that rest, lest any man fall after the same example of unbelief.” – Heb. 4:11. Belief in the Lord is not a one-off experience that happens at one moment and you are saved forever.  Belief in the Lord means that you take Him at His word and follow Him consistently.  May the Lord help us to this end!

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

For further information, please visit Patience of the Saints at http://thecommandmentsofgodandthefaithofjesus.com/

Questions and comments may be sent by e-mail to: commandmentsofgodandfaithofjesus@yahoo.com

Follow on Twitter @JaZerubbabel

 

 

Who killed Jesus Christ and what does it mean to be saved by His blood?

Someone gave an experience that went like this: “I have a friend who is a dedicated, principled Christian. The person is generally thorough and logical. I asked the individual the question: “When Christians and the Bible say that Jesus Christ died for us to save us from sin, explain exactly how that works?” The individual humbly confessed that she did not know but asked me for my explanation. She was actually asking me to explain a scripture text because she was to do a presentation at her group worship that night.” This is not a unique situation and it illustrates the fact that even though people are saying certain things, many of the issues involved are not really understood.

It is well established among Christians that Jesus Christ died to save us and that it is by the grace of God we are saved. But what do these things mean? How does His death serve to save us? And is anything required of us?  To answer these questions, I’ll make the following points:

The truth

  1. To be saved, the primary requirement is that we believe the truth about God.

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

“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).

“For what saith the scripture? Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness.” (Rom. 4:3).

  1. The basis for us obtaining salvation has been provided to all humanity.

“For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world” (Titus 2:11, 12).

  1. People are lost because they fail to believe the truth. Why do people not believe the truth? Because they take pleasure in unrighteousness.

“And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.” (John 3:19).

“Even him, whose coming is after the working of Satan with all power and 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.  And for this cause God shall send them 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. 2:9-12).

“Take heed, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief, in departing from the living God. But exhort one another daily, while it is called Today; lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin. For we are made partakers of Christ, if we hold the beginning of our confidence stedfast unto the end” (Heb. 3:12-14).

 

 The sin problem

  1. The sin problem is an attitude of rebellion against God, started by a bright angel whose wisdom got corrupted from admiring himself rather than God, and his rebellion is transmitted to others by his deceiving them concerning God.

Thou hast been in Eden the garden of God; every precious stone was thy covering, the sardius, topaz, and the diamond, the beryl, the onyx, and the jasper, the sapphire, the emerald, and the carbuncle, and gold: the workmanship of thy tabrets and of thy pipes was prepared in thee in the day that thou wast created. Thou art the anointed cherub that covereth; and I have set thee so: thou wast upon the holy mountain of God; thou hast walked up and down in the midst of the stones of fire. Thou wast perfect in thy ways from the day that thou wast created, till iniquity was found in thee. By the multitude of thy merchandise they have filled the midst of thee with violence, and thou hast sinned: therefore I will cast thee as profane out of the mountain of God: and I will destroy thee, O covering cherub, from the midst of the stones of fire. Thine heart was lifted up because of thy beauty, thou hast corrupted thy wisdom by reason of thy brightness” (Eze. 28:12-17).

  1. Jesus is the best revelation of God that has ever been given to humanity.

“God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, Hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds; Who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high” (Heb. 1:1-3).

No man hath seen God at any time, the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him. (John 1:18).

  1. Salvation, which is to be saved from the deceptions concerning God, and hence from the destruction that will come upon those who remain in rebellion against God, is based on the knowledge of the truth concerning God.

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

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

 

The death of Christ

  1. The death of Christ was brought about by the fallen angel, Lucifer, now called Satan, stirring up of a multitude against Christ, the only begotten Son of God; an event that provides the ultimate evidence of the truth that God is love, whereas, Satan is a liar and a murderer. This understanding should lead us to love God and forsake all forms of rebellion against God.

“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; And deliver them who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage.” (Heb. 2:14, 15)

“And, having made peace through the blood of his cross, by him to reconcile all things unto himself; by him, I say, whether they be things in earth, or things in heaven.” (Col. 1:20).

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

“Satan saw that his disguise was torn away. His type of government 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.”The Desire of Ages, p. 761 by Ellen G. White.

  1. The death of Christ provides the basis whereby our minds might be purged (cleansed) of all rebellion (sin) against God, which was planted in our minds through Satan’s deception.

“Now is the judgment of this world: now shall the prince of this world be cast out. And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me. This he said, signifying what death he should die.” (John 12:31-33).

“Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.” (John 15:13).

“And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.” (Rom. 12:2).

“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.”The Desire of Ages p. 761, 762 by Ellen G. White.

“Those who think of the result of hastening or hindering the gospel think of it in relation to themselves and to the world. Few think of its relation to God. Few give thought to the suffering that sin has caused our Creator. All heaven suffered in Christ’s agony; but that suffering did not begin or end with His manifestation in humanity. The cross is a revelation to our dull senses of the pain that, from its very inception, sin has brought to the heart of God.”Education p. 263 by Ellen G. White.

 

The blood of Jesus

Many people speak about the “blood of Jesus” without understanding that it is a reference to the fact that Christ died, the fact of who killed Him and what it therefore says about the issues concerning God and Satan. It is these beliefs that determine whether we will be aligned with God or Satan; that is, whether we will still have sin (rebellion against God) in our hearts or not. The cleansing from sin is a purging of our thoughts. Of course, there is an aspect of it that is beyond us, namely, forgiveness for past transgressions and empowerment to act in accordance with the truth that we would now believe. If we believe the truth concerning God, as revealed in Jesus, which is what accepting Jesus Christ means, and we are sorry for our past misdeeds and wrong attitudes, God’s promise is that He will forgive us and give us the power to live righteously.

God did not require the death of His Son as a precondition to His forgiving us, as in pagan religions, where the god would not forgive except a sacrifice is offered.  He forgives freely without holding a grudge or demanding payment, as He asked us to do.  By allowing His Son to be placed in a vulnerable human form, He provided an opportunity for Satan to show his true colours before the entire universe, while showing the extent of His love for us, so that our minds might be aligned with the truth.  This is God’s cure for rebellion (sin).  For those who still harbour rebellion in their hearts, there is nothing else that would change them, and they will perish with their sin, as will Satan.

Some people will outrightly reject the truth, while others will choose not to avail themselves of it. Jesus warned us to take heed that no man deceives us. To be deceived especially in the last days is to forfeit salvation. If we believe that Christ must work a special miracle in order to save us, beyond what is already done for all humanity in making the truth available to us, and that we have no part to play in our own salvation, we deceive ourselves and open ourselves for other deceptions of the evil one. We are admonished to search for the truth as for hidden treasures, because it is by belief in the truth that our minds are transformed and our mistrust for God and our lack of submission to His will (our sinfulness) is eradicated.

“Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.” (Phil. 2:12).

“The expulsion of sin is the act of the soul itself. True, we have no power to free ourselves from Satan’s control; but when we desire to be set free from sin, and in our great need cry out for a power out of and above ourselves, the powers of the soul are imbued with the divine energy of the Holy Spirit, and they obey the dictates of the will in fulfilling the will of God.” The Desire of Ages p. 456-466 by Ellen G. White.

 

Our part

It is what we need to do that we need to focus on.  Many people go to lengths to emphasize that salvation is a gift from God to the exclusion of our part in it, as though its all up to Jesus to do everything. So, if it is not done for us, what then? Is it that Jesus did not do His part? They will say, oh, you need to accept that he has already done it for you. And what does that mean, when everybody claims to accept the gift? Will they all be saved, then? Is it that deception is of no consequence, even though we have been warned?

