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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.  Before we do, just a word as to why study and present this matter currently.  The reason is this: based on Bible prophesy, the world is on the cusp of major changes that will see a tremendous crisis that will affect everyone and challenge our very survival; the world should not face such a crisis without being alerted and warned about what is coming.

As we discussed previously, the first seal, when opened, brought to view a white horse which represented the raising up of the Sabbath-keeping Advent 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 underfoot during the Dark Ages.  The rider, “went forth conquering, and to conquer.” (Rev. 6:2).

World Wars I and II prophesied

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 were still in that era up to the beginning of 2019.  That is where we have been in the prophetic unfolding of events.  There was never 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 the beginning of 2020.  But things have begun to change.

Extensive loss of life imminent

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 God’s true people 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, wherein there will be a second more extensive outpouring of the Holy Spirit than at Pentecost, in what the Biblical prophet Joel calls the Latter Rain.  You’ll get the sequence quite easily if you read in order, verses 4 to 14 of Matthew 24.

Pre-advent judgement

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 already and, as it were, their souls were 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, as the judgement passes 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 end

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”, will be able to stand (Ellen G. White, Early Writings, p. 14) .  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 moving out of 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

 

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 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 (For an explanation of why 1844, please see article “If Jesus, Why Not Sanctuary Cleansing?”).  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 Adventist pioneers (For an explanation of the identification of the early Adventist pioneers with the Philadelphia Church of Revelation, please see article “The Three Angels’ Messages and the Seven Churches”).

 

Back in the day, it was popular for the Advent people to sing, “Have you heard of the Advent Church, how she is moving according to prophecy?”  Today, many of the Advent people, while being convinced of the Sabbath, are not so sure that the Advent Movement has any special significance, more than any other religious movement.  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

 

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 later Advent 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 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 Adventists today glorify the period of the so-called Great Awakening among Evangelicals, while speaking with derision of the early Adventist pioneers, not reckoning that, in God’s eyes, the first group was dead, while it was upon 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

 

 

Intolerance Rearing Its Ugly Head

The world is going through unprecedented times that call for wisdom, courage and most importantly righteousness.  Unfortunately, in seeking to address the present scourge that the world is experiencing, a growing spirit of intolerance is rearing its ugly head, resulting in actions that are not only unwise but unrighteous.

Let it be understood at the outset that this presentation is not intended to question the science or efficacy of the popular solutions that are being promoted to address the present health challenges that the world is now experiencing.  The view that is taken here is that persons should avail themselves of the best advice and solutions that they can access but they should not be forced.

This presentation is also raising two issues: firstly, is it consistent with our moral values, our concepts of liberty of conscience and freedom from slavery to force people to have substances put in their bodies, that they are not fully persuaded of as being in their best interest, with the threat of them losing their livelihoods and being denied normal access to their rights as citizens if they do not submit to such coercion?

Secondly, is the global drive to deny people the freedom to buy or sell unless they submit to receiving specified substances in their bodies possibly linked to an end-time system of enforcement that the Bible has warned against?

 Fundamental issue of freedom from slavery

Regarding the first issue, a firm view is taken that if one cannot exercise the right to refuse a substance being put in their body without facing sanction or punishment, then all our vaunted talk about freedom from slavery and liberty of conscience is meaningless.  Sam Sharpe and all our ancestors who sacrificed their lives to secure our freedoms would have died in vain.  In an age of supposed enlightenment, human rights, and democracy, we would be no better than the evil society that tolerated slavery in the dark distant past.  We would be no better than the slave-master who branded his slaves and punished them if they resisted.

Let it be clear, that the position taken here is not against the value of the solution that scientists, health experts and governments are so fully persuaded of.  Rather, what is firmly rejected is the notion that it is the only solution.  There are persons who have used natural remedies and other healing modalities effectively and they should have a right to do so.

The notion that someone is a threat to society simply because they refuse certain substances being put in their bodies, even though they are not sick, is spurious, evil and sets a framework for persecution of innocent people.  Christians who claim to serve a loving God, do their Creator and Saviour great dishonour in accepting such notions.

Further, it is wicked and intolerant to consider a law-abiding citizen who has been paying their taxes faithfully as forfeiting their right to the services of the State simply because they refuse certain substances being put in their bodies.  This matter is of fundamental significance.

Sunday law and subtle persecution

This leads me to another related issue.  In seeking to address the present scourge, the Government has announced that Sundays are now no-movement days.  If the Government had just announced, under normal circumstances, that no work would be allowed on Sundays, many Sabbath-keepers would have protested it as a move towards a certain end-time prophetic fulfilment that the Bible has warned against.  However, the announcement of Sundays as no-movement days, in the context of a relaxation of the earlier inclusion of Mondays and Tuesdays, seem to have been met with wide acceptance.  But there is no reason why normal work cannot be allowed on Sundays.

Prohibiting normal work on Sundays is a move in the wrong direction as it encourages the populace to break the Sabbath by making the seventh day Sabbath more attractive as a workday preceding the no-movement day.  But one might say that it is not the business of Government to concern itself with whether citizens wish to rest or work on the Sabbath.  The more fundamental issue, however, that Government ought to concern itself with is the fact that such an arrangement initiates subtle persecution of Sabbath-keepers who are now deprived of the only day that many of them would normally have to do some of their personal business.

Many Sabbath-keepers are at work Mondays to Fridays, they rest on the Sabbath, Saturdays, and would only have Sundays to go to Coronation Market or fulfil other personal necessities.  Now they are deprived.  This is subtle persecution.  The law should allow normal work and movement on both Saturdays and Sundays so that those who wish to work on Saturday and rest on Sunday can do so, and likewise allow those who rest on Saturday and work on Sunday to do so.

The Mark of his Name

My second substantive issue is the mysterious Biblical concept of the Mark of the Beast.  Many will immediately say that the present scourge and the global response to it has nothing to do with the Mark of the Beast.  And maybe they are right.  Let it be understood clearly that it is not being suggested here that a substance being injected in people’s bodies for health reasons is the Mark of the Beast.  However, there are some issues.

The concept of the Mark of the beast, a Biblical concept, is well known, even though, many persons will admit that it is a mystery to them as to what that mark is. What is less considered is that the Bible, in speaking of this mysterious mark, mentions not only the Mark of the Beast but also the Name of the Beast and the Number of his Name – “And that no man might buy or sell, save he that had the mark, or the name of the beast, or the number of his name.” (Rev. 13:17).

The Bible further speaks of the Mark of the Beast as being the Mark of his Name – “And the smoke of their torment ascendeth up for ever and ever: and they have no rest day nor night, who worship the beast and his image, and whosoever receiveth the mark of his name” (Rev. 14:11).

It should therefore be evident that both the “number of his name” and “the mark of his name” are proxies for the Name of the Beast. Name signifies identity and character, as evident, for example, when God proclaimed His Name to Moses – “And the LORD descended in the cloud, and stood with him there, and proclaimed the name of the LORD.  And the LORD passed by before him, and proclaimed, The LORD, The LORD God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abundant in goodness and truth” (Ex. 34:5, 6).

In contrast to God, who is merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abundant in goodness and truth, the Beast is the opposite – intolerant, unkind, impatient, wicked, and untruthful. It should therefore be recognized that it is the Name or character of the Beast that is most anti-Christ in nature, and that elicits God’s most stern warning against the Beast and his Image.  It is the Name or character of the Beast that ultimately undergirds the system that will prevent persons from being able to buy or sell.  God is love (1 John 4:8) and all God’s commandments are summarized as love to God and love to our fellowmen (Matt. 22:36-40). The Beast and his Image represent the opposite.

God warns against worshipping or giving homage to the Beast and his Image in the Third Angel’s Message as follows:

“And the third angel followed them, saying with a loud voice, If any man worship the beast and his image, and receive his mark in his forehead, or in his hand,  The same shall drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out without mixture into the cup of his indignation; and he shall be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels, and in the presence of the Lamb:  And the smoke of their torment ascendeth up for ever and ever: and they have no rest day nor night, who worship the beast and his image, and whosoever receiveth the mark of his name.” (Rev.14:9-11).

It is interesting that the warning does not include condemnation of those who receive the Number of his Name. This is understandable because numbers are often hidden in codes and persons might receive the Number in a hidden code without realizing it. In fact, the mention of the number includes a hint that it will not be “in your face”, so to speak – “Here is wisdom. Let him that hath understanding count the number of the beast: for it is the number of a man; and his number is Six hundred threescore and six.” (Rev. 13:18).  For those who can exercise wisdom and understanding, they may be able to recognize the number 666 – “Six hundred threescore and six”, though possibly hidden, and thus identify the footprints of the Beast.

The key is to make sure, that even if one takes the Number inadvertently, they do not embrace the Name (or character) of the Beast by becoming intolerant of those who would not have received it, so that they give homage to the Beast, supporting a system whereby innocent people are victimized and prevented from being able to buy or sell. If that happens, one would have already been sucked in, so that receiving the Mark of the Beast (whatever it is) would only be a matter of time.

What is worship?

Finally, what is worship?  The Bible warns against worshipping the Beast and his Image.  Does worship mean bowing down and saying, “I worship you”?  Worship may include that, but it is much more than that.  Worship comes from the concept of worth – “worth-ship”.  It is about who you trust and obey.  The Bible is clear that children of God should be subject to the authority of their respective governments – “Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God. Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God: and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation. For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to the evil. Wilt thou then not be afraid of the power? do that which is good, and thou shalt have praise of the same” (Rom. 13:1-3).  From this, it is also evident that governments are expected to act righteously and be a terror to evil and not to the good.

What happens, however, if government acts unrighteously, and demands of its citizens obedience to dictates that conflict with the law of God?  The Bible is clear that God comes first.  Jesus said, “Render therefore unto Caesar the things which are Caesar’s; and unto God the things that are God’s.” (Matt. 22:21).  Caesar represented the government of the day.  From this it is evident that there are some things that belong to and pertain to Caesar and there are other things that belong to and pertain to God.  One such thing that belongs to God is worship and supreme authority.