We need to understand and help others to understand that we have a part to play in our own salvation. Nobody can know the truth for us. We must know it for ourselves. So, let’s stop focusing on that which is outside of our control, which is already taken care of, and do what we need to do, or we’ll be sorely disappointed.

People must understand that the controversy is an information war. It started with a corrupting of knowledge (the truth); that is, it started with deception, and it can be resolved only by a reversal of that process. Even Satan himself, iniquity was found in him because his wisdom was corrupted by reason of his brightness – looking at himself and then developing a warped view of God (Ezekiel 28:22-27).

We have a task on our hands. Christianity has embraced a view of salvation that leads people to focus on things that Christ supposedly does, which are out of our hands, while neglecting the one thing that is required of us, which is to know the truth and believe it, so that our minds might be brought back in harmony with God. People seem to think that it is Christ’s job to work a miracle.  They wait and think that they will be saved in ignorance. Many will be sadly disappointed when they hear, “Depart from me” and find out that they were really serving the Devil in willing ignorance.

“Not everyone 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. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity. Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock” (Matt. 27:21-24).

“Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 2:5).

 

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

 

For further information, please visit Patience of the Saints at http://thecommandmentsofgodandthefaithofjesus.com/

Questions and comments may be sent by e-mail to: commandmentsofgodandfaithofjesus@yahoo.com

 

Follow on Twitter @JaZerubbabel

 

Unity upon the Three Angels’ Messages – Pt 6

Appeal and Conclusion

A conviction is felt that this series should be concluded with a personal appeal for unity under the banner of the Three Angels’ Messages. The appeal is for all the different groups that subscribe to the Three Angels’ Messages (be they of the main organization, from among the “independent (or self-supporting) ministries” or the “reformed groups”) to place greater focus on the mission of saving souls for the kingdom of God.  We should place no greater focus on denouncing each other than we place on denouncing the other religious bodies of Christendom.  While we respectfully disagree with the other churches of Christendom in their views on such important matters as the Sabbath, the state of the dead, the final punishment of the wicked and other teachings, we seek to teach and enlighten in order to win, rather than to denounce them.  That is the right thing to do, but oftentimes we take a less charitable attitude towards each other.  Is such an attitude of God?  I think not.

It is obvious that varying levels of conviction exist with respect to some of the finer points of doctrine and management. As a result, a general amalgamation of these various entities, organizationally, is not likely to occur.  Under the gospel, it is acknowledged that there are differences of administrations, but the same Lord. And there are diversities of operations, but it is the same God which worketh all in all.” (1 Cor. 12:5, 6).

At least, all indifference, suspicion, exclusiveness and negative publicity should cease. This is not suggesting that actions which are deemed to be sinful or unbecoming should not be pointed out in love. But offenders should be approached personally, and such matters considered in the appropriate fora.

It should ever be remembered that the “beam” should be taken out of our own eyes before we attempt to take the “mote” out of the eye of another (Matt. 7:5). There should be less eagerness to denounce. Let us concentrate our efforts on building up the faith of believers and calling sinners out of the kingdom of darkness. The field is wide. Millions of people are hungering for the gospel of salvation and many are ignorantly trampling upon the law of God. The coming of the Lord is soon and there is much work to be done.

Whether or not we wish to acknowledge it, the fact is that the venom of the beast and his image will not be unleashed against one of these groups only, but against all Sabbath-keeping Adventists. Therefore, we all would do well to heed the Divine injunction to “press together” (2 SM 274)[1]. We need to “arouse to comprehend the situation and view the contest before us in its true bearings” (5T 716)[2].

The devil has surely stolen a march on us in thus scattering the little flock and creating a spirit of indifference towards each other. How could the leaders of the Seventh-day Adventist church organization, for example, justify a greater spirit of openness to establish common ground with the progressively falling churches of Christendom while stoutly denouncing and dissociating themselves from those who are clearly of a similar faith? This has got to be the work of the enemy. How can we not see this?

The devil has stolen a march on us! May the Good Lord forgive us! The longer we take to recognize our responsibility in contributing (whether actively or passively) to the disunity among our brethren and make a decided effort to press for unity at whatever level we are capable of exerting an influence, the longer it will be that we remain in a self-righteous Laodicean condition and hold the Lord’s work to ransom, at the peril of losing our own soul salvation.

Let us all be reminded that the church was purchased dearly by the blood of Christ and it is His burden that “they be one” as He and the Father are one (John 17:21-23). The grand object of the gospel is “that in the dispensation of the fullness of times he might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth; even in him” (Eph. 1:10). Therefore, any failure on our part to cooperate with this process can only prepare us to be misfits in a universe where “one pulse of harmony” will beat “throughout the realms of illimitable space” (GC 678)[3]. In short, we would be preparing ourselves not to be there.

It is my sincere conviction that we should give preeminence, in our ministry, to the truths which have made Seventh-day Adventists a distinct people and by which, we have been specially denominated by God. As we do this and as we grow daily, both individually and collectively, approaching the “measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ” (Eph. 4:13), our differences will gradually pale into insignificance until they cease to exist.

Until then, we may give God thanks and take courage from His promises, among which we may consider the following which was said to ancient Israel:

“In those days the house of Judah shall walk with the house of Israel, and they shall come together out of the land of the north to the land that I have given for an inheritance unto your fathers.” Jer. 3:18.

“The envy also of Ephraim shall depart, and the adversaries of Judah shall be cut off: Ephraim shall not envy Judah, and Judah shall not vex Ephraim.” Isa. 11:13.

 

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

 

For further information, please visit Patience of the Saints at http://thecommandmentsofgodandthefaithofjesus.com/

Questions and comments may be sent by e-mail to: commandmentsofgodandfaithofjesus@yahoo.com

 

Follow on Twitter @JaZerubbabel

[1] White, Ellen G., Selected Messages, Vol. 2, p. 374

[2] White, Ellen G., Testimonies for the Church, Vol. 5, p. 716

[3] White, Ellen G., The Great Controversy, p. 678

Opening of the Seven Seals

Following on our earlier presentation, “Seals opened in context of the judgement”, in which we showed that the Seven Seals are opened after the judgement is convened, and we considered the opening of the first seal, we now consider the opening of the remaining seals.  The first seal, when opened, brought to view a white horse which represented the raising up of the Seventh-day Adventist Movement after the passing of time, at the end of 2300 prophetic days, in 1844.  This started the restoration of truth that had been trampled under foot during the Dark Ages.  The rider, “went forth conquering, and to conquer.” (Rev. 6:2).

 

The opening of the second seal sees a red horse and and power was given to him that sat thereon to take peace from the earth, and that they should kill one another” (Rev. 6:4).  After the initial period of the raising up of the Advent Movement, the world went into a period when peace was taken from the earth.  This is the period of World Wars I and II.  There is hardly another period in the history of the world when it would have been true to say that peace was taken from the earth and power was given to people to kill one another.  For the first time, in 1914, there was a war that was so extensive as to be described as a World War.  Then followed the second World War, beginning on September 1, 1939, when Germany invaded Poland.  This is considered the deadliest conflict in human history, that involved over 30 countries and saw an estimate of 50 to 85 million people being killed.