In this regard, where there is a conflict, the Bible is clear that God is the supreme authority – “Then Peter and the other apostles answered and said, We ought to obey God rather than men.” (Acts 5:29).  Further, Jesus said, “And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.” (Matt. 10:28).

“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 Mark of his Name

The concept of the Mark of the beast, a biblical concept, is well known, even though, many persons will admit that it is a mystery to them as to what that mark is. What is less considered is that the Bible, in speaking of this mysterious mark, mentions not only the Mark of the Beast but also the Name of the Beast and the Number of his Name – “And that no man might buy or sell, save he that had the mark, or the name of the beast, or the number of his name.” (Rev. 13:17).

The Bible further speaks of the Mark of the Beast as being the Mark of his Name – “And the smoke of their torment ascendeth up for ever and ever: and they have no rest day nor night, who worship the beast and his image, and whosoever receiveth the mark of his name” (Rev. 14:11).

It should therefore be evident that both the “number of his name” and “the mark of his name” are proxies for the Name of the Beast. Name signifies identity and character, as evident, for example, when God proclaimed His Name to Moses – “And the LORD descended in the cloud, and stood with him there, and proclaimed the name of the LORD.  And the LORD passed by before him, and proclaimed, The LORD, The LORD God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abundant in goodness and truth” (Ex. 34:5, 6).

In contrast to God, who is merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abundant in goodness and truth, the Beast is the opposite – intolerant, unkind, impatient, wicked, and untruthful. It should therefore be recognized that it is the Name or character of the Beast that is most anti-Christ in nature, and that elicits God’s most stern warning against the Beast and his Image.  It is the Name or character of the Beast that ultimately undergirds the system that will prevent persons from being able to buy or sell.  God is love (1 John 4:8) and all God’s commandments are summarized as love to God and love to our fellowmen (Matt. 22:36-40). The Beast and his Image represent the opposite.

God warns against worshipping or giving homage to the Beast and his Image in the Third Angel’s Message as follows:

“And the third angel followed them, saying with a loud voice, If any man worship the beast and his image, and receive his mark in his forehead, or in his hand,  The same shall drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out without mixture into the cup of his indignation; and he shall be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels, and in the presence of the Lamb:  And the smoke of their torment ascendeth up for ever and ever: and they have no rest day nor night, who worship the beast and his image, and whosoever receiveth the mark of his name.” (Rev.14:9-11).

It is interesting that the warning does not include condemnation of those who receive the Number of his Name. This is understandable because numbers are often hidden in codes and persons might receive the Number in a hidden code without realizing it. In fact, the mention of the number includes a hint that it will not be “in your face”, so to speak – “Here is wisdom. Let him that hath understanding count the number of the beast: for it is the number of a man; and his number is Six hundred threescore and six.” (Rev. 13:18).  For those who can exercise wisdom and understanding, they may be able to recognize the number 666 – “Six hundred threescore and six”, though possibly hidden, and thus identify the footprints of the Beast.

The key is to make sure, that even if one takes the Number inadvertently, they do not embrace the Name (or character) of the Beast by becoming intolerant of those who would not have received it, so that they give homage to the Beast, supporting a system whereby innocent people are victimized and prevented from being able to buy or sell. If that happens, one would have already been sucked in, so that receiving the Mark of the Beast (whatever it is) would only be a matter of time.

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

Religious Liberty and Church Unity

The most fundamental principle of the New Covenant is religious liberty or freedom of conscience.  Under the Old Covenant, God’s Moral Law as contained in the Ten Commandments, along with the Statutes and Judgements that amplified and clarified the finer principles contained in the Law, were administered externally by the Mosaic System.  Under the New Covenant, the Law is written, not on tables of stone to be externally administered, but on the tables of people’s hearts, to be self-administered.  This is the essence of religious liberty.  Regarding the New Covenant, the Bible says:

“For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, saith the Lord; I will put my laws into their mind, and write them in their hearts: and I will be to them a God, and they shall be to me a people: And they shall not teach every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, Know the Lord: for all shall know me, from the least to the greatest.” – Heb. 8:10, 11.

God intended that ancient Israel should have been a “kingdom of priests” (Ex. 19:6) but, while there was external conformity to the commandments in many instances, there was no genuineness of heart.  As a result, Jesus repeatedly told the Pharisees that they were hypocrites and pointed them to the spirit of the law by which God would judge their sincerity.  Accordingly, the writer of the Epistle to the Hebrews pointed out that “finding fault with them, he saith, Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah” (Heb. 8:8).  Under the New Covenant, both Jews and Gentiles are reconciled in one body, the Church (Eph. 3:6; 1:22, 23), and within this body, God’s original intention would be fulfilled, so that the Church would be a “royal priesthood” (1 Pet. 2:9).

Dark Ages

God’s intention for the Church, however, has been perverted in many instances as church leaders have repeatedly sought to make of the Church another theocracy like ancient Israel in which the priesthood of believers is supplanted and liberty of conscience is suppressed.  Starting with the Roman Catholic Church, true believers were persecuted simply because they sought to serve God according to the dictates of their own conscience.  They were called heretics, they were tortured, burnt to the stake, had millstones put around their necks and drowned, cast out of society, and had other atrocities committed against them.

Many churches today claim to believe in religious liberty but to them, this liberty only extends to those who embrace their faith and subscribe to their creeds.  Differences of views are tolerated only within the bounds of their established creeds or Statements of Beliefs.  Dissent is frowned upon and while many do not label those who have different views as “Heretics”, possibly because of the historical baggage of persecution that the label carries, they have modern equivalents such as “Cult” and “Offshoot” that is used for the same purpose of social exclusion and suppression of independent thought.  Even some very prominent churches with excellent track record of social responsibility and good citizenship, such as Mormon, Jehovah’s Witnesses and even Seventh-day Adventist, in some circles, must struggle against being labelled as Cults by certain traditional churches, because their views on some religious matters are different.

What is the result?  – The same as in the Dark Ages – ignorance and suppression of truth.  Free thought in religious matters is discouraged and uniformity is promoted.  This situation, as in the days of ancient Israel, makes hypocrites of those who profess things that they often do not understand or lead many to join in ostracizing persons that God has raised up to help in advancing His work.  This is the reason that the prophets and messengers of God have been seldom embraced during their lifetimes.  The New Covenant was intended to change that.

Popular Error Embraced

God accepts only genuine belief, not mere profession; and He is not fooled.  Only the New Covenant principle of liberty of conscience allows truth to thrive.  In an atmosphere of intolerance error finds fertile ground.  People will embrace popular error and avoid listening to anything that would show them otherwise.  Such is the case, even now, where popular Christianity has embraced a concept of God that is not taught in the Bible – that God is three-in-one.

There is nowhere in the Bible that says God is three-in-one or triune.  This concept is at best an assumption, yet it is stated in most church creeds as a required belief, even while many of the churches claim sola scriptura – the Bible, and the Bible alone.  Where did that belief come from?  – From Paganism, and brought into Christianity by Rome through a series of deliberations starting at the Council of Nicea in 325 AD.  The Jews had no such concept of God but the pagans around them did.  The early Apostles had no such concept, but the pagans around them did.  The early Adventist pioneers had no such concept but the churches around them did.  Two notable Adventist pioneers expressed the view that was generally taken by early Adventists as follows:

“The greatest fault we find in the Reformation is, the Reformers stopped reforming.  Had they gone on, and onward, till they had left the last vestige of Papacy behind, such as natural immortality, sprinkling, the trinity, and Sunday-keeping, the church would now be free from her unscriptural errors.” (James White, Review & Herald, Feb. 7, 1856).

“The doctrine of the Trinity was established in the church by the Council of Nicea, A.D. 325.  This doctrine destroys the personality of God, and his Son Jesus Christ our Lord.” (J. N. Andrews, Review & Herald, March 6, 1855).

Today, modern Adventism has moved away from its pioneer roots and embraced the Trinity as its second Statement of Belief.  Would this have had anything to do with the struggle it has had over the years to shrug off the “Cult” label that is associated with non-belief in the Trinity?  Early Adventist pioneers expressed belief in Father, Son and Holy Ghost but not belief in a Trinity, which says that the Three make up the One God of Scripture.  Rather, they believed that the One Supreme Being of Scripture is the Father; that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, and the Holy Spirit is Christ’s Representative on earth.

Most Fundamental Truth

The most fundamental truth is the truth about God.  The Biblical teaching regarding God is that there is “one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus” (1 Tim. 2:5); “One God and Father of all, who is above all” (Eph. 4:6); “But to us there is but one God, the Father” (1 Cor. 8:6); “Blessed be God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ” (2 Cor. 1:3).  Jesus is the Son of God – fully Divine and of the same nature as God, His Father (Heb. 1); He is the Mediator between us and God and is the only way to the Father (John 14:6); He was sent into the world by God, his Father and went back to the Father (John 16:28; 17:8), of whom He said: “If ye loved me, ye would rejoice, because I said, I go unto the Father: for my Father is greater than I.” (John 14:28).  Before Jesus returned, He said “I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter” (John 14:6).  Regarding the Comforter, Christ said: “when the Comforter is come, whom I will send unto you from the Father” (John 15:26), “he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak” (John 16:13).

The Scriptures speak in clear and unambiguous language that there is one God who is above all, who sent His Son into the world and His Son left and sent the Comforter to represent Him until He returns at His second coming.  God is one and not three-in-one.  Any confusion and mystery as to the relationship between Father, Son and Holy Spirit are brought about because people are speculating and stretching the Scriptures to accommodate a pagan concept of three-in one that was brought from paganism into Christianity by Roman Catholicism, in a similar way that some persons try to stretch the references in the New Testament regarding the first day of the week, of which there are only eight places that it is mentioned, to teach Sunday-sacredness, which the Bible clearly does not teach.