 

The opening of the third seal sees a black horse, and he that sat on him had a pair of balances in his hand. And I heard a voice in the midst of the four beasts say, A measure of wheat for a penny, and three measures of barley for a penny; and see thou hurt not the oil and the wine” (Rev. 6:5, 6).  The imagery of trading is inescapable.  After the world war era, the world saw an era that was dominated by trade.  We are still in that era at the beginning of 2019.  That is where we are in the prophetic unfolding of events.  There has never been an era before when there were global trade agreements, economic sanctions and a market-driven determination of global affairs as the period after the Second World War, continuing up to today.  But things are about to change.

 

The fourth seal opens with a pale horse being seen, “and his name that sat on him was Death, and Hell followed with him. And power was given unto them over the fourth part of the earth, to kill with sword, and with hunger, and with death, and with the beasts of the earth.” (Rev. 6:8).  At any time now, the world will be plunged into a period of extensive loss of life, to the extent of one-fourth or a quarter of the world’s population.  Are you ready for it?  Whether or not we like it, it is coming.  Jesus also predicted it in Matthew chapter 24.

 

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 yet taken place.  It is the same sequence as depicted in the opening of the seals.  There would be wars, as in World wars I and II, but it would not be the end just yet.  Afterward they are going to deliver up God’s people to be killed.  But others are going to be killed as well.

 

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 fifth seal opens and “I saw under the altar the souls of them that were slain for the word of God, and for the testimony which they held: And they cried with a loud voice, saying, How long, O Lord, holy and true, dost thou not judge and avenge our blood on them that dwell on the earth? And white robes were given unto every one of them; and it was said unto them, that they should rest yet for a little season, until their fellowservants also and their brethren, that should be killed as they were, should be fulfilled.” (Rev. 6:9-11).  This depicts a time when many would have been killed and, as it were, their souls are crying out to God for Him to intervene.  It is further confirmed that this takes place during the pre-advent judgement because white robes were given to them at that point, even though they were told to wait a little longer.  Others of their brethren would be killed, and the judgement would pass from the dead to the living.

 

The opening of the sixth seal sees massive natural upheavals, “And I beheld when he had opened the sixth seal, and, lo, there was a great earthquake; and the sun became black as sackcloth of hair, and the moon became as blood; And the stars of heaven fell unto the earth, even as a fig tree casteth her untimely figs, when she is shaken of a mighty wind. And the heaven departed as a scroll when it is rolled together; and every mountain and island were moved out of their places. And the kings of the earth, and the great men, and the rich men, and the chief captains, and the mighty men, and every bondman, and every free man, hid themselves in the dens and in the rocks of the mountains; And said to the mountains and rocks, Fall on us, and hide us from the face of him that sitteth on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb: For the great day of his wrath is come; and who shall be able to stand?” (Rev. 6:12-17).

 

The events, as described here, are in quick succession.  Obviously, these have not happened yet, since every mountain and island have not yet been moved out of their places and the heavens have not yet departed as a scroll when it is rolled together.  Even though there have been historical events that reflect partial fulfilment of this prophecy, the full unfolding of the prophecy will take place in its entirety, with all the elements occurring in quick succession.  This is a description of the end, and the question is asked, “who shall be able to stand?”

 

The scene then shifts, in the next verses continuing in Revelation chapter 7, to show those who will be able to stand.  “The living saints, 144,000 in number” (Ellen G. White, Early Writings, p. 14), will be able to stand.  They would have gone through the great tribulation and would have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb” (Rev. 7:14).  The context shows that these are faithful end-time survivors who will be alive to see Christ’s second coming.

 

The seventh seal opens, and “there was silence in heaven” (Rev. 8:1).  Christ and His retinue of angels would have left heaven to come to earth to receive His faithful children – those who would have overcome the tribulation of the last days, and those who would have died in faith, whom He would raise from the dead.

 

The opening of the seven seals marks the events that would transpire from the start of the judgement through to the second coming of Christ.  When all the seals are opened, there is nothing left to be seen.  It is not at that time that the book is now ready to be opened, as though all the seals must be opened before the book can be read.  One scroll at a time is opened and read as its seal is opened and its contents brought to view. We are now in the third seal, the black horse period.  Are we ready for what is coming next?

 

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

For further information, please visit Patience of the Saints at http://thecommandmentsofgodandthefaithofjesus.com/

Questions and comments may be sent by e-mail to: commandmentsofgodandfaithofjesus@yahoo.com

Follow on Twitter @JaZerubbabel

Unity upon the Three Angels’ Messages – Pt 5

The Unfortunate Scattering

It is very important that the earmarks of Babylon be clearly distinguished from those of God’s little flock.  A failure to do this will almost inevitably result in the establishment of false criteria for the identification of’ God’s denominated people.

With the passing of time, since the pioneers of 1844 fell asleep, a situation has developed whereby the divinely appointed criteria that defines God’s denominated people have, to some extent, been replaced by humanly invented organizational criteria. This is not to minimize the importance of organization. It was revealed by the Holy Spirit that “there must be order and thorough discipline in the church – that organization was essential.” (TM 26)[1]. However, if organization was made everything and given undue pre-eminence, then evil would result.

“Evil does not result because of organization, but because of making organization everything, and vital godliness of little moment. When form and machinery take the pre-eminence, and a laborious task is made of carrying on the work that should be done with simplicity, evil will result,”White, Ellen G., Fundamentals of Christian Education, p. 253.

A situation has developed whereby many persons have been cast out of the church for no other reason but that they have conscientiously refused to comply with certain organizational directives which attempt to stipulate the precise way they should (or should not) present the gospel. Others who have neither committed open sin nor denied the tenets of the Three Angels’ Messages but have simply expressed conscientious objections to certain actions of the church leadership, have been likewise disfellowshipped. Trends of these sorts had already started to show manifestation even before some of the pioneers fell asleep.

“A strange thing has come into our churches. Men who are placed in positions of responsibility that they may be wise helpers to their fellow workers have come to suppose that they were set as kings and rulers in the churches to say to one brother, do this; to another, do that; and to another, be sure to labor in such and such a way. There have been places where workers have been told that if they did not follow the instructions of these men of responsibility, their pay from the conference would be withheld.” – White, Ellen G., Testimonies to Ministers and Gospel Workers, p. 477.

Divinely inspired warnings were issued against the continuation of such trends.

“If the cords are drawn much tighter, if the rules are made much finer, if men continue to bind their fellow-laborers closer and closer to the commandments of men, many will be stirred by the spirit of God to break every shackle and assert their liberty in Christ Jesus.”White, Ellen G., Review and Herald, July 23, 1895.

Notwithstanding the inspired councils, such high-handedness and kingly power has continued over the years, in many instances, and hence, the present situation tells for it.  Several groups and factions have been created within the ranks of Seventh-day Adventism, many of which relate to each other and to the parent organization with little more than indifference, and in some cases, virtual hostility. This is totally unacceptable before the Lord.

Though the level of fragmentation that has occurred over the years (and persists) has not been, and is not without cause, God’s will is that all be united. It was never His purpose that the church be fragmented.

“I know that the Lord loves His church. It is not to be disorganized or broken up into independent atoms. There is not the least consistency in this; there is not the least evidence that such a thing will be.”White, Ellen G., Selected Messages, Vol. 2, p. 68, 69.

 

The Question of Legitimacy

The basis on which some of these groups came into existence can hardly be questioned. Some of them began and have continued as genuine self-supporting ministries with the sole objective of preaching the gospel.  Others got started because faithful believers in the Three Angels’ Messages were unjustly cast out of the church.  Having been cast out of the church for reasons which cannot be sustained by inspiration and having endeavoured to obtain reconciliation without compromise of principle and being true to their convictions to cooperate with God in spreading the gospel, they could hardly be considered as having erred in organizing themselves to make their efforts more effective in doing the Lord’s work.

Some of these groups, however, have subsequently taken an extreme and unjustified course in deliberately distancing themselves from most other professed Seventh-day Adventist believers. Some have attempted to read themselves into prophecy, claiming that their circumstances were prophesied by the Spirit of Prophecy writings of Ellen G. White in comments made about the Angel of Revelation 18. Others have flatly denounced the parent organization as apostate and classified it as being a part of Babylon.

Such positions are extreme and untenable for several reasons, among which the following might be considered:

  1. Repeated warnings have been given that the Seventh-day Adventist church should not be denounced as Babylon. Babylon has certain distinct characteristics which cannot be ascribed to the Seventh-day Adventist church, notably, the doctrines of Sunday sacredness and the immortality of the soul. These two great errors, we have been repeatedly told will constitute the basis for the marvelous workings of Satan in the last days, and such doctrines particularly constitute the wine with which Babylon drunks the nations (2 SM 66-69, GC 588, 4SP 405)[2].
  2. Only one great Reformatory Movement has been prophesied to take place among God’s people in the last days and this movement has been clearly linked with the Latter Rain experience when God will be “taking the reins in His own hands” (TM 300, 9T 126)[3]. Prior to that experience the condition of God’s people will be typified by the Laodicean condition. This condition will persist until it is broken by a shaking (or sifting). The final stages of this shaking will coincide with the Mark of the Beast crisis (EW 270, GC 608, 12 MR 318-325)[4]. None of the various groups that profess the Seventh-day Adventist faith can truly, since their inception, identify their experience with the characteristics of the great Reformatory Movement that has been prophesied. All must admit that they have been no more than Laodicean.
  3. The Angel of Revelation 18 is manifested at a time, specifically, when the sins of Babylon would have “reached unto heaven” (Rev.18:5). Of that point in the world’s history, the inspired commentary is as follows:

“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.  White, Ellen G., Review and Herald, Nov. 5, 1889.

Individuals will be compelled to accept Sunday sacredness, the Mark of the Papacy (the leopard-like beast of Rev. 13), in place of the Lord’s holy seventh day Sabbath in the crisis of the Mark of the Beast.  Hence, this crisis marks the point when the sins of Babylon would have “reached unto heaven”. The last act in the drama that would have filled up the cup of Babylon’s iniquity is the imposition of the Mark of the Beast (RH April 23, 1901)[5]. At that time, the Third Angel’s Message will carry its greatest force (GC 605-606)[6]. It is just at that time, as the Third Angel’s Message swells to a loud cry, that the Angel of Revelation 18 joins the Third Angel, giving added power to the Third Angel ‘s Message.

“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. And the people of God are thus prepared to stand in the hour of temptation, which they are soon to meet.”

“This message seemed to be an addition to the third message, joining it as the midnight cry joined the second angel’s message in 1844.”

White, Ellen G., The Story of Redemption, p. 399, 400.

“The angel who unites in the proclamation of the third angel’s message is to lighten the whole earth with his glory. A work of world-wide extent and unwonted power is here foretold.” – White, Ellen G., The Great Controversy, p. 611.

For groups that have taken extreme positions such as those which have been mentioned, the solution lies in simply discarding such views and re-directing the focus of their ministry to reflect objectives which are more consistent with the primary purpose for which the Seventh-day Adventist church was raised up. It is the mission of the church to proclaim the Three Angels’ Messages to the world, pointing them to the law of God which has been made void by the enemy and to the final work of atonement by our great High Priest to blot out our sins.

God’s professed people cannot afford to confuse the issues of their warfare and turn their ammunition against themselves. We cannot now afford to deny our history, because we have nothing to fear for the future except as we forget how God has led us in the past. God has led us step by step and placed us on a “solid, immovable platform” – the Three Angels’ Messages – from which a block should not be moved, nor a pin be stirred (EW 258, 259)[7]. We must ever remember that it is the Sabbath, primarily, around which the final conflict will be centred. The Sabbath is our sign of distinction and this identifies us with God’s denominated people. If we are not faithful to our high calling and profession then we will be sifted out from among God’s remnant people as the “messenger of the covenant” works to “purify the sons of Levi” “for he is like a refiner’s fire” (Mal. 3:2, 3).

 

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

 

For further information, please visit Patience of the Saints at http://thecommandmentsofgodandthefaithofjesus.com/

 

Questions and comments may be sent by e-mail to: commandmentsofgodandfaithofjesus@yahoo.com

 

Follow on Twitter @JaZerubbabel

[1] White, Ellen G., Testimonies to Ministers and Gospel Workers, p. 26.

[2] White, Ellen G., Selected Messages, Vol. 2, p. 66-69; White, Ellen G., The Great Controversy, p. 588; White, Ellen G., The Spirit of Prophecy, Vol. 4, p. 405.

[3] White, Ellen G., Testimonies to Ministers and Gospel Workers, p. 300; White, Ellen G., Testimonies for the Church, Vol. 9, p. 126.

[4] White, Ellen G., Early Writings, p. 270; White, Ellen G., The Great Controversy, p. 608; White, Ellen G., Manuscript Releases, Vol. 12, p. 318-325.

[5] White, Ellen G., Review and Herald, April 23, 1901.

[6] White, Ellen G., The Great Controversy, p. 605-606.

[7] White, Ellen G., Early Writings, p. 258, 259.

Seals opened in context of the judgement

There is an inescapable parallel between the setting of Revelation chapters 4 and 5, in which the seals are opened, and the judgement scene of Daniel chapter 7.  We’ll consider some of the parallel elements and the implications for the present time, but before we do so, the following word of admonition is most instructive: “Study Revelation in connection with Daniel, for history will be repeated”White, Ellen G., Testimonies to Ministers and Gospel Workers, p. 116.  Here are some of the parallels:

 

  1. Thrones were set – Daniel says, I beheld till the thrones were cast down [set](Dan. 7:9; Revelation says, “a throne was set in heaven” (Rev. 4:2) and “round about the throne were four and twenty seats” (Rev. 4:4). Note that the persons who were seated on the twenty-four seats “had on their heads crowns of gold” (Rev. 4:4), so these twenty-four seats are really thrones, but obviously not as impressive as the one on which God sat. That explains why Daniel says “thrones”, while Revelation says, “a throne” and “four and twenty seats”.

 

  1. God sat on a throne – Daniel says, the Ancient of days did sit” (Dan. 7:9); Revelation says, “one sat on the throne” (Rev. 4:2).

 

  1. Millions of angels gathered around God’s throne – Daniel says, thousand thousands ministered unto him, and ten thousand times ten thousand stood before him” (Dan. 7:10); Revelation says, “many angels round about the throne and the beasts and the elders: and the number of them was ten thousand times ten thousand, and thousands of thousands” (Rev. 5:11).

 

  1. Christ comes to the Father – Daniel says, one like the Son of man came with the clouds of heaven, and came to the Ancient of days” (Dan. 7:13); Revelation says, “And I beheld, and, lo, in the midst of the throne and of the four beasts, and in the midst of the elders, stood a Lamb as it had been slain” (Rev. 5:6).