New Covenant Rejected

How have these unscriptural pagan teachings come to be so widespread among professed Christians who claim to be guided by sola scriptura?  The answer is simple – they have rejected the New Covenant principle of liberty of conscience, even while claiming to embrace the New Covenant.  Almost without exception, the churches have sought to re-create an Old Covenant theocracy where belief is externally controlled and enforced.  Hence, the Devil only needs to have the false doctrines infiltrated among the leaders and eventually it would filter down through every congregation and the entire body would be led astray.

Among the few churches that have been able to maintain some diversity of beliefs are the Baptists. They were persecuted in their early beginnings in seventeenth century England and came to the United States of America.  Roger Williams, who was forced out of the Massachusetts colony because he maintained that individuals should be free to worship God according to the dictates of their own conscience, fled from Boston and founded the Rhode Island colony on the principles of civil and religious liberty.  He established the first Baptist Church in America and Rhode Island became a haven for believers of all faiths, including Sabbath-keepers, the Seventh-day Baptists, who passed on the Sabbath truth to Adventist pioneers who became Seventh-day Adventists.  The principle of religious liberty was eventually embraced by the framers of the United States Constitution and is represented as the First Amendment to the Constitution.

But while religious liberty is promoted to protect the Church from imposition by the State, there seems to be no protection of the believer from imposition by the Church.  Hence, the truth is not advancing.  Even the Baptists, generally are not free from unscriptural errors, because many have embraced the idea of human beings having natural immortality, which is clearly rejected in Scripture – the righteous receive immortality at the Second Coming of Christ (1 Cor. 15:51-54) – the Bible is noticeably clear on that.

True Church and Religious Liberty

There is a concept that is popularly held that the true church of the Bible is a human organization that has a corporate structure like a business establishment and offers membership based on a set of doctrinal beliefs.  Is this the Biblical concept of the true church and do such organizations have control over whether an individual can be saved in God’s kingdom? In both instances, the answer is no.  The truth is that The Church is much greater than that.  The Church is the body of Christ (Eph. 1:22, 23), the collective body of all who have the spirit of Christ in them (Rom. 8:9); that which Jesus gave His life for – “Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish.” (Eph. 5:25-27).  The songwriter, Samuel J. Stone, expressed it eloquently:

“The church has one foundation, ‘Tis Jesus Christ her Lord; She is His new creation, By water and the word; From heaven He came and sought her To be His holy bride; With His own blood He bought her, And for her life He died”. – Samuel J. Stone.

The Bible speaks of differences of administrations but the same Lord – “And there are differences of administrations, but the same Lord.” (1 Cor. 12:5). Could it be that persons are mistakenly elevating their administration of preference to the level of the one true church, thereby placing in human hands the determination of whether people are saved or lost and hence causing needless divisions among people who are sincerely seeking to do God’s will?

Unity of the faith is the endpoint; spiritual gifts were given to the church to bring God’s people to that point – “And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ” (Eph. 4:11-13).  Care must be taken not to pre-emptively declare that what is accepted represents the ultimate of what should be understood or needs to be understood.

Let us not forget that the equivalent of what would be considered church leadership, collectively agreed, and declared that Jesus was in error – and considered it so serious a matter as to request of the authorities that He be killed (John 11:47-50).  Repeated warnings have been given that deception would be rife in the last days to the point that, “if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect” (Matt. 24:24); and he that “killeth you will think that he doeth God service” (John 16:2).

Religious liberty is the most fundamental principle of the New Covenant, yet most churches do not even have it as one of their stated Fundamental Beliefs.  The New Covenant provides the basis for religious liberty and is the single greatest provision that facilitates the spread of the truth.  The truth needs only to be given a fair opportunity to be heard for it to prevail.  The Devil knows this and so his greatest weapon against truth is suppression.  Those who suppress the expression of other views may think that they are protecting others from error, but they are doing the cause of truth a disservice and they are acting contrary to the principles of the New Covenant.  May the Lord help us to recognize the truth and allow it to flourish on its own and under God’s direction.

“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

If Jesus, Why not Sanctuary Cleansing?

The exact year when Jesus was anointed as the Messiah was foretold by the prophet Daniel – Know therefore and understand that from the going forth of the commandment to restore and to build Jerusalem unto Messiah the Prince shall be seven weeks and threescore and two weeks” (Dan. 9:25).  That is, seven weeks plus sixty-two weeks, which is sixty-nine (69) weeks.  The command to restore and build Jerusalem was issued in 457 BC by the king Artaxerxes.  This is recorded in Ezra 7:7 as the seventh year of the king, in the fifth month (verse 8).

From that date (457 BC), counting 69 weeks, taking a day for a year, we have 483 years from the decree of Artaxerxes unto Messiah the Prince – that is, 69 weeks times 7 days per week, which equals 483 days, where one day in the prophecy equals one literal year (a principle mentioned in Numbers 13:34).  Did Messiah come at the time predicted?  Yes, He did!

Exactly 483 years from the time that King Artaxerxes issued the decree to rebuild Jerusalem (that is, from the year 457 BC), Jesus Christ was anointed Messiah at His baptism, in the year AD 27.  This prophecy of Daniel is the only prophecy in the Bible that tells the exact time when Messiah would appear, and it was fulfilled just as predicted.

The Bible tells us that Jesus was anointed at His baptism “How God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Ghost and with power: who went about doing good, and healing all that were oppressed of the devil; for God was with him.” (Acts 10:38).  The word Messiah means anointed.  So, Jesus appeared as Messiah at His baptism in AD 27.  Accordingly, He began to preach, saying: “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand.” (Mark 1:15).  The time being fulfilled was obviously the time spoken of by Daniel the prophet as there is no other time prophecy that identifies the time when Messiah would come.

The rest of the prophecy

But the time of Messiah’s appearance was only a part of Daniel’s prophecy.  The prophecy pointed to Messiah appearing after 69 weeks (obviously, based on a day in the prophecy being equal to a literal year – otherwise, it would not have pointed to Jesus as the Messiah, but by that reckoning, it fits exactly).  So, 69 weeks takes us to Messiah, but Daniel said that something else would happen at the end of 2300 days.  We are told what would happen in the answer to a question that was asked in Dan. 8:13. The question was: “How long shall be the vision concerning the daily [sacrifice], and the transgression of desolation, to give both the sanctuary and the host to be trodden under foot?”  The answer is given as follows: “And he said unto me, Unto two thousand and three hundred days, then shall the sanctuary be cleansed.” (Dan. 8:14).

The angel, Gabriel, was explaining the meaning of a vision to Daniel. Daniel did not fully understand the explanation that was being given and he fainted (Dan. 8:27).  But some time after, the same angel Gabriel that had appeared to Daniel and was explaining the vision to him, but was unable to finish because Daniel fainted, came back to him.  The account says: “Yea, whiles I was speaking in prayer, even the man Gabriel, whom I had seen in the vision at the beginning, being caused to fly swiftly, touched me about the time of the evening oblation.  And he informed me, and talked with me, and said, O Daniel, I am now come forth to give thee skill and understanding.  At the beginning of thy supplications the commandment came forth, and I am come to show thee; for thou art greatly beloved:  therefore, understand the matter, and consider the vision.” (Dan. 9:21-23).

The angel Gabriel picked up from where he left off and started to explain the time period by telling Daniel when it would start.  He said: “Know therefore and understand that from the going forth of the commandment to restore and to build Jerusalem unto Messiah the Prince shall be seven weeks and threescore and two weeks” (Dan. 9:25). 69 weeks is 483 days.  The remaining days to the end of 2300 days would be 2300 minus 483, which gives 1817 days. So, if 483 days (a day being taken as one year) takes us to AD 27, then an additional 1817 days (a day for a year) will be 27 plus 1817, which takes us to 1844.

There is no escaping it.  Daniel’s 2300 days ends in 1844.  This is based on the same prophecy that identified AD 27 as the time when Messiah would arrive.  Jesus Christ, the Messiah, arrived just as Daniel prophesied and Jesus confirmed that Daniel was a prophet. Jesus said, “But when ye shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, standing where it ought not, (let him that readeth understand,) then let them that be in Judaea flee to the mountains.” – Mark 13:14. This was a reference to the Roman power that would destroy Jerusalem in the year AD 70.  The same warning is given in Matt. 24:15 and Luke 21:20. In Luke, the warning is given even more explicitly. It says: “when ye shall see Jerusalem compassed with armies, then know that the desolation thereof is nigh.” (Luke 21:20).

Some people confuse themselves with Daniel’s prophecy regarding the “abomination of desolation” by saying that it referred to some obscure Syrian king called Antiochus Epiphanes who lived way back, many centuries before the time of Christ.  But it is obvious that the “abomination of desolation spoken of by Daniel the prophet” was not something of the past when Jesus spoke as Jesus said that it had not happened yet.  It was something in the future to Jesus’s time and people in His time would live to see it.  So, there is no need for any confusion. Now, you will see that this same prophecy that foretold the destruction of Jerusalem also identified the exact time that Messiah would have come, and it also identifies 1844 as the time when the cleansing of the sanctuary would begin.

Sanctuary message since 1844

Since 1844, persons have studied the matter from the Bible and saw that the sanctuary that  would be cleansed was the sanctuary in heaven where Christ ministers. The Bible is clear that Christ is in heaven as “A minister of the sanctuary, and of the true tabernacle, which the Lord pitched, and not man.” (Heb. 8:2). So, one might ask: What is the cleansing of the sanctuary? It is what the Bible calls the blotting out of sins.

Peter preached on the Day of Pentecost and said to the people: “Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord.” (Acts 3:19).  So, at a specific time that was yet future to Peter’s time, that Peter called the times of refreshing, the sins of people who have repented of their sins would be blotted out.  Blotted out from where?  Obviously, the sins would be blotted out from the record in heaven and from the lives of the people. That is what the cleansing of the ancient Israelite sanctuary on earth was all about, which was a representation of the one in heaven. On the Day of Atonement, the record of confessed sins was removed from the sanctuary and there would remain no basis for anyone who had repented of those sins to be reminded of them or be accused. This is fully described in Leviticus 16.