 

  1. Christ receives glory, honour and power – Daniel says, And there was given him dominion, and glory, and a kingdom” (Dan. 7:14); Revelation says, “Saying with a loud voice, Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honour, and glory, and blessing” (Rev. 5:12).

 

  1. Books were opened – Daniel says, the judgment was set, and the books were opened” (Dan. 7:10); Revelation says, “Who is worthy to open the book, and to loose the seals thereof” (Rev. 5:2) and “he came and took the book out of the right hand of him that sat upon the throne” (Rev. 5:7), also, “And I saw when the Lamb opened one of the seals” (Rev. 6:1). Daniel says “books” (Dan. 7:10), while Revelation says, “a book” (Rev. 5:1).  A comment from Uriah Smith, an early Seventh-day Adventist pioneer, explains the seeming discrepancy.  In the comment, he quoted John Wesley as follows: “The usual books of the ancients were not like ours, but were volumes, or long pieces of parchment, rolled upon a long stick, as we frequently roll silks. Such was this represented, which was sealed with seven seals. Not as if the apostle saw all the seals at once; for there were seven volumes wrapped up one within another, each of which was sealed; so that upon opening and unrolling the first, the second appeared to be sealed up till that was opened, and so on to the seventh.”Smith, Uriah, Daniel and the Revelation, p. 420 (1909).

Daniel declares that the setting is the judgement.  This judgement takes place before the second coming of Christ.  The result of the judgement is that Christ receives a kingdom, that all people, nations, and languages, should serve him: his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom that which shall not be destroyed.” (Dan. 7:14).  It was further explained to Daniel that “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. 7:27).  Thus, Christ receives the title deed to this earth along with the list of all those who will be His faithful subjects.  He then returns to earth to claim the dominion.  At that time, it will be declared, “The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of his Christ; and he shall reign for ever and ever.” (Rev. 11:15).

 

The opening of the seals within the context of the judgement means that although there may be a historic interpretation of the seals, there is undoubtedly, an end-time fulfillment that began in 1844, when the judgement commenced.  The opening of the first seal sees events unfolding that are depicted as a white horse, whose rider went forth conquering, and to conquer” (Rev. 6:2).  This coincides with what is described as the Church of Philadelphia, to which was presented “an open door” that no man could shut (Rev. 3:8).  This is a church for which there was no rebuke but only commendation.  This opening of the first seal also coincides with the appearance of the Third Angel of Rev. 14 – indeed, a period of the gospel going forth with renewed power and direction from God.  This is the period of the early Seventh-day Adventist pioneers.

 

Back in the day, it was popular for Seventh-day Adventists to sing, “Have you heard of the Advent Church, how she is moving according to prophecy?”  Today, many Seventh-day Adventists, while being convinced of the Sabbath, are not so sure that the Advent Movement has any special significance, more than any other church.  But God sees otherwise.  This Movement was raised up for a purpose, to preach the final message to the world.  While we win the hearts of people with our health message, we should not stop there.  People must be taught the mission for which the Movement was raised up, so that we can fulfill our God-ordained purpose.

 

By God’s grace, we will look, in another presentation, at the events associated with the opening of the remaining seals and consider where we are now in the unfolding fulfillment of prophecy.

 

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

For further information, please visit Patience of the Saints at http://thecommandmentsofgodandthefaithofjesus.com/

Questions and comments may be sent by e-mail to: commandmentsofgodandfaithofjesus@yahoo.com

Follow on Twitter @JaZerubbabel

Unity upon the Three Angels’ Messages – Pt 4

Characteristics of Babylon

It should now be clearly established that there are distinct differences between the little flock which continued with Christ into the most holy place, after the passing of time in 1844, and the other churches which rejected the judgement hour message and in consequence, were aptly categorized as Babylon.

The fallen churches of Babylon are characterized by two distinct errors which, above all else constitutes the wine with which she drunks the nations. These are :(1) Sunday sacredness – the spurious sabbath of human invention and (2) the immortality of the soul, which forms the basis for spiritualism.

“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.”

White, Ellen G., Selected Messages, Vol. 2, p. 68.

Additional identification of Babylon is given as follows:

“The whole chapter shows that Babylon that has fallen is the churches who will not receive the messages of warning the Lord has given in the first, second, and third angel’s messages. . . . . .  The message in the eighteenth chapter of Revelation is plain and clearly defined.”

White, Ellen G., Selected Messages, Vol. 2, p. 68.

 

Characteristics of “The Little Flock”

That which characterizes God’s little flock is the acceptance of the truth, generally, but particularly, those which constitute the Three Angels’ Messages. Among these are the following: (1) the sanctuary truth which points to Christ’s final work of atonement in the most holy place of the heavenly sanctuary and brings to view the blotting out of sins or investigative judgement which began in 1844; (2) the Sabbath truth which was the light which shone from the most holy place of the heavenly sanctuary when Christ commenced the last phase of his mediatorial work which is centred there,

“I saw a company who stood well guarded and firm, giving no countenance to those who would unsettle the established faith of the body. God looked upon them with approbation. I was shown three steps – the first, second, and third angels’ messages. Said my accompanying angel, “Woe to him who shall move a block or stir a pin of these messages. The true understanding of these messages is of vital importance. The destiny of souls hangs upon the manner in which they are received.” I was again brought down through these messages, and saw how dearly the people of God had purchased their experience. It had been obtained through much suffering and severe conflict. God had led them along step by step, until He had placed them upon a solid, immovable platform.”

White, Ellen G., Early Writings, p. 258, 259.

 

Identification of “The Little Flock”

The mark of identification of this little flock is the seventh day Sabbath.

“As I was considering this matter in the night season, it seemed as if One stood up in the midst of us and pointed us back to the Israelites as an illustration of a distinct people, denominated of God. That which made them denominational was the observance of God’s commandments. In the twelfth to the eighteenth verses of the thirty-first chapter of Exodus their distinguishing sign is mentioned. ‘Verily My Sabbaths ye shall keep’, the Lord declared, ‘for it is a sign between Me and you throughout your generations; that ye may know that I am the Lord that doth sanctify you…. It is a sign between Me and the children of Israel forever’”.

White, Ellen G., Manuscript Releases, Vol. 19, p. 38.

“We are Seventh-day Adventists. this is a fitting name, for we keep the seventh-day Sabbath, and look for the second advent of our lord in the clouds of heaven, with power and great glory. Even with respect to the name indicating some of the peculiar points of faith distinguishing us from other Christians, we are denominational. In keeping the Sabbath that God declares should be kept holy as a sign between Himself and His people, we show to the world that we are His peculiar, chosen people – a people whom He has denominated.”

White, Ellen G., Manuscript Releases, Vol. 19, p. 40.

“Do not these words point us out as God’s denominated people? and do they not declare to us that so long as time shall last, we are to cherish the sacred, denominational distinction placed on us? The children of Israel were to observe the Sabbath throughout their generations ‘for a perpetual covenant.’ The Sabbath has lost none of its meaning. It is still the sign between God and his people, and it will be so forever.”

White, Ellen G., Review and Herald, 8/4/1904

Wherever the above-mentioned truths are accepted and adhered to, there we have members of the little flock. As to which ones will have their names retained in the book of life and which ones will have their names blotted out is not ours to determine, but such are of that “house of God” at which “judgement must begin” (1 Pet. 4:17).

In accordance with the distinctive truths that characterize the little flock, it was revealed through the Spirit of Prophecy that their name should be Seventh-day Adventists.