In the cleansing of the earthly sanctuary, which took place on the Day of Atonement, the people were also cleansed – “For on that day shall the priest make an atonement for you, to cleanse you, that ye may be clean from all your sins before the Lord.” (Lev. 16:30).  So, likewise, in the cleansing of the heavenly sanctuary, the repentant sinner is also cleansed.  When you repent and confess your sins to Christ and Christ, as your Advocate and Intercessor, takes up your case, He must convince the angels in heaven in the presence of God, the Father, that you are sincere.  Jesus says: “He that overcometh, the same shall be clothed in white raiment; and I will not blot out his name out of the book of life, but I will confess his name before my Father, and before his angels.” (Rev. 3:5).  From this, a part of the work of cleansing the sanctuary is also purging its records of the names of insincere or fake believers.

If you keep repeating the same sinful behaviour and do not accept the help Christ offers to you to do better, then your sins will not be blotted out and your name, instead, will be blotted out. That is clear from Peter’s message: repent and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out. That is what the cleansing of the sanctuary is all about – cleansing it of the record of confessed sins and cleansing it of the names of insincere or fake Christians.

So, for example, Peter denied Christ and repented. Judas betrayed Christ and then confessed, “Saying, I have sinned in that I have betrayed the innocent blood.” (Matt. 27:4). Peter was sincere, Judas was not – he was only disappointed because of the consequence of his sin. Both were disciples. Both professed to be followers of Christ. But during the cleansing of the sanctuary, Christ will demonstrate before the Father and the holy angels Peter’s sincerity. The record of Peter’s sin will be blotted out and his name retained in the Book of Life. Judas, on the other hand will have his name blotted out of the Book of Life.

The commandments of God

Those who studied the matter saw that the characteristics of God’s people in the last days would be that they keep the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus.  The Bible says: “Here is the patience of the saints: here are they that keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus.” (Rev. 14:12).  Obviously, our sins will not be blotted out if we are breaking the commandments of God.  So, the final message pointed to a need for repentance so that our sins might be blotted out.

It was this understanding, since 1844, that led those who embraced the message regarding the cleansing of the sanctuary, to the seventh-day Sabbath.  In calling people to repentance, it became obvious that almost the entire world was breaking one of the commandments of God – the fourth of the Ten Commandments that require us to keep the seventh-day Sabbath. Since then, the Third Angel’s Message of Revelation 14:9-12 has been going out to the world pointing people to the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus and calling people to repentance, especially in relation to the fourth commandment.

So, the question is: If you accept Jesus, what is your basis for rejecting 1844 and the cleansing of the sanctuary? The message of the cleansing of the sanctuary is a message of repentance. It is the same message as that which Jesus preached“repent ye, and believe the gospel” (Mark 1:15).  It was John the Baptist’s message – “Repent ye: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand” (Matt. 3:2). It was Peter’s message on the Day of Pentecost – “Repent ye therefore, and be converted” (Acts 3:19).

If Jesus, why not 1844 and the sanctuary cleansing – since Jesus points to Daniel and Daniel points to 1844 and the cleansing of the sanctuary?  God raised up a people in 1844 to call the world’s attention to this especially important work. The same prophecy that identified AD 27 as the time when Messiah would arrive also speaks of 2300 prophetic days ending in 1844.  Jesus Christ, the Messiah arrived just as Daniel prophesied and Jesus confirmed that Daniel was a prophet. The question raised is a matter of Bible truth and it is intended for the entire world.

The call is to repent and join in the proclamation of the final message for this time. Will you repent and believe the message for this time so that your sins can be blotted out or will you refuse to repent and have your name blotted out from the Book of Life?  Whether or not we repent, the sanctuary will be cleansed. It is a question of where we will be. In the last days, a command is given to “measure the temple of God, and the altar and them that worship therein. But the court which is without the temple leave out, and measure it not; for it is given unto the Gentiles: and the holy city shall they tread under foot forty and two months.” (Rev. 11:1, 2). Will you be one of the worshippers in God’s temple or will you remain in the outer court with the Gentiles? The choice is yours. Repent and be saved.

“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

 

 

The Great Controversy An Information War

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

The contenders

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

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

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

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

The issues of the conflict

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

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

The knowledge of the truth about God will lead us to love Him and submit to Him. Lucifer, who was an exalted angel in heaven, by taking his eyes off God and focusing on himself, developed an overblown concept of himself and a diminished or warped perception of God. The result was that he rebelled against God and became Satan and was cast out of heaven. The prophet Isaiah described the fall of Lucifer as follows:

“How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! How art thou cut down to the ground, which didst weaken the nations! For thou hast said in thine heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north: I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High. Yet thou shalt be brought down to hell, to the sides of the pit. (Isa. 14:12-15).

His wisdom was corrupted because of his focus on and concept of himself – “thou hast corrupted thy wisdom by reason of thy brightness” (Eze. 28:17). “Behold, the fear of the Lord, that is wisdom; and to depart from evil is understanding.” (Job 28:28).

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

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

Sifting truth from error

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

How do we sift out the puzzle pieces that do not belong to the picture and retain those pieces that belong? By having an idea of what the overall picture looks like. If, for example, you are fitting up a puzzle that forms a picture of green trees and the blue sky in the background, then you can remove from the table the red and purple pieces that clearly do not belong. Of course, the closer the erroneous pieces look like the correct pieces, the more effort and diligence must be applied to differentiate.

The overall picture

The overall picture is provided by the following sequence of activities: first, the fall of Lucifer from heaven; then, his enticing Adam and Eve to sin against God; next, God’s Son coming to earth to win back the hearts and minds of human beings by revealing the truth about God to us; after that, Satan being exposed by his stirring up the multitude to kill the innocent Son of God; subsequently, Christ being raised from the dead by His Father and, as our Advocate, pleading our case before God and the angels, by His own merits as the Faithful Witness and by virtue of our repentance, making the case for the repentant sinner that we were only deceived and not genuinely rebellious. Christ will then return to earth to reclaim this territory from Satan and resurrect those who died in a state of acceptance of the truth, changing to immortality those who are alive and faithful and taking all the faithful to heaven for a thousand years. God will then re-create the earth, making it a paradise again for all the faithful to live forever. This is the framework that allows us to sift out the erroneous ideas that Satan throws in our way to deceive us.

Words and deception

Words are sometimes used as an effective tool of deception by distorting Biblical reality. Words change in meaning over time; and there are differences in the translation of words.  The form of words, therefore, represents a margin of error.  The most accurate determination of the actual truth is based on seven (7) elements of the reality that make up the context, namely: who; what; where; when; how; what was happening at the time; what was being addressed.  To focus on the form of words is to dwell in the plus or minus range surrounding the actual truth and reality of a matter.  Beyond information, we should seek understanding; that is, we should seek to know why.  This is best known from the seven (7) elements of reality that make up the context.

In the information war between truth and error, we must be vigilant, in assessing people’s use of words (Biblical and otherwise), lest the form of words be used to change meaning and cause deception.  Jesus, for example, was crucified because He was accused of plotting to destroy the temple in Jerusalem, with false witnesses testifying against Him, saying, “We heard him say, I will destroy this temple that is made with hands, and within three days I will build another made without hands.” (Mark 14:58).  “But he spake of the temple of his body” (John 2:21)Jesus said that deception will be so strong in the last days that “if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect.” (Matt. 24:24).

The final conflict

The final conflict will be between the commandments of God and the commandments of men – “And all that dwell upon the earth shall worship him, whose names are not written in the book of life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.” (Rev. 13:8).  We are told the characteristics of those who will be on God’s side – “Here is the patience of the saints: here are they that keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus.” (Rev. 14:12).  The commandments of men represent Satan’s formula for governing people’s behaviour.  Nothing is wrong with trying to govern the world in an orderly way, except that men try to put themselves where God should be.  This condemns their efforts to fail, since the wisdom and power of God that created and keeps the universe cannot be replaced. Only God has what it takes to run the world in a sustainable way, but men fail to recognize this, and try to govern in ways that are directly contrary to God’s instructions.  Hence, the current mess the world is in.

The commandments of men are an imitation of the commandments of God, except in one main point.  God says: “Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy.” (Ex. 20:8).  This is God’s sign that, if embraced, will signal to the universe that we have aligned ourselves on God’s side – “And hallow my sabbaths; and they shall be a sign between me and you, that ye may know that I am the Lord your God.” (Eze. 20:20). Further, the Sabbath provides us with special time with God that He uses to sanctify us and make us holy – “Moreover also I gave them my sabbaths, to be a sign between me and them, that they might know that I am the Lord that sanctify them.” (Eze. 20:12).

Whereas the commandments of God require that we rest from our labours on the seventh day Sabbath as a sign that we believe in and give allegiance to the Creator, the commandments of men, as are almost universally embraced, regard another day.  This point of difference will identify those who Christ will claim as His. We might not be there yet, but this is where the controversy is heading.  As with Adam and Eve who got one simple instruction from God that, if followed, would have protected them from Satan, we today have one simple instruction that sets God’s people apart as those who give their primary allegiance to Him – “Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy.” (Ex. 20:8).  The other instructions such as, “Thou shalt not steal” (Ex. 20:15), are common to both the commandments of God and the commandments of men.

Many sincere and genuine Christians are misled into disregarding the Sabbath because the issues are not clear to them at this time.  However, the Bible indicates that the Devil will lead the world into denying God’s sovereignty by enforcing the commandments of men and denying freedom to those who would keep the commandments of God.  The issues will then be made clear, before Christ returns, and everyone will have to make a choice.  The choice we make will have eternal consequences.

Jesus said: “Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven.” (Matt. 7:21). Further, He says: “But in vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men.” (Matt. 15:9). And again: “If ye love me keep my commandments.” (Matt. 14:15).