“We are Seventh-day Adventists. Are we ashamed of our name? We answer, “No, no! We are not. It is the name the Lord has given us. It points out the truth that is to be the test of the churches.” – Letter 110,1902. “We are Seventh-day Adventists, and of this name we are never to be ashamed.”

White, Ellen G., Selected Messages, Vol. 2, p. 384.

 

Criteria for Denominational Identity

It is important to note that the parameters which define the boundaries of the denominational identity are not organizational criteria; rather, it is the Three Angels’ Messages and, in particular, the Sabbath. It is upon these very points which distinguish the little flock from the churches which constitute Babylon that the final conflict between good and evil will be centred.

It is primarily on account of the Sabbath that Seventh-day Adventists have been hated and despised by a large proportion of a world that has exalted the spurious sabbath above the true. This hatred will yet again blaze forth in open persecution in the final conflict that lies just ahead of us.

“The Sabbath will be the great test of loyalty, for it is the point of truth especially controverted. When the final test shall be brought to bear upon men, then the line of distinction will be drawn between those who serve God and those who serve Him not. While the observance of the false sabbath in compliance with the law of the state, contrary to the fourth commandment, will be an avowal of allegiance to a power that is in opposition to God, the keeping of the true Sabbath, in obedience to God’s law, is an evidence of loyalty to the Creator. While one class, by accepting the sign of submission to earthly powers, receive the mark of the beast, the other, choosing the token of allegiance to divine authority, receive the seal of God.”

White, Ellen G., The Great Controversy, p. 605.

“As the Sabbath has become the special point of controversy throughout Christendom, and religions and secular authorities have combined to enforce the observance of the Sunday, the persistent refusal of a small minority to yield to the popular demand will make them objects of universal execration. It will be urged that the few who stand in opposition to an institution of the church and a law of the state ought not to be tolerated; that it is better for them to suffer than for whole nations to be thrown into confusion and lawlessness. The same argument eighteen hundred years ago was brought against Christ by the “rulers of the people,” “It is expedient for us,” said the wily Caiaphas, “that one man should die for the people, and that the whole nation perish not.” John 11:50. This argument will appear conclusive; and a decree will finally be issued against those who hallow the Sabbath of the fourth commandment, denouncing them as deserving of the severest punishment and giving the people liberty, after a certain time, to put them to death.

White, Ellen G., The Great Controversy, p. 615, 616.

It is in the interest of God’s people to recognize what makes us unique, what binds us together and where our strength lies.

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

 

For further information, please visit Patience of the Saints at http://thecommandmentsofgodandthefaithofjesus.com/

 

Questions and comments may be sent by e-mail to: commandmentsofgodandfaithofjesus@yahoo.com

 

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The Three Angels’ Messages and the Seven Churches

While it is true that the Three Angels’ Messages contain truth of a general nature – for example, “worship him that made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and the fountains of waters” – it is also important to note that the vision of three angels flying one after the other, represents a sequence of prophesied events.  These events were fulfilled at specific times, in a similar way as the four Beasts of Daniel 7 arose sequentially and represented four successive kingdoms.  Likewise, the Seven Churches are sequential in their prophetic fulfilment and represent God’s Church at specific times, some of which overlap with the periods represented by the three angels.

 

The first angel represents the initial stages of the Advent Movement, before the disappointment of 1844, as they preached a message of the second coming of Christ and the hour of God’s judgement approaching.  The second angel represents a later stage of the same Movement, starting in the summer of 1844, when the focus of the message was a call for people to leave Babylon, the churches that had rejected the message of the soon return of Jesus Christ.  The third angel represents the Seventh-day Adventist Movement that has been preaching the Sabbath and warning people against the Mark of the Beast, from shortly after the disappointment in 1844.

 

There is an overlap between the time period covered by the three angels and the time period covered under the last three of the seven churches, Sardis, Philadelphia and Laodicea.  It was said to Sardis that “thou hast a name that thou livest, and art dead.”; to Philadelphia, “I have set before thee an open door, and no man can shut it”; and to Laodicea, “because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth. Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked” (Rev. 3:1-17).  Unlike Sardis and Laodicea, there was no rebuke for Philadelphia.

 

Many persons view Philadelphia as the period covering what is known as the Great Awakening or the Evangelical Revival, extending up to the disappointment in 1844; and Laodicea, they see as the period from 1844 onward.    In this, they give God’s commendations of Philadelphia to a brand of Christianity that was considered by men to be alive, but which God’s message declared was dead.  The testimony concerning the churches that rejected the Advent Message before the disappointment was as follows:

 

“But the churches generally did not accept the warning . . . . . .  The message which God had sent for the testing and purification of the church revealed all to surely how great was the number who had set their affections on this world rather than upon Christ. The ties which bound them to earth were stronger than the attractions heavenward. They chose to listen to the voice of worldly wisdom and turned away from the heart-searching message of truth.

“In refusing the warning of the first angel, they rejected the means which Heaven had provided for their restoration. They spurned the gracious messenger that would have corrected the evils which separated them from God, and with greater eagerness they turned to seek the friendship of the world. Here was the cause of that fearful condition of worldliness, backsliding, and spiritual death which existed in the churches in 1844.”

White, Ellen G., The Great Controversy, p. 379, 380.

 

The churches were dead, even though they were thought to be alive.  This was the period leading up to the disappointment in 1844.

 

Where then would Philadelphia fall?  Philadelphia comes immediately after the dead Sardis.  Consider what was said of Philadelphia: “I have set before thee an open door and no man can shut it” and “thou hast a little strength”, “hast kept my word, and hast not denied my name” and “hast kept the word of my patience” (Rev. 3:8-10).  This is an apt description of the early Pioneers of the Seventh-day Adventist Movement just after the disappointment of 1844.  The testimony concerning the Pioneers was as follows:

 

“I was pointed back, and saw the condition of God’s people in 1844. Then God was pleased with them, and his love rested upon them.”White, Ellen G., Spiritual Gifts, Vol. 2, p. 279.

 

“I saw a company who stood well guarded and firm, and would give no countenance to those who would unsettle the established faith of the body. God looked upon them with approbation. I was shown three steps—one, two and three—the first, second and third angels’ messages. Said the angel, Woe to him who shall move a block, or stir a pin in these messages. The true understanding of these messages is of vital importance. The destiny of souls hangs upon the manner in which they are received. I was again brought down through these messages, and saw how dearly the people of God had purchased their experience. It had been obtained through much suffering and severe conflict. Step by step had God brought them along, until he had placed them upon a solid, immovable platform.”White, Ellen G., Spiritual Gifts, Vol. 1, p. 168, 169.

 

How long did this period of Divine approval last?  It did not last more than a few years.  The transition to Laodicea took place by 1857.  In that year, the situation was described as follows:

 

“In the spring of 1857, I accompanied my husband on a tour East. His principal business was to purchase the Power Press. We held conferences on our way to Boston, and on our return. This was a discouraging tour. The testimony to the Laodicean church was generally received; but some in the East were making bad use of it. Instead of applying it to their own hearts, so as to be benefited by it themselves, they were using the testimony to oppress others . . . . . .”

 

“I saw that the testimony to the Laodiceans applied to God’s people at the present time, and the reason it has not accomplished a greater work, is because of the hardness of their hearts.”White, Ellen G., Spiritual Gifts, Vol. 2, p. 222, 223.