Today, many professed Christians are saying that all we need to do is just accept Jesus. You do not have to consider anything else. To them, keeping the commandments of God is legalism. But that is contrary to what Jesus said. Remember, it is an information war, and we must be vigilant so that we might not be deceived.  May the Lord help us to align ourselves under His banner so that when Christ returns, we will be among those who would have accepted Christ and His revelation of the truth about God, and be faithfully keeping His commandments.

“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

The real Jesus and how He conquered

To ask the question, “Who is Jesus and what has He done?” might evoke an answer such as, “Jesus is Lord and He saved us from our sins”.  But what do these things really mean?  When asked by Jesus, “Who do you say that I am?” Peter answered, “Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God” (Matt. 16:16).  To this response, Jesus said, “Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven.(Matt. 16:17).  Jesus spoke of the great achievement that He would make, and indicated how his Father would respond, in the following words: “Therefore doth my Father love me, because I lay down my life, that I might take it again.” (John 10:17)It is not that the Father did not love His Son before His Son laid down His life, but the Father loves Him even more, on account of this great achievement.  The result was that the Father not only “raised Him from the dead” (Gal. 1:1) but has “highly exalted Him” (Phil. 2:9) – so, Jesus is indeed Lord.  We will elaborate a little more on the great achievement of Christ and His present position.

Everyone likes to identify with winners.  So, it is easy to identify with Christ when we are told that Jesus is Lord.  But have we stopped and thought of the real conquering achievement of Christ?  Apart from the fact that He is the Son of God and before He came to earth He had, “by inheritance obtained a more excellent name than they”, the angels, (Heb. 1:4), have we thought of the main reason why He is now exalted in heaven? Let us hear the inhabitants of heaven speak.

How Jesus conquered

John was weeping when he saw that no man “in heaven, nor in earth, neither under the earth” was worthy to take a book from the hand of “him that sat on the throne(Rev. 5:1-4) and open it. But then, John was told: “Weep not: behold, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, hath prevailed to open the book” (Rev. 5:5).  When John looked, this conquering “Lion” was really “a Lamb as it had been slain” (Rev. 5:6).  The Lamb came to “him that sat on the throne” and took the book. Immediately, the inhabitants of heaven burst out in rejoicing, saying:

Thou art worthy to take the book, and to open the seals thereof: for thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation; 10 And hast made us unto our God kings and priests: and we shall reign on the earth. 11 And I beheld, and I heard the voice of 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; 12 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. 13 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. 5:9-13).

The conquering Lion had prevailed and was therefore, worthy.  But what was the great achievement that qualified Him?  The answer was that He died – He yielded His life to the powers of earth and the powers of darkness, allowing himself to be killed, when He could have delivered himself (Matt. 26:53).  By doing so, Jesus provided the one irrefutable argument that discredits Satan’s rule on this earth, since there was absolutely no justifiable reason for the Son of God to have been killed.  It all happened under Satan’s watch, as the “god of this world” (2 Cor. 4:4).  Satan must answer to God the Father, who “sits on the throne” as the Creator and King of the universe.

Role in creation

It should be noted that “one sat on the throne” (Rev. 4:2) who is the Creator – in reality, and not by mere designation or as an assumed role.  This is evident as the angels in heaven worshiped Him saying, Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honour and power: for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created.” (Rev. 4:11).  The Creator is described as the One “who liveth for ever and ever” (Rev. 4:9), distinct from Christ, the Lamb, who came and took the book out of His hand, and is described, in another context, as the one who was dead, and is alive” (Rev. 2:8). 

It is important to know who the Creator is, as the final message to the world includes a call to Fear God, and give glory to him; for the hour of his judgment is come: and worship him that made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and the fountains of waters.(Rev. 14:7)This is a reference to God the Father, the “Ancient of Days”, who presides over the Judgement (Dan. 7:9, 10).  When God spoke to Job, God demanded of him, Where wast thou when I laid the foundations of the earth? declare, if thou hast understanding…..When the morning stars sang together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy?” (Job 38:4-7) From this, it is evident that the sons of God and the morning stars were present at the creation.

Christ was also present but unlike the other beings who were present, Christ was actively involved in carrying out His Father’s will in the work of creation – 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” (Heb. 1:1, 2); “The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made.” (John 1:2, 3)Christ was therefore the agent by whom the Creator carried out His work of creation.

Many persons have cited the Hebrew word “Elohim”, translated “God”, in the Genesis creation account to suggest that God is not one person, but more than one person.  In support of that view, reference is further made to God’s statement, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness(Gen. 1:26). But the Bible clearly states that God, who “made the worlds” (Heb. 1:2), did so by His Son who is “the express image of his person” (Heb. 1:3).  Therefore, God – the One who has a Son in His “express image”, said to His Son, “Let us make man in our image”.  How does the idea that God is not an individual Being enter the picture?  It is clearly one person speaking to another person – God speaking to His Son.

Thus, it should be clear that when the Bible says that there is one God (Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God is one Lord – Deut. 6:4), it is a statement indicating that there is one Supreme Being – one individual being – not a number of beings in unison that make up God.  The Jews who coined the word “Elohim” and used it to refer to God, did not hold a concept of God as more than one person or as a composite of several persons.  So, how do those who have embraced the word come to interpret it to mean more than one person? Is ancient idolatry and polytheism alive and well in Christianity, under different branding? Care should be taken to avoid changing the meaning of words and using them to distort the intended meaning.

Behind the scenes

Remember, when “the sons of God came to present themselves before the Lord, and Satan came also among them. And the Lord said unto Satan, Whence comest thou? Then Satan answered the Lord, and said, From going to and fro in the earth, and from walking up and down in it.” (Job 1:6, 7).  Satan presented himself before the Lord as the one who represented this territory called earth, when the sons of God presented themselves before God, as though he (Satan) was in charge on earth, of course, subject to God’s authority.  In the wilderness of temptation also, Satan took Jesus up into an exceeding high mountain and “sheweth him all the kingdoms of the world, and the glory of them; And saith unto him, All these things will I give thee, if thou wilt fall down and worship me.” – (Matt. 4:8, 9)Satan had usurped the dominion that God had originally given to Adam and was exercising that dominion contrary to God’s will.

By Jesus allowing himself to be killed by Satan and his evil host, Satan has been discredited.  Hence, in the judgement, the dominion over this earth will be taken away from Satan (Dan. 7:26).  Christ appears before the Father – the “Ancient of Days” – and, as the Son of Man, Christ receives the kingdom or entitlement to rule on this earth (Dan. 7:13, 14).  Although Satan had usurped the authority that God originally gave to Adam, Christ came as the second Adam, the new head of the human race, to claim back the dominion and be our King (Heb. 2:6-9).  So, we will be kings and priests, and Jesus will be our King – King of kings and Lord of lords – subject to His Father (1 Cor. 15:24-28).

Conclusion

In conclusion, let us know the real Jesus and how He conquered.  He came from heaven where He was the Son of the Sovereign God who is King of the universe.  He came to earth as a human being, where He conquered through a life of humility and ultimate death as a Lamb to the slaughter.  He was raised from the dead by His Father (Gal. 1:1) and has now been “highly exalted” at the right hand of His Father where He intercedes for us.  He will soon be given the kingdoms of this world and He will return to claim it.

At the second coming of Christ, the dead in Christ will be raised and with the living saints, who will be changed from mortal to immortality, be taken to heaven to spend a thousand years.  After the thousand years, we will come back to earth with Him.  Satan and all evil will then be destroyed, and the earth will be restored to perfection (1 Cor. 15:22, 23; Rev. 20:1-21:5; Rev. 15:2, 3; Rev. 4:2-6).  We will live with God and Christ forever, in the newly restored earth – “And I saw no temple therein: for the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are the temple of it.” (Rev. 21:22).

Christ himself will also be subject to His Father – “Then cometh the end, when he shall have delivered up the kingdom to God, even the Father; when he shall have put down all rule and all authority and power. 25 For he must reign, till he hath put all enemies under his feet. 26 The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death. 27 For he hath put all things under his feet. But when he saith all things are put under him, it is manifest that he is excepted, which did put all things under him. 28 And when all things shall be subdued unto him, then shall the Son also himself be subject unto him that put all things under him, that God may be all in all.” (1 Cor. 15:24-28).

May the Lord help us to know the real Jesus and how He has conquered; and further, grant that we might overcome with Him and share in the glories of the earth made new – “To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne.” (Rev. 3:21).

“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

Jesus Christ, now Mediator, soon to be King

The Bible refers to Jesus Christ as the Son of God – a true offspring, like a prince, dearly beloved by God, His Father.  God sent Him into the world, that through Him, we might be saved – “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” (John 3:16); “He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things?” (Rom. 8:32). Although God’s only begotten Son died, in fulfilling His mission, it was “God the Father, who raised him from the dead” (Gal. 1:1).

Jesus’s mission to save humanity has three distinct phases: 1. Prophet; 2. Priest; 3. King.  When He came to earth as Prophet, He came to a sinful territory dominated by the enemy and was therefore like a “lamb to the slaughter” (Isa. 53:7).  He was not a Priest at that time.  Now, He is Priest (High Priest).  He is not yet King but soon to be.  He will be given a kingdom – this earth, where He will reign as King.  These points will now be established from the scriptures.

Prophet

When God spoke from Mount Sinai, in the days of ancient Israel, the people were afraid and begged Moses to ask God to speak to them through a mediator.  God agreed, but Moses could not be that mediator, notwithstanding the fact that God spoke through Moses to them.  Moses was an imperfect mouthpiece.  God said, He would raise up a Prophet like unto Moses, and would put His words into His mouth – “I will raise them up a Prophet from among their brethren, like unto thee, and will put my words in his mouth; and he shall speak unto them all that I shall command him.” (Deut. 18:18). 