 

It is significant, what a main cause for this condition was.  We are told:

 

“And I saw what God marked above everything else was their contented state. They have the truth. None can successfully oppose, and they enjoy it, as if the Saviour had no work for them to do in the salvation of souls.”White, Ellen G., Spiritual Gifts, Vol. 2, p. 279.

 

This point in time was not immediately after the disappointment when they were struggling to hammer out the truth by tireless study of the scriptures. They were now at a point when they had the truth and were contented that nobody could oppose them.  This was even before the organization was established.  By 1857, much of the severe hardship had already passed.  The account was:

 

“Could some be placed back ten or twelve years, and labor through the discouragements that then existed, they would find a great change in the labor now, compared with what it was then. Then the friends of the cause were few, their means limited, and it was a constant battle against error and fanaticism. Privation and want were then endured by God’s servants without murmuring.”White, Ellen G., Spiritual Gifts, Vol. 2, p. 286.

 

The Church of Philadelphia was the Post-Disappointment, Pre-Organization Movement that had a short span from the end of the 2300 days in 1844, as was prophesied by Daniel, when the “open door” became applicable, to around 1856 when the Church of the Laodiceans started.  Daniel prophesied that at the end of the 2300 days God would start a work of restoring the truth that had been trampled underfoot.  Sure enough, on the very next day, after the disappointment at the end of the 2300 days on October 22, 1844, God started to reveal new light to those who had just “a little strength”, who had “kept” His word, and had “not denied” His “name”.  Starting with Hiram Edson’s vision, of Christ moving through the “open door” from the Holy Place to the Most Holy Place of the sanctuary in heaven, to the first vision of Ellen White (nee Harmon) later that same year, God restored the major truths that would keep His people grounded until the second coming of Christ.  By 1858 God had already revealed that “Step by step had God brought them along, until he had placed them upon a solid, immovable platform” and that “God looked upon them with approbation”White, Ellen G., Spiritual Gifts, Vol. 1, p. 168, 169.

 

Establishing clearly the period that God in His wisdom described as Philadelphia, as distinct from the Sardis and Laodicean periods might seem like a small point, but it is very important.  It saves us from looking for inspiration from the wrong period.  Many Seventh-day Adventists today glorify the period of the so-called Great Awakening among Evangelicals, while speaking with derision of the early Seventh-day Adventist pioneers, not reckoning that, in God’s eyes, the first group was dead, while it was to the latter group that God looked with approbation.

 

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

 

For further information, please visit Patience of the Saints at http://thecommandmentsofgodandthefaithofjesus.com/

 

Questions and comments may be sent by e-mail to: commandmentsofgodandfaithofjesus@yahoo.com

 

Follow on Twitter @JaZerubbabel

Unity upon the Three Angels’ Messages – Pt 3

The First Angel

When the fullness of time came, God ordained that a message should be proclaimed which would prepare His people for the last phase of Christ’s heavenly ministry on our behalf – the blotting out of sins, also known as the investigative judgement and the cleansing of the heavenly sanctuary.

Accordingly, in different lands simultaneously, leading up to the end of the 2300 prophetic days (or 2300 literal years) which culminated on October 22, 1844, the message of Daniel 8:14 was heralded – “Unto two thousand and three hundred days; then shall the sanctuary be cleansed.” Dan. 8.14.

These prophetic days (one literal year for each prophetic day – Num. 14:34) extended from the autumn of the year 457 BC, when the command of Artaxerxes to “restore and to build Jerusalem” (Dan. 9:25) went into effect.

Fulfilling the symbolic prophecy of the first of three angels flying “in the midst of heaven” (Rev.14:6, 7), the Advent movement (as the messengers were collectively called) proclaimed that the “hour” of God’s judgement had come.  True to the connotation of the prophetic symbol, the message was carried far and wide.

“Like a tidal wave the movement swept over the land. Prom city to city, from village to village, and into remote country places it went, until the waiting people of God were fully aroused. Fanaticism disappeared before this proclamation like early frost before the rising sun. Believers saw their doubt and perplexity removed, and hope and courage animated their hearts.” – White, Ellen G., The Great Controversy, p. 400.

Notwithstanding the glory that characterized the Advent movement during the days leading up to the commencement of the investigative judgement in 1844, the early stages of this very important work of Christ found only a little company focusing their faith in the direction of this final work of atonement.

“The first angel’s message of Revelation 14, announcing the hour of God’s judgement and calling upon men to fear and worship Him, was designed to separate the professed people of God from the corrupting influences of the world and arouse them to see their true condition of worldliness and backsliding. In this message, God had sent to the church a warning, which, had it been accepted, would have corrected the evils that were shutting them away from Him . . . . . .  


“But the churches generally did not accept the warning . . . . . .  The message which God had sent for the testing and purification of the church revealed all to surely how great was the number who had set their affections on this world rather than upon Christ. The ties which bound them to earth were stronger than the attractions heavenward. They chose to listen to the voice of worldly wisdom and turned away from the heart-searching message of truth.

“In refusing the warning of the first angel, they rejected the means which Heaven had provided for their restoration. They spurned the gracious messenger that would have corrected the evils which separated them from God, and with greater eagerness they turned to seek the friendship of the world. Here was the cause of that fearful condition of worldliness, backsliding, and spiritual death which existed in the churches in 1844.”

White, Ellen G., The Great Controversy, p. 379, 380.

 

The Second Angel

As a result of the churches rejecting the special message that was sent from heaven to prepare them for the investigative judgement, the second angel’s message (Rev. 14:8) became applicable to them.

“The second angel’s message of Revelation 14 was first preached in the summer of 1844, and it then had a more direct application to the churches of the United States, where the warning of the judgement had been most widely proclaimed and most generally rejected, and where the declension in the churches had been most rapid. But the message of the second angel did not reach its complete fulfillment in 1844. The churches then experienced a moral fall, in consequence of their refusal of the light of the advent message; but that fall was not complete. As they have continued to reject the special truths for this time they have fallen lower and lower. Not yet, however can it be said that “Babylon is fallen . . . . . .  because she made all nations drink of the wine of the wrath of her fornication.” She has not yet made all nations do this. The spirit of world conforming and indifference to the testing truths for our time exists and has been gaining ground in churches of the Protestant faith in all the countries of Christendom; and these churches are included in the solemn and terrible denunciation of the second angel. But the work of apostasy has not yet reached its culmination.

“The Bible declares that before the coming of the Lord, Satan will work “with all power and signs and lying wonders, and with all deceivableness of unrighteousness;” and they that “received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved,” will be left to receive “strong delusion, that they should believe a lie.” 2 Thessalonians 2:9-11. Not until this condition shall be reached, and the union of the church with the world shall be fully accomplished throughout Christendom, will the fall of Babylon be complete. The change is a progressive one, and the perfect fulfillment of Revelation 14:8 is yet future.”

White, Ellen G., The Great Controversy, p. 389, 390.

 

The Third Angel

While the churches that existed in 1844 rejected the judgement hour message and experienced a moral fall, the few persons who accepted the message received further light. They were shown the fact that the phase of Christ’s heavenly ministry which began in 1844 was the reality to which the ancient Jewish Day of Atonement pointed; that it was the judgement during which the sins of God’s professed people would be forever blotted out or otherwise, their names blotted from God’s book of life.

The little company was further blessed with the Spirit of Prophecy which was given to one of their number, Ellen Gould White (nee Harmon). They were further awakened to the breach that was created in God’s holy law by unsanctified human hands which foisted on the world a spurious sabbath in place of God’s holy Sabbath, the seventh day of the week, which is the eternal sign that He is the creator and the One who sanctifies His people (Ex. 20:8-11 ; Eze. 20:12,20). This awakening brought to them the realization that they were specially called by God and peculiarly denominated by Him as messengers who had a special responsibility to prepare for Him a people who could stand in the judgement. In order to accomplish this task, it would be a significant part of their mission to point men and women to the perfect law of God in the most holy place of the heavenly sanctuary (Rev. 11:19; 2 Chron. 5:10) which is the standard by which all persons would be judged (James 2:10-12).

A transcript of God’s law was given to Moses on Mount Sinai and right in the bosom of that law was the fourth commandment which enjoined the observance of the seventh day Sabbath as holy unto the Lord. This commandment above all the others was being disregarded by a world which had almost entirely been deceived into accepting the spurious sabbath of human invention.

Hence, it would be the responsibility of each one to stand as a “repairer of the breach” (Isa. 58:12) by drawing attention, particularly, to the sabbath of the Lord as enjoined by the fourth commandment. This work was represented prophetically as that of the third angel (Rev. 14:9-12).

“As foretold in the Scriptures, the ministration of Christ in the most holy place began at the termination of the prophetic days in 1844. To this time apply the words of the Revelator, “The temple of God was opened in Heaven, and there was seen in his temple the ark of his testament.” The ark of God’s testament is in the second apartment of the sanctuary. As Christ entered there, to minister in the sinner’s behalf, the inner temple was opened, and the ark of God was brought to view. To those who by faith beheld the Saviour in his work of intercession, God’s majesty and power were revealed. As the train of his glory filled the temple, light from the holy of holies was shed upon his waiting people on the earth.


“They had by faith followed their High Priest from the holy to the most holy, and they saw him pleading his blood before the ark of God. Within that sacred ark is the Father’s law, the same that was spoken by God himself amid the thunders of Sinai, and written with his own finger on tables of stone. Not one command has been annulled; not a jot or tittle has been changed. While God gave to Moses a copy of his law, he preserved the great original in the sanctuary above. Tracing down its holy precepts, the seekers for truth found, in the very bosom of the decalogue, the fourth commandment, as it was first proclaimed: “Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days shalt thou labor, and do all thy work; but the seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor, thy daughter, thy man-servant, nor thy maid-servant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates: for in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day; wherefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day, and hallowed it.”

“The spirit of God impressed the hearts of these students of his word. The conviction was urged upon them, that they had ignorantly transgressed the fourth commandment by disregarding the Creator’s rest-day. They began to examine the reasons for observing the first day of the week instead of the day which God had sanctified. They could find no evidence in the Scriptures that the fourth commandment had been abolished, or that the Sabbath had been changed; the blessing which first hallowed the seventh day had never been removed. They had been honestly seeking to know and do God’s will, and now, as they saw themselves transgressors of his law, sorrow filled their hearts. They at once evinced their loyalty to God by keeping his Sabbath holy.

“Many and earnest were the efforts made to overthrow their faith. None could fail to see that if the earthly sanctuary was a figure or pattern of the heavenly, the law deposited in the ark on earth was an exact transcript of the law in the ark in Heaven, and that an acceptance of the truth concerning the heavenly sanctuary involved an acknowledgement of the claims of God’s law, and the obligation of the Sabbath of the fourth commandment. Here was the secret of the bitter and determined opposition to the harmonious exposition of the Scriptures that brought to view the ministration of Christ in the heavenly sanctuary . . . . . . Christ had opened the door, or ministration, of the most holy place, light was shining from that open door of the sanctuary in heaven, and the fourth commandment was shown to be included in the law within the ark; what God had established, no man could overthrow.

“Those who had accepted the light concerning the mediation of Christ and the perpetuity of the law of God, found that these were the truths brought to view in the third message.”

White, Ellen G., The Spirit of Prophecy, Vol. 4, p. 273-275.

“As the ministration of Jesus closed in the Holy place, and he passed into the Holiest, and stood before the ark containing the law of God, he sent another mighty angel to earth with the third message. He placed a parchment in the angel’s hand, and as he descended to earth in majesty and power, he proclaimed a fearful warning, the most terrible threatening ever borne to man. This message was designed to put the children of God upon their guard, and show them the hour of temptation and anguish that was before them. Said the angel, They will be brought into close combat with the beast and his image. Their only hope of eternal life is to remain steadfast. Although their lives are at stake, yet they must hold fast the truth. The third angel closes his message with these words, Here is the patience of the saints; here are they that keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus.

White, Ellen G., Spiritual Gifts, Vol. 1, p. 162.

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

 

For further information, please visit Patience of the Saints at http://thecommandmentsofgodandthefaithofjesus.com/

 

Questions and comments may be sent by e-mail to: commandmentsofgodandfaithofjesus@yahoo.com

 

Follow on Twitter @JaZerubbabel

Revelation confirms that God is one, not three

Jesus said: “The first of all the commandments is, Hear, O Israel; The Lord our God is one Lord”.[1]  He said this to a scribe who queried, “Which is the first commandment of all?”.[2]  The scribe responded, “Well, Master, thou hast said the truth: for there is one God; and there is none other but he”.[3]  To this, the Divine record says, “And when Jesus saw that he answered discreetly, he said unto him, Thou art not far from the kingdom of God.”.[4]  Jesus considered the scribe’s answer a discreet one.  Revelation confirms that God is one person, not three.

 

The book of Revelation begins with a declaration of a chain of command: God gave to Christ, Christ gave to His angel, and the angel gave to John – “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).  There is no confusion here, and most people seem to understand this.

 

The Revelation continues with greetings being brought to the seven churches from God, Christ and the seven spirits before God’s throne – “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 begotten of the dead” (Rev. 1:4, 5).  This is where some people get confused – they say that it is not really seven spirits but one spirit – the ‘seven-fold’ spirit.  But the Revelation is clear that the seven spirits are seven discrete entities, not one entity – “And out of the throne proceeded lightnings and thunderings and voices: and there were seven lamps of fire burning before the throne, which are the seven Spirits of God.” (Rev. 4:5).

 

What are these seven lamps of fire before God’s throne, who can send greetings?  They must be living beings!  Is there any category of living beings who are described as lamps of fire?  Let the scriptures answer – “And of the angels he saith, Who maketh his angels spirits, and his ministers a flame of fire.” (Heb. 1:7); and further, “But to which of the angels said he at any time, Sit on my right hand, until I make thine enemies thy footstool? Are they not all ministering spirits, sent forth to minister for them who shall be heirs of salvation?” (Heb. 1:14).

 

There ought to be no confusion as to who these seven spirits are, who send greetings.  But lest some say that they are still unclear, let the scriptures describe in further detail those who stand before God’s throne – “And when he had opened the seventh seal, there was silence in heaven about the space of half an hour. And I saw the seven angels which stood before God” (Rev. 8:1, 2).   Recall that it is the same scene in which the throne of God is described with seven lamps of fire before it, and the lamb came to Him that sat on the throne, took the book from His hand and started to open the seals of the book.  The word of God is clear, for those who will receive it.

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

 

For further information, please visit Patience of the Saints at http://thecommandmentsofgodandthefaithofjesus.com/

 

Questions and comments may be sent by e-mail to: commandmentsofgodandfaithofjesus@yahoo.com

 

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[1] Mark 12:29

[2] Mark 12:28

[3] Mark 12:32

[4] Mark 12:34