That Prophet was His only begotten Son, the only one who is just like Him – “the express image of his person” (Heb. 1:3).  When His Son came into the world, God spoke from heaven again, this time to Jesus’s disciples, in the presence of Moses and Elijah, telling them to listen to Jesus – “While he yet spake, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them: and behold a voice out of the cloud, which said, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased; hear ye him.” (Matt. 17:5).

While Jesus was on earth, as Prophet, He was not a priest – “For he of whom these things are spoken pertaineth to another tribe, of which no man gave attendance at the altar. For it is evident that our Lord sprang out of Juda; of which tribe Moses spake nothing concerning priesthood.” (Heb. 7:13, 14); “For if he were on earth, he should not be a priest, seeing that there are priests that offer gifts according to the law” (Heb. 8:4).

Priest

After completing the phase of His work as Prophet, Jesus took up the next phase of His mission as High Priest.  In order to do this, He died, and His Father raised Him from the dead – “Him, being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, ye have taken, and by wicked hands have crucified and slain: Whom God hath raised up, having loosed the pains of death” (Acts 2:23, 24).

He then ascended to heaven to the right hand of God, His Father, where He serves as our Advocate who intercedes for us before God and the angels of heaven – “This Jesus hath God raised up, whereof we all are witnesses. Therefore being by the right hand of God exalted, and having received of the Father the promise of the Holy Ghost, he hath shed forth this, which ye now see and hear.” (Acts 2:32, 33); “My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous” (1 John 2:1); “He that overcometh, the same shall be clothed in white raiment; and I will not blot out his name out of the book of life, but I will confess his name before my Father, and before his angels” (Rev. 3:5).

This work of representing our case before God so that we may obtain forgiveness for our sins and to obtain from God the spiritual gifts to enable us to live above sin and be empowered to minister to others is entailed in Jesus’s role as High Priest.  This is what Jesus ascended to heaven to do – “But Christ being come an high priest of good things to come, by a greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made with hands, that is to say, not of this building; Neither by the blood of goats and calves, but by his own blood he entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us. For if the blood of bulls and of goats, and the ashes of an heifer sprinkling the unclean, sanctifieth to the purifying of the flesh: How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God? And for this cause he is the mediator of the new testament, that by means of death, for the redemption of the transgressions that were under the first testament, they which are called might receive the promise of eternal inheritance.” (Heb. 9:11-15).

We can come boldly before the throne of God because we have an Advocate in the courts of heaven, provided for us by God Himself because of His great love for us – “Seeing then that we have a great high priest, that is passed into the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our profession. For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.” (Heb. 4:14-16).

King

In the latter days of earth’s history, Jesus, still in His capacity as High Priest, will appear before the Father to receive a kingdom – “I beheld till the thrones were cast down, and the Ancient of days did sit, whose garment was white as snow, and the hair of his head like the pure wool: his throne was like the fiery flame, and his wheels as burning fire. A fiery stream issued and came forth from before him: thousand thousands ministered unto him, and ten thousand times ten thousand stood before him: the judgment was set, and the books were opened.” (Dan. 7:9, 10); “I saw in the night visions, and, behold, one like the Son of man came with the clouds of heaven, and came to the Ancient of days, and they brought him near before him. And there was given him dominion, and glory, and 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. 7:13, 14).

Those who have accepted Jesus Christ as their Saviour and have accepted the testimony of His life concerning His Father, that God is love, and will be fully reconciled to God, will be the citizens of Christ’s kingdom – “I beheld, and the same horn made war with the saints, and prevailed against them; Until the Ancient of days came, and judgment was given to the saints of the most High; and the time came that the saints possessed the kingdom” (Dan. 7:21, 22); “the judgment shall sit, and they shall take away his dominion, to consume and to destroy it unto the end. And the kingdom and dominion, and the greatness of the kingdom under the whole heaven, shall be given to the people of the saints of the most High, whose kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and all dominions shall serve and obey him.” (Dan. 7:26, 27).

When the list of subjects of Christ’s kingdom (in the Book of Life) is made up and the names that do not belong are blotted out and He receives the authority to take the kingdom, Jesus Christ will return to claim it – “And the seventh angel sounded; and there were great voices in heaven, saying, 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); “And I saw heaven opened, and behold a white horse; and he that sat upon him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he doth judge and make war. His eyes were as a flame of fire, and on his head were many crowns; and he had a name written, that no man knew, but he himself. And he was clothed with a vesture dipped in blood: and his name is called The Word of God. And the armies which were in heaven followed him upon white horses, clothed in fine linen, white and clean. And out of his mouth goeth a sharp sword, that with it he should smite the nations: and he shall rule them with a rod of iron: and he treadeth the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God. And he hath on his vesture and on his thigh a name written, King Of Kings, And Lord Of Lords.” (Rev. 19:11-16).

Time to repent

It is now time to repent of and put away our sins, while Christ still intercedes on our behalf.  The time will come when He will lay aside His priestly garments and put on His kingly robes.  At that time, it will be declared: “He that is unjust, let him be unjust still: and he which is filthy, let him be filthy still: and he that is righteous, let him be righteous still: and he that is holy, let him be holy still. And, behold, I come quickly; and my reward is with me, to give every man according as his work shall be.” (Rev. 22:11, 12).  At that time, human probation would have closed and the time to repent would have passed.

The Bible predicted that Christ’s ministration would be taken away (from the minds of people) and an abomination would be set up in its place – “Yea, he magnified himself even to the prince of the host, and by him the daily sacrifice was taken away, and the place of the sanctuary was cast down.” (Dan. 8:11); “they shall pollute the sanctuary of strength, and shall take away the daily sacrifice, and they shall place the abomination that maketh desolate.” (Dan. 11:31).  This activity was future to Jesus’s day, since Jesus said: “When ye therefore shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, stand in the holy place, (whoso readeth, let him understand:)” (Matt. 24:15).  An earthly priesthood would be set up to divert people’s attention from the priesthood of Christ and other mediators would be set up in place of Christ, so that people would look to men rather than look directly to Christ as the only true Mediator – “For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus” (1 Tim. 2:5).

As a part of this taking away of the daily ministration of Christ, Jesus Christ is represented as being other than our High Priest at this time.  The focus is either on the role that He has already fulfilled or on the role that He is yet to fulfil in the future.

Regarding the role that He has already fulfilled, people are made to believe that the death of Christ is all there is to salvation; that no other work is necessary, thereby removing the need for Him to be seen in His present capacity as High Priest.  But we are told that, if Christ is not risen, not only is our faith vain, but our sins would remain – “And if Christ be not raised, your faith is vain; ye are yet in your sins. Then they also which are fallen asleep in Christ are perished.” (1 Cor. 15:17, 18).  If all our sins have been cancelled only by the death of Christ, then we would be saved regardless of whether He rose from the dead.  But that is not the case.  He had to be raised from the dead to function as High Priest; and it is only by the ministration of a Priest that our sins are removed from us.  This was typified in the ancient sanctuary ministration. In every case, where a sacrifice was offered for sin, it was said: “and the priest shall make an atonement for him, and it shall be forgiven him.” (Lev. 4:20, 26, 31).  Without the ministration of the Priest, the sacrifice is meaningless and achieves nothing.

Regarding His future role, various titles are given to Christ, many of which seem to be giving homage to Him but distracting our minds from His real role at this time.  An extremely popular one is to laud Jesus as King.  Sounds good.  But there is only one King of the Universe – God, the Father.  Jesus never pointed to himself as the King of the Universe or as the Most High; rather, as the Son of the Most High, giving supreme honour to His Father, who sent Him into the world to save us.

During the judgement, which takes place before the second coming of Christ to earth, Christ receives the kingdom of this earth from God, His Father.  It is after He receives the kingdom that He is crowned King of kings and Lord of lords over His earthly subjects.  God, His Father, remains Sovereign of the Universe.  The message is therefore, to beware a false representation of Christ as the one true God.  Jesus Christ, the Son of God, pointed to His Father as “the only true God” (John 17:3), whose will He came to fulfil – not to point to Himself as that only true God.  We worship Jesus Christ on the instructions of the Father (John 5:22, 23; Heb. 1:6).  In heaven, as it will be in the new earth, God and Christ alone are worshipped – “And I saw no temple therein: for the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are the temple of it.” (Rev. 21:22).

“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

 

 

 

Love of religious establishment above truth

One of the saddest and most awful occurrences in human history occurred nearly two thousand years ago when the Son of God, Jesus Christ, was brutally and mercilessly killed by those who professed to be the chosen people of God. Every well-thinking person would do well to seek an explanation for such an awful paradox, lest ignorance and lack of understanding should break down possible safeguards against the repetition of similar anomalies in their own experience.

An explanation of such an awful paradox can be found in the phenomenon of misplaced affection; and specifically, love of religious establishment above love of truth. On the one hand was Jesus Christ who was the embodiment of truth, righteousness, justice, love and mercy. On the other hand, was Caiaphas, the designated spiritual leader of God’s professed people – the chief representative of the religious establishment. In between were the people, many of whom had seen the righteousness, innocence and blameless life of Christ but were also fully persuaded of the legitimacy of the religious institution to which they were committed.

Sometimes we must choose

What an awful choice for one to be called upon to make. Indeed, it would have been preferable if both were on the same side. But unfortunately, as it was then, so it has been on so many other occasions, not excluding the present, that institutionalized religion is not always aligned with truth. Thus, individuals, at times, are faced with a choice. The decision which prevailed on that fateful day, which culminated in the ignominious death of Christ on Calvary’s cross reveals the little appreciated truth that the majority is not always right.

Some persons, to avoid the unpleasant task of making such choices, make an unspoken rule for themselves that the church is always right. Unfortunately for them, their silence or indifference does constitute a choice which, though proven to be right in some instances, is also proven to be wrong in others. In which case, the individual stands either vindicated or condemned before God.

 The lessons

The lessons of Calvary are many. Calvary should impel religious leaders to be humble, recognizing that truth is not always the preserve of the religious elite. Jesus Christ was rejected largely because of his humble earthly beginnings and continuance. He was not educated in the schools of the rabbis. He did not court the favour of the religious establishment or patronize its leaders. The religious leaders felt that their authority was being bypassed and therefore, sought and succeeded, to some measure, in ridding the world of Him whom they considered to be a threat.

The lesson for the people at large who profess a religious faith is that a religious order, culture or establishment stands justified only when it is aligned with truth. Truth stands pre-eminent and is not always enunciated or embraced within the religious establishment to which one is committed. The choice with which one is faced is sometimes unpleasant, but nevertheless, weighted with eternal consequences.

When religious organizations that represent God find themselves embracing error, they should make the necessary adjustments so that they can stand with greater credibility in advancing their mission and avoid leading their members down the slippery slope of rejection of truth, because no one knows how far it will take them or where it will end.

Popular error

One very popular error that is based on assumptions, rather than on any clear biblical foundation is the idea that the “one God” of the Bible is a unity of three persons rather than one Person who is supreme. This concept, called the Trinity is not merely that there is Father, Son and Holy Ghost.  The Bible clearly teaches that.  Rather, the Trinity doctrine asserts that the one God of scripture is made up of three persons, Father, Son and Holy Ghost. Some people prefer to use the term Godhead, which is mentioned only three times in the Bible and is never used to mean three-in-one.  But they hold to the same concept as is held by those who use the term Trinity.

Standard definitions of Trinity are as follows:

Trinity n Christianity the union of three persons, the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, in one God” – Collins Student’s Dictionary.

“(the Trinity) (in Christian belief) the three persons (Father, Son and Holy Spirit) that make up God.” – Little Oxford Dictionary.

Trinity noun in Christianity, the union of Father, Son and Holy Ghost in one God.” – Chambers English Dictionary.

Based on these definitions, the “one God” of the Bible is not a Person but a unity of three.  According to that view, when the Bible says that there is one God, the one God is really Father, Son and Holy Spirit.  Is this biblical?  And is it important?  Most churches think it is important and hold it as a required belief.  Those who do not hold to that view also consider the matter important because, in their view, the Bible says otherwise.

The Bible says: “For though there be that are called gods, whether in heaven or in earth, (as there be gods many, and lords many,) But to us there is but one God, the Father, of whom are all things” (1 Cor. 8:6). And Jesus said the same, in His prayer to the Father: And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent.” (John 17:3)God the Father commanded all to worship Jesus Christ, His only begotten son, in the same way that we worship Him, the Father, but He never told anyone to worship the Holy Spirit.  And worshipping the Holy Spirit is not taught anywhere in the Bible. Are persons, by worshipping and praying to the Holy Spirit, unwittingly breaking the first of the Ten Commandments, “Thou shalt have no other gods before me.” (Ex. 20:3)?

As we reflect on Calvary and on the fact that the chosen people of God were so misled as to crucify the Son of God, preferring rather that the criminal Barabbas be released instead, we should ask ourselves, do we love truth more than we love our religious traditions and establishments?  Most importantly, we should not be dismissive of questions that are raised regarding the legitimacy of any position that we have taken.  The questions that are raised might just be a wake-up call from God for us to get in line with truth.

“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

 

Father, Son and Holy Spirit – Do They Make a Trinity?

What is at Stake

It is popularly assumed that Father, Son and Holy Ghost make a Trinity; further, that the Trinity concept is difficult to explain but should be accepted by faith. But, does the supposed difficulty in explaining it really expose us to embracing questionable ideas that could be detrimental to accept? First of all, what is the Trinity and why is the question important? Consider this. On the assumption of a Trinity, people worship the Holy Ghost alongside the Father and the Son. Is this a valid position? Could we, unwittingly, be offering worship where it does not belong – making us guilty of idolatry?

This is a critical matter because the very first commandment of the Ten Commandments says: “Thou shalt have no other gods before me.” (Ex. 20:3). Repeatedly, God has warned against idolatry and has punished individuals and nations for practicing idolatry. God has made it clear that He is the only true God; “there is none else” (Isa. 45:5).

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

Notwithstanding that, Jesus is the only begotten Son of God, “the express image of His person” (Heb. 1:3) and God, the Father, commands both us and angels to worship His Son (John 5:23; Heb. 1:6).

But there is nowhere in the Bible that says we should worship the Holy Ghost (Holy Spirit), neither is it said that we are allowed to do that. People do it on an assumption that Father, Son and Holy Spirit are equally God.

What the Trinity Concept is

The Trinity concept is not merely that there is Father, Son and Holy Ghost.  The Bible clearly teaches that.  Rather, the Trinity doctrine asserts that the one God of scripture is made up of three persons, Father, Son and Holy Ghost. Some people prefer to use the term Godhead, which is mentioned only three times in the Bible and is never used to mean three-in-one.  But in essence, they hold to the same concept as is held by those who use the term Trinity. Standard definitions of Trinity are as follows:

Trinity n Christianity the union of three persons, the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, in one God” – Collins Student’s Dictionary.

“(the Trinity) (in Christian belief) the three persons (Father, Son and Holy Spirit) that make up God.” – Little Oxford Dictionary.

Trinity noun in Christianity, the union of Father, Son and Holy Ghost in one God.” – Chambers English Dictionary.

Based on these definitions, the idea is that when the Bible says that there is one God, the one God is really Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

So, since we are allowed to worship the Father and the Son, the assumption is that we should then be able to worship the Holy Spirit as well. But is it true that Father, Son and Holy Spirit are co-equal? Does the Bible teach that? And does the Bible teach that the one God is Father, Son and Holy Spirit? Let us see for ourselves what the Bible actually says.

What the Bible Teaches About God

The truth is that the Bible does not teach that Father, Son and Holy Spirit are co-equal. A few clear references will show this. Jesus said: “my Father is greater than I.” (John 14:28).

He said again, “For I have not spoken of myself; but the Father which sent me, he gave me a commandment, what I should say, and what I should speak.” (John 12:49). One might say: Oh, that was in reference to the Son only in His human state. But that is not true. Before the Son came to earth, it is said of Him, that His Father “anointed” Him (Heb. 1:9) and the Father “appointed” Him (Heb. 1:2). Further, the Bible tells us: “And without all contradiction the less is blessed of the better.” (Heb. 7:7).

It is very obvious. The Father is greater than the Son.

Further, after sin and death are done away with, the Son himself will be subject to the Father – “And when all things shall be subdued unto him, then shall the Son also himself be subject unto him that put all things under him, that God may be all in all.” (1 Cor. 15:28).

Therefore, the Father is greater than the Son at all phases: before the Son came to earth, while He was on earth, and after He left the earth, continuing into eternity.

Prophets of the Bible have referred to the Father as “the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Pet. 1:3; 2 Cor. 11:31). And God the Father is reported as saying to the Son that “Thou hast loved righteousness, and hated iniquity; therefore God, even thy God, hath anointed thee” (Heb. 1:9). Jesus, Himself, referred to the Father as “my God” (Rev. 3:12; John 20:17; Matt. 27:46). So, this concept of co-equality is totally unscriptural.

This is not to say that the Son is not to be worshipped. The Father says that we are to worship His Son.  And the Son exercises the authority of His Father.  The relationship is similar to a king and a prince.  God, the Father, is the King of the Universe and Jesus Christ, His only begotten Son is the Prince of the universe.  In another sense, Jesus Christ, as the second Adam, will be King of this particular territory in the universe called earth.  He will be King of kings and Lord of lords over His earthly subjects who will reign with Him as kings and priests (Rev. 5:10).

But as for the Holy Spirit, it is a different matter. While we need the Holy Spirit, nowhere is it ever said that we should worship the Holy Spirit.

Further, Christ the Son, is greater than the Comforter who is the Holy Spirit. Christ said that He would send the Comforter and when the Comforter comes, he would not speak of himself. He will only speak what he hears –“It is expedient for you that I go away: for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send him unto you.” (John 16:7). And “he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak:” (John 16:13).

So, Christ is obviously greater than the Comforter.

Even in the sending of the Comforter, the order of authority is clearly seen. Christ prays to the Father and asks Him to give the Comforter. Then Christ sends the Comforter –“I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter” (John 14:16).

“But when the Comforter is come, whom I will send unto you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth, which proceedeth from the Father, he shall testify of me” (John 15:26).

The concept of Father, Son and Holy Spirit being co-equal is totally false.

Further, the Bible tells us who the one God is. We are told:

“For though there be that are called gods, whether in heaven or in earth, (as there be gods many, and lords many,) But to us there is but one God, the Father, of whom are all things” (1 Cor. 8:6). The idea that the one God is Father, Son and Holy Spirit is totally unscriptural.

Before concluding, we should consider two passages of scripture that people misconstrue and read into them things that they do not actually say, in order to promote a Trinity concept.  The first is: Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost” (Matt. 28:19). They say, there you go, an appeal is made to the authority of Father, Son and Holy Ghost, so they must be co-equal.  If that is the case, then what do we say of this one: I charge thee before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, and the elect angels, that thou observe these things(1 Tim. 5:21)?  An appeal is made to God, Christ and angels.  So, does that mean angels are co-equal with God and Christ?  Absolutely not!  So, in a similar way, the baptismal commission of Matt. 28:19 does not show that Father, Son and Holy Ghost are co-equal.

The other passage is: For there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one.(1 John 5:7). Did it say, “these three are one God”? No, it did not!  The verse immediately following it tells what the oneness is that is being referred to.  It is oneness in terms of agreement – And there are three that bear witness in earth, the Spirit, and the water, and the blood: and these three agree in one.(1 John 5:8).  So, neither of these passages support or justify a Trinity concept.

Conclusion

What the facts show is that Father, Son and Holy Spirit do not make a Trinity.

The Bible is clear that there is only one Supreme Being, and that is the Father – “One God and Father of all, who is above all” (Eph. 4:6). When the Bible says that there is one God, it is a reference to the Father and the Father only.

Jesus Christ is the Son of God. He is of the same nature as God and is worshipped just as God the Father is worshipped. But He is, has been and will always be subject to and submissive to His Father. The Holy Spirit, however, is not to be worshipped as God. And one should not try to confuse the issue by saying, Oh, the Bible says that “God is a spirit”, so it’s really God we are worshipping when we worship the Holy Spirit.  “God is a spirit” means that God is a spirit-being.  That’s His nature.  We do not worship God’s nature; we worship God, Himself, as a Person.

This will remain true even into the new earth of which we are told: “And I saw no temple therein: for the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are the temple of it.” (Rev. 21:22). May the Lord help us to worship God in spirit and in truth and not to be drawn unwittingly into idolatry, giving worship where it does not belong.

Finally, if an organization that represents God finds itself teaching error, it should make the necessary adjustments in its teachings so that it can stand with greater credibility in carrying out its mission.

“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

 

If you want the Holy Spirit….

Jesus tells us what to do if we want the Holy Spirit – ask the One who sends 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).

When Jesus wanted His disciples to have the Holy Spirit, He told them that He would ask the Father on their behalf – “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” (John 14:16, 17).

The Holy Spirit is sent by the Father – “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).

The Holy Spirit goes where He is sent and speaks only what He hears – “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.” (John 16:13).

In keeping with Jesus’s instruction and with His own example, if we want the Holy Spirit, we should ask the Father for the Holy Spirit.  Further, we should ask in Jesus’s name, since no one comes to the Father except through Jesus Christ, God’s only begotten Son – “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).  Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.” (John 14:6).

Many people want the Holy Spirit but seem unable or unwilling to follow Jesus’s simple instruction.  They pray to the Holy Spirit or express their request to the Holy Spirit in song.  They ask the Holy Spirit to come and fill them or fill the room where they are rather than ask the One who sends the Holy Spirit and who’s will the Holy Spirit carries out.  We should not run the risk of God ignoring us or risk other spirits coming in with counterfeit manifestations to deceive people and confirm them in their misplaced adoration.  God bears with us in our ignorance, but commands us to repent.  He will not bear with us forever, if we know better and continue in error.

We should not be like Cain who tried to replace God’s explicit instructions with his own reasoning and expect that God should simply accept any and everything that we choose to offer to God.

“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

Private interpretations of Scripture

The Bible warns against private interpretations of Scripture in the following words:

“Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation.” (2 Pet. 1:20).

This warning is of particular importance today as the word of God has become Satan’s prime target in no less a way than in the days of our first parents, Adam and Eve, when the Serpent asked, “Yea, hath God said…..?” (Gen. 3:1).

Many people might not recognize it, but the Protestant Reformation was not primarily over any specific doctrine as much as it was about the word of God itself, which affects all doctrines.  Forty-three years after his death, John Wycliffe, known as the Morning Star of the Reformation, had his bones dug up from where they were buried and were burnt and the ashes scattered into a nearby river, from whence it was borne out into the ocean.  For what reason?  Rome was so upset that Wycliffe had set in motion a tide that they had long sought to stifle – the word of God being made available to every man in his own language.  Even though the translation was from the edited manuscripts that originated in Alexandria, Egypt, the precursor to the Roman Catholic Latin Vulgate, there was enough exposure to the truth, available from it, that would give the opposers of truth a serious problem.

Tyndale and the KJV

William Tyndale was burnt alive at the stake, for translating the Bible into English,  from the purer text that was handed down from generation to generation, through the church in the wilderness, from Antioch where “the disciples were called Christians first” (Acts 11:26).  Tyndale’s dying words were: “Lord, open the king of England’s eyes”.  God answered Tyndale’s prayer shortly after, by putting it in the heart of the king to lift the ban on the scriptures being made available in the native language of the common people – the same ban that Tyndale had violated that cost him his life.  Tyndale’s version is the precursor to the King James Version (KJV) of the Bible that we have today.

Tyndale had previously expressed his desire to have people understand the scriptures for themselves, in a discussion with a priest, who had expressed the view that the common people were incapable of understanding the scriptures and had to be dependent on the interpretations given to them by the priests.  In response, Tyndale made his famous statement: “If God spare my life, ere many years I will cause a boy who drives a plough to know more of the scriptures than you do.”

Tyndale’s vision was accomplished through the technology of the printing press, which made the Bible available to the world like an unstoppable tide.  Even today the KJV remains a best seller.

However, in more recent years a carefully laid plan to subvert the influence of the scriptures has been gaining ground.  The plan was to gradually replace the purer text that forms the basis for the KJV with the edited texts that Rome uses.  This plan was expressed in the Preface of a Roman Catholic Douay-Rheims translation published in 1816 as follows:

“It is almost three hundred years since James Archbishop of Genoa, is said to have translated the Bible into Italian. More than two hundred years ago, in the days of Charles V the French king, was it put forth faithfully in French, the sooner to shake out of the deceived people’s hands, the false heretical translations of a sect called Waldenses.”  – Preface, Douay-Rheims translation of the Bible, 1816.

The Waldenses were among the persecuted people of God who preserved God’s word, which we now have as the KJV.  While, many Protestants today, treat the KJV as just another version only less modern than the others, Rome is not of that view.  They know the difference and consider it important.

The plan would accomplish three things, among others, in one blow: 1. There would be conflicting translations of the text, that would lead people to question the veracity of all the texts; 2. People would be less inclined to memorize the text because of the many renderings of the same verse; 3. People would make there own private interpretations, being facilitated by the different translations, thus, leading people back to a reliance on the interpretations of priests and theologians, in their search for certainty.

Private interpretations

Private interpretations of scripture come in various guises.  Today, it has become fashionable to hear preachers say, “I like how this translation puts it….”  So, they can choose what they want to hear the scriptures say, just by using the translation of their choice.  There is no set way anymore.

Another popular strategy is to take the historical accounts of scripture as allegories – you choose what message you want the story to tell, rather than take the account primarily as fact.  So, for example, when the Apostle Paul was in a ship that seemed about to run aground during a storm, and Paul said: “Except these abide in the ship, ye cannot be saved.” (Acts 27:31), the ship supposedly means the church; hence, regardless of what happens, the message is “stay in the church”.  That message may be fine, and it may be possible to use other means to establish that in some way, but the truth is that the story had nothing to do with the church but rather, it was an account of an experience that Paul had.  Of course, the ship ended up being wrecked and everyone had to abandon it, but usually, the analogy is not taken that far.  It is more accurate to say, based on numerous scriptures, that we should abide in the truth.  It is only the truth that will stand the test of time.  And it is the truth that will keep the church faithful to its mission.

Don’t be deceived

In the last days, it will be critical that we commit the scriptures to memory and remain with the purer text that was preserved by those who were willing to give their lives to preserve it.  Jesus warned, “Take heed that no man deceive you.” (Matt. 24:4).  He went on to say: “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).  Jesus overcame the Devil’s temptations in the wilderness by repeatedly appealing to the word of God, saying each time, “It is written…”  But if there is uncertainty as to what is written, or we do not have it etched in our memory, how will we be able to use the scriptures as a sword to cut through errors and temptation when we most need it?  Don’t forget, Satan was quoting scriptures too.  But he was misrepresenting God’s word, primarily by quoting only a snippet of it and leaving out the rest of what was said or changing the context in which it was said.

It is interesting that even in the greatest uncertainty, God always makes an easy way.  Amid the flood of various translations and uncertainty as to text renderings, the KJV is not easily mistaken for another version.  The very things that people claim make it archaic, the Thee, thou, thine and ye, are the very things that make it hard to miss it.  So, we need not be confused to mix up the translations that came from edited manuscripts with those that were faithfully preserved by God’s persecuted people.  As the famous preacher, Charles Spurgeon said: “Discernment is not a matter of telling the difference between right and wrong; rather it is telling the difference between right and almost right.”.

At this time, as we approach the final test, when the shaking will take place and only those who cannot be shaken will be left standing, it is imperative that we hold on to the word of God so that we might be sealed, as we are told:

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

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

For further information, 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 is so Important About a Day?

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

Keeping A Day Holy

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

Keeping the day holy involves not only worshipping God but abstaining from doing our own work (Exodus 20:8-11) and finding our own pleasure (Isa. 58:13) on that day. It involves devoting the day to communing with God. It does not mean that the Sabbath is a day of fasting or that one should not respond to emergencies, especially where life is threatened, on that day.  Jesus kept the Sabbath and yet He asked the Pharisees, “Which of you shall have an ass or an ox fallen into a pit, and will not straightway pull him out on the sabbath day?” (Luke 14:5).  But one should neither plan nor carry out normal business on the Sabbath that could be arranged for another day.

In order to minimize distractions which might interrupt our communion with God during this special time that God has set apart for this purpose, God has designated the sixth day (the day before the Sabbath) as the preparation day (Ex. 16:22-30; Luke 23:54; Mark 15:42).  The Sabbath is observed from sunset on the sixth day to sunset on the seventh day“from even unto even, shall ye celebrate your sabbath.” (Lev. 23:32).

For All time

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

Clearly, Jesus could not have given such instructions if the Sabbath was not supposed to be still important at that time.

It is evident also, that Jesus’s warning was intended for all His followers and not only for the Jews, as there were Christians in Jerusalem and not only Jews.

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

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

A Clean and Holy Life

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

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

Reason for the Sabbath

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

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

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

Special Interaction

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

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

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

Dear reader, I hope you will consider prayerfully all that has been said here and will be drawn into a meaningful fellowship with God in spirit and in truth. As with your tithe, in which you give a tenth of your increase, to signal that you have acknowledged God as having first call on your material resources, so with the Sabbath, you signal that God has first call on your time.  May God richly bless you to this end.

For further information:

E-mail: commandmentsofgodandfaithofjesus@yahoo.com

